Being Saved, The Best Of CTheLily, Uncategorized

A Holy Visitation: I Promised Never to Tell It

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

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

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

 

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

So to Cardiff I went praying all the while.

And home I returned praying all the while.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

Alana

 

Photo credit: John “Jay” Glenn via Compfight

 

Being Saved, The Best Of CTheLily, Uncategorized

The Art of Forgiveness: But Do I Have To?

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I know you’re still mad…

Last week that chick at work said something slick, and you have yet to pay her back. And there’s the guy who never called you back like he promised. Then that family member whose name makes your stomach twist and turn into knots. And the kid from kindergarten who put gum in your hair… Ugh!

Your head throbs, stomach churns, and blood pressure climbs to the sky all because of someone else…

Or could you be the problem?

Everyday we are presented with the choice to forgive or to not forgive. But I’m going to tell you exactly what you don’t want to hear.

You MUST forgive! You MUST forgive! You MUST forgive!

It’s simply not an option. Here’s why…

 

Refusing to forgive means you are judging the person’s heart.

It’s often easy to classify an action as right or wrong, but we seldom know why a person made that bad decision. To withhold forgiveness means you are judging the intent of their heart. Only God is qualified to judge the heart. He gives us clues as to what’s going on inside of others, but He doesn’t share His throne.

 When we judge others by refusing to forgive, we open ourselves to receive judgment.

We’ve all heard and quoted the scripture “Judge not, lest you be judged.” Simple scenario… I know someone who was very judgmental of me when I struggled with my “flesh”. They often made comments regarding my poor choices and discouraged me even though I was trying to do right. That person has recently found themselves battling the same issues. Unless you want to find yourself in that same tight spot, forgive and withhold your criticism of someone else’s wrongdoing. Encourage folks to do right with love or hold your peace. Truth be told, some saints need to just shut up until they can speak the truth in love.

Having unforgiveness in your heart is like drinking poison and hoping it will kill  the other person.

Forgive the cliché, but it’s so appropriate.  When you replay scenarios in your head, you’re literally dumping toxins (i.e. stress hormones) into your system. No wonder we end up with headaches, stomach problems, allergies, and food intolerances.

Your sins won’t be forgiven.

Perhaps if we made a list of our wrongs, then we won’t be so hasty in choosing not to forgive others.

Forgiving and forgetting are mutually exclusive. 

Just because we forgive doesn’t mean we forget. It would be foolish to continually forget if someone abuses the relationship they have with you. You, sir and ma’am, are not a doormat. Don’t forget what happened, per se, but DO forget the emotions associated with it. I can, now, share with people the reason my marriage ended free from pain or emotion. I know the story well. It is my testimony. But when I tell it, I don’t cry, feel shame or embarrassment, or get angry. It really is JUST a story.

So, do you have to forgive? Indeed, you do. It’s God’s way of setting you free from the wrong that was done to you and the person who did it. Without forgiveness, your soul is tied to them and the situation. And who in their right mind wants to be all entangled with someone who’s hurt them? (I did qualify that by saying “in their right mind.” Not all of us have that…)
So, yes, you have to… but no worries. I have ONE simple step to forgiving, but you’ll have to wait until next time.

So who still makes your stomach turn? And who makes your blood boil?
Time to make some mental notes, so we can move forward.

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,
Alana
Photo credit: LicenseCopyright All rights reserved by Nora Chin

 

 

Being Single, Dating & Relationships, The Best Of CTheLily, Uncategorized

Dying, He Saved Me

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I don’t think it’s strange that the anniversary of my first blog post is on Good Friday, the day they crucified Your son. I was so discouraged this time last year and needed an outlet. For some reason Good Friday has always been full of sorrow and grief in my personal life. But, Lord, to write this… to tell THIS story almost seems You’re asking too much.

 

I don’t understand it, but I will obey. Because when I consider where I was two years ago today and four years ago today, I can’t help but thank You for keeping me.

 

Four years ago April 6, I made the choice to end my marriage. I knew things weren’t right. I wasn’t even emotional about it because I’d done so much crying before. Divorce was the only option because I didn’t want hate him. Even now, I know I made the right choice, but the journey from that place to where I am now has been…

 

Indescribable… but I will obey.

 

Two years ago, another promised that he loved me. I didn’t believe him. He was one of those guys that just played games. He wanted to do right, but his arrogance and jacked up experiences with women wouldn’t let him. Yet he pressed and pushed his way into my soul. And because I was lonely, I let him.

 

I remember going to church and hoping that the pastor would preach something profound and powerful enough to keep me from dating this guy again. We’d been at it before. I didn’t want to go back down that path, but I was still entangled. And that damned loneliness…

 

His tall and statuesque frame intrigued me. Straight lust… might as well call it what it is. His face… ehhh. Not particularly my type of guy, but all the other ladies loved him. So surely I should be glad he wanted me. By the world’s standards he was a good man, but something just wasn’t right for me.

 

Lord, I didn’t know my worth. I couldn’t comprehend that Your love for me exceeded what he could ever offer. He made me feel good. I can understand how David felt with Bathsheba. I think all of us have chosen someone or something over You at some point. The fact that I had grown so much, yet I still turned my back on You frightens me. I could mess up again… but I trust Your grace to cover me.

 

That night… he didn’t call. We’d made plans. He asked me to move with him. I’d said no, but he insisted that I must love him. He insisted that he loved me. I could’ve made it work with him. I certainly wouldn’t have had any concern for money. Do you remember my prayer that morning? I asked if he were the one for me. And if not, then show me.

 

You told me to get dressed. And I did. I got in the car and drove. You led me to drive and…

 

There it was.

 

His bright blue, tricked-out Chevy Malibu. At a hotel. I couldn’t have missed it if I tried.

 

I had a choice. To take the Jasmine Sullivan route, or to be patient and wait for answers. Either way it would be crazy. But I knew I had to stay. Because this would be the LAST time he’d force his way into my life. He needed to see that I was done. I prayed that whatever woman he was with had already left because I couldn’t handle a two against one battle. I was already weak.

 

So I called… cleverly left a message that I was headed to the gym which was conveniently located right next to the hotel where he’d lodged. And like roaches scatter in the light, he came scurrying out.

 

He saw my frustration. Saw my pain. Dropped his head. He refused to respond to my questions. Instead of listening to those raging voices in my head, I drove away.

 

I died that day. I was crucified by my own choices. My soul was cast down. I could not hope in You because I had turned my back on You.

 

And, Lord, I couldn’t hear You, feel You, discern You. My faith took a fatal blow and my spirit man had been all but torn asunder. Satan’s minion had taken his sharpest sword and nearly sliced my soul in two. His demons tormented me and consulted me to plunge from my bedroom window to the ground below.

 

I searched for You. You were there, but I couldn’t find you.

 

And, therein lies the problem with sin. I didn’t consider that when I got up from the bed of sin that Your presence had departed from my life. It didn’t occur to me that my faith had been so damaged that I wouldn’t be able to approach Your throne.

 

I watched the window for a good 20 minutes, even looked down. Lord, it must’ve been you that said “It won’t do the job.” I’d just end up with a broken bone or two… definitely not comparable to the death I felt inside. So I got back in the car and drove…

 

It was Sunday and usually I wouldn’t miss church, but the night before I had been tormented. Even more so now…

 

I was consumed with grief, self-hate, anger. You led me there, and Your people consoled me. They loved me and dried my tears. Oh, God! I remember how so many ran to my rescue. Some said it would be ok…I knew that wasn’t true. Lord, I knew that if I didn’t get this right in my life, I’d be condemned to hell here on earth and in the afterlife. Yet, I was thankful for their kindness and consolation.

 

I made it back home in pieces and rested. I did not eat for days. I read my Bible and listened to one song over and over. My soul, God, was thirsty for You. I could only fight to regain my peace in hopes that my faith would be restored. I needed to be in Your presence.

 

Your Word came. It was heavy and hard to receive. It discouraged me emotionally, but my spirit cleaved to it. Anyone who knows You understands that a rebuke from the Lord is like a feast compared to never hearing Your word at all. Just the fact that You spoke… I thank You.

 

How unsightly I must have been… to have known You and chosen something lesser that only intended to destroy me.

I’m sorry. 

To have given myself to someone so undeserving. He didn’t even know You.

I’m sorry.

To presume that he could offer me a portion of what Your presence provides.

I’m sorry.

 

But looking back, Lord. I understand now that the rebuke you sent gave me a choice. The scripture says that You will not put on us more than we can bear. But I had put this on myself, and it was certainly more than I could carry. You gave me a choice, at that point, to face my brokenness and transform my own suffering into Your suffering. One would work a brighter future for me, while the other would render me helpless and hopeless.

 

…For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.

 

I chose Your suffering. Because if I suffer with You, I’ll reign with You. That’s Your promise, and You’ve never lied.

 

And, so today, Good Friday, April 6, 2012, I can confidently say that I stood against each of his three advances since that time. I can say that I’m no longer on life support, but I’m living and loving. I can say that 2011 was the last year that April 6 would destroy me because I’ve discovered Your resurrection power. No longer am I entangled or even enticed by these lusts… My heart belongs to You.

 

I cannot imagine surviving this life without You. So many, Lord, are heart-broken and tormented daily. They cannot hear Your voice. And, it is my prayer that as I share my shame, someone who identifies with my pain will turn to You because You are surely there with them. Some have stories much worse than my own, and some feel there is no forgiveness for what they’ve done. I pray that they would come to know the truth!

 

With great joy and victory, I thank You! No longer am I heartbroken, sad, or lonely. You’ve filled my heart with promises, and my faith and peace in You grow everyday. I ask, Lord, that You do the same for my brothers and sisters, and for those who don’t yet know You.

 

Let this story, as unpleasant as it may be, bring glory to Your name because You are faithful…. You saved me. Thank You!

 

In Jesus’ name,

 

Amen

 

Being Single, Dating & Relationships, The Best Of CTheLily, Uncategorized

How to Shamelessly Catch a Guy at the Gym
After about three months of working out regularly, I’ve taken a few notes on things women do to get a man’s attention. Some of them, as ridiculous as they are, actually work! So, ladies, if you’re looking for a special, health-conscious fella to play with this spring and summer, this is how you MIGHT catch his attention. If all else fails, at least you’ll get a good laugh at yourself.
Individually the steps aren’t so bad, but put them together, and you’re sure to make a fool of yourself…
  1. Wear the tightest, brightest workout clothes possible. To draw attention to your body of course! Whichever parts are more flattering, that’s where you put the color. So, yep, bright pink right across your super booty… that ought to grab some attention as soon as you walk in the door.
  2. Put on perfume… lots of it… in those key spots. If you’re really working out, you’re going to get a little sweaty, but nothing covers that briny scent like a double dose of Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue. Believe me… he’ll notice.
  3. Lipgloss and messy bun are a must! Ok… I do this, but for good reason. I don’t go anywhere without lipgloss anyway, and the bun keeps the hair out of my face. But a messy bun will send the message that you’re there to workout, not show off. So you look “focused” but still hot. Plus you’ll need the bun when you get to step 6. Hold your horses… we’ll get there.
  4. Find a treadmill with a tv. I will explain later…. Just do it!
  5. Get on the treadmill and program the incline to the “climb the sky” setting and walk! (There’s no way you’ll get me to run on a treadmill… Have you seen the videos when people fall off? Not cute!) If you’re really working it, hold on to the top of the machine. It makes your waist look super slim… And every so often make sure you add a little jiggle or sway to your hips. You may not be able to look behind you, but I guarantee someone’s watching.
  6. Turn to ESPN and shout strategically at the tv. This is the killer move that is ONLY for women who are serious about snatching up a dude. One of my BFF’s in college discovered that a guy she liked became more interested when he thought she liked sports. She’d watch SportsCenter before visiting him, and then once she was at his house, she’d watch it again with him and scream at the bad calls along with the commentators. Yeah, he bought it. I’m not saying go this far… but if you’ve managed to land on SportsCenter or some game, then pick a side (i.e. choose a color) and yell at the tv. It’s amazing what a strategically-placed grunt can do for piquing a man’s interest.
  7. Every few minutes take down your bun and shake your hair loose. Then quickly twist it back up. Men love hair… especially if it’s real! But whatever you’re working with, shake it out a little. Then, seamlessly twist it back up into your messy bun and keep going. Something about wet, messy hair… (But beware of the sensible woman that may be next to you. She may get tired of your shameless ploys for attention and snatch you and your messy bun off the treadmill.)
  8. When you’re finished your workout, slowly bend over and streeeeeeeeeeeetch. This move is only for the advanced and serious mate-seekers. If a man stops and speaks to you after watching you bend over, ignore him. He’s no good… But yeah, you did get some attention. That’s what you wanted, right?
  9. When you’re finished, take a slow, deep sip of water and let out a big sigh when you’re finished. I actually did this one day when someone kept staring at me. I was trying to ignore him, but the water went the wrong way. I ended up choking on the water and coughing it up onto my white t-shirt. He started talking to me, and of course, I couldn’t talk back. All I could do was cover my wet, white t-shirt and get out fast.
  10. When all else fails, go get on the leg machine that works the inner and outer thighs. Do you really need to ask why?
So, ladies, you see… all you need is a little shameless behavior mixed with your womanly wiles, and you too can make a fool of yourself at the gym. Honestly, any man who is attracted by this behavior will easily be swayed when a more shameless sister comes along. So be careful of the attention you seek.
I’m seriously coming out of this kraziness, and I’m a little bit tickled when I see other women indulge in it. Here’s to hoping for their sanity as well as my own…
Your cybersister,

Alana

P.S. After writing this, I observed the MOST shameless thing I’ve ever seen a woman do! One of the female trainers was working with a gentlemen on a weight machine. I overheard them chatting about tattoos, when she turned around, pulled up the back of her t-shirt, and revealed her *ahem* TRAMP STAMP. She proceeds to ask the man if he can read it, and bends over so he can get a better look. Poor guy… silly lady.

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Being Saved, Family, The Best Of CTheLily, Uncategorized

The DoorMat People
So in yesterday’s post I didn’t really tell you THAT much about myself, but I’m not sure if today’s the right time. I mean, really… it’s only the second date. How much do you need to know? I’d much rather let you inside my krazy thoughts than to give you facts and let you stereotype me accurately. But for interest’s sake, you should know that I come across as unexciting and snobby, when inside my head I’m really having a party. If you could peek into my brain, my thoughts would probably make you blush or tick you off… thus, I try to remain quiet. But now that I’m blogging, BEWARE!

I was going to write this deep, philosophical narrative about the moments of uncertainty in our lives, but that will wait for a day when I have much more time to think. Instead, I’m going to tell a story… a nutty story… a story that will make NO sense to at least 70% of my readers… so 7 out of all of you 10 that actually cared enough to click the Facebook link won’t get it. Read it anyway! You may be able to help someone else… 🙂

Three years ago almost to the date, I was extremely worn out from full-time grad school, full-time teaching, extra responsibilities at work, full-time mommying of a two and three-year old, and full-time failing at taking care of myself. My husband at the time was away on business, and I was beyond exhausted. I let my tiredness slip into anger, and before long I was in a full-fledged fit of rage.

I was ticked at everybody. The kids were being… well, kids. I was mad at their dad for being wherever he was for a month. I was just mad! The dang laundry wouldn’t fold itself. I had been let down by friends and family, and the only thing I could think to do was to get away from everyone and everything. Spring Break was just a few days away so I booked a trip to Atlanta. (I had a ball while I was there, but that’s not the point.)

Through my continuous fussing, crying and pouting, I packed my bags and made arrangements for the little ones to stay with their grandmother. 

I started to blame God (silly woman that I am) for my feeling like a doormat. I felt totally unloved and unappreciated because of disappointment and hurt. People just kept letting me down, and the most recent wound made the last one hurt all the more. I blamed myself… I just couldn’t do anything right.

Now don’t get me wrong. I was to blame. I had made poor decisions on how people shared in my life. Too many were too close and demanded too much but provided nothing good for me. But they were wrong as well. There’s no doubt about that.

In a weak attempt to release my anger, I fired my cell phone across the bedroom. An “unmentionable” person had let me down for the last time. That same day I loaded up the little people to find to the closest Sprint store.  What if that “unmentionable” person decided to call me back? I should be available, right? (Put your judgmental finger away… you’ve got some “unmentionables” too.)

The entire 15 minutes of the drive I cried. I sobbed and snotted… snotted and sobbed… until a sweet, tiny, squeaky voice behind me asked “Mommy, why are you crying?”

That threw me deeper into frustration. I wanted to reply “I don’t know why I’m crying!” like the women on the postpartum depression commercials do, but that would’ve been ridiculous.

“Mommy’s tired.”

Yep. That was the truth. I was beyond tired. You’ve been tired too, or maybe you haven’t experienced deep-seated disappointment on top of exhaustion and anger. Perhaps you’ve been the cause of it. If any of us think hard enough, we will find ourselves having played both roles.

So I get to stoplight on Staples Mill near the 7-11… I forget the name of the road there, but I’ll never forget that moment. To my left side I noticed a big white van. On the van was printed an ad that said “Doormat People. You can walk on us.”

My first thought… “I should get a job there. That’s something I actually can do!” My second thought was to my Maker: “Et tu, Brute?”

My third thought was a boisterous laugh, and it came out me so fast and so hard that it shattered the disappointment that I felt moments before. Was God going to walk all over me too? Of course not! But He was teaching me that if I tolerated foolishness, He would tolerate it for me. How could He deliver me out of something that I welcomed and permitted for myself?

What people fail to realize about God is that even though He is sovereign, He isn’t pushy. So in His infinite wisdom, He whipped my backside for blaming Him for my faults and for allowing others to abuse my kindness by arranging a few moments in time where He seemed to step His all-powerful, holy foot across my pitiful face. Then, I was able to ask Him for help, repent for foolishness, and laugh at myself…

Shortly after the giggling began I heard, “Mommy, why are you laughing now?”

Since that day, I’ve searched several times for the Doormat People… once just now. I can’t find them!  Maybe they went out of business because they let their customers get away with not paying their bills? I don’t know… I just can’t find them!

Creepy, right?

Just the same, I’ll hold on to the lesson. If we lay ourselves down at the mercy of those who have no interest in our well-being, we will always lose. No one can save you from yourself, but you… with help from the Maker of course, but the decision is still yours. Even though friends and family love us, the best will most likely dance around the ugliness of your face under other people’s feet, and the worst will exploit it.

Lesson learned.

And as soon as I find out what happened to the Doormat People, I’ll be one day closer to sanity. Until then I’m still coming out of krazy…

Signed,

Alana

 

Photo by Gregg O’Connell
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