Being Saved, Family, Uncategorized

Seven Songs Every Little Saint Must Know

[dropcap style=”font-size: 45px; color: #55cfbb;”]S[/dropcap]o as I shared last week, THIS week we’re celebrating the art of PARENTING!!!

Being a mother has to be the most challenging, yet the most rewarding experience of my life. There is something about my little people that just makes them a thousand times better than everyone else’s… Teehee! You should feel the same about yours, but if you don’t, perhaps you might instill some qualities into them to help them become more enjoyable. We know that children can be terribly unpleasant if they are fearful, disrespectful, and disobedient. So the songs I’ve selected below will guard your children’s hearts against issues that have create problems in our homes. To be perfectly clear, B&B haven’t always been as delightful as they are now, and still aren’t always beams of sunshine, but over the years, along with the help of family and the Almighty, I’ve been able to train them… and what better way to teach a child something than through a song!!

Yes, Jesus loves me!

Few songs are more powerful than this simple tune. Every child raised in a Christian home knows this song, and it’s so deeply embedded in us that as adults it pops into our spirits when we need it most. I remember a friend (I use the term loosely for blogging’s sake) telling me about a nightmare he had. And just when it seemed he was going to die, he began to sing this song and his attackers fled. Just a few weeks ago, I could not feel God’s presence as I usually do. So I sat down and began to search for Him and this song bubbled up from my spirit. Immediately I felt His presence wash over me to the point where I could barely sit up. All that to say, there is NO weapon more powerful against the enemy that knowing of Christ’s GREAT love for you. People who feel unloved soon begin to do anything to seek validation and inevitably hurt others. Arm your children with this song. Remind them daily that there’s nothing they can do to make Jesus stop loving them.

O, How I Love Jesus!

As a toddler Brandon used to croon this tune as he rocked side to side in his giant Pull-Up. He’d sing it for anybody that came around. His worship would stop an adult in their tracks and provoke them to jealousy. Children love deeeeeeply. And who better to love than God? And why love God? Well the song says it… BECAUUUUUSE HE FIRST LOVED MEEE!! And children get that. They totally understand that mommy and daddy love them and take care of them, so the appropriate response would be to love mommy and daddy in return. For children, loving is simply not an option. And loving falls right in line with obeying…

Children OBEY your parents in the Lord, for this is right!

Ok, so this isn’t a song, but who says you can’t make it into one? From the time B&B began speaking I had them repeating this little phrase as we marched and clapped our hands. Did I provide them with a Biblical definition of what obey means in the Greek and Hebrew contexts? Of course not! But they learned quickly, that if they obeyed, good things would happen, and if they didn’t, other consequences would be in store. Obey simply means “Do what mommy says right away.” Another scripture we learned involving this concept was “Obedience is better than sacrifice.” Two reasons your kids should know this— one, because it’s so darn cute to hear them try to say sacrifice, and two, because at some point children will start to weigh their options. I don’t want my kids to think about whether they’re going to obey or not. I want them to immediately choose obedience. All this crap about counting to three… nah. That’s called a power struggle. They don’t get to choose whether they’re hit by a car if they run into the street. So, yes, OBEDIENCE IS BETTER THAN SACRIFICE! Little ones can learn this easily if parents are faithful to reinforce it.

I Command You Satan in the Name of The Lord….

To pick up your weapons and fleeee! For the Lord has given me authority to STOMP all overrrr THEEE! Who says our babies can’t fight for themselves? Children are exceptionally sharp when it comes to spiritual matters which is why so many have bad dreams. So how do we handle this? Well arm your little soliders for the Lord by teaching them to rebuke the enemy IN JESUS’ NAME! I remember my mother teaching my siblings at 2 and 3 when they became afraid of the dark or storm to say “Go in Jesus’ name!” And they did it. And their little butts learned not to be afraid. Children must be trained to fight against the enemy, and often because of their unadulterated faith, their prayers and commands accomplish more than our own. You wanna see some prayers answered? Tell your baby to pray about it!

The B-I-B-L-E!

I was absolutely mortified when four-year old Briana put her pink Bible on the floor, stood on top of it, and sang this song to the top of her lungs. Her father stopped me from tapping her legs and suggested that she might be learning this sort of thing at school. Duhhhh… I STAND ALONE ON THE WORD OF GOD! Lol. I gave myself a facepalm. Yes, we STAND on the Word, so we want our children learn to love the Word so that they are able to stand in the day of testing. This brings me to my next song…

Father Abraham

This song isn’t one of my personal favorites, alas kinesthetic learners in Sabbath/Sunday schools everywhere are enthralled with the corresponding movements. So what’s the point of the song outside of the flailing of arms and legs everywhere? BIBLICAL HISTORY!!! Kids loooove Bible stories, and I must admit this is my weakest point as a Christ-following mommy. I’d rather teach my children about prayer and hearing God’s voice, but knowing the Word is even more important particularly at an age when their minds are so open. So yeah, we’ll do a Father Abraham or two, but more importantly, we’ll talk about who Abraham was. And Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jonah… the list goes on. These stories serve as a point of reference for their lives later down the road.

Grace

So I know there’s a song floating out there that kids sing to bless their food. I don’t know the song though. I do know the sing-songy “God is great. God is good. And we thank Him for our food…” You know the rest. I’m not a fan of anything particularly sing-songy, but the message is clear. WE THANK HIM!!! Thankfulness is one of the most beautiful qualities a child can have. Should you teach your child what true thankfulness is, he or she will learn to eat up all the yummy food you’ve taken the time to prepare for them.

Ok… last story about my kids. When Brandon was two I put him in a daycare, and he wasn’t there for two weeks before he came home and confidently blessed our dinner with the following prayer:

Father, in the name of Jesus, we thank you for our food. We bless it and SANCTIFY it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

My baby boy said ALL of that. His father and I were stunned and I laugh and giggle uncontrollably through the entire dinner. Not long thereafter Briana began to pray this very prayer with him. They’d fight over who got to bless the food first. To this day, we still use that prayer, and they have noooo problem demonstrating their thankfulness by cleaning their plates.

What songs from your childhood experience have helped you through adulthood?
Share in the comments below!

With love, sincerity, and hope for your children’s bright and shining future,

Alana 

 

Being Saved, Being Single, Dating & Relationships, Uncategorized

Precautionary Dating Tale #4: Put Away the Grief

I’ve written about this *ahem* man before, but this time, the story isn’t really about him. Just to indulge your curiosity, he’s the same fella who didn’t show up— ever. And when I say he doesn’t show up, I mean I recently got a call requesting a meeting to which I hesitantly agreed. You already know what happened. Bless that wonderful Name!

A month or so after the split, I was still in recovery. God knew this person wasn’t for me, and so I’m sure His mighty hand ran some interference for my good. But silly as I am, my heart continued to grieve the loss of one who was incapable of loving me.

Instead of pouring my heart out to my friends, I only told God how much the situation really disappointed me. My friends got the quick and dirty of it, but the Lord heard my heartfelt cry. Sometimes people can’t understand your pain, but I truly believe we can take everything to the Throne no matter how insignificant or foolish it seems. This joker was undoubtedly an insecure jerk, but my emotions had gotten involved, and I had hoped for the best. And hope deferred makes the heart sick. And on this day, I was siiiiick.

It happened on a Sunday. The children and I were getting ready for church, and I prepared a larger breakfast than normal. Because of the multi-tasking that I usually do… my hair, Brie’s hair, ironing, cooking, making Brandon shower… I burned the bacon. When I say burned, I mean it sizzled down to black, crispy nothingness. So in the trash it went, and I started again. The small cloud of smoke quickly dissipated, and I continued handling my motherly duties. An hour or so later, the children and I were ready to leave.

Just a few minutes before heading out, I ran back to my bedroom for something that I can’t recall. And in my bathroom doorway was a cloud, dense and white. I stared for a minute and thought, “Hmmm… no way that bacon smoke made it back here. I’ve never seen it do that before.” I looked back to the living room…. no smoke. The kitchen… no smoke. So why was there a thick cloud of it with no traces of bacon fragrance in my bedroom standing still at the bathroom threshhold? Chin-scratcher, right?

I shrugged off this unusual occurrence, and we left for church.

Still saddened, I belly-ached to the Lord all the way down I-295.

Lord, I don’t know why I bothered in the first place. Why’d he have to be such a jerk? If he was going to treat me that way, he should’ve just left me alone. No, I don’t want him back. I want to go back in time and un-meet him.

On and on I went… Ticks me off to think I wasted so much time whining over foolishness. But I did, and the only reason I’m telling on myself is because you’ve done it too.

We pulled up to the church, and headed inside. As I walked down the hallway I heard the Lord say “Are you so grieved over this man that you don’t even recognize Me when I visit you?”

Am I so grieved that I missed… WHAT? But where were you, Lord?

And it dawned on me…

The cloud! The strategically placed cloud that I could not miss in my bedroom. In Old Testament scripture, the Lord often showed up in a cloud. I’ve seen the cloud of His glory before… once as a child, and a few times since in worship services.

I repented. Repeatedly. And I worshiped and thanked Him for forgiving my ignorance. I laughed at my foolishness, and He must have laughed too because the heaviness broke off of me immediately.

Many times God’s blessing is in the breaking. He breaks off associations, things, relationships, finances (shando!)… you name it, and He will use it to break you. And I’m not talking about bad things necessarily. I’m also referring to friendships, homes, cars, family members… you name it. He’ll allow us to suffer ANY loss to bring us closer to Him. Doesn’t sound fair, I know, but truly He is God so who are we to question His ways?

Though He breaks us, His desire is not to leave us broken… which is why He visited me that morning. What might have happened had I turned aside as Moses did with the burning bush? I believe there would’ve been instant healing of my emotions and a return of joy, but alas…. I misjudged Him for an obstinate, stale cloud of smoky salty burnt bacon. Smh.

Beloved reader, we grieve our losses, and rightfully so, but after a time our grief is misplaced. Even if you lost everything and everyone, there is a blessing in the breaking, and you must remember that you have NOT been abandoned by God. Even David allowed himself time to grieve when his firstborn child was on the verge of dying, but when the results came, he got up washed his face, and ate.

I didn’t have a scripture for this, and I heard the Lord say “Put away the grief from you.” (He talks kinda funny, doesn’t He? Teehee!) So I Googled it, and in the Amplified version found this…

 

[quote]Therefore remove the lusts that end in sorrow and vexation from your heart and mind and put away evil from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity (transitory, idle, empty, and devoid of truth). -Ecclesiastes 11:11[/quote]

 

Dating Precaution #4: When we are young, we make stupid choices that land us in a pit of sorrow! But as we grow we must put away those foolish situations and the grief that comes alongside it, or else we miss the blessing that God may bring in the breaking. And never forget that you are NOT forsaken!

And God says to us, “NO MORE GRIEVING! You’ve thought about it long enough. There was nothing more you could have done. It was simply time. Be at peace in your souls. Settle yourselves. Rest in Me!! Are you so grieved over a person or thing that you cannot receive MY everlasting love? It was my love that delivered you. My love that separated the ties. Yes, they might have loved you. They might have been good to you, but they are mine just as you are mine. And, I am a jealous God. You will suffer loss for my sake and the kingdom’s, but you will NEVER lose Me.”

Selah.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Photo credit: chandrika221 via Compfight

Being Saved, The Best Of CTheLily, Uncategorized

A Holy Visitation: I Promised Never to Tell It

[dropcap style=”font-size: 45px; color: #55cfbb;”]B[/dropcap]ut He’s making me do it because truly– no one would tell a story like this to people who don’t believe in spiritual things.

This is not a story of tormenting secrets or even of travail and disappointment. This is a story of blissful rest and comfort with a moderate amount of (good) spiritual spookiness.

If you’re a nonbeliever, skeptic, or critic, this story is (not) for you!

 

Two years ago in October I traveled to Cardiff, Wales for business. I’m an educator, but I had been selected as the US representative for a very prestigious educational organization. At the time, I was reading a book about a very famous minister, Rees Howells, who was actually from Wales. I’d also been praying for an encounter with the Lord, and by encounter, I mean that I wanted to SEE HIM! I’d heard so many stories about people seeing Jesus and how His eyes are like oceans. I was literally provoked to jealousy and began to plead for my own opportunity.

So to Cardiff I went praying all the while.

And home I returned praying all the while.

No Jesus. Not even a glimmer that He heard my prayer.

Glad to finally make it home after 17 hours of travel, I snuggled up in my pillow top king-sized bed. I must have passed out because I wasn’t even IN the bed. I remember lying sideways with my head close to the side pleasantly bundled up in my beige foamy blanket. I. Was. Tired.

And in my sleep I heard voices. Now I’m one heck of a lucid dreamer, but this was no dream. I couldn’t have made this up if I wanted to. These voices were unfamiliar, but friendly. I could feel the speakers perched at the head of my bed. There were three. Two of the three inquired about my whereabouts while the third answered. I remember thinking “He sure does know a lot about me. He must be my guardian angel. But who are the other two?” I didn’t feel any danger, so I made a mental note to ask someone who knows more about these sorts of things.

The voices chatted it up to the point where I wished they’d be quiet so I could rest. Then I felt another Presence at my bedroom door. And what do charismatic Christ-followers do when they feel something unusual going on? They get to binding and rebuking! But this Presence didn’t go. It kept moving toward me. I struggled in my sleep to wake up, but was caught in that place between. I knew it couldn’t have been my mother. The Presence was far too tall… and quiet. The footsteps were heavy to the point where I could “see” footprints left in my carpet. And as this Presence came closer to my bed, I heard the voices halt into a holy hush and my spirit began to stir. I wanted to jump out of my skin and clutch my eyes closed all at once.

He stood at the side of my bed over my head, and my being felt as if it were about to explode. It was as if light beams were shooting from my belly. The angels must have felt the same because I could feel light emanating from them as well, and I heard a “whoosh” as their wings extended from their bodies. I was terrified and in awe at the same time.

Then I felt my bed lean on that one side, and thus my head with it. As His nail-pierced hands pressed down against my mattress, He leaned into my face close enough to kiss me. Those few seconds of closeness were far more than my soul could bear, and I was enraptured by a force of love that weakened me to the point of… I don’t have a word for it. Then the pressure lifted, and I felt Him walk out.

I wanted Him to stay, but I knew the intensity was greater than what my sinful soul could bear. I wanted to open my eyes to SEE Him, but I was far too afraid the holiness in Him and the lack thereof in me would send me to an early grave.

I’m not sure how long I slept after that, but when I awoke, I was eager to seek out what had happened. So to my Bible I went. Undoubtedly He who entered my room was the Lord. Who else would elevate my being to such a high and intense place of worship? And who else would silence those voices commanding them also to worship Him? Angels don’t worship devils.

But I began to question things. Nothing wrong with questions as far as the Lord is concerned. He gives us mysteries to uncover!

Two days later, walking through the house, I saw a printed copy of an ebook about hearing in the spirit. And there it was… Several stories from believers who had heard angels speaking in their sleep. And confirmation, that angels, powerful as they might be, have information on a need-to-know basis. Two of the angels stood watch at the window over my bed. I was doing a lot of warfare at the time so I was grateful to know that they protected me and my children as we rested. The third angel, in fact, was my guardian angel. In his voice I could hear that he was proud to be released and that I was moving into my destiny. Our angels WANT to work for us, but often they cannot because of our lack of faith in God’s Word.

So while I didn’t SEE Jesus, I know beyond a doubt that He came to see about me.

Can you imagine, my friend, being in a place of such intense fellowship with Him? I could not then, and even now, the thought of looking into His eyes brings a reasonable amount of fear. But He loves me. Enough to answer my prayer. Enough to just gaze at me lovingly. Enough to make everything that had ever happened before that day seem totally and completely insignificant.

I don’t have a moral for this happening, nor do I have a thought-provoking rhetorical question. I won’t dare exaggerate or romanticize or even try to add anything to it by making points. Take this for what it is…

Should the Lord visit me again, I pray that my spirit will be ready to gaze upon Him just as He did me. Maybe next time I’ll remember to give him the kiss He came for.

 

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your own encounter with Christ whether you believe in Him or NOT,

 

Alana

 

Photo credit: John “Jay” Glenn via Compfight

 

Being Saved, Being Single, Dating & Relationships, Guest Posts, Uncategorized

Why Can’t I Move Forward?

[dropcap style=”font-size: 45px; color: #55cfbb;”]O[/dropcap]ver the past few years I have really enjoyed Mac products.  Macbook, Mackbook Pro, Ipod, Ipad, IMac, Iphone, etc; I just love the way that they work!  A few years ago Apple came out with an upgrade that allowed you to take off apps that you would have open.  You could now close down your twitter app or your weather app.  You could close down the ESPN app or a game app that you had open that allowed your battery not to drain as fast as well as allow your device to run faster!  So that once you close out things that you no longer have use for it allows your device to run a lot smoother.

 

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.consideringthelily.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/noah-wash.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Noah Washington is a pastor at Bladensburg SDA church in Bladensburg, Maryland. Join Noah for relationship tweets every Thursday on Twitter using the hashtag #RTalkThurs. For more great posts visit Noah’s blog http://www.washsworld.blogspot.com.[/author_info] [/author]

 

I can’t help but to liken this to many of our relationships.  One of the reasons that some of us are stuck, stagnant, and extremely slow with moving on is because we have so many people, or apps, that are open in our lives that have not been closed.  There are relationships that we have had in our past that we have become attached to so much that even though the communication, recreation, and interaction between us and the other person may have ended…our attachment to them continues to be open.  Something still jumps in our spirit when we see their picture on Facebook; we still catch an attitude when someone tells us that they have seen the person with another person; and we continue to think in our minds what we may be doing with the person if we were still dating them.

Some of you reading this have been thinking to yourself: why am I having such a difficult problem moving forward in my life, my relationships, and in life in general? Why is it that I sabotage relationships?  How come I only feel normal when people treat me negatively?  Why am I attempting to move forward while still attached to my past???  May I suggest that even though two people have physically gone their separate ways doesn’t mean the relationship has ended.

Before I give some solutions on how you can truly move forward, let me give some suggestions on why many of us cannot move forward:

  1. The relationship ended sooner than we wanted it to.  We thought that this was the person that we would marry and spend the rest of our lives with, but instead of a wedding they walked away.  Instead of a marriage, you guys moved apart.  So you can’t move forward because you are still mentally thinking…what if?
  2. You guys got physical in the relationship.  During the relationship, there was not just hugging and kissing, you guys actually engaged in sexual activity; maybe even on a regular basis.  Scripture teaches that sexual activity leads us to becoming attached to another person.  That’s why the Bible even cautions people who are married-to agree on when they will abstain from sexual activity for times of prayer and then return to it.  Engaging in sex with another person is meant to be addictive, that’s why its best reserved for married couples.  However, with couples who are unmarried, you may not be able to move on because you are still attached to the other person.
  3. There was some type of abuse in the relationship. Some people can’t move on because there was sexual, mental, emotional, or physical abuse in a past relationship.  This may cause a person to either withdraw from having future relationships OR jump into many relationships.  Some people pull away from relationships in fear that what happened to them will happen to them again while others seek out many relationships in hopes to find that one person that will treat them right!  Still there are others who won’t allow themselves to move forward in a healthy relationship because since there was so much abuse they strangely only feel comfortable in an environment that allows abuse to continue, these people are extremely hard to love because when you love them…they kick you so you can kick them back because abusing them allows them to feel normal.

This is not an exhaustive list, but just a few things that won’t allow a person to move forward.  Now, let me offer some things that a person can do so that they can positively move forward.

 

  • To fully break free, its probably best for the time being not to communicate with the person you need freedom from for the time being.  You need time to heal, and oftentimes healing will not take place if you are still communicating with them.  If you continue to communicate with them, you continue a “what if” cycle in your mind about a future relationship with them.
  • Lay before the Lord!!! I honestly believe that the only way to be fully free and move forward is to lay it before the Lord.  Ask God for forgiveness of anything that you did in the relationship that caused problems.  Ask God to remove the unhealthy connection that continues to attach you to the person.  While I believe God’s power can, the breaking point usually doesn’t happen after we lay this before the Lord on one occasion.  It happens after continued prayer, fasting, and dedication to His will and way!
  • Don’t get in another relationship until you a free from the last! There are countless people who believe that they can just jump into one relationship after another.  Since you are often not free from the previous relationship, you bring the attachment from the last relationship into the present relationship.  So much so, that the person never meets the real you…they get connected to the countless number of people who you are attached with.

 

[quote]Jesus told the Jews in the first century, whoever the Son sets free will be free indeed!  Don’t you want to be free today?  Allow Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit to free you in mind, body, and spirit so that you can be all that he has destined to be![/quote]

 

Sincerely,

 

Noah Wash
Follow me on Twitter: @washsworld
Check my blog: www.washsworld.blogspot.com 

Being Saved, Family, Uncategorized

Five Things Kids Can Teach You About __________


[dropcap style=”font-size: 45px; color: #55cfbb;”]G[/dropcap]od’s love? Greatness? Living? I don’t know how to finish the title, so I thought I’d give YOU the chance to fill in the blank.

I had a rough upbringing… not bad, just bumpy. I always thought of God as He who sat on the throne pointing his long judgmental finger in my face about the one pan I left soaking in the kitchen sink. I thought that if I didn’t do things juuuuust right, I’d be doomed to live in misery until I died and barely made it to Heaven. But when I had children, I didn’t feel that way about their shortcomings, and so it didn’t make sense that God would feel that way about me. So as I’ve loved my children, I’ve learned some things about God’s love for me. And as I’ve watched them grow, I’ve learned about faith and humility and forgiveness and loving. What I did not learn as a child, I am re-learning and re-experiencing as a mother.

So here are the top 5 things I’ve learned from my children about how I should interact with my Heavenly Father on a daily basis. It may be something different for you.

 

Stay hungry knowing you’re going to be fed.

Every hour or so it feels like B&B are begging for a snack. They’re always digging in the fruit bowl or snack jar looking for something to fill their bellies until they are content. Last week when I sprained my thumb, they demanded to know who was going to cook for them if I couldn’t. How hungry are we for God’s presence? Do we inquire of Him daily? Do we spend time with Him knowing He will respond and waiting for it? The Word says “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” God’s very words are sustenance for us. They are strength for our day. And like our children, we should want to feast at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and enjoy snacks in between. Being spiritually hungry is a sign of spiritual health. Keep reading, keep praying, keep seeking until you are filled and able to pour out to others!

Rest when you need it.

Briana’s not much of a napper, but if Brandon’s tired, he’ll make himself a spot anywhere (usually my bed) and go right to sleep. As adults we run circles around ourselves thinking that if we don’t take care of every single item on the list, our entire world will crumble. My friends, if there is one thing I’ve learned about God in this year, it’s that He moves most when I’m at rest. I’m not saying kick your feet up every time you feel stressed. I’m saying we must work hard to find the place of rest in Him where we need not stress or feel condemned over things that won’t matter in the long run. Our God is not a hard taskmaster. Take a note from your children. Grab a pillow and blanket, and rest your head on the Father’s chest. Speak to Him about your cares, and watch things miraculously get checked off your list.

 

Ask for what you want expecting to receive.

Mommy, can I…? But mommy, it only costs… Mommy… Mommy… Mommy… pleeeeeaaaassseee!

They ask for any and everything that they want, and who am I to stop them from asking? Even if they can’t have it at the time, it is my desire as a mother to know what things interest them. I want to bless them when the time is right because I love them, and not because they necessarily deserve it. Why would God be any different? Old religious folk used to tell me not to bother God with small things, but how wrong were they!!! I believe that anything that matters to us, matters to God. I pray about my weight, my skin, my hair… things some would say are superficial. But if it matters to me, be it in my control or not, I talk to God about it. There’s nothing He desires more than our companionship. Our prayers do not make Him weary.

 

Remind God of what He promised you…. often.

When my kids ask to do something I’m uncertain about I say “We’ll see.” They cheer knowing there’s a chance of a positive outcome. If for some reason, we can’t bake cookies or go to Busch Gardens or wherever else they want, they say “But you promiiiiised…” Of course, I didn’t, but still there’s a lesson to be learned. God tells us to remind Him of His word. Children have no problem reminding of you what you said, did, thought, the face you made, et al. When you don’t see the outcome, remind God, in faith, of what He promised. The act of reminding Him shows that you believe His word is true and that He is able and willing to perform it. Leave the whiny bit off though… No one likes whining.

 

Make friends!

When Briana was a mere 19 months, she would squeak out simple phrases to let me know what she wanted. Well one day, I took the children to an indoor playground, and she walked her short diaper-laden self up to a toy car, climbed in next to another kid, and said “Do you watch Caillou?” I. Was. Floored. I had no idea my baby could speak in complete sentences, use vocal inflection, and communicate her personal interests. Even now, I watch B&B walk up to other kids in the grocery store and carry on complete conversations about where they attend school, etc. I’m 30. I can’t do that. But my children understand something that I’m still learning. We cannot complete this walk alone, and to make friends we must first be friendly. B&B force me to come out of my introverted self, smile, and show kindness to others. After all, God uses people to show His love for us.

 

[quote] At that time the disciples came up and asked Jesus, Who then is really the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And He called a little child to Himself and put him in the midst of them, And said, Truly I say to you, unless you repent (change, turn about) and become like little children [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving], you can never enter the kingdom of heaven at all. (Matthew 18:1-3) [/quote]

 

What lessons have you learned from your children?
And how did you fill in the blank?
Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Being Saved, Fine Oil Initiative, Uncategorized

Ninety Down: Flies in the Ointment

[dropcap style=”font-size: 45px; color: #55cfbb;”]I[/dropcap] hate flies.

They’re filthy, disgusting, annoying, and aggressive. Maybe it’s just where I live, but the flies in the burbs of Richmond will roll up on you, light up a cig, and blow the smoke in your face without thinking twice. And these nasty creatures–I’m not sure why God created them– were gathering at my back door.

Over 30 of these minuscule beasts were pressed against the glass panes buzzing “Give us us free.” They must’ve known I was coming for them because they hid in the blinds and soared around my apartment whenever I approached. And for an hour or so, the children and I took turns until every single fly revisited that window and disappeared into the swirling suction of my lavender vacuum cleaner hose.

Like any person with common sense, I looked for the source of the problem. There were no maggots in the trash can. (Thank goodness!) No gaps in the door. No gaps in the windows. I was at a loss…

…Until last week when I cleaned out the old clothes and toys from my daughter’s room. A foot to the left of her bed on the ceiling is a vent. Directly below the vent on the carpet– dead flies.

Nasty, filthy, stinking flies crept in unaware through an area that I had not considered because it was out of my reach. And because of my ignorance, a small swarm of flith-laden creatures had defiled our living spaces. (I thank God for the makers of Lysol and Clorox Anywhere Spray.)

And the old phrase, incomplete as it may seem, came to me…. “A fly in the ointment.”

Flies are attracted to anything with fragrance. They buzz around looking for the juiciest piece of fruit, hottest piece of chicken, or your finely-fragranced body butter. If we are diligent, we cover our wares and swat the flies away. But if we turn our backs for a moment, they contaminate, and something that was good just moments before ultimately gets tossed into the garbage.

And so it is with us, when we take on the lifestyle of a Christ-follower. We. Smell. Good. And the enemy knows he cannot get us to turn back to our life of sin, so he sends in the flies.

He sends in the annoying, the nit-picky, the continual harassment from people and circumstances. There’s a buzzing of my bank account on low, the texts from the guy who won’t kick rocks like I’ve asked him so many times, the forwarded emails with Tweety bird at the end!!! They all aggravate me to the point where I meditate on the wrong things, leaving my fragrance uncovered. Then the flies settle in making whatever beauty and grace I had completely distasteful and repulsive.

Aggravated. Frustrated. Exhausted.

 

[quote]Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour . (Ecclesiastes 10:1)[/quote]

 

A few flies have crept in over the past ninety days… By God’s grace I’ve found the sources and closed some of them. I’m cleaning out the remnants of disappointment and bitterness as I type. And I’ve managed to hide myself enough to discourage them from landing anywhere near me and mine. I’m guarding my heart and my mouth to no end.

So the bank account matter… I trust Him. The texts… Google Spam works wonders. The Tweety Bird forwards… Headed to the trash before they even seen my inbox. I’ve closed the vents.

Because what good is it for me to have suffered what I’ve suffered and lost what I’ve lost and gained what I’ve gained all unto God’s glory yet I bear a bad attitude and lack discretion? Why would I allow my precious relationship with Christ to become anything but by allowing small, nagging situations to enter and remain unchecked. We all have those rough days and weeks, but we cannot continually allow these matters to settle in our heart because they take away from the beautiful fragrance that God places on his people.

After all, flies aren’t the only ones attracted to us. So are the lost and the hurting. Who will embrace them if we don’t? And what hurting person ever seeks comfort from one who bears a bad attitude?

What negativity has been buzzing around you lately?
How can you be free close the vents even in situations where you have little control? 

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Being Saved, Uncategorized, Video Blogs & Podcasts

Overcoming Sickness

This is my first podcast, and I hope to jump on the iTunes bandwagon soon. Here are the Scriptures used to support this teaching.

[button link=”http://www.consideringthelily.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/overcoming-sickness.mp3″ type=”icon” newwindow=”yes”] Play MP3[/button]

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Luke 13:10-13

Now Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.

 

Isaiah 53:5

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

 

1 Peter 2:24

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

 

Luke 1:37

With God, nothing is impossible.

 

John 9: 1-3

And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

 

2 Corinthians 4:17

For our light, momentary affliction (this slight distress of the passing hour) is ever more and more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory [beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease!]

 

[button link=”http://www.consideringthelily.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/overcoming-sickness.mp3″ type=”icon” newwindow=”yes”] Download MP3[/button]

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Being Saved, Uncategorized

Overcoming Temptation: Tipping the Struggle Scale

[dropcap style=”font-size: 50px; color: #9b9b9b;”] W[/dropcap]e fall into two categories when it comes to temptation: “Struggling” and “Not Struggling”. To dig a little deeper those who are classified as “Not Struggling” are either totally delivered from a situation OR have no desire to fight against the very thing that’s keeping them bound. For those of you who see no wrong in indulging in your vices, this post is not for you.

I’ve struggled. In some ways, I’m still struggling but I’m definitely not falling like I used to. So you’re in good company, and I won’t tell your secrets if you won’t tell mine. Here’s what I had to learn about myself in regards to my weak (read “sinful”) areas.

[quote]But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. James 1:14-15[/quote]

Lust brings forth sin and sin brings forth death. And lust, in this case, is not just a sexual term. Lust is any desire that takes you outside of God’s perfect plan for your life. It may be sexual, abuse of substances or people, cursing/cussing/complaining, gossip… fill in your blank.

So how do you tip the struggle scale to your favor? Start here.

 

READ YOUR BIBLE!!!

If I don’t offer any other steps, this piece alone is sufficient. Prayer does not work once you’re “in” the situation because your will is already compromised. The only way to stand in trying situations is to strengthen your spirit by reading the Word of God. As your spirit becomes stronger, your will becomes more aligned with God’s plan for your life and your desires start to change. You won’t see yourself or those shameful situations in the same light after some time. The Word is a lamp to show us where to go (and where not to go) and a light to make the truth evident. If you don’t read your Bible, you’re navigating your life in the dark!

 

Know your weakness & avoid it. 

Remember God does not tempt us (James 1:13). Temptation comes from within us. For example, put a fine chocolate-y, muscle-y brother in front of me, and I might be tempted. Pour a glass of Crown Royal and dangle it before my eyes, and I won’t blink twice. My lust is not for alcohol, so I cannot be tempted by it. I plead the fifth on the former situation, however. So until I’m able to stand, I should not put myself in those situations. So many folk have criticized me by saying “Don’t you have any self-control?” Well, no, I don’t. And bless God, I’m honest with myself and therefore I can avoid trouble.

 

Check your fellowship.

Somewhere in the Bible it says that we should not fellowship with brethren that we know are fornicators (in the KJV) and acting against God’s ordinances (1 Corinthians 5:11). By brethren the Scripture refers to those who identify themselves as Christ-followers. There is a two-fold purpose here. We cannot condone the continual sin of a person who calls him or herself a Christ-follower, so they must be given some space to allow God to change their hearts. A STRONGER reason is that eating with a person (and fellowshipping in general) is a way in which soul ties are formed, and wherever there are soul ties spirits and desires will transfer. (Bad company corrupts good manners, don’t you know?) Though your friend may not be malicious, the enemy certainly is. You’ll have to limit your ties with such a person to preserve your own soul.

 

Love God MORE!

Who I am to tell you what you should or shouldn’t like? Feelings in and of themselves are not evil, but actions are what bring  judgment. You might like to smoke a little “reefer” (that word makes me snicker), but you have to love God more to find your freedom. There are times in our walk when we find ourselves halfway between a place of sin and a place of prayer. Just choose to love God more, and He’ll handle the rest. Remember where sin abounds grace SUPERABOUNDS!!! (Romans 5:20– This is truly one of my favorite Bible verses.)

 

Consecrate yourself.

No one likes to do this, but nothing will break your nasty habits better than fasting and praying. I can fast for 3 days and see major changes in my most basic desires. Sometimes you have to literally starve your desires, and you do this by overruling your flesh with your spirit. BE HUNGRY FOR GOD!!! This also means that any influence that glorifies your lust issue should be cut off until you can handle it. Personal example… I haven’t watched music videos or listened to most secular music regularly in years because I cannot handle its content. It drives me want to sin, so it must go! A proper fast will bring about a lifestyle change ultimately transforming your desires so you don’t even want to do the same things anymore.

 

All of these steps will help you to resist the enemy as opposed to falling and repenting multiple times. Just last week, I had all these crazy thoughts come to mind that didn’t seem like my own. I wasn’t able to rest because I was so busy thinking and worrying over small things. I heard in my spirit “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). So I rebuked him and all the thoughts went away. The enemy is legally obligated to run from you the moment you choose to shut him down. You are not helpless. You do not have to succumb to his advances.

I think back to a certain relationship when the person kept wronging me in the same way over and over again. After some time, sorry didn’t mean anything to me because I realized he was making a choice to give in to temptation. How much more does God hurt when we continually choose our lustful desires over Him, knowing that in the end we’re still broken and unsatisfied?

Selah.

What’s your personal struggle?
How many more times will you allow yourself to be defeated
when you’ve been given the commandment to overcome?!
And what good thing is waiting for you on the other side of victory? 

 

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Being Saved, Being Single, Uncategorized

How to Shamelessly Catch a Guy at Church

[dropcap style=”font-size: 50px; color: #9b9b9b;”] L[/dropcap]ast year I wrote about the ploys women use to catch a guy’s attention at the gym. Sad to say, but this happens in church as well. What better place is there to secure the right guy for you? He knows God, is humble, and possibly in ministry… right?

Hmmm…

And before you all start pointing any fingers, let me just say there isn’t ONE single man that is a member of the church I attend… maybe there is one, but he’s far too young for me. Now before you start picking apart my words and finding a loophole, let’s get to the steps.

  1. Find the right church. Now we know single, Black men are few and far between in some of our churches so you’ve got to scope out the best location. Smaller country churches with lots of married couples and a few singles sprinkled throughout are best. You might as well forget the mega-churches. Those brothers have already been scoped out, and the competition will be far too stiff.
  2. Don’t overdress. Save the bright red dress for date night, honey. Demure and attractive is best. Wear “get-em-girl” dress if you must, but then you might intimidate the heck out of your future boo.
  3. Your hair and make-up MUST be perfect. A low bun just won’t do, ladies. Whatever style you choose, be sure it accentuates your best features and glistens under the bright church lights. Make sure your lip gloss is popping, and don’t forget the waterproof mascara for when the Spirit moves you.
  4. Sit within gazing distance. You want to be where you can see him seeing you. Avoid direct eye contact, and DO NOT SIT BESIDE HIM! I saw a lady do this once. She sat her self right next to a fella and kept standing up and poking her ample bottom in his face. We’d like to think the guy continued to sit there, right? Not this guy! He got up and mooooooved!!! I cheered for him in my thoughts…
  5. You better praise Him. After all, what decent brother wants a woman who doesn’t enter in during praise and worship? I’m not saying you gotta shout and holler (please don’t), but you need to clap your hands to the beat, sing, and dance a little. Show that you don’t mind getting down for Jesus. When the Spirit gets moving and you feel a tear coming, remember to dab (not wipe) your make-up.
  6. When it’s time to greet your neighbor, head his way but completely avoid him. Hug at least one person from each of the following groups: a female close to your age, a small child, and an elderly person. And, honey, you better griiiiiinnn like there’s no tomorrow.  Whatever you do, don’t make eye contact with him. I mean your eyes need to dance around him like he isn’t there at all. He will work harder to make himself more visible later.
  7. After service is over meander at your seat, but look busy. Take your time putting away your notebooks, pens, and highlighters. Say goodbye to your closest neighbors and offer your business card (or two) to one of the married couples in the church. Gracefully head to the door. He will find his way to you even if it’s not until you reach the parking lot.
  8. If he doesn’t speak, fret not thyself. You’ve made your presence known, honey! Rest assured he’ll ask around…. more specifically to the married couple that to whom you passed the business cards. Well, played, lady. Well played.

So I’m not completely serious about this. In no way do I recommend that any woman should take these steps seriously, but if you’re willing to try, who am I to stop you? There’s nothing here that’s wrong in and of itself. But should you be so bold, make sure you find your want to the “Contact Me” tab above and share your story.

On a serious note, kingdom women who desire companionship must demonstrate self-respect. Leave all the desperation, loneliness, and attention-seeking at home in your prayer closet. On a more serious note, don’t go to church looking for a boo. Seek God, and He’ll send the right one in the right time. Yeah, I know it sucks… Ugh.

[quote]I’ve learned that any man that you attract by your own efforts will fall short of what you truly desire.
Every. Single. Time. God knows what we truly desire and need.[/quote]

 

In the meantime, ain’t nothing wrong with being a little coy…

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

 

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

Being Saved, Being Single, Dating & Relationships, For the Brothers, Uncategorized

Letter to the Married Brother

[dropcap style=”font-size: 50px; color: #9b9b9b;”] D [/dropcap]ear Sir,

 

Need I remind you of the nights you prayed for the warm body that shares your bed?

Need I remind you of the countless dates with women who could not hold your heart or even a worthwhile conversation?

Need I remind you that Christian couples are divorcing everyday and there are consequences called child support alimony?

Yet you risk it all through emails, texts, and private messages. No, the  content may not be inappropriate but it is questionable. And the question to ask yourself is this…

 [quote]If your wife saw this, how would she feel? Your pastor? Your children?

Is this something you’d be proud of IF and WHEN it is revealed?[/quote]

Let me remind you that the Lord sees the intent of our hearts, and though you may be lonely…

Though you may feel neglected…

Though you may be searching…

You are still married, and I am not your wife.

 

Unless there is a defined purpose for a relationship AND that relationship is public, there is no need for us to communicate continually. I need not be welcomed into your life. I don’t need to answer all your questions. No “just because”, “goodnight” or “good morning” emails should cross my networking threshold.

Where is your integrity, man of God? Have you yet to learn that no one can satisfy your soul but God Himself?

Just as you seek to be comforted and entertained, the enemy seeks to destroy YOU. He doesn’t care about your job, your family, or your ministry. He wants your soul. And he will bring you a Delilah when you’re at your lowest point.

 

You’ve found yourself at a stand still and wondered why your prayers are not being answered, yet you do not serve God or your wife with fidelity. How could He bless you when you don’t protect the blessings you already have?

 

If you’ve got to send that message early in the morning or late at night…

If you delete every exchange of conversation…

If you’ve never expressed the objective of the conversation without identifying who you are (and being married is part of that)…

You’re wrong. And I forgive you for trying to use me to soothe your own insecurities.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your marriage,

 

Alana