one of the best gifts I ever received

I recently celebrated my birthday. And it was on my birthday years ago, that I was given one of the best gifts I have ever received. The gift was a Bible. The only other gift that compares is my beautiful custom-made rose gold diamond wedding ring. I still admire it daily as I’m proud to wear the title of a wifey and proud of my hunk of a husband. My ring is my symbol to show my daily choice in choosing him. I cherish these two items more than any other. If my home was on fire, these would be the two things I would grab on the way out.

I received this Bible from my brother for my 30th birthday. Little did I know that that would be my last birthday with him as he passed away the following year from cancer. I can’t give all the credit to my brother for buying this Bible for me as his wife was most likely the gift buyer haha just as I am in my household. But I will never forget what my brother said after I opened the gift. He said “the Bible isn’t something to just look at, it has power when put to use, so promise me you’ll use it?”  I hesitated, nodded with confusion, and then promised him I’d put it to use.

Power? A book of 66 chapters of stories that I’ve heard countless times in Sunday school is supposed to be full of power. Adam and Eve, Noah and the Ark, Jonah and the Whale, David and Goliath. This book of stories has power? It wouldn’t be for a couple years before I fulfilled my promise to my brother.

I was no stranger to the Bible. I’ve read it many times. I know a lot of Scripture from having to memorize it as I attended a private Christian school most of my life and it was required of me. Most of the Scripture had a few good takeaways and values I could add to my life, but I also didn’t understand a lot of it so I’d just skip over many of the passages. Where was this power that my brother was talking about? To me, the Bible was more of a history book with good stories we could all learn a little something from.

Over the next few years, I began to really dive into this ‘book of power’, and what I discovered was that the words started to jump off the pages and sink into my heart. I spent time trying to understand the passages that I seemingly passed over years before. It began to change my heart, change my mind and change my perspective. The Bible became my everyday guide to my everyday life, my everyday path, and my everyday steps.

The Bible was no longer a storybook or a history lesson with the occasional nuggets of wisdom. It now became my everyday book full of limitless power.

Allow me to highlight some of the continual and influential power the Bible has revealed to me and radically inspired in my life:

The Bible guides me: Just like when you are in a dark theater room, and you are looking for your seat and there are little foot lights to guide you to each row to eventually find your seat. God has provided footlights for your life in the Bible to guide us as we walk and to keep us from falling and tripping in this dark world. But just as this world is ever changing, we don’t just read the Bible once, and then boom, we have all the light and guidance we need for life. Even the light you received yesterday, is not enough light to guide you through today. That is why we need to read the Bible DAILY for daily light and daily guidance. Psalm 119:10 says “The Word (the Bible) is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path”.

The Bible gives comfort: I can call my family and girlfriends to encourage me and uplift me. My husband is my best friend and would do anything for me. But when you still feel hopeless and all the wisdom given to you just isn’t enough, God’s Word will shed light on your situation and bring you comfort that no human being can. It will give you a kingdom perspective versus the worldly perspective we live in. The Bible will burn hopelessness out of your life and give you a “peace that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). God’s word promises comfort as Jesus says “come to me all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest”. (Matthew 11:28)

The Bible is our greatest weapon: The Word of God is Truth. We live in a world full of lies. Whether its lies others tell you, or lies that you tell yourself. Lies keep us from living in freedom and keep us from pursuing our dreams using our God-given talents. They hurt ourselves and often hurt our loved ones. Do you know where those lies come from? The devil himself. In fact, “there is no truth in him…for he is a liar, and the father of lies”. (John 8:44)  And the only way to defend against the lies, is to know and combat them with the truth. God left us with the greatest offensive weapon of all to tackle the lies that keep you hostage in this life. That weapon is the Bible. For the Bible is the opposite of lies and is the “Truth.” (Psalm 33:4, 119: 142, 160) Knowing God’s word (aka the truth) in our mind, in our heart, and speaking it out of our lips will defeat the lies being thrown at us everyday.

I now hunger for God’s Word like food. I thirst for it like water. I soak in it. I lose myself in it. I put it on like it’s my favorite accessory. And I weave it into my soul so that it becomes part of the fabric in my life. I’ve seen it change my life, my marriage, and my perspective with everything I face in front of me for the day. It is wise, it is a counselor, it is satisfying. I strive to “meditate on it day and night” just as Joshua 1:8 encourages us to do so.

Along with my brother, Martin Luther experienced the power of the Word that later led him to write “The Bible is alive, it speaks to me, it has feet, it runs after me, it has hands, and it lays hold on me.”

Remember, when you are holding the Bible, you are holding the actual Word of God in your hands. It is a precious treasure that we all have access to. I challenge you to just dive in. And if it doesn’t make sense, keep on diving in. God will speak directly to you as he promises that “if you seek me, you will find me when you search for me with all your heart”. (Jeremiah 29:13) Seek Him in His Word and as He promises – you will FIND him. God’s purpose isn’t that we just get into His Word, but that His Word gets into us. That the words that are printed on the pages of His Word would become permanently written on our hearts. Go after it girl!

the perks of being single

Yes, you read the title correctly. I am writing about the PERKS of being single. All the benefits and joys of living that single life. This picture above was taken the weekend my husband and I officially became boyfriend and girlfriend. It was three years ago on 4th of July weekend. The title boyfriend and girlfriend lasted all of 94 days before he proposed to me and became my fiancé. But It was the last weekend we were both “single”.

Let me start of by saying that I love my husband and I love being married. I am so grateful I found my teammate who always has my back. And as cliché as it sounds, it came when I least expected it. I am grateful that I get to have a sleepover with my best friend every night. I am grateful that I have someone that asks how my day is and that I get to share all my crazy ideas and dreams with. I’m grateful that I get to build a life with someone and not to mention that someone is a good looking fella that I get to look at daily. There are many perks of being married as I just listed a few.

But what about that single life leading up to dating?

When I was single, every book on the shelf about this topic was all one-in-the-same. There were countless books on how to get over an ex, or how to get that perfect guy. One classic book that was passed through the hands of most of my girlfriends was “why men marry bitches” by Sherry Argov. The book talks about how being extra nice doesn’t necessarily mean the guy you are with will be more devoted. The book teaches you how being a “bitch” will  get a guy to propose to you. That was just many of the books that I came across teaching you to be a certain way in order to land a guy. Oddly enough, my husband said one of the things he was looking for in a future wife was a gal that was sweet as he said those are hard to come by. Sweet AKA nice AKA not mean/bitchy like that book describes. Although I read that book along with countless other women, my husband ended up choosing me for the complete opposite. I know all men are different and to each their own, but there are so many books and advice out there on how to either win the next guy in the future or how to overcome a breakup from the past.

But where was all the advice on just being in the present moment of being single? And why does all the advice need to focus on what you had or what you don’t have yet?

For all my single ladies out there, what would life look like if you EMBRACED being single? Rather than feel left out, lonely, or behind all your friends who are engaged and getting married?

Every journey is different. But one thing I did when I was single was I viewed my single years as a once-in- a-lifetime experience. Trust me, a wedding is a once in a lifetime experience too and I loved every detail about my wedding. But if your goal is to be married for the rest of your life, then that means you only have this small window to be single. So why wouldn’t you EMBRACE it to the fullest?

What does that look like? Lets discuss both practically and Biblically speaking.

It’s going to look different for everyone, but for me, one of the many most basic perks was I only had myself to focus on. A relationship or marriage takes a lot of selfless action. Being single, it’s all about one person…me. I could eat whatever I wanted for dinner without asking what the other person wanted. I could go on vacations wherever and spend all the time in the world with my girlfriends and family because I had nowhere else to be. No one else’s feelings and desires to worry about. I could work on any venture and in any career not worrying about how it would affect another person or a family at home. I could spend all my money on clothes, and I did just that. All of it! Ha, oops. I could move to any state I wanted to without caring about anyone else’s feelings, and I did just that. I truly focused on ME, and not what anyone else was doing. And that time was priceless.

Remember, one can still be happy, and a husband is not a prerequisite to that. My husband compliments my life in ways I didn’t know possible, and I wouldn’t trade him, nor our love story for anything in the world. But he (and all husbands) are not the key that makes one happy.

If you are in a season of not loving the single life, I encourage you to rethink the way you are looking at being single. Being single is a season one should embrace as it’s a season you are able to live “without distraction” as stated in 1 Corinthians 7:35. Earlier in the chapter, it highlights that “the unmarried woman cares about things of the Lord and her aim is to be holy in her body and her spirit…but a married woman has to think about her earthly responsibilities caring about the things of the world –  and how she may please her husband.” I still have a beautiful relationship with God, but now I have a family (my hubby and pup) that need my attention and dedication as well. Being single, your sole focus is God and living for Him and Him only.

For most of us, this is the ONE time you can live a life solely for God and yourself without any distractions. Be encouraged that it’s not permanent. Thank God for this season as it’s a gift with no distraction. So make the most of it for as long as you have it.  Ask God what it is He wants to do with you during your season of singleness. Create a list of all the things you want in a husband and then hand it over to God. “Keep your eyes fixed on God” (Hebrews 12:2) until the day you meet your husband. And don’t forget to pray for your future husband as God hears every prayer. 1 John 5:14 says “ Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us”.

In addition, focus on what makes you happy, learn new things, try new passions, spend time doing the things that make you happy and make you ‘you’. There are the times to be selfish with your time and energy. Focus your time on what makes you happy in this present moment because until you can experience happiness by yourself, how can you experience it with another person?

Both being single and married has it perks. Both challenge you. Both strengthen you. Both discipline you. Both grow you. Both teach you. And both change you. Being single and being married do all of that. However, the one perk of being single that sets this time apart, is it’s typically just a short season in the grand scheme of life. So embrace it TODAY. You have a forever fairy tale for the rest of your life ahead of you, but only this moment in your life to be single. EMBRACE it to the fullest.

XoXo,

Alisha Headley