Being Single, Dating & Relationships, Uncategorized

Manage Your Expectations: Unwritten Dating Rules for Summer 2012

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] A [/dropcap]nother summer is upon us, and I certainly have grown since last year. You? Last year, we talked about lowering your expectations (in a sarcastic way of course), but this year we’ll just manage them.

We expect far too much or far too little from folks without allowing them to be who they are. No one needs to change to please you or even answer for who they are. We simply must observe what is and make an informed decision.

I’ve managed to remove most negative influences, both male and female from my circle, and though I’m not dating at this point, I figured I could offer some dating rules for summer 2012 for those of you who are. Actually I just wanted to give you a few snickers and “smizes” as my Twitter friends say.

So here are the top 9 (maybe you have 1 more) Unwritten Dating Rules for Summer 2012…

  1. Don’t you dare sext! A quick glance through folks’ Twitpics will reveal that the person on the other end is not quite as trustworthy as you think. And mistakes do happen. You don’t want to be a casualty.
  2. Auto-correct is of the devil. Who stores all those dirty words? Oh, that’s right… You do! Take a second to double-check before hitting “send.”
  3. God speaks through Swype. It’s funny… whenever I add  a new contact to my phone, a word other than their name pops up. For example, if I swype “John” the word “scum” may pop up. Hear ye the voice of the Lord!
  4. You don’t have to give everyone your number. GChat, FB chat, Twitter DM’s are sufficient for the first few questions. Once you give them your number, you’re locked in to the “keep” or “delete” struggle and ultimately the “Who is this?’ conversation once you do delete them.
  5. Twitter and FB should not be primary sources for acquisition of dating advice. Even those super churchy folk that always tweet about relationships can be wrong. I’ve learned some things here and there, but when it comes down to it, submission to the Holy Spirit trumps all.
  6. Ignore the overly-confident folks that are in relationships. While some of them got it right, others just got lucky, but the masses are settling. Don’t let them make you feel bad no matter how hard they try.
  7. At the introductory conversation, ask no more than 2 or 3 questions. If they don’t reciprocate, then back off. Choose simple questions that aren’t too personal. The first few conversations should be light and pressure-free.
  8. Dating is not necessary for an enjoyable summer. Some of us live in areas where suitable datees are few and far between. Others of us have different priorities. Romance is great, but having money is too. Find new ways to spend your time and energy.
  9. Don’t hate on the friend zone. It’s hilarious to me how much people hate “just being friends”, but I feel strongly that the best relationships have a firm foundation of friendship. If a man or woman won’t first be your friend, they won’t stick around to build anything significant. Furthermore, you REALLY get to know the person instead of being blinded by your lusts and desires. I mean, you can have a relationship with them inside your head and no one will know… whatever suits you. Disagree with me? That’s cool… get your own blog. (Really, you can just comment below and tell me why you think this is wrong. I’m interested in hearing why.)
  10. Ummm… I’m tapped dry. What would your number 10 be?

Share in the comments section below, and let’s see if we can’t make sense
of what we’re doing before we jump too far too fast.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for a reasonably hot summer,

 

Alana

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Being Saved, Uncategorized

Be Not Condemned

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] L [/dropcap]ast night I practiced the technique from Will You Hear from God Part 2: How to Hear from God for YOURSELF!

The Lord took me on a bunny trail which began at 1 Peter 3, and ended with my meditating on the differences between condemnation and conviction. Hop down this trail with me a little ways.

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?  But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3: 14-17)

Every so often a mini-attack is launched my way, and it often comes through a believer. I’ve learned to deal with the person as gently as possible and to never to get into a debate, so the verses above really spoke to that situation. I often to ask the Lord why would a believer come so strongly against another, and He said “Because of their own heart issues.”

See… God points out our heart issues in one way, and that is through conviction. The enemy works in the heart of a believer (and nonbeliever) through condemnation. I didn’t get this in a sermon, you understand. He spoke this to me last night, so walk with me.

Imagine if you will, two packages. One  is a ragged, misshapen box with outdated, torn wrapping paper. The other is neatly and attractively wrapped with a beautiful matching bow on top. Both boxes are handed to you.

Let’s take a look at the differences between the contents of the two boxes and their affect on our lives.

[one_half]

Condemnation does the following…

  • Issues you a sentence for your wrong & points to you as worthless, stupid, and unable to do anything right, etc.
  • Says “You’re never gonna change. Look what you did again.”
  • Sings songs like I’ve “Gotta clean up what you messed up. I’ve started my life over again.”
  • Makes you feel dirty and insignificant, so you have a hard time receiving the love of the Father.
  • Causes you to become hypersensitive and thus critical of others who are enjoying their freedom in Christ.
  • Keeps you walking on a tightrope to maintain your salvation.
  • Makes you a sourpuss that no one wants to be around. Oop.
  • Disconnects you from God’s spirit and causing you to be self-sufficient.

[/one_half]

[one_half_last]

Conviction does the following…

  • Issues a judgment on the action and heart intent while reminding you that the price has already been paid!
  • The message inside says “It’s time to change. Here are the tools.”
  • Sings songs like “Oh the blood of Jesus! It washes white as snow!”
  • Reminds you that the Blood of Jesus is enough, and that a righteous man falls seven times but gets back up!
  • Removes the bad feelings that come from sin and guides you to seek out spirit-led support and accountability.
  • Frees you from guilt and shame and allows you to live a life in Christ through freedom and liberty.
  • Causes a genuine change in heart followed by repentance which is followed by JOY!
  • Keeps you hooked in to the life line of the kingdom causing you to grow and blossom into your full destiny!

[/one_half_last]

 

If you struggle with condemnation (i.e. feeling cursed, incompetent, worthless, destined to fail) in your walk with Christ, you will not get far! You must send away the bad feelings and accept Christ’s love for your shortcomings. This is one of the MAIN reasons people do not even come to Christ in the first place! They don’t think they deserve to be forgiven of their sins, and so they won’t be. Let this unbelief not be among those of us who call ourselves Christ followers. Read Romans 8 until you get in your spirit that your walk in Christ is not all doom and gloom!

The message of the cross is heal, set free, deliver, proclaim good news… any doctrine outside of this is NOT the Gospel of Christ. Yes, we have to tighten up some areas of our lives to become free in our spirits but those things should never come through control or manipulation. As a last point, be careful who you allow to feed you spiritually. Many preachers in this time share their personal preferences and opinions which are NOT the Gospel of Christ. Don’t allow others to bind you up over their personal issues.

 We all slip up from time to time. Which box do you choose?
The Father’s conviction which heals and delivers or the enemy’s condemnation which brings a curse?

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

Alana

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Dating & Relationships, Family, Uncategorized

Love Your Kids: 10 Things You Do But May Not Know It

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] T [/dropcap]wo weeks ago I shared two posts, Love Your Husbands & Love Your Wives. Google Analytics tells me these are favorites among my readers. So thank you all for reading and sharing! If you haven’t read those posts, you DON’T want to miss them.

My original intent was to also write about loving your children, but with the hustle and bustle of work, I didn’t have time to think into the matter. But since summer break began last Friday and the children have been with me almost every waking moment, I’ve been able to come up with a few things.

  1. Be an example of what you want them to become. Children should see us reading our Bibles and hear us praying. If we’re married, they should see us caring for our spouse. If we’re single, they should see us having the utmost respect for ourselves by not allowing negative influences into our homes. Little people will mirror and imitate everything you do, so let us choose our actions carefully.
  2. Be accountable to them. My kids will poke my tummy ANY time they see it jiggle. If there’s an altar call at church to which they feel I should respond, they give me the eye. I don’t care too much for that part, but the point is that my kids take responsibility for who I am just as much as I do for them. When I was growing up, I could never question my parents as to why they were doing something I didn’t understand. I wasn’t trying to correct them even though they took it that way. How insecure must we be to feel challenged by our own children! Don’t miss teachable moments with your little ones because of your own pride.
  3. Cuddle with them. Studies show–*inserts reputable child-rearing source here*– that children who are shown affection make better choices as adults. Boys needs hugs and kisses just as much as girls do, so let us not neglect their emotional and physical needs trying to make them tough. Children need to be touched, held, and cuddled on a DAILY basis. I try to spend time with each kid to just give them the special attention they need. When I do, they’re much more respectful and easier to be around. I’d also add that the younger the child, the closer that child should be to you. When B & B were small, I kept them in the same room with me. Now that they’re older and we live in a small place, I’ll let them go into another room but my ears are always open. Be vigilant. Kids pick up things from others and you want to know what attitudes, words, and actions are creeping in that need to be uprooted.
  4. Smile when you see them coming. You love your little booger, don’t you? I know you’re shocked by the damage done to the hair and clothing at the end of a day at camp, but still… greet your child, and anyone else you love with a big ol’ grin and a warm “I’m so happy to see you!”
  5. Tell their little butts “NO!’ I’m bad at this… Well, I say no but then I have a tendency not to follow through. Children don’t need half of everything we give them. Our closets are busting at the seams with toys and clothes, and I am NOT a stuff person. Let them kick and scream… nah, don’t do that. Spank their bottoms if they kick and scream. Teach them to take “no” with dignity and self-control.
  6. Teach them to be responsible for their emotions. Some kids are born with it, and others are just… challenging. Depending on your child’s needs, you can teach this in a variety of ways. I have one kid who gets overly emotional when tired. So my goal is to teach that child to exercise self-control. Most adults can’t do this, but simply making a child aware and teaching them how is a step in the right direction. When you’re feeling bad inside, smile on the outside. When you’re mad because you didn’t get something you wanted, think about all the things you do have and yell them out!
  7. Give them chores. I’m appalled by the number of 15-year olds I teach that don’t know how to wipe down a table. If I can get my first grader to mop and my third grader to vacuum, certainly your teenager can handle some tasks. Not only is this good for the children, but it’s GREAT for you too! Starting tomorrow, my daughter will be washing out the pan I use to make her breakfast. My son will clean up EVERY mess he makes including the chocolate syrup spills, toast crumbs, dirty butter knife, etc.
  8. Guard their hearts. Not everything that is marketed for children is actually FOR them. It’s so easy to sit a child in front of Disney, Nickelodeon, Sprout, Poptropica… all that… and think they’re good to go. I ASSURE you… there is SOMETHING malevolently planted in some of these sites and television stations. When Brandon was in Kindergarten, he used to play games on Poptropica while I’d cook dinner, etc. Well a conversation bubble popped up and I heard his little stacatto reading voice chirp “Let us change our passwords so mom and dad don’t find out what we’re doing.” I went over to verify and sure enough!! When you see something or someone influencing your child the wrong way, cut it off! But you have to be around to see/hear it.
  9. Speak life to them. Old Black folk love to say kids are bad, grown, and mean. I know it’s part of our culture, but I hate it with a passion. My children are none of those things, nor do I want them to be. People become what you speak over them. Of course Man Man is cussing at two… all you do is cuss and call him bad. Whenever I find myself around small children, I be sure to say to them “You is smart. You is kind. You is impohtant.” You get the point. Really I just say “Jesus loves you” or “You’re a good boy/girl.”
  10. Validate them! Our kids have soooooo much to say, but we have to be tuned in so that we hear what matters. Though their feelings may be misguided, they are valid and easy to redirect if we first validate that the child is a person deserving of respect. Not to talk anyone down, but I was often told that my feelings didn’t matter and I went through life thinking that everyone else’s feelings mattered more than my own. What a cockeyed way to live life!!! Think of all the times you felt unloved and insecure. Don’t you DARE allow your child to navigate through those emotions alone. It is irresponsible and negligible for a parent to allow their child to suffer through rejection and shame without offering love and support regardless of what a child has done. When our kids become isolated, they are easy prey for the enemy. All types of evil things like hatred, sexual perversions, violence, self-hate, suicide creep in. Keep them close to you and remind them that they are loved unconditionally.

So many of you are great parents and could add so much more… so please please please share and comment!!!

In what ways do you and your children show love for each other?

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your family’s future,

 

Alana

Being Saved, Uncategorized

The Art of Hearing God’s Voice Part 1: Will You Hear Him?

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God speaks to everyone.

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] E [/dropcap]veryone can hear from God.

But not everyone does hear from the Almighty. Why does this happen?

Matthew 16 addresses this issue, yet it is one of the most mis-preached and mis-teached chapters in the Bible. You know how you’re hearing the pastor tell what he thinks something means, and a still small voice inside says “nuh uh”?

It’s the word “ROCK” that trips us up… I’ve heard so many teachings about that word ROCK… Yes, Peter means ROCK. But is the church built on Peter? No! Is the church built on the the fact that Jesus is the Christ? Meh…. that doesn’t directly address the issue at hand. He IS the Christ and the chief cornerstone, but this scripture is referencing the foundation of the church. (Many know Jesus factually, but not experientially…)

So what, then, IS the ROCK?

The ROCK that Jesus is referencing (use your English skills to diagram these sentences and prove it to yourself) is the fact that Peter HEARD from God.

Let’s dialog it…

Jesus: Who do you say that I am?

Peter: You are Christ, the son of the Living God.

Jesus: Peter, you are blessed! No man could’ve told you this. You heard from the Father. And just as you recognize me as the Christ, I recognize you as a rock. But THE rock, the foundation of my church, will be revelation from the Father. No power in Hell can stand against those who receive revelation from the Father.

Then Jesus proceeds to teach them WHAT to do with the revelation when they receive it via binding and loosing.

I could stop here, but I hear the Spirit so I shall continue. How, then, does God speak to us?

  • Through the written Word – I think back to the Sunday school song “Read your Bible, pray everyday, and you’ll grow grow grow!” Without reading God’s Word we cannot expect to hear from Him in any other context. Chances are you won’t know the tone and sound of God’s voice when He speaks if you have not been reading His Word. Many new believers find it challenging to just open it up and start reading, but press through. The Bible is a spiritual text and the Lord will mature you as you continue. A great starting point for any reader is the Gospels, particularly the book of John. Psalms and Proverbs are also great and easy to relate to life circumstances. (2 Timothy 2:15)
  • In our spirits as a still, small voice  – In order to hear a still, small voice you have to be STILL. If there is no peace in your soul it will be virtually IMPOSSIBLE to hear from God. When I’m particularly stressed or know I have weak faith in an area, I ask God to show someone else the answer, and He does. But it’s BEST that we rule our own souls so that God may communicate with us without the interference of our own mental blockages and emotional issues. (1 Kings 19:11-13)
  • Audibly – Scary! Never happened to me, and I’m not sure I want to experience it either. I would imagine having an animal speak is equally as frightening. (Numbers 22)
  • In dreams and visions – Often we are too busy during work hours to download what the Father is saying, so He gives us dreams and visions to guide us. Everyone dreams, but not everyone may remember. One thing I practice, particularly during times of trying, is to read my Word, pray, and then say “Lord, I open my spirit to receive from you while I rest. Please show me what’s on Your heart.” Then I sleep. Some nights I’ll have 3-4 dreams that provide some insight or direction to what’s going on in my life OR the lives of others around me. He’s not giving us revelation to make us more spiritual than the next person, but to restore order and to bring His kingdom to the earth. When God gives you a dream or a vision, it’s not the end of a matter… It’s the beginning. You are to do SOMETHING with it, and that SOMETHING is to pray about it. If your dreams are heavily symbolic then it may take some time (i.e. years) to attain the full understanding. My eight-year old son often has dreams that are parallel with my own, but his are much clearer and easier to understand than my own because he is pure. The closer I get to the Lord the quicker the revelation comes.
  • Through the prophetic word – This is such a touchy subject, and so one blog will be dedicated to it fairly soon… but for the meantime, prophecy does still exist. God still has prophets in the earth. Any Christian that hears from God can be used by God to prophesy. True prophecy will build up you, correct you, admonish you, and encourage you. There’s much to say on this topic, but I’ll let it rest for now.

A few Scriptures to keep in mind…

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches…  (Revelation 2:17)
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. (John 10:27)
If You love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15)

Today, when You hear His voice, harden not your hearts. (Hebrews 3:7-8)

This last scripture is the reason why many are not part of the body of Christ. There are MANY who identify themselves as Christians, yet do not hear God’s voice and many still who hear His voice yet disobey. With all the ways He speaks let us not become calloused and bent on doing things our own way. Thy will, not my will, be done!

 

Will you hear God’s voice today?
What was the last thing He told you to do? 

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Being Saved, Being Single, Fine Oil Initiative, Uncategorized

Sixty Down: He Keeps Saying “No”!

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A few of you watched my first video which included the announcement of a year of no dating. For those of you who haven’t seen it, here’s the link.

In these sixty days, I can’t say that I’ve been terribly lonely. I can say that I’ve already begun to see myself differently and I’ve learned there’s so much more to life than the happiness that only exists (apparently) in romantic relationships. Like family. And money. And peace. And the abiding presence of God.

I would not have believed this if not for the hell I’ve been through the past two months.

In the effort to not over-share (i.e. embarrass anyone), I’ll just say that I’ve had to stand. And by “stand” I really mean kneel in prayer seeking God’s will and provision for me during this season. I’ve had to call on others to hold me up because, at times, my faith just wasn’t enough.

So instead of telling stories of grief and heartbreak, I’ll share those of minimal disappointment… with a moral and happy ending of course.

Maybe six weeks ago I started looking for a new home. My apartment is lovely, but I miss having a big, spacious kitchen with granite countertops where I can make lavish cakes and dinners to feed my friends and family. But I didn’t find a single house that I liked. The seller pushed and pushed and even put a great deal on the table, but I heard a quiet “no.” So on I went to look at homes elsewhere. Found one, fell in looooooooove, and came darn near close to signing the paperwork. Again, a “no.”

I couldn’t understand why He kept telling me “no” but since God seems to know what He’s doing, I passed on both opportunities. Just two weeks later, I found out a third of my monthly income had been lost to someone else’s mishaps.

What if I had signed that contract? Selah.

I relied heavily on that money. Double selah and a “Lord, forgive me.”

With little money in the bank and no guarantee (from what I could see in the natural) of any more coming in, I was excited to hear about a job opportunity– and when I say opportunity, I mean the job I’ve been wanting for the past two to three years. I knew God was telling me “no” but I wanted to be sure, so I checked in with my mentor. He made it easy for me to write an apologetic email thanking the folks for considering me, yet respectfully declining.

Then…. (oh I’m not finished yet)…

My daughter became ill. I don’t know what kinda bug she picked up but baby girl went from having a mild case of pink eye to having a roaring temperature of 104 degrees. Her body temperature was as high as my bank account was low. God gave us favor with the doctors because with the loss of that aforementioned income went the insurance too. But I had to face a real challenge when I heard the cost of her medication… $84 for the full prescription. There was exactly $60 in my wallet. I purchased half the prescription and a bottle of ibuprofen and walked away with only twelve dollars in my wallet. I cried at the checkout counter, yet God showed me mercy. By the third day, I noticed that the pharmacist had given me 3 full doses instead of two and a half!! God bless that man!!! After a few days of pushing liquids and analgesics down her throat, baby girl recovered.

All this with minimal family support due to other circumstances which I cannot even bear to mention here…

I’ve come to a place where I realize that God’s “no” is not a denial of what I want, but moreso the way in which He protects what He wants for me. Had I signed those papers, I would’ve ended up with a house that He didn’t want for me and unable to pay for it.

What did bother me was that I wasn’t hearing any “yes’s”. Well today I heard more than a few! I can’t share at this point, but I will say this…

[quote]When God says “no”, rest assured that He’s protecting a “yes.” Obey Him! Trust Him! Lean on Him!
He will say yes at some point, and be ready to obey.
If you can’t yield to a “no”, then you won’t go with a “yes”![/quote]

There is nothing in this life that we will lose for Christ’s sake that He will not return and multiply to us. Can you even imagine the house he has for me? The job? The husband? No??!! Neither can I…

And that’s the point…

For the scripture says, Whosoever believes on him shall not be ashamed. Romans 10:11

Sixty-down. Three hundred to go…

Looking back, when did God’s “no’s” protect you?
What’s keeping Him from saying “yes” in your toughest situations?

 

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your (and my) future,

 

Alana

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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

Precautionary Dating Tale #2: Beware the Predatory Dater

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I’m sixty-something days into my dating sabbatical, and I am far from bored. Truth be told, I didn’t do a lot of dating before so I really haven’t felt the impact THAT much except for Sundays after church. (That’s designated boo time in my mind…) Just the same, men have approached me… one really good, and others who are not even worthy of a telephone conversation.

But what I’ve learned (besides the fact that I need not give everyone my number) is that some people are predators when it comes to dating. They have marked a target on my fat bottom, seemingly sizeable bank account, or apparent niceness. These men have set an objective outside of getting to know me, and they’ve told me what they want as if it were honorable to tell the truth about something so shameful.

Women do the same… and in my humble opinion, worse. Lonely ladies everywhere list the attributes they expect a man to have just to take her on a date. These women are predators… not the type worthy of a true gentleman’s time. Don’t entertain her no matter how gorgeous she may be. (What are you gonna do? Whip out your Superman cape and save her from her delusion? Not gonna happen…)

I knew a guy… Biblically-speaking. (Don’t judge me.) This was years ago… but this fella was tall, a beautiful shade of dark brown and muscle-y. Ladies, if you could see a picture of this man, you’d blush. Think tall Greek God wrapped in Godiva’s finest. We played that “friends with benefits” game, and honestly speaking, it worked for some time. We had great conversation and great “conversation”… so great that God himself had to deliver me from the soul tie I had with this guy. Few things are more dangerous than good sex…

But this fella was a predator. And I was easy prey… down on myself, emotionally unstable, disappointed at life, and eager to please anyone who showed me attention. Make no mistake about my position on this. The prey is JUST as wrong as the predator. He wasn’t all bad, and I wasn’t all good. But when I decided to end the sexual nature of our relationship, he had a fit of rage then hunted out new prey.

Years have passed, and I’m no longer the lovesick woman who will settle. So when men with the same qualities as the aforementioned Adonis-like playboy approach me, I lace up my Asic’s and run like–

So how can you spot a predatory dater and avoid the trouble? They might look something like this…

  • The predatory dater is in a rush. Broad statement. Apply liberally.
  • The predatory dater misconstrues your kindness. You say “Hi” and they say “OMG! Why are you sweating me?”
  • The predatory dater is super-sensitive and/or self-absorbed. This person thinks every tweet is subliminal and about him or her. One missed “Good morning” text or late response sends them into a cavalcade of emotion. He or she often feels the need to correct you just to make themselves feel important.
  • The predatory dater will spend a maximum of 3 weeks trying to determine if he or she can get what they want out of you. After that, you won’t hear much at all until their other options are unavailable.
  • The predatory dater says things like “We’ll see what happens. I don’t know what the future holds. Let’s keep this private for now.” These statements often come when plans are being made for a date, future phone call, progression of relationship, etc. Ambiguity and duality are BIG warning signs. You will not regret walking away from a person who says these things.
  • The predatory dater will use you for one or two things at the most. We know the typical things. For men, sex. For women, attention or money. A woman will entertain a man PURELY to gratify her need for attention and have nary a thought about giving said man a real chance. I know because I’ve done it before. But outside of that, people use others for a myriad of reasons. You may meet the predator’s needs for one or two things, but everything else they’ll get from another source.
  • The predatory dater leaves something to be desired. You might really like some qualities in the person, but after talking to him or her, you feel icky inside. You’re picking up on their insecurities that they’ve attempted to project on you. I have a friend who really has been demoted to an “why-are-you-calling-me” acquaintance. He’s a nice guy at the core, but his self-esteem is sooooooooo stinking low that he feels the need to “fix” me whenever we talk. When he and I would hang out, I could never get him to leave. So imagine a person who wants to be around you only to make you feel bad so they can feel better? Ugh! Nice guy… missing a few… gotta go.
  • The predatory dater puts you in a box. Your interactions must fit his or her schedule and be carried out in a specific manner. Say what you want at your own risk!
  • The predatory dater is an expert at seduction. In order to effectively seduce someone you have to persuade them by presenting an ideal that is better than his or her own. To seduce a man or woman of God, the predator has to have a little bit of godliness and a little bit of freakiness. Without the godliness, we wouldn’t give the person a second look. Without freakiness, we probably wouldn’t keep on looking… Think Samson and Delilah.

Proverbs 22:3 says The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.

My pastor often teaches that a person should be qualified before you give them your time. How I wish I had learned this YEARS AGO!  But now that I know, and now that I’ve shared it with you… He who has ears to hear let him hear.

Are you a predatory dater?
What are you looking for in others that you haven’t found in yourself?
Have you been someone’s prey?
What changes will you make to change your dating experience?

 

Dating Precaution #2: If you feel like dirt after a simple text or phone conversation, you’ve been targeted as prey. Play possum.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Being Saved, Uncategorized

Six Prayers That Save Your Soul

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Yesterday, I shared My Daily Bread, my rendition of The Lord’s Prayer. In this post I want to share six types of prayers that can save your soul from all types of troubles we face in this life.

Before delving into the types of prayers, keep in mind the following:

  • God responds to faith, not emotion. So cry if you must, but at some point you have to put your feelings aside so you can pray the promises and Word of God.
  • You cannot pray effectively with sin on your mind. There is provision for sin, so quickly repent then focus on the nature of God instead of your own nature.
  • Pray out loud when you can!
  • Prayer won’t get you out of everything, especially if you haven’t fed yourself with the Word.
  • Be quiet and listen after you pray.

For other basic praying tips, check out Red-Flagging Your Prayers. (This is one of my most popular posts by the way…)

Life dishes all sorts of blows– some we see coming and others that we’d never imagine. In the past two months, I’ve had to turn down a home and a job that I really wanted, discovered that a third of my income was lost to me without any warning, suffered the loss of relationship with a close family member, and cared for a sick child when I had next to no money to provide for her. I have not been strong or even full of faith through it all, but fortunately, I knew how to pray myself through it AND call on others to keep us lifted in prayer.

Regardless of what happens in life, the right prayer will change your situation for the better.

Sometimes we simply pray the wrong thing and wonder why God isn’t moving. Now give yourself a gentle face palm, shake off the shame, and let’s prepare ourselves for life’s next battle… because it will come.

For each of the types of prayers below, I’ve added anecdotal evidence, scripture, and a simple prayer you can personalize. Long post… I know! But it’ll be here when you need it!

Prayer of Salvation

One of the first things we teach our children in Sunday school is that we are three-part beings. You are a spirit that possesses a soul (mind, will, intellect, and emotions) and lives in a body. The prayer of salvation is the prayer that invites Christ, the only provision God gave for reconciliation to Himself, to live in one’s heart AND places Him as Lord over the person’s life. Part of the prayer of salvation includes a confession of one’s sinful nature and the acceptance of Christ’s death as a ransom for your soul. Once you’ve prayed this prayer Christ takes up residence in your spirit (or heart, as we often call it), and so we are “saved.” Meanwhile, our souls which are full of anguish, turmoil, and all sorts of evil works have yet to be delivered. This is where the other prayers come in. Anyone who’s walked with Christ will tell you that it’s easy to get saved, but staying saved is another matter altogether.

[learn_more caption=”Pray this to receive Christ…”] God, I am a sinner, and I am sorry for my sins and the life that I have lived; I need your forgiveness. I believe that Jesus is Your Son and that He is God. I believe He died for me on Calvary to save me from sin and death. I give You my life and invite you into my heart. I now confess you as my Lord and I believe in my hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead, so I am now saved. Spirit of God, I invite you into my being to lead and guide me. Fill me with Your presence and make it evident to me that You are with me. Change me for Your glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.[/learn_more]
Prayer of Repentance
We are saved in our spirits immediately, but in our souls progressively. Because it takes time for the soul to be renewed, we must be willing to repent when we fall. My pastor says it best… “Repent means to go back to the top.” (Think “penthouse”… at the top!) Somewhere along the day, your thinking became skewed so by the time you were driving home from work, you’d forgotten what the Word had to say about guarding your mouth even though it was your morning devotion. So naturally, you cussed the non-driving old lady up one side and down the other. Oops! Oh my! Just as simple as it was to slip into that sinful act, slip right back out. Go back to the top! Go back to the high expectation! Go back to what the Word says! Next time it will be easier for you to make the choice to obey the Spirit.
[learn_more caption=”I Messed Up!”] Lord, I messed up. I’m sorry. Please forgive me and help me to do it right next time. I receive Your grace and Your righteousness, and put away my own. Thank you![/learn_more]
The “Right-Mind” Prayer
Philippians 2:5 admonishes us to think like Christ which Paul described in the previous four verses. “Let THIS mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Truth be told, it’s hard to think like that ALL the time. When I’m in my right, Christlike mind, I will pray for those moments when I’m in my “I-wish-somebody-would” mind. For example, every three to four weeks my flesh likes to act up. When I feel those carnal wheels a-turning, I’ll pray. “Ok, Lord. I feel myself slipping. I need you to cover me. Block every trap the enemy has set, and don’t let me fall. Lord, even if I choose to do wrong I pray that You will intervene and keep me from falling. Let something get in the way, so I don’t sin against you. Keep me at all costs, even at the cost of myself.” Most of us won’t pray that though… But the Bible admonishes us to work out our own salvations with fear and trembling. I’d rather fear and tremble to prevent trouble, than to fall into trouble and fear and tremble from the damage I’ve caused.
[learn_more caption=”I’m about to slip…”] Father, my heart’s desire is to serve you in true and obedient service. Sometimes I get distracted by ________, and I want to go back to my old ways. But your Word says that he who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is unworthy of Your kingdom. So, I ask you to change my heart. Help me to receive the mind of Christ as I read your Word and seek You daily. Keep me out of trouble, and remove any one who does not mean me any good from my life. Lord, I ask You to keep me from falling…[/learn_more]
Seek and Find 
It’s incredibly important that the Christ-follower keeps the heart pure particularly in times of trouble. When I pray this prayer, I simply ask the Lord to search me and show me if and where I’ve missed Him. When I tell you that He’s faithful to answer, I mean I will KNOW within 24 hours how that negativity slipped in. David often asked the Lord to search Him and to lead Him in the way everlasting. God knows what’s in our hearts, but often we are unaware of the iniquities and the strongholds that keep us bound. When you ask God to do a seek and find on your heart, be ready to face some harsh realities and to receive His love to deliver you from your shortcomings.
[learn_more caption=”Search me…”] Father, I feel something in me is not right. I’m angry/sad/grieved/lonely/horny and I know that this feeling is not from You. I ask to search me and show me what to do to be restored in my soul. Thank you. Now I open myself and quiet myself to hear from You.[/learn_more]
Straight from the Word
There are few prayers more powerful than those that come STRAIGHT from the Word. As I read my Bible, particularly the verses that contain blessings, I personalize it!! Lord, I’m blessed because I do not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stand in teh path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scorners. But my delight is in You, and in Your Word, I will meditate day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2) That is soooo easy!!! God’s perfect will for us is represented in the Scripture even though we don’t always see it. Open your Bible and pray it over yourself and your family.
[learn_more caption=”Straight from the Bible…”] Even when I was dead in my trespasses, I am alive with Christ— by grace I have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward ME in Christ Jesus. For by grace I have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of my works, so that no one may boast. For I am Your workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that I should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:4-9)[/learn_more]
The “I Can’t Pray” Prayer
These three words got me through the hardest year of my life. Though I’d been raised in the church and knew more scripture than many twice my age, the Word was not alive in me because sin had eaten away at my faith. I could not pray anything good because I couldn’t see any good. So instead of problem-praying, the Lord only allowed me to say these three words. “I trust You.” If you can’t pray anything else, pray those words. If all you have to say is bad, JUST say those three words. I PROMISE you that God will move. Faith is trusting and leaning your entire personality on God. This prayer will put you on the path of restoration and healing.

[learn_more caption=”When Fewer Words Is Better…”] I trust You. I’m sorry. Forgive me. I need You. Help! I love You.[/learn_more]

 

All of these prayers, when added to faith, will give God something to work with in You. So often we think we can pray whatever to God, and He’s obligated to move on our behalf. This is not so. Many of our prayers go unanswered because we are out of His will and don’t know how to pray ourselves back into it.

This post may not be relevant to you now, but please… bookmark it for later and share with someone else. We need each other to survive this life and to move forward in Christ.

 

Many of the individuals we study in the Bible prayed several of these
types of prayers  when they encountered trouble.
Which story relates most to your struggle, and how did that person become free?
What prayer did he or she pray? 

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

 

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

Fine Oil Initiative, Uncategorized

My Daily Bread

My Father Who sits in Heaven,

You look down upon the Earth, not as a God who is distant or uncaring, but as one Who longs for reconciliation to Your creation. You made me because You desired companionship, and though I’ve turned my back on You, You’ve loved me and longed for me still. The blood Your Son shed is the only way I could be restored to You. I thank You for giving Your Son because now I can come boldly before Your throne in prayer.

My Father, You are Holy. There is none like You! In You there is NO evil, and because You are so good, You must judge what is wrong in me. Judge me, Lord. Judge my heart and cleanse me from any thing that is not like You. Your ways… Who can know them? How can I ever understand Your thoughts toward me? You are highly exalted above the Earth, yet Your presence rests on me and within me. You promised to never leave me, and I will never leave You.

Lord, I ask You to bring your kingdom to this Earth. In Heaven, there is no sickness. In Heaven, there is no grief. In Heaven, there is no lack. I don’t believe I have to leave my physical body to live in Heaven. I can have it now! So God I ask you to bring Heaven to Earth in my life and in this world. So many suffer, Lord, because they don’t know You are the answer. Use me to meet their need. Use me to bring Heaven to Earth. Let Your will be done in Your servant and in the Earth You created.

Father, Your presence is my daily bread. Food alone cannot sustain me. Some days I feel as if I’ll die if I can’t hear Your voice. Lead, guide, and direct me in my dreams and speak to me during the day. Your voice satisfies my soul. Nothing else matters if I cannot hear You. I trust You to provide everything I need for the day… not just money, but peace, guidance, wisdom, and joy. I thank You for the new mercies that will greet me when I open my eyes every morning. I don’t take Your grace lightly. I won’t use it as license to sin. 

My Lord, forgive my debts as I forgive those who owe me. I owe far more that I could ever repay, but I trust You to meet my need. And, Lord, I ask You to forgive me of the things I’ve done, said and thought about others that displeased You. Lord, I forgive those who have wronged me, and I ask You to bless them abundantly.

I struggle sometimes, Father, with worry and daily stress. My body wants to do the opposite of my spirit, and so I fight to do right. My desires are not always Yours, but God, I ask You to protect me from myself. Let me not sin against You and grieve Your Holy Spirit. The enemy wants my life. He wants my children’s lives. Let your angels guard us in our ways of obedient service to you. Protect me from those who’ve set themselves against me. You promised to defend me from my enemy and to cause them to be at peace with me. Quiet my enemies, Lord, and those who refuse to be quieted, I ask you to break their teeth so that they come against me no more.

For this is your Kingdom and in it resides Your power and Your Glory forever….

In Jesus’ name,

 

Amen.

How can you make the Lord’s prayer your own prayer?

 

 


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Being Saved, Dating & Relationships, Family, For the Brothers, Uncategorized

Love Your Wives: We’re Not THAT Complicated

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The morning after I posted “Love Your Husbands” I received an email from one of my close writer friends. He commented that he was interested to see what I’d come up with for the men. I responded saying that the men’s list would be much shorter and simpler.

His actual reply…. “So women’s needs are less complex (looking outside to see if it’s snowing Smile)?

At the risk of folk laughing me off Twitter, Facebook, and my own website I’m going to say YES… and NO! Shoot… I don’t really know. I just had to sucker you in to reading this post.

What I can say with CERTAINTY is that most menfolk are not about to read and implement 21 different things to do for their women… It’s just not part of a man’s make up. And to be perfectly honest, if you can do a few simple things in addition to being a provider, protector, and priest of the home, we’re good to go.

If your heart is right towards your wife, then the actions will follow. Keep in mind that the Bible warns against menfolk mistreating their beloveds. God explicitly says He will not hear your prayers.

In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together.
She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life.
Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered. 1 Peter 3:7

Selah.

Having said that , here are five things you can do to show your wife (or maybe wife-to-be) that you do really love her. Many women know they’re loved in word, but not so much in deed.

  1. Train your eyes to be only for her. I made the heavy-hitter number one on this list. Men, you’ve got to understand that no matter how strong and secure your woman is she will never be ok with you looking (and lusting) after another. That goes for real life, social media, television, websites, porn, MMS’s, Instagram, imaginative SMS’s. Some of the things that I see posted by married/engaged men are downright disrespectful. (But if your woman is cool with it, who am I to pretend like it’s not acceptable?) While you may go home to her, another woman’s image is in your head. And scripturally-speaking, that’s adultery (Matthew 5:28). Love your queen enough to divert your eyes when you see “trouble” from afar. And when she says to you “Did you see what that woman had on?” you can honestly reply “What woman?” There is a great reward for the man who can grasp and practice this concept.
  2. Respect her feelings. We know that you’re logical by nature, and we tend to be a little more feel-y. Despite what you may think, our feelings are just as relevant as your reasonings. Have you ever come home late after promising to be on time? You had the best, most logical response planned, but it just wasn’t enough to calm her. No? Man, please… you don’t have to lie to me! Let’s really be logical. If you know something you want to do will bother her, don’t do it. One thousand reasons isn’t enough to explain why you caused hurt when the situation could have been easily avoided. Honesty means next to nothing, and you’ll have to endure more than just a argument if you continue. The flip side to that is that you may feel you’re losing out and it’s unfair to you. But you promised to lay down your life, and again, there’s a reward for being considerate and kind to your bride.
  3. Try something new. I say this jokingly, but on a serious note, stop doing the same wrong thing over and over and over and over. Sorry doesn’t mean anything after the umpteenth time. If you’re going to slip up, please do so in a different and very minimal way, i.e. not replace the toilet paper roll.
  4. Unlock your phone. This right here could rival number 1. Trust is a major issue in relationships. If you are, in fact, living a life according to God’s statutes there is no reason for your phone and email to be kept private from your spouse. You’re trusting that person with your body and soul, and so it is their obligation and responsibility to cover you in those areas. If you can’t submit to that, then perhaps some fasting and separation is in order. I realize this requires a serious heart change for some, but truly, what do you have to hide? It’s going to come to light anyway.
  5. Clean her car, and make love to her. This is a two-fer. Something about a man taking care of domestic things that we ourselves are too busy to do ignites the passion in a woman. I have a friend who often comments on the reward her husband gets after taking care of the family’s dishes. Don’t complain about not getting enough if you aren’t willing to help out around the house or with the children. It really can be that simple.

So gentleman, might I suggest you choose any one item from this list and test it out. See what happens when your queen notices a change in you, and trust me, SHE WILL NOTICE!

Ladies, let me stress this to you!! Do NOT send this to your man in hopes of proving anything without first sending the “Love Your Husbands” article. Let him see that you are wiling to make some changes for his benefit before requesting he do the same for you. I might even suggest allowing him to pick a few items with which you can start. It’s alright to be transparent because none of these techniques work by magic. If he knows you’re overlooking a snide remark because you want better and not because you neeeeeed him… you can figure out the rest.

 

What does your wife need most?
Your time? Affection? A greater demonstration of your commitment to her?
Which of these items could you implement first? 

If this blog has helped you in any way, please subscribe via the form on the right hand column, SHARE this with a friend, and leave a comment. I LOVE to hear from my readers, even when you all disagree.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your marriage,

 

Alana

 

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

So You Want a Ruth?

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I have to giggle when single men claim to be Boaz’s waiting on their Ruth’s. The sentiment is sweet and heart-warming. You’re on the search for love, but is a Ruth truly what you desire?

Last week some young, preacher-like fella was retweeted into my Twitter timeline proclaiming that he was a Boaz and demanding God to send his Ruth. This guy couldn’t have been more than 25 and quite immature which was made evident by the fact that he demanded anything of God at all. I thought, “Dude, you’re not even close to being a Boaz. What would you do with a Ruth?” I replied to his tweet inquiring as to whether he really wanted a woman who’d suffered loss, carried emotional baggage, and didn’t fit in with the crowd. His reply… “Well, maybe not a Ruth.”

In Scripture you find that Ruth was a woman from a foreign land who married an Israelite. Her husband, father-in-law, and brother-in-law died in her home country, a place known for abominable sins. She returned to Judah with her mother-in-law, Naomi, and took care of her until God sent her kinsman-redeemer, Boaz. You know the rest of the story. (Just in case you don’t, you can find it here.)

While I originally intended to write this post for women, it seems I’m going to delve into the qualities that make a man a Boaz and offer you fellas some other options as far as women of God go. While Ruth’s are incredibly valuable and significant to the kingdom, this type of woman may not be right for you. More importantly, you may not be a Boaz.

Let’s break this down…

  • Boaz was a wealthy businessman. Don’t get upset with meeeee! It’s true!! Several men have approached me claiming to be my Boaz, yet I live better than they do. To be a Boaz, you must have reached a place beyond financial stability. If you’re still living with mama’nem, you cannot call yourself a Boaz… You may have some of the other qualities, but until you’re financially stable, should you really be looking for a wife at all?
  • Boaz was a man of authority and influence. He owned and managed fields, workers, threshing floors, and everything in between. He was a man of authority and influence because he built a name and reputation for himself. Not because he had a big ego– Sorry, Bey! What kind of leader are you? Are you humble or cocky and arroagant? Do people fear you or respect you? Do you take care of the needs of your workers? Or are you insensitive, cold, and demanding?
  • Boaz was compassionate. Woe to us who see a need and refuse to meet it when it is in our power to do so! If you’re not willing to give and provide for the woman in whom you have interest, you are far from ready for a Ruth. If you’re courting a woman, or even dating in some cases, to what extent will you give her help when she needs it? If her car breaks down, will you run to her rescue? If a family member gets sick, will you just pray with her and hope for the best, or actually make yourself available for emotional support? Compassion for another will cause you to give of yourself even when you may have to sacrifice.
  • Boaz was humble. I’ve never really understood why Ruth uncovered his feet or what that even means outside the literal sense, but Boaz says something to her that really strikes me as profound. “You have not gone after young men, neither poor nor rich.” Boaz was aware that Ruth could have easily found another mate. She was obviously very attractive or he would not have had to warn the young men not to touch her. Though he was well-suited to be  a husband, he respected her right to choose and was thankful that he was the one she chose.
  • Boaz was diligent. Once he was aware that Ruth was interested, he “made haste” to resolve the matter. He exercised wisdom in dealing with his shrewd family member, but secured Ruth as his wife. I wonder what Boaz might have gone through before the account of this story. There’s no record of his having a family prior to Ruth, but whatever challenges he had as a man prepared him to recognize the value in Ruth.

Are you prepared to do this for a woman who has suffered loss and needs protection and covering? Nothing wrong with saying “no” because you have to know where you stand on the matter. Perhaps a Mary would suit you better… sweet, mild-mannered, chaste. But are you a Joseph— Discerning, discreet, and self-sacrificing?

Or a Sarah who was submissive and had no problem calling her husband “lord”? But you’ve got to be the man who has no problem displaying affection for his wife.

Or an Esther who is mentally stimulating, beautiful, and brave? But are you sensitive enough to hear her heart on important matters?

Unless you’re seasoned, have been through some challenges, and find beauty in rare things, you probably don’t want a Ruth. And there’s nothing wrong with that… What type of woman is it that will suit you best?

Better yet… find what type of man you are.

 

Identify your areas of growth, and begin building up yourself so that when your bride comes…
whoever she may be…
you, man of God, are ready to meet her needs and cover her as God has ordained.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

 

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net