Tuesday, December 31, 2013

"On Fire": Yep. This Entire Website Is ONE BIG 'EVE'!


"I've had some lovely extraordinary experiences on New Year's Eve."---Debbie Harry

Some of y'all know...

That the New Year I observe is Rosh Hashanah. There are actually biblical reasons for that. And so for me, a quarter of the year is already gone.

But for those who do observe tomorrow as being the New Year, being that today is considered to be New Year's Eve, I wanted to share a brief word of encouragement with you.

Back in my "on Facebook days", I wrote a piece that said "When it comes to being joined to my husband, it feels like it's the eve before Christmas Eve". You know, not quite there but much closer than ever. Shoot, I'll tell you what. Everything about the Word has more literal meaning than a lot of tend to give it credit for. Indeed, with God a day *is* like a thousand years (LOL-2 Peter 3:8). Timing really *is* the Father's business (Acts 1:7-Message). And he does make everything beautiful in *its* not *our* time (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Anyway, when the Holy Spirit brought that back to my remembrance last night, I couldn't help but think about the word "eve". Usually we don't tend to give it too much thought unless we're talking about the mother of all living (Eve-Genesis 3:20) or Christmas Eve...or today: New Year's Eve.

Yet aside from it meaning the evening or day before an event, I smiled when I saw another definition of the word: "the period preceding or leading up to any event, crisis, etc."

And here's one definition of period: "a rather large interval of time that is meaningful in the life of a person, in history, etc., because of its particular characteristics".

A couple of nights ago, I was talking to one of my closest girlfriends about how it amazes me that while "On Fire" started out as a 40-day fast in general, it is now a four-years-old blog. In response she said, "I know. Your blog is what got me married." (She and I actually connected because I felt led to send her posts from time to time on FB. I ended up doing her marriage counseling and I was the doula of her firstborn. You never know how God will..."connect your dots". *Stay open*.)

Now could a sistah get bitter and instead of being like "Thank you God for entrusting me with this platform" be like "So you really do mean it when you say the first shall be last, huh?" (Matthew 19:30) Of course, I could. If I chose to not use spiritual discernment (I Corinthians 2:6-16) in my approach to being single (whole-James 1:4) while many people who have followed this blog are now married.

However, just like Adam and Eve and Moses and Zipporah and Boaz and Ruth and Hosea and Gomer and Mary and Joseph (etc., etc.) each had their own *individual marriage* that consisted of *individual needs*, I know what God and I have discussed. I could've been married...a few times now. I don't want to "be married". I want to be *in covenant*. And it really is an honor to help other people (better) understand what that means as they are joined to their covenant partner.

And honestly that's what this blog is all about...

Helping to preparing women for marital covenant.

I mean, just think about how many blogs are out in cyberspace. And I purposefully do not put this one out in social media because I don't feel led to "market it". If a woman is supposed to "happen upon it" (Proverbs 16:33-AMP) then it will be due to something that is a bit more...organic. Someone forwarding it to her. Looking in a search engine. Reading about it in a devotional. *Something* that will confirm to her that *this is the interval of time*, her "eve", that she needs it in her life. Not because it's popular. Simply because, for her, it's...right.

So yes, if you were led to this blog, it has come into your space...because it's right for you.

If you were led to this blog, this is your own customized "eve" of marital information and preparation!

For some of you, that will mean meeting "him" (prayerfully being *brought to him*-Genesis 2:22) in 2014. For some of you, longer. But one thing that all of you can confidently know and *rest in* is that this is your "eve". If you are connected to this website, it is the eve of your discovery about what it means to be married, not man's way, but God's way. And that's something to be excited about!

So the next time Satan's all up in your ear (or uses someone else to be all up in your ear-LOL) talking about you've been single forever (forever is a really long time. Off top, that's a lie) or asking you when are you *finally* going to get into a relationship, shut 'em down and simply say: "I'm at the eve of all of that. I'll let you know."

And then come to the "On Fire" blog for some reassurance of that very fact.

It is a "characteristic" in this large interval of time in your life that is serving a great purpose.

And on the eve of a new calendar year, that's truly something to celebrate!



Monday, December 30, 2013

An Ounce of Prevention: 'A Video Clip That Explains How to Be UNSUPPORTIVE in a Relationship'



I've been looking for this clip since I posted the supportive piece (right below), mostly because this particular episode of The Game illustrates it so well.

I tried to find just the conversation between Derwin and Melanie but I couldn't so you'll have to move up to 6:09. One of my favorite parts of the exchange is at the end when Derwin said "Martin got Coretta. Look at what I got." Some of you who may be fans of the show will probably recall that there was another chick waiting with pom-poms all ready to support Derwin's dreams. *sigh* It's a wonderful way to illustrate how much men need support in relationships and *how poorly* Melanie did it:

Take heed. Beforehand.



An Ounce of Prevention: '6 Traits of a Supportive Woman'


This week...

I've been spending quite a bit of time "on pause" at "For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. " (I Corinthians 11:8-9-NKJV) And you know what? Some women might have problems with that resolve but being that the Word IS God (John 1:1), then you know what that means, right? Besides, Paul was divinely inspired (2 Timothy 3:16-17) to pen this as well: "Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman; but all things are from God." (I Corinthians 11:11-12-NKJV)

Anyway, after someone shot me a text a couple of days about some of her thoughts on being an "alpha girl" and I told her that even with my naturally strong personality, I don't find it to be in the least bit attractive to be *dominant* in a relationship (especially as a woman-Ephesians 5:22-33), I thought about the amount of men who have told me over the years how little their wives/fiancees/girlfriends have shown them support. Even though as helpmates (Genesis 2:18), that's exactly what we're supposed to be: *supportive*.

And just what does that mean exactly? Good question.

It's always great to hear a man's perspective on things like this, so I'm going to share the article "6 Traits of a Supportive Woman" below:

I thus submit that if you find me a great man, by my definition he will have a great woman in his life. And great to me is not money or influence or the amount of horsepower in his SUV. It can be all of that, of course, but "great" is about so much more. It is about depth of personality, strength of conviction, confidence, compassion, and courage.

A great man commands instant respect and admiration. He has friends who go to battle for and rely on him, family members who are proud of him and work associates who like to be around him. But most of all, he has a strong and stable woman by his side to support him.

Do you have that in your relationship? Does she lift you up when you need it and provide constructive criticism to make you a better man? Better yet, does she make you strive to be a better man? If there is a shred of doubt in your mind, read on for some key traits to look out for in a mate.

1- She's Fiercely Loyal

You can give your all to a woman and inspire zero devotion in return. In a dispute with a mutual acquaintance or even a family member, her allegiance is suspect. Why must she find reason to side with someone else? Good question.

A supportive partner is on your side no matter what, ready to go to war with you and take on whatever obstacle life presents. She is a fighter and a faithful sidekick, through thick and thin.

Trust and mutual respect are fantastic and intrinsic in a solid relationship but at the end of the day, give me a loyal woman. Not just from a monogamy standpoint (this is a non-negotiable) but also from a broad perspective that encompasses small everyday occurrences and major events. A woman to stand by your side for life.

She gives you a run for your honey...  

2- She Challenges You

My fellow AskMen.com contributor, Doc Love, has his own spin on the concept of Challenge, which, overall, I agree with. This type of challenge is not quite the same, however. My point here is to find a partner who challenges you to progress all the time. Couples who have many years behind them and a slew of experiences tend to become complacent.

As a result, they get lazy and neglect to develop. But everyone must develop in order to improve. Since I have yet to encounter a perfect human being, I assume you fall into that category. I know I do, and because of that I want a woman who is not afraid to push me: to stay fit, to eat well, to work hard at my job, and in general, go out there and get what I deserve out of life.

Now by push, I do not mean nag. I mean challenge. Of course, if you have no ongoing inclination to change for the better, you may not be able to tell the difference. But what other trait better demonstrates real love?

3- She Inspires You

Now, if your woman serves as an inspiration to you, then you have a great partner by your side. She can inspire by her example or by her word, but overall, she motivates you to get better.

Hand in hand with her capacity to challenge you, her inspiration factor is essential to sustain and develop your love. When all else fails, this will bail you out of bad times and relationship stagnation.

Physical attraction is what gets us at first, but over time, you need a woman who can make you think and reflect on a deeper level. This is what inspiration is all about. When you have it, you change for the better and develop wisdom you thought you never had.

She'll give up travel for you...

4- She Grounds You

Every man needs to keep his ego in check. Pride gone awry, or hubris, can lead to a precipitous downfall. You may have a humble nature or the inner character to stay modest, but a strong partner is a great support mechanism to ground you in reality when the situation calls for it.

The ideal is that she props you up when you least expect and takes you down a peg when your head swells to the size of a watermelon. You know she loves and admires you but at the same time, you never want to rest on your laurels.

5- She Sacrifices for You

A powerful indicator of whether she can be that great women by your side, is her zeal to sacrifice for you and the relationship. What has she put aside to advance the two of you as a couple and a team?

Without your interference, has she made a move on her own to forego an opportunity for her career or to travel in order to be by your side? Never expect her to do so but keep tabs of when she has put you first. This is an important component of commitment. When she drops her obligations and rushes to be with you in your hour of need (or not), be grateful.

6- She Loves & Cares for You

Love is not a descriptive word. Think about it. What does love entail? For me, real love encompasses every point in this article. So I include it with "cares for you" out of common convention, since we tend to equate the two terms.

The basic point of my message here is to partner with a woman who demonstrates affection on a regular basis with abandon and ease. Men need love too and we become better when we have a woman in our life who loves us at the end of a hard day or when we feel lousy. There is no elegant way to phrase it: life can suck real bad. When it does, there is no remedy like the tender touch of a good woman. Strike that. A great woman.

So if you have a great woman by your side, congratulations and have a sweet life. If the opposite is the case, go out and get whom you deserve. And remember that in order for the relationship equation to balance, you have to execute every condition laid out above for her as well. Sorry men, but love is a two-way street. Best of luck to you.

If you're in a relationship, don't *assume* that you're this chick. Ask your guy.

If you're not in a relationship, this is a good list to keep close-by.

After all...

A woman didn't write it.





















Dont Be Afraid  Quotes


Friday, December 27, 2013

"On Fire": You Have to Know Who YOU ARE to Know Who Truly COMPLEMENTS YOU



I'm not really sure if I've actually been taking a break over the holidays because I tend to process this time of year differently than many others do. But in between writing, I have caught a couple of new films. One of them is A Case of You (Justin Long, Evan Rachel Wood). I enjoy Justin Long as an actor so that's what initially reeled me in (no pun intended). Anyway, here's the trailer:

I won't give a ton of it away; however, I do want to share why it helped to inspire this particular post. In the trailer, you will see how Sam (Justin Long) creates a person that he thinks Birdie (Evan Rachel Wood) will really be drawn to. And just how does he figure this out? By reading her Facebook profile and posts (I'm telling you, that social media can be...something.)

By the time that she does start to fall for him, he begins to have doubts. And with just cause being that he exposed her to the person *he thought she would want* rather than the one that he actually was.

Throughout the movie, Sam says things like the following:

"I'm exhausted."

"Do you even know what I like?"

"I've been trying to become who I thought you wanted that I don't believe you like or even know the real me."

"I didn't want to put my [true] self out there and there not be a connection."

There was also something that one of his book editors said that stood out. "[You are] going to suffocate in your own fear."

Fear of what? Fear of Sam being his true and authentic self.

It might surprise you how many times I have sat in (pre)marital sessions and one or both of the individuals have been like "You want...what?!?" or "You don't like...what?!?" or "You plan to do...what?!?" and a big part of it was because during the dating process, the focus was more on trying to "land each other" rather than actually *get to know one another*.

That's why I can't stand that whole "You complete me" foolishness, um stuff that many people say (and believe). Where in the Word does it ever say that another person is to complete you? Actually, what it says is this: "But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." (James 1:4-NKJV) If you let patience do its thing, then you will be complete, with or without another person. That's why it's my belief that if a relationship is healthy (which is something that *all of us* should aspire to have), it will not "fill a void". Instead it will actually *be a form of surplus*.



Back in July, I made the announcement that I would be periodically doing a giveaway for covenant puzzle pieces (you can [re]read about it here).  I have connected with a manufacturer that I really like and so I am able to afford to do it more than once. What they look like is this:

Personalized Puzzle Piece Key Chain Duo Initial set - These Hand Stamped Stainless Steel Key Chains make a great anniversary gift

Except it actually has the name of the woman and the date of the post that she responded to on one puzzle piece while the other one is blank. The women who receive these can get the right-side engraved themselves whenever their *complement* comes. Not only is it a reminder of God giving the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4) but also that things happen in *his time* not ours (Ecclesiastes 3:11, Acts 1:7-Message).


The reason why I feel led to give this one more round as 2013 comes to a close is because I discern that a lot of women, one way or another, have been a lot like Sam. They are so busy trying to "get their other puzzle piece" that they haven't spent time truly investing in themselves so that they can know who really is their best fit.

So if you are a woman who desires to be married...


You know that you need to devote some time intp really getting to know you in a more intimate way first...


You would like a sign from God that he has heard your petition for a mate in the meantime...


This puzzle piece will serve as a confirmation of this very fact...

Shoot me an email to missnosipho@gmail.com. *This round will be open until New Year's Eve at 5pm(CST)*.


In the meantime, embrace all of your customized "puzzle pieces".

And *be patient* as they work to make a bigger picture!



Tuesday, December 24, 2013

An Ounce of Prevention: '7 Things You Should Stop Expecting from Others'



I could have spared myself *a lot of stress* had I heeded just about everything in this article a long time ago. Straight copy and paste:

The biggest disappointments in our lives are often the result of misplaced expectations.  This is especially true when it comes to our relationships and interactions with others.

Tempering your expectations of other people will greatly reduce unnecessary frustration and suffering, in both your life and theirs, and help you refocus on the things that truly matter.

Which means it’s time to…

1. Stop expecting them to agree with you.

You deserve to be happy.  You deserve to live a life you are excited about.  Don’t let the opinions of others make you forget that.  You are not in this world to live up to the expectations of others, nor should you feel that others are here to live up to yours.  In fact, the more you approve of your own decisions in life, the less approval you need from everyone else.

You have to dare to be yourself, and follow you own intuition, however frightening or strange that may feel or prove to be.  Don’t compare yourself to others.  Don’t get discouraged by their progress or success.  Follow your own path and stay true to your own purpose.  Success is ultimately about spending your life happily in your own way.

2. Stop expecting them to respect you more than you respect yourself.

True strength is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles.  It’s about having faith and trust in who you are, and a willingness to act upon it.  Decide this minute to never again beg anyone for the love, respect, and attention that you should be showing yourself.

Today, look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I love you, and from now on I’m going to act like it.”  It’s important to be nice to others, but it’s even more important to be nice to yourself.  When you practice self-love and self-respect, you give yourself the opportunity to be happy.  When you are happy, you become a better friend, a better family member, and a better YOU.  (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Self-Love” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

3. Stop expecting (and needing) them to like you.

You might feel unwanted and unworthy to one person, but you are priceless to another.  Don’t ever forget your worth.  Spend time with those who value you.  No matter how good you are to people, there will always be one negative person who criticizes you.  Smile, ignore them, and carry on.

In this crazy world that’s trying to make you like everyone else, the toughest battle you’ll ever have to fight is the battle to be yourself.  And as you’re fighting back, not everyone will like you.  Sometimes people will call you names because you’re “different.”  But that’s perfectly OK.  The things that make you different are the things that make YOU, and the right people will love you for it.

4. Stop expecting them to fit your idea of who they are.

Loving and respecting others means allowing them to be themselves.  When you stop expecting people to be a certain way, you can begin to appreciate THEM.

Pay close attention, and respect people for who they are and not for who you want them to be.  We don’t know most people half as well as we believe we do; and truly knowing someone is a big part of what makes them wonderful.  Every human being is remarkable and beautiful; it just takes a patient set of eyes to see it.  The more you get to know someone, the more you will be able to look beyond their appearance and see the beauty of who they truly are.  (Read The Mastery of Love.)

5. Stop expecting them to know what you’re thinking.

People can’t read minds.  They will never know how you feel unless you tell them.  Your boss?  Yeah, he doesn’t know you’re hoping for a promotion because you haven’t told him yet.  That cute guy you haven’t talked to because you’re too shy?  Yeah, you guessed it, he hasn’t given you the time of day simply because you haven’t given him the time of day either.

In life, you have to communicate with others regularly and effectively.  And often, you have to open your vocal cords and speak the first words.  You have to tell people what you’re thinking.  It’s as simple as that.

6. Stop expecting them to suddenly change.

If there’s a specific behavior someone you care about has that you’re hoping disappears over time, it probably won’t.  If you really need them to change something, be honest and put all the cards on the table so this person knows how you feel and what you need them to do.

For the most part though, you can’t change people and you shouldn’t try.  Either you accept who they are or you choose to live without them.  It’s might sound harsh, but it’s not.  When you try to change people, they often remain the same, but when you don’t try to change them – when you support them and allow them the freedom to be as they are – they gradually change in the most beautiful way.  Because what really changes is the way you see them.  (Read A New Earth.)

7. Stop expecting them to be “OK.”

Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle, just like you.  Every smile or sign of strength hides an inner struggle every bit as complex and extraordinary as your own.

Remember that embracing your light doesn’t mean ignoring your dark.  We are measured by our ability to overcome adversities and insecurities, not avoid them.  Supporting, sharing and making contributions to other people is one of life’s greatest rewards.  This happens naturally if we allow it, because we all share very similar dreams, needs and struggles.  Once we accept this, the world then is a place where we can look someone else in the eye and say, “I’m lost and struggling at the moment,” and they can nod and say, “Me too,” and that’s OK.  Because not being “OK” all the time, is perfectly OK.


People rarely behave exactly the way you want them to.  Hope for the best, but expect less.  And remember, the magnitude of your happiness will be directly proportional to your thoughts and how you choose to think about things.  Even if a situation or relationship doesn’t work out at all, it’s still worth it if it made you feel something new, and if it taught you something new.

Ask a lot of married folks what causes them a huge sense of frustration and many of them will tell you that it was due to a mismanagement of expectations. If you can learn to master this *now*, it will make life much easier *later*.



"On Fire": If FEAR Is Your REASON, That Is Nothing More Than an EXCUSE



Last night, I was having a conversation with a spiritual sister of mine. The way we tend to roll is that a couple of times per year, we'll talk for a couple (if not several) hours. When we got to the "So, what do you want me to pray for you?" portion of the program, what she said I found to be pretty...unexpected. At least from her:

"Pray that I find a dream..." she said.

"What do you mean, exactly?" was my response.

"I need to find my passion right now. I'm just not sure what that is."

If you've been following this blog and/or you're on the devotional list that I do, then you know that I've been *going hard* for spiritual gifts in 2013. After all, it's not so much in our *talents* but in our spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit gives us supernatural abilities (I mean, a lot of celebrities are using their talents but because their spiritual gifts are not attached, things are a bit...strange). So when anyone tells me they are not sure what to do with their life, taking a spiritual gifts test is the first thing that I encourage them to do (and interestingly enough, she doesn't recall ever taking one before). Crafting a vision board is what's next.

However, there is something else that I also discern helps to put pieces to the puzzle together. Earlier this year, I decided to change the signature on my phone. I smiled at what the Holy Spirit gave me to say:

Love more. Do better. Stay open.

Real talk? There are a lot of people who cannot LIVE BIG in life because they are hesitant---OK, scared---to do one or all three of those things.Someone has hurt them to the point that they are afraid to love more. They have made so many mistakes in the past that they are scared that they are not able to do better. And have mercy but religion, stagnation, familiarity, being addicted to patterns, being too attached to people makes them fearful to stay open. OPEN.

When you're open, you're "not closed".
When you're open, you're "not blocked".
When you're open, you're "available".
When you're open, you're "ready to entertain new ideas".
When you're open, you're "unoccupied".
When you're open, you're "ready for business".
When you're open, you're "mild" (wow!).
When you're open, you're "eager to receive".
When you're open, you're "not decided or finalized". (You're *letting God move* rather than *telling him where you're going to go*.)

It is the people who are OPEN who live BIG!

I got confirmation of this resolve just this morning because something else that I advised my spiritual sister to do was check out Kisses from Katie's blog and as life (i.e., God) would have it, Katie just posted something new *on yesterday*. It's this excerpt that I feel led to share:

"God doesn’t need us to be ready for Him; He has been ready for us since the beginning of time and the Messiah is here calling us to commune with the Holy One, to eat at His table.

I want the house to be organized and kids to be clean and nicely dressed and I want dinner to come out of the oven on time, but at the end of the day [there are still] laundry piles and there are still crumbs in the corner and can anyone remember if I brushed my teeth today? And it can’t be the New Year yet because I am just not ready for it to be a new year yet.

But I remember when I wasn’t ready to move to Uganda. I remember when I wasn’t ready to kiss the people I loved the most goodbye. I remember when I didn’t have enough money to sponsor just ten children, and I remember when I wasn’t old enough to be a mother, and I remember when I didn’t know how to parent. I remember when I couldn’t cook for fifteen people and when I didn’t want to share my house and my things and my life with sick people and addicts. I remember when I was afraid of the slum community that now holds hundreds of friends and when I was terrified that my daughter would never walk and when I was scared that we would never heal after tragic loss. And I remember that never, not once, was I really as ready as I wanted to be. And I remember that God kept all His promises, every last one, in His perfect time.

This new season looms and I don’t know what is next. But He doesn’t need me to be ready for this season because He is ready. He just needs me to be clinging to His feet."

This, "On Fire" women, is the live and living color evidence of someone who is open and Katie is a reminder that being open is a daily (and sometimes moment by moment) choice.

Although I personally am someone who tries and look at each day in the way that many people look at each new year, being that I know this is the season when folks look to the next calendar year and find themselves asking "What's next?", I just want to give the heads up that it's going to be very challenging to get an *abundant answer* to that question if you are to scared to try something new or move some place different or break out of religious traditions (that oftentimes have no solid biblical foundation anyway-SMH) or resolve some of your past or forgive that man who hurt you or explore some new approaches to things.

When Isaiah 43:19(NKJV) says "Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert", something that is important to keep in mind is that if "it" is going to happen the way that *you think it should* (and remember that God does not think like you do-Isaiah 55:8-11), I'm not so sure how "new" that actually is being that new, by definition, can mean that something is "unfamiliar" or "strange". And so, if you're too scared to live big because you are hesitant to try something new well...that's unfortunate.

And honestly, that's not a really good reason.

It's actually nothing more than an excuse.

So, if you were looking for a sign that you should step out and "walk in faith" (2 Corinthians 5:7), take this as one.

Life (on this earth) is short.

Be open.

So that you can...