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

 

Being Saved, Being Smart, Dating & Relationships, Fine Oil Initiative, Uncategorized

In school I was a beast… neeeever failed a test. Really I never earned a grade below a B. I’d do my little nerd duties, i.e., pay attention in class, take good notes, tutor my friends, study if I didn’t know it, but for the most part high school was a breeze. I never had to conquer academic failure.

Until I took the driving test… Listen. This is the first time I’m telling this story. And I’m not talking about the actual “driving” test. I’m talking about the multiple choice test you take that cuts you off after you get 3 or so questions wrong. Yeah, I failed it. My little cocky behind read through the book a few times but didn’t learn a THANG! My heart was so heavy that I didn’t test again for another year. I was ashamed. Embarrassed. Humiliated at my little secret. Please don’t tease me. That question about which way to turn the wheels when you’re parked on a hill is confusing. You probably got it wrong too.

That silly, little failure held me down for quite some time. But since high school graduation, I’ve had to grapple with real life struggles and their corresponding failures. While I was busy learning stoichiometry and projectile motion in science classes, I wasn’t learning the velocity (speed and direction) at which I should run when those freaky college football players approached. And while I analyzed poetry and prose for imagery, tone, and literary devices, I wasn’t learning how to communicate my thoughts with respect and kindness for others. And while I sat in my advanced math classes, I wasn’t learning how to manage my money.

Honestly I’d forgotten about the driving test scenario but forgetting and recovering are two totally different things. I discovered a few months back that some of my fellow nerds had the same challenge… *does shouting dance for not being the only book nerd without a learner’s permit at 15* What a joy to find I am not alone!

Wouldn’t it be grand to have life, REAL life, measured on the same scale as those silly objective tests we had in school? No? For me, absolutely. Because, here I am, divorced. Single mom of two. Trying haaard to live for Christ. With a new job. In a new place. Just had a car accident. Money tighter than ever. Looking for a church fam. Praying for new friends.

I. Am. Failing.

I laid on my face a few mornings ago and cried out to God specifically about my struggles. Then I got up to wash my face, and He spoke. (Oh, I love how He lets you get the frustration out, but I’ve learned He woke speak on the matter until we’re settled in our faith to BELIEVE Him. I had to quiet my emotions so I could hear.)

If you can learn to endure failure, you will pass the test.

This was after a gentle reminder about Peter– the brother we judge so harshly for denying Christ. Yet I’m not so sure I could stand in a test like that. But somehow after Peter screwed up he got himself together and was promoted while everyone else remained a disciple (Mark 16:7).

It’s not easy to always do the right thing. Sometimes the right thing isn’t cut and dry. Other times we walk into trouble eyes wide open. But after the fact, what we thought we’d try or might have been okay has left it’s sinful, burdening residue on us. And we feel like trash. Peter had to have felt like premium garbage when the cock crowed. But he didn’t join Judas on the tree…

So I’m learning, not so much the answers to the test, but strategies to pass it. I’ll test a concept here and there, and should I fail, I keep going. Because life doesn’t end after the paycheck runs out. And the week you put on an extra pound, you don’t become unattractive. And should you slide down that slippery slope of sexual desire, God doesn’t change His mind on whether He’ll give you a mate.

I’d like to hear from my readers.
Was there a time or situation in which you kept failing, but eventually came out on top?
Or maybe there’s something you’re struggling with now, but you’ve found a few ways to avoid failure.
How do you overcome after suffering the consequences of a bad choice?

 

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

 

Being Saved, Being Smart, Uncategorized

I get so annoyed with the “blessed and highly favored” response church folks use to answer to a simple “How are you?” It comes loaded with a sense of self-righteousness, entitlement, snobbery, and a good dose of deceitfulness. Ma’am, just because you’re wearing a suit and hat from the Churchgirl Boutique does not mean you’re favored by God. Same thing goes for you, Mr. Pointy-toe Shoe Wearer. It’s foolish to brag on something that we can’t provide for ourselves. I haven’t always had God’s favor in my life, but I noticed a change two years ago, and again in the last six months. favor has really begun to overtake me.

How do I  know? My prayers are answered almost immediately. Then when I’m out and about, people bless me with things that I specifically ask God for— not with a bunch of stuff they don’t want, but with their time, their help, resources. They don’t know why they’re giving it, but they turn around, look at me, and pass it right on. And I can do nothing but praise Him in that moment!

Here’s I’ve learned about favor through my process of having none to really enjoying its perks.

Favor is a natural response to our obedience to God and His Word.

For many years things were going wrong for me. I seldom received blessings but always prayed for them, so I prayed and asked the Lord to show me why I wasn’t being blessed. Not too long thereafter I drove past a very nice car with a young woman inside. Her license plate read “Obdnt1”. OBEDIENT ONE!!! You’d think I would have been more aware of my heart’s condition, but I had really forgotten about the man I was sleeping with against God’s commands. How deceitful our hearts can be! Jesus said “If you love me, keep my commandments.” The fact of the matter is sin is ugly to God and when we partake in it, we become ugly spiritually and soulishly. Whether we’d like to admit it or not, people respond negatively to this ugliness, and our lives cannot be blessed when our hearts are far away from God.

When you start to favor God just as a child favors his parent, people will favor you.

One of the coolest things about watching a child grow is seeing how their personality and features change over time. Children start to FAVOR one parent and as a result draw the attractions of those who favored that parent. When Little Leroy starts looking like Big Leroy, momma loves on him all the more along with daddy and granny and Big Leroy’s cousins. As I walked through a grocery store one day, the Lord spoke to me softly and said “The reason you have favor on your life is because you favor Me.” In other words, because I’ve started to favor Him, i.e., act like Him and think like Him, His grace and beauty is ON me. People are ALWAYS attracted to God’s beauty whether they know it or not. That’s why I can stand in line behind someone and they pass me a stack of coupons or pay for my entire cart of party food or give me extras without my asking. When you carry the presence of the Lord, or’s become and’s. People are drawn to God ON you and show favor…. even when they don’t want to!

Favor causes the blessings of the Lord to overtake you.

I received a prophetic word in 2010 saying that blessings would trickle in at first, but over time would rush out and overtake me. I’m beginning to see the overtaking. Not only have I moved and been assigned a job that I love, I’ve also been asked to contribute to an international project, co-author a science skills book, edit a text by a friend, and continued in several other projects. These opportunities are blessings and there are so many (I still want more) that I’m overwhelmed by the impact of them!   God’s Word says Deuteronomy 28:2 “all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God.” All which blessings? Read the rest of Deuteronomy 28 to find out!

The scripture says that Jesus grew in wisdom and stature AND in favor with God and man, and He did so by hearing and obeying the voice of the Father. If we want to be overtaken with God’s blessings– and you should want this– then do the simple things you already know to do. Read your Bible. Pray. Open your heart and mind to receive from Him. Accept the fact that the way you may be doing things is wrong and allow Him to change you from the inside out.

Love God for who He is, and not for the benefits that He gives, and favor will cover and lead your life.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Side note: Just thinking of the many ways we use the word favor… Party favors and wedding favors are given as a “something to remember us by.” When you enter a room does your presence cause those around you to experience or recall what they know of God? You are (or should be) Heaven’s party favor!!! LOL!

Being Smart, Family, Uncategorized

Are You KIDDING Me? I HATE Third Grade Homework

What do you mean you need help rounding to thousands? We spent an hour rounding to hundreds yesterday. You forgot what? Try it for ten minutes. Eight minutes to go. Four minutes more. Ok… I’m cooking dinner. WHY ARE YOU CRYING OVER A WORKSHEET?! Remember what we did yesterday? Look at the number to the right… if it’s five or higher, you round up? Oh?! You got it now. Ok. Do it.

Five minutes later I glance over his shoulder confident that he’s completed the worksheet correctly. I mean he DID tell me he knew how to do it. He cut me off in the process of reminding him. Surely… But what do I find but various numbers rounded to whichever place value he so chose? Some folk would call this creativity. I call it annoying.

I understand a child’s need to be a free thinker. I get that little boys want to take the easy way out instead of doing things right the first time. My kid is sharp as a tack and perfectly capable, but this worksheet took us an hour. *inserts expletive*

Brandon knew he was wrong because any time I made a sudden movement he would jump. He knew he wasn’t doing his best. He knew those crocodile tears weren’t going to work on me, but felt the need to try his hand at manipulation anyway. So I sent him to find a Bible while I gathered paper and pencil. I picked a chapter, and he started copying.

Here’s why.

  • I needed to find the root of the problem. At lower grade levels kids aren’t doing anything so hard it’s impossible to understand, so work ethic is probably the issue. Does your child tend to his chores half-assedly? You’ll have to tackle this problem on all sides. Give them a task and make them finish it to completion. No side-steps, cheats, or help. Excellence is the goal!
  • He needed to be spiritually settled. After a long day, kids are tired and out of sorts. I had Brandon copy a few verses out of the Bible to settle him. IT WORKED! He came back to the task focused and ready to do his best. Their spirits need to be fed just like ours.
  • I needed to change my schedule. Up until this year homework time has been a breeze. Fortunately, I get off work at 2:30ish and I can pick up the kids, bring them home, and spend my time working with them. Before I’d let them go to after-care and play until they were content. We don’t have that luxury until a certain someone starts rounding and subtracting properly, so until he gets it right, mommy’s time is his time.
  • I needed to stick it out with him. Yes, it’s HIS education, but he is a child and doesn’t know what’s good for him all the time. I don’t sit beside him the entire time or make myself completely available, but I’m close by. I may be in another room folding clothes or stirring a pot, but every so often I happen to walk past him to make sure he’s on task with a good attitude. If he asks for help,he will wait a minute or two before he gets it. I’m teaching him to stick to the task, but not abandoning him in the process. (As a teacher, I straight up abandon older kids. By 16, you really don’t need me every minute.)
So we’ve implemented a new daily plan. I’ll let the kids play at after-care until 4:30ish and bring them home. They know to get their snack and to grab a Bible and pick up where they left off. The younger child is simply copying one verse 5 times. The older child is copying 5-6 verses a day from a chapter until the chapter is complete. They’re spirits are being fed, and can I just testify that last night, the rounding worksheet took him 15 minutes and only THAT long because he was a little messy. But he got everything right the first time around!!
Attitude change made all the difference.
So I kinda misspoke earlier… what really happened was that I told Brandon to copy Philippians 4:13 ten times, but in his usual way, he “misheard” me and just started at verse one. I let him continue. So yesterday when he finally got to verse 13, he looked up at me. I KNOW WHY YOU MADE ME DO THIS! Yes, Brandon. Now you know. Keep copying.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13

 

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your kid’s educational future and your sanity,

Alana

Photo comment: For those concerned about B&B’s vision per the featured photo, they were trying on glasses for fun. No worries… yet.

 

 

Being Saved, Being Smart, Uncategorized

Disenfranchised 2012

I’ve never been particularly gifted in political sciences and the studies of government, but I can certainly say that Mrs. Ford from Prince George High School did a darn good job making sure I walked away with enough sense to hold my own in simple political discussions.

For example, separation of church and state… PEOPLE GET THIS WRONG ALLLLL THE TIME! The founders of our nation agreed that no church or religious body should control the government. Does this mean that we should not vote according to God’s principles? No! Does this mean the church has no say so? Absolutely not! Does this mean I should stop blogging with my radical Christian values in an effort not to tick you off? Not even close!

I remember a chart in my textbook. It depicted flags of various democratic-ish nations around the world and showed that MOST countries, particularly those in Europe, have multiple political parties. I wondered if those people had a stronger sense of belonging to their nation than those of us who are locked into bipartisanship. I wondered if more people voted in those countries. I wondered if they had a greater sense of pride in what their nation had become over time. Did the young voters in those nations feel marginalized and powerless? Or were there votes heard loud and clear? Who represented them?

I was only 18 when I had these questions. I never sought them out, but I never forgot them either. I voted for the first time that year. Bush Baby vs. Gore… I voted the way my mother told me to vote even though I disagreed strongly with her. I had to repent. Last election, again, I had to repent. These things are never easy.

And here I am, twelve years later, having the same thoughts, the same questions, wondering what the heck to do. Many believers are sitting on the sidelines undecided. Others still have made their choice and argued it down to the ground with nary a consideration of what God would have for us. This hurts my heart.

Let’s look at our options.

On one hand we have this charming, charismatic incredible leader. He’s gifted in many ways, but his policies are far from Biblically-based. He promises to take care of the poor, but with the opposing party in its place with their financial means, I don’t think Mr. President has that much power to make many changes at all. Not to mention he has ties to the leaders of the faith that is most well-known for having rigid, religious government structures. Isn’t that anti-separation-church-and-state? This man is not Moses. He is not our deliverer. I am proud of him, and I love him. I swoon when I see him, but I cannot vote for him.

On the other hand we have a character who is so far out of touch with reality, I can’t imagine how he plans to implement any of his policies. Though this party has SOME Biblical principles in place, others do not demonstrate the heart or love of God. Not to mention, this man is NOT a Christian. I’m not saying I feel a Christian should always be in office (I do think it’s nice), but surely whatever religious convictions, ties, controls he has will affect our nation for good or bad. Again, if you want to see separation of church and state go, put an extremely religious person in office and watch them fill their cabinet with like-minded, surly advisors. We will all be screwed.

I can’t help but think that we’re trapped. I’m reminded of the times when Christ was on earth and the Pharisees and Saducees controlled the government. These two parties had something of a common goal but starkly opposing views. They forced people to abandon their own convictions for the sake of choosing a side for THE PARTY’S benefit. Jesus called them “a brood of vipers.” Are these two parties in our nation not operating the same way? How dare you claim rights to me because of my color? How dare you assume that I’ll owe you my vote with your Christian-ish principles? I am thankful for those who died for my right to vote, but their lives do not supersede the death, life, and resurrection of my Savior. Should the two conflict, I choose Christ.

I have come to five conclusions regarding election 2012.

  • Neither person has the ability to really change the quality of life for Americans. It’s a good thing God is my source.
  • With either person in office, there will be stronger religious influences from faiths opposing Christianity, and thus our Constitution, in place. So unless we activate our voting rights WITH our faith leading our choices, we will lose the very thing  we’re trying to protect. Say goodbye to the Bill of Rights, folks.
  • There is no lesser of two evils, and there is no scapegoat. The first person who comments on this post will be written into my ballot should I choose to go to the polls.
  • Roseanne Barr needs to have a seat. But I thank her for the hearty laugh. You are truly a gifted comedienne.
  • I don’t want to have to repent for choosing the wrong candidate, and since they’re both wrong for me…

I am a Black American Christian female, and I am disenfranchised in 2012. What’s next, America?

 

Photo credit: Creative Commons License Todd Benson via Compfight

Being Single, Being Smart, Dating & Relationships, Uncategorized

The Right Way to Go Dutch

Last week some time I watched a video where the speaker proposed that women should insist to pay for their own food the first date to test a man’s character. Ultimately, the man’s ego should kick in and he should pay. The speaker then said that if a woman really wanted to make a man want her, she should pay for the first 2 to 3 dates to say “You have to earn the right to pay for my food.”

Interesting, no? While I get his point and subscribe to the general theme of inquiring into a fella’s character, I feel like the tactic suggested is a little too game-y for my personality. Some of you more liberated women might feel comfortable doing this, but I’ll need to find out about his character in other ways. Plus I’m not going back and forth with anybody… Ain’t my cup of tea.

Am I saying I’m unwilling to pay for a date? ABSOLUTELY NOT! But under MY terms. I’m a  little more old school than most women my age. I date for the purposes of finding a potential mate, not so much for fun, but it does have to be fun if I am to continue. And if a fella can’t afford to date me, then he can’t afford to provide for me in marriage. Somebody just called me a gold digger, but it’s the same woman who entertains free-loading men, so ma’am, your opinion doesn’t count here.

So back to going Dutch… let’s look at how this thing could actually work…. or not.

 

“I pay for my order. You pay for yours.”

Between platonic friends, going Dutch is appropriate. But if there’s romantic interest involved, the gentleman pays UNLESS the woman has asked him out (which is another blog in and of itself). If a man wants to spend time with a quality lady then forking over some cash is not too much to ask. He should plan a date within his means (use Groupon & LivingSocial to up the quality) should she agree to go out with him. Why do I think this should happen? Well for one, a man’s money is close to his heart. If he won’t spend money on the her, then he values himself more than the time she’s shared with him. For the fellas– if you plan a date within your means (with her desires in mind, of course) and she is disagreeable, then she’s not a match for you or she’s there for the wrong reason.

This day in age when women are so liberated and men are so— ummm— like women, it might be a good idea to clear the air before you go out. Throw in a little jokey joke… “Oh, I love their grilled Mahi dish? Do I need to bring my own $15.99, or nah?” Fellas, if you believe a woman should pay for herself, then be bad enough to tell her before you go out. Don’t wait until the check arrives.

Might I also add that it doesn’t hurt, ladies, to pick up a portion of the date. After he whips out his Black card for my Mahi dish, I may offer to pay for dessert. Some guys are perfectly content for you to leave the tip. It doesn’t hurt to offer something, but don’t let your offering be misleading. I’m not a liberated woman. You, sir, must pay for my meal.

Split the bill.

The only thing I can imagine more disrespectful than a man asking me to pay for my own meal at the table is his asking me to split the bill evenly. This was on a movie, but I can’t recall the name. The woman ordered a salad, and the man ordered a Porterhouse. He demanded they split the bill 50/50 because it was only “fair”. I would have to put my sweet demeanor away if that ever happened to me. Even if my meal cost more than his, I feel something about it turns me the wrong way though I can’t put my finger on it. A friend of mine once commented that whenever she goes out, she orders according to the amount in her purse. Ladies, until we know a guy’s willing and able to “cover” us, this may be the smart thing to do.

A positive way to split the bill, however,  might involve planning in advance. I’ll pay for dinner, and you pay for the movies. You buy the groceries, and I’ll cook. Or you pay for this movie, and I’ll pay for the next one. A beautiful partnership can develop between two people when this approach is taken. It’s kinda like saying “I’m interested in spending time with you, and I’m perfectly capable and willing to share the cost to build this relationship.” I like this method for splitting the bill, but ONLY after I know a little about his character, and I actually LIKE him.

One out of four.

Ladies, if you’re continuing to see a person and things are blooming, then it’s a good idea to pay for a date every so often. You can either surprise him at the end of a meal, or ask him out after 2 or 3 successful dates. Tell him it’s your treat. Stay within your means and plan something you’ll both enjoy. If you’re a woman inclined to giving too much, then limit yourself on purpose. Mr. Ford was right. Once a fella knows you’re wrapped around his finger, you lose! Might I add, if you’re a great cook, then it might be a good time to show that off a little.

 

If you find dating burdensome financially or otherwise, then you might join me in sitting at home on Friday nights watching Netflix and tweeting til exhaustion sets in. Dating should be an expression of your freedom and maturity as an adult, not an activity that demands others to pass a test to keep moving forward. We all have our preferences, but there’s no sense in gaming and inciting a response when everything you need to know God will reveal.

Our methods for finding a match have become far too convoluted and messy. If we could just look back a few generations when love and marriages stood the test of time and find out WHY they did things a certain way, then we may be better off for it. Be transparent. Be truthful. Be respectful. Be Christlike.

What kind of love story would you want to tell your kids?  Think about that.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for you future,

 

Alana

Featured photo by Creative Commons License Dan4th Nicholas via Compfight

Being Smart, Family

How to Raise a Jerk

I know that sounds horrible, but I really don’t believe any parent sets out to raise a self-indulged, arrogant person who rubs folks the wrong way at work, church, and home . But somewhere between childhood and adulthood, things happen– or don’t happen– and children leave the nest with an overdeveloped sense of entitlement and a nasty attitude.

This jerk epidemic, ladies & gentlemen, is universal. Jerks are not limited to one race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic class. They are as common as flu virus we’ll all be avoiding in a month or two, and twice as infectious. And, I hate to admit it, but I see jerk tendencies in one of my children. While I realize that selfish behavior is common at age 8, I find that as he grows he becomes harder to handle. I won’t blame anyone for it, but I can say that this little nastiness won’t be tolerated in my home. Y’all pray for me. Pray for his rear end too.

And so this morning on my drive to work, I thought of men and women who are self-confessed jerks and connected the dots. Sometime back in the 80’s lived a child with a strong sense of self, wasn’t disciplined, didn’t learn to care for others, only sought his or her own purposes, and now walks around with 8-year old sensibilities though he or she may be 28 or 38. Ugh. If this is you, I’m sorry. But let’s grow together. Lol.

Just in case you ever DID want to raise a jerk, here’s how to do it:

  1. Tell the child “no”, but give in. I’m bad with this, and this might be why my kiddo pushes me to the limit some days.
  2. Teach them that their qualities and gifts make them better than others.  Bring balance to the conversation and help them find ways in which to grow as caring human beings.
  3. Teach them that everyone needs their help. As opposed to offering it kindly as a service, some feel they can fix others. God is not nearly as impressed with the act as He is with the manner in which we offer it.
  4. Allow them to think their rights and wants are more important than the needs of others. No parent directly teaches this (I hope), but if your child is a squeaky wheel he or she may get more oil than they really need. Teach them to hush up and submit to you and to their siblings. Then again, I have heard parents say things like “Get yours, boo boo. Don’t let nobody tell you otherwise.” Bad business…
  5. Allow them to think that they’re blessed because of their own goodness. Nawl. It’s because you work hard and love their little stinking butts. Grace is a gift! Kids are capable of understanding this. When mine need a spanking, they request grace and mercy, and too often they get it.
  6. Permit them to speak their mind without reservation. I believe in open forums with respectful tone for the most part, but I don’t want my children thinking that they can speak all of their mind to the world. My daddy made me study frowardness as a child, and it taught me early on that it’s best to just keep quiet about most things and until I’ve acquired wisdom in that area.
  7. Give your child everything he or she wants. Say no at least 2 out of 5 times or as often as you need.
  8. Allow them to display their emotions any way they choose. Even when they’re tired or there’s tension in the family, a child should still be expected to behave. Give them space to vent, then reel them back in. Being tired or sad is not an excuse for being rude and disrespectful. Deal with whichever issue is more pressing first. Sometimes sadness or anger supersedes the need for discipline, other times they’re just being manipulative.
  9. Tear them down with harsh words and unkindness. Kids who are constantly belittled seek ways to build themselves back up. You ever met a State Trooper who was bitingly sarcastic and almost cruel? I suspect this is why.
  10. Withhold love and affection. Some days they can be so needy and I can be so empty, but I take a few minutes to gather myself, then give them the hugs and kisses they need. Without it children will surely act out and become hardened to affection as they approach adulthood. Unless you want your child’s future spouse crying on your shoulder, give your kids what they need while you still can.

 

I think we’d all agree we want our kids to be confident in who they are, but still compassionate towards others. I know that I have work to do with my little ones, but I’m determined to press forward until my kiddo is the kingly young man that God has destined him to be. I know you’ll do the same for yours.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Photo credit: By imagerymajestic freedigitalimages.net

Being Single, Being Smart, Dating & Relationships, Uncategorized

Getting to Know You…via SMS: The Don’ts


Earlier today I shared six appropriate actions for getting to know someone via text. I shall not belabor the intro, so here are the corresponding DON’Ts!!

  1. Text about things like goals, dream, emotions, etc. It’s super easy to say whatever you think a person wants to hear via SMS. Master manipulators will suck you into a heart-wrenching conversation via text and leave you to your emotions. There’s far too much room for romanticism and misinterpretation. Should someone do this to you, redirect the conversation until a more appropriate time.
  2. Bombard them with multiple texts or ask them why they didn’t respond. How needy are you??!! Stop it. If you notice a negative pattern, then more the likely he or she is disinterested and/or playing games. Move on.
  3. Just stop texting. I am bad with this. If a response is dry or remotely arrogant, I tend to let the convo drop. Bad business, I know. But I’m making strides to improve. Won’t you join me? Even if they don’t deserve the courtesy of “ttyl,” I’m a quality person nontheless and so I should offer it.
  4. Respond to anything meaningful with “ok” or “lol” or “that’s what’s up” or any other dry response. Despite what you may think, a lack of interest is discernible via SMS. It’s relatively cold to draw someone into a conversation, entertain them, and then go cold. Where’s your personality? Where’s your heart? If they’re excited, at least feign excitement for the moment. If you’re not interested, just say “ttyl” and nip it in the bud later.
  5. Text recklessly. You can be yourself and show your personality without being irresponsible or downright rude. Put your mobile device away until you can demonstrate maturity.
  6. Break your plans to speak on the phone via text. Call in advance to say you’ll have to reschedule. Show some consideration for the other person’s time! Otherwise you’re making it a point to show that person their interactions with you are limited to just text messaging, and no one likes to be put in the text zone unknowingly.

Let common courtesy be your guide!!!

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

 

Photo credit: Sippanont Samchai via Compfight

Being Single, Being Smart, Dating & Relationships, Uncategorized

Getting to Know You… via SMS: Six Do’s

I’m not sure why I’m on this social media, mildly techie kick lately but I guess my single self has the time to explore the idiosyncrasies of conversation through several filters.

I loooooves me some text messaging. Talking exhausts me, but a few swypes of my mobile keyboard can get my point across quickly and easily. But with text messaging I’m able to quickly determine whether a person is even worth continued conversation. Let’s face it… I’m a nerd and appropriate (not perfect) grammar and spelling are important to me. Cuz if yhu rite like dizzzzz… I can’t. And an even more importantly, out of the abundance of heart, the finger strokes speak! A person with impure motives won’t stay in hiding for long.

So here are five do’s for those of us who use SMS to play the get-to-know-you game… The don’ts will be shared tomorrow.

Do!!!

  1. Keep the conversation simple. SMS’s are 160 characters for a reason. If you can’t fit what you need to say in that space, then another tool would be more appropriate.
  2. Allow the person time to respond. We have jobs and families and businesses. Afford the person some grace with responding, but take note if they are only available during certain hours. This may be a sign of something “else” going on.
  3. Close the conversation with “Gotta run, but have a great day” or the like. Be gracious and show that you look forward to your next mini-chat.
  4. If answering a question, ask another one in return. For a conversation to take place both parties have to be engaged. Ask questions in return to keep things flowing. Most folks won’t ask your selfish butt five questions in a row as if you’re some demigod and not expect you to show some interest as well. (Could you hear the salt in my commentary there? Yeah.
  5. Syntax is important, but not nearly as important as correct grammar and spelling.There’s no ticking-time bomb going off in your conversation, so make sure auto-correct isn’t making you seem like a complete idiot or pervert. A few misspelled words ain’t so bad, but the there/their/they’re and you’re/your struggles are unreal. Tidy up, please.
  6. Make plans for a phone conversation.  One simple phone conversation might clue you in to the person’s mannerisms and habits. How many times have you heard the familiar Walmart beep in the background and only to hear your buddy berate the cashier for making a simple mistake? Or talked for a solid forty-five minutes only for them to have to suddenly jump off the phone with half a goodbye? Or listen to them order a #10 with a large milkshake and fries and add a few apple pies with two ice cream cones for dessert? Listen! Save yourself months of minimal emotional investment by (randomly) picking up the phone.

 

While the course of getting to know someone may begin with a few SMS’s, it certainly shouldn’t remain there. Over time the depth and nature of conversation should lean more towards phone and face-to-face conversations. If, for some reason, a person is only willing to offer SMS luhv to you, chances are, he or she is emotionally involved elsewhere.

Are you a texter? What do you love about it?

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

Alana