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 Single, Dating & Relationships, Uncategorized

How I Got Over (Him)

[dropcap style=”font-size: 45px; color: #55cfbb;”]T[/dropcap]hose closest to me know the kraziness that has occurred in the past few days. I cannot recount the tales because of the concern I have for one involved party. The other can kick the biggest darn rocks one can find in Central Virginia, and I may offer him some via stoning should God be willing. But many times, in this situation and others, I’ve been asked “How did you get over him?” People seem to think I have this uncanny knack for recovering from bad relationships, and they’re right. I have LOTS of experience getting over these situations… (snickering at myself). When I’m in the trenches, it’s ugly. But once I’m out, that’s it! I’m not going back.

I laugh… With fullness of joy and confidence, I laugh at the enemy and every lie he’s trying to sell you. You cannot imagine the defeat I’ve carried in my soul for years thinking that I was unlovable, unattractive, unworthy to be treated with respect and kindness. Every predator within a five mile radius could smell the stench of my bloody, broken heart. Vicious cycles greatly abounded in my life.

So yes, I “got over” every last him… The ex-hubby him, the him who used my heart to wipe his–, and this last him who may find a few pebbles flying at his head when our paths cross. I’ve shared about forgiveness and grief recovery, but I guess this is the missing link. This post embodies the transition from a place of pain and guilt to a place of rest and promise.

Here’s how my ashes were changed to what I’d like to think is beauty.

 

I submitted to God’s will.

We can want something sooo badly that we totally negate God’s will for our lives. We might even convince ourselves that it is God’s will for a person to be a part of our lives. When your desires supersede God’s will it’s easy to be deceived. This is why we’re dreaming about these menfolk and our possible futures with them as if the Spirit is leading. Be ye careful. These are tactics the enemy uses to create soul ties even when sex hasn’t come into play. Anything you hunger for more than God can and will be used to exploit and harm you. A simple “Your will be done prayer” can change things overnight.

I repented.

It doesn’t matter how badly he treated me, how much he lied, the fact that he cheated, on and on… I did something wrong too. And more often than not my error was making the choice to date the person in the first place. I won’t even dig in to the conversation about red flags. No need to revisit those things in your mind if you’re intent on moving forward. Just repent and get back in a place where you can hear from God. And stay there!

I suffered.

It’s childish to think that after repenting all consequences will be revoked. It just doesn’t work that way. If Christ really is the LORD of your life, then you’ll have to endure some suffering. If He’s not, then you’re likely to go the opposite direction and either sink into sadness and depression or act out your pain with reckless behavior. I chose to endure the suffering and allow Him to prune me so that I could become fruitful again. During these low points I battled with loneliness and horniness. (Was I not supposed to write that? Oop.) But I learned that those feelings come from an empty place that can easily be filled and overcome with worship. Think of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You’ve done more for lesser men. So why not lift your hands, sing to Him, dance before Him, talk to Him freely? All the intimacy I longed for with him, I found in Christ. Eventually the lack of body became irrelevant. Suffering doesn’t seem so bad… now does it?

I fell in love again.

This is the best part. I feel, even now, as though the Lord is courting me. Some days I just need to feel loved, and whether I ask or not, something significant happens in that day that reaffirms His love for me. And how can I not love Him in return? Just Saturday I felt His presence engulf my being while I was changing a trash bag. I know we fantasize about how great it will be to have a Godly husband, but truly… There is no physical body that can completely surround you and cover you from every angle. Only the Spirit of the Lord can do this. And how can you know the love of another unless you first know God’s love? We’d be much more cautious of the men we chose if we used God’s burning compassion and favor over us as the standard. So, yes, I’m in love with Him. But I’m also in love with me. Not the vanity type of love, but I have confidence and love every part of this bottom-heavy frame with which I’ve been endowed. My Twitter followers know this well as I’ve coined the term #LoveThighSelf.

I closed the doors.

As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool to his folly. You ever wonder why they ALWAYS come back? Dogs can’t help it. Whatever they chew and spit up, they go back to lick it up. Nasty, right? So metaphorically-speaking, don’t continue to be vomit. Now let’s turn the tables, and say… I don’t know… maybe you are the dog, metaphorically-speaking of course. Do you really want to go back to that? Who cares how wealthy he is? How many inches he’s packing? All the stuff he said about getting married and making babies? IT’S ALL VOMIT!!! Here are a few options to help you.

  • Change his name in your phone to something like– oh, I don’t know– Asshole. Serves as a great reminder that he’s NOT who he claimed to be. Don’t delete him, however. You’ll get sucked into a “Who is this?” conversation.
  • Send all emails, calls and texts to Spam if you have Google voice or block them altogether. The last thing you want is a random “I miss you” to jar you in the middle of your workday. Until you can control your emotional response, put controls on your SMS, etc.
  • LISTEN to the spirit. They always come back. You hear me? ALWAYS! ALWAYS! ALWAYS! But God will warn you. And this, in fact, is a blessing. Over time, if you’ve allowed healing to take place, you’ll find that the pull he has on you will become weaker and weaker. God will warn you before he pops up… sometimes weeks in advance and sometimes hours.
  • Whatever you think you’re feeling may or may not be you. I’ve found myself “missing” someone only to realize I really felt them missing me. Women are sensitive to things like this, but be wise enough to know if it’s your emotions talking or his. Either way, a simple prayer of “Lord, redirect him to the nearest hoochie” should solve that problem.

So there it is. The quick-and-dirty of how I got over not just each individual, but the mentality I had which has drawn these piss-poor quality men to me. I now find that folks who’ve wronged me have a hard time looking me in the face or even contacting me. I’m different. I’m not available to be abused. I’m not open to manipulation. The very presence of God in me convicts them of their wrong, and so they’re faced with a choice to remove themselves from my presence or sincerely apologize for having wronged me.

One last point… God doesn’t take it lightly when His children are mistreated. However, until we behave as His children He is unable to defend. Yet in His mercy and lovingkindness, He permits us to be neglected by those who we think should love us. He’s jealous for you! And when you see the entire situation through that lens, you can’t help but thank Him for bringing a bad relationship to an end.

Selah.

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Being Saved, Uncategorized, Video Blogs & Podcasts

Overcoming Sickness

This is my first podcast, and I hope to jump on the iTunes bandwagon soon. Here are the Scriptures used to support this teaching.

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Luke 13:10-13

Now Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.

 

Isaiah 53:5

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

 

1 Peter 2:24

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

 

Luke 1:37

With God, nothing is impossible.

 

John 9: 1-3

And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

 

2 Corinthians 4:17

For our light, momentary affliction (this slight distress of the passing hour) is ever more and more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory [beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease!]

 

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With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Being Saved, Uncategorized

Overcoming Temptation: Tipping the Struggle Scale

[dropcap style=”font-size: 50px; color: #9b9b9b;”] W[/dropcap]e fall into two categories when it comes to temptation: “Struggling” and “Not Struggling”. To dig a little deeper those who are classified as “Not Struggling” are either totally delivered from a situation OR have no desire to fight against the very thing that’s keeping them bound. For those of you who see no wrong in indulging in your vices, this post is not for you.

I’ve struggled. In some ways, I’m still struggling but I’m definitely not falling like I used to. So you’re in good company, and I won’t tell your secrets if you won’t tell mine. Here’s what I had to learn about myself in regards to my weak (read “sinful”) areas.

[quote]But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. James 1:14-15[/quote]

Lust brings forth sin and sin brings forth death. And lust, in this case, is not just a sexual term. Lust is any desire that takes you outside of God’s perfect plan for your life. It may be sexual, abuse of substances or people, cursing/cussing/complaining, gossip… fill in your blank.

So how do you tip the struggle scale to your favor? Start here.

 

READ YOUR BIBLE!!!

If I don’t offer any other steps, this piece alone is sufficient. Prayer does not work once you’re “in” the situation because your will is already compromised. The only way to stand in trying situations is to strengthen your spirit by reading the Word of God. As your spirit becomes stronger, your will becomes more aligned with God’s plan for your life and your desires start to change. You won’t see yourself or those shameful situations in the same light after some time. The Word is a lamp to show us where to go (and where not to go) and a light to make the truth evident. If you don’t read your Bible, you’re navigating your life in the dark!

 

Know your weakness & avoid it. 

Remember God does not tempt us (James 1:13). Temptation comes from within us. For example, put a fine chocolate-y, muscle-y brother in front of me, and I might be tempted. Pour a glass of Crown Royal and dangle it before my eyes, and I won’t blink twice. My lust is not for alcohol, so I cannot be tempted by it. I plead the fifth on the former situation, however. So until I’m able to stand, I should not put myself in those situations. So many folk have criticized me by saying “Don’t you have any self-control?” Well, no, I don’t. And bless God, I’m honest with myself and therefore I can avoid trouble.

 

Check your fellowship.

Somewhere in the Bible it says that we should not fellowship with brethren that we know are fornicators (in the KJV) and acting against God’s ordinances (1 Corinthians 5:11). By brethren the Scripture refers to those who identify themselves as Christ-followers. There is a two-fold purpose here. We cannot condone the continual sin of a person who calls him or herself a Christ-follower, so they must be given some space to allow God to change their hearts. A STRONGER reason is that eating with a person (and fellowshipping in general) is a way in which soul ties are formed, and wherever there are soul ties spirits and desires will transfer. (Bad company corrupts good manners, don’t you know?) Though your friend may not be malicious, the enemy certainly is. You’ll have to limit your ties with such a person to preserve your own soul.

 

Love God MORE!

Who I am to tell you what you should or shouldn’t like? Feelings in and of themselves are not evil, but actions are what bring  judgment. You might like to smoke a little “reefer” (that word makes me snicker), but you have to love God more to find your freedom. There are times in our walk when we find ourselves halfway between a place of sin and a place of prayer. Just choose to love God more, and He’ll handle the rest. Remember where sin abounds grace SUPERABOUNDS!!! (Romans 5:20– This is truly one of my favorite Bible verses.)

 

Consecrate yourself.

No one likes to do this, but nothing will break your nasty habits better than fasting and praying. I can fast for 3 days and see major changes in my most basic desires. Sometimes you have to literally starve your desires, and you do this by overruling your flesh with your spirit. BE HUNGRY FOR GOD!!! This also means that any influence that glorifies your lust issue should be cut off until you can handle it. Personal example… I haven’t watched music videos or listened to most secular music regularly in years because I cannot handle its content. It drives me want to sin, so it must go! A proper fast will bring about a lifestyle change ultimately transforming your desires so you don’t even want to do the same things anymore.

 

All of these steps will help you to resist the enemy as opposed to falling and repenting multiple times. Just last week, I had all these crazy thoughts come to mind that didn’t seem like my own. I wasn’t able to rest because I was so busy thinking and worrying over small things. I heard in my spirit “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). So I rebuked him and all the thoughts went away. The enemy is legally obligated to run from you the moment you choose to shut him down. You are not helpless. You do not have to succumb to his advances.

I think back to a certain relationship when the person kept wronging me in the same way over and over again. After some time, sorry didn’t mean anything to me because I realized he was making a choice to give in to temptation. How much more does God hurt when we continually choose our lustful desires over Him, knowing that in the end we’re still broken and unsatisfied?

Selah.

What’s your personal struggle?
How many more times will you allow yourself to be defeated
when you’ve been given the commandment to overcome?!
And what good thing is waiting for you on the other side of victory? 

 

 

With love, sincerity, and hope for your future,

 

Alana

Being Saved, Family, Guest Posts, Uncategorized

Overcoming Loneliness by Demontae Edmonds

Blessing us this week is my beloved cousin, Demontae Edmonds. Demontae shares several mini-sermons via Facebook and email during a week’s time, so I decided (with his permission) to pass this post along because it is so relevant to the CTL mission. I pray this post blesses you. And as always, comments are welcome and wanted!!!

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.consideringthelily.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/d.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Apostle Demontae Edmonds www.freeinva.com[/author_info] [/author]

 

Last night while in prayer God impressed upon me to write on the subject of “Overcoming Loneliness.” Often we hear Sunday messages on faith, salvation, tithing but there is a legitimate issue people wrestle with called loneliness.

 

First, being alone does not necessarily mean that one is lonely. Loneliness according to the dictionary is a condition where a person is “affected with, characterized by, or causing a depressing feeling of being alone.”

 

God does not want anyone to struggle with or be defeated by loneliness. Many people hate to have this feeling and place themselves prematurely in wrong relationships in an attempt to overcome these feelings. BIG MISTAKE!  Just because you are with someone in a relationship (even a marriage) does not mean that you may not still wrestle with loneliness.

 

A second definition I found for loneliness reads, “destitute of sympathetic or friendly companionship, intercourse, or support.” Many have found out the hard way that even after marriage their spouse may fall short of their expectations. This is especially true if they married a person God has not intended for them or an immature spouse. If your spouse does not know how, try, or care about fulfilling emotional and physical needs for attention and companionship you may STILL suffer from loneliness. Even worse rejection, hurt, distrust, low self-esteem etc. may result from a broken relationship. Add these with loneliness and you have an emotional wreck.

 

To help you avoid falling into these traps and overcoming loneliness I prayed and asked God for some points to share:

 

#1 REALIZE THAT YOU ARE NOT ALONE    

 

Our natural mind and the enemy (Satan) often try to trick us to believe we are alone and also the only person dealing with certain situations. This is certainly not true (see 1 Kings 19:14). Proverbs 18:24 tells us, “There is a friend who sticks CLOSER than a brother.” This refers to God Himself. He is always watching us, with us, and for us. We are often unaware of this and He is the last person we focus on. The more you recognize and “in all your ways acknowledge Him” (Proverbs 3:6), He will be that much more real to you.

 

James 4:8 says, “Draw close to me and I will draw close to you.” The more time, energy, and devotion you spend toward God in the Word, prayer, and casual conversation He will draw closer to you. This means He will reveal more of how ACTUALLY close He is. This may come through dreams, visions, discerning His presence, His taking away loneliness, grief, depression, etc.

 

Both of these acts require faith. When you first begin to confess “God is a friend  that sticks closer than a brother” you may feel nothing at first. But over time “by faith” the reality of this truth will become more apparent in your life. Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit as a “Comforter”. Because God created your heart and mind He is the ONLY person who has the blueprint to them. He knows exactly when and how to comfort you and re-energize you even when you allow yourself to get beat down, defeated, discouraged, or wresting with loneliness.

 

#2 DISCERN YOUR GOD-SENT RELATIONSHIPS

We are admonished to be friendly & kind to everyone but not everyone can be our friend. There are specific people appointed by God for you to be in relationship (friendship) with. You cannot get to your destiny without them, and they cannot get to theirs with you. There is a mutual dependence. God specifically chose Prince Jonathan for King David. They loved each other like brothers. God specifically chose twelve disciples to accompany Jesus. We see this throughout the Bible.

 

Many times people struggle with loneliness but neglect to trust God that there are specific people He has already hand-picked for their lives. When you pray, trust God will send these people into your lives. Very often we miss them because they may not look, talk, or think like you. They may come from very different backgrounds and have different interests but there will be common ground that will serve for a higher purpose.

In the Book of Ruth, Ruth lost her husband and had a choice to start a new life or remain with her mother-in-law. Our minds would say leave and start over, Ruth. But she chose to “cleave to Naomi” her mother-in-law (Ruth 1:14). After losing a spouse or leaving a bad relationship a person is often vulnerable and sensitive. She chose to stay in friendship with someone who she had known and trusted through the years. Often there is security and comfort in familiarity. The story ends with Ruth marrying the right man at the right time, and he was gentleman and very WEALTHY! So it worked out for her.

Many miss friendships because of defensive walls that are up due to past hurts, fear of being rejected or judged, or simply they don’t know how to be a friend themselves.  Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man that has friends must show himself friendly.”  This means there are some things you need to do on your end to make and maintain friendships like not being jealous of others, not competing, showing humility, avoiding selfish actions, not being condescending, and not backbiting. Also, don’t wait on the other person to initiate friendship. You must, “show yourself friendly.”

 

#3 GET & STAY CONNECTED WITH THE BODY OF CHRIST     

 

Hebrews 10:25 commands us, “Forsake not the assembling together of yourselves.” Another version reads, “Don’t stop meeting together.”

 

What better place to make friends than a place with people with the common ground of Jesus Christ as God and that have the same belief systems? In theory anyway… lol. That is the way God ordained his earthly kingdom. Often God will use someone in the Body of Christ to comfort us or meet our needs of companionship, finances, inner or outer healing, etc. No one can grow into their full spiritual potential being disconnected from the Body of Christ.

 

#4 A GIFT FROM GOD

 

Being alone is not always negative. Often it is a gift of God. Only when we are alone can we discover our true identity. Moses discovered that He was to be deliverer of Israel from Egypt when he was ALONE on the backside of the desert and encountered the burning bush. Jesus spent 40 days ALONE in the wilderness when He begin to walk in the power of the Spirit and perform miracles. John the Baptist was “in the desert places [ALONE] until the day of his showing.”  Many others throughout history have discovered their potential, identity, strengths, weaknesses, life goals, and vision for the future while in their time of singleness or solitude. You can be alone but not be lonely. Enjoy your gift from God UNTIL……..

 

Apostle Demontae Edmonds
www.freeinva.com

 

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