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Kia Stephens

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February 14, 2017

3 Things To Remember When You Don’t Feel Loved on Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2017 | By | 4 Comments

No  flowers

No Chocolates

No Man

When our romanticized view of Valentine’s Day meets reality we may be tempted to treat this holiday as just another day.  Whether married or single we may find ourselves wanting to stay in bed, gorge on candy and binge on Netflix.  After all, this day is often salt poured into an already open and unhealed wound.  

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Kia Stephens

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January 14, 2017

3 Reasons Women Can Embrace the “S” Word

January 14, 2017 | By | 21 Comments

“If he can lead me then lead me, but if he can’t . . . then I’ll walk all over him,” a popular music artist said in a radio interview.  She said this to the applause of men and women in the room.   Her statement came across as harsh, but I understood where she was coming from.

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Kia Stephens

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November 19, 2016

Raising Kids Without Fathers

November 19, 2016 | By | No Comments

In this live stream hangout Kia Stephens of the Father Swap Blog will discuss Raising Kids Without Fathers with Lisa Appelo of www.lisaappelo.com . If you are a single mom or a daughter who was raised in a single parent household you don’t want to miss this intimate discussion.

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Kia Stephens

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September 18, 2016

What Cosmo Won’t Tell You About Great Sex

September 18, 2016 | By | 12 Comments

As a culture we are fascinated by sex.  And somewhere sitting on the top floor of a New York City skyscraper is a marketing executive that knows this about you and I.  Which explains why every time we buy groceries our eyes are bombarded by the latest and unapologetically audacious title on the cover of Cosmo.

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Kia Stephens

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January 9, 2016

3 Reasons to Break Up With Fear

January 9, 2016 | By | 5 Comments

For as long as I can remember, I have had an on-again-off-again relationship with fear.  Initially, he took the role of a protector, much like a father or a big brother would, however his presence soon turned controlling.  His reign rendered me the cowardly lion: afraid to live with him and afraid to live without him.  

He was there in my youth when I crossed the street, teaching me about the fear of danger.  His presence became more dominant in middle and high school as he exposed me to the fear of rejection. And later in adulthood he introduced me to the fear of failure.

What if you get hurt?

Don’t take that risk!

You might fail.

What will people think?

His words stifled and steered my decisions causing me to live a lesser version of me.  And despite the unhealthy nature of our relationship I stayed because this place felt more normal than abnormal.  To walk away from my relationship with him would be to abandon the false sense of security that he provided.  

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Kia Stephens

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November 1, 2015

How a Woman’s Clothing Impacts a Man

November 1, 2015 | By | 10 Comments

Skin tight skinnies, low neck lines, and shirts that rival lingerie entice us. We are lured into apparel stores like flies to raw meat by magazines that tout pencil thin cover models with seductive eyes and parted lips. The message they overtly communicate is, “Women must be sexy.”

And even though we know it’s a lie we believe it as we squeeze our size 8 body into some size 6 pants.  We can’t be outdone by the woman next to us; risking the possibility of seeming average.  So we show a little leg, buy a taller heel, and put some Spanx on that belly in order to replicate what society tells us is desirable.

When will it end?  Or will we constantly find ourselves trying to outdo ourselves in a battle we are going to eventually lose.  Age, pregnancy, and the stress of life create the perfect storm on a woman’s body.  Thus leaving us with a mere memory of our 20 something figure.

Like walls closing in we feel the ever encroaching pressure to keep our appearance up.  We attempt to halt the inevitable aging process from happening all the while younger and more fit versions of the female form parade around in clothes that leave little to the imagination. Whether on television, social media, or the grocery store there are those who showcase themselves in front of us, our sons and our husbands.

Recently, I was scrolling through Facebook when I came across yet another scantily clad woman.   It wasn’t just her clothing but, the front and back pose along with her greased up body that was so shocking.  Part of me has become slightly anesthetized to the ever increasing nudity of women but this time was different.  I knew her.

“Whaaaaat?!!! Does she really have her behind out there like that?,” I thought but didn’t say.  And so in response I did what any good Facebook stalker would do and looked at her likes and comments. As you could imagine there were many.  

One brave woman complimented her physique right before she cautioned her about putting her body on display and challenged her to consider the impact her nakedness had on men.  In this oversexed society where men rape, molest, are addicted to pornography, and cheat on their wives, I agreed with her statement.   

As I continued to scroll down I saw two counters to her argument.  In short they basically said it was not the responsibility of the woman to monitor what she wears, but the responsibility of the man to “control his lust”.  Additionally one of the replies added the all too familiar argument that Christians should not judge other people.  

So the question becomes, whose responsibility is it?  Should the woman monitor what she wears or the man monitor what he sees.  I think there is a responsibility on both sides but for the sake of this blog post I will only address the women.

As a girl who grew up without her dad I was on the prowl for male attention.  I learned early on that I could get affirmation based on my outward appearance.  And so I have been the younger partially clothed female before. In his book, Always a Daddy’s Girl, H. Norman Wright had this to say about a woman.

It is from her father that a girl needs to know that she is attractive, that her conversation is interesting and that her creativity is worthwhile. If her father applauds her mental and spiritual attributes during her formative years, she will learn not to rely solely on shallow qualities like sex appeal to attract men as an adult.  Affirmation from her father in proper doses will convince her that she is an important person, not a sex object.

Single Daughters & Silent Fathers Meme 5

Women are more than what is between our legs, but our clothing is the billboard that can communicate otherwise.  Now I am not saying that my barely clothed Facebook friend was looking for male affirmation, but she did have the appearance of a sex object.  Since men are visual, we  as women have to determine how we want to present ourselves.

We live in a “don’t tell me what to do” society.  Very few women welcome a rebuke regarding their clothing but God does have an opinion on the matter.  In Philippians 2:3-4 it says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

How a Woman's Clothing Impacts a Man Meme 2

This doesn’t mean walk around in a house robe, but it does mean if I am a Christian God wants me to examine my motives for what I choose to wear. Ouch!  I, just like the next woman,  love a good pair of leggings hugging my curves but in light of Paul’s comments I need to ask myself a few questions before slipping into some.

Is my reason for wearing this selfish?

Am I being vain or conceited?

Am I looking to my own interest or those of others?

This is an individual evaluation although Christ does admonish older women to teach the younger women.  I believe this is what the commentator was attempting to do even though it was not well received. The message she was trying to communicate is the absolute heart of this blog post.  

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Celita Williams

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October 12, 2015

How Fathers Impact Gender Identity

October 12, 2015 | By | 2 Comments

This is for the female
That seemed to have a little more male than fe
When it came to the word she
She had a just a little less of the “s”
And a little more of the “h” and the “e”
This is for the woman that was a little more sour than sweet
This is for the woman I used to know
The woman I used to be
This is for the woman in me

When I was a child I quickly learned what I liked and did not like.  I knew very early on that I liked to play outside, ride my bike, play basketball, and explore the world (or neighborhood) around me on my own terms.  I also knew that I did not like wearing dresses, playing dress up, playing with dolls or confining myself to someone else’s idea of fun or appropriate “girly” mannerisms.

What I was discovering was so much more than just being a tomboy.  So much more than just being the sporty girl in a crowd full of pink bows and frills.  As I aged, the “girly” gap between me and the other females around me only grew larger.  Their seemingly innate feminine maturity increasingly outweighed my own and I realized that this is not something I could just grow out of…this is something I would have to work through for the rest of my life.

My struggle was for an appropriate identity at the root of my core self.  My identity as female did not feel comfortable or appropriate well into adulthood.  This is not the classic story of a little tomboy that grew out of her “boyish” ways, but the, nowadays, all too familiar story of what seemed like a little boy trapped in a girls’ body.  The main point of this post is not to make any sort of political stance one way or another about gender identity and what any one person should do when wrestling those feelings, but the point of this post is to highlight just how influential the words of others can be when navigating a personal crisis – especially the words of a father.

How Fathers Impact Gender Identity Meme 2

I experienced all the taunts that one would expect “She talks like a boy, she walks like a boy, shoot she even claps like a boy!” OR “When are you going to grow out of this phase (speaking to an 18-year-old me)?”  But the most painful and confusing taunt of all was not from friends or church members or family, but from my father.

With a big smile on his face, a little chuckle under his words, and while addressing both my sister and I, my father once said, “God gave me just what I wanted…a daughter and a son!”

On the inside I sank.

On the inside I felt a sharp pain shoot through my stomach.

It was as if the wind had been knocked out of me.

Even if the church member said I acted “like” a boy, or the stranger often mistook me for a boy (with my short hair and baggy clothes), and even, EVEN if I preferred to carry myself in a manner consistent with “boy-dom” because that is how I felt comfortable for the moment.  ALL of that could have been overcome and redeemed with a fundamentally communicated understanding and unwavering stance from my father that I was always his little girl.

My countenance
I wished never gave away anything
Except don’t play with me
Thinking
That I had played everyone else successfully
But in the process I played myself
Because I carried myself like a dude
A homey
But inwardly, secretly
I wished that somebody
Would treat me like a lady

His words are forever ingrained in my psyche.  It is his words that had the power to propel me into the femininity that I had shoved aside.  Now don’t get me wrong, my father and I have an amazing relationship today and he has expressed repeatedly that he is pleased with the woman that I have become, but this does not change the fact that the words of a father play a powerful role in a daughter’s image of herself and her level of core confidence.

As I entered adulthood and my battles with my identity only became more confusing I had to learn to put aside the words of my earthly father in exchange for the words of my heavenly Father.  Zephaniah 3:17 “For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

My heavenly Father delights in me, He calms me, He sings over me with joyful songs…He accepts me. How Fathers Impact Gender Identity Meme 3

It was in this understanding of His acceptance, and the level of acceptance I eventually saw demonstrated in His followers, that gave me the confidence to begin exploring what femininity looked like for me.  No, it did not look like my female friends growing up, and it did not look like my girlfriends’ in college, but there was a version of womanhood that I could embrace once I had a safe space wherein I could search.  Today I am not without my inner battles or occasional thoughts that my version of “female” is just not “female” enough, but even still the woMAN in me could become the WOman in me once I found the healing, accepting, and comforting words of a Father.

How Fathers Impact Gender Identity Meme 4

I Opened up the scars and hurt spots for someone I trusted to see
Someone who loved me
That first someone being God
So I could be touched and felt and experience proper healing
That last someone being people
Those true friends
That weren’t turned away when being exposed to the ugly
And therefore they became part of the discovery
As I found the woman beneath the layers
The beauty queen

And I’m not only talking about the shape of my body solely
Or the clothing
But the character built and the confidence established
That allowed me to allow others to know me
This is for the woman
If any
Who are feelin’ me

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Kia Stephens

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June 10, 2015

Avoid This Pitfall Before You Say I Do

June 10, 2015 | By | 27 Comments

I was married for 8 years before I realized the tremendous mistake I made.  Haphazardly, I discovered it one Sunday morning as I sat listening to a singles message by Andy Stanley. “Nobodies looking for a woman with daddy wounds.” He said sarcastically.  “You got daddy wounds? Ah, I’m not interested in you. I want someone who comes into this  relationship roaring angry and blames me for everything she’s mad at her dad about. That’s  what I’m looking for.”

Initially, I assumed the message did not apply to me because I was married, but those words became the arrow and my soul the bulls eye.   As I sat in the balcony I wondered if anyone could tell I had the wounds he spoke about. What I failed to realize was the person who knew about my wounds was sitting next to me; I was married to him. “Do I do that?,” I asked (Even though I knew the answer). “Sometimes,” he responded ( being kind).

This week I am featured at Tirzah Magazine. Click here to finish this post.

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Kia Stephens

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March 7, 2015

True Confessions of a Recovering HATER : Part I

March 7, 2015 | By | 14 Comments

Although I am not a YouTube junkie, if I come across a video series, something compels me to watch them all.  Three hours later I’m wondering where the time went.   This happened recently when I stumbled across Sarah Jake’s Lost and Found Webisodes.

Immediately, I was captivated by her very bold and raw truth.  Sarah’s story was intriguing: daughter of world renowned T.D. Jakes, pregnant at 13, and divorced.  Initially, I was lured by curiosity, but I was soon gripped by a confession we both shared.

In episode 7 Sarah was the featured speaker at a Sister Accord Luncheon in Atlanta, Georgia.  After the introductory bio was read she began her talk with a surprisingly honest statement.

“. . . I am a reformed hater . . .   I had this thing when I was younger – because I was so insecure . . . – that I tried to pick out (the) flaws (of)  other people. . .  Someone just couldn’t have it all together. . . I had to find a way to knock them down. . .  It was something that I dealt with for a very long time. . .  My own personal struggle with loving myself made me create these different  issues that I saw with other young women.  And it wasn’t until much later in life that I realized, it really wasn’t anything wrong with them (but) there was a lot wrong with me.”

Sarah’s confession provoked me to deal with the truth. I was a hater – not yet reformed.  And the source of my hate was insecurity.

Insecurity in a woman has many root causes; one of those is the absence of the father in a girls life. Author and psychologist, Dr. James Dobson says, “a daughter’s sense of self-worth and confidence is linked directly to her relationship with her dad.  What he thinks about her and how he expresses his affection is a central source of her perceived value as a human being.” My own battle with insecurity drove me to secretly tear other women down in order to build myself up.

Ironically, I’ve been on the receiving end enough to understand the need to eradicate this behavior.  I remember being an impressionable freshmen in college experiencing this painful tactic first hand.  I made a comment to a woman I deemed pretty popular on campus.  Trying to  make conversation I said, “I have those shoes.”  Her response was, “Are your’s Nine West (the less expensive brand)?”  “Yes,” I replied.  To which she responded, “Mine are Via Spiegel.” And then there was silence.

I call it nice nasty, but I can’t even begin to judge her because I have done it too.  In fact some of mine have been worse.  My dirt has been done in secret in an effort to maintain a good Christian persona.

In her book, So Long Insecurity, Beth Moore describes the painful ramifications of living like this.  “Insecurity will rob us of some of the richest woman-to-woman relationships of our lives.  It turns potential friends into competitors.   It can also cause us to pursue associations out of some unwell or impure motives.”

I don’t want to spend my life seeking a quick low- self esteem fix by competing with women I could be friends with.

True Confessions Meme

The only reason I would compete with another woman’s beauty, career, home, number of degrees and the like, is because I do not know who I am.  And the truth is, who I am is much larger than the way I look in a bathing suit, the neighborhood I live in, or the brand of shoes I’m wearing.Who I am is defined by my Creator.

True Confessions Meme 2

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Psalm 139: 13 – 14

But if I’m honest I will admit that I’ve known that scripture for a long time and still returned to the detrimental behaviors of comparison, envy, jealousy, and coveting throughout my walk with Jesus.  So what is the solution?  What can a professed hater do to change?  In my own recovery journey I have found 10 steps to be helpful.

10 Steps to Becoming a Reformed Hater

Step 1: Own My Truth

Step 2: Celebrate the Success of Others

Step 3: Refuse to Compare

Step 4: After You Own It Confess It Too

Step 5: Do the Introspective Work

Step 6: Be Changed By God’s Word

Step 7:  Have Brutally Honest Communication with God Often

Step 8:  Be Thankful

Step 9:  Pray It Forward

Step 10: Fight For It

In saying steps, I don’t want to give you the impression that the journey has been linear.  On the contrary, in my step following, I have jumped around, avoided, faked a few, and started over a bunch.  But even with my disorganized implementation, these steps have been powerful in my life.  Though not a guarantee for instant change they have significantly aided my transition from a hater in recovery to one that’s on the road to reformation.  Join me in the coming weeks as I unpack each of them.

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Kia Stephens

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February 15, 2015

7 Reasons Why a Sex Act Won’t Soothe a Love Ache: Part III

February 15, 2015 | By | 3 Comments

7 Reasons Why a Sex Act Won’t Soothe a Love Ache:  Part: I

7 Reasons Why a Sex Act Won’t Soothe a Love Ache:  Part: II

Like many, I learned about sex from friends, TV, movies, and Saturday night slow jams.  To say my perspective was skewed is an understatement.  I knew about the physical but it took me years to understand God’s original design for sex.

Reason 4:  Sex Was Not Intended To Soothe a Love Ache

The purpose for sex has never been a non-committal band aid for undealt with wounds. If this were true, it would require sex to become an entity unto itself, rather than a component of the much larger institution of marriage.  God’s aim for sex was to create something new: a union, a child, a family.  “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24 (NIV)

Why a Sex Act Won't Soothe A Love Ache Part III (1)

And though it seems like God’s intent is some irrelevant and archaic after thought, truth cannot be ignored.  Sex is not designed to mend the broken, end loneliness, or vindicate the victimized. Although, this can be a temptation whether single or married.

“I’ll hurt him the way he hurt me!”
“I don’t want to be alone.”
“Men do it all the time.”
“I just want to be loved.”

These activating thoughts originate with an ache and, if allowed, can lay the foundation for devastating behaviors. But attempting to soothe an ache with an act will only widen the wound.  If you are sensing you have an undealt with ache, masked by a sex act, I have a few suggestions.

Give God your wounds and yourself some time to heal.  Resist the temptation to anesthetize your ache with an act.  It won’t work; it was never designed to.

Reason 5:  Sex is Not Just Physical

We are triune beings consisting of a body, soul and a spirit.  When we have sex, the common misconception is that it is merely physical, but the truth is that with each sexual encounter our spirit and soul are intertwined as well.

If sex is just physical, memories, names, people, and scenarios, would not linger in our minds.  We would easily be able to move beyond the act; but we are not.  To use sex as healing balm for our wounded souls is to create further damage that can take a lifetime to repair.

I think that is what the apostle Paul was saying when he said, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” 1 Corinthians 6:18 (NIV).  He stood at the sexual gate of temptation and said, ‘Ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun! Don’t do it!”  And it wasn’t because he was trying to confine us to a dull bland pleasureless life.

He was attempting to save us from a potential lifetime of regret.  He was aiding us in laying a foundation for a family.  He, like God, wanted us to build a relational infrastructure that was rooted in the love of God.

Love desires to give and not get, wait and not rush, and sacrifice rather than indulge.  

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