Fine Oil Initiative

Lower Than Parallel

Posted by on Aug 9, 2013 in Being Smart, Fine Oil Initiative, Uncategorized | 0 comments

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!

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.

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

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

Posted by on Dec 31, 2012 in Being Single, Being Smart, Fine Oil Initiative, Uncategorized | 1 comment

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

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“Mis”-Takes We Make: An Excerpt from Late Nights on the Straight & Narrow

Posted by on Dec 6, 2012 in Being Saved, Being Single, Dating & Relationships, Fine Oil Initiative | 1 comment

“Mis”-Takes We Make: An Excerpt from Late Nights on the Straight & Narrow

I wanted to share another excerpt from my e-book Late Nights on the Straight & Narrow. This short piece below describes some of the dating “mis”-takes Christians make because of our tendency to be naive.
So he or she wasn’t automatically disqualified. GREAT!!! But if you’re wise, you’ll guard yourself against making some of the same “mis”-takes you’ve made in the past.

  1. “Mis”-taking spiritual gifts and natural gifts or callings for maturity. I have made this error more than any other. We must take our time to discern if a person is operating a spiritual gift out of intimacy with the Lord or simply talent and ability. What’s slightly more confounding is that the presence of God will come in through a soiled preacher because the Word itself has power. Just because the message is good, doesn’t mean the messenger is. If you’re very spiritual but weak emotionally, the enemy will continually set this trap for you.
  2. Failure to notice his or her fixed availability. I was in an ongoing email conversation with a fella for a few days, but I failed to acknowledge that he only emailed me really early in the morning or really late at night. This is a sign that a person is involved and attempting to make you a side piece without your knowing. If you’re put on a schedule, then you’ve been “mis”-taken for someone silly and unintelligent. Most single folks will openly tell you that they’re single. If someone skirts around the issue, beware!
  3. Believing that he or she really is a “private” person. What kind of person would keep your fine, smart self a secret? None other than one who plays the field and hopes to God that you dare not write “Hey boo!” on his or her Facebook wall. There’s a gaping chasm between being hush-hush and being discreet. You really can’t confuse the two. If you feel like a dirty, little secret, you probably are.
  4. Being too available. Set apart some time to talk to your potential, but don’t open your schedule completely to the person. Even when you do chat, measure out your time. End the conversation when it becomes dry, a more pressing need arises, or an hour is approaching…. whichever comes first.
  5. Waiting too long to pray “Thy will be done.” We want so badly to hope that whoever is present is the one because waiting becomes tiresome. But as soon as we’re hooked into conversations about the future, soul ties begin to form and it becomes harder to break away. Before going too far, ask the Lord to remove him or her if their intentions towards you are ungodly. I call this a “right-mind” prayer, and it has saved me LOTS of heartache.
  6. We’re carried away by whims. Or Biblically speaking, drawn away by our own lusts…. Be deliberate about the choices you make. If you decide to go on the date, make sure it serves a purpose other than relieving boredom. It’s far too easy to get swept away by emotion, but make every choice as if the Lord will have you answer for it. Just remember that nobody’s perfect… not even you!

 

This is just a small portion of what the Lord gave me to write. If you’ve read all the dating advice and books, but you’re still left wanting, Late Nights on the Straight and Narrow is for YOU! I’m brutally honest about my own faults, yet I speak to those deep heart issues that manifest themselves in our poor choices. You are not alone in this quest. Let God’s love speak to you from this text.

To purchase a copy of my e-book, simply make a donation of $5 or more via the PayPal option on the right column. I’ll email you a copy ASAP.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

 

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“Oops! Oh My!” What to Do with Failure

Posted by on Nov 30, 2012 in Being Saved, Being Smart, Dating & Relationships, Fine Oil Initiative, Uncategorized | 3 comments

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

 

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I’m Not One to Brag, But…

Posted by on Oct 4, 2012 in Being Saved, Fine Oil Initiative, Uncategorized | 2 comments

I’m Not One to Brag, But…

I’ve just come out of what was a very trying and dark season in my life, not because of my own personal choices per se, but because sometimes we have to walk through the valley with the Lord. He takes us to the depths to experience the fullness of Him then brings us out with new giftings. That’s what this year has been for me. A super long sauntering stroll through the valley of shadow of death… Some things I can’t wait to forget!

Funny thing about God, not passing is not an option as long as you continue to move forward. Even what others perceive to be failure (Peter denying Christ) causes us to experience grace when we feel least deserving. The only way to fail is to give up. And how many times did I just wanna lay down and die in the valley? Sweet merciful Father…

But on August 31st the tides turned. I was FINALLY offered a job (though I’m not sure why feet were dragged). That night I went to bed spiritually tired and inquiring of the Lord about what needed to be done next.

That night I dreamed of a gift box. I knew in the box there were 100 different gifts for me inside. I reached in to pull out the first present– a silver apple. I had NO clue what this meant, but I knew that the next day I was to drive to Falls Church, open a bank account, and look for an apartment.

Sure enough the name of the credit union was none other than… What? No Guesses? APPLE!

Not only did I open an account, I was able to get the funds I needed to make the move with NO interest, but my car was also refinanced and monthly payment lowered by $155! I walked OUT of the bank with my debit card in hand and ready to make the move.

That’s just the beginning of the blessings!

As I searched for apartments I realized the places I found online were subpar. I whispered a prayer to the Lord and made two turns (without navigation you understand) and found the rental office to a reasonably priced, homey, apartment complex. My children’s school is within one third of a mile from our home, and they have OUTSTANDING TEACHERS!

Later that week as I searched for movers, I came to a screeching halt to the tune of $1200. I snotted, cried, and prayed. Found a fella who quoted me $800. He sent his two finest young gentleman movers who favored me so much, they didn’t even charge me for the full trip. I paid $600 to move my things from Richmond to Northern Virginia. The next day two of my close girlfriends showed up to help me move the last of my things. Everywhere I turned there was a blessing down to one of them driving the ten-foot truck because I couldn’t! Listen… I know I’m not anointed for driving big vehicles, so I thank God for them!

After I moved, the position that was originally offered to me changed to the position I really wanted. Do you not understand that I stood in the courtyard and shouted after I hung up the phone? B&B did a little shout with me before even asking why I was so thrilled. God is faithful!

Everyone talks about how expensive it is to live up here. The rent is high, BUT what I paid for child care monthly in Richmond, I’m paying for the entire school year in NOVA. A full tank of gas lasts me two weeks, and I can easily fill up where it’s cheap when I take the kids to their dad. Food here is better quality, and surprisingly, much cheaper.

I have NO classes to teach so my work day ends around 2pm, but I stay longer by choice. The kids beg me not to pick them up because they’re having fun with their friends, so I go home and relax… I mean exercise… before cooking dinner, checking homework, ironing clothes, making lunches, the list goes on…

He gave me my life back!!!

Yes, I know I’m bragging. But not on me! ON HIM!!! If I had one thing to shout from a mountain top it would not be that I love Him but that “HE LOVES ME!!” And if He loves me, in all my faults and nastiness, then surely He loves you in yours. Don’t get me wrong… I stand in need of many things, but I trust Him so much more this year than I did last year. Did I mention how good it feels to be free from the limitations and expectations of other people?

I’m not one to brag, but this time I just couldn’t keep it to myself. If you’re willing to walk through the dark places with the Lord, endure hardship, and carry His burdens, the blessings He gives will far outweigh any suffering you’ve endured. Don’t believe me? Then read my posts starting six months ago…

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for you future!

 

Alana

 

 

 

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I Moved for Love

Posted by on Sep 29, 2012 in Being Saved, Being Single, Fine Oil Initiative, Uncategorized | 2 comments

I Moved for Love

Many proposed that I was being foolish and running from my problems.

Others thought I was being overly ambitious.

A few thought I was pregnant and hiding it.

The truth is that I moved for love.

I started packing in June and for two and a half months my children and I lived on the bare minimum while our nicer things remained in boxes. I had no money some days, and so I sold a few of my belongings to make ends meet. I did this all for love.

I quit my job before I had another. I submitted my 60-day notice before I had a new home. What kind of man would ask a woman to leave what she has to join him in another place with no certainty, no promise, no guarantees? Only trust. I did it anyway for love.

I drove to an interview and was certain the job was mine. Two weeks later– two weeks too late– they offered me a job, but not the one I wanted. He told me to come anyway. He needed to have me there. So I took the job for love.

Twelve hundred dollars was the cost for moving my things. If you don’t give me this money, then I can’t come. Someone came along and charged me six hundred. I paid them for love.

For weeks I was bound by fear wondering if He were telling me the truth. Was He being honest, or manipulative? Could I trust Him? If I moved my life… my children… my belongings… my career… my ministry… would He support me? Or would He leave me? Would He stay to mock me? I fought my fears for love.

I don’t know how many times I’ve said that I would never move for love, but here I am in a new city, my kids in a new school, working the job that I’ve wanted for years (they changed their minds), with plenty of time in the evening to do whatever I choose to do. I choose to spend that time loving Him.

And to be perfectly honest, I did run from some things. Even the animal kingdom knows that when a river dries up, it’s time to move.

And maybe I was being a little ambitious. I hate to be bored.

And, yes, I am pregnant, but not with a baby. With purpose.

And I did the thing I swore I’d never do…. I moved for love for One who is not a man that He should lie, nor a little boy that He should change His mind. He promised it, and He performed it. He spoke it, and He’s making it good.

 

Photo credit: Creative Commons License Atilla Kefeli via Compfight

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