Delilah Dior Dominica
A woman's journey exploring her passion for Faith, fashion and travel.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Know Him for Yourself Part 2: Modern Day Miracle


Two weeks ago, I witnessed another miracle first-hand. I have had serious back issues since I was 15 years old, and this past weekend I threw my back out and was unable to walk or move properly for the better part of four days. Everyone's first question when I say I threw my back out is "Oooooh, doing what?" (Winking and giggling and raising their eyebrows suggestively...) and they are so disappointed when I tell them the truth: I threw my back out while sleeping. Literally.

I had thrown my back out in the past, but this was the worst by far. I was in constant pain, my back and stomach were swollen to the point where my ribs were bruising me with every breath, and for those four days I was petty much useless. (Shout out to the best husband in the world for cooking/preparing my meals, putting me in the ice machine, keeping my Ibuprofen schedule, setting up my styling photo shoot, and walking behind me rather than ahead of me, no matter how much longer it took.)

After a few chiropractor visits and x-rays I learned that one of my legs is shorter than the other. This has left my hips at a significant slant and has thrown me into early disc degeneration; hence me throwing my back out like a 90 year old. I asked my pastor and his wife to be in prayer for permanent and miraculous healing. Isn't it just like God to answer the prayer in the same day?

I explained the story about my leg-length issue to my Pastor and he said, "I had the same problem! I was a triple jumper and constantly threw my back out, only to find that my legs had an inch difference in length! 30 years ago, I was prayed over for this and I have never had a problem since. I'm going to do that for you tonight.' He sat me down in a chair and pushed me all the way to the back of it. Holding my extended legs in his hands, my husband, our good friend, and Pastor all recognized how much shorter my right leg was. Pastor looked at me and said "Jill, you're about to witness a miracle."

I wasn't nervous, I wasn't giddy, I wasn't scared; I was completely ready and faithfully believing I would be healed. The three of us prayed and praised and believed for miraculous healing, and in that moment I felt an enormous stretching of my leg, and experienced- what seemed like- the soreness from doing a single-leg workout. When I opened my eyes and looked down at my ankle bones, they were almost completely symmetrical. I was ecstatic and too shocked to speak when my pastor said, “Lord, we are thankful. You are so awesome. This is close, but we are believing you for perfection.” In the next five minutes I felt a final stretch in my leg, and my legs were perfectly even. I was healed from a life-long problem in a half-hour, and doubt never crossed my mind once!

As I walked around for the next few days, every time I would say "my right leg is still sore!" My husband would tell me "it's a reminder of your healing."

We have been unemployed now for three months, and we are more joyful and at peace than ever. God is the Prince of Peace. I have x-rays to prove a difference in the length of my legs, yet they now are even. God is miraculous. I had an allergy that was negatively affecting everything I did, yet I was delivered from it. God is the Ultimate Healer. My classes are more demanding and difficult than ever before, yet I am experiencing so much joy in them. God is Gracious.

 Jeremiah 29:13 says, "If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me."

 I challenge you to look for Him. Look when you are mocked, look when you are pitied, look when it doesn't make sense...and you will find Him. And when He removes something from you-or you from something- and the adjustment is challenging or painful; see it as a reminder of what God has delivered you from. Believe in modern day miracles, for the same God that made the blind-man see knows the numbers of hairs on your head, and every thought on your heart.



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Know Him for Yourself Part 1: Faith that Heals

I have felt a tug on my Spirit to share a story with you for a few months now, but never was quite compelled enough to type it all out. Now I know why. Last Thursday evening the story was finished, and now, throughout the course of this week,I am ready to shout it from the rooftops.

I grew up in a Christian household. I have two incredible parents that are God-fearing and honoring in all they do. I have attended Christian schools my entire life. I can recite Bible verse after Bible verse for you, and tell you all the stories of Abraham, Moses, Jonah, David, Solomon, Noah, and all of the fellas Jesus hung out with. These things are all wonderful and important for a believer, but until very recently I was missing a key component to this life: I did not have faith. Now, I know some of you are scratching your head thinking, "how can she say she is a Christian without having faith?! WHAT AM I DOING READING THIS BLOG?!" Hopefully I can help clarify what I mean.

I have always had faith in God's love. I have always had faith in the truth of His word. I have always had faith in His perfect will. But I had never had faith for myself. My faith was in the wonderful things God would do for my parents because they were so close to Him. I found comfort in the fact that I would reap the blessings of my parents hard work, and that I would be safe and protected because of their prayers. Then I met and married the man of my dreams who has a heart to serve and please the Lord in all he does. This gave me peace that I would again live through the blessings of his prayers and wisdom. I was always in constant communication with the Lord and believed He heard me, but I had so much more comfort in knowing that when I really needed a prayer answered, God would certainly hear my parents and my husband.

The Lord wasn't havin' that.

As believers, we should be able to share the good news because we know the Lord personally; because we know him for ourselves. We can't rely on knowing He is good just because of how he protected our parents when they lost their job, or how he healed our one friend when she was really sick, or how he gave our cousin courage in a time of need. Those things are fantastic! But they are meant to inspire us to seek His Glory for ourselves! Recently, the Lord has showed Himself to me again and again, louder and louder each time, and I am finally in a place where I can say wholeheartedly, "God is so awesome, so mighty, so powerful, so steadfast, so powerful, so loving, so gracious, and I know this for myself."

I have shared with you in the past that in November of last year, some blood work showed that I was allergic to corn. Good ol' America finds a way to sneak corn into just about everything we eat, so this allergy was a life-altering thing for me. I struggled to find food I could eat on the go, had to stop exercising because of a complete lack of energy, lost 18 pounds in 3 months simply from poor immune system health, and had a very scary allergic reaction at least once a week. By March, I was spent. Around this time, my husband and I were about to take a trip to Nigeria and I was more than cautious knowing there would be no doctors or hospital I could drive to if there were an emergency. I packed a suitcase of my 'corn-free-safe-foods' (unfortunately, I packed the dryer sheets in this suitcase too, so everything tasted like pine needles and soap...) three boxes of Benadryl, and my Epi-pen. I had faith in those things; those were the things that made me feel safe.

After 48 hours of travel, we arrived to our family's village and I was overwhelmed with emotion of gratitude and overjoyed to finally relax. Almost immediately, four of my husband's uncles that lived in the village and my father-in-law pulled my husband and I into a room and asked us to sit-down. Everyone looked at Uncle Tony as he pulled out a raggety "vintage" Tylenol bottle. Not "vintage" like vintage Chanel, "vintage" like vintage Twinkie wrapper. I am a little bit of a hygene freak, so that had me worried already. Uncle Tony proceeded to tell me that my husband's father had called them and told them each of my symptoms when I had an allergic reaction, and someone in the village had so kindly and generously made me a medicine. I was to take it twice a day, every day, for the 15 days we spent in Nigeria.

I was horrified.

I didn't even like medicine in America! In sealed packages with labels! And an ingredient list! My husband looked at me and could just count the ways I was freaking out inside. We exchanged a look and he gave my hand a comforting squeeze, said 'thank you, she'll take it,' and that was that.

When we were in private, and I could freak out on the outside, I did. I really did. I took a look at the medicine- herbs, sand, leaves, and unknown particles all submerged in honey- and before I could say any of my thoughts (including "this isn't going to work," "I don't believe in 'the medicine man,' 'this is against health code...") my husband said "only take it believing it will work. If you don't, there is no point."

His wisdom was much needed, and those words have stuck with me on a daily basis ever since. Would you believe: I took that medicine faithfully every day I was there, and I have never had an allergic reaction ever since? To state it even clearer: my faith healed me. Not my faith in the medicine, not my faith in the person that made the medicine, not my faith in my husband's wisdom, but my faith that anything is possible through Jesus Christ.

There is a story in the Bible about a blind man with bold faith. He was sitting out in the streets of Jericho when he heard crowds saying Jesus' name. He cried out to Jesus for healing and was shushed and scolded by the crowds. Ignoring the criticism, he called even louder to Jesus, "Son of David, have mercy on me!!" Jesus asked "What do you want Me to do for you?" The blind man told Him "I want to see!" And Jesus said to him, "Go, for your faith has healed you." The Word says, "Instantly the man could see and he followed Jesus down the road." (Mark 11: 46-52)

We will sometimes be scolded for our faith. We will be ridiculed and given the stink-eye, but if we really have faith that the Lord heals us, then there is no mockery or shushing that can keep us from seeking Him! In Mark 10:27, Jesus remind us, "Humanly speaking, it's impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God."

I decided this week I would share how I have been learning the Lord and His wonderful ways for myself. Stay tuned, I hope that His glory seeping into my life will inspire you to seek Him for yourself.

Monday, October 1, 2012

We Should Look Different.

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We should look different from the world. I’m not saying we should have blue skin or wear aluminum foil on our fingers or anything like that, but people should be able to look at us and notice we are not like this world we live in.

I used to have a goal to look just like everyone else. As a nearly six foot tall mixed girl, I have always stood out in my surroundings. I spent elementary and middle school in a pretty much all white community. I so desired to be my friends Monica Lake (Hi if you’re reading!) and Stefany Fischer (Hi to you too!) because they were teeny little things that the boys could pick up and people could play chicken-fight with. For those of you not familiar with Chicken fighting- it is a game where two people sit on the shoulders of two other people and face each other for a scrappy fight in the pool. The first person to be knocked over loses. As you probably guessed, I was always on the bottom-half drowning, half supporting my featherweight best friend. Something else both of these girls also had was long, blonde beautiful, silky hair.

You see, growing up, I had the furthest thing from silky hair. I had confused, coarse, stubborn mixed-girl hair. It didn’t curl quite right, but it never, ever, laid flat. My mother would spend hours blow drying it, greasing it down and pulling it back into some form of braid. Somehow, all the hairs in front stood straight up no matter how much spray or grease they were coaxed with. Because I resembled the rays of the sun, my dad called me Sunshine. Because I also resembled an unkempt and rabid dog, my older brother called me Wolfie.  


 (in my defense, we didn't have a straightener)

I spent every day trying to figure out a way to be more like everyone else. It wasn’t until High School that I became aware of the power in my uniqueness.

Recently, I have been learning more and more about desiring to look like Jesus and not like this world. Over the course of the last few weeks, I have heard and studied this message in about three different forms- true confirmations that it is something I need to write on my heart. Pastor Brett Fuller recently gave an incredible message on this subject, and I pulled three important points from my notes on the sermon:

1.     “Every part of our lives should be founded on Biblical principle”
2.     “You can be in this world and not of this world”
3.“As a result of who he was, every one wanted to know Who he served.” (in reference to David.)

1.    Every part of our lives should be founded on Biblical Principle.
We should weave the Word into everything we do. Every thought should be submitted to Christ, every word should be reviewed by Christ, and every action should be done in obedience. Yes, this is an every day struggle and moment to moment submission, but it is how we show our love for the Lord. 

I think as modern day Christians, we tend to compare our spirituality to our friends. We think “Well, I read my Bible MUCH more than her, I don’t really cuss that often, I’m not having sex with my boyfriend…I’m a super great Christian.” We have become so diluted!  I am going to step out and say this, so be ready: We really should be surrounding ourselves with people that have the same morals and values as us. I have friends all across the board, but my best and dearest friends , the only friends I truly share life with, lift me up and stand as examples to me of how I want to live. We should not think we are great because we are doing the absolute minimum. Devotionals are great and attending Church on a weekly basis is fantastic, but that says nothing about our heart. Guys, God wants our hearts. All of it. He wants us to measure ourselves against the way He created us to live: in peace, joy, faith, surrender, obedience and love. Just because we do more ‘Christian-Stuff’ than our friends doesn’t mean our hearts look any different from theirs. Challenge yourself to look like Jesus.

2.    You can be in this world and not of this world
The Bible is completely relevant. I will say it again, this time in Bold, Italics, and Underlined…The Bible is completely relevant. No, in Bible times they didn’t have iPhones, Skype, Internet Pornography, Smirnoff, Credit Cards, Super-Size meals or anything like that. But they did have Prostitutes, Wine, , A bountiful harvest, slaves, and so on. What am I getting at? Temptation is not a brand new thing. The temptations to be adulterous, impure, lazy, and gluttonous have been around since Adam and Eve sinned. The people in the Old and New Testament faced the same daily temptations as we face in 2012- yet there were a select number of people who chose faithfully to obey the Word of the Lord no matter what.

It is hard to be different. It is so sad to live in a world where purity is made fun of. Where virgins and beautiful men and women choosing so valiantly to save themselves for marriage are ‘weird’ and ‘prude.’ How sad is our Father with the people he created for completely diminishing his call for the purity of our hearts. Some ‘Christians,’ yes, people who say they love the Lord, don’t want to spend time with people that don’t drink or cuss or gossip because they aren’t “fun to be around.” You see, we are supposed to look different than the people of this world. Just because we live in this place doesn’t mean we belong to it.

3.    “As a result of who he was, every one wanted to know Who he served.”

Sometimes, we talk too much. I know I do. I have always approached sharing the gospel in the wrong way. I am quick to judge myself and other people, and quick to say that I love Jesus. I have had the pleasure of watching my husband approach this the way I have always dreamed of: His light speaks while his mouth stays closed. We shouldn’t have to explain ourselves or shove the fact that we serve Jesus Christ down people’s throat. Think of the godliest person you know- now think of how often they do that. Never, right? They have a silent voice and a loud light. We shouldn’t have to say “I am Christian, hear me roar.” People should want to know exactly how you live life the way you do. How you are able to praise God in impossible circumstances. How you resist temptation when it’s staring you in the face. How you choose peace in a strife-filled relationship. How you stay faithful when everything is going wrong. My Pastor said, “When the opportunity comes for you to give reason for why you live the way you do, give it." Your heart will speak for you, and Jesus will speak through you.


I challenge you to look different. I accepted that I looked physically different than everyone around me a long time ago, I am now working on my heart looking more like Jesus than the world. Join me, you won’t regret it.





Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Little Something

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Today is the kind of day that dreams are made of. There is still the warmth of summer in the air, but the autumn wind is here. Rain has been beating against our windows since 5am, and the sky is a perfect shade of grey. I was able to get a pool workout out of the way early this morning, and came right home to stay in the bubble bath as long as I pleased.

It’s Tuesday. Last year, for every Tuesday in September-December, I spent nine hours in a classroom in San Francisco. I was tapping my pencil, sorting through fabric swatches, and staring halfway at my book and halfway on the clock. Why? Because after class I would rush back to the apartment, pack up what I needed for the rest of the week and fly home to Virginia. Flying is certainly not my specialty and unfortunately, I was dealing with a stomach bacteria and brand spankin’ new corn allergy in those months to go along with it. I knew I wouldn’t be able to take enough classes online to graduate on time, and I knew I didn’t want to be apart from my husband for weeks in a row. God showed up and gave me the strength to endure flying 12 hours a week despite my overwhelming fear and anxiety on a plane.

At the start of that four-month journey I was sure I wouldn’t be able to get through it. And each Monday as I was rushing around the house to gather things for my 24 hours in San Francisco I was sure I just couldn’t do it anymore. But sure enough, every Monday I got on that plane and arrived safely in San Francisco just in time for a few hours of sleep. And every Tuesday, I flew back home and landed safely in Virginia.  I had such little faith. The phrase “If God brings you through it, he will bring you through it” was written on my heart. We must trust that He is by our side, that He has written this trial into his perfect plan for our personal story.

I know one thing for sure: If I hadn’t had a hectic and treacherous Fall Semester last year, this one wouldn’t feel half as sweet. So as I sit on the couch listening to the rain sweep against these walls, I am so thankful to be in my family room instead of a plane seat.

If, however, you are in the plane seat instead of the comfy couch….remind yourself that it is coming. Don’t ever forget that in the end, it will be good. And if it’s not good, it’s not the end. 


Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

Psalm 27:14

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Look Up.


“God doesn’t give us faith so we can avoid troubles, He gave us faith so that we can stay strong and steady when we go through them.”
-Joyce Meyer

Something I struggle with a great deal is keeping my mind set on the truth of God’s promise when it’s not easy. I can repeat over and over that I know the Lord has a plan for me. I know that wherever He sends my husband and I, it is exactly where we are supposed to be. I know that all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28) I know these things with all my heart and believe them with all my soul. But, when a series of hard situations hit, my eyes start to look around a whole lot more than they look up.

A week ago today, my husband was released from the Philadelphia Eagles. He has played in the NFL for 7 years-this would be his 8th. He is absolutely incredible and I get goose bumps every time I see him run out onto that field. I see all the hard work and preparation that goes into his craft all year long. I cook the meals that are a little more protein-packed than they are yummy, I work out next to him and see a man that never settles for less than excellence, and I see the long hours in that playbook as he reaches for perfection on a daily basis. Up until three years ago, he started in every single game, had no injuries, and had no question this is exactly what he should be doing.

Fast-forward to this year, after a few confusing, painful, and trying seasons, we are patiently waiting for God to step in front of us and tell us either “leave” or, “stay.”

When the rug is pulled from under your feet, it is a challenge to stay peaceful. No matter how many times I repeat to myself “If God didn’t want us to be there, I am so thankful we are not there,” some part of my heart stays a little broken. I came across Colossians 3:2 while reviewing some old Bible Studies this morning and it’s simplicity is perfect:

“ Think about the things of heaven, not things of the earth.”

Obvious? Yes. Easy? No. We are creatures of curiosity. We crave answers and understanding, and we crave the answers, like, right now. In order to find the truth, however, we have to be asking the right source. Foolishly and impatiently seeking the answers of this world will certainly break us.  I cannot ask the media, or the coaches, or the fans “why did this happen?” Because they will tell me exactly what the enemy wants us to think. They will say “he is 31, he’s injury prone, he isn’t comfortable in the defense,” and so on. Those may all be true things, but they are forgetting the One we play for- the One who gave us this calling in the first place. We only need to seek Him for answers. If we are still, if we are faithful, we will find Him.

So we are doing just that. We have been back in our home for one week now, and there are few times I can remember when I have been so at peace. This house has been a fortress from troubles for the year that we have owned it, and it truly is such a special place. We are spending our days working out together, organizing rooms that we never quite got to in our time here, spending time with our great friends, camping out in the family room every night and spending lots of time laughing. It feels a little bit like we are lost in time, but wherever we are, it’s completely surrounded by His love.

I encourage you, if you are going through a trial and don’t know where to turn, what to do, or who to believe: Turn to your Bible, get on your knees, and believe what He says.

He loves us enough to lead us exactly where we belong.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Above All Else, Guard Your Heart

Okay, y'all.

(I have been on a serious y'all kick lately. I would never say it out loud- I would be humiliated. I have never lived in Texas, but I have enough Texas family -Hi Singletary's, Lakes, Beckhams, Foxworths, and Dorans! - to hear it all the time. And so, I've decided I can type it. Another reason I have adopted y'all is because people always call me Hillary.... a la Fresh Prince...when I say 'Okay, guys...')

The Spirit has been moving like crazy in me lately as it relates to guarding my heart. I think every believer out there learns in the wee steps of this faith that guarding our heart is crucial. Why? Because 'from it flows the wellsprings of life.'

Cool.

It sounds really important in  scripture but doesn't feel quite as important as, say, loving our neighbor, repentance, forgiveness, purity, honesty, patience, prayer...and so on. Honestly, it's way at the back of the back of the list for most of us. But Jesus did not intend fort it to be that way. He meant for us to take it as seriously, if not more seriously, than all of those things. From the Word itself:  
Proverbs 4: 23

NIV: Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

NLT: Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

GWT:  Guard your heart more than anything else, because the source of your life flows from it.

Pretty Serious stuff. If something is going to 'determine the course of my life,' I want to be doing it right. Recently, though, I have been trying to determine what guarding my heart means for me personally.  The second I stepped out on that mission, God really did His part (as He always does) in showing me exactly what it means.

Unless you have been paddling in a kayak alone in the middle of the ocean for the past six months, with no radio or phone or messenger birds, you have heard about the book ' Fifty Shades of Grey.' If not, I will gladly enlighten you. A young jabillionare entrepeneur (Christian Grey) is interviewed by some girl and he hires her to basically be his sex toy. Whips, chains, handcuffs- lace, leather and feathers I'm sure. The End. I am not giving this summary from my own knoweledge, however. 

I have not read Fifty Shades of Grey. 

I may be the only woman on this planet to say that so I had to make sure it was visible! You see, I love to read. I probably read a book a month, and during the summer that triples. Reading is one of my favorite past times and I love me a New York Times Best Seller. This is why last month while my hubs and I were in the airport, I walked proudly back from the bookstore with this lovely, delicious read. I'm always so excited about the books I'm about to start as I have a large lineup and almost always can't wait to get to the next one. Against his wishes, I usually read the back cover to Oj and tell him everything I know about the the book before starting. I immediately start the book and give him a play by play at the beginning of exactly why the book is so incredible. (Why does he put up with this? I must find out.) So when I came back with FSOG and just sat down with it-still in the plastic bag-on my lap and flipped open Vogue magazine, he was thoroughly confused.

"What book are you starting? Are you excited?"
"Yea, really excited."
"...well, what's it about?"
"I don't really know" (true) "Sex?"

At this, he opened to the middle of the book, read the first six lines and handed it back to me. He told me I didn't want to read this, and I should return it. (Remind me to talk about the struggles of submission in my next post!) Halfway angry and all the way humiliated, I walked right back to the store and returned it. 

I know that not everyone will understand this, and plenty wont agree, but I think it's clear as day that this book was created as a fantasy. It paints a picture in  beautiful writing that gives us just enough to visualize what these people may look like- to act out every word in our minds. As women- being the incredible creatures we are- we are emotional and creative beings. Romance novelists don't cater to men. Why? They know that 90% of men aren't going to curl up with a blanket and some tea on the couch reading their fantasies page after page. That's what the porn industry is for. Men are visual, Women are emotional.  I personally believe that the fantasies and scenes created in this book would serve me the same as my husband spending an hour with whatever XXX site out there. We already have enough to battle in this world as it is, why add things to our own plate? What good is there to come from emotionally attaching ourselves to characters that are behind closed doors for a reason? So yes, I returned Fifty Shades of Grey. By force at first, but this is because I have a husband looking out for my heart as well. Guarding our heart sometimes means missing out on the "it" book, "it" movie, or "it" TV show. Didn't see that one comin' huh? We must guard our heart against lust.


Another place I would never have thought guarding my heart would come into play is in one of my favorite cell phone apps of all time: Instagram. Once again, this doesn't apply to the lone paddler in the middle of the ocean...for everyone else, I'm sure you've heard of this app. It's a place to take and share photos and make you feel fabulous about your photography skills. I'm quite the picture taker, and an equally avid picture stalker so this app is my dream. 

Fortunately, all my favorite bloggers, Fashion Designers and Interior Designers have an Instagram. Unfortunately, three other groups of people all have an Instagram account as well: 

1. The Models- or girls that think they are models.

This is the most popular account on good ol' Instagram. Nothing makes your feel bad about yourself like stumbling on some girl's incredible photoshoot in the Maldives in the teeniest of bikinis... Especially if you have just posted a photo of your Stuffed French Toast. We as women are very prone to comparing. It usually starts off as admiration and motivation, but so quickly turns to envy. I think Instagram has become one of Satan's favorite working spots because as it so often is, the sin is subtle. Am I motivating myself or tearing myself down? Will Kim Kardashian's mirror shots really make me happy for her and her life and her perfect eyelashes and cleavage? Or will it just stir up insecurities? Believe it or not, this is a place to be very careful, ladies. We must guard our hearts against coveting- As innocent as it may seem, the line between admiration and jealousy is almost too thin to play with...steer clear of this altogether.

2. The mind boggling, incredibly talented, 'how did you get that good at ______. 
(fill in the blank with whatever your passion is.) 

These people will quickly get to your heart. For me personally, this is the Artist realm of the Instagram world. I believe my artistic and creative talents are a blessing and a gift from God. I am so thankful for them and am constantly fine tuning my skill. I have to remind myself of that- outloud- when I come across a slew of artists who have that 'you-have-got-to-be-kidding-me' talent. Before I know it, I start to question myself and my gift. "Am I ever going to be that good?" The second you feel a switch in your spirit from inspiration to degrading is when you know to leave it alone and Praise God for your gift instead. We must guard our heart against envy.   

3. The Christian Woman who is exactly where you want to be in your walk with Christ.

I follow a certain person on Instagram that constantly gives me gut-check as it relates to my faith. She is a fantastic woman of faith and I am constantly inspired by her words of wisdom. Sometimes, however, I am a little bamboozled by her photos. They have a way of really convicting me and making me nervous that I don't have as many Bible Studies, quiet times, or incredible revelations in the Word. We must guard our hearts against comparing our walks. I think it is so important to surround yourself with people who will inspire you spiritually. It is our job to remember that everyone's walk is different and though we are called to be constantly growing, we are not called to be anyone else but ourselves.

As I continue to learn about what guarding my heart really means, I will continue to share my findings. I am so excited to learn just what the Lord has in store when I learn to be more obedient in this area. I challenge you to pay attention to your spirit in these areas and really seek what guarding your heart means for yourself. In a world where Satan thinks everyone has forgotten the teachings we are called to live by, little aha-moments like this make me overjoyed. I love reminding him of his defeat!! Anything that can put a smile on My Father's face and leave me more at peace, protected, and joyful than ever is something I want to commit to for sure. Here's to guarding our hearts, y'all.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What Football Season Means

This summer has been a whirlwind and an absolute joy. We traveled to Paris and the South of France, said goodbye to our San Francisco family for good, moved the last of our things from SF back to Virginia, and became Philadelphia Eagles.With a few more trips to Atlanta, Canada, Ft. Lauderdale, New York, Orlando, San Francisco and Virginia...it is safe to say we are proud of our frequent flyer mile progress. This amount of travel certainly left us exhausted, but we had the time of our lives being able to spend every day together.
             Two days ago, at five in the morning, armed with a fresh batch of cookies and three suitcases-my husband drove off to training camp. This is different than every other training camp we've experienced. Yes the NFL makes sure these men are 100% focused on football and the upcoming season by plucking them from their households and having them stay on-site for three or more weeks; that hasn't changed. This time, however, instead of being ten minutes away, my husband is a three hour drive away from me. Now, we will always be a marriage that started in long distance relationships. After seeing eachother for a few hours a month for six months a year when we first started dating, we are true professionals at communication and keeping an emotional closeness when there is no opportunity for hugging and snuggling and all that gushy stuff.
             With that being said, the start of football season is never easy. During the off season, my husband (and all of these incredible guys in the league,) wake up, find a football field and get their drills in. The closer the season gets, the more they work out- lifting in the morning, doing drills in the evenings, getting massages three times a week on problem areas, icing every night while watching Chopped or whatever Real Housewives I convince him to get into, and so on. This is the life of every athlete and in the off season it is a strict but relaxed environment. In the off season, I still have all his attention and his schedules revolve around our family. We still can stay up as late as we want talking or taking a walk or meeting up with friends. Because they cannot travel at all during the season, off season brings exploration and adventures in magical places. Really and truly, the off season is just a rare moment where football moves to second place.
              The week before training camp, football mode sets in. Every girlfriend, fiance and wife can tell you what football mode is. Growing up in an NFL household has numbed me to it- my dad is in football mode for about 9 months out of the year. My mom knows it so well.  It is subtle at first, but it is definite. We find ourselves repeating things more, laughing at something hysterical alone, being the only one eating dessert, and finding more and more scribbles of plays around the house. The shift is quick. The second they drive off to training camp, football season is officially here- and despite their best efforts, it proudly reclaims its first place spot. I call football season 'robot-mode.' He wakes up, has his quiet time, leaves to the facility, comes home at 5, and I make a lean, protein filled meal. Dinner is our time to catch up and we soak up every minute. After this he watches film, studies, and goes to sleep. Put that on repeat from August- the start of January and there you have it!
               As we await the end of training camp and the pre-season, I think it is important to pray for all the NFL families. That we would trust that everything that happens this season is part of Our Father's awesome plan. From everyone in situations with new teams and those waiting to make the roster to those with injuries and more losses than wins...I pray for peace. Peace is hard to come by in the season, when the coaches, media and the fans are trying to tell you the worth of your loved one. Thank the Lord our identity is found in Him- not in our stats. For the significant others especially I pray for energy to handle all that football seasons bring on. I ask for the strength to be the support and serving spirits we are called to be. It is officially football season- may it be a healthy one, a successful one, and a may we learn something new from every experience. God Bless the NFL!

Here are some photos from Team Atogwe's summer!
 

 





 Goodbye, Summer 2012

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Renewed.

The Holy Spirit is pulling major heart strings at the moment.

I have been in a bit of a spiritual rut as of late. Despite the amount of journal pages I filled, worship songs I listened to and Joyce Meyer messages I downloaded, I just could not connect on a spirit level.  Something I have learned from experience and can confidently approve as a true statement: When the Lord isn't the center of everything, everything will be off. 

Despite the enormous blessing my marriage is, Satan cannot stand two of God's children living a life of joy and peace together as one. So what does he do? He attacks people at their weaknesses. 

Lately-he has been hard hitting my comparative nature. I constantly felt as if I wasn't doing enough. Adjusting to being a God-fearing wife at 22 has been a challenge. A typical day in my life at this point two years ago looked like this: Wake up with enough time to brush my teeth and eat a bowl of cereal. Walk to class. Come home-to lay on the couch and watch Ellen eating Special K bars by the box- Lay upside down on my bed talking about life and our dreams with my love until he had to go to bed-Test out You-Tube makeup/hair/anything tutorials until I couldn't keep my eyes open. Write in my journal. Sleep. Repeat. 

It was wonderful. Slightly unfulfilling...but glorious at the time. Fast forward to today- I wake up to make a breakfast that will keep my love energized throughout his workout. I then face an inner battle of whether or not I should do the laundry/empty the dishwasher/tidy the bedroom so my hubby doesn't have to do it when he gets home. I then head to class and to the grocery store because I changed my mind about dinner, then back to catch up with the man on our days events. All too soon it is time to make dinner, read our 'read the Bible in a year' plan, and go to sleep. 

I truly am most fulfilled when I am doing my best at all of these things. I love the responsibilities that being a wife entails, and the affirmation being a 'serving wife' rewards. I do sometimes take on too much pressure-being the prideful person I am. If I happen to find out a friend of ours works out with her husband every day...you better believe I am going to lace up my sneakers and do the same. If my friend says she packs a lunch for her husband-I add it to the post-it checklist. Somewhere in the middle of focusing on how to make myself look better, I took the on the impossible weight of doing everything-and doing it perfectly- in my own strength.

At a moment I can't quite pin-point, I suddenly felt like my intimate prayer times turned into me talking to a ceiling. My quiet times were so uninspired...it was as if everyone around me was reading the Word of God and I was reading Chinese. I was so intensely jealous of my husbands quiet times and word studies; he was being so heavily poured into and I was pouring myself out without restoration.

Tonight, I realized where I went wrong.

I began to seek one thing, and then another thing, and yet another thing before my Heavenly Father. 

My heart is chasing after far too many things before it is chasing after pleasing Him, obeying Him and glorifying Him with all my heart-soul-spirit-and strength. No matter how much joy and happiness my husband brings me every day, a void was created by not seeking fully after My First Love.

Even though I was complaining about feeling a huge disconnect from Him, I spent less and less time in His word and on my knees and more time blaming Him for my loneliness. 

I am so sorry, Father.

 I felt the urge to read Psalm 119 tonight and decided to go back to the basics. I grabbed a notebook and pen and curled up on the couch rewriting the verses, searching for what they really meant to me. To be honest, it immediately quenched a thirst that has been in my spirit for far too long. Literally people- spiritual Gatorade. I switched from NIV to NLT and read it again while tears welled up with tears at the way the Lord teaches us. So, if you don't mind- I would like to share with you the verses that made my heart smile tonight: 

33 Teach me your decrees, O LORD;
I will keep them to the end.
 34 Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions;
I will put them into practice with all my heart.
 35 Make me walk along the path of your commands,
for that is where my happiness is found.
 
36 Give me an eagerness for your laws
rather than a love for money!
 
37 Turn my eyes from worthless things,
and give me life through your word.
38 Reassure me of your promise,
made to those who fear you.
 
39 Help me abandon my shameful ways;
for your regulations are good
.40 I long to obey your commandments!
Renew my life with your goodness.

I am so thankful to serve a God who lives up to His promises, even when I don't. 

And thankful that our hearts are literally wired to put Him first. We will always find our way back.


Sarah Burton&Philip Treacy

Hello, Delilah Readers! Please excuse this post as it is a post for my Fashion Forecasting class. I will remove it and replace it with Nigeria Part 2 at the end of the week!


Gladys Perint Palmer hosted a fantastic Q & A session last week. In fact, it is the best Symphosium I have ever seen. The enthusiasm she provoked in the guests of honor- Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen and the famous milliner Phillip Treacy- was what made the hour so special. Although I found Simon to be completely removed from (and a little bored with, for that matter) the situation- Gladys, Sarah and Phillip contributed happily and heavily throughout the session. I decided the best way to summarize the event was to share my favorite compilation of quotes I jotted down in the audience.

''Fashion is an illusion. 
It is based on craft and you must use that to 
create dreams 
for people." PT

                               ''It's about inspiring and that's what creates the dream.'' SB

"You must always be inspired.
Litter, 
The street,
Something on the telly...
You have to force yourself to
stay inspired." SB 

"When you become a hat maker, people believe you know everything.
I don't." PT

"At a show, especially a McQueen show, you actually have to be physically there to feel the experience. It doesn't matter what you feel as long as you feel something."SB

"In China they don't want the logo on the bag-they want beautiful details." SB

"People have different perceptions of what style and fashion is.
That's what makes this all go round
It's what makes room for every kind of designer." PT

"Some people have a forward thinking movement,
and some people are just trying to sell a dress." PT 

"People feel empowered by beautiful things." PT











xo-Jill Atogwe




Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Proud to be an Atogwe

At the end of March, I took a step outside my comfort-zone. 

A 7,849 mile step, to be exact.

I, friends, spent fifteen days in Abuja, Nigeria


I absolutely love to travel, and traveling to a brand new place to experience something I have never encountered before is always the most exhilarating. Something, however, that trumps my adoration of travel is my exclusive and all consuming love of comfort. I have known about this trip to Nigeria for a year now, and since meeting my husbands parents three years ago I have heard countless stories of their home in the village. I had so much time to prepare myself for the trip, but chose to keep it very vague and hypothetical until February rolled around. Although my husband hadn't visited his family there in 14 years, I asked question after question hoping it would provide a perfect visual of this coming vacation.

I checked the weather and found out it would be a lovely 106 degree average during our stay. I couldn't wrap my head around it...What does that even feel like?! I was told to prepare for no power, complete pitch blackness at 8pm, the need to keep a low profile to prevent abduction, blistering heat, heading to the river for water, insects the size of your thigh, a distinct smell that will surely clear your sinuses, and the worst driving one could ever imagine. I have a fantastic imagination, which worked against me for months. The malaria pills didn't help, promising nightmares, strange dreams and anxiety.

With one week to go, I was thoroughly panicked. I was on the phone with my dad outside my classroom talking like a crazy person convincing themselves they are excited when I broke down. And I mean- I REALLY broke down. Sobbing, snot running, hands shaking and all- finally accepting how afraid I was. I was so excited to meet my husband's family and experience the life that every Atogwe before us has lived and thrived. I was doing my best to be a 'cool-chick-wife' again, pretending to be excited and positive and upbeat by meditating on verse after verse and deciding that people go to Africa all the time. To be honest, I said 'Angeina Jolie goes to Africa all the time. I got this.'

And I did. After one 6 hour flight to DC, an 8 hour flight to Frankfurt and a 7 hour flight to Abuja, we had finally arrived. One of my larger fears was the amount of time spent on a plane. Arthritis in the back and herniated discs make for grumpy flights. Oh how little my faith was!! Although I slept for a grand total of four hours on the duration of these flights, I felt fantastic. And best of all- I survived them. God is so good! The airport gave me my first glimpse of the corruption of Nigerian government and authority, as almost everyone who helped us demanded we give them money...for doing absolutely nothing. My sister in law who traveled with us as well informed me that by not giving them what they want, you can end up stuck in the airport-or prison-for as long as they want. Naira (The currency of Nigeria) rained up in that place.

We spend a couple nights in an Abuja hotel while waiting for my brother in law and his girlfriend to arrive and then hit the road early in the morning for the 5 hour drive to 'The Village.' This gave me my first glimpse of Nigerian traffic rules- there are none. Not a single one. No road signs, no set directions, no laws, no speed limits, no traffic lights- nada. A one way street quickly breaks into a snug three lanes in seconds if a car so chooses to go a different way than the crowd. People ride on top of cattle trucks, no one uses a seat belt as they have all been cut out in order to fit more people, The millions of motorcycles flooding the streets usually feature the combination of a man steering-and texting- a baby in the middle and a woman on the back with a bowl full of yams on her head. We all eventually decided it was best to keep our eyes closed for the driving portions of the trip.

Once we arrived, however, all fear turned to pure joy. I cried just as hard as I did on the phone with my dad one week before. I cried because I was so thankful for their welcoming arms. I was thankful to see my in-laws who had arrived a week before us, and I cried thinking of how hard my husband's parents worked to be the first Atogwe's to move to Canada in order to make a better life for their family. This was my first glimpse into realizing just how blessed I was to be in that place.


I have an incredible pride in my last name simply from the stories I have heard over the years of exactly what this name means and what it stands for. After spending two weeks in the place where every Atogwe before me began, That pride has grown to uncharted territory. I am so excited to share this journey with everyone, I hope I have you at the edge of your seats waiting to hear more!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Little Teeny Baby Faith

 A few months ago, my husband and I took a quick trip to Cabo. The football season began in July last year due to an interesting lock out that most of you remember well. Despite missing mini camps due to this lockout, this season seemed l-o-n-g. Longer than ever, in fact. Although I was traveling all over the place, my hubs was in what we call 'robot mode.' Every day is the same as the one before, and by the end of the season you are just about sick of it. With the holidays, especially, days are filled with cold weather in the outdoor practice field, muggy weather inside the Lifetime Fitness gym (yes, an NFL team has to have a rainy day backup with no indoor facility...) many long drives to DC for charity events preparing for Christmas, and an unfortunate stack up of losses. By the end of it, we decided there was only one way to end the frenzy of the 2011-2012 football season:

Mexico.
 
 The mini-trip was just what we needed- four days in paradise.  We spent mornings taking advantage of our free breakfast, too much advantage, probably, ordering every juice on the menu and hoarding side dishes to 'save for later'. Afternoons were spent poolside with our magazines and comic books (I trust you to figure out who was reading what...) and evenings meant trying out new places in the city as long as they were beachfront. It was fantastic. It served its entire purpose beautifully; to get me tan, to get him rested, and to get both of us relaxed...until Friday afternoon.

It is safe to say that I am not an adventure seeker. It is even safer to say that I have the same level of desire to go outside my comfort zone as a three month old child. With that said, however, I love to experience new things with my hubs. The two statements make a funny pair, because they constantly cross each other out. As I said before in my posts about our Honeymoon, with the kayaking on the ocean, swimming with sharks, climbing to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia and so on-I married a man on a mission to rid me of all fear. 

On Thursday, we were laying on pool chairs, sipping pineapple juice with cold towels on our foreheads when the concierge walked up to my husband and said, "Here are the pamphlets you asked for, sir." Oj looked at me and said "Wanna go whale watching tomorrow?" I was extatic. I of course said sure and rolled over to assure proper pigment distribution...my tan is first priority, always. As I dozed off, I heard the concierge ask if we would rather go on a tour boat or a speed boat. Oj said speed boat and wished him a great day.

Well, when the next afternoon rolled around and we were walking behind our guide to our boat, my stomach started to turn when I saw him walk up to this thing:


I was a little concerned. I had spent the last hour looking at the whale chart on the wall of the tour center, and had spent much of that hour comparing the dolphin to the larger whales on the wall. This girl can kill time. With all my newfound knowledge of whale size, I was an expert on just how enormous these humpback and gray whales are. These waters are famous for the largest of them, and we were promised this tour would get us 'as close as possible.' I asked the driver if maybe we could stay as far as possible-dead serious face on-and he laughed. 

Well, imagine my surprise when-as I was pep-talking myself to board the boat- the driver walked right past it and continued to the edge of the dock....to this thing:

 

I immediately flipped, internally. And those who know me know that if I can do anything, I can flip internally better than the rest of em'. An internal flip is a polite way to freak out to the nth degree within yourself. Suddenly questioning all skills of this 20 year experienced driver, beginning to thing this was all a scheme to get me left in the middle of the ocean, pulling up all memories of husbands leaving wives on vacations, people stranded in the middle of the ocean, and of course, letting the entire brain be taken over by this image: 



The external effects are something only my husband and mom notice...I must begin to reek of fear or something. (I also shake, breathe heavy, and repeat 'Oh my gosh, Oh my gosh' over and over... that could be the more obvious give-away.) I looked around at the three other couples around us, all in hiking boots and wearing hats and t-shirts displaying previous adventurous accomplishments, like climbing mountains and deep sea diving. They chose this torture for pleasure! Luckily, a 75 year old woman was sitting next to me. She too had been dragged by her spouse against her will. I liked her immediately. 

 It took one and a half hours to get to the part of the ocean where the whales were guaranteed to be. I spent that hour and a half near tears with my eyes closed shut, repeating every single bible verse I know regarding faith. I was missing everything, content in my own brain and taking it upon myself to feel safe. When I finally felt the boat stop moving my husband told me to open my eyes and look to my right. That's when I saw this:










My fear completely melted away. Sure, it came back when I watched these enormous creatures swim under our boat and to the other side, but the moment when I was more in awe than in fear was the moment I suppose adventurous people do this sort of thing for. It was absolutely captivating, and one of my all time favorite experiences in my life. The four hours I spent on that little raft made me realize that far too often, I wait to see something great before I have faith that God will do something great. I know in my heart that God loves me so much, and that he is protecting me, and that His will is perfect for my life. He is taking us on a journey and our job is to trust Him and grow with Him, learning more about Him as we go from point A to point B, but my faith is so small that I stay in the same place, with my eyes closed, until I arrive. 

I don't want little teeny baby faith. If I could have that Friday afternoon on the boat back, I would keep my eyes open-no matter how scared I was- the entire ride to the middle of the ocean. Because that is exactly where we grow.

And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
                                                                         Matthew 21:21-22