I recently viewed TV One’s, “When Love Kills: The Falicia Blakely Story” and was utterly heartbroken at such a tragic tale. Blakely, now a prisoner for life, fell victim to an existence of prostitution and crime all before the age of 20. Her guilt in the murders of several men was undeniable as she was persuaded by her pimp and much older boyfriend, Dino, to carry out the heinous crimes. One might also attribute a lack of stability in her upbringing (i.e. sexual abuse experienced as a child and limited involvement of birth parents) to her demise. Whatever the case, Blakely had hit a brick wall in her teenage years as she would enter an unhealthy relationship with Dino. Blakely, now 33 years old, openly confesses the reality of how Dino actually treated her during those tumultuous times.
Unhealthy relationships reveal hard truths – no matter who the woman is – Blakely or anyone else. Far too often, the women involved in such relationships don’t recognize that what they are experiencing is actually unhealthy. Their suitor may be handsome, charismatic, and generous. These qualities usually overshadow the reality of something much deeper: abuse. Blakely, clearly a victim of such maltreatment, was well misinformed as she fell prey to the power of manipulation and coercion.
Hard Truth #1: A Shattered Identity
I’ll never forget the “gift” that Dino gave Blakely in the form of a necklace that bore an ornament of a “padlock.” Such a gift was blatantly indicative of the bondage that Dino would desire to place Blakely in as he took ownership of her identity. Who could of Blakely grown up to be without the likes of Dino? A teacher? A doctor? An actress? He had influence over her identity well before she was mature enough to learn differently.
Hard Truth #2: Lack of Self Worth
Blakely depended greatly on using her body for “gain.” Her worth was determined by how many suitors she could convince to pay her for “services” rendered. Dino deemed her worthless without the “proper” amount of revenue accumulated during her sexual excursions. Unfortunately, Dino’s thoughts of her became the norm for how she viewed herself.
Hard Truth #3: Forfeit of Freedom
How ironic it was for Blakely to “obey” Dino and his requests and not even receive his loyalty. Nowhere was he to be found when she was being tried in court for all of the crimes and murders she committed. Blakely’s allegiance to an unhealthy relationship came with a hefty price: her freedom. The freedom to develop into a woman, mother, purposeful citizen, and God knows what was stripped from her as she protected Dino from all potential charges. Life in prison was her fate as she will spend the rest of her days in the system without a chance of parole.
I began developing this resource for women at the beginning of 2017 and don’t deem it a coincidence as I share it today in light of the Falicia Blakely story. I outline ten relationship tips that are guided by practical and spiritual principles that will help women distinguish between what’s healthy and unhealthy. God surely has a response for relationships – even the unhealthy ones. Feel free to check it out HERE or share it with another woman who could use it. God bless you!
Benoit, Kevin. 8/28/17. Parlemag.com. “The Real Falicia Blakely Story – What the Film Didn’t Tell You.”
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
May every “valley” experience that we face be an opportunity for us to lean on God even the more. For he is the great Shepherd. We can trust the places and the timing of his direction. He makes no mistakes. We place every circumstance in the hands of God, acknowledging that we are powerless on our own. But as we yield to God in obedience, we become supernaturally equipped to walk in power and authority. We are not defeated because Jesus fulfilled the greatest victory known over 2000 years ago on the Cross of Calvary. We shun fear and we adopt courage to keep on moving – moving toward our destiny. We are not alone – even in the “valley.” The great Shepherd is with us – even in the “valley.” Our greatest reward is being known by the Shepherd and being guided in his loving care. May our “cups run over” with more love, joy, peace, long-suffering, faith, meekness, temperance, goodness, and gentleness. We surrender.
In Jesus Christ’s Name, Amen
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Did you know that the engagement period is the best time to start working together as a team? The wedding planning and the meticulous details of coordinating your new life together is great experience at building teamwork and cooperation as a couple. I know entering this new phase of life on the right foot is your top priority.
Wedding planners, advisers, coordinators, etc. are wonderful but there are just some things that need to be directly handled by you and your spouse-to-be. Consider yourselves the “managers” of your marriage (with GOD as the CEO), doing what’s absolutely necessary to carry out the vision for your life. I chose to outline these tips in the form of meetings that would be carried out by you and your spouse as equal participants in a very important discussion. Consider these three types of meetings now as you await your upcoming nuptials – Family Vision Meeting, Personal Achievement Meeting, and Financial Planning Meeting. I chose to share a bit more about the “Financial Planning Meeting” toward the end since $$$ is a leading cause of conflict in marriages.
FAMILY VISION MEETING
I believe every couple has a purposeful existence here on earth. You may be called to procreate in order to birth the 2060 nominee for the President of the United States. You may serve natural disaster victims, leading a team of volunteers to impact the good of humanity. You may start a neighborhood watch group out of concern for increased crime in your area. Whatever it is, now is a great time to find the “heart” of your marriage. What motivates you both beyond yourselves? What legacy will you leave behind? Ponder together your shared values and generate ways to proactively be the best parents you can, outreach to those less fortunate, or create that awesome program that will make others’ lives better. This doesn’t have to happen overnight. Create a timeline for attaining such goals as you prepare to take your neighborhoods and world by storm. Meet at least quarterly to discuss or revise your plans.
PERSONAL ACHIEVEMENT MEETING
Does one of you (or both of you) want to go back to school or receive special training? What does this look like for the family, time wise? I can remember when my husband and I decided that we wouldn’t attend graduate school at the same time. We didn’t want two preoccupied students in the house amidst our already busy schedules. My husband attended first because his job was footing the tuition bill at the time. I attended graduate school a couple of years later when I was sure of what I wanted to study. This arrangement worked for our family, as we could “serve” the studying spouse as a cheerleader of constant encouragement while assisting with editing papers and assignments.
At your own meeting, sit down with your calendar, journals, and/or planner. Assist each other with planning personal goals, as you both strive to improve yourselves in various areas, whether it be in your education, career, or health. Clearly define the goals and hold each other accountable to time lines and specifics. Meet quarterly to discuss how far you’ve come with meeting those goals.
FINANCIAL PLANNING MEETING
Can you imagine the executives of a major billion dollar corporation not meeting to discuss the order of business for a week, month, quarter, or year? I’m pretty sure that many meetings took place in order for them to attain their current billion dollar status as they planned, organized, and executed their next big business move. As technical (and not romantic) as it may sound, this same mindset has to be adopted by married couples as they attempt to foster a healthy financial mindset. Monthly review of bank statements, budgets, and saving goals can be the agenda of your particular “exec” meeting. Use these meetings to also discuss ways to adopt better habits and attitudes towards money. No matter what level of income you achieve, proper communication and wise decision making is crucial to money mastery.
Here are some attributes of couples with a healthy financial mindset:
- they don’t live for the joneses to keep up with every latest car, clothing designer, restaurant, and luxury brand in order to feel good about themselves
- they understand saving $$$ is a priority and not an option as emergency funds and retirement accounts take precedence over frivolous matters that hold no true value (Ask yourself this? Could I borrow against an expensive cell phone or a $1000 handbag if I need money in a pinch?)
- they realize that true wealth is not centered on how much money can be attained but is characteristic of the high quality of relationships and life lived
- they remain thankful for progress and celebrate small victories
- they respect each other’s salary amount and contributions to the budget and household
- they have a joint bank account in order to work together to plan how household bills will be accounted for (I’ve witnessed spouses scrambling around every month to pay “their portion” of the bills. They were always short the money needed as they stressed over ways to pay it. It is my belief that no spouse should have to endure this. As a team, couples should work together to figure out the details of the budget, removing the pressure off of any one individual.)
I hope you find these tips useful. Feel free to share with a bride-to-be. God bless you!
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From the time she plays with her first dolls and relishes in the romanticized love stories of television, the average girl must dream up her fairy tale life thousands, if not millions of times. Fantasies of the “perfect life” dance in her mind as she envisions a mate, beautiful home, 4-door car in the driveway, 2.5 kids, and a puppy to add to the mix. I won’t portray her as some sort of weird or dysfunctional creature because many of us have been this little girl – including me.
God’s design for relationships makes us naturally inclined to want companionship – so there shouldn’t be any guilt for this desire (Genesis 2:23). But just as Satan perverts everything he can get his filthy hands on, he has surely tainted this very desire in an unhealthy way. And this is why some single women become “love struck” in a sense as their emotions and passions are imbalanced as it pertains to relationships. They tend to:
- have endless relationships back to back
- be unable to enjoy their own company
- be infatuated with building the ultimate love life at any cost – even when their person of interest is obviously not the one for them
So how does one “tame” the natural feelings and emotions for desiring love?
Again, God created you this way and would never want you to evolve into a person who suppresses their passionate selves. However, one must redirect such energies to a more God-centered focus. God forbid that the unhealthy pursuit of love, relationships, and marriage become an idol within the heart – a place where God should reign. Let’s outline 3 ways for ensuring that such an idol be torn down or never take root to begin with:
- Put dating on pause. What? What? Yes, and that also means serious flirting, number exchanging, long phone calls, engaging texting/messaging, and “friends with benefits” behavior. Scratch it off your agenda as you take a momentary/temporary period away from the “love game.” You will need this time to regroup emotionally and think without the noise of potential distractions. I can assure you that the time alone will be one of the most freeing things you can do for your spiritual life. It may take some time to get adjusted, but pray for more patience as you seek to embrace the process. This tip will be especially beneficial for those who have been used to being hooked up with somebody for every month and every year of their dating lives.
- Find solace in God. Psalm 91 says it well, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.” And when you consistently tap into the secret place, there won’t be room for the temporary satisfaction of being “swept off your feet” by love in all the wrong places. On the contrary, it’s in the secret places of being “swept off your feet” by the Most High God that will place you in a very unique position to experience refreshment, emotional healing, and an abundant overflow of joy. It’s in this place that you learn that there is no other comparable love. Over time, those who intentionally connect with God on intimate levels of prayer, praise/worship, and meditation will begin to crave His presence as their heart becomes tender to who God is truly – loving, gracious, merciful, compassionate, and all satisfying.
- Live and don’t just exist! That’s right, it’s time to live! I facilitated a young women’s group earlier in 2017 and this was my closing advice for those who wanted to make the most of their single status. I couldn’t stress enough that being single is not about waiting on love, but about living! Get a passport. Travel to beautiful places. Take a class. Find a new hobby. Volunteer at a homeless or children’s shelter. Try a new restaurant. Learn to cook or seek to improve your skills. The list could go on but live, darling. Be empowered by the Holy Spirit to evolve into the woman you were intended to be as you explore and become more intentional, confident, and purposeful about the life that God has granted you.
God bless you and don’t hesitate to email me at info@WomenSeekingGod.org regarding questions, concerns, or prayer requests. Further your biblical study of faith, womanhood, and relationships by viewing a video of an Online Retreat I hosted – CLICK HERE.
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Who likes to be the bearer of any type of “difficult” news especially when a person’s hope is all the way up to the moon and back again? But with my most serious face, I say:
MARRIAGE IS WORK.
And in lieu of another beautiful wedding season, I pick up my pencil and continue my “speech.”
The married women reading this particular blog article are probably nodding with me in agreement. The single women might be a little scared at the moment. The engaged women might be rolling their eyes out of annoyance as they await their own wedding date. Whatever the case, I proceed.
Imagine getting new plants that you are depending on to grow and thrive since you plan to allow them to be your sole food source for vegetables. There are no other options for vegetables and you must cater to these plants with great care. So you water them. You remove any weeds – God forbid your precious plants choke from the unnecessary effects of them. You even talk to your plants daily, as you once heard that they respond to human communication. You “need” these plants and you’ll do anything to keep them alive. Your dedication to your vegetable plants becomes evident as you now have a garden that is not only beautiful but edible. What began as mere sprouts will grace the many dinner plates to come in the form of delicious and healthy food. You’ve worked hard for your results.
Now imagine approaching marriage in a similar manner as the vegetable garden. Although you may be strong in your faith, you are in “need” of your spouse as the complimenting gift that God has allowed. Your spouse does not serve as your “life source” – because God is your “life source” – but you love your husband dearly. You understand that the marriage God has blessed you with must serve a purpose (God doesn’t allow anything without a purpose and marriage is no different). So out of your “need” for your gift – your husband – you nurture your marriage with meticulous care. You listen as he speaks. You do attentive and nice things that will please his heart. You remind him of his potential when the world constantly tries to attack his manhood. And most importantly, you pray like you’ve never prayed before. You pray for him as a husband. You pray for yourself as a wife. You pray that God’s role in your life be magnified as you both denounce Satan’s tactics to destroy your marriage. You pray that you are able to “stand” – stand in the good, the bad, in sickness, in health, when money is low, and in the face of the most disappointing circumstances of your marriage.
Marriage is WORK, but may the rewards of your diligence be evident in God’s due season. May your marriage continue to blossom as the “plants” mentioned above. Put the WORK in, lady. Put the WORK in – prayerfully.
I’m preparing for the week on this beautiful Sunday night and I gave myself permission to do something awesome: I’m throwing perfection out the door (again). I even finally got enough courage to niche this blog to “faith, womanhood, and relationships,” as I attempt to save time and energy as a more prioritized wife, mom, minister, and career woman.
If any of you can relate to my type of personality as a person who is constantly trying to get things done – this blog post is just for you. I realize more and more that the next part of my journey can’t afford this type of “self-imposing intervention.” I must only do what I can as I trust God with where he’s led me. And recently, God has led me to a pretty wonderful opportunity. Tomorrow will mark the start of my first full week at my new job as an instructor at a local community college here in New Jersey. I’m ecstatic about the possibilities and want to be “all in” for this special teaching assignment. Taking on “too much” during this season is definitely off my radar.
As I get ready to iron clothes, sing one more lullaby to my 3 year old, check in with my husband, and rest up for tomorrow, I will quickly outline three ways to discern what’s right for you in this season of your life:
- Pray. Pray. Pray some more. God’s voice is the one we want to be heard over our own self-talk and constant distractions.
- Pay attention to how God is using you the most at this time. Are you “rocking it out” as a nurse, volunteer, secretary, mom, entrepreneur, etc.? Follow this path and don’t veer from it. I knew specifically when it was time to shift from being a stay-at-home mom to working as a teacher again. Once I discerned this, the doors that God was allowing “flew open.”
- Couple your spiritual nourishment with physical nourishment. Outside of prayer and meditation, be sure to get some exercise if you can. Something as simple as a walk will help you clear your head and think as you multitask the duties of womanhood, relationships, work, and life period.
Have a lovely week and I look forward to connecting again! Be sure to subscribe below.
REPOST (May 2016)
As a wife of ten years, issues relative to healthy marriages always get my attention. This article is not an attack, endorsement, etc. It is purely a means for wives to think about a marriage crisis through the lens of a biblical focus. There’s even more to consider in this story as Jay-Z’s latest album and supposed “confessions” just dropped. The guest blogger of this article chose to remain anonymous.
Ever since Jay-Z and Beyonce starting dating in 2003, there was a certain mystique surrounding the couple. It seemed everyone wanted to know the intimate details of their relationship. It only intensified when the celebrity couple married in 2008. But despite all curiosity surrounding them, Jay-Z and Beyonce always remained private regarding their love life. Unfortunately, Beyonce may have just cracked a door into their relationship, and skeletons are beginning to trickle out.
The internet has been buzzing lately with the release of Beyonce’s new album “Lemonade.” It appears everyone is looking for answers to the layers of questions that the debut video reportedly raises. Reports from every corner of media is digging and sifting through the many controversial lyrics and content of the video. To many, Beyonce’s lyrics hint of infidelity within her marriage and appears to shine a light on the emotional stages she experienced as a woman dealing with a marriage crisis in the public spotlight.
But it isn’t the public’s perception that is the issue for me; but rather the internal crisis that she may be facing along with many other women who are dealing with similar issues. This reason alone brings me to my computer.
The most intriguing part of it all is the fact that Beyonce may have been dealing with a crisis in her home while very little may have been known by others. In 2014, there was an infamous elevator fight between Jay-Z and his sister-in-law, Solange. Many speculated that the incident may have been in retaliation of Jay-Z’s infidelity. That elevator camera peered into the crisis going on in their relationship. For me, the intriguing part of the incident wasn’t what happened behind closed doors. No, not at all. The shocking part was when the doors opened. Once the doors of the elevator door opened, Beyonce was greeted with cameras and flashes while having to “look” glamorous again despite the horrific scene that occurred seconds before. She had to fix her hair, lift her chin up, and look the part.
Who knows what truly occurred or the details surrounding the Lemonade story. But it does raise an interesting point. Countless women are quietly suffering in their marriages and NOBODY knows!! Everyday women have to put on a mask for the kids, job, and family while feeling their life is falling apart. Like the elevator incident with Jay-Z and Beyonce, women are fighting in their marriage, mind, and soul. But as soon as their front doors open, it’s time to put on the face again. KeturahFord.com does not endorse Beyonce’s platform. But the truth is truth and we applaud those who attempt to follow a proper model of dealing with conflict. If this is you, there are some encouraging biblical lessons that we can walk away with amidst all the drama.
- Remove the wedges. Jay-Z and Beyonce always kept very quiet about their home life. It wasn’t just the bad times when they put up the “STOP” sign, but in every detail of their life. This is a good principle to follow. In Gen 2:24, the bible states that man and woman should cleave to one another. Despite all the things you may be going through, it is important to trust God and his word. The call is to cleave to your husband. To cleave means to stick, hold fast, and to unite. During a crisis, it is easy for us to vent to anyone who would listen. What tends to happen when this is done? Family and friends bash, divide, and slander your husband; when in reality this is a call to “CLEAVE.” To bash your husband is putting more weight on your marriage. The call to leave your mother and father and cleave to your husband isn’t just imaginary. You are really “ONE.” The cleaving is the uniting of a real union of a God ordained institution. If you find your friends putting more of a wedge between you and your spouse, then it may be time to remove the wedge from your relationship.
- Seek Godly counsel. It was reported that counseling between Jay-Z and Beyonce may have began in 2014 to help overcome their crisis. Whatever the case between them, obtaining counsel can do wonders for a marriage when done properly. Removing the wedge doesn’t mean removing Godly counsel. Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no guidance, a people fall, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” We, as women, don’t have difficulty expressing our frustration, but we do have difficulty finding the right person to share with. It is okay to say: “I don’t know the answer to our marriage problems.” This is the perfect time to seek godly counsel. The bible is our manual to life and all that it throws at us. But sometimes it is important to have help to sort things out, get to the root, and then yank that sucker out so it will never reveal its ugly head in your marriage again.
- Make lemonade. When life gives lemons, make lemonade. I don’t know your story and nor do I know the level of the crisis; but I do know there is victory! Romans 8:28 states: “And we know that all things work together for the good of them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” By no means, is your marriage crisis a good thing. But if you love God and are “called”, your crisis is for your good! The lemons revealed now can be used for lemonade later. Lemonade is always better when it isn’t bitter. Lemonade always flavored with “forgiveness” is just the drink anyone needs. I know for some, this is so far away from your reality, that you can not see the possibility of reconciliation. I understand. But although this may be a distant reality, attempt to move in this direction anyway. Godly counsel will always help move marriages in crisis in this direction. Trust God and the process. May God continue to keep you as a woman pursuing a healthy and whole marriage!