Being Saved, Being Single, Dating & Relationships, Uncategorized

The Case for Courtship

Had to be the summer of ’93… I was eleven years old and promptly budding all over with my big ol’ glasses and bigger gapped teeth. The boys in my neighborhood were starting puberty too, so while they were finally aware that girls didn’t have cooties, they still threw rocks and vile words at us whenever we walked by. I forget her name, but she’s my cousin’s cousin, and she lived in a bright teal green house one block  south from where I lived. This house was so darn fluorescent, you’d have to look at the ground  until you made it to the porch. I’m sure by now the chemicals in that paint have turned the house into a primordial soup. Ain’t no way it’s still standing.

On one particular day– let’s call her Tia– we ran to Tia’s house because the boys were launching rocks and water balloons at us. We sat in the sweltering sunroom and chatted about the usual eleven-year old topics. Then the phone rang. Tia froze and a look of trepidation crossed her face. Tia’s granny answered the call and all I heard was “Who is this? You calling for who? What you wanna talk to her for? Tia ain’t coatin’ no boys!” And she slammed the phone.

My heart started racing. Tia… age ten… got a phone call…. from a boy. And Tia’s grandma answer the phone. Ultimate fail, Tia. Granny stormed into the sun room and went off! She kept shouting over and over…

TIA, YOU AIN’T COATIN’ NO BOYS! YA HEAR ME?! YOU AIN’T COATIN’ NO BOYS!

Granny then proceeded to beat Tia’s hein poss (that’s hind parts in Granny speak) mercilessly while Tia retorted that the phone call was for homework. Granny wasn’t buying it, and since I was in the line of fire I ran home past the rock-throwing boys and past Tia’s wails and past Granny’s shouts because, yes, I could hear them up the block. Tia won’t coatin’ no boys.

I had to be all of 26 and married with two kids before I figured out what the heck coatin’ was, and even then, I only learned that the word was courting. After several failed attempts at coatin’ and “there-has-to-be-a-better way” cathartic cries, I get it! At least I think I get what it’s supposed to be in comparison to dating. Let’s give these meager bones some flesh, shall we?

In courtship, commitment precedes intimacy. That means before you start having those deep conversations about past hurts and future hopes and dreams, a decision has been made between the two parties to only develop a relationship with each other and Christ. In this way the couple can determine the purpose and timing for the marriage as God ordained. Why so much so soon? Because you only court a person that you would marry based on what God has shown you. Ideally, God will have already given the holy head nod for you to proceed into a courtship, but two people who are equally yoked and interested in each other may choose to enter a courtship with Godly counsel. Still a courtship is only as good as the people who are in it. Having said that, the standard is high and most bottom-dwellers won’t even pretend to take this on because it immediately exposes who you are. Easy peas-y… we weeded out the bad and the unprepared just that fast.

I’ve conjured up a few comparisons to give you a better idea of the benefits of courtship…

While dating says “I don’t know where this is going because I can’t see into the future”
courtship says “Let’s build our future together.”

While dating says “You don’t own me” courtship says “I’m here to serve you.”

While dating uproots the blooming flower to keep and hold until it dies,
courtship leaves the flower planted and watches it bloom.

While dating says “Let’s be together forever for tonight,”
courtship says “Let’s pace and plan our interactions so we can make this thing last.”

While dating demands trust without test,
courtship provides a safe place for testing and allows trust to develop over time.

While dating says “I’m a gift to you” courtship says “You’re a gift to me.”

While dating invites you to a person’s genitals but keeps you away from their phone,
courtship assigns value correctly and appropriately.

 

Dating works for some, but for the vast majority of us, this reckless approach to relationship-building has rendered us broken-hearted and underwhelmed. Players, predators, and commitment-phobes dwell in the nether regions of dating, and that is no place for a child of God. There HAS to be a better way, and I believe courting is it. I don’t know many men who would ascribe to this method, but that tells me I need some new friends because I am certain that this is God’s path to marriage for me.

Deep in the recesses of my mind I have a mental image of a tall man wearing a fine Italian cut suit and a long wool coat. He’s got one of those 007 hats tipped over his left eye, and as he approaches me he whips off his coat, throws it over my head, and shouts “You’re mine, girl!” Yes, ladies and gentleman. This is how I imagined coatin’ as a kid. Listen… even THIS is better than dating for me. If you wanna toss your coat over my head just make sure it smells good, and you put some bass in your voice.

My last plea for courtship….

Imagine how much easier it would be to open up if you knew that person was only interested in and committed to you. Imagine how freeing it would be to know that the purpose of your relationship was to seek God’s plan for you as a couple rather than to “just see what happens.” Imagine what it’s like to walk a path that’s already been laid out for you with red carpet. Imagine what it’s like to part ways with someone but still have full respect for them because they treated you with the utmost Christlike love and respect.

Come throw your coat on me, Boo.  Alana is ready for coatin’.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

 

Photo credit: Audringje via Compfight

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

I can’t believe that actually worked! I know the title is TERRIBLY questionable, but I’ll reduce myself to cheap ploys to get you read this because it’s relevant and true for ALL Christian singles. The decision to marry (and whom to marry) is the second-most life impacting decision a believer will ever make. Serving Christ, of course, is first. If you don’t know Jesus then get to know Him because marrying won’t matter if you’re going to spend eternity in hellfire anyway.

Before I jump into my points, I’d like to say that I DO want to be happily married, and I believe it will happen for me soon. I refuse to become preoccupied with I’m working overtime to maintain a Godly perspective on this thing so I don’t lose my everloving mind when my mister shows up. Everything written below is based in Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 7.

Here’s why singles shouldn’t be so eager to marry.

Marriage is designed to make you holy. Happiness is a bonus.

I blame Disney for making us women think we’re was supposed to walk on rose petals and be lifted into the Heavens every day of our married lives. Good Christian men are being abused because women are demanding they comply with our girlish fantasies. Women are suffering because Christian men believe they’re rare and entitled to do as they please. If you find yourself with one of these types, RUN! They’re not prepared to serve in marriage, and you’ll do all the hard work.  Just speaking from personal experience though… take it or leave it.

Marriage is temporal, but has eternal implications. 

We spend a good portion of our adult lives seeking to validate ourselves through relationships HOPING to get married when we really should be focusing on eternal things. Colossians 3:2 says that we should keep our eyes on things above, and marriage ain’t up there. Furthermore who you choose to marry will get you closer to Heaven or keep you further away from it. You cannot join yourself to someone who does not honor Christ in their singleness and think your salvation will be easily maintained. So if you make the temporal decision to marry, make it with eternity in mind.

 

The only real purpose for marriage is because it’s in God’s will for you.

It’s not just because you want to have sex, or to have more money, or for him to take out the trash, or for her  to cook your dinner. Marriage stems out of purpose and calling, not purpose and calling out of marriage. Some of us are still single because we think we need that ONE to start a business. The only ONE you need is the Lord. I will say this regarding the need for marriage… if you have a strong desire for sex and have difficulty controlling it, I– I mean, you– might need to get married. Don’t let your loins be your guide. BE CELIBATE! But every so often look up to the Heavens and remind the Lord that He gave you those desires, so He’s gonna have to help you out in the marriage department. If you can control those passions, there’s nothing wrong with marrying, but the better life for you will be to remain single. Paul said this in 1 Corinthians 7.

Once married you are bound to the other person’s needs and desires.

But at least you get sanctified sex, right? Dr. Tony Evans says this: “Marriage is slavery with sex. Singleness is celibacy with freedom.” If your selfish behind thinks you can marry for some sex but don’t think you’ll have to die to self a few times before you even get to the bed… HMPH. Thinking that marriage will make your life better is a trap. If you choose a God-fearing person it MIGHT make your life better, but never put your faith in people. Trust God. Even the strongest Christian will disappoint you sometimes. We’re human!

Marriage adds trouble to your life. 

I swear I’m not making this up. Satan has an agenda against Christian marriages, and he will come after yours. That’s not a reason to not get married, but we must understand that troubles come with the benefits. If you don’t believe me, call up one of your married friends. Don’t ask them outright what marriage is like. Just listen to them talk. It will spill. If your friends are anything like mine, it’ll gush out, make your skin crawl, and you’ll run home to your empty bed and embrace your pillows like the blessings they really are. Might I also add that serving the Lord is about a thousand times easier than serving a person? Selah.

 

I hope that you have a more BIBLICAL perspective on this matter of (in)significance. Bottom line, folks… Marriage is incredibly important if it’s in God’s plan for you but amounts to a hill of beans if it isn’t. As long as you seek Him first, you will fulfill your purpose and you will be satisfied in your soul.

To sum up, being single in Christ has benefits over being married in Christ. Don’t spend your singleness thinking about, worrying about, talking about, tweeting about marriage. Someone interested might be watching and be scared away by your compulsion. I’d also like to add that folks who put you down because you’re single only do so because they seek validation through romantic relationships. Let one little thing go wrong in their world, and they’ll crumble like silly putty left in the hot summer sun. Marriage is not a step up spiritually. It’s a lateral move assuming you were walking with the Lord beforehand. In most cases, people fall behind spiritually when they get married because they were not rooted in Christ beforehand. Don’t let folks and their foolishness make you feel that you’re less than what God called you to be.

Welp. There’s nothing left to see here. I swept up all the mess I made with that title. As always, questions and comments are welcomed in the space below.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your  future,

 

Alana

Being Saved, Being Single, Dating & Relationships, Uncategorized

The Implications of Impure Christian Living

I can write volumes on this topic because only recently, after so many years of walking with the Lord, I can see where I lost ground in nearly every aspect of life. This, however, is not a pity post. This is a precautionary “you-might-be-living-foul-too-time-to get-it-right-or-else” post.

Let’s be clear. The enemy wants nothing more than to utterly destroy your life. For some of us, he’ll do so by catastrophic events. But most of us, he’ll dupe into a lackadaisical, que sera sera approach to kingdom living.  We’ll pat ourselves on the back for following rudiments that make us feel good, but won’t tap into the grace that God provides to make and keep us righteous.

Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?
Or who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart!
Psalm 24:3-4

 

Living an impure life amounts to more than just sexual affairs. It includes self-gratification, ungodly fantasies, emotional romances, manipulating and deceiving folks into being with you… need I go on? Anything that separates you from the presence of the Lord will  cause the following issues in your life if you don’t repent. We don’t eeem need to talk about hell fire here.

Impure living hinders or delays your opportunity to marry. 

Would you give a car to your child if they kept wrecking their bike? No? Then why should our Heavenly Father give us such a precious gift as one of His own when we we do not obey Him with our own bodies? Marriage is not “satisfaction guaranteed.” It’s an institution by which God makes us more like Him. This point stings a bit, but for every time I disobeyed, I believe I got sent to the back of the waiting line. No shame here… I’m in gooood company.

Impure living prevents you from maturing emotionally and spiritually.

The mark of a mature person is their ability to delay gratification. We walk around in our 30-something bodies acting like 5-year olds. You don’t need sex to live. You don’t need to touch yourself to relieve the pressure. Struggle. Suffer. Go without. Save your soul at the expense of your temporary body!

Many times men don’t “feel” the pain from the aftermath the way women do, but the Bible clearly speaks to the impact that it has. Proverbs 31:3 says “Do not waste your strength on women, on those who ruin kings.” Any woman that you sleep with that is not your wife has the power to RUIN you. Ask Tiger. And Kobe. And Mr. Clinton. Chances are, sir, you don’t have their money so just imagine the damage that  can be done. Sit on that for a minute. No… seriously. Meditate. On. That.

Likewise, ladies, I believe these encounters cause us to lose a little bit of our glory. After the last time I fell flat on my face I quickly repented. That night I had a dream that a dirty, old man chopped off a small length of my hair. What God was saying to me was that because I had sinned in this way I lost a little of the spiritual energy and glory that He’d given me. Can I get it back? Of course! But the cost is waayyyy too high for such an unfulfilling act.

Impure living shuts the windows of Heaven.

Tithe all you want, but God will not bless a disobedient child. His desire is not for you to have the best job, home, car, clothes, etc., at the risk of your soul. He requires obedience and rewards us with His favor, and then the blessings pour in. You can be super smart, super attractive, fashionable, and financially stable but without the blessing of the Lord, you will continue to be dissatisfied in your soul. God will withhold His blessings, and He will isolate you to get you back in line.

“It was good for me that I was afflicted so I might learn your decrees.”

Psalm 119: 71

Impure living blinds us to the enemy’s tactics.

Because I wasn’t living a holy lifestyle I married the wrong person. It was virtually impossible for me to make the right choice because I was so blinded by lust and sin. You CANNOT discern and hear the voice of the Lord when your heart is full of everything but Him. That marriage cost me years of heartache and turmoil and nearly sent me to hell. But God is gracious! He delivered me in every sense of the word. You don’t know what struggle is waiting for you on the other side of that bed. And once we’re in trouble, we run to God but the sin we were in damaged our faith. If you’re in this situation, trust Him anyhow. He can and will deliver you if you’re willing to submit to His will for your life.

Impure living creates permanent bonds to people that we have no business being connected to.

The original purpose for sex is designed to permanently connect you to another person. I won’t get into all the technical issues about the image of God and man/woman/etc. but I will say this… Having sex with someone is, in essence, marrying them. No matter what your mind says, what you agree upon, what your intentions are, you are making a promise to their body and soul to be unified until the parting of death. So how many people are you married to? Without the blood of Jesus and times of fasting and prayer we cannot be victorious in the breaking of these soul ties. I also believe we pick up each others’ internal struggles, i.e. devils. I’ve found myself grappling with things that were never a problem for me before I met and got involved with a certain person. I not only had to battle my issues but his as well and drive those devils out of my life. It’s just not worth the trouble.

My hope is that you not only take away the importance of celibacy (we get that in church allll the time), but also the importance of living a clean life all the way around. Even if we aren’t shacking up and putting it down, the pornography, masturbation, and emotional affairs still make us impure in the sight of the Lord.

It’s not how far you can go without sinning, but how far you can stay away.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for a pure and blessed future for you and me both,

 

Alana

 

Photo credit: AttributionNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by Akiko Photography

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

If you don’t know by now… seize this blog post!

In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul said “When I became a man, I put away childish things.” Instead of preaching to you what is or isn’t childish, allow me to walk you through the process of dating a 30-something woman…

Get your money together.

If you have to borrow from daddy, mommy, sissy, or Bruh Bruh, then you don’t need to take anybody anywhere. Have a seat in front of USAJobs.com and find yourself one, work a couple months, and then pursue.

Ask her out at least two days in advance.

This last minute willy nilly just won’t do. If she agrees, then ask her what she enjoys doing and eating. I’m not talking super specifics, but get some general information so you don’t take a veggie to the Brazilian steakhouse. No texting or emailing on this one, fellas. You might even want to write it down what she says.

PLAN the date.

Have you ever been in one of those “Where-do-you-want-to-eat-I-don’t-know-where-do-you-want-to-eat” conversations? Avoid the potential friction, and plan ahead. That means days BEFORE you even meet her, choose where you will eat and what you will do. If time permits, pick up a LivingSocial or Group On deal. Their couples activities are unique and have outstanding value. Unless you’re super shy, steer clear of the movies for a first date. The object is to get to know each other, and you can’t really do that in the dark… well, not in the Godly sense! Choosing a place to eat and one other activity, even if it’s just walking through a park, is appropriate.

On the day of your date, give her some basic details about your plan.

You could be Ted Bundy for all we know. To allay those fears give her a call and share some basic details . My daddy used to say “Always let someone know where you’re going, and be discreet.” If you play the wait and see game with some women, they might get up and go. Another point here… telling a woman a few details in advance will help her to prepare AND get her a little excited. She’ll be bragging to her girlfriends before you even go out. Cool points for you, Boo.

When you see me– uhhh, her– COMPLIMENT her.

DO Y’ALL EVEN KNOW WHAT WE GO THROUGH TO PREPARE FOR A DATE? Do you know how many hours we walk around with that wrap on our heads? Do you know we should be writing reports, but are taking beauty naps instead?! Do you know how many applications of powder pink lip gloss it takes to get the look juuuust right? How DARE you not compliment her appearance. I’m not saying you should gush, but come ooooon. You look niiiice. Your hair is pretty. I’m glad to see you. I’m looking forward to this evening. Pick any two of those. And pick up a flower too. If she feels a little icy at the beginning of the date, a genuine compliment will help your cause.

PAY for the date!

If she offers to leave the tip or pay for dessert, do whatever seems right to you, but the bulk of the financial burden is on you. No woman wants to marry a man that can’t afford to date her. Harsh, but oh so real… Hopefully you planned to eat a place you can afford. If not, welp… lesson learned, buddy.

Make some time for conversation.

I’m not a fan of telling life stories or asking a million questions, but choose three things to share about yourself and three things you want to know about her. Don’t checklist them, but have them in the back of your mind and slide them joints right into the regular conversation. Refrain from the following… Why are you still single? Do you think you’ll ever get married? Do you make your kids’ dad pay child support? And don’t you dare talk about yourself the whole evening.

Conclude the evening.

Be a gentleman from beginning to end. Walk her to her car or the door of her home. Thank her for the evening FACE-TO-FACE… not via text after she’s out of your presence. If a hug is appropriate, then share one. If you’ve known each other for months and you want a smackeroo, then kiss her hand, and gauge from there.

 

Your goal is to make sure she leaves your presence feeling valued and appreciated, and if you did that, then more than likely she’ll want to see you again.

Few sidebars… Don’t skip this info here!

  • If you’re looking for sexual entertainment, then leave the good women alone. There are plenty of hoodbo— others– that will gladly do your bidding. Some of us are trying to live holy, and we don’t need your drama. God WILL discipline those who abuse His children and manipulating a woman to sleep with you is abuse!
  • It’s best to keep your hands to yourself. The Bible warns that if you touch a woman, you ignite passion in her. You don’t want to start a fire in a woman you don’t really know, now do you? I know you some of you are nodding yes, but there are real life Jazmine Sullivan’s out there. Get to know her before you ease your hand on the small of her back. (1 Corinthians 7:1)
  • Lastly, make sure you look and smell good. At the very least, wear a polo and some nice jeans. A crisp white Oxford and some nice cologne will work many miracles for men of all statures.

Well, fellas… the rest is up to you. Feel free to let me know if I struck a nerve. I’m certain my inbox will be flooded with “I don’t agree with that part” to which I will reply “Well do you, Boo Boo.” You have been sufficiently warned.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for better dating experiences for me and my girlfriends,

 

Alana

 

 

Family, Uncategorized

Let me begin by saying Happy Mothers’ Day to all the women who love and nurture their own children, the women who love and nurture others’ children, and to the men who do it all alone. (If you fall into that final category, shoot me an email with a photo of your family, a copy of your divorce papers, the status of your children’s mother’s mental stability, and a 500-word essay describing your walk with the Lord. Thanks.)

You know by now that I have two not-so-little beauties. Brandon has just turned 9. He’s got big brown eyes, loooooooooong legs, and a strong disdain for homework. His pituitary is kicking off. Y’all pray for me. Briana is 7. She has all the confidence in the world, dances and solves math problems with the best of them, cute as a button… She still cuddles with me in the mornings, but demands breakfast after two minutes of giggling.

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When I watch them I can see what I didn’t learn as a kid, but God being as gracious as He is, restores what was broken and replaces what was missing. Here’s how B&B’s love has transformed me.

They keep me laughing. Sometimes I just laugh at their laughing and other times they put on a show. Most of the time it’s in simple conversation. Phrases like “eggs are cracking inside mommy’s tummy so she needs lady diapers” will do it every time. Laughter does good like a medicine…

 

They make sure I look good when we leave the house. If I don’t hear “Oooh, mommy, you look pretty” then I know I need to tighten up somewhere. Brandon is a bit of a matchmaker, and he WILL let me know if I’m slacking. He’s like a son and  father and step-daddy seeker rolled into one.

IMAG0677

 

 

Their ever-increasing bellies have made my budgeting and meal-prepping skills superb. If I couldn’t make a meal stretch before, I surely can do it now. I’ve learned that if all they care to eat for lunch is PB&J or salads, then so it shall be. You want a third snack after eating 3 lamb chops, veggies, cous cous, AND naan bread?! No problem… let me whip out this gargantuan bag of popcorn and a few berries. Eat, my growing child. Eat.

 

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They won’t go to bed until they’ve kissed me goodnight. Even if I’ve just set the fire of God upon their hindparts, my kids will NOT go to bed until they’ve kissed me goodnight. Briana has a pattern… right cheek, left cheek, forehead, chin, nose, lips, hug. If any of those things go out of order or if the hug isn’t tight enough, we start again! What they don’t know is that I go into their rooms while they’re sleeping and sneak kisses. The other night I found Brandon sleeping with a sucker in his mouth…. Boys!

 

I suppose I’m looking forward to this day. B&B aren’t quite big enough to cook unsupervised, so alas, duty calls. Plus it’s next to impossible to concentrate with the sounds of Good Luck Charlie, noodle slurping, and Storm Trooper helmet noises in my ears.

Enjoy your special day, ladies!

 

With love, sincerity, and blessings for you and your children,

 

Alana

 

P.S. I think I speak for many of us when I say miss me with the mass text messages and MMS’s. Thanks.

Being Single, Dating & Relationships, Uncategorized

9 Reasons to Decline a Date

Women can get into soooo much trouble over one little teeny, tiny dinner and movie date followed by a few weeks of texting and scattered phone calls. We just can’t help it. Our romantic desires go into overdrive whenever someone might be “right.” We try so hard to secure a future with the current suitor and never consider that the initial offer might not be worth accepting.

Now that I’m in my right mind and TOTALLY unattached, I can’t make sense of why I said yes to some when I should’ve said nothing and ran for the hills. More often than not, I’ve said no because of me rather than the other person. I’ve realized that some of what is going on inside of me is reason enough to tell an unsuspecting, well-meaning suitor that a date, at this point in time, is not the best idea.

Here are nine instances when you should just say “no”:

 

#9 – You’re feeling lonely, bored, and/or hormonal.

Call up your girlfriends when you need some companionship and entertainment, but dating under these conditions will only render you needy and, therefore, prone to emotional abuse. It’s perfectly acceptable (and preferable) to sit your butt at home by yourself from time to time. Loneliness won’t kill you. It does go away, and eventually you’ll learn to value the time you have to yourself.

#8  – You know he’s feeling lonely.

If he only calls at the last minute, you MUST decline. A gentleman who is genuinely interested will make plans in advance because he looks forward to seeing you. Those last minute calls often seem romantic because of their spontaneity, but experience has taught me (and probably you too), that what seemed to be spontaneity really was an afterthought. You don’t have to entertain lonely menfolk. It’s not in your job description as a woman.

 #7 –  He doesn’t match your non-negotiables.

Being open-minded has its merits, but some qualities are requisite for a healthy relationship. If he doesn’t believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God and is God and became flesh that he might die for the remission of our sins, then don’t date him, girl. You can’t afford to make that kind of a compromise. I have a few other non-negotiables, but I can’t tell everything on this here blog.

#6 – He’s involved or has recently become uninvolved.

We ALL know that one guy who texts and calls when his relationship gets a little rocky. NOT responding is the best way to address this issue. Even if he DOES break up with his boo to get with you, his integrity is lacking. His heart is unavailable, so no need trifling with things that bite and burn in the end.

#5 – He previously friend-zoned you.

If he’s ever applied zoning regulations to your interactions and you chose to remain as his friend, then let those regulations stand. Be fahn as you wanna be. Let him look, but don’t you dare let him touch. Men who go back and forth between friend and boo are looking for a toy, not someone to share their hearts with.

#4 – His recent track record with women is pure trash.

It’s ok to ask around about someone, but ask the Holy Spirit first. If you’ve noticed his last few interactions with women have been unsavory, no sense in becoming another notch in his belt. Let that joker do his jig elsewhere.

40+290 NotchCreative Commons License bark via Compfight

#3 – He reminds you of an ex.

  • As you carry on conversations with folks, listen for trends. If you’re hearing the same types of negative things over and over again, you might want to take some time away from dating to readjust your standards. If you’re attracting the same type of mess repeatedly, then it’s
  • in you and needs to come out before you can enjoy a successful relationship. Once you’ve made the change inside, you’ll find better quality people attracted to you.

#2 – You’re suffering heartache in other areas of your life.

I’ve watched my parents divorce, been abandoned by one, watched another make a crazy decision, etc., etc., etc., and all of those things have impacted my perceptions and feelings on relationships. Until you come out of the hurt involved with life’s troubles, it’s best to not become seriously involved with another person without God’s direction. Many of these trials are formative and the person you are going into them may be very different from the person you will become when you’re delivered. Financial difficulties also put a strain on us emotionally. The enemy will any sort of stress to cause you to feel anxious. Once you;re anxious, you’ll begin to feel lonely. Once you’re lonely, you’ll compromise for companionship.

#1 – He works with you.

Don’t mess in your nest. Certain areas of your life should be drama free as much as you have control over it. If you must date him, then be discreet and keep yourself in check at work.

 

Bottom line is this… if he is SO fine that you can’t decline respectably and reel your emotions in, then he has been sent from the devil himself. (That’s not to say he IS the devil. He might be, so no sense in testing that theory.) God is not the author of confusion, and He will not bring you a companion until you’ve reached a level of maturity and trust in Him. 

I have declined a handful of dates, not only because my sabbatical has yet to end, but also because I am more cognizant of the issues that linger in me and discerning of those in others. I’ve turned down some of the smartest, finest, wealthiest menfolk for one or many of the reasons above. I will continue to do so until I’m at a place where I KNOW that I want no man or relationship more than I want my God.

No sense in wasting your time, energy or emotions… if a person’s not right for you, keep the door closed. Let God’s peace keep you.

 

This list is by no means exhaustive.
What will keep you from even going out on date #1? 

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

 

Photo credit:  Michelle Brea via Compfight

Being Saved, Being Smart, Uncategorized

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Selah.

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

CLEAN ME OUT, JESUS!

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

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

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

*twiddles thumbs*

*twists locks of hair*

*plucks eyebrows*

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

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

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

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Photo credit: Mary Harrsch via Compfight

Being Saved, Being Smart, Uncategorized

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

Short story time!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another short story!

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

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

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

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

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

 

 

Being Saved, Being Smart, Uncategorized

Before You Pay Another Bill, Do THIS!

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

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

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

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

Ayyyeeee, I won’t complain!

 

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

 

Alana

 

Corey Holms via Compfight

Being Saved, Being Smart, Family, Uncategorized

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

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

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

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

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

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

And second…

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

Let me ask you a few questions.

Are you a sower?

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

Are you an eater?

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

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

What’s seed? What’s bread?

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

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

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

How can I get some bread?

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Image courtesy of  rogiro via Compfight