Being Saved, Being Single, Dating & Relationships, Fine Oil Initiative

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

 

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

Being Single, Being Smart, Dating & Relationships, Uncategorized

The Right Way to Go Dutch

Last week some time I watched a video where the speaker proposed that women should insist to pay for their own food the first date to test a man’s character. Ultimately, the man’s ego should kick in and he should pay. The speaker then said that if a woman really wanted to make a man want her, she should pay for the first 2 to 3 dates to say “You have to earn the right to pay for my food.”

Interesting, no? While I get his point and subscribe to the general theme of inquiring into a fella’s character, I feel like the tactic suggested is a little too game-y for my personality. Some of you more liberated women might feel comfortable doing this, but I’ll need to find out about his character in other ways. Plus I’m not going back and forth with anybody… Ain’t my cup of tea.

Am I saying I’m unwilling to pay for a date? ABSOLUTELY NOT! But under MY terms. I’m a  little more old school than most women my age. I date for the purposes of finding a potential mate, not so much for fun, but it does have to be fun if I am to continue. And if a fella can’t afford to date me, then he can’t afford to provide for me in marriage. Somebody just called me a gold digger, but it’s the same woman who entertains free-loading men, so ma’am, your opinion doesn’t count here.

So back to going Dutch… let’s look at how this thing could actually work…. or not.

 

“I pay for my order. You pay for yours.”

Between platonic friends, going Dutch is appropriate. But if there’s romantic interest involved, the gentleman pays UNLESS the woman has asked him out (which is another blog in and of itself). If a man wants to spend time with a quality lady then forking over some cash is not too much to ask. He should plan a date within his means (use Groupon & LivingSocial to up the quality) should she agree to go out with him. Why do I think this should happen? Well for one, a man’s money is close to his heart. If he won’t spend money on the her, then he values himself more than the time she’s shared with him. For the fellas– if you plan a date within your means (with her desires in mind, of course) and she is disagreeable, then she’s not a match for you or she’s there for the wrong reason.

This day in age when women are so liberated and men are so— ummm— like women, it might be a good idea to clear the air before you go out. Throw in a little jokey joke… “Oh, I love their grilled Mahi dish? Do I need to bring my own $15.99, or nah?” Fellas, if you believe a woman should pay for herself, then be bad enough to tell her before you go out. Don’t wait until the check arrives.

Might I also add that it doesn’t hurt, ladies, to pick up a portion of the date. After he whips out his Black card for my Mahi dish, I may offer to pay for dessert. Some guys are perfectly content for you to leave the tip. It doesn’t hurt to offer something, but don’t let your offering be misleading. I’m not a liberated woman. You, sir, must pay for my meal.

Split the bill.

The only thing I can imagine more disrespectful than a man asking me to pay for my own meal at the table is his asking me to split the bill evenly. This was on a movie, but I can’t recall the name. The woman ordered a salad, and the man ordered a Porterhouse. He demanded they split the bill 50/50 because it was only “fair”. I would have to put my sweet demeanor away if that ever happened to me. Even if my meal cost more than his, I feel something about it turns me the wrong way though I can’t put my finger on it. A friend of mine once commented that whenever she goes out, she orders according to the amount in her purse. Ladies, until we know a guy’s willing and able to “cover” us, this may be the smart thing to do.

A positive way to split the bill, however,  might involve planning in advance. I’ll pay for dinner, and you pay for the movies. You buy the groceries, and I’ll cook. Or you pay for this movie, and I’ll pay for the next one. A beautiful partnership can develop between two people when this approach is taken. It’s kinda like saying “I’m interested in spending time with you, and I’m perfectly capable and willing to share the cost to build this relationship.” I like this method for splitting the bill, but ONLY after I know a little about his character, and I actually LIKE him.

One out of four.

Ladies, if you’re continuing to see a person and things are blooming, then it’s a good idea to pay for a date every so often. You can either surprise him at the end of a meal, or ask him out after 2 or 3 successful dates. Tell him it’s your treat. Stay within your means and plan something you’ll both enjoy. If you’re a woman inclined to giving too much, then limit yourself on purpose. Mr. Ford was right. Once a fella knows you’re wrapped around his finger, you lose! Might I add, if you’re a great cook, then it might be a good time to show that off a little.

 

If you find dating burdensome financially or otherwise, then you might join me in sitting at home on Friday nights watching Netflix and tweeting til exhaustion sets in. Dating should be an expression of your freedom and maturity as an adult, not an activity that demands others to pass a test to keep moving forward. We all have our preferences, but there’s no sense in gaming and inciting a response when everything you need to know God will reveal.

Our methods for finding a match have become far too convoluted and messy. If we could just look back a few generations when love and marriages stood the test of time and find out WHY they did things a certain way, then we may be better off for it. Be transparent. Be truthful. Be respectful. Be Christlike.

What kind of love story would you want to tell your kids?  Think about that.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for you future,

 

Alana

Featured photo by Creative Commons License Dan4th Nicholas via Compfight

Being Saved, Fine Oil Initiative, Uncategorized

I’m Not One to Brag, But…

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s just the beginning of the blessings!

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

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

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

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

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

He gave me my life back!!!

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

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

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for you future!

 

Alana

 

 

 

Being Smart, Family

How to Raise a Jerk

I know that sounds horrible, but I really don’t believe any parent sets out to raise a self-indulged, arrogant person who rubs folks the wrong way at work, church, and home . But somewhere between childhood and adulthood, things happen– or don’t happen– and children leave the nest with an overdeveloped sense of entitlement and a nasty attitude.

This jerk epidemic, ladies & gentlemen, is universal. Jerks are not limited to one race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic class. They are as common as flu virus we’ll all be avoiding in a month or two, and twice as infectious. And, I hate to admit it, but I see jerk tendencies in one of my children. While I realize that selfish behavior is common at age 8, I find that as he grows he becomes harder to handle. I won’t blame anyone for it, but I can say that this little nastiness won’t be tolerated in my home. Y’all pray for me. Pray for his rear end too.

And so this morning on my drive to work, I thought of men and women who are self-confessed jerks and connected the dots. Sometime back in the 80’s lived a child with a strong sense of self, wasn’t disciplined, didn’t learn to care for others, only sought his or her own purposes, and now walks around with 8-year old sensibilities though he or she may be 28 or 38. Ugh. If this is you, I’m sorry. But let’s grow together. Lol.

Just in case you ever DID want to raise a jerk, here’s how to do it:

  1. Tell the child “no”, but give in. I’m bad with this, and this might be why my kiddo pushes me to the limit some days.
  2. Teach them that their qualities and gifts make them better than others.  Bring balance to the conversation and help them find ways in which to grow as caring human beings.
  3. Teach them that everyone needs their help. As opposed to offering it kindly as a service, some feel they can fix others. God is not nearly as impressed with the act as He is with the manner in which we offer it.
  4. Allow them to think their rights and wants are more important than the needs of others. No parent directly teaches this (I hope), but if your child is a squeaky wheel he or she may get more oil than they really need. Teach them to hush up and submit to you and to their siblings. Then again, I have heard parents say things like “Get yours, boo boo. Don’t let nobody tell you otherwise.” Bad business…
  5. Allow them to think that they’re blessed because of their own goodness. Nawl. It’s because you work hard and love their little stinking butts. Grace is a gift! Kids are capable of understanding this. When mine need a spanking, they request grace and mercy, and too often they get it.
  6. Permit them to speak their mind without reservation. I believe in open forums with respectful tone for the most part, but I don’t want my children thinking that they can speak all of their mind to the world. My daddy made me study frowardness as a child, and it taught me early on that it’s best to just keep quiet about most things and until I’ve acquired wisdom in that area.
  7. Give your child everything he or she wants. Say no at least 2 out of 5 times or as often as you need.
  8. Allow them to display their emotions any way they choose. Even when they’re tired or there’s tension in the family, a child should still be expected to behave. Give them space to vent, then reel them back in. Being tired or sad is not an excuse for being rude and disrespectful. Deal with whichever issue is more pressing first. Sometimes sadness or anger supersedes the need for discipline, other times they’re just being manipulative.
  9. Tear them down with harsh words and unkindness. Kids who are constantly belittled seek ways to build themselves back up. You ever met a State Trooper who was bitingly sarcastic and almost cruel? I suspect this is why.
  10. Withhold love and affection. Some days they can be so needy and I can be so empty, but I take a few minutes to gather myself, then give them the hugs and kisses they need. Without it children will surely act out and become hardened to affection as they approach adulthood. Unless you want your child’s future spouse crying on your shoulder, give your kids what they need while you still can.

 

I think we’d all agree we want our kids to be confident in who they are, but still compassionate towards others. I know that I have work to do with my little ones, but I’m determined to press forward until my kiddo is the kingly young man that God has destined him to be. I know you’ll do the same for yours.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Photo credit: By imagerymajestic freedigitalimages.net

Being Saved, Being Single, Dating & Relationships, Uncategorized

Precautionary Dating Tale #5: The Man IN My Dream

I’ve been a bit unsettled the past few days, and the only reason I can think as to why is because I tend to feel the energy and thoughts of those around me. What do you word-loving folks call that? An empath? Meh. It’s not quite the right word, and I’ll tell you why.

I dreamed that a man was in my personal space so much that I could not escape him. He wasn’t abusive, violent, or unkind. He was just very very very present. I couldn’t leave the space in my dream, but I do remember finally sitting on the floor tired from trying to kindly escape him, only to have him sit at my feet. I dream in color, but this particular instance, I saw shades of sepia, black, and gray. I knew this wasn’t the guy for me.

The VERY next day, someone invaded my space over and over again to the point where I became annoyed & exasperated. For the rest of the day, I felt his energy and thoughts. Empath? Kinda. Spooky? Definitely. I didn’t shake the ickiness til Saturday morning.

So the man in my dreams was smart, motivated, well-meaning, successful– had great qualities. He was even handsome. But because I knew he wasn’t for me, none of that mattered. The man I encountered isn’t much different. Had I dreamed something like this two years ago I would’ve thought “Oh Lord, you gave me a dream about him. He must be the one for me!”

Starry-eyed, stupid, and shameless I would’ve begun a relationship with someone with whom I was supposed to avoid. My littered soul would’ve prevented me from seeking out God’s purpose for revealing this man to me. This time, I knew better.

I knew better because God has spoken clearly to me about a few things regarding my future boo that makes several candidates easy to cross off the list. Here’s what I know.

I know that God has chosen a mate for me who will see me as a gift. 

I know the time frame in which I will meet him.

I know he’s not pushy, self-serving, or arrogant.

I know he won’t be sitting at my feet like a lost puppy.

I know he will love God more than he’ll love me.

I know he’s going to be physically attractive to me, and I won’t have to squint my eyes and look at him sideways to want to look at him.

The person IN your dreams is not always the person OF your dreams if the latter even exists. Sometimes God will present us with a person to see if we really want what we’ve asked Him for and if we’re willing to wait on it. I have six months left on my dating sabbatical, so should this person ask me out, it’ll be super easy to say no. It’s just not my time.

But for those of you who are actively dating, courting, seeking, waiting– Ask God specific questions to help you navigate. If you know that your future mate will be a doctor, ain’t no sense getting caught up with the construction worker unless he’s in med school. But surely the construction worker will cross your path and you’ll have to say no to his rippling abs and chiseled arms. And when you know he ain’t the one, it should be (relatively) easy to keep it moving. Don’t stick around to find out why he’s wrong for you. This is how many of us ended up heartbroken in the first place.

 

Dating Precaution #5: Soul issues often cause us to misinterpret what God is trying to reveal. The man IN your dreams and the man OF your dreams may be two different people. They are not to be confused, so seek God before making a move. 

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

 

Image courtesy of  FreeDigitalPhotos.net