New Blog Site!

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JuaquinaCarter.com

First of all, thank you. To all my readers. Thank you. Your view, your comments, your likes, your subscriptions and willingness to share my blog with others did more for me than you know. Thank you for being a part of my journey. Thank you for sharing my writing with the world. Thank you for pushing me to dedicate my life to what I have always wanted to do in the first place. Thank you. With that being said…

I (not so) recently created a new blog! Same author. Same passions. Different topic.

I want to expand my platform and talk about more than just relationships. I want to talk about life! So, if you would follow me on this new journey I would be so grateful. 🙂

Juaquinacarter.com

Be blessed. See you at the other site! ❤

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Challenge: Rise or Fall

“Fall in love.”falling

Fall (verb): move downward, typically rapidly and freely without control, from a higher to a lower level.

Fall (noun):an act of falling or collapsing; a sudden uncontrollable descent.

Hm…why is it so appealing to fall in love again? I don’t believe love is about being consumed by something impulsive and driven solely based on emotions. That would make it quite dangerous and volatile.

Woman_silhouette“Rise in love.”

Rise (verb): move from a lower position to a higher one; come or go up.

Rise (noun): an upward movement; an instance of becoming higher

Yeah, that sounds like something I want to invite into my life. Something that will empower me and challenge me to elevate every area of my life.Something that is not based only how someone feels (because feelings change with the seasons), but based on someone making a conscious decision to sacrifice for my well being. That’s love.

Challenge: Let’s walk away from what the world teaches us about love. Let’s discover how God intended it to be. Are you pursuing a love that will cause you to stumble or a love that will push you higher? We must stop defining infatuation and calling it love.

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The Learning Curve

I recently finished a course offered at my church about marriage. This class is open to everyone but required for those who would like to marry inside of the church by one of the pastors. What is a single gal, such as myself, doing in a class like this? Simple. Upon entering the class, I had no clue what marriage is really all about and I wanted to get some wisdom on how to approach dating from a healthier perspective. You see, I had a very broken and distorted view of what marriage was, because I have seen too much. I have witnessed unhealthy marriage after unhealthy marriage, and I am, myself, a product of a broken home (divorce). So, I wanted to finally begin uncovering what God really had in mind when he designed the institution of marriage.

The course was mind-blowing for me. The pastor and his wife talked about very spiritual concepts but made them real and practical. It was so refreshing to witness an example of what God meant by watching them discuss the battles they have had to overcome within their own union.

I also learned a lot about what marriage is NOT.

Marriage is NOT perfection. Although your spouse will probably be someone you have a lot in common with, you will not always agree with them. Marriage does not mean you will  not argue. It does not mean you will like everything your spouse does or says. Marriage does not mean they will understand you like no one else. You will not always see eye to eye with them, and that is okay. It’s about seeking God with how to grow in the midst of conflict.

But….what does marriage mean? What is the purpose? It is all about being a representative of Christ. Many people are involved  in or lead various ministries that glorify God, but marriage and the family unit is our first ministry (if or when God calls us to marry someone). It is a very important way of giving Him glory and witnessing to people. Before there was Paul, before there was David, before there was Abraham, there was Adam and Eve chilling inside of the presence of God and freely experiencing Him through their union with one another. But there was also brokenness. When they both allowed sin to seep inside their marriage by disobeying God, brokenness and sin entered the world. That’s powerful. Satan used what was supposed to be a gift to bring about the destruction of God’s children. Therefore, marriage is something sacred and should be protected, because it can be a great tool used by God or by the enemy.

How I forgive my future husband, how I interact with my husband, how we work together to glorify God is my first ministry and is the very reason for the existence of marriage. So, why do people make such a big deal of it? Because it is a big deal!

Having this fresh perspective has transformed how I view and approach dating. If dating is preparation for marriage, I don’t want to waste time with someone I know I can’t live fully in my calling with. This even goes to the men who are a part of the church. If God is leading us in two different directions and we are unequally yoked, someone is going to have to compromise and even walk away from what God is calling them into. Your union should strengthen you in your calling not pull you away from it.

I don’t want to rant or pull out my soap box this Sunday, but I really wanted to share how God has been growing me in the area of dating and relationships. It is an ironic paradox that I have a dating blog and no dating life, but God had to force me to take a step back. He had to deal with some very real issues in my heart and my perspective in order to go forward in a healthy relationship one day. So, I would encourage everyone who reads this blog and finds themselves in a dry spell when it comes to their love life. God does care. And the more you seek Him, the more He will restore you, but you must be patient with His process.

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October 4th, 2011.2015.

On this day four years ago, I was sharing a dorm room that was shaped like the slice of a pizza. I was in a dark time of my life. I was living away from home, and I was terrified. I was in a season of crying myself to sleep every night. I went all day without hearing from a guy who claimed to care about me and later broken up with me for my complaints about a lack of a phone call on my birthday. I was suffering from depression again and, little did I know, it was only going to get worse as the year progressed. I wanted to escape my life, but I didn’t know to where. I was lost. I was sad. I was tired.

On this day four years ago I was broken.

Well, I hate to start a post off on such a low note, but I do not write that out of a place of hurt. I write these words in celebration of how far I have come! Words cannot express the magnitude of what has taken place in my life over the last four years. I have grown in ways I only dreamed about. My secrete desires became my reality. And I am so glad to share it with you guys.

It is very humbling to begin understanding the gravity of this blog and how many ways God continues to use it to minister to people. This blog was created out of a place of darkness. Ironically pain used to motivate me to do things, and my boyfriend breaking up with me was only the beginning of a series of events that led to the creation of Abstinence and the City. Now, it is a place of refuge and a light for both you and me. Thank you for being patient when I experienced a year long writer’s block. Thank you for your open heart when I challenge your views on love. Thank you for your commitment and sharing what you read with your friends. Thank you.

This birthday is a celebration of all the wonderful things in my life, and you are one of those things. Cheers to another amazing year, and I pray you will keep reading. It’s only up from here! 🙂

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Just Skin Deep?

He called me beautiful.

He called me beautiful like it was my name.

He called me beautiful like it was my name, but he did not know me.

Excuse me sir, I sincerely appreciate the compliment, but I am curious to know what makes me beautiful in your eyes? Is it my loc’d hair? Is it my left dimple? Is it my tall, slender physique? Is it the way I cry when I am angry? Is it because my cooking skills precede me? Is it because I am never afraid to speak my mind? Oh, you don’t know those things about me? I forgot, for a second, you were a complete stranger, because you called me beautiful as if you knew me.

When I was younger, I used to hang on to every compliment I got. I would build up my weak self-esteem on how others felt about me. The problem with that is, people’s feelings change with the seasons. The same person who worships the ground I walk on today might despise and spread lies about me tomorrow. It is all based on how they feel about me in that moment. It wasn’t until I started to grow in God and learned who I was inside of him that my self awareness was built on solid foundation.

So, some men might take it personal when I say a complete stranger calling me beautiful means nothing, but it is only the truth. Someone off the street does not know the layers of growth that make me special. I know who I am and what I am based on what God says.

God called me beautiful because I was fearfully and wonderfully made in his image. God called me beautiful when I was so depressed I couldn’t even find it in myself to wear more than sweat pants and a tee shirt everyday. God called me beautiful when I isolated myself from everyone, including him at times. God called me beautiful when I barely acknowledged Him with my heart, let alone my actions. God called me beautiful then, and He calls me beautiful now. God knows me. He knows I am imperfect and flawed, but He also knows who He created me to be. He knows the good and bad thoughts that freely flow through my mind. God knows me….all of me. And yet, He still chooses to call me beautiful.

You……well you don’t know me that well do you?

You assume I am supposed to hold on to that compliment as if I don’t already know my worth and I am not secure in who I am. You assume I am beautiful but have yet to see me when I am lounging around the house and couldn’t care less about what I look like. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate compliments, but I do not build myself up by them.  Your words are nice and are probably coming from a good place, but you aren’t even aware of the person you are calling beautiful.

Your compliment will hold a lot more weight when you see me at a low point or when I am down and you still see the beauty in my life. That is when I will listen.

You want to impress me? Talk about something other than my physical appearance. That will make you stand out from the others who used the same, tired line, “Hello beautiful.” Let’s have a real conversation about what really makes my heart jump and my spirit move. Let’s find some common mental ground and explore what God might have in store for us.

I am beautiful, and so are you. Now, what else do you want to talk about?

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Lock & Key

To My Unborn Son(s),

I love you so much, and I haven’t even met you yet. I shutter even thinking about the responsibility of raising you to be a great Power of Wordsperson, because I always feel there is some piece of wisdom I might forget to tell you. So for now….I’ll write you letters with the hopes that all I forget to say, I will remember to write.

Right now, I want to tell you something most people don’t talk about with their sons. I want you to know your chastity matters. I watch so many parents lecture their daughters and teach them how important it is to hold on to their sexual purity, but I rarely hear this same lesson being taught to little boys. Well, as my son, I want you to know you are holding something special as well.

You are holding a key, but this isn’t your average key son. No, your key has the ability to unlock the door to love. Your key has the ability to expose you to a really fun experience. Your key has the ability to populate this world.  Your key has the ability to connect you to a beautiful woman. Your key allows you to create a legacy.

But you must hold it close, because it also has the power to bring about destruction. If used too soon, this key can break hearts. It can cause spiritual, physical, and emotional damage. If used irresponsibly it can make your body ill from disease. It could bring about responsibility you might not be ready for.

Your key can bring about life…

…but it can also bring destruction.

So, you must guard it, and one day God is going to help you find the most amazing woman you’ve ever met. It won’t be her outside beauty that captures you (although she will be attractive to you), it will be her heart. She will hold a lock, and, just like you, she will have chosen to hold it close and follow God. And guess what? You will marry her and finally be able to use your key the way God intended you to.

God is calling you to keep your precious key in a secure place, so when you do use it, the door you open will expose true love.

However, I will not paint a pretty picture void of the reality. It will be hard. There are so many locks in this world (all different sizes and colors). You will gaze and be enticed by various beautiful locks but always remember, your wife’s will be magnificent. And if you stick your key inside of a lock that doesn’t belong to her, the door you open will expose nothing but an empty room.

So, your decision to wait matters too son, and it is a very important choice to make. I trust you will do what’s right.

I love you,

Mom

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Unstoppable

I am not dainty.10178005_357158707802211_3272492953388668956_n

And I don’t want to be.

I am not the girl you save. I am not the damsel in distress. I am not weak nor in need of a hero (outside of Jesus).

I used to think that’s what I had to be. I used to belittle myself and pretend to be less than I really am. I am a thunderstorm in the midst of a crazy world. I am bold, unapologetically honest, and never afraid to speak my mind. I am intelligent and able to manage my finances without your help. I may be petite in weight, but I am more than capable of moving mountains. There are moments of filled with tears and struggles, but I am a strong woman.

And, quite frankly, I am tired of apologizing for my strength.

I earned these stripes. I survived lonely nights and the darkness of depression. I have been attacked physically, spiritually, financially, and emotionally, and I am still alive. In the midst of finding God, I managed to find myself. You want to know what I learned about the girl living inside of my mirror? She is not a victim.

So, if you are Tarzan, Prince Charming, or Mario, you are looking in the wrong direction. I need a King who will gladly enjoy the company of a strong Queen.

We are not meant to wear masks around each other or to hide our bold characteristics. We are meant to be who God created us to be, and that is exactly what I intend to do.

So, no. I am not dainty. I will not hide my virtue.

 

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To Be Woman and Black

As a woman in this country I must express my sorrow. tumblr_ng1d6wxTAM1qderh6o1_500

Mike Brown. Eric Garner. Trayvon Martin. Freddie Gray.

All these men I have marched for. I have held up my hands, I have shouted for their freedom in the pouring rain, I have angrily defended the lives of black men in this country. But…what about me?

My sister. My friend. My cousin. My co worker.

All these women I have prayed for. I have cried with them when they were violated, I have talked them off the ledge of anxiety when they wanted to jump, I have waited with them to finally experience breakthrough. But…what about me?

Black men’s lives matter. Women deserve equality and respect. But what about the silent cries of the forgotten? Black women.

I remember growing up not liking the color of my skin. I didn’t think it matched my clothes, and I could only wear certain colors because of it’s hue. I have felt like a plan B in comparison to fair-skinned woman who seemed to get more attention than me. I have had to listen to guys say that black is not beautiful…in fact it is ugly, and they don’t want their kids to have dark skin. I have felt the fear of seeing a confederate flag on my neighbor’s house. I have avoided certain white adults, because I knew they looked down on me. I have viewed myself as inferior to a race this country was built for.

To be black and a woman.

To be woman and black.

What about us? What about the countless dark skinned queens I have had to convince of their own beauty. What about the depression we try to hide, because we are supposed to be the strong ones (on whom the family depends). What about us? After all the support we supply to everyone around us, who shows up to defend us? Who protects us? On whose shoulder do we lean?

Who?

To be black and a woman.

To be woman and black.

I thank God for His love and protection, because it seems I have been forgotten by the very lives I fight for.

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To The People I Love

I get it. You are afraid of being alone. I understand. I have been alone for four years, so I know all too well the trials it comes with. I understand the lonely nights and the empty spaces in your days. I experience the desire to have someone there that I can lean on. Friends are great but they don’t fill the gaps a significant other would. I know. I get it. I’m right here with you…making the most out of the waiting game.

But settling is not the answer.

Please do not let the microwave society we live in influence you to set aside or lower your standards for what type of person you want to spend the rest of your life with. Love is extraordinary. No matter your race, cultural background, or religion the definition of love is always something that is almost unfathomable. The bible defines love as God.  God. Think about that. The being that created the entire universe and numbered every single hair on your head is…love. Nothing is comparable to God and yet, the bible tells us that love equates to God. Therefore, nothing is comparable to love.

That’s powerful.

This is why I am so frustrated when I see you settling for less. You give your love away so easily to people who don’t deserve the precious pieces of you. They are not unworthy, because they aren’t good enough. They are unworthy, because they aren’t what you desire. If you take a second to evaluate who you hold close to your heart and are honest with yourself, you will see what I see. You will realize what you are cheating yourself out of.

Love is meant to be powerful and life changing. Love is meant to be someone whose spot cannot be replaced in your life. Love is defined in many ways, but there is one thing it will never be: average. But the problem is that real love takes time to cultivate. It takes sacrifice and commitment. It takes sowing seeds and patiently waiting for them to grow. Sometimes that means staying single for long periods. Sometimes that means turning away from the attention of people who don’t really care about you. If you want love, you have to be willing to step up to the plate and make hard decisions, but it is a choice only you can make.

I just want to encourage you to make that choice-to stop wasting your time. Dating just to date is only hurting you in the long run. Embrace the lonely nights. Your king/queen is worth it all. I promise. And don’t feel alone, we are in this together. I’m right here. Waiting.

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Perfection is Overrated

mistakesSometimes when we make a mistake we get caught up thinking about the past. We spend so much time dwelling on what we did; we neglect the possibility of moving forward. We find it daunting to try to pick up our lives and move on, because our focus is on what has already passed. We even find discouragement in Who used to give us inspiration to progress: God. We begin to avoid having conversations with the One who created us, because we don’t want to deal with the shame we might have caused Him. We don’t want chastisement. We just want to sulk.

Well, it’s okay to make mistakes. The problem is when we find ourselves chained to those bad decisions. Regret and guilt blocks us from seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and makes it hard to turn to anyone for help. We talk to our friends and say, “So what? It happened. That’s life,” when we really want to scream for help. We want them to hold us accountable, we want them to say it is going to be okay, we want to finally talk about the hidden secretes. But we won’t; pride won’t let us. And shame silences our truth. So, we live each day as if we are carrying on with life, when really we are just trying to bury what we did without fully addressing it.

I have done things that I used to deeply regret. I have made decisions I know my Father in heaven is not proud of and my friends would find it hard not to judge me for, and it took a lot of time for me to realize how to begin unpacking all of this guilt. I didn’t want to talk about things. I just wanted to move forward as if they had never happened. I could try to blame the people around me for not understanding, or my parents for not being approachable, or my heavenly Father for expecting perfection, but none of these are true. The truth is I had to forgive myself first in order to be able to accept their love and forgiveness. I had to listen to the small voice in the back of my mind saying…

“…It’s okay to make mistakes.”

I had to learn that God doesn’t hate me. He hates the sin that is attached to me. And just like you wash your favorite coffee mug in order to preserve its glow, God just wanted to wash me. He didn’t want to attack and condemn me. He just wanted open communication and a chance to love me back to emotional and spiritual health. My friends and family are the same way. They wouldn’t think I’m stupid, just that I made a stupid decision. And that’s okay! That’s what makes us human. How can we learn the stove is hot if we never get burned a few times?

I’m not excusing destructive behavior you know is wrong. I just want to encourage anyone who has ever made a bad decision and is struggling with the guilt and regret of it all. It’s okay. You’re okay. And even though the people around you may not agree with what you did, they still love you deeply. You are still priceless and worth more than diamonds. You are still beautiful. You are still saved.

Don’t believe the hype.

It’s okay to make mistakes.

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