Being Saved, Being Single, Being Smart

My struggle with purity began before I can remember. Sometimes these things are passed down through generations and activated when a person comes of age. Let’s just say I was in full-blown bondage by the time I was 15 years old. And yes, I grew up in the church and in a two-parent home. I made straight A’s in school too. We get a little stereotype-y about these things, so let’s just clear the air right now. The devil does NOT discriminate!

I had a youth pastor at the time who was on FIRE! I used to sit on the front row, and he’d jump on the chair beside me and PREEEEAAACH! That Holy Ghost preacher spit would drop all into my curly ponytail, but I didn’t mind because I knew whatever the devil had planned would not work.

One night he preached from Deuteronomy 23:14.

For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.

Again, this message of obedience as a prerequisite for deliverance is evident. CLEAN UP YOUR CAMP! Because the Lord is coming! He’s coming to deliver you! But would you have Him stumble upon your mess?

So I can speak in parable, or I can step on toes, and the Lord told me today that I’m not writing loudly enough, so here goes:

  1. Delete the nudes: yours, his, whoever’s. Get rid of them.
  2. Unsubscribe from impure websites and anything that has become a snare to you. This may include Christian dating sites because we know ChocolateProphet69 ain’t really in love with Jesus!
  3. That incognito tab is a trap, boo. Let’s be real. If you have to use it, it’s probably for the wrong reason.
  4. Visit your social media photos, and ask the Lord which ones send the wrong message about you. If you need help, ask a friend or auntie that you know is honest and discerning.
  5. End relationships with people who pull you into impure conversation. Even if it’s just for a few days, tap that “Do Not Disturb” so you can hear from the Lord.
  6. Clean out your nightstand. The toys gotta go! That little act ain’t as secret as you think. The sin shows on you!
  7. The clothes that draw the wrong type of attention… I mean, sis, you bad, but do you have to show ALL your glory? Those clothes. Don’t trash them, but hang them in plain sight and inquire of the Lord.
  8. Whatever other item I may have missed, but is tugging on your heart… OBEY!

Read and meditate on Psalm 119:35.

Pray:

  1. Father, make it easy for me to obey You.
  2. Give me discernment so I can judge my actions  and remain on the right path.
Being Smart, Uncategorized

I was looking for a piece of paper with some illegible scribble. That was the only sign in my mind that my dishwasher was fixed. Everyday that I came home and found no paper I became more and more despondent about having to wash dishes by hand.

I had become fond of the paper. The one time I could decipher the scribble, it read “I fisc the hole.”

Fisc? Ok, sir. Thank you ever so much. Now can you fisc my dishwasher? I know you said the part had to be shipped, but it’s been over a week now. And I NEED that paper? I will have conquered another item on my list once I get that paper.

So for seven days I trudged into the house, glanced at the mess on the dining room table… no paper… no fisc-ing. By day eight, I had resolved to call the rental office to remind them of my suffering. How dare they leave me without my modern day convenience? Yep. I came in the house, saw no paper, and planned to make the call. I glanced in the kitchen and thought “Boy, it looks different in there” then headed to my room to get a power nap before homework and dinner.

At 5:30 someone banged on the door and the kids shouted that the maintenance man needed to speak with me.

“Do it work alriiight, ma’am?”

“Work? Does what work?”

“The dishwasher, ma’am. I fisc it today. You no knooow?”

I felt like a fool. How could I not notice the paper I had been looking for for days? I ran into the kitchen, again admiring its cleanliness. To my surprise, my dishwasher was running perfectly with all the kids’ dishes from breakfast, my KitchenAid mixing bowls, silverware, and God knows whatever else was floating around the sink.

He followed me into the kitchen and watched as I discovered his gift of kindness. I hugged him and thanked him profusely for his kindness. And then I asked…

“But where’s the paper?”

“No paper dis time. I just come and do it for you.”

I gushed… half from embarrassment and half from… well, no. All embarrassment. All those dishes. All that mess. And I didn’t even notice the mighty gift that was offered to me because I was looking for a sign.

A foolish and perverse generation seeks after a sign… (Matthew 16:4)

That’s what the Holy Spirit spoke to me. That’s the same thing Jesus said to the Pharisees and Sadducees when they asked him to do a magic trick to make them believe.

Let us not be so wicked in our hearts that we look for the sign rather than trusting in the goodness and faithfulness of the Father. 

Selah.

 

Being Smart, Fine Oil Initiative, Uncategorized

Lower Than Parallel

I thought this was a joke. Who would ever in their right mind think to squat lower than parallel especially with weights on his or her back? I didn’t mind doing it at home when the trainer made me. He’d chant “lower, lower, loooooower” until my rear nearly touched my heels. Whatever. I was only squatting my body weight, so it was feasible. But in the gym with seventy additional pounds on me? Nah. Wasn’t going to happen.

I scavenged the workout sites, myth pages, blogs, etc. They all said the same thing. To restore the former glory of my thighs, I had to squat lower than parallel. In-freaking-sane. I chugged my water and mentally prepared myself for the challenge ahead. Off to the gym I went with a protein mix in hand to help me recover from the damage I was about to do to my hein poss (that’s “hind parts” for you infrequent readers).

I went hard. One hundred pounds on the leg press… five sets of 12. Another one hundred on the abductor and adductor machines. Sixty reps each down for the count. Leg extensions… not too many pounds and minimal sets and reps. They hurt.  On I mosied to the back extensions… long as my muscles loved me. One hundred twenty pounds was too easy.  I thought about upping the weight but didn’t want to get cocky, so I played it cool. Then I knocked out some lower than parallel squats at 70 pounds. They hurt… dropped the weight to 60. Finished. I was still feeling good.

Really I was feeling great. I figured if I had to down a nasty protein shake I better give my body a reason to need it. I took my highfalutin heiny on over to the Freemotion Hammie machine. I had been eyeing it for a while and felt it call unto me like a pint of Graeter’s Mint Chocolate Chip. I set the weight to 15 pounds, secured my right foot and squeaked out 5 reps. Repeated on the left side. Turned. Took a step. Cheeks locked up ass-aptually.

Out of stride and with awkward motion I stepped right and left in tiny gaits to minimize the pain. The children saw me coming to pick them up and waved for me to hurry. I had to stop in shame and hang my head. A little baby tear streamed down my cheek but mixed in with the sweat. No one could know how badly I was hurting. One of the workers opened the door for me at which point I sat my locked up hein poss on the cool floor and rolled it around in agony. Poor Brandon was mortified.

I’m not easily embarrassed, but I felt sorry for my kiddo. Not nearly as sorry as I felt for my hot achy muscles, but I tried not to cry aloud for his sake. The child care worker ran to the front desk to grab me a singular ice pack. I guess she didn’t realize I have two cheeks like most human beings. I slid the ice pack down into my pants, chomped on a banana, and enjoyed the relief. Before leaving I requested another ice pack, and away I went with my two babies and two large ice packs tucked safely away in my drawers. I really gave the fellas a show.

You guys know I have a gift for turning my foolishness into a lesson. Here goes… in 100 words or fewer!

[quote]First, don’t do heavy weights on fasting days. Heh. I should’ve known better.

Second, if you want to see any real change in your areas of weakness you have to go lower than parallel… proverbially speaking of course. You have to dig deeper. Go past the point that seems to make the most sense. Cast aside the status quo. It may hurt immediately. It may hurt later. But when you’re finished, stop what you’re doing and rest. Rests some more, then reflect. Then do it all over again.[/quote]

You’ll be happy to know that my cheeks have fully recovered and are, in fact, rounding out to my satisfaction. I’ll be back in the gym Saturday after eating a few properly balanced meals at which point I will avoid like the plague that dang Freemotion Hammie machine. Choose ye this day which battles to fight!

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your thick fiit thighs (if that’s your sort of thing),

 

Alana

 

Photo credit: Creative Commons License Helga Weber via Compfight

Being Single, Being Smart, Dating & Relationships

Go Back to the Woodwork from Whence Thou Came

Women know that at least three times a year a phenomenon occurs in which random old friends, text buddies, and former flames show up and demand a little attention… and sometimes two or three will come within a few days’ time. Here in the South we call it “coming out of the woodwork.” Basically folks try to re-enter our lives through subtle means… a “Thinking of You” or TOY text, FB poke, or a trepidacious “Hi” via social media. Should we respond to this seemingly harmless greeting, the ball-and-chain, headache inducing conversations will pick up where they left off oh so many months and years ago. So  smart women everywhere have employed the most powerful strategy for deflecting these games… by IGNORING!

I thought I was smart… I can even be a little braggy about my brainpower, but today, I’ll dismount my high horse. Yesterday I responded to one of those dumb “TOY” texts. I even had this person’s number saved in my phone, but I had clearly forgotten that he existed. He has one of those common names, so I thought I saved a good friend’s name in the wrong number by mistake. After ten minutes of going back and forth thinking I was talking to one person, it eventually hit me that I was talking to Mr. Nasty Man who was a musician and in the seminary and quite possibly one of the most perverted individuals that had ever crossed my path. I. Was. Appalled.

The conversation went a little something like this. I’ve removed the personal details. (And I’m not worried about him seeing this. He’s only interested in my drawls, and since my blog address ain’t on those, we’re all good here.)

 

Me: What’s up with you? 6:09 PM
Him: Lots. Too much to text 6:15 PM
Me: But you don’t like to talk. 6:15 PM
Him: I don’t? 6:16 PM
Him: You must not know who you are talking to. 6:17 PM
Me: Wait. I know who you are now. 6:17 PM
Him: Wow 6:17 PM
Me: (location name) 6:17 PM
Him: Lol 6:17 PM
Me: Horny man 6:17 PM
Him: Not cool 6:18 PM
Me: Well. It’s been a while. 6:18 PM
Him: Now an ordained minister. 6:22 PM
Me: What made you think of me? It’s been months. 6:28 PM
Him: Think of you often…. Just didn’t reach out. 6:29 PM
Me: Gotcha. 6:31 PM
Me: You living right? 6:32 PM
Me: Lololol. 6:42 PM

 

You see what I did there? NO?! Let’s dougie on down to lesson lane.

I sent three clear messages in this short conversation…

Message #1: I am not playing with you. Who are you? What do you want?

 

Message #2: I am not here to be played with. I will be kind, but a snake is a snake is a snake and no ministerial title, sir, will make you less than that. Only the blood!

 

Message #3: I’m doing my best to live holy to the Lord. You? No response. Oh ok. Bye.

 

I believe God allows these things to happen to show us how much we’ve grown… or haven’t. I could’ve been mealy-mouthed and given him the entrance he wanted with fanfare and balloons, but I value purity and righteousness faaarrrr more than a textual romance. Y’all don’t hear me though.

If Jesus will keep me, then I will be kept!!!

And now that he’s crawled back into the woodwork from whence he came, I shall change his name in my phone to “DNR”… Do Not Respond. God bless him but somewhere over there far from me.

Ghandi said it best…

“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”

 

 

With a little tough love, sincerity, and lots of hope for a foolishness-free future,

 

Alana

 

Photo credit: Creative Commons License Petras Gagilas via Compfight

Being Saved, Being Smart, Uncategorized

I have recurring dreams often. The first time I’ll dream from point A to point B. The next time I’ll dream from point A to point D. Then at some point– maybe days, weeks, months, or years later my dream will finally make it to point Z.

And most times– dreams are strange things, you know– I won’t even recall having fragments of the dream until that dream has come close to the point of resolution.

So imagine my surprise this morning, when I woke up replaying a dream in which statues of foreign gods and goddesses were strewn about my home. I was surrounded by them, and they seemed to be mine. Some were small and unassuming like fine home decorations.  Others were tall statues made cast of iron. One in particular had long feathered arms, a round head with a short neck, sharp teeth, and protruding eyes. I thought “Why would I buy something so ugly and violent?” The Lord spoke immediately and said “You didn’t buy it. It was passed down to you.”

I knew that these idols were not only displeasing to God but also detrimental to my spiritual condition.

Then my cousin, a sweet gentle young woman, came to visit and as we talked I found myself putting these things away… in a trash bag to be more exact. And as I tossed demonic heap into the garbage bags, she nodded and smiled in agreement. And that’s the last thing I remember when my alarm went off.

Those who’ve followed my blog long enough know that the Lord just drops Scripture phrases in my mind, and then I’ll go hunt for the reference. Well this is what I heard in my spirit today….

“And I will walk among you, and I will be your God…”

I copied and pasted what I heard into a browser and Leviticus 26:12 popped up as the reference. Nice, right? Or just meh? Yeah, I went for meh. But I know my Lord’s voice so I knew that what He was saying would be found right in that chapter, so up to verse 1 I scrolled.

You shall make for yourselves no idols nor shall you erect a graven image, pillar, or obelisk, nor shall you place any figured stone in your land to which or on which to bow down; for I am the Lord your God.

WELL NOW! Speak, Lord! But for real, Father. There are no graven images, pillars, obelisks, or figured stones in my home. You can come on walk up and through here and I promise you won’t find one! Try me, Lord! It’s not here. There is one massive obelisk just a few miles away from me, but that ain’t mine. And more than likely, Father, my Hindu neighbors have many of the idols I saw in my dream. So why would you give me this dream?

Obviously He wasn’t speaking of my physical home, but my heart. God exposed the generational crap passed down from my ancestors and the trinkets I’ve welcomed on my own. Time for it allll to go!

Selah.

I can honestly pick out two of the many idols that the Lord revealed… unhealthy food and, uhhh, tweeting. Through some prayer and fasting I’ve found myself less controlled by desires for these things. I believe those were the items I put away in my dream.

CLEAN ME OUT, JESUS!

Surely I’m not the only person who has idols erected in my heart. Perhaps you’ve never considered that the benign and seemingly good (read “tasty”) things you’ve invited into your life can become idols. Here’s how you might identify those things that you exalt above Christ. (Idols can be people, objects, ideas, concepts, thought patterns, etc.)

  1. You are unwilling or unable to let go of it.
  2. You feel that you need a certain person or thing to accomplish a goal or feel a sense of satisfaction.
  3. If the Lord showed up in your home, you would hide or trash it right away.
  4. If the Lord told you to give this thing away, you’d refuse or resist.
  5. You don’t feel safe, secure, or loved without this thing.
  6. You feel you’re missing out if you can’t partake in activities with this thing.
  7. You esteem this item or person above God’s statutes.
  8. Your mood changes based on interactions with this person or thing.
  9. You find your thoughts and dreams heavily focused on it.
  10. You defraud or deceive others to have time with this person or thing.
  11. Your time and money are disproportionately spent on this person or thing.

So how many things just ran through your mind? I’ll give you a moment to reflect. Go ahead and read the list again. I’ll wait.

*twiddles thumbs*

*twists locks of hair*

*plucks eyebrows*

Hopefully you heard SOMETHING from the Almighty if you didn’t turn Him off. I’d be remissed to stop writing without telling you HOW to get rid of your idols, so at the risk of writing a super long blog, here goes! (Our freedom is what matters most here!)

  • Consecrate yourself. Spend some time reading your Word and in prayer. Limit your diet for a few days to really allow your fleshly desires to be diminished. The goal here is to strengthen your inner man.
  • Make up in your mind that you want nothing more than you want God. If you don’t, then there’s no need to proceed any further.
  • Invite the Lord into your home and spirit as they are right now. We often feel the need to clean up before He comes, but when He gets there, He’ll show you exactly what to get rid of. He won’t scold you for your mess like your mother will.
  • Yield to His leading. I’ve found that the Lord has made things that I formerly loved very distasteful to me. He has literally changed my desires. And this is a great thing!!!

Now that I’ve told all my business with half the detail, I’m PRAYING that you too can become free of the images and idols that impress upon your being. You are created in the image and likeness of God. Any person or thing that destroys or alters who you are in Christ must be removed for your salvation’s sake.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Photo credit: Mary Harrsch via Compfight

Being Saved, Being Smart, Uncategorized

There is no character in the Bible that leaves me more disappointed and despondent than this smart, eager, ambitious, fahn (I’m using my sanctified imagination here), wealthy young brother we meet in Mark 10:17. Our preachers call him the rich, young ruler. I’ll call him Yuppie BC.

Short story time!

[quote]This young guy rolls up on Jesus and His disciples and says “Jesus, you’re so good. I’m amazed by how good you are. I’m good too. Can I come be good with you?” This fella just knooooows Jesus is about to give Him the same keys to the kingdom that those sinful, raggedy, wretched disciples had. Jesus looks back at the fella and says “Only God is good. Yes, you know the commandments, but you’re missing something.”[/quote]

I would’ve paid a couple day’s wages to see the look on the yuppie’s face when Jesus told him to go and sell all he had. I can only imagine what he thought in that moment. “Isn’t my obedience enough? Why wouldn’t you want my money? If you had it, you all wouldn’t have to live like this? And I’d make a great disciple– probably a better one than these fishermen and tax collectors. Plus my father gave me those things, so I can’t just give them away. I’ll do anything but that.”

The yuppie peaces out down-trodden and defeated. Jesus says to His disciples “With what difficulty will those who possess wealth and keep on holding it enter the kingdom of God!”

And then something phenomenal happens when we read this in church.We. Stop. Reading. And our pastors go on and on about how God wants us to give up our wealthy lifestyles, etc., etc. I can’t even pretend to understand that logic for the simple fact that I kept reading.

Jesus knows His disciples are perplexed by what He’d just spoken, so He clarifies.

“Children, how hard it is for those who trust (place their confidence, their sense of safety)
in riches to enter the kingdom of God!”

TWO TOTALLY DIFFERENT MATTERS! You can own things, but things can’t own YOU!

Another short story!

[quote]I had to go to Cincinnati for business a few weeks ago and my finances were limited. When I returned I was worried about the condition of my car. I knew I needed tires and some other things, but I drove like someone who was afraid of life itself. And I just kept praying and praying, but God told me hush up. Why? Because I was praying out of fear. I was afraid because I didn’t have the money to get the tires I needed and so He showed me that my faith and security rested in the money I didn’t have and not in Him. Oh Selah to the utmost! I repented. [/quote]

So let me ask you, young urban/suburban/rural professional…

  • Do you own things, or do your things own you?
  • Are life’s comfort’s dulling you to the call of ministry?
  • Is there someTHING or someONE that you’ll have to release for the sake of maturing in 2013?
  • Or maybe you think you’re so “good” already?

There is no greater call than the one to serve our Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t let what you have or lack OR what you have or haven’t done keep you from going deeper into Him.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

 

 

Being Saved, Being Smart, Uncategorized

Before You Pay Another Bill, Do THIS!

[quote]And taking the five loaves and two fish, He looked up to heaven and, praising God, gave thanks and broke the loaves and kept on giving them to the disciples to set before the people; and He also divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied. Mark 6:41-42[/quote]

In my last post I wrote about how bread is for provision, and seed is for sowing. I heard this teaching a few years ago, but really only started implementing it last year, and even then, sporadically. Now that I find myself leaning more heavily on the Lord for provision, I follow these THREE simple steps whenever I sit down to pay my bills.

  1. Acknowledge the Lord’s Presence. We think God is unconcerned with our menial tasks, but in fact, if it matters to us then it matters to Him. He ain’t pouring out blessings all willy nilly just because you lopped off the first tenth and dropped it in the velvet lined offering basket. You can’t write God off! Before you pay another bill, take a moment, look up to Heaven and acknowledge Him. He’s a personal God, not a creditor! And all your money is His anyway, so of course He wants to be involved.
  2. Give Him thanks and praise. No matter how big or small the loaf, thank God you have it! I know those hundreds add up before long, but at least it’s in the bank. Some bills might be left unpaid for now, but thank Him for the needs that are currently being met and for those He WILL meet in time. Looking at the crowd, there was no way five loaves and two fish should have fed them. Surely if God can multiply such a meager meal, He can do so for your bills.
  3. Break the bread, i.e. pay the bill. Not to get goofy, but I really will lift up my bank card or checkbook before I start typing in those sacred digits. I call this an act of faith. No, it’s not a literal piece of bread that I would break and pass to my homies to feed the masses. But my bank card does represent the provision that God has given me, and the total amount to which it is connect will, in essence, be broken down. So one bill after another is paid, and between each, I just take the time to thank Him. He really does love a thankful heart.

I see the difference. At first, I was going solely on faith, but now I’m seeing the difference in our living. By all accounts I should be 6 feet deep in debt, but I can testify that my freezer and fridge are full, my car has gas, and the heat and lights are on in my apartment!

Ayyyeeee, I won’t complain!

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your financially blessed future,

 

Alana

 

Corey Holms via Compfight

Being Saved, Being Smart, Family, Uncategorized

How a Seed Meets Your Need: What to Do When You’re Broke

I’m TIRED of not having any money. I work hard. I manage (i.e. work magic with) my finances. I mess up some things unfortunately. But by the 12th of the month when all the requisite bills have been paid, the grocery shopping has been completed, and the gas tank filled, my hair is nappy from the box relaxers I have to buy and the soles of my shoes are wearing thin. There is entirely too much month left and too little money for me to do anything about either of those situations.

Let me paint a picture for you.  I’m a single mom of two growing children with massive appetites. I make too much to receive income assistance from the government, and too little to cover my rent without whispering a prayer every time I make the payment. I’m paid once a month for ten months out of the year, so I’m staring down the business end of a summer with no paychecks. In an effort to not depress you, I trust HIM COMPLETELY! Why? Because there is absolutely NOTHING I can do to fix this problem. That means it’s all on Him!

I can hear all you finance snobs thinking “Well why don’t you just…” Whatever you can imagine, I’ve done or it’s impossible for me to do. Thanks for thinking for me.

I have much to say, so I’m thinking a mini-book may be in order, BUT for now, I’d like to share what God most recently revealed to be concerning the following Scriptures.

[quote]For as the rain and snow come down from the heavens, and return not there again, but water the earth and make it bring forth and sprout, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10)[/quote]

And second…

[quote]And God Who provides seed for the sower and bread for eating will also provide and multiply your resources for sowing and increase the fruits of your righteousness which manifests itself in active goodness, kindness, and charity. (2 Corinthians 9:10)[/quote]

Let me ask you a few questions.

Are you a sower?

Do you regularly and freely give of your finances and time to assist others, or are all your givings tied up in the first tenth? Notice 2 Corinthians 9:10 says GOD WILL MULTIPLY YOUR RESOURCES FOR SOWING, but that only applies if you’re already one who freely and joyfully gives. Let me qualify this by saying that in this season of my life I’m not able to give nearly as much as I would like, but the amount is hardly what’s on God’s mind. He looks at the condition of heart. Many times I will ask the Lord to provide a giving opportunity, and He does!

Are you an eater?

ALL of us are eaters. We all need provision for food, clothing, housing, etc. Sometimes we eat our seed thinking it’ll satisfy us, but that is the best way to stay financially strapped. Would you eat a few grains of wheat to satisfy your hunger? Absolutely not! Not only would you still be hungry, but you’d lose your chance to plant the wheat which would yield many more seeds and stalks of wheat and ultimately bread!

Life application here… When you find a few straggling dollars in your wallet, move them away from the spending area to a safe place for storing until a sowing opportunity arises.

What’s seed? What’s bread?

The Scripture says that God provides the seed. Should you have a certain amount of money and the offering plate is coming, consider the following to determine if you should give or keep your money. How much do you need to cover that nagging bill? Is what you have in your wallet enough? If the answer is “no”, then you have  a seed. If the answer is “yes”, you have the bread (provision). Keep the bread to pay the bill. The Lord often provides a little seed to accompany the bread. Be faithful to sow it.

In short, seed won’t meet the need, but bread will. Paul CLEARLY states in this same chapter that every man should give as HE PURPOSES IN HIS HEART! Not as the church or social expectations dictate! Giving according to what someone demands, requires, or expects will NOT reap a blessed harvest in and of itself. You must still give it willingly and cheerfully. If you find yourself not wanting to give, it’s best to hold on to that money until God gives you a heart change or a release to do so. There have been many times I was in service and the Lord laid out plainly for me to give NOTHING, or I’d left my wallet at home so that I couldn’t. Not every church is good ground. There have been other times when I needed to give sacrificially and He changed my heart to do so.

Another life application… God wants us to use common sense. Don’t get suckered into giving all of anything to any preacher. The workman is worthy of his wages, but not ALL of yours!

How can I get some bread?

Sometimes the seed isn’t money at all. Perhaps it’s your time or clothes you’ve held on to for years. But when God requests that you give, it will open the doors and windows for provision. Consider that a seed must first be planted to grow. Once it grows it becomes a full stalk of wheat, then the wheat must be harvested, beaten, and milled to produce flour. Once the flour is made, you can mix it with yeast and other ingredients to make the bread. All of these processes take time. So it’s best to sow as often as the Spirit leads so that provision comes in regularly. Having said that, God can and will turn that thing around quickly! He’s done it for me, so I know He’ll do it for you. Just remember we must sow the seed to eat the bread!

 

In the past few months, the Lord has taken care of us. I can’t explain how it’s happened, but He’ll send people to help me here and there or money will show up at just the right time. And all of this happens in tandem with crazy attacks from the enemy. Every time I think I’m sinking, God comes through! I don’t want to stay in this place by any means, but financial hardship is one of the ways God develops character. Notice in that saaame Scripture Paul says that God will provide and multiply your resources for sowing AND increase your fruits of righteousness.

When it gets down to it, this money thing is all about your relationship with Christ. Just like singleness, marriage, education, raising a family, etc. It all begins and ends in Him.

As a final encouragement, I’d like to share with you a message from Bishop Nate Holcomb that has GREATLY impacted my understanding of how to use my faith to trust God in these circumstances. If you’re still hungry for truth and understanding, THIS video is for you!

Thanks for reading my post! Here’s what want you to do next …

  • If this article has blessed you in any way, please Re-tweet and Share on Facebook. 
  • Share your comments below.
  • Check out my book Late Nights on the Straight & Narrow via the link.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Image courtesy of  rogiro via Compfight

 

Being Single, Being Smart, Fine Oil Initiative, Uncategorized

More God in 2013: Five Ways to Make Room for Him

“New year, new rules, new regulations!” that’s what my Grandfather used to say. Every year to his children. So I’ve been told.

I’ve made a list of the things I’d like to accomplish this year, and I noticed one thing. Everything I’m lacking going into 2013 can be resolved if I make more room for the Lord in my life. Think about it. The areas where we struggle most are the areas that we’ve submitted the least to God. What’s more is that it’s NOT His will for us to continue to struggle. But He is limited because we do not grant Him access.

Here’s are five simple ways you can be more successful in achieving your goals whether you start tomorrow, or the next day, or the next day.

  1. Dedicate the first three days of every month or one day a week to fasting. Limit your diet during this time, and focus on feeding your spirit through reading and meditating on the Word. Spend at least 5 minutes in prayer a few times throughout the day. Also turn off social media, television, radio, email, and your phone to the most feasible extent. Your goal is to hear from the Lord during this time. Let Him share what’s on HIS heart.
  2. Take communion daily with family during dinner. Or weekly. You don’t have to wait until the fifth Sunday at church. Matza bread and grape juice are sold on the Kosher aisle of your local grocery store, but you already have bread and water in your kitchen. Communion should be a solemn and worshipful experience. Before coming to the table to partake examine yourself. As you partake of the bread and wine, meditate on how Christ’s death paid the price for every single one of your needs for peace, provision, and health. (Disclaimer: If you’re willingly living in sin, don’t do this. 1 Corinthians 11 tells us why.)
  3. Memorize a new Scripture every week. While you’re memorizing be sure to meditate as well (Joshua 1:8). Choose something relevant to your life experience and make a conscious effort to share it with others in a casual way. Placing sticky notes around the house will help with this. You can also use a dry erase marker to write keywords on your bathroom mirrors.
  4. Give financially OUTSIDE of your church. We tend to give so much of our money to the church we have nothing left for alms. Follow your convictions regarding tithing and such, but purpose in your heart to be a blessing to people you pass who are in need. Help someone pay for their groceries when you’re standing in line. When you’ve come back from Costco, call up someone you know is struggling and offer them some food. God will provide for YOU! It is our duty as a church to provide for the poor.
  5. Master the art of silent prayer. I know many are against the idea of contemplative prayer, but we can’t all shout and say “Lord God” after every three words. I don’t know about you but I face challenges every ten minutes on the eights. Learn to commune with the Lord in your spirit. As believers we should be able to quiet our minds enough to hear from God even in crazy situations. But practice makes perfect.

I know your Facebook friends are telling you that you can lose weight if only you had more discipline, or you can manage your money better if you tithe, but start here. Let the Lord guide your path. Make room for Him and everything else will fall into place.

Selah.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Photo credit: Creative Commons License Christian Holmér via Compfight

Being Saved, Being Smart, Uncategorized

4 Ways to Align Your Vision with Your Purpose

Take a journey in your mind back to the first time you saw a rainbow. Maybe it was in the sky after the devil beat his wife. Or maybe it was on an oil slick under your dad’s car. Or maybe at your grandmother’s house when light pierced through a prism in the room and showed its true colors on the wall. Whatever the context, whatever the experience… we’ve all seen a rainbow.

By the time we made it fifth grade, we we served a half-crafted explanation of what caused those colors to emerge from white light, and then again in high school science, and possibly again college depending on your major. How’d we remember it again? Ahhh yes… ROYGBIV– the visible spectrum.

Here’s what your teacher didn’t tell you. The visible spectrum comprises only 0.0035% of all light. That’s 99.9965% of what we know to be light is UNSEEABLE to your eyes! Three (known) classifications of light reside below the visible and three more above visible. In addition we observe light in different ways. We hear radio waves, see visible, and feel infrared as heat.

Rainbow in my handLaurence & Annie via Compfight

Too much science? Ok… I’ll get to the point. Better yet I’ll ask a (non)rhetorical question.

If I can’t see it, that means it doesn’t exist… right?

We tend to look at our life situations in the natural (visible) and perceive them to be reality, and therefore truth. I don’t think we’re even aware of other “lights” that may reveal solutions to our problems, answers to our dilemmas, and guidance for our uncertainties. So consider for a moment the challenge you’re facing– you aren’t seeing everything. In fact, what you see is most likely NOT even a factor in the grand scheme of things. Do you realize how negligible 0.00035% is?!

Take this flower, for instance. In visible light this flower is solid yellow, but through a UV filter we see the flower as more of a target– or BULLS EYE! This is what the hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees see when buzzing about their business. They have one mission in life– to pollinate.

And so their vision is perfectly aligned with their purpose. Is yours?

uv flower

Photo credit: kds315 on Flickr

No? Mine isn’t either. We have Adam to thank for that. Because of our sin nature we have to fill ourselves with the Word just to use our faith enough to pray on a matter. And if we’re using that faith effectively, then we’re praying what we cannot SEE (Hebrews 11:1) but certainly exists!

Proverbs 25:2 say “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the glory of kings is to search out a thing.” Your purpose may be hidden, but it’s time to start seeking. Your purpose may be revealed, but if your vision is limited or clouded (as a British colleague would say), “Get the muck out of your eyes!”

Here are three simple ways to continually align your vision with your purpose.

  1. Acknowledge your limitations. You don’t know everything. Everything you see/feel/think/have an opinion on CAN’T possibly be right. Ask the Lord to show you the blind spots. Instead of becoming defensive when the Word challenges you, yield to it and allow the Lord to change your heart and mind.
  2. Take some time away from social media, and maybe even people. Our world is noisy. You can’t hear from God completely when your mind is occupied with everything BUT Him. Sometimes, maybe even once a month (week), turn off the TV, cell phone, and social media. Just hear from Him. Read your Word, pray, and rest. HE WILL SPEAK! And you will be better positioned to recognize His voice. He may even show you more through dreams and visions. YES! THEY ARE FOR TODAY! You just have to open yourself to receive from Him.
  3. Read a different version of the Bible. I’m partial to Amplified version, but I found that when I’m tired or overly occupied I can’t digest Scripture as well as I’d like. So I got a bright idea… check out The Message. And I did!! I do feel some meat is missing, but if you’re already familiar with the particular Scripture it’s nice to read it in a conversational tone. The Message Bible has GREATLY added to my understanding on those particular chapters in Romans when Paul has my eyes crossing. My little You Version app is highlighted to pieces. 🙂
  4. Sanctify your senses. Light can be measured in a MYRIAD of ways! Scientists have known this for years, but we’ve failed to apply it in a spiritual sense. Hebrews 5:14 says “But solid food is for full-grown men, for those whose senses and mental faculties are trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law.” Through fasting, prayer, reading the Word, and yielding to the Spirit, you can discern through ALL of your senses!

When our vision is aligned with our God-given purpose, we can see and hit the target He’s set for us.

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana