By Ta-Ning Connai

We all have a past. Some are tainted by shattered dreams, lost love or unbearable regrets. Others have enough scandal, dirt and drama to beat EMPIRE in the ratings. Fortunately for me, I'm just glad I didn't catch a case like Cookie or be left for dead like Lucious, 'cause that could've been me with my formerly crazy self! Whatever the case, the past can be haunting, with a grip that can cripple us and keep us from forging ahead.

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Our minds have a way of reliving a matter over and over again until we manage to make it worse. Whether we're beating ourselves up or making excuse after excuse, the overthinking never ends. All the "coulda woulda shoulda" in the world won't change what was, nor should those words be allowed to contaminate the rest of your life. So when God comes to pull you out from the hold of yesteryear, do yourself a favor...Don't Look Back.

Lot and his family had a chance to escape a city doomed for destruction (Genesis 19:15-26). Right before the fire and brimstone were about to fall, the Lord sent angels to guide them to a place of safety. "Run!" and "Don't look back!" were the simple instructions given, yet for Lot's wife it was evidently just too much to ask. Looking over her shoulder took her one step backward. And that one step backward was her last step ever. She allowed the familiarity of the past to forfeit her future, by mediating on the way things were just a little too long. For rejecting God's grace and His gift of a second chance, she was turned into a pillar of salt.

Now, whether you take this as a true story like I do, or prefer to call it a myth, the moral remains the same. When God tries to move you forward by leaving your past behind, Don't Look Back. When God invites you into a brand new future full of new ideas and new plans, Don't Look Back. As we can see, a one minute pause can end up lasting forever. So do not hesitate and do not linger, unless you wanna stay stuck. I was once stuck for years…

A hot summer night in the 80’s, I was out joyriding with my criminal-minded boyfriend. That would have been bad enough, but I had the nerve to drag my lil' brother Mark with us. See, I was on punishment AGAIN, but because my bestie was having a birthday party right across the street, moms said we could go.

Midnight was our curfew, but by 10 the party suddenly ended with a bang...a bang from a GUN! Frantically, everyone scattered like wild cattle and, one by one, we all made it back safe to my boyfriend's car. Whew! You'd think we'd just go home early and be happy to be alive, but no, I had 2 more hours of freedom and I wasn't about to waste one minute of it! So true when they say "an idle mind is the devil's workshop"! And it's even worse when you have a bad influence you wanna impress. So, off we went to appease our boredom by being mean to innocent strangers. It was the joyride I'd live to regret.

There were only 3 simple steps to my induction into the Hall of Shame:
#1 Buy a 7-Eleven Big Gulp
#2 Speed wildly down a popular boulevard
#3 Throw drink out the back window into someone's face

Yes, I did this. And in front of my little bro! Oh how could I???!!! Now, I could go on to explain the various things that led to my desperate need for acceptance, but I won't because reasons are not excuses. I thought I'd feel great after proving I was so "cool," but going to such drastic lengths to be someone I'm not proved to be so so wrong.

If only my cherry soaked casualty would've just flipped me off or cursed me out, I could've handled that. Anger, bring it on. But the pain in his eyes, it really had me shook.

I had never seen such an expression of vulnerable helplessness before. And when I looked to my boyfriend for a moment of collaborated remorse, all he did was laugh. Nothing funny about watching your victim take on shame and embarrassment for something they don't deserve, but since I was the one who “pulled the trigger” so to speak, all I could really do was pretend it was alright. But it wasn't alright, and neither was I for a very long time.

It would be DECADES before I could actually forgive myself. One day I just closed my eyes, pictured my victim’s face and asked Jesus to relieve him of any lingering trauma that I may have caused. I asked the Lord to touch his heart and supernaturally reveal to him my sorrow and regret. And since I really believed that God could do it, I've been at peace ever since. Won't He do it!

God wants you to say farewell to all those skeletons in your closet. It's time to close the door on all the crap that's been wearing you down; that bad break up with what's his name or your decision to drop out of school; maybe it's the job you should've taken or the kids you had too soon, or didn’t have at all. Whatever your yesterdays, there's a better tomorrow waiting for you. When you accept God's Heavenly Do-Over, your bad choices become valuable lessons and your life gets filled with joy. All ya gotta do is let go of the past, forgive yourself, expect a better ending and PUH-LEEZ quit looking back!

Are you holding on to something that you need God to release you from?
TA-NING is a former model and clothing designer who one day got the "call" to leave the fab world of fashion behind. While in Bible College, she discovered her knack for mixing her quirky style of writing with her gift to teach. TA-NING'S TELL IT TUESDAY is a weekly column (originally launched on Facebook) that uses doses of pop culture to tear down the walls of churchy tradition, change the face of Christianity, and present its message in a lively way. Ta-ning resides in Santa Monica (by way of Brooklyn), is obsessed with dogs, and is an old school Hip-Hop junkie!

By Ta-ning Connai

When the hottest trendsetters like Zoe Kravitz, Solange and Rhianna chop it all off, or debut a new color, it's no wonder that women everywhere feel the fire and follow suit. And while I can relate to the exhilarating debut of a fresh new do, I will never forget my worst hair day EVER- the day all my hair fell out! And what I learned as a result...

Back in the 90’s, I spent sleepless nights trying to figure out how to get that "old lady gray with the blue haze tint that kinda illuminates like a silver rain cloud" hair. And I knew without a doubt that somebody at Ray's, the greatest beauty supply of all time, had the vision to make it happen. And I was right! After brainstorming with the top glam assistant, I left there with my highly coveted formula and the products to create the magic I hoped to achieve. Within 24 hours, I was causing traffic jams as my platinum waves took the streets of New York City by storm!

Since constant hair transformations was my thing, I did that look for only about a year before I was on to other things. A few years later, I decided to do that same color again, since my hair was a few inches longer than it was before. So, I searched for the formula I ordinarily guarded like a chef does his secret sauce, but I couldn't find it. No problemo, I did that color like a million times. I mean, it was MY formula, how could I possibly forget it, right?

After two days, my blissful reunion with fierce foxy gray came to a screeching halt! Imagine me at a model agency party dancing up a breeze, while suddenly I see my oh so light hair crumbling like barnyard straw onto the shiny black floor!!! Imagine me having to leave my Tyson Beckford looking dance partner as I run to the bathroom in complete SHOCK! Imagine me in a state of utter disbelief as I stood in front of the mirror running my hands over the top of my head as my hair crunched like spaghetti before you put it in boiling water! I'm not kidding, it was THAT bad. Just imagine.

With no time to say goodbye, I ran to my car like a bat outta Hell. I went home and laid wide awake for hours, completely baffled as to what could have possibly gone wrong. I used all the same products, put them on my hair for the same amount of time...what happened??? Luckily for me, shaving my head was something I'd done before. Problem Solved...except for the part about my hair sprinkled all over the club! There was nothing I could do about that, except pray that a gusty wind blew in and swept the floor clean!

Months later, while going through some papers in my storage space, I came across that good old granny gray chemical concoction I had written down. To my surprise, I'd put too much confidence in my memory and I put too much bleach in the mix! I missed the instructions by just a little bit, but what MAJOR damage it caused.

Kinda reminds me of the journey of walking with God. Some of us started off ON FIRE. Nothing could have ever kept us from following the "formula" that both enhanced our relationship with Him and ensured our spiritual growth. We knew the formula like our mama’s maiden name. We sought God with our whole heart, read the Bible often, exercised our faith. It seemed like “Victorious” could be our middle name, as each challenge in our path was eventually defeated. With God's help there was nothing we couldn't do. No amount of fear, doubt or disbelief could put that fire out. We trusted that God had the formula, and we followed it very well.

One could never imagine that things would ever change. But just like with my hair color formula, we think we remember the steps to follow, but how soon we can forget. We think that everything we know and love about God will stay deep within us, not realizing that, if we're not careful, it can subtly fade away. Then one day, we can't even tell up from down, and the formula to figuring it out has completely escaped our grasp.

Job 22:23 promises that, "If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored…” So go back to where it all began. He can put you on fire again. You can walk in power again. You can achieve the impossible and come out on the other side of trials unscathed again. Spend time with God. He loves you. Pray. He has the answers to your problems. Begin to listen again. He has the formula that works!

How do you get back on track once you've fallen off?
TA-NING is a former model and clothing designer who one day got the "call" to leave the fab world of fashion behind. While in Bible College, she discovered her knack for mixing her quirky style of writing with her gift to teach. TA-NING'S TELL IT TUESDAY is a weekly column (originally launched on Facebook) that uses doses of pop culture to tear down the walls of churchy tradition, change the face of Christianity, and present it's message in a lively way. Ta-ning resides in Santa Monica (by way of BK), is obsessed with dogs, and is an old school Hip-Hop junkie!


Jay-Z on CNN with Van Jones
By Ta-ning Connai

If Beyonce can get cheated on, what kind of hope is left for us mere mortals? I mean, her name probably stands for Sexy Singing Goddess of Music and Dance! Yet all that amazing mix of talent, beauty and love didn't stop Jay-Z from committing the devastating act that he openly addressed in this past weekend’s interview with CNN’s Van Jones. I am HIGHLY impressed by the remorse he expressed and his determination to repair the marriage he nearly destroyed. And as much as I'd like to keep having an attitude with him, I have no choice but to finally let it go. Whew, I feel lighter already!

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Jay-Z sits with Van Jones

Are men natural born cheaters? Is the implication true that, "Men will be men, boys will be boys?" The worst defense I ever heard was, "We can't help it, we were born that way." Oh please don't even get me started...Ooops, too late... BORN that way??? So you're telling me that men were, instead of being created to be the Patriarch and head of the family, to honor his wife and be a godly example to his children, were actually created to DESTROY their family with their insatiable sex drive and inability to have control over their animalistic instincts to do whatever they want, so their wives can lose all sense of themselves after all they've sacrificed isn't enough?!!! (Whoa. Ok Ta-ning, take a deep breath). Yeah right, blame it on God, like cheating is part of His magnificent design, so that men bare no accountability for their willful indiscretions. Um no. That's just an excuse for anyone not willing to let God change their heart and renew their minds to His way of engaging in (and maintaining) meaningful, committed relationships.

 It can be done.

I used to know a girl who dated married men for sport. And each time her dreams of "Happily Ever After" never came true (men rarely leave their wives for the side chick), she fully embraced the notion that ALL men are dogs. So one day she goes on a tangent about, you guessed it, all men are dogs. My first evil thought was , "Well, just because you slept with MOST of them doesn't mean you know ALL of them." I know, that's so wrong. So instead, I took the kinder approach and said, "I know it seems like they're all bad, but you just have to meet the ones that don't cheat. " Well, if I knew she was gonna chew me up, spit me out and call me every name including naive, gullible, blind and ridiculous, I would have shut that whole convo down with what I REALLY wanted to say. But I held back because I knew she was bitter from being emotionally battered.

She went on to support her distorted belief with statistics based on all the men she's ever dated, ever been friends with or ever heard about. And even though that pretty much covered the entire planet, I went on to tell her that, although nobody's perfect, there are some men who honor God enough not to intentionally break a woman's heart. It's about finding a man that has accountability and practices discipline; one that doesn't succumb to every impulse he has, especially if it's wrong. The look on her face was one of bewilderment, because I'd rather doubt if she'd ever heard that before. All I hope is that she believed me because I was telling her the absolute truth. All men don't cheat and the ones that do can change too.

So, is the commandment "Thou shall not commit adultery" easier said than done? You bet. In fact, if the attempt to refrain is within one's own strength, it just may be impossible. And with the power of seduction less avoidable these days thanks to technology, the media and butt implants, it can seem downright hopeless to expect your relationship to survive without the stain of infidelity. But here's the good news. God does not command anything He won't help support. He never intended for us to go it alone. His word says that, "...with men it's impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Philippians 4:13). He says that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Mark 10:27).

So whether you've been shattered by your father's betrayal against your mother or the reckless wanders of your first true love...there's hope. God can redeem the time and heal your broken heart. He can replace all that was lost and give you reason to trust again. And for the men doing damage, there's even hope for you too. Monogamy is not a punishment, it's a gift. So take that person created just for you and treat them like the prized possession that they are, let God show you how. And when you do, you'll get treated the same and then some. As they say, what goes around comes around!

 Are men natural born cheaters? Can men who cheat change?
TA-NING is a former model and clothing designer who one day got the "call" to leave the fab world of fashion behind. While in Bible College, she discovered her knack for mixing her quirky style of writing with her gift to teach. TA-NING'S TELL IT TUESDAY is a weekly column (originally launched on Facebook) that uses doses of pop culture to tear down the walls of churchy tradition, change the face of Christianity, and present it's message in a lively way. Ta-ning resides in Santa Monica (by way of BK), is obsessed with dogs, and is an old school Hip-Hop junkie!
K. Michelle before butt implant removal
By Ta-ning Connai

Looks ain't everything, yet the women of reality TV and the pop culture icons of Instagram seem to think otherwise. They are the self-proclaimed leaders of the new so-called Feminist Movement who obsessively promote themselves and all things shallow, while promoting a sisterhood amongst their fans by encouraging them to embrace their bodies, love themselves and feel empowered by taking half-naked selfies ALL. DAY. LONG. Now wait a minute...you’re a champion of self acceptance, yet you didn’t accept yourself until AFTER all your major cosmetic procedures??? Oh ok.

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K. Michelle
Two celeb forerunners of the most recent plastic surgery phenomenon have recently had their implants removed. K. Michelle, who was honest early on, stated she was very unhappy about the enormity of her new bottom and the unforeseen problems it brought along. Amber Rose always denied having any work done, yet there are before photos that say otherwise.

Amber Rose
At any rate, she's recently had her H cup juggs “reduced,” perhaps back to their normal size. I guess being deliberately known for your banging bod is not all it's cracked up to be. But what does this all mean for the average women who scrambled together lots of hard earned cash just to follow in their footsteps? Let it be noted that implants are not something you can just take off like makeup or a wig. And the repercussions can be a helluva lot more than just simple regret.

Well, in case you didn't notice, there’s a war going on in the hearts of young girls and women worldwide and your tools for victory are destroying them. Great job on using your celebrity to perpetuate the message that they’re not good enough as they are. Any woman who does such a thing should really think twice about contributing to this sudden wave of superficial power and fake self esteem. Demonstrating a false sense of confidence on the outside instead of radiating it from the inside just won’t last, no matter how good your plastic surgeon and photo filters are.

These social media phenoms have (albeit unintentional) sided with the many men, ad agencies, make up brands and publication giants that pressure us CONSTANTLY about how we should look in order to belong. They try to make us believe that the obsessive pursuit of physical perfection is the key to success, relational bliss and self-love. Going all out to get that face, hair and body snatched can be downright fun, but to dramatically alter one’s self to unrealistic proportions is simply a whole ‘nother level.

Things Change.

I got teased for a lot of things in school, but because of my full lips I used to get called Chewbacca (the Star Wars ape with the blue eyes). If I’d had the money (and my mother’s permission) to have them surgically reduced, I would have. Now decades later, people are filling their faces with deadly poison just to get the same effect. But they don’t know I used to hide in the bathroom during lunch just to get relief from the taunting. Like I said, things change.

It’s time to come to terms with who God made us to be, regardless of the lies we sometimes believe. In Psalms 139: 14, He describes us as His most brilliant workmanship ever created! He says we are marvelous and wonderfully made! And until we believe that, we will never be satisfied.

Have you ever altered your looks just to realize you were better off before?
TA-NING is a former model and clothing designer who one day got the "call" to leave the fab world of fashion behind. While in Bible College, she discovered her knack for mixing her quirky style of writing with her gift to teach. TA-NING'S TELL IT TUESDAY is a weekly column (originally launched on Facebook) that uses doses of pop culture to tear down the walls of churchy tradition, change the face of Christianity, and present it's message in a lively way. Ta-ning resides in Santa Monica (by way of BK), is obsessed with dogs, and is an old school Hip-Hop junkie!

By Ta-ning Connai

Hellllloooooo Everybody!
Wow, I feel like when a singer steps out onto the stage for the first time, looks out over the crowd and says to themselves, "MAMA I MADE IT!" Yeah, I'm a drama queen, but darn it, that's exactly how I feel! No I don't sing, and thank God you'll never have to hear me try. And even though I've done A LOT of different things (I'm like a cat with 9 lives!), I always wanted my own column with an awesome online magazine! Ooooooh Weeee, welcome to TA-NING'S TELL IT TUESDAY!

Um, I think I heard someone say, "Who the heck are you and what do you have to say?!"

My name is Ta-ning Connai and basically I'm a self-proclaimed "bridge" between the secular world and the church and I do my best to bring understanding and relatability between the two. The gap is way too big and it's causing people to fall, be hurt and get lost. I'm soooooo through with all that, aren't you?!

Now here's what you can expect...A mix of spiritual grit and humorous wit, while I take on topics like the pressure behind beauty trends, getting cheated on, haters, sexual harassment and more. Sometimes I rant and rave and throw my hands in the air, but it won't be as fun unless you do it with me. So come on, read along, and let's do this!

And speaking of sexual harassment, today's article is about how some women have it worse than others. So, whether you're a woman who says #metoo or a man simply trying to understand...there's more to the story, and I'm gonna be the one to tell it...
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It took the lewd indiscretions of a famous Hollywood producer to spark mass media outrage about something that's been happening to the average woman by not-so-famous men for years. And while I thank the brave, innocent women that provoked so many (myself included) to band together through what I call the "virtual support group" #metoo, I can't help but think about the women whose shame and guilt from bad choices cause them to remain silent and in the dark.

Strippers, video vixens, pornstars. Groupies, goldiggers, prostitutes. Reports show that these women are sexually harassed, verbally abused and raped in rising numbers, and there's nothing they can do about it. Their cry is just a whisper and tells of "fun times" gone wrong and propositions that seemed way too good to pass on. But adage like, "Oh well you asked for it" and "You made your bed now lie in it" serve as the escape clause that allows perpetrators to go scott free and rape culture to remain alive and well. When we imagine the victims of sexual crimes, their faces are not the ones we see. But where's our compassion and outrage for them? What about #themtoo? Just because a person doesn’t have enough self love to pump the brakes on their own self destruction, doesn't mean abuse is alright. It's not ok, it's not ok, NO it's not ok.

The Bible has very choice words about The Seductress and the fiery warning for men to stay away rings loud like a smoke alarm (Proverbs 5:3-22). But there are also plenty of stories in which Jesus used a different frame of reference when forced to judge their situation. Jesus recognized the culture they faced back then (and He recognizes the culture women face today). He took into consideration everything that went into their decision making, including the voices that persuaded them to do so. He knew they were in the wrong place, but He knew they didn't get there on their own. So in essence, He blamed the men, forgave the women and challenged society to rid itself of the discriminating mindset that breeded ill treatment of God's most beloved creation. Jesus is still challenging us TODAY.

We have to start doing our part to make sure women feel better about themselves. No one's worth should be limited to their looks and their sex appeal. If we help women to find out who they are, in spite of what the ads, videos and song lyrics have to say, more women will be less apted to resort to low levels of acknowledgement just to feel like they belong. And they don't deserve to be VIOLATED! They shouldn't have to sleep with the club's best client just because it's their night to dance. A call girl doesn't deserve to be RAPED just because she put her own body up for sale.

Studies indicate that women who's earliest sexual experiences have been tainted with degradation of any kind, are more likely to become promiscuous, have some distorted view of sex and relationships, or engage in high risk sexual activities causing them the possibility of further violations.

We don't know the level of brokenness that gets such women where they are. But one thing we ought to know for sure. If we all got what we deserved, the planet would be HUMAN-FREE, we'd all be DEAD! The Bible says that "we are all like an unclean thing; all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags..." and that "...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3:23).

We are no better and they are no worse. So, don't let me be the only one, come on and say it with me... #themtoo #themtoo #themtoo.

Do you feel we pick and choose who gets to be a part of #metoo?
TA-NING is a former model (Essence, Vogue) and clothing designer (Neiman-Marcus, Saks) who one day got the "call" to leave the fab world of fashion behind. While in Bible College, she discovered her knack for mixing her quirky style of writing with her gift to teach. She taught in ministry for several years, but always felt the tug to "go beyond"... TA-NING'S TELL IT TUESDAY is a weekly column (originally launched on Facebook) that uses doses of pop culture to tear down the walls of churchy tradition, change the face of Christianity, and present it's message in a lively way. Ta-ning resides in Santa Monica (by way of Brooklyn), is obsessed with dogs, and is an old school Hip-Hop junkie!