Had to be the summer of ’93… I was eleven years old and promptly budding all over with my big ol’ glasses and bigger gapped teeth. The boys in my neighborhood were starting puberty too, so while they were finally aware that girls didn’t have cooties, they still threw rocks and vile words at us whenever we walked by. I forget her name, but she’s my cousin’s cousin, and she lived in a bright teal green house one block south from where I lived. This house was so darn fluorescent, you’d have to look at the ground until you made it to the porch. I’m sure by now the chemicals in that paint have turned the house into a primordial soup. Ain’t no way it’s still standing.
On one particular day– let’s call her Tia– we ran to Tia’s house because the boys were launching rocks and water balloons at us. We sat in the sweltering sunroom and chatted about the usual eleven-year old topics. Then the phone rang. Tia froze and a look of trepidation crossed her face. Tia’s granny answered the call and all I heard was “Who is this? You calling for who? What you wanna talk to her for? Tia ain’t coatin’ no boys!” And she slammed the phone.
My heart started racing. Tia… age ten… got a phone call…. from a boy. And Tia’s grandma answer the phone. Ultimate fail, Tia. Granny stormed into the sun room and went off! She kept shouting over and over…
TIA, YOU AIN’T COATIN’ NO BOYS! YA HEAR ME?! YOU AIN’T COATIN’ NO BOYS!
Granny then proceeded to beat Tia’s hein poss (that’s hind parts in Granny speak) mercilessly while Tia retorted that the phone call was for homework. Granny wasn’t buying it, and since I was in the line of fire I ran home past the rock-throwing boys and past Tia’s wails and past Granny’s shouts because, yes, I could hear them up the block. Tia won’t coatin’ no boys.
I had to be all of 26 and married with two kids before I figured out what the heck coatin’ was, and even then, I only learned that the word was courting. After several failed attempts at coatin’ and “there-has-to-be-a-better way” cathartic cries, I get it! At least I think I get what it’s supposed to be in comparison to dating. Let’s give these meager bones some flesh, shall we?
In courtship, commitment precedes intimacy. That means before you start having those deep conversations about past hurts and future hopes and dreams, a decision has been made between the two parties to only develop a relationship with each other and Christ. In this way the couple can determine the purpose and timing for the marriage as God ordained. Why so much so soon? Because you only court a person that you would marry based on what God has shown you. Ideally, God will have already given the holy head nod for you to proceed into a courtship, but two people who are equally yoked and interested in each other may choose to enter a courtship with Godly counsel. Still a courtship is only as good as the people who are in it. Having said that, the standard is high and most bottom-dwellers won’t even pretend to take this on because it immediately exposes who you are. Easy peas-y… we weeded out the bad and the unprepared just that fast.
I’ve conjured up a few comparisons to give you a better idea of the benefits of courtship…
While dating says “I don’t know where this is going because I can’t see into the future”
courtship says “Let’s build our future together.”
While dating says “You don’t own me” courtship says “I’m here to serve you.”
While dating uproots the blooming flower to keep and hold until it dies,
courtship leaves the flower planted and watches it bloom.
While dating says “Let’s be together forever for tonight,”
courtship says “Let’s pace and plan our interactions so we can make this thing last.”
While dating demands trust without test,
courtship provides a safe place for testing and allows trust to develop over time.
While dating says “I’m a gift to you” courtship says “You’re a gift to me.”
While dating invites you to a person’s genitals but keeps you away from their phone,
courtship assigns value correctly and appropriately.
Dating works for some, but for the vast majority of us, this reckless approach to relationship-building has rendered us broken-hearted and underwhelmed. Players, predators, and commitment-phobes dwell in the nether regions of dating, and that is no place for a child of God. There HAS to be a better way, and I believe courting is it. I don’t know many men who would ascribe to this method, but that tells me I need some new friends because I am certain that this is God’s path to marriage for me.
Deep in the recesses of my mind I have a mental image of a tall man wearing a fine Italian cut suit and a long wool coat. He’s got one of those 007 hats tipped over his left eye, and as he approaches me he whips off his coat, throws it over my head, and shouts “You’re mine, girl!” Yes, ladies and gentleman. This is how I imagined coatin’ as a kid. Listen… even THIS is better than dating for me. If you wanna toss your coat over my head just make sure it smells good, and you put some bass in your voice.
My last plea for courtship….
Imagine how much easier it would be to open up if you knew that person was only interested in and committed to you. Imagine how freeing it would be to know that the purpose of your relationship was to seek God’s plan for you as a couple rather than to “just see what happens.” Imagine what it’s like to walk a path that’s already been laid out for you with red carpet. Imagine what it’s like to part ways with someone but still have full respect for them because they treated you with the utmost Christlike love and respect.
Come throw your coat on me, Boo. Alana is ready for coatin’.
With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,
In my last post I wrote about how bread is for provision, and seed is for sowing. I heard this teaching a few years ago, but really only started implementing it last year, and even then, sporadically. Now that I find myself leaning more heavily on the Lord for provision, I follow these THREE simple steps whenever I sit down to pay my bills.
I see the difference. At first, I was going solely on faith, but now I’m seeing the difference in our living. By all accounts I should be 6 feet deep in debt, but I can testify that my freezer and fridge are full, my car has gas, and the heat and lights are on in my apartment!
Ayyyeeee, I won’t complain!
With love, sincerity, and hope for your financially blessed future,
I hate flies.
They’re filthy, disgusting, annoying, and aggressive. Maybe it’s just where I live, but the flies in the burbs of Richmond will roll up on you, light up a cig, and blow the smoke in your face without thinking twice. And these nasty creatures–I’m not sure why God created them– were gathering at my back door.
Over 30 of these minuscule beasts were pressed against the glass panes buzzing “Give us us free.” They must’ve known I was coming for them because they hid in the blinds and soared around my apartment whenever I approached. And for an hour or so, the children and I took turns until every single fly revisited that window and disappeared into the swirling suction of my lavender vacuum cleaner hose.
Like any person with common sense, I looked for the source of the problem. There were no maggots in the trash can. (Thank goodness!) No gaps in the door. No gaps in the windows. I was at a loss…
…Until last week when I cleaned out the old clothes and toys from my daughter’s room. A foot to the left of her bed on the ceiling is a vent. Directly below the vent on the carpet– dead flies.
Nasty, filthy, stinking flies crept in unaware through an area that I had not considered because it was out of my reach. And because of my ignorance, a small swarm of flith-laden creatures had defiled our living spaces. (I thank God for the makers of Lysol and Clorox Anywhere Spray.)
And the old phrase, incomplete as it may seem, came to me…. “A fly in the ointment.”
Flies are attracted to anything with fragrance. They buzz around looking for the juiciest piece of fruit, hottest piece of chicken, or your finely-fragranced body butter. If we are diligent, we cover our wares and swat the flies away. But if we turn our backs for a moment, they contaminate, and something that was good just moments before ultimately gets tossed into the garbage.
And so it is with us, when we take on the lifestyle of a Christ-follower. We. Smell. Good. And the enemy knows he cannot get us to turn back to our life of sin, so he sends in the flies.
He sends in the annoying, the nit-picky, the continual harassment from people and circumstances. There’s a buzzing of my bank account on low, the texts from the guy who won’t kick rocks like I’ve asked him so many times, the forwarded emails with Tweety bird at the end!!! They all aggravate me to the point where I meditate on the wrong things, leaving my fragrance uncovered. Then the flies settle in making whatever beauty and grace I had completely distasteful and repulsive.
Aggravated. Frustrated. Exhausted.
A few flies have crept in over the past ninety days… By God’s grace I’ve found the sources and closed some of them. I’m cleaning out the remnants of disappointment and bitterness as I type. And I’ve managed to hide myself enough to discourage them from landing anywhere near me and mine. I’m guarding my heart and my mouth to no end.
So the bank account matter… I trust Him. The texts… Google Spam works wonders. The Tweety Bird forwards… Headed to the trash before they even seen my inbox. I’ve closed the vents.
Because what good is it for me to have suffered what I’ve suffered and lost what I’ve lost and gained what I’ve gained all unto God’s glory yet I bear a bad attitude and lack discretion? Why would I allow my precious relationship with Christ to become anything but by allowing small, nagging situations to enter and remain unchecked. We all have those rough days and weeks, but we cannot continually allow these matters to settle in our heart because they take away from the beautiful fragrance that God places on his people.
After all, flies aren’t the only ones attracted to us. So are the lost and the hurting. Who will embrace them if we don’t? And what hurting person ever seeks comfort from one who bears a bad attitude?
With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,
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Two 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.
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,
I love scanning through my FB News Feed and seeing the pictures of my friends’ beautiful little ones. I have one particular friend from high school who has THE most gorgeous little girl. This kid has cheeks for days, bright gray eyes and a smile that will melt anyone down to the ground. She is a baby doll… so it would seem.
I had no idea this kid was a tough cookie, so it surprised me when her “mild-mannered, sweet as pudding” momma emailed me to say “What the heck am I supposed to do with this kid? She’s whiny, manipulative, and strong-willed. I don’t know if spanking is right or wrong, but this kid is running my home. How do your kids behave?”
Welp… I have a lot to say about this— so much so that I will have to break the content down into two to three entries, but I’ll do my best to get it all published within a week’s time. But let’s address the first few objectives… why spanking is good and how to determine if your child is the kind that will need them often.
Children do not have the reasoning ability that adults have, so we must guide and direct them. Here’s an example. Little Tyrone is riding his big wheel in the driveway. He starts to feel a little confident and wants to head out to the main road. You tell him to stop and to turn around. Now, depending on whether you’ve instilled an attitude of obedience in him (or not), he will respond.
Let’s say Little Tyrone disobeys and rides his bike out in the street. The unthinkable happens. And who’s responsible? You are! We must teach our children that they must respect us (liking is optional), that we discipline them because we love them, and that obedience is better than taking a chance and getting hurt and/or in trouble.
As unthinkable as the scenario above may be, it’s very realistic. How often do I children step to the line of danger and attempt to cross it not realizing what may lie ahead? The minimal amount of pain you give them as a response to disobedience cannot be compared to the danger that faces them in that moment. When you spank your child within the right context, you literally save their soul from future troubles and possibly even an eternity apart from God.
Another good reason… you don’t want a child running your home. As temperamental and stubborn as Brandon was at two and three years of age, I refused to let him dictate what would happen in my house. We would go grocery shopping and he’d run away from me to another aisle. I’d have to leave Briana behind (in her carrier) to catch him. I would whine and cry about the situation, but eventually I realized I’m the adult and he’s the kid. I started to teach him that if he ran from me when I called him, he’d get spanked right away. And when we were at home, I delivered on that promise. Next few times we went out shopping, I’d call him and he’d start to run, then stop and look at me, then look to run again… He was contemplating what to do! Eventually he brought his short self over and held on to the cart like I asked. He learned the lesson and lined up with my expectations. (I’m laughing as I write this, but it was very challenging at the time.)
There are far too many stories about children abusing their parents, and I will not be one of those casualties. Neither will you! Don’t let your children go so far that you have to call SuperNanny in to rescue you. Get them in line NOW!
Some kids need spankings as their main form of discipline while others can be disciplined via time outs, taking things away, or a good scolding. But if your kid has the following qualities, he or she will more than likely need a good swat to the thigh or backside on a daily basis until they really learn to respect and obey you.
Parents must understand that a child’s personality is formed by the time he or she reaches 5 years. So you have fewer than 5 years to create an attitude of obedience and respect for authority. If you’re past that time, you’ve got to reinforce what you’ve already instilled or do damage control. Hopefully the former…
Age really isn’t a factor either. Of course no one should spank a baby… Use common sense. But there are ways to let babies know that what they’re doing is not acceptable. I used to tap Briana’s little legs when she decided to run her baby teeth across my baby-feeders. The first few times, she didn’t understand that I wanted her to stop. But around tap number 4, her big ol’ eyes widened, she grinned, and stopped nibbling on me.
I remember another time… indulge me here… she wanted something from the cabinets but she wasn’t talking yet. I thought she was pointing to her cup. So I passed her the cup and she threw it on the floor in anger. I picked it up, and handed it to her again. Again, she threw it on the floor. So I tapped her hand (not hard at all) and said “No no.” Third time giving her the cup (and still not realizing what she wanted), she looked at me with her frustrated baby face then bent down and placed the cup on the floor. I never did find out what she wanted, but I both learned a lesson that day. Young children (under 18 months) do understand discipline.
One more tiny piece before I end… life brings about changes, and often our kids misbehave because they are sad or grieving over something. In those situations, I stop and ask the Lord if I should spank or not. Usually, I get a yes. We don’t want our children to think it’s acceptable to be disobedient just because they’re tired or sad.
Whew… that’s only a small piece of what’s in my heart about this matter. I hope this helps those mild-mannered moms and pushover-dads out there. Take back your homes one bottom-swat at a time…
With love, sincerity, and hope for your (and your children’s) future,