Things to consider

Last night the power went out for an hour… I lit candles and continued talking and laughing with friends. When I woke up this morning there was no water running in my home but I took it in stride…I knew the water would come, in the meantime I brushed my teeth with bottled water, filled the sink with the rest and finished my toilette.  But guess what? These things make me put life at large in perspective. This morning I woke up in my right mind, with all my body parts working!The pine-apple was sweet. My neighbor had a new puppy. Somethings I once took for granted I now celebrate. For many years when I lived in America I took a lot of things for granted. I heard of lack in other parts of the world but it was not my experience. Now on some micro level it has become a part of my reality now that I live in Ghana. Life is not always as convenient as it used to be. But this too is all relative. On the one hand America looks like the land of plenty. On the other hand many wonder at the plight of Americans and the mortgage situation there. They can’t relate to losing their home because here they build their houses brick by brick. Their homes are paid for by the time they move in and remain in the family for generations. Mortgages are a new thing to this part of the world and not readily embraced because people are used to living on a cash basis. They can’t afford to have credit, the interest is too high! So in a way there is no economic crisis! As for the quality of life, it cannot be compared. In a land where relationship takes priority over business I have to pause to reconsider how I approach my own relationships. How much reverence do I render to my interpersonal interactions. At the end of the day. Waht do I make the most time for? What is really important? Where is my wealth really stored? It is in my relationship with God, family, friends and associates. I live in a land where people take the time to celebrate life, love and yes, even death. Every benchmark of life is memorialized. Every moment spent together honored. This has not only transformed my mindset, it has had a positive effect on my emotions and my health. I am far more joyful and peaceful. Even the urgent is not urgent, it finds its place in the right spot as I practice being more present in the moment at hand. At the end of the day, everything is still there, no worse for wear. Perhaps you find yourself stressed and at the breaking point far too often. Take a deep breath and take the time to live in the moment allowing everyone and everything around you to settle like soft falling rain preparing the ground for the seeds God want to plant in your life.  Be still and know that He is God, the fruit of your life will come to bear in the fulness in time. In the meantime stop to enjoy the present, basking in the presence of His spirit and those who matter most.  Remember no one is going to talk about all you acquire or achieve after you are gone. They will only remember how you made them feel. Good feelings begin with you feeling good. Dont take that for granted!

Moving Forward

As I settle back into being single, single, single :) You know some folk are single, but not really, if you know what I mean… I consider lessons learned from my last relationship.

First, I do not believe that God prevents anything in our lives. I believe when we listen to Him and respond to His word and instruction that He protects us from everything– disapointment, pain, our own bad decisions, the unseen factors we may not see for quite some time to come, etc. God loves us so much that if we are truly surrendered to Him, He will always make a way of escape from wrong situations or the places that are not good for you that we might unwittingly venture from time to time.

Secondly, every good man might not be God’s man for you. I so want His good, acceptable and perfect will for my life, don’t you? I have not waited this long in life to settle on any front when it comes to my life. Remember that God is determined to give you His best as well as what is best for you. Expect it and don’t embrace anything less.

Thirdly, it is wise to wait to make major decisions in your life, especially after experiences trauma, drama, or difficult times. Your emotional pores are open and susceptible to ingesting things God might not have intended for you.Just because he recues you doesnt mean he is right for you.  This is right up there with the verse in Proverbs that says “to the hungry soul, every bitter thing seems sweet” Wait until you are whole and can see clearly before moving forward to avoid further heartache.

Fourth, God does use people in our lives for specific reasons to faciliate His larger agenda for your life. Don’t take it personally when He removes them. Be willing to recognize the end of a season and move on. There is a time for dying and making room for sweeter fruit, allow the master Gardener to prune you, anticipating the blessing to come.

Fifth, every disapointment is an opportuntiy for greater hope to be birthed if you trust that in Christ you never lose anything worth keeping. Every good and perfect gift comes from above. If something or someone is removed from your life it is to make room for something greater.

Sixth, keep checking in with God and surrending the thing you love most even in the good season and stay open to hearing Gods’ voice and instruction. Sometimes situations and people change. God knows ahead of time every turn we take and prepares our heart for those unanticipated moments according to His design, so that in the end you can escape the sting of the pain the enemy of our hearts intended for your devastation. What the enemy meant for evil God will ultimately use for His good to make you wiser, stronger and hopefully more sweet!

Remember, relationships will come and go, all things will pass away, but it still ain’t over til we see Jesus, and trust me that is when the ultimate love experience that will be everlasting will begin. So in the words of Evita, “Don’t cry for me Argentina” pray for me instead that I will continue to soar on the wind of God’s plan for my life, onward and upward! I will continue to dance as if no one is watching, sing as if no one is listening and love as if I’ve never been hurt. It’s called faith…plain and simple… the only real adventure.

To Marry or Not to Marry?

I have to admit, the first half of my life marriage was on my goal list. Probably more because I thought it was supposed to be than anything else. Yes there was a real desire there for marriage but for all the wrong reasons. The external pressure became greater than my internal desire for marriage. As I grew to embrace my single status, my purpose, pursuing my destiny, and a deeper intimacy with Christ, marriage fell off my goal list and I realized that it wasn’t so much that I wanted to be married… I wanted to be married to the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. At the time I had not met that person. This is when I realized that the end goal should not be just getting married. The end goal should be spending your life with someone that you met who is so wonderful  you no longer want to live apart from them. When no one like that is in sight I find that marriage is not on my list of things to do. There is no inspiration for it. I do not want to marry a dream or an oasis. I want to marry a real live man who adds to my world, who challenges me to be a better me, who takes me to a whole new level of understanding the love of God.

I believe it is important to understand the purpose of marriage through God’s eyes in order to put marriage in perspective. Marriage is more about God’s will and kingdom agenda than about our personal desires. God wants to put together power couples that reflect what the kingdom of God looks like and how it works. The intimacy, children, joy and validation we get are all extra perks, company benefits I will say, but they they are not the purpose of marriage. With this in mind, those of us who are single need to live each day with great purpose– the goal of becoming the best we can be. Whole, thriving and joyful! Have something to bring to the party called marriage should you reach the altar. The more fulfilled you are as a single the greater your power to choose the right mate. Desperation will never have the advantage of decieving you to settle for less thatn the best God has for you. The richer your life as a single person the greater your life will be as a married person. The more fulfilled you are as a single person, the least likely you will be to walk into marriage with unrealistic expectations that threaten to rob your joy and ruin your marriage. Should marriage be a goal? I think not. The goal is being where God wants you to be at any given moment, because that is the best place to be. In His presence is fulness of joy.

The Power to Choose

One of the greatest gifts God has given us is the power of choice. This has to also be the most under-used or misused gift we have. So many abdicate the power of choice in lieu of  “fate”, which is not mentioned in scripture. You may say, but Michelle, the word says that “man makes plans but it is the determination of the Lord that prevails. Could it be His will prevails according to the choices you made? Perhaps you showed Him by your choice you could not be trusted with certain things or not ready for others.  A “que sera”, “who knows, what will be will be” attitude is a weak excuse for not mastering your life and taking responsibility for the choices or lack of choices that you make. God holds us accountable for those choices. The way to make wise choices is to know the mind of God and do what you know He woud do. To love what He loves and hate what He hates.  If you truly have the mind of Christ you are “perfect” or “mature” enough to make wise decisions. The only thing that keeps us from making sound decisions is lack of information or fear. I have two remedies for that. First pursue God who freely gives wisdom without being condescending, the second is to develop a deep, abiding and perfect love for God. Love perfected casts out all fear because you have grown into trusting God completely without question. With these two things established in our lives we are empowered to make right choices. It is ironic that Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly look identical upon first introduction. In the book of Proverbs we see them both preparing banquets and inviting guests to come and partake of the fare they are serving. They both do the same thing with very different results. One dinner party leads to life, the other to death! Seemingly harmless choices can lead to life or death every day of our lives. Think carefully how you approach and respond to circumstances in your relationships, finances, work life, etc Your choices and habits determine your future. Ask God to help you make the right ones.

Ending the Fantasy

I wish love just happened but it doesn’t. If you don’t work your relationship, your relationship will not work. That means you have to dig in, do the work to keep your love alive and thriving. That means you have to communicate. Have meetings to handle your business. The business of love that is! Any company that wants to grow takes the time to take stock of their progress, locate the weak links, what is not working and reconfgure accordingly. Don’t leave your emotions open to assumptions. My mother always used to say, the word assume broken down makes an “ass of you and me!” The donkey version, not the curse word version :) But it is true. Things are never what they seem, therefore do not assume. Ask questions, speak the truth in love, help your partner love you. They won’t know how to unless you tell them and show them. Be a living example of what you expect. Don’t frustrate your partner with unspoken expectations. Misplaced expectations are the enemy of every relationship. Guard against it. Nurture a non-threatening environment to share honestly how you are feeling and what you need from your partner. When they get something right celebrate what they did so they will do it again! Take your time, breathe in, breathe out and calmly state your case minus attitude. Don’t make your partner feel as if they need to defend themselves, empower them to want to meet your need. First examine if you are meeting their needs, don’t leave yourself open to the distraction of their unmet needs while highlighting yours! There is no room for pride in a relationship. Jesus thought it not robbery to leave the lofty halls of heaven to come and die for us. We too must be willing to die to our “rights” and discover our rights hidden in Christ. There is a difference between having a healthy understanding of your value and being ruled by pride. One knows how God wants you to be treated versus how you want to be treated. And remember Gods standard will always be higher than yours! In this life, there are  no lights, camera, action in the romance department.  No quick fixes that magically happen. That means we have to keep it real! While being really loving. Pursuing peace, growth and reconciliation. That is the purpose of relationship, to make us all closer to God and one another. In the end  He is glorified and His kingdom multiplies because you make Him look good in your relationship. So end the fantasy of being whisked away on a white horse and be willing to walk it out with your partner. Trust me, it works!

Rebound or Recover?

So many have asked how do you recover from love violated and trust destroyed… It’s scary but one must take the leap and dare to love again. I remember years ago I was running track at school. I had become quite good at jumping hurdles. I was made for it. I was fast with extra long legs that caused me to soar easily over the obstacles placed in my path. One day I suppose I had grown a bit too confident. I didn’t pace myself well or count out my steps correctly to prepare for the leap. Sure enough I brought my leg down too soon and dragged the hurdle behind me, wounding myself as the hurdle scraped the length of my leg leaving me with quite an ugly and painful scar. From that moment I couldn’t bring myself to jump again. I faltered everytime I approached a hurdle. In my disappointment I abandoned something I had loved and excelled at. I never trusted myself to get it right again. Love is like that. Perhaps we grow too confident and don’t do the work it takes to keep our hearts intact. We underestimate our instincts and overestimate the capacity of our partners to take care of our hearts. We don’t pace the relationship well, we leap too soon, relax when we shouldn’t, or wesimply make repeated bad choices. And then worse of all, once we’ve been hurt we fear leaping again and forsake the very thing that gave us joy altogether. This is usually when we cut off the wrong person and miss out on the love that we truly wanted!

The key to a healthy recovery is in the cliff notes version, a few simple steps:

1) Acknowledge that love will always be a risk, but it is a wonderful decision. After all God took a risk on loving us all. Some of us responded, some did not.

2) Every heartache holds valuable lessons that strengthen us for the next experience.  You do not have to have a repeat of your last disappointment. Live, love and learn.

3) Acknowledge the pain. Take responsibility for the parts that are yours, whether you ignored the signs or contributed to the demise of your relationship only you can say– but be honest with yourself. The truth will make you free!

4) Choose to accept the humanity of the other person and forgive. People can only do what they know to do. If they don’t know how to love you properly that is not your fault. It is your fault for not taking the time to know if they were worthy of trusting them with your heart.

5) Remind yourself that your past does not dictate your future. Love is worth the risk because of the great rewards in store when we get it right. Know that  you will never lose if you choose to love in spite of the other persons response. We are always the richer for giving. Dare to love again. Remember the deception always comes before the blessing, don’t miss it! Run slower, jump higher and love as if you’ve never been hurt before.

If you want to read more on this topic. order my book Release the Pain, Embrace the Joy, How to Get Past Disappointment and The Real Deal on Overcoming Heartache. log on to michellehammond.com and click on the store to order. Love does prevail!

How To Love Well

So impressed with the comment by this sister on my facebook page I had to post it here!

The Message version of Phillipians 1:9 says, ” So this is my prayer that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your hed and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lovers’ life circumpsoect and exemplary, al life Jesus will be proud of; bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ atrractive to all. I asked the question what does loving will look like and sister girl said:

Yolanda Robinson Fluffe For me it would have to mirror the word of God. There is no such thing as a perfect person but when it comes to a respectable level of love it’s a given. There are base levels of living love that we must show to one another as well as speaking words of love to one another. Love is agape! Unconditional love! Love is a verb! Therefore it requires action! Love is giving! Giving your very best at all times with out expectancy! Not always will those we love reflect that same love back to us! However God still requires that we give, for it it is the right and fitting thing to do. We put this into action by “thanks living” when we live the love we give the love! We must have the accurate understanding of what true love is and be willing to give it! We must also know that a large portion of the love we have within us was put their without measure by God so that we have a endless supply to lavish upon our spouses, children, family, ad friends! God is so awesome he gave us enough to love our enemies and the ability to be kind! He said we are to use a small portion to love ourselves! However the sustaining love that is need to nurture us has to be given to us from others. As a wife God gave her love so that it is given to her husband and the husbands love belongs to the wife! So we must not hoard the love that dwells with in us it was put there to be given to others! I will give it in thoughts, words, and deed! And it will definitely be unconditional!

Couldn’t have said it better myself, you go girl! I’m not mad at cha’ just don’t take my job!

He Said, She Said

  • Keith Russell Lee When a man truly understands his role as King and Priest of the household and his wife understands her role and they understand the PURPOSE of God why they are together, infidelity is not a problem. Infidelity becomes a problem when we do not understand PURPOSE and the urgency of fulfilling God’s plan! That’s the short answer! Stay tuned for the teaching series! LOL!
  • Michelle McKinney Hammond Keith you know you said that! Say it again, say it loud! so true. marriage has a purpose that transcends our personal pleasure! Its about power couples being formed to carry out God’s kingdom agenda and glorify Him here on earth. Pleasure is the fruit of that. I appreciate you, spoken like a true man of God. I honor you for that. You should do a teaching series on that…
  • Sara Dormon Of course men can be faithful…but first they must be faithful to God and then being faithful to their wife will be easier. Let’s not forget these unfaithful men and being that way with women….faithfulness to anything is a choice and one you may have to make every day or every hour…but it can be done. I have a faithful husband of 38 years
  • Kingsley Okoroafor Michelle I am confused this time!
  • Michelle McKinney Hammond Kingsley why are you confused? Basically I was saying the bible acknowledges that faithfulness is a problem for mankind. However God’s faithfulness shows us it is possible because if He is our father we inherit His capacity for faithfulness. sometimes when you look around you and it seems that no one is keeping Gods standard you begin to wonder if you are alone and naive, but we should be encouraged that God rewards obedience in His own time. In the meantime we can put an end to unfaithfulness by making individual choices where we are to honor one another’s relationships. If everyone one said no to someone who was attached, no one would be able to cheat! I know that’s another mouthful but I hope that clears up any confusion.

Faithful, the new Sexy!

So sad that the popular assumption is that all men are unfaithful. I feel for brothers who are sincerely holding it down! Call me naive but I believe there are a lot of men who remain faithful to wives, significant lovers and other. It has to be possible. Why would God tell people to be faithful if He didn’t give them the capacity to do so? His grace is not limited to the work of redemption, His grace extends to empower us to live the way He called us to live. Keep in mind all of those commandments, and there are more than ten people! are not killjoy suggestions, God’s commands all point to helping us have healthy relationships, health, wealth and a life well lived! That is what He wants for all of us. When we don’t follow His instructions, we hurt ourselves. He is in heaven! He is above our failures, they do not impact His position on His throne or anything that goes on in heaven except for the fact that He is grieved because He wants us to triumph in every aspect of our lives. He knows that unfaithfulness is expensive. The Word says the adulterer lacks understanding, and destroys his (or her) own soul. The adulturer inherits a curse, dishonor and is brought to bread. Yikes, was that fling really worth it? Ask any divorced person how much a broken relationship costs, in alimony and stress. Let’s consider the cost before we get swept away by momentary distractions that ultimately lead nowhere. God cannot be tempted because He is completely satisfied with Himself. All that He desires is contained within Him. That is so powerful. And yet that is why He remains faithful to us. Nothing can distract or separate Him from His love for us. That is why we love Him so much. Because He first loves us the way we want to be loved. Safe to say then that the one who remains faithful has understanding, is wise and loves his/her own soul. That is a sexy man/woman, confident and fulfilled in their present relationship. That is always attractive. There is nothing sexier than a man or woman who is completely committed to their commitment to the one they love. C’mon y’all… bring sexy back. Stay faithful!

A Whole New World

I’m still getting up pinching myself every morning and saying, “I really am living in Ghana!” Have I said how much I love it? Is it utopia? No, but it is where God has placed me and I have learned in His presence, the fullness of His will, there is joy. Not just His joy but blessing, provision and endless opportunities for true fulfillment. As I look forward to the new year unfolding I am opening my hands to God and demanding nothing while expecting everything. My greatest desire is to be a tool that God can use to perfection in His hands to bless others. I want to bind up some broken hearts and set some captives free– emotionally and spiritually. He can use you, He can use me to be an agent of change where ever we are! All you have to do is just keep showing up where He points and you are sure to experience the adventure of a lifetime. This is a day to day journey with new twists and turns daily! Did I say daily, oh yes, daily. No day is ever the same, because God is ever unfolding Himself. He will never tell you what He is up to, He will simply show you more of Himself. As we see Him , we come to know and experience what we are looking for… and that my friend is true life!