Delayed But Not Denied

"I should be farther along by now."
"Why didn't I finish school when I had the chance?"
"I could've written over 20 something books by now."
"Why haven't I written and produced all of the plays God has given me?"
"I should be speaking all over the country by now."
"I feel like I've wasted so much time..."
"Maybe if I hadn't ________, I could've ________."

I think at least one of those thoughts everyday. This last year I've really been hard on myself. I know, I know. You're already thinking that I shouldn't be hard on myself, right? Or, maybe you're thinking that I can still do all of those things. You are right! I shouldn't be hard on myself, and I can still do all that I aspire and desire to do. That's not the problem.

I talk to so many people who are unsure of what their calling is, or who have the faintest clue as to what they are good at. I talk to so many people who are trying to figure out what to do with their life, in their life. I can't imagine how it feels to NOT KNOW what you're supposed/want to do in life. However, I can imagine how it feels to actually KNOW exactly what your calling is and what you're good at and seem helpless to accomplish those things. <-- THAT'S the problem.

From as early as the eighth grade, I've known that I was a writer. That was EIGHTEEN years ago! I have not written one book. I've started over twenty-two books but I've finished none. Do you know how frustrating that is? It isn't that I am incapable. Other things just came up and distracted my attention...for eighteen years. (O_o)

The plan was to write books, go to college and major in English, get my MFA (Master of Fine Arts) with a concentration in Creative Writing, get booked for speaking engagements all over the world, write and produce plays that would eventually be movies, have two non-profit organizations, and live happily ever after with my husband and children :-)

I am very happy with my husband and children! Very happy! But all of the other stuff got lost somewhere along the way :-/ And yes, it bothers me from time to time. But I'm sure you gathered that already.

Well, yesterday I was driving, on my way to a particular place. I knew exactly where I was going and I knew the best route to get there. I was also on a schedule; so time was of the essence. When I got to the main street, the road was closed. I didn't like it one bit. I had to turn around and go another way. When I got going the other way, there were detour signs. I didn't like that either and was becoming more and more aggravated. I had to drive on all kinds of extra roads and make all kinds of extra turns that took all kinds of extra time. What should've been a ten minute trip took over thirty minutes. 

In my frustration, God ministered to me. He told me that even though I was taking alternate routes that would make my trip longer, I was still going to end up at my destination. He immediately brought to my mind all of my concerns about my hopes and dreams and showed me that it was the same thing. As we church folk like to say, "Delay is not denial." God showed me that just as I eventually ended up on the right road yesterday, I am on the right road now in my life. It may have taken me some time to get here, but I am here...more focused, more disciplined, more God-driven.

I have been working on my dreams and aspirations this whole year like never before. But I allowed my "should've, could've, would've's" to get me down. I cannot go back into my past and redo or undo anything. I can, however, move forward and do the things I know I am to do.

One of my favorite scriptures is the beginning of Ecclesiastes 9:4. It reads, "Anyone who is among the living has hope..." I am among the living. So there is hope for me! As long as I am alive, I will keep pushing/working towards my dreams.

You can too! Just because you've hit a few bumps in the road and had to take some detours throughout life, does not mean that you won't arrive at your destination. God took the time out of his busy schedule to encourage me. I, in turn, am in encouraging you. You can do it! You have HIM in you!!!

What are your hopes and dreams? What have you been called to do? What obstacles have you faced in trying to reach your destiny. Leave a comment and share.

Until next time, Pretty Girls...xoxo!



Where My Girls At?!

I grew up in a small town where everybody knew everybody. Growing up so closely with my peers ultimately lead to bonds that were unbreakable. Those peers eventually evolved into friends. Of course my friends and I went through some rough patches. We always found our way back to each other, or at the very least, we rose to the occasion if one or the other were in need. Over time, life happened to a lot of us. We grew up and encountered situations that either brought us close together or drove us apart. I am pleased to say that my hometown friends are still my friends twenty plus years later.

I met girls in college. When I joined my former church home, I met girls there. On every job that I have ever worked, I met girls and stayed in touch with at least one person after I left whatever place of employment it was at that time. My friends often joke and tease me about being a magnet. They say I am the only person they know who has a "thousand" friends. To be honest with you, I don't really know why this happens. I don't set out to make friends with people on purpose. I am polite and engaging and can hold a conversation with almost anybody. However, I am not sure if those are the reasons that I have so many friends. I am just as baffled by it as my friends are. 

Why am I telling you all of this? Why am I giving you a run-down of my friend history? It is because of my experience with my "newer" friends. In the last three or four years, I have met women who have little or no friends. They don't trust other females and/or have been betrayed by more than one friend over the years. This has caused them to put up a wall. They are guarded and are uncomfortable with developing friends with any other female. Well, how did they end up being friends with me, you ask? Like I said, "I am polite and engaging and can hold a conversation with almost anybody":-) 

These girls, my "newer" friends, are some extraordinary women. They are trustworthy. They are kind and will go out of their way to help me. They are not messy or envious. They are God-fearing, lovable women. I cannot understand why they don't have as many friends as I have. I found myself desiring for my "newer" friends to experience the same love and devotion from other females as I have experienced all of my life.

You know what the world says about women. They say we are catty, jealous-hearted, messy, competitive, and many other things that are not so nice. Tonight, on this blog, I am declaring that to be a lie! I am none of those things. My friends are none of those things. And, there are countless of other women who are none of those things. 

Don't be fooled, ladies. You are not alone. If you desire healthy, God-inspired friendships, there is hope. I know that I am not the only young woman who can testify that there are women with integrity that are worth being friends with. My "newer" friends are discovering that day by day. I have shown myself friendly to them and even introduced them to other women just like them. Their friendships with each other are getting stronger with each passing day. 

I thank God that He allowed me to meet, know, and befriend some of the best friends a girl can ever have. I used to find it annoying that I always met someone and became attached. Now I embrace it and relish in it simply because I've found how rare a good friend is. 

My name is Danielle Martin and I have fifteen really good friends. I thank God for them daily. My life is richer for having known them and loved them. These girls, with their non catty, non jealous-hearted, non messy, non competitive selves are a gift from God.

Let's shatter the lies now! Leave a comment and say something nice and wonderful about those girlfriends who had your back when times got rough. Let the world know (or at least the people that follow this blog) that they are wrong about us. We are trustworthy and honest and supportive and loving. Where my girls at?!

Until next time, Pretty Girls... xoxo

P.S. Below are my closest, most dearest friends. I absolutely love each and every one of them. I would do almost anything within the confines of the law for them :-) LOL!!



Testimony Tuesday: Savor God's Favor #3

"But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." -Matthew 6: 23-24

Wanting to please God and live for Him conflicts greatly with what satisfies our flesh. We want to be accepted. But the greatest reward in pleasing and living for God is that we are accepted by Him. There are many pressures that we will have to face. But God is faithful. He will never leave us nor forsake us. He has a plan for each of us and He will bring us to our "expected end". This is Testimony Tuesday. It's time to Savor the very Favor of God. Let's go!

Miss Shaw of Louisiana wrote:
As a teenager and young adult, peer pressure has always been a struggle. I went to McKinley High School and desired to fit in. I was a Christian. But my lifestyle didn't say Christian. The light I was displaying was dim all because I wanted to fit in with the world. The world would say it's okay to listen to Trey Songz; It's okay to have sex before marriage; It's okay to kiss a girl. The world encourages you to just try it. The devil is such a smooth talker. Three years in high school and I was a hypocrite. I would pray with people and then curse them out afterwards. 
It was in my last year of high school that God told me that I couldn't serve two masters. God said, "I didn't create you to fit in... but to stand out". 
I fell to my face and asked for a pure heart. To remove everything that is not like Him.
To make a long story short, I was a hypocrite but God still loved me. He is using my story to reach other people and encourage them to let their light really shine. You are never alone! Despite the mess and drama I was in, God still loved me. Man can't love you like God loves you. 
I stand today totally focused on Christ and honored to say God calls me friend.

Testimony Tuesday: Savor God's Favor #2

"He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." -Isaiah 40:29-30

The testimony I'm about to transcribe puts me in mind of yet another song :-) LOL!! You'll get that a lot from me being that I absolutely LOVE music. See if you can guess. The ad lib part goes like this: "While you're trying to figure it out...". Can you guess the next line? Of course you can! "God's already worked it out". This following testimony is a great example of that line. This is Testimony Tuesday. It's time to Savor the very Favor of God. Let's go!

Ms. Lewis of Louisiana wrote:
My oldest son began having issues in school several years ago. His first grade teacher complained that he could not remember the last thing that he read or heard. His comprehension was not the best and it reflected in his grades. As a mother, I was bothered. I wanted the very best for my son as any mother would. When the same problem carried over to the second grade, I began to worry even more. This did not help as I became more forceful in my teaching approach with him. That would send him even further in a shell because he was truly trying the best he could. By the time third grade hit us, I was an emotional wreck. I was worried out of my mind because he was getting closer to having to take the LEAP test in the fourth grade. We all know that it doesn't matter how good a child's grades are. The LEAP test determines if you pass to the next grade level. I knew I had to do something fast. 
I decided to start my son with a tutor who I paid $25 per hour, twice a week. This took somewhat of a toll on my finances but I was determined to whatever it took to help him. After weeks of tutoring, there was no progress. The tutor complained that he was not where he needed to be and that he needed more time with her. I didn't have more time and I definitely didn't have any money to keep wasting. My son had trouble remembering what he was taught in the last session when it came to recap time. I ended his tutoring sessions. Determined to save him from having to take the LEAP test, I decided to enroll him in private school. The private school tested him and explained that he wasn't on level. However, since his siblings were above level, they enrolled him. I was hopeful and felt that I had finally succeeded in getting my son out of taking the LEAP test. That was until I received the tuition cost for THREE children! I went back to the drawing board.  
Fourth grade finally arrived and my son's comprehension was even worse than before. He started receiving more failing grades on tests and his report card was one that I'd rather not share. Again, I felt I had to do something. What mother wouldn't? I decided to take him to the Doctor to see if they could figure out what was causing his comprehension issue. I wanted to get a report from the Doctor to convince the school to let him skip the LEAP test or at the very least, let someone help him on testing day. The Doctor's report showed that my son was on level and that his IQ was too high for the school to provide any additional assistance. 
By this time, I was stressed out. My eyes were always puffy from crying, my hair was thinning out, I couldn't sleep at night, and I lost the little appetite I had left. I gave up. There was nothing else I could do.
But that's when I realized that I had been doing everything but the right thing. All I could do was pray pray pray. The Lord told me to lay all my burdens on Him. He allowed me to go through every avenue until I had exhausted all of my options- except Him. I totally turned my son and his comprehension over to the Lord. Once I let go, I had peace. I was no longer worried or stressed out. I was really putting all of my trust in God. By the time the LEAP test rolled around, I had completely forgotten about all my worries. All that I could do was WAIT on the results.
My son's teacher sent a text the morning she received the results. All it said was "PASSED!" 
This truly taught me a lesson. He knew my son had the equipment he needed to pass the test. God had already worked it out. If only I had trusted Him from the beginning, I wouldn't have stressed myself or my son out trying to handle it on my own!

Testimony Tuesday: Savor God's Favor #1

"As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, 'Go home to your own people and tell hem how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.' So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed." -Mark 5:18-20

There's an old song that comes to mind when it comes to telling people the thing(s) that God has done for us. "Said I wasn't gonna tell nobody... but I couldn't keep it to myself. I had to tell somebody else what the Lord has done for me". When something great happens in our lives, it is hard NOT to share it. We are overcome with happiness and joy and that happiness and joy bubbles over and flows right out of us. We cannot, and should DARE not keep the goodness of God to ourselves. There is always someone else going through what seems like a hopeless situation that could be encouraged and benefit from hearing our praise report or testimony. I personally believe it would be a disservice to the Almighty to not spread His great news and encourage His people. This is Testimony Tuesday. It's time to Savor the very Favor of God. Let's go!

Miss Washington of Louisiana wrote:
Towards the end of May I was laid off. The company I worked for was closing down. I thought for sure that I would be able to find a job in no time. I had experience and most of all, I had God on my side. I was confident that He would help me find another job quickly. That confidence slowly faded away. I was jobless the entire summer. I had interviews and the person who interviewed me was always impressed. However, they were not impressed enough to actually hire me. Interview after interview, I was rejected. My bank account was down to nothing and I had no idea how I was going to eat from day to day. It was very discouraging. I won't lie to you. I questioned and even doubted God during this time. I wanted to give up so bad. But something just wouldn't let me. Just when I thought I couldn't go another day, my name came up before a hiring staff and they contacted me about going on an interview for a job they thought matched my interests. I was skeptical. I didn't want to go on another interview where the people were blown away with me but would choose another candidate for the job. But again, something kept pushing me and urging me to go. I went. It was the job I had always dreamed of having. And guess what? They loved me! And not only that, but they actually offered ME the job this time. 
I'm sure this is where you think I began to praise God like nobody's business. Not yet. Fear and doubt caused me to settle for a position a little lower than the one they offered me. I didn't think I was qualified enough for the higher position. But God! He has a way of bringing things full circle for us even when we doubt the very blessing He tries to give us. A few weeks later, the person they hired for the job I turned down quit. Guess who they wanted to fill the position? Me! This time I really felt that God was giving me another chance to walk in what I was called to do. I wrestled a little bit. I won't lie. Do I walk in this door God has opened for me AGAIN? Or do I allow fear to keep me limited? Ii decided to trust God. If he created and opened this door for me to walk through, why would I just stand there? Now I have a career! I accepted the position. I accepted the call. The job I had seen myself working my entire life is mine! I wake up everyday excited to go to work. I praise Him and thank Him for thinking enough of me to use me when I didn't think I was qualified enough to be used! 


If You Can't Stand The Heat, PART TWO

Fast forward from last week's blog post to my kitchen experience from yesterday. What do you get? You get "If You Can't Stand The Heat PART TWO"! :-) The blogging experience continues...

I made my famous homemade hamburgers yesterday. If you haven't had one, you're missing out. Aside from that, I learned yet another lesson in my kitchen. What's great about God teaching us is that it never ends. He is ever-teaching and if we are sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit, we can be ever-learning. He continues to build on those things that He has already taught us/revealed to us. Continuing in a particular lesson can lead to a greater understanding of the lesson as a whole.

Let's review! Last week's blog post talked about dealing with things before they settle into our hearts and souls and become a part of who we are. "Things" can be problems, doubts, fears, weaknesses, sins, etc. What we do not want is to sweep our issues under a rug. Eventually, there will be a insurmountable pile under that rug that you will have to deal with. We also do not want to try and handle things on our own. God has told us to allow Him to fight our battles. He has admonished us to cast our cares on Him. He is the potter (Isaiah 64:8)!

What I learned from this week is to clean up as I go along. In other words (for the sake of this blog discussion), what I learned from this week is to acknowledge any problem or sin immediately and go to God with it even faster. I don't need to tell you that by doing this very thing you will alleviate so much spiritual clutter in your lives. I didn't want to repeat the cleaning process I had to endure last week. So this is what happened this week. Stay with me...

I used a bowl to mix and season the ground meat. I used a plate to place the prepared patties on. I used a pan to bake them in. I used a plate to cut the lettuce and tomatoes on. I used a knife to cut the lettuce and tomatoes. I used a plate to actually put the lettuce and tomatoes on after I'd cut them. I used four additional plates to actually serve myself, my husband and two children. I used a spatula to get the patties out of the pan. During my culinary task, my children wanted juice. That's two more cups. Add two more cups for my husband and I. I used a spoon to scoop the mayonnaise. I used a butter knife to cut the burgers in half for my children. Add all of these dishes up and you get another dirty kitchen!

However, I learned from my past mistake of letting dishes pile up and the particles of food in the pots settle. This time I washed dishes and cleaned as I went along. The dishes from the previous paragraph didn't exist by the time I served my family. Each and every dish, utensil, and pan had been put away. Other than the plates we were eating on, the kitchen was cleaned.

I was able to enjoy the rest of my day without worrying or stressing over when I'd have time to clean my kitchen.

Do you get it? God wants us to enjoy our lives in Him. It is not His will that we stress and worry over the things that He has already conquered through Jesus Christ. Go to Him right away! Repent for the sin(s) you commit right away! The Bible says, "lay aside every weight... let us run with patience..." (Hebrews 12:1, KJV). You are not meant to carry those burdens. You cannot "run with patience" if you are stressed, worried, and bogged down with the "cares of this world" (Mark 4:19, KJV).

Our ONLY job is to clean up as we go. How do we do that? I'll answer that question with a verse from one of my favorite hymns.

What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry Everything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry Everything to God in prayer!

Lesson learned!

Until next time, Pretty Girls... xoxo