Being Single, Being Smart, Fine Oil Initiative, Uncategorized

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

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

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

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

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

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

Selah.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Photo credit: Creative Commons License Christian Holmér via Compfight

Being Saved, Uncategorized

Warring Against Depression

Fine as you wanna be, dressed to the nines, hair and make-up perfect– inside, empty and aching.

Before you read this please understand that I am not writing this post from a medical, psychological or sociological perspective. Those are not my fields of expertise, or even interests. I’m writing purely from a spiritual and experiential position.

Whatever the cause of depression… hormonal imbalance, grief, loneliness, trauma, life stresses, sin… it eats at the soul and takes up residence in our bodies manifesting itself in sickness and disease. Some of us lie in bed all day sobbing and weeping. Others feel so empty within we can’t even force tears. A few will act out and do everything humanly possible to prove to the world that everything is ok. But can I just say that Jesus is a healer?!

Forty-stripes he bore on his back for our sin and physical ailments. The crown of thorns they placed on his head for mental illnesses, one of which being depression. You don’t have to stay in that place.

I don’t mind telling the gory details of my 5-ish bouts of depression since age 13, but I’d rather tell you how I war against it. Yes, continually… I fight this thing like B&B fight Face Raiders on their Nintendo 3DS’s.

Spiritually speaking, depression is a result of hopelessness.

It’s crazy how one can have faith in God today but lack hope for tomorrow. When we lose sight of or begin to doubt God’s promises for us, we sink into ourselves thinking that life has nothing better to offer. But the Father assures us in Jeremiah 29:11 that He has good thoughts towards us and has a wonderful end in mind. What’s more is that He doesn’t lie and He doesn’t change His mind (Numbers 23:19). God is able and willing to do everything He promised in your life. Let hope in Christ ANCHOR your soul so the waves of depression don’t cause you to drift away (Hebrews 6:19).

When you reach the end of your world, go up!

In Psalm 61, David calls to the Lord from the end of the earth. We often think our life is over when something traumatic happen, but David realized that when He was at the end of Himself He needed to tap into another source. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I! In other words “Lord, I’m a low place and at the end of myself. My life might even be over. But Lord, You are a Rock. You are solid. You are strong. You are unmovable. You are higher than me! Lead me into Your presence!”

Work hard on resting!

Depression is nothing short of spiritual warfare. Whenever you’re battling, be sure to get plenty of sleep. Medical studies show… well you already know that. Turn on worshipful music and soak in God’s presence. Commune with Him in your spirit. Sleep. Dream. Wake up. Repeat. Work hard to make time to get in God’s presence and rest. You will win more ground reclining with your pillow and Bible than you will trying to fix the problems yourself (Hebrews 11:4). Pay close attention to your dreams during this time. Often the Lord will reveal the cause of depression and show you how to become free.

Pray a simple prayer.

Of course it’s equally important to read the Word, but it’s hard to really receive the Word when one is in such emotional turmoil. Read something simple and easy to contain. When it comes to prayer, it’s best to whisper a simple “Lord, I trust You.” This might have been the only prayer I prayed regarding my divorce for at least a year. I didn’t have enough faith or understanding in the matter to pray God’s will, so I just said those words. If you just don’t know what to do, just tell the Lord you trust Him. Job said “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” You may not understand the “slaying” but it will be for your good.

Make the trade.

God has a special place in His heart for those who experience deep emotion, but depression and sadness aren’t what He has in mind. Isaiah 61:3 offers a promises for those who mourn. He will give beauty in place of ashes (loss, death, grief), oil of joy for mourning, and a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Even now I can see some of you shouting and dancing! His plan is to establish us as trees of righteousness for HIS Glory. People will stop and notice the difference in you. Beauty, joy, and praise sound pretty good to me right about now. My pastor always says, “If you need joy, leap for it!”

I would be remissed to say these are the ONLY ways to deal with depression. By all means, if you are overwhelmed, cutting, abusing yourself or others, suicidal (been there too), or homicidal, SEEK HELP! Counseling and medication are tools that God gives us to cope, but they will NOT replace the need for Him in our lives. I would also strongly advise seeking a deliverance ministry that can assist in getting you free from any generational curses and demonic strongholds. We try to humanize the issue, but the fact of the matter is that there’s a devil out there who wants you dead, or at the very least, alive and miserable. Let’s put him back in his place!

Finally, I just wanna say… oh wow, how do I say this… that one scripture– He doesn’t give us more than we can bear– that’s not for our trials. That scripture pertains to temptation. Yes, God will allow Satan to kill off your family, destroy your property, give you leprosy, while keeping your big-mouthed spouse in perfect health to nag you. Ask Job. And, yes, God will allow your disobedient behind to be swallowed by a whale and the kelp to wrap around your head while billows wash over you. Ask Jonah. He’ll even allow your sweet, innocent 20-something self to be thrown into a fire for the musings of the wicked. Ask the three Hebrew boys. So there’s that. Trials and tribulations can certainly be too much for us, but His strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corithians 2:9).

Then there’s the Scripture about His yoke being easy and His burden being light– I don’t know what to do with that yet. Y’all pray for me.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your FREEDOM!!

 

Alana

Photo credit: Creative Commons License Snake3yes via Compfight

 

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

Being Single, Dating & Relationships, Uncategorized

The Swoon Factor: My Most Memorable Kiss

I love random SMS conversations. But today, this one took me by surprise…

Flex: Could you be with someone that you didn’t enjoy kissing? 

Me: Absolutely not! 

Flex: Just making sure I wasn’t crazy.
Me: But I would try a few times to see if it gets better.
Flex: Yeah, I would.  But if I CONSISTENTLY don’t like it…nah lol.
Me: Totally agree… 
Flex: So you wanna kiss me or nah? 
Me: X______X (I didn’t actually text this, but my eyes did cross.)
Flex: I kid I kid lol

That short (hilarious) exchange did two things for me. First, it sent me into a fit of laughter thinking about my friend being poorly kissed by a well-meaning, passionate, but unskilled woman. Can’t you see her closing her eyes, leaning in, tilting her head, and seductively pouting only to smoosh his nose in and chomp down on his lips? Second, it made me think about a few kisses I’ve had over the years. As we all know, 2012 has been relatively dry in the kissing department, so I had to dig deep to really reflect on the matter. (The things I do for you people… psssh…)

Some of ye olde kisses were awkwardly pleasant. Others were forceful and unenjoyable. Some I have to dig deep to even remember though at the time I was having a swoon-fest. But one kiss really stands out in my mind for all the right reasons.

Oh, how I wish I could describe the mechanics of this kiss, but Lord knows you super churchy folk would get all  up tight at the mention of kisses that don’t land on foreheads or cheeks. And this kiss was smack dab on the lips. There was suction. There was swooning. There were no consequential actions that led us into sin or regret. The kiss simply communicated “I care about you. I understand you. I value you as a person. Thank you for being you.”

Outside of the fullness of the fella’s lips– *dodges rebukes*– I can pinpoint three factors that contributed to the swoon factor.

  1. We were incredible friends, and I just didn’t expect it.
  2. He was respectful enough to ask but charming enough to not make it sound like he was asking.
  3. His kiss wasn’t a demonstration of other activities he might have wanted to do with me.

Immediately following this seven-second smooch, I turned my back towards him, crumpled to my knees, and fell flat on my face— in my mind, of course. In real life, I zombie-walked away in complete and utter shock. Once I was alone I smirked and giggled like a fool.

Many of us are far too careless with our kisses. For some that may look like kissing too many people or not kissing the one you claim to love enough. For others, we fail to communicate what matters most in such an intimate moment, and that is your respect and admiration for the person of interest.  We can’t be so careless to communicate our demands in hopes that the other party will be moved (coerced– whatever) to fulfill our desires. And selfish kisses are worse than bad breath kisses for one reason, and one reason only.  They’re totally forgettable.

[quote] “The mouth is made for communication, and nothing is more articulate than a kiss.” ― Jarod Kint[/quote]

Next time you want to make someone swoon, remember respect and compassion will help you win the cause, but at the very least, you won’t be forgotten.

With love, sincerity, and pack of Chap Stick,

Alana

 

Photo credit: LicenseAttributionNoncommercialShare Alike Some rights reserved by _Zahira_

Being Saved, Being Smart, Uncategorized

4 Ways to Align Your Vision with Your Purpose

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

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

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

Rainbow in my handLaurence & Annie via Compfight

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

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

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

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

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

uv flower

Photo credit: kds315 on Flickr

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

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

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

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

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

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

 

Being Saved, Dating & Relationships, Uncategorized

Gossip: The Great Friendship Divider

You remember that episode of Everybody Hates Chris when Tonya hears all the juicy gossip at the hair salon, then repeats it at home? Then on her next visit she’s left alone with the cackling hens who pull just enough family information out of her to start a few rumors about her own family?

Ahhh yes…

Those were the days. My mom and aunts would sit around the table and repeat tales from funny and mundane to supremely intimate and shaming. They would spell out the n-a-u-g-h-t-y words, but my cousins and I were far from clueless. We’d walk right up to our moms, place our little hands on their thighs, and say “You mean she let his a-s-s back in after he did all that?”

I’m not sure if our parents wanted to laugh at our precociousness, or cry at the possibility of our repeating what we’d heard in the presence of the gossipees. We were quickly ushered out of the room and the thigh slapping and hushed voices resumed. Occasionally someone would throw their hands up, head back and squawk out “CHIIIILLLLLEEEEE!” Then we’d laugh.

But like I said, those were the days– when gossip didn’t sting.

I can no longer say the same, I’ve been the butt end of some ugly gossip. Some truths were floating around, but many more were lies. So far I’ve had an affair with a gentleman who was my boss. I’ve told kids their parents were going to hell because they went to a certain church. And I was a lying, controlling she-devil in my marriage. Well part of that is true, but just a little part.

People talk, and as most of us mature, we learn to ignore what the masses say. But when our friend are starting or participating in the conversation…….. you know what that’s like.  Here’s what the Word says about gossiping.

  1. Gossip separates the closest of friends. Undoubtedly some of us have friends and family we’d lay our lives down to save, but at the same time, we know better than to tell them a hint of our personal struggles. WHY? Because if they’re not judging, they’re repeating. And if they’re not repeating,  they’re constantly bringing up your past wrongs. And if they’re not bringing up past wrongs, they’re telling you how to fix yourself. I shared some personal information with someone I hold dear and could tell by the conversation with a mutual friend that the information had been repeated. I wasn’t surprised because I knew these folk gossiped about others every time they sat around a table, but I was still hurt by her decision to expose something so personal. Now the closeness we had is broken, and though I can share some things, the areas where I need help the most I am essentially uncovered. Whether you’re sharing gossip about your friend or listening in, it will separate you. If your friendships are God-ordained, count the costs before parting your lips.
  2. Trustworthy people conceal a matter. In that same situation I assumed that I was closer to the person than the others she talked about. NO ONE, and I mean no one, is more important to a gossip than him or herself. A person who tells other’s private matters has a need to feel validated and so instead of confessing their faults to a brother in Christ, he confesses someone else’s faults. The old adage is true. “A dog that will bring a bone will carry one.” If you truly love your friend, then your love for them will cover their sins, and they will do the same for you.
  3. Your prayer can fix your friend’s problem. Have you ever noticed that when your friends pray for you things happen more quickly? I’ve got a good friend down in Alabama that asked me to pray about financial increase. I did, and by his next pay period his boss had given him a raise without even telling him first. When I’ve confessed my needs and shortcomings to caring and consistent folk, and they’ve prayed with and for me, things changed (almost immediately in some cases). If the circumstance itself didn’t change, then God gave me grace to withstand the hardship. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous FRIEND avails much for the person in need.

If you’ve been guilty of gossiping apologize to those you hurt. If you’ve been talked about, be willing to forgive but ask the Lord to send you some friends you can trust. Let’s seek to be reconciled in our friendships, close our mouths to gossip, open our mouths to encouragement and prayer, and close the divide…

And next time the gossip bug bites, remember someone knows some dirt on you too…

Selah.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

 

 

Photo credit:  Taylor Dawn Fortune via Compfight

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

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

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

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

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

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

I. Am. Failing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

 

Being Saved, Being Smart, Uncategorized

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Favor causes the blessings of the Lord to overtake you.

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

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

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

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

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

Being Saved, Dating & Relationships, Uncategorized

Recovering from Infidelity: Three Myths & Corresponding Truths

It happens. Somewhere along the line someone (or two) stepped out of the bounds of a relationship and made a connection elsewhere. Whether that connection was emotional, physical, or sexual matters very little because trust has been betrayed. The commitment is broken. Faith is lost. Love itself hangs onto the side of a city skyscraper while anger threatens to crush love’s fingers under its steel-toe boots– or pointy stilettos.

I don’t make light of these matters. Having been cheated on and done some cheating myself, I know full well what the consequences entail. In a marriage, infidelity is devastating. To have someone you give your life to step out and betray that bond…. words can’t express. Honestly, it’s what I feared most in life. When it happened, I thought I’d die. But here I am kicking and nearly ready to love again…. Shando!

In courtships and engagements, the consequences are less severe, but the pain is just as real. We wonder if the cheater ever really loved us. We try to figure out where things went wrong. Can we can fix it? Can we cause equal pain in return? Very few of us are resolved to totally walk away if someone cheats. If we do, we didn’t really love that person all that much in the first place which makes for easier recovery. But what if we’ve invested time, energy, money, promises, sex (oops!)? It’s not so easy to let go! Instead we dance the line between forgiving and despising. We want to make things work, but we’re wounded and unable to trust even though we want to.

I guarantee if you’ve been the cheatee, you’ve been told or thought these three things which I call myths. And of course, I tack on a bit of truth.

Myth #1: It’s all the cheater’s fault.

Our best friends and family will often tell us it’s not our fault. No, we can’t make a person be faithful to us, but we must consider if our actions contributed to their desire to step out. Long before infidelity creeps into a relationship a lack of respect and/or dishonesty reared its head. OR something changed in the relationship. Many times young Christian couples will start a relationship in the worst kind of way. Boy and girl are so strongly attracted to each other that sex becomes a regular part of the courtship, but before long one party (usually the woman) feels guilty and wants to do things the right way. By this time the man is used to having sex AND has formed a soul tie, so he can’t figure out why it should end. Trouble ensues. Who’s to blame here? Just the cheater? That’s hardly true or even fair. Yes, the sex should stop if you want a Godly relationship, but we must realize if we’ve contributed to someone else’s bad decision and ask forgiveness from God for ourselves particularly if you knew better. I’ve been in this sinking ship a few times over now.

There are cases, however, where one party does everything in his or her power to take care of their mates needs, yet the person is still unfaithful. In this case, both are still to blame. The truth, at the very foundation, is that the cheatee chose the wrong person. Get out, get healed, and choose better next time. *pops self on hand*

Truth: Both parties play a role in cheating. The cheatee may be guilty of neglect, unkindness, or changing of his/her mind. When issues arise and BEFORE infidelity occurs, each individual needs to decide whether the relationship should be continued with changes or ended. If you want something the person is unwilling to give, then why remain? Show the other party some respect and make the choice that’s right for you. If you love each other and are struggling with sex, then take your butts to the church and inquire about marriage. If you part ways, that’s fine too. Next time around, do what’s right from the beginning.

 

Myth #2: Breaking up is the only option.

When I suffered my first (known) case of infidelity I went to a counselor and she told me to consider staying. I’d just had a baby and was in school full-time, so while I was taking care of my small children and getting a degree there really wasn’t a need to run out the door. What good would it do? Who would it benefit? She counseled me  to stay and to try to win him over to the family lifestyle. I tried. Didn’t work, BUT at least I gave it a shot.

If you truly love a person and love what you’ve built together, then it’s worth taking a step back and considering whether you should go or remain. The Bible does clearly state that sexual infidelity is grounds for divorce, but it doesn’t say you HAVE to divorce. As far as courtships go… well… how can I put this? If I can’t trust you now, I probably won’t be able to later. Just the same, be Spirit led. One false step does not always indicate a bad person, but there are character issues present. And who doesn’t have those? Chances are God didn’t put you with a person who’s cheating. We make those kinds of choices on our own. Timing is also an issue. Don’t say the words until you’re ready to follow through. Too often we speak out of feeling or from what we want only to realize later that we’re unable to follow through. This goes for breaking up and staying together.

Truth: Whether you choose to stay or go should NOT be an emotional decision. Be quiet and still until God directs, and then obey.

 

Myth #3: They’re indebted to you.

We read stories about how valiant knights would slay the dragons for a princess before even casting his gaze upon her. The long and short of it for 21st century is this… People ain’t about that life anymore! Oh how I’d love a man to vanquish my foes, but alas, I don’t have one that will and if I asked up front, I’d never make a fella mine. Lol. I fight big battles, you understand. Still, ladies and gentlemen, we find ourselves feeling that the other party owes us something when the cheating becomes discovered. And perhaps they do… in marriage they certainly do! But there comes a point where we must choose to forgive, i.e. cancel any real or perceived debt or obligation. And after we forgive, we stay or let go.

At the end of the end of the end of my marriage, I was advised to give my soon-to-be ex-husband some tasks to complete before I would consider reopening my heart to him. I did. You know the end of it, but honestly, he didn’t really need to do any of the things I asked because my mind was already made up. Was it wrong of me to ask? Not really because he insisted on proving his worth… (I’m trying hard not to laugh here.) Outside of a marriage relationship, I strongly feel that it is wrong to make a relationship conditional. “If you do these three things no matter how bad you hate it, we can get back together.” No no no! This creates unnecessary damage. Decide that you’re either going to reconcile and take steps together to move forward (agreed upon conditions) or part ways. If-then ultimatums are manipulative and damaging to both parties. If a person truly loves you, he or she will prove it without your requests or demands.

Truth: Some debts are better left unpaid. Forgiveness is not optional, so start there. Unless you’re married, conditions for reconciliation are NOT the way to go. You’re only hurting yourself more by expecting what someone else may be unwilling or unable to provide. Love is best expressed of its own accord. 1 John 4:18 says “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” If you’re afraid of what will happen, seek God’s love first, then the outcome of the relationship won’t matter.

 

I write this for my friends that I love dearly, and for those of you I don’t know, that I love dearly. We are losing love because we make bad choices from the start and make worse ones during! Einstein says you can’t solve a problem with the same mindset you used to create it. The sooner we let go of these fallacies, the quicker we will find healing.

Selah.

What’s worse than losing love is that we’re damaging each other. Our selfish motives and self-righteous attitudes deepen the scares that both parties feel. If I could go back in time, I probably wouldn’t have done anything differently because of the depth of the hurt, but going forward, being matured in Christ’s love, I know that NOTHING can separate me from Him. It’s time Christian folks put away selfishness, receive the Lord’s love, and pour it out on each other the way He intended.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Photo credit: Creative Commons License dustyrhodes2012 via Compfight

Being Smart, Family, Uncategorized

Are You KIDDING Me? I HATE Third Grade Homework

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

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

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

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

Here’s why.

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

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13

 

 

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

Alana

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

 

 

Being Saved, Dating & Relationships, Uncategorized

Climax

There is a point in intimacy that marks the the height of pleasure and the knitting of two souls. The satisfaction of pressing in is granted.

Sometimes in my car. Sometimes at the table. In my bed. In the kitchen. Who knows when the Bridegroom will come and request my expression of love? I’ve waited so long for love like this, I could never deny Him. And so I slip into something more comfortable– my garment of praise.

And I sing to Him. He loves when I sing. He tells me what He desires to hear, and I flow from one tune to another. I used to cry in these moments, but lately I’ve laughed more. He has an incredible sense of humor. The praise becomes worship, and the air around me changes. It smells of fine oil and carries a charge that makes my hair stand on end.

I feel His glory surround me. And fill me. I’m afraid to open my eyes because I cannot become distracted and lose Him. The invisible God is in my space, loving me, wooing me, leading me into a dance.

And I feel His pressure against my chest. And for what seems like too long, I can’t breathe. The hair follicles on my head do a dance. You can’t tell me He’s not playing in my hair (2 Solomon 2:6). And at the same time, He’s reaching the deepest part of my being, my spirit. No man can go that far.

And I tremble. I become rigid and weak in my attempt to catch my breath. I’ve climaxed, and Heaven has worshiped with me. And unlike what we know physically, this climax can last.

And last.

And last.

I can’t stand for the pleasure to end, but life has its demands. And so like a blushing bride, I gather myself so others won’t know I’ve just… you know… made love. And I go back to my daily tasks, still humming the tune that drew Him near, anticipating when I can be alone with Him again.

My beloved is mine and I am his! (Song of Solomon 2:16)

What I’ve recently learned is that every time I worship Him in this way, I leave carrying a seed inside of me. Sometimes it’s a new assignment or a burden of prayer or an endowment of joy or peace. He gives me what I need.

 Like the lily among thorns, so are you, my love, among the daughters. (Song of Solomon 2:2)

How could I not love Him?

Photo credit:  Tony Seneadza via Compfight