Real Love

Our oldest daughter recently had the pleasure of attending the 35th Annual Fun-Set Social and Charity Club Beautillion Ball. She was an escort for a friend who was a beau in the ball. The Beautillion season highlights the success of young African American males.  Beaus attend seminars with a focus on spiritual, social, educational and economic growth. The annual Beautillion Ball is a culmination of educational activities and fun.


We were honored for her to be invited, but we were even more excited to get to attend with her. My husband is a hardcore helicopter parent, so having a valid reason to be present was right up his alley. We have a great rapport with the young man who invited her and we’ve been friends with his family for over a decade. But she’s his baby girl, and he delighted in being right by her side. The way my husband assisted our daughter with her dress, watched her on the dance floor and pulled out her chair when she would sit reminded me of so many of the reasons I fell in love with him.

Not only did Trinity look like a princess she was treated like one by both her date and her dad.







Recently someone heard me and my husband’s testimony of secondary virginity and thought it wasn’t “real”. They weren’t implying that it was too fanciful. They were insinuating that it wasn’t “real” like, “BIG DEAL, who cares that you had sex before marriage and chose to practice abstinence while you were pregnant.” And all I could think of was, “God cares.”

Sometimes when people say things like, “I’m just being real.” What they really mean is that they are being “real” carnal. If people can’t receive from you because they don’t perceive you as being “real” don’t compromise your values, lower your standards, or remove healthy boundaries because of their opinion. The truth is, they may have a problem with your testimony because it highlights that God is real. It’s their brokenness that keeps them from celebrating how God’s REAL love has made you whole.



Real Love


He treats me like a princess because I’m a daughter of the King.

There’s no need for me to be stressed because I am his Good Thing.

He’s my Knight in Shining Armor the one who makes me brave.

You might wonder how he does it, it’s all because he’s Saved.

When a man is in love with The Lover of his Soul,

His love won’t leave you broken, it will only make you whole.

He can’t see you as royalty if he doesn’t seek the King.

If he does not honor God he won’t know you are a Queen.

Don’t settle for a boy when you can have a Prince.

Set your standards high and do not straddle the fence.

Boundaries keep you safe, they prevent you from a fall.

Your body is a temple protect the palace walls.

Far above rubies, more precious than silver and gold.

Why settle for lust filled fragments when real love can make you whole?

© Toya Poplar 2016


Photography by Tim Gentry

If you want to hear, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” Keep doing well and stay faithful to God’s Word.

Marriage is our ministry but purity will always be our passion. If you ever need someone to share the message of how powerful purity is, connect with us. We believe that purity empowers you to plan your future without looking back at your past. And we know from experience that it’s never too late to wait.

Upgrade Your Life

My phone consumes my time and does not give it back.

A modern day convenience that forces me to lack.

Why have the world in the palm of your hand, if it diffuses your focus and derails your plans?

Not trying to throw the baby out with the bath.

Simply seeking balance and a smarter path.

If smart phones were designed to be a tool.

Why do I feel less smart and more like a fool?

Like a TV remote, I scroll through stations, as my calendar chimes with notifications.

Do this, do that, get out and have fun.

It tells me what to do but I get less done.

This week I decided to confront my phone.

You’re supposed to make things right, but you always do me wrong.

My phone replied to me in a sarcastic tone.

How dare you imply that I do you wrong? You keep me awake late at night.

You run me down and care nothing about my plight.

You misplace me often and then get mad. While you’re busy freaking out, I am actually glad.

At least when I am lost I can get some rest.

You don’t give me frequent updates so I can function at my best.

My storage is always filled with photos of your life.

Which leaves me low on storage so I don’t act right.

You complain about me to others, pass me off to toddlers…

You call yourself upset when I have grounds to be bothered.

You expect me to be user-friendly but you are the worst kind of friend.

This toxic codependency must come to an end.

Allow me to give you a small word of advice.

I am not a human, I am an android device.

Instead of using me, upgrade your life.

What’s Left

Have you ever encountered,

A love so pure,

That it looks beyond your sickness,

And straight to the cure? 

One who knows your beginning,

Yet sees your end. 

One who lets love cover,

Instead of seeing your sin? 

Maybe you’ve wondered,

Can such a love be found? 

When darkness surrounds you,

Love’s light will abound. 

Maybe such a love sounds rather odd. 

If our hearts don’t condemn us,

Then we have confidence towards God. 

Whatever is condemning you,

Just let it go.

Guilty ground,

Is no place to grow. 

Every flower that I’ve seen,

Has gone through some dirt. 

They know what it is like,

To endure when it hurts. 

Broken clouds,

Will bring forth life’s rains. 

You will break through the soil,

And heal from the pain.

The battle is not yours,

So don’t even fight. 

Joy will soon come,

With the morning light. 

Although you can’t take back,

The words that were said. 

You can take captive

The voices in your head. 

Yesterday is gone

And tomorrow may not come. 

At the end of the day,

What’s done is done. 

Choose your words wisely,

And cherish every breath. 

Don’t focus on what is lost,

Focus on what is left. 

The Beauty of Recovery

I have been writing for the last few days, yet none of the things I have written feel right. They are true but not the truth that I wish to share with the world. I believe in creating from a pure place, so until I feel like I am a clean stream for the Father to flow through, I choose to say nothing at all.

Every now and then I walk through something that knocks the wind out of me. I have been trying to catch my breath over the last few days. Recovery is not always pretty, but it certainly serves its purpose. The purpose of recovery is to return to a normal state of mind, place of peace, health, or strength. If I am walking through something, it affects all of the above.

In my efforts to regain control of whatever has been lost, I shut down so that I can reboot, and recuperate on my own. As much as I can preach a friend out of a pit, when I go through tough times I am so pitiful. Being left to my own thoughts is a dangerous place. While recently sulking in my closet floor I received an early morning call from a friend.

Her voice was like sunlight breaking through overcast skies. Like rain after days of drought. I was able to fall apart so that true recovery could begin. Until that moment I was only pretending to be okay. On the inside of me there was a little girl whose heart was shattered. My friend did not fix me, but she listened to my heart. Being heard was an invitation for true healing to begin.  I am not one hundred percent, but I am happy to be on the mend. God often uses ugly circumstances to make us beautiful.

Making Me Beautiful

He’s making me beautiful,

And it does not feel nice.

My life seems chaotic.

Nothing is right.

I am not psychotic,

So I know He is in control.

Although my heart is breaking,

He is making me whole.

At times I get tired,

And He makes me get rest.

He strengthens me mentally,

When I am not at my best.

It does not feel good,

But I will rejoice and be glad.

I will be lovely in the end,

And that’s not so bad.

When we are walking through tough times it is hard to see the beauty of recovery. Is your heart hurting? Are you in need of healing? Do you wish to be heard? If your answer is YES, know that you are not alone. One of the most beautiful things about recovery is that being vulnerable makes you sensitive to those who are hurting around you. Allow your brokenness to become someone else’s beauty. I have noticed that sometimes one of the keys to returning to a normal state of mind is found in looking around, not looking within. Hang in there; life will get better if you just keep living.

The Secret To My Beauty

Worth More Than Gold

Flawless skin, Fleeky brows, lashes that make a girl say, “Wow!”

Fabulous hair, sparkly jewels and don’t forget the perfect shoes.

Detox diets, work out routines, trendy clothes on the fashion scene.

All the above have little effect, if what is inside is not intact.

Beauty begins deep within; having little to do with make up, hair and skin.

Beauty is becoming what you behold, beauty within is worth more than gold.

The Secret To My Beauty

The secret to my beauty is that my beauty was a secret. I was 28 years old before I realized I was beautiful. When I look at photos of me as a little girl now, I no longer see the odd creature I thought I was then. If perception is reality then both my perception and reality were extremely warped. Beauty can be hidden, tucked away in the attic of the mind. Much like items in attics, sometimes you do not discover beauty until you are looking for something else.

What We Hear And How We See

I once overheard my mom say that I was a funny looking baby. She remarked about my big eyes, big head and truck like nose. That translated into my psyche that I was her ugliest child. She never said those words, but that is what I rehearsed for years in my mind. To be fair to my mom, she was joking with a friend. My mom is the first to point out her own beauty flaws. She was sharing her perspective and her perception affected my self-image. Instead of seeing the photo of a cute baby I saw something more like the image below.

What We See And How We Think

My mom thinks I am beautiful now and if shown a photo of me as a baby would probably admit I was adorable then. However, the way she saw me then aided in the process of my beauty being concealed. Even now as I type this I am challenged by the cuteness of that little monkey. If I had to choose I would probably celebrate its beauty over my own. It has always been easier for me to celebrate the beauty I see in others over celebrating myself. 

Beautiful or Nice?

I grew up with the notion that people who were beautiful were not nice and people who were nice were not beautiful. So I worked on being nice because I already knew beauty was not my strength. I met my husband at the age of 16 and he celebrated every feature that had been previously made fun of. My eyes, head, nose and even my broad forehead. It is perplexing when someone you meet loves something you spent your whole life loathing. It is easy to believe their compliments are insincere. More than him appreciating my outward beauty, to him my kindness and sensitivity did not make me weak.

Hidden in Plain Sight

Past boyfriends seemed to reinforce the negative chatter in my head, “You are too nice, smart, or skinny… Your head, eyes and lips are way too big.” I am sure they never said those things verbatim, but again, that is how I heard it in my mind. They probably simply noticed my features and because I felt so invisible I interpreted them as insults. My husband observed my inward beauty, which was all I thought I had to offer. Having someone celebrate those inward qualities helped me begin to accept myself. Beauty still remained buried like a dusty box on a shelf. I could not see it even though it was hidden in plain sight.


Beauty Secret Revealed

Fast forward into the future, as a married mom of 3, I embraced a natural look; it was something I always desired and easy to maintain. I did not wear make up or fancy clothes. I had long locs and when asked, “What is it like having a permanent hairstyle?” I would reply, “It is amazing, daily I get to wake up beautiful,” even though I did not really know the meaning being those words. One day I saw a photo of myself and my husband overheard me say, “Wow, she is pretty!” It was then that I realized my beauty was a secret I had hidden from myself. He said, “Babe, that is you. That is the same girl I met in high school.” For years he saw something in me I could not see for myself,  an outward beauty that had always resonated from within.  

Creature or Creation?

I no longer see a creature when I see an old image of myself. I see a glimpse of God’s creation that He carefully fashioned to reveal a facet of Himself. How do you see yourself as a creature or God’s creation?  Are you willing to explore the attic of your thoughts? It has been 12 years now since my beauty exploration began. Daily I discover something new that leaves me intrigued. I am learning to give myself permission to be a girl and just have fun. Over the next few days I plan to share insights I have observed along the way. I would love for you to join me as my journey to 40 continues.


What shaped your self-image as a child? How old were you when you discovered your beauty? Has beauty become more challenging or easy as you age? 

Navigating Your Now

What an odd topic for a self proclaimed professional procrastinator, to write about. Before you tune me out, take the time to lean in close. Deadlines don’t motivate me, they don’t matter until they are here. Where is here? Here is now? Procrastinators are actually quite skilled at navigating their now. Once the power of panic kicks in and they realize now is all that they have, they do what they should have been doing all along.

Navigating Your Now

The past is in the past.

The future does not exist.

Now is all you have.

What will you do with it?

If you put now off until later,

It is no longer now.

Now is all you have.

What will you allow?

Will you stay angry at that loved one;

Who hurt you in the past?

Will you squander now with worry?

“How long will this pain last?”

Will you contaminate your now;

Thinking of what happened then?

Will you count your current blessings,

Or focus on past sin?

What if I told you now was magic,

It could make all your pain go away.

Just imagine if that person were dying.

What words would you say?

Would you say, “I forgive you,”

Or perhaps “I apologize?”

Would you seize the moment,

Or go seek someone to advise?

Each day we waste our now by refusing to forgive.

Navigating your now is the only way to truly live.

What will you do with it?

How will you navigate your now? Is there someone you need to apologize to? Is there someone you need to forgive? Do you need to forgive yourself? If so, this is one area in which I would hate for you to procrastinate because tomorrow is never promised. Now is all you have. Navigate wisely.

Prison Cells and Potholes


Friends, we once were, now we are foes.

Fluid with our words, now nothing flows.

You say you care, I cannot see.  

If you truly cared, you would see me.

Invisible I sit, though I am here in plain sight.   

I think you’re wrong, you think you’re right.  

Why cast pearls, to be trampled in the dirt?  

I wish you could feel the depth of my hurt.  

A pain so deep, that words cannot paint.

Daily I pray my heart will not faint.  

I am growing weary, I am not doing well.  

You think I’m free but I’m locked in a cell.  

Bars, they confine me, constraints of time.

I’m serving a sentence and love is the crime.  

Does your marriage feel like a prison cell? Are you serving a life sentence with someone, but feeling like you are in solitary confinement? You used to stay up all night, sharing stories of what life was once like on the outside (when you were single). Now you’ve grown so distant that it’s as if you’ve been thrown into the hole. The wife of your youth has started to feel like the old ball and chain. The husband who once wooed you has taken the role as warden.    

The Bible paints a much brighter portrait of marriage. It is not an image of burden and restraint but a brush stroke of blessing and assistance. God’s word frowns upon the thought of man being alone.“It is not good for the man to be alone, so I will create a companion for him, a perfectly suited partner.” (Genesis 2:18 VOICE) Sadly, many Christian couples spend their days fantasizing about breaking camp rather than enjoying the companionship of their perfectly suited partner.

My husband and I have always been close however, recently we hit a bump in the road that felt like a pothole on a Detroit street.  We’ve officially been together for longer than we had been alive when we initially met. Honestly, we’ve enjoyed our journey—until now.  Marriage has not been a perfectly smooth ride, but it has been pleasant. A year ago, I started to feel like our marriage was in need of a tune-up.  We are both native Michiganders and we know what happens if someone drives over potholes long enough, either you do major damage to your vehicle or decide to buy a new car.  

The more innovative technology gets, the faster we cycle through vehicles.  When I was little, I remember my Mom talking about repairing the car replacing struts, shocks and realignment.  It was the same for marriage.  I remember people working hard at fixing their marriages, but our more innovative society wants to simply replace a broken marriage.

It was the same way in the Bible. Jesus said,

 “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But divorce was an innovation, an accommodation to a fallen world. There was no divorce at creation.” (Matthew 19:8 Voice)  

If you are feeling like your marriage is a prison cell, I hope you will find a way to develop both a thicker skin and a softer heart.  I pray that you will see your spouse as a soul mate and not a cellmate.  Fantasizing about your escape only makes things worse…  Even if you did escape and jump in the first fancy car you see, until you deal with your issues, you are bound to hit a pothole. Eventually, the new car will break down too. It’s a lot less expensive to repair your current ride than to buy something new that’s going to depreciate the moment you drive off the lot.    

“So wives should submit to their husbands, respectfully, in all things, just as the church yields to the Anointed One.  Husbands, you must love your wives so deeply, purely, and sacrificially, so that we can understand it only when we compare it to the love the Anointed One has for his bride, the church.” (Ephesians 5:24 & 25 Voice)

The night this poem was written, I was in a prison cell of emotion and could not see beyond my paradigm.  Everything inside of me was screaming, “This car is beyond repair, it’s time for some new wheels!” I woke up the next morning and my husband had written me a beautiful poem and posted it on social media. I wish I could say the moment it was read, my heart melted and we lived happily ever after… That was not the case, but it was the first step towards trusting the Master Mechanic (God) to repair our ride.  

Maybe your marriage has hit one too many potholes and you feel like you are in a prison cell. If that’s the case, there is only one thing that can truly set you free and fix what is broken, forgiveness. Forgive your spouse and forgive yourself. When you said “I do,” you had no idea what you were capable of doing or saying to this person you loved so dearly.  Revisit your marriage vows to remind yourself of what you signed up for. The only true way to see your spouse as your soul mate and not your cellmate is to allow the Lover of your Soul to set you free from the prison of your mind, and make you whole.  

Is your marriage in need of a tune-up or is it a smooth ride? List some routine maintenance measures you and your spouse have implemented that keep your marriage riding smoothly.



Dress me up in my favorite outfit and rejection whispers, “You’re still not good enough.” Place me in a room full of people who love, celebrate and accept me and rejection would slip me a note that reads, “Someone somewhere doesn’t like you.”  When a person has a root of rejection it follows them everywhere. One encounter with rejection can trigger you to revisit every time you have ever been rejected. Rejection lures you with lies and is not satisfied until you feel so loathsome that you begin to reject others. It is a warped warden that will persuade you to place yourself in solitary confinement.

You may wonder why am I sharing this; I am actually wondering the same thing. I would like to believe it is to set someone free. (Perhaps that someone is me.) All I know is, I would prefer to get this out than allow it to fester within. As I journey towards 40 there are a few things that I would like to unpack from the baggage of my mind. Rejection is one of them, it has not been a pleasant travel companion. It makes itself at home, and just as I start to enjoy myself it tries to convince me that I am the unwanted guest.

Much like clothing that remains in the closet year after year occupying space, it is the outfit I hate to wear. It is too small, does not match anything and is out of style. Who wants to wear something that is outdated, out to make you look bad and potentially embarrass those you hang around? I once read a book about organization entitled, “The Magic Art of Tidying Up,” the premise is to surround yourself with things that bring you joy. If it doesn’t bring you joy—throw it out!


The dress I am wearing in the above photo is one of my favorites! The moment I tried it on I began to twirl like a little girl. It is one of those dresses that feels more like “me” than anything else in my closet. I happen to know the designer. The name of her clothing company is, “She is Clothed;” based off the scripture Proverbs 31:25. At a recent fashion show she shared why she named her line “She is Clothed.” She said, “When I see young ladies dressed inappropriately I want to clothe them.”

Her words reminded me of the younger me and some of the clothing I chose to wear. I was never really one to emulate the latest style, but I have always been one to express myself through fashion. I wore things that showed how unique I was and sadly, sometimes those things were uniquely inappropriate. At times I would feel uncomfortable wearing something but I would wear it anyway because someone said, “Girl, you can get away with that because you have the body for it!” Today, I am wondering if what I was wearing all along was rejection.


I am more confident as I approach 40 and I just so happen to wear more clothes. I find it interesting that 20 years ago I felt less confident and I wore less clothing. (It seems like it would take an extreme amount of confidence to leave the house almost naked.)  In the above image I was actually wearing a skirt that I pulled up over my breasts and wore as a dress. I remember how unsure I felt, but everyone around me reassured me that I looked amazing, so I wore it. Somehow I was able to ignore the fact that I felt naked for the sake of being accepted. Reminds me of the childhood story, The Emperor’s New Clothes. When I look at the image below on the left in the denim shorts I remember exactly how I felt; we were at Opryland Hotel in Nashville, TN and I felt underdressed. I remember projecting a false confidence to compensate for being immodest. In my African princess dress I felt 100% confident and carefree but also reverent, like my beauty was a special treasure that had to be handled with care.


I am certain that God is the greatest gift giver in the universe. He is also the best personal stylist. He is the ultimate image consultant because He creates us in his image and his likeness. When He finished creating he stepped back and said, “That’s good.” So why do we spend so much time feeling not “good” enough? I believe it is because we have something that Satan lacks—the ability to be redeemed. We have the opportunity to be accepted in the beloved, we are God’s highest form of creation. Lucifer was beautiful and yet his pride led him to live in a fallen state. When we humble ourselves God lifts us up. The devil turned his back on God and it made him hideous. When we turn our faces towards God He helps us look radiant.

Do you wrestle with rejection? What are some of the ways you’ve learned to remove rejection from your wardrobe? Thanks for joining me on my journey to 40! Below is a poem about what you put on. Enjoy!

A gift given to me by a ladies bible study I recently spoke at.


What You Put On

God clothes us with strength and dignity;

Rejection suggests, “You should wear weakness and shame.”

God gives us a robe of righteousness;

Rejection says, “Try on this jacket of guilt, sorrow and pain.”

God gives us a helmet of Salvation, rejection says,

“What’s that weird thing on your head?”

When God removes our root of rejection,

Satan says,  “You should wear condemnation instead.”

God grants you a precious commodity, from the moment that you are born.

To live without fear of the future, pay close attention to what you put on.


Too Afraid to Start


Words flow through your mind, time after time.
Sometimes they even rhyme, line after line.
You are a poet, but you don’t know it.
You have a gift, but you won’t show it.
You are a potter holding clay, whose too afraid to mold it.
Is it the news headline that diverted your attention?
Are you waiting for someone to give you special recognition?
When you sit still to write do you want to go to sleep?
Does Social Media beckon you to take just one last peek?
Is your room a reflection of the clutter in your mind?
…Now you’re washing clothes instead of writing rhymes.
Does your stomach start to growl when you grab your pen to write?
Do you throw in the towel and say, “it’s just not worth the fight”?
Do you decide before beginning, “this must be writer’s block”?
You haven’t even started yet you feel it’s time to stop.
These things are comical when you read them on a page.
But there is nothing funny about being stuck at this stage.
Words are like treasure that you get to give away.
As a writer you articulate words people wish that they could say.
God gave you a gift so that you could speak His heart.
How will you hear “well done” if you are too afraid to start? 

7 Quotes to Help You Stay Focused & Overcome Fear

  1. “Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” – Zig Ziglar
  2. “It’s only by saying “No” that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.” – Steve Jobs
  3. “Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” – John F.Kennedy
  4. “The main thing is to keep the main thing a main thing.” – Stephen R.Covey
  5. “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” -Dale Carnegie
  6. “The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”              -Nelson Mandela
  7. “Don’t let the fear of striking out hold you back.” -Babe Ruth

Share some of your favorite quotes about staying focused or overcoming fears.

Take a Leap of Faith

“This is why I write to remind you to stir up the gift of God that was conveyed to you when I laid my hands upon you. You see, God did not give us a cowardly spirit but a powerful, loving, and disciplined spirit.” 2 Timothy 1:6-7 (VOICE)

Take a Leap of Faith

Don’t be discouraged.  

The Devil’s desire is to distract you.  

Though your dream is delayed it is definitely not denied.  

Do you hear that sound?  It’s a song of deliverance.  

God rejoices over you with singing and quiets you with His love.  

When all hope seems lost, start looking to the hills.  

Your help comes from Heaven and Heaven’s hope will not fail.  

You are closer than you think.  Keep moving forward.  

Though you feel forgotten, you are still the apple of His eye.  

When your heart has shattered into a thousand tiny pieces is when God is most near, though He feels so far away.  

Cling to the truth when fear is all you feel. Close your eyes to life’s lies and take a leap of faith.