Food for Thought…

“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside.” ~Stephen R. Covey

I have been beating myself up lately about a few things I obviously have no control over. During my prayer time this morning, I shared with God I set so many goals for my life, including making wiser choices to save me the headache down the line. The only issue is I set these goals and “life” ,”bad choices” ,”lack of wisdom” ,”a hard-head” seems to keep me from obtaining them. It is funny because while speaking, he told me I have to want it bad enough. He literally asked me “How bad do you want it?”. My response, “God, I wanted to have so much accomplished by now,  making better decisions before I turned 30”. He told me it’s not to late. Now my response will just have to be “Once I turned 30, I had enough, so I made changes”. He encouraged me that it is never too late to make a change, but I had to want it bad enough.

Not saying that I have not matured over the years because “My God”….oh how I can see the growth! On the other hand, I also see areas of improvement. There must be a “stronger desire” to do differently. I once thought I had to have it all figured out before a certain time, but I realize God uses us daily. Everything we experience can be viewed as a lesson. We can always change the circumstances seen as difficult into something positive. I look forward to the latter years of my life, after 30!

Seeing this quote was just confirmation. In order for me to “truly change” I have to want it so bad, that I reject any obstacles and just make it a priority!

 

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New York Trip Update!!

OMG I am leaving for New York in 42 days♥♥!!! Okay, so let me update you on the plans thus far.

Outfits: The weather is going to be “true Fall” for New York; that means scarfs, boots, sweaters, and jeans! I have not gone shopping yet. Sad face indeed because my plans were to shop out of season for better prices, but hey….the goal is just to look cute and stay warm! I plan to check out T.J. Maxx, Plato’s Closet, Walmart, Target, and heck I may even check out a Thrift Store!

10 Favorite Fall Outfits @hapatime  #fall #outfits / camel knit                                                         Tilt-Vintage wax print dress. Above the knee pleated dress. Invisible back zipper. Tie Neck Line. 2 side pockets. Mint leave and pink. Ankara | Dutch wax | Kente | Kitenge | Dashiki | African print bomber jacket | African fashion | Ankara bomber jacket | African prints | Nigerian style | Ghanaian fashion | Senegal fashion | Kenya fashion | Nigerian fashion | Ankara crop top (affiliate)

Money: Going to NYC, you can never have “enough money”. The city is so expensive, and traveling with more is always your best option! I have saved a little here and there for the past couple of months so I will not feel stressed trying to save at the last minute.

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Flights: My ticket was paid for a couple of months ago; I think it is easier if you book your flight as early as possible. I can not stress how wonderful it feels to not worry about that part, but spending money, outfits, and things to do once I get there!

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What to do in NYC? I plan every trip I go on, so the beauty of this trip is I DON’T HAVE TO PLAN! My friend Katie has agreed to be our tour guide with suggestions from others of things we should do. We do however, plan to catch a show, do a little night life fun, and sight see. New York is gorgeous regardless;  I am just excited to take it all in and wonder the city! My Only Requests:  I asked that we go to the Sugar Factor (those drinks look amazing). I want to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge; I want to visit the Statue of Liberty; We definitely have to see the World Trade Center-I still recall this day, I was in the 8th grade when the entire student body had to assemble in the gymnasium. Being that young, you do not realize the impact of what was happening, but soon, in time, you would….

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What about you? Any tips and suggestions on what my friends and I should do while in NYC? Drop the comments below or email me! I would love to see your list of To-Dos!

 

Being Real With Yourself! (Personal Journal Clip)

I originally was going to write about the experience I just had; you see, I like to check on folks. Old friends that live far away, new mommies or daddies, past loves who are doing really well, etc. Then, something dawned on me, why do I care?

I check on people because I genuinely want to know that they are doing good. Yeah sometimes it hurts to see, (not so much they are doing well, but that “place” does not include me). However, I feel so happy knowing that someone’s life is going in a good direction. I’ve seen “new boos” with a few of ex boos (lol), friends becoming home owners, some have graduated from various institutions and programs. Yet the question remains why do I look back?

For a long time I fought myself for the outcome of just about anything. I allowed people to make me feel like our distance, our ending, was mainly my fought. For example, in my relationships-I’m pretty straight forward. I will compromise to the end of us. I will not complain until it presses deeply on my heart. I will be understanding and considerate of “me time” and “space”. I think this is helpful during the the “courtship stage”. I even attempt to disclose my personality and way of handling situations upfront. I basically tell them, “hey I like to talk things through”-hint the word*talk*. I also reassure them that this does not have to be on my time. We can collect our thoughts and regroup. I have learned the lesson of saying things you do not mean, because you literally CAN NOT take it back. I say all of this because after I have tried for so long. After I have reached out numerous times. After I have totally shadowed my feelings, emotions, and integrity to uphold theirs, I am done! When the cloud drops, the friendship stumbles, the happy 24.7 ends, and the lovebird stage is gone, I don’t want to talk about it about anymore, I am ready to walk! Ha!

Friendships where I have had that individual my whole life, no longer exists. I have had friends do something to destroy our bond, I forgive them and reach out, and they still manage to leave! The same grace shown to them is never be reciprocated if I do something they do not like. For example, during my marriage, I had a friend who established a relationship with my husband, behind my back. Now you’re probably thinking what is wrong with a friendship? I agree, nothing, until that friendship becomes secrets, visits, intimacy, etc. I use this example because I forgave them both and tried to bounce back from that mistrust. In return my “friend” decided she no longer wanted to talk to me “because of how I handled the situation” and my ex husband continued to lie, cheat, and mistreat me.

I had a best friend in high school (name will remain anonymous). We grew apart towards our latter years in school and during adulthood I reached out to her again via social media. We were cool for a minute, but I realized she was always “short” with me. I went to her home a few times, invited her to mine and events I was going to. Then suddenly, I noticed she wasn’t calling anymore. She went right back to this distant person. So I took the “hint” and fell back.

Same thing with a girlfriend of mine I considered a “sister”. I use a lot of “…” because I want you to sense my tone as if you were in my presence. Back and forward for years, ups and downs, I was there for her. She moved away (about two hours), and I even went to visit her during my Christmas break once. She would call me when she came into town, even stop by. She pledged and needed a reference and it was then I heard from her “often”. Once she crossed, less talking, less seeing, she would come to town and I wouldn’t know it. No more returned calls, etc. Co-workers I once admired and vowed to remain friends with I don’t even socialize with. I see them having events and conversations on social media and I am never included. Why does this matter? I would treat them the same. When I was getting married I invited so many people, my guests list was about 350 people. Ask me was I invited to any of their special days or small gatherings……(nope). I had to watch it on social media or hear about it.

Just recently, I paid attention to “habits” and things reoccurring. I noticed my ex husband still calls me when he paid to be out of my life via divorce. All the hell he put me through, he asks for friendship now! Every ex boo of mine manage to be cordial with me. My last boyfriend finally accepted my “old” social media requests and we talked briefly until I made a request that our conversation be respectful. Let’s just say he unfriended me the same day! (but he came back). I got a random email from another ex saying he accepted my request, I replied that I had not sent him one. I knew he wanted to check in and see if I would respond and how I was doing, but I kept it brief.

I look at life like this: IF people want you in their lives, they will make it known. WHEN A PERSON SHOWS YOU WHO THEY ARE BELIEVE THEM. We all know this quote, very well. Yes have I been in situations I could have handled differently, yeah-we all have. Did I deserve the “extra” nope! Does what people say about me doing their anger define me? HECK NO! If I was such a horrible person, the come back, and requests would not exists!

My advice to you…..do not let people trick you into thinking that it’s you when honestly it’s not. I showed you several instances where clearly the fault was on the other person, but because I was so curious if this was really me, I actually believed it was. DON’T DO THAT. Re-evaluate your situation and patterns that repeat themselves. Take full ownership in the part that you did play, but pay attention to everything that happened. Don’t let folks trick ya! I care about others because I want everyone to succeed and be happy but the most important person is myself. The seeds folks planted or tried to plant about my character, my destiny, my life, is not what defines me. I have cried many tears of hurt, pain, and disappointment while those same individuals went on with their lives. No one will ever have that much control over my emotions again. So I ask myself why do I care, I AM A GOOD PERSON. It just took me a long time to realize that.

The Importance of Tithing!

Welcome Back!

First I would like to start by saying I am not here to persuade, but to share my story.

At the beginning of each year, I set goals for myself and decree the “word of the house”, given my pastor, over my life. This year’s word was about “favor”.  I then write down the goals both short and long and ensure they are realistic and obtainable. I review past goals and re-evaluate them. Did I accomplish anything? Should I re-think my plan and approach? Do I need more time? I consider all of this in starting my year.

One of my goals for this year was to tithe faithfully. You see, I have a habit of tithing off and on, according to my circumstances. What I mean is, if I am running low on cash, I won’t tithe. Yes I know this is NOT right, but ya’ll I am being honest. I make a certain amount of money (as we all do). Once I factor in my bills, living expenses, etc., the funds always seem to be just a little bit short. So January 1, 2017 I said, “Hey I am going to tithe NO MATTER WHAT”.

Let me just say this, life is funny (When I say funny I mean cruel, bootleg, and ugly) LOL. I set this goal and went hard. I was tithing every pay period and in full. I even ordered checks in the event I did not have cash on me. I mean I was determined. I trust God so I wanted to take him at his word and be obedient.  I am officially a “consistent tither” I feel good about my decision and have no worries. Keep pushing: It is the middle of March;  I need some work done on my teeth.  I have insurance so I am not really concerned about the cost. Well, they find something that is “needed immediately” and more than what I could afford.

Meanwhile, I am still tithing and just honest with God and my mom about my situation. “I need work done on my tooth and it is more than the money I make”. Look at God ! Someone blesses me and pays for my procedure with a payment plan set up to repay them.  Ok, moving on, I start repaying my debt and still paying my tithe, and spring break rolls around. My family and I are looking into Disney World as our vacation.  The rooms are expensive and time is of the essence, the end of March will be here before we know it. A colleague of mine says, “I have timeshare, let me look and see if we can book there and you guys can have it”. So days went by, she was able to get it and did not ask much from us as an expense. Again Look at God! We stayed in Orlando for 6 days, 5 nights, in a two bedroom, loft, living room, dining, room, balcony, etc. villa for not even $200! Then the “testing period” begins.

Now I need to pay for random stuff happening! Car acting crazy, co- pays due because I am ill, bills keep coming; I mean life is still going on so I stop tithing.  I barely had enough to do what I needed to. In order to pay for stuff something had to give, so tithing was it. I KNOW, I KNOW, BAD MISTAKE. Oh did I pay for it. I started noticing my savings was depleted, bills were steep, issues on every hand just kept happening. Where I once would have cash on hand all the time, bills paid, blessings coming from every where, all of that had slowed down- if not ended completely.  I HAD STOP TITHING. 

One day, I was like man I am broke! Nothing really had changed in my finances either. I mean my checks were the same amount, my pay from the side job was about the same, my income had literally NOT CHANGED. So why was I broke? I prayed to God, not for a financial blessing but insight on what I was doing wrong. I knew that if there was a shift it had to be me. During my prayer time, God had me reflect on things pre-tithing, then consistently doing so,  and the post tithing. I was right, my income had not changed and to be honest nor did my circumstances. I always had those bills, I became sick before so the co-pays were not a total shock either. Me withholding what belong to God was a huge part.

Conclusion: When I was being obedient, tithing consistently, the blessings kept coming. God stretched my little and made it more. He sustained me until more arrived. I had plenty. No my income did not increase, but my provision did. God made sure that all of my needs were met and that an abundance took place. He even blessed my part time job with opportunities of more money because my pay was contingent upon participation. (So on Monday nights, he allowed more people to attend). I know that seems far fetched, but it is so real. I wondered why the “extra” stopped, well… I had stopped “sowing”. I was not receiving a harvest as a result of it. He does not joke when he said in his word, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!” Malachi 3:10.

I tried him and saw his goodness! I put him to the test and he showed himself mighty in my life, blessing me with “extra”, but I had to play my part too. Most of God’s word has two parts I am learning; one with instructions from him and the other an opportunity for us to be obedient. I am convinced that his word is true and so are the promises attached to our obedience. My prayer is that I never lose sight AGAIN of how important it is to tithe; NO MATTER WHAT. I am reminded of the song by Tye Tribbett, If he did it before he can do it again! If I know nothing else, I know that God does not waste time or words! I feel like the song, “I’m looking for a miracle!” My pastor talks about harvest and sowing, I can not expect a harvest if I do not plant anything (sow).

I encourage you to at least try him and if you have felt like I did that holding on to the extra and not tithing was okay, please don’t. Take it to him and watch him increase your earnings. He stretched mine, imagine what he will do for you!

One Pot Jambalaya Pasta!

Greetings!

Ok so I found this recipe, One Pot Jambalaya Pasta, on Pintrest and wanted to try it. Ironically, just as the post said, it was easy to make and taste really good! A bonus was you could be creative and add your favorite ingredients or use less, your preference. One evening, my friend and I stopped by the local grocery store and purchased the ingredients needed. We had to buy meat, seafood, and can goods. We had some of the other ingredients already. In fact, I am sure that you probably already have majority of them as well. 

A Little Background: If you did not know it, I LOVE NOODLES! Whether it is Spaghetti, Lasagna, Alfredo, Lo Mein, Pad Thai, Ramen Noodles, it really does not matter.  I enjoy Italian food cooked any way: baked, sautéed, or traditional. Hands down, noodles simply are my favorite. You can just call me “Dani the Italian”!

If you are interested in creating this dish and indeed noodle lovers yourself, I have included the ingredients and directions below: (DISCLAIMER: My friend and I did not enjoy the chicken, so in the future we will leave this out. Also, a suggestion is that you cook the pasta for a few minutes before adding it to the pot)

Ingredients:

Instructions:

 1. In a large stockpot or large, deep-walled skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until white (it doesn’t need to be cooked through). Add remaining ingredients (minus shrimp and cilantro). Go ahead and cook your pasta until soft before moving to the next step.
2. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer* for about 20-25 minutes or until noodles become soft, stirring often. Add more chicken broth if necessary.
3. *If adding shrimp, add about 15 minutes into the simmering process.
4. Garnish with cilantro before serving. (I do not care for cilantro, although I know it is used in many Italian dishes, so I left this out as well)

 

Here’s a step by step video as well: (I DO NOT OWN THE COPYRIGHTS OF THIS CONTENT) Step by Step Video to One Pot Jambalaya Pasta

As always, I ask that you follow me on social media. I have this recipe and many others on my Pintrest board. Let’s Cook!