All posts by Magnolia Hood

911…Who’s Saving You?

If your 2017 has been anything like mine, I ran out of the year like a woman with her hair on fire. Now that the year has gotten underway, I don’t know about you, but I am living my BEST life this year! What is the BEST life you say? Your best life is living the life that God has for you. Your best life is the life without and limits that we often place on ourselves because of our past.

As women we are the first ones up in the morning, and the last ones to lay down. By the time we get to ourselves we have nothing left! It would be great if we could wake up tomorrow and already living where we want to live, have the things that we want to have and already making the moves we’ve promised ourselves we would make.

It takes WORK to live your best life! In order to live your best life, you will need a YES, a NO, and a RIGHT NOW. You need to say YES to God’s will for your life! This will be the hardest part. If you can do this, the rest will be easy. When you say yes to God you are openly acknowledging that his will is what’s best for you. You are getting out of the driver’s seat. Ultimately, you are allowing God to lead you and relinquishing your life over to him and trusting that he will get you where you have to go.

You need to say YES to yourself. Saying yes means that you are pulling yourself from the back burner and moving your desires, ideas, hopes and dreams to the front. You are making yourself a priority. Now I know, you have children, maybe grandchildren, and a husband. But let’s put our own oxygen mask on before you worry about putting on someone else’s.

After you have said YES to God and YES to yourself you need to say NO. To who? TO EVERYONE ELSE! We have to learn to say no to the responsibilities and obligations that others try to pass on to us. No, I can’t go to your event. No, I can’t take you to the store. I’m helping ME! Don’t deny yourself so you can feel better about yourself. Now that doesn’t mean we should be rude, offensive, or even dismissive to others. But we should look at the ratio of time we give others in comparison to the time we spend on ourselves. If we spend all of our time helping someone else with their dream when will we have the time, passion, patience or resources to see our dream into fruition?

Once we’ve gotten those out of the way then we can get to work. When will we write out our dreams and goals: RIGHT NOW. When will we put what God told us to do into practice: RIGHT NOW. When will we start the business plan: RIGHT NOW. it won’t happen overnight. It takes time, energy, effort, and patience. If you don’t live your life, it won’t get lived because no one else can live it for you. If you’re scared, so what; do it anyway. Feel like it’s too big, great. It probably is too big and that’s why you will need God’s help. How will you do it? Glad you asked, let me tell you:

 

  1. Spend time in prayer and ask God what his will is for you. When he tells you, write it down.
  2. Pray daily over the plan he gave you for your life. Seek him for how and when.
  3. Give yourself deadlines, this will help you stay on task.
  4. Pray about who you should and shouldn’t share your plans with, some will be encouragers and some will be investors. But be careful of those that are leeches, they only want to siphon the good and leave you with the rest.

It’s your time! 2018 is your year to live! You will love your family more, serve your church more, and love yourself more!

Corner Prayer:

Lord, thank you for bringing me into a new year! Thank you for what you have for me this year. Lord, help me to let go of the things that held me back, disappointed me, or didn’t go my way last year. Lord, renew my passion for the things that you promised me. Help me to seek you in a new way so that I can live my best life. The abundant life that Jesus came to give me. Help me to be a better mother, a better wife, and a better kingdom woman. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Holiday Blues

When everyone’s NOT waiting on the holidays….

The seasons are changing, leaves are turning colors, and we’re a few days away from Thanksgiving, and just over 30 days away from Christmas. For most, the holidays are a time of food, family, fun, YOU NAME IT! However, for some, the holidays are a reminder of what used to be. Grief grips everyone differently, and is managed in different ways. Grief is defined as keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret. So, whether you’ve experienced a death of a loved one, a break-up, divorce, or a distant move, you could experience holiday grief around this time of year. As the month of October ends with Halloween, and children are putting their costumes away for next year, those of us who struggle with the holiday season, begin our time of mask wearing. We smile when we want to cry, we appear to be okay when others’ joy, Facebook posts, twitter feeds, and holiday greetings really make us want to run indoors and scream in sadness! We wear the mask because of the isolation we feel…because we made the distant move, or we have experienced the grievous loss. So, here are a few tips to help you get through the holidays.

A few pointers as you prepare for the Fa La La La La of the season.

1. Acknowledge that the holidays will be different and they will be tough.
2. Decide which traditions you want to keep, and what you want to change.
3. Create a new tradition.
4. Remember that not everyone will be grieving the same way you are grieving.
5. Be honest. Tell people what you DO want to “do” for the holidays and what you DON’T.

 

Corner Prayer
God, thank you for this time of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Thank you for being the reason that we give thanks and celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. Lord, you are the reason for the season! But, God we are reminded at this time about the way our lives used to be. The loved ones that have passed away and the relationships and family structures that used to define and identify us. Help us to remember and KNOW, that in all things, you work them together for our good (Romans 8:28). God, we ask that you comfort us and minister to the pain, anger, confusion, and sadness that we feel during this time. Lord, help us to trade beauty for ashes in this season, and give us a way to remember our “used to be” in a way that brings a smile to our face. Help us to still be a light and an example of how you comfort the broken. In Jesus Name.
Amen

When Better Gets Worse: Hear No Evil, See No Evil…

Nita, a vibrant, beautiful young woman loves her church and she loves serving. She’s been in church all her life. She was born and raised in the Christian faith and considers her relationship with God the strongest one she has. Second on that list is her charismatic and friendly husband, Shawn. Nita and Shawn have been married for eight years. They were high school sweethearts and went off to college together. They enjoy serving in the Young Adult Ministry and Worship Team at their Church. Their pastors often ask them to host guests that come into town.

Today is a wonderful day for Nita and Shawn because they will find out the sex of the baby that Nita is pregnant with. The couple is so excited to be adding to their family and both sets of parents are elated as well because they will be grandparents for the first time. As Nita sat in the office, the doctor proudly shared that they would be having a baby girl, her heart sank. Though the expression on her face was one of happiness and excitement, behind her bright eyes were tears fighting to burst through her eyelids. The whole way home Shawn talked non-stop about how he couldn’t wait to be a dad and have a daughter that he knew would love basketball as much as he did, how he already knew what colors they would wear to their first Father/Daughter dance. All the while, Nita is lost in her own cyclone of thoughts as she emotionally ingested the reality that she would have a baby girl soon. Nita’s main concern: “how do I keep her from knowing how her dad is when he is angry.” It hadn’t been an issue since they found out she was pregnant, but before then Shawn would become abusive when he was angry. Nita believed that he loved her, but she wished he had a better handle on his anger. When they arrived home, Nita told Shawn she was tired and was going to lay down, he was okay with that because he wanted to call his family and tell them the good news. Before she could get the room, she closed the door and tears exploded from her eyes as she thought “I don’t want my daughter to grow up like me…”

Now there are a number of subjects that are tip toed around in the church: money, sex, and domestic violence (or relationship violence) are some examples. Like Nita and Shawn, there are many families in the church that appear to be doing well, but behind closed doors, their lives are distinctly different. In 2013 Christianity Today cited a survey which reports that of all the discussions not taking place in the church, domestic violence is one of them. The report validated the argument that the church and church leaders are often silent when it comes to addressing this issue that can cross generations as in Nita’s case.

In other research, it is found that when church leaders do join the conversation and “help” survivors of abuse they often instruct women to be more submissive, forgive, change their behaviors, and pray more. There is still an expectation to stay in abusive relationships despite the documented effects that the abuse has on members of the family. Unfortunately, studies show that relationship violence is just as common in the Christian home as it is anywhere else. Some research cites that about 25% of Christian homes have reflected abuse of some form. Some of the reasons for this lack of attention to the matter is often because leaders feel untrained and incompetent to help, while others are naive to how important the matter may be in their congregations.

So what do we do Maggie? Are you saying that survivors of abuse should up and leave their partners? Here’s what I propose:

• While statistics show that attempts to leave a violent relationship can be fatal, one thing we can do is stop pretending and masking the realities that are facing families today.
• Stop having hushed conversations and start equipping one another with the resources, empowerment, and agency needed to obtain help. While God hates divorce, he loves his sons and daughters and would not want any of them abused in any way.
• Stop minimizing abusive behavior and seek help for anger management issues, and other emotional issues that result in abusive behaviors.
• Stop being permissive of those that exemplify behavior in abusive ways and hold them accountable to get help.
• If you know of persons that are experiencing and surviving abuse, support them and seek out information that will be helpful to them, as well as cover them in prayer and seek God’s wisdom as to how you can support them.

 

 

The “I Do”

What is marriage? I mean, if you had to define the word “marriage” how would you define it? If you had to describe it, what would you say? Would your definition or description be a combination of what you’ve heard others say? Or, would you use your own experiences and combine that with what you think it should be? Would you use a cute cliché, or quote a scripture to sound deep?

Well, after 5,315 days of being married allow me to share my definition. Marriage is what happens when a triangle and a circle become a rectangle. Marriage is the perfect blend of R&B, Jazz, Pop, Hip Hop, Rap, a little Rock & Roll, and Gospel music. In the 759 weeks that I have been married, I have learned so many lessons. You don’t just have to compromise, you must also put down your will to be right for the cause of being whole. As the Bible says, “Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?” (Amos 3:3).

A few of the 174.5 months of my marriage have been difficult because at times I felt like I was building a house with no blueprint. Almost like putting a puzzle together without seeing the picture as a guide. I mean, yes there were married couples in my family and I witnessed mothers and fathers that lived together while growing up, but there were always some parts of the relationships I witnessed that I didn’t want in my marriage. As a matter of fact, there were marriages in my church that I swore my marriage would NEVER look like! I used to envy others that had the television scripted marriage. I wanted for my marriage to be fixed in 47 minutes! To my amazement, that’s not what marriage is and furthermore, that’s not what MY marriage is. While I wanted my marriage to look like others that I saw, God let me know that I was merely window shopping. I was admiring all the work that was being put into other’s display, while at times neglecting mine, or half-hearted working on my own. I was in awe of the finished product without ever knowing what it took to get to what I could see.

So, as I walk into the 15th year of my marriage I am grateful that God loves me enough to allow me to have a man that loves him, and loves our children and will do everything within his ability for our family. Of course, that doesn’t get him an entrance into sainthood, but it does get him my continued support, honor, commitment, and a continual “I Do”.

My continued “I Do” is the way that I plant seeds in my marriage. “I Do” is collaborating with my husband to continue building a legacy for our family. It’s when I stop looking at other marriages and putting pressure on my husband to make our marriage look like theirs. Planting seeds is not always a glorious task, but it requires getting dirty from time to time. For example, when difficulty in communication comes and I push past the uncomfortable moments to reach the goals that we set in our relationship. Planting seeds is work! Whether that’s being more patient, loving, willing to sacrifice, enduring, creative, loyal, resilient or humorous.