Being Single, Being Smart, Dating & Relationships

Go Back to the Woodwork from Whence Thou Came

Women know that at least three times a year a phenomenon occurs in which random old friends, text buddies, and former flames show up and demand a little attention… and sometimes two or three will come within a few days’ time. Here in the South we call it “coming out of the woodwork.” Basically folks try to re-enter our lives through subtle means… a “Thinking of You” or TOY text, FB poke, or a trepidacious “Hi” via social media. Should we respond to this seemingly harmless greeting, the ball-and-chain, headache inducing conversations will pick up where they left off oh so many months and years ago. So  smart women everywhere have employed the most powerful strategy for deflecting these games… by IGNORING!

I thought I was smart… I can even be a little braggy about my brainpower, but today, I’ll dismount my high horse. Yesterday I responded to one of those dumb “TOY” texts. I even had this person’s number saved in my phone, but I had clearly forgotten that he existed. He has one of those common names, so I thought I saved a good friend’s name in the wrong number by mistake. After ten minutes of going back and forth thinking I was talking to one person, it eventually hit me that I was talking to Mr. Nasty Man who was a musician and in the seminary and quite possibly one of the most perverted individuals that had ever crossed my path. I. Was. Appalled.

The conversation went a little something like this. I’ve removed the personal details. (And I’m not worried about him seeing this. He’s only interested in my drawls, and since my blog address ain’t on those, we’re all good here.)

 

Me: What’s up with you? 6:09 PM
Him: Lots. Too much to text 6:15 PM
Me: But you don’t like to talk. 6:15 PM
Him: I don’t? 6:16 PM
Him: You must not know who you are talking to. 6:17 PM
Me: Wait. I know who you are now. 6:17 PM
Him: Wow 6:17 PM
Me: (location name) 6:17 PM
Him: Lol 6:17 PM
Me: Horny man 6:17 PM
Him: Not cool 6:18 PM
Me: Well. It’s been a while. 6:18 PM
Him: Now an ordained minister. 6:22 PM
Me: What made you think of me? It’s been months. 6:28 PM
Him: Think of you often…. Just didn’t reach out. 6:29 PM
Me: Gotcha. 6:31 PM
Me: You living right? 6:32 PM
Me: Lololol. 6:42 PM

 

You see what I did there? NO?! Let’s dougie on down to lesson lane.

I sent three clear messages in this short conversation…

Message #1: I am not playing with you. Who are you? What do you want?

 

Message #2: I am not here to be played with. I will be kind, but a snake is a snake is a snake and no ministerial title, sir, will make you less than that. Only the blood!

 

Message #3: I’m doing my best to live holy to the Lord. You? No response. Oh ok. Bye.

 

I believe God allows these things to happen to show us how much we’ve grown… or haven’t. I could’ve been mealy-mouthed and given him the entrance he wanted with fanfare and balloons, but I value purity and righteousness faaarrrr more than a textual romance. Y’all don’t hear me though.

If Jesus will keep me, then I will be kept!!!

And now that he’s crawled back into the woodwork from whence he came, I shall change his name in my phone to “DNR”… Do Not Respond. God bless him but somewhere over there far from me.

Ghandi said it best…

“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”

 

 

With a little tough love, sincerity, and lots of hope for a foolishness-free future,

 

Alana

 

Photo credit: Creative Commons License Petras Gagilas via Compfight

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, 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

 

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

 

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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, 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