Fear and Afflictions

Standard

Interestingly enough I have a fear of being alone. Those closest to me may not have ever heard me say that, but I’m sure they can think back to instances where that fear was apparent although unspoken. 
The fear of being alone has lead to unhealthy relationships, unaccomplished goals, and a lot of emotional pain.

In the attempt to keep people around me, some times I wouldn’t be my authentic self. I’d change who I was, or I’d do what was necessary to appease those that were easily offended as to keep them around. I would go above and beyond for them, attempting to prove myself as the worthy friend or girlfriend they should hold on to.

But the reality is, everybody doesn’t share my fear. They aren’t worried about being alone, so they are not going to go to the lengths that I would in order to keep me around. They weren’t afraid of losing me like I was them. Same goes for dating relationships. They were not concerned about me leaving them. I was the one concerned about them leaving me, no matter how bad the relationship was.

Needless to say I’ve struggled, and recently has been no exception.

I was reminded of the story of Job this morning. 

As afflicted as this man was, He never cursed God and he kept his faith! Even when his wife told him to just curse God and die (Job 2:9).

He lost EVERYTHING! His wealth. All ten of his children at once. EVERYTHING! And although his wife was there physically, she wasn’t there in the way he needed at that moment.

Through it all, Job rejoiced while in mourning, “…Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart…” Job 1:21 NIV

Now let’s look at this, naked doesn’t just mean with no clothing, but alone. Even my twins were born separately 😳…

In his time of intense suffering, Job didn’t reach out to his friends crying and looking for help, advice or comfort. He didn’t call his pastor, the elders of the church, or the prayer line. 

He praised God!!

He kept his faith. 

“…The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job 1:21 NIV

Our desire should be to be like Job. Full of faith in all circumstances believing that “…all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭NIV‬‬. Even if that means being alone for a while. 

We (and by we, I’m talking to myself too) need to stop filling voids in life with people, and allow God to fill those voids the right way. We need to trust Him, because He loves us and knows exactly what we need (see Psalm 139:1-18.)

We need to understand that everyone is not meant to travel our whole life journey with us. We will have to let some people go in order to fulfill our purpose in life (and did God even say we were supposed to be friends in the first place?)

As alone as Job must have felt in this situation, he still had a desire to praise God in his afflictions. Simply, he knew where his help came from (Psalm 121:1-2).

When you’re feeling alone, be cautious when running to your friends for comfort, understanding or a shoulder to cry on. They are human. Eventually, they will let you down. And oftentimes it’s when you feel you need them the most. Run to God. Humbly crawl to Him like the woman with the issue of blood (see Mark 5:25-34.)

He will be your comfort. He will give you understanding. He will be the most comfortable set of arms to rest in as you cry to Him. And most importantly, He will direct you down the RIGHT path to help you get through your situation. 

The Bible also tells us in 1 John 4:18, that perfect love casts out fear! We cannot feel that perfect love that only God can give to us if our relationship with Him isn’t solid. 

Just like relationships in the natural, they take time and dedication. Are you dedicated to strengthening your relationship with God in order to cast out your fears?

Be encouraged.

Surface Christians

Standard

Generally when we initially come to Christ we make a significant attempt to change our outside appearance (many times based on the awkward looks we get from other church members), but what happens when we aren’t just as concerned about what’s happening inside of us?

The bible tells us we wrestle not with the flesh, but with powers and principalities (Ephesians 6:12).

If we are fighting daily battles with forces beyond our flesh, how can we survive if we’re only manicuring our flesh, and not getting in connection with those powers within to strengthening our inner man?

Yes, we see you every Sunday at church. You’re dressed to impress and you’re lifting your hands in worship during praise. You may even have a tattered bible with notes written in various colors that you’ve taken during different services, but that does NOT exclude you from spiritual warfare!

I can say these things because this was me. I would attend church, even serve in different capacities, but my heart remained wicked. My inner man remained unchanged. I was still the same selfish, lustful, angry person I was without Christ. Although I dressed modestly and even changed the type of music I listened to, I was looking very “Christian.” But inside I was so weak! I would crumble during spiritual attacks like a dried glob of mud in your hand. It didn’t take much pressure for me to fall apart. 

Surface Christians are more concerned about how they appear to other people-in the natural… but what about how they appear in the spiritual realm? 

This could’ve been just me, but how often do we hear a scripture during a sermon, highlight it, and never go back to read more and really understand, and accept, what’s written? 

In an impromptu bible study with one of my sisters, as she’s reading, I’m looking at my bible thinking, “All of this is highlighted, I should know this!” But it was as though I had never heard those words a day in my life! I was shocked, amazed and appalled all at the same time because I had never just sat and read it for myself to gain a full understanding of what this Christ-like life is all about! 

Again, I had been living on the surface! 

No wonder I felt weak… I was! There is so much power in the Word, that so many of us miss because we are not diving deeper. My reason for “surfacing” may be different from yours, but they are all forms of disobedience. God did not equip us with the same power He gave Jesus, for us not to use it!

Talk about a much needed revelation! 

We do NOT believe just for the title of being Christian, but we are charged to use what God has given us to bring glory to His name. We can only do that by going deeper. Don’t be content living on the surface.

Be encouraged. 

How I Knew He Wasn’t “The One”

Standard

For some women, dating is this awkward period of time where we are constantly questioning whether the man we are presented with is “the one.” I’ve experienced this myself with practically every man I’ve dated. The routine is the same:

1. Meet

2. Ask if he’s single

3. Begin talking on a consistent basis

4. Find qualities you like about him

5. Find out if he has a desire to be married

6. Then exclusive dating

7. If everything has run pretty smooth up until now, you ask yourself and God, “Is he the one?”

8. Either God responds immediately saying “No,” or things begin to fall apart between the two of you OR God doesn’t respond right away, and you take matters into your own hands.

It seems to go this way every time, without actually thinking about it. It just happens.

Well I am here to help you out a little bit.

Three times I knew he wasn’t the one.

One: We had been dating for a good length of time. Longer than I had dated anyone up to that point. We were sexually active. God was really trying to do a work in me, but I wasn’t yielding my whole life to Him, so it wasn’t coming to pass. I knew the battle I was facing, and I explained it to “the one.” I told him we needed to be celibate because God is not pleased with us. Even though  what we’re doing in life is flourishing, He wants so much more from me. He argued that removing the sex from our relationship would change our dynamic. I argued that sex was a bonus, and if it’s that important to him, and he knows he wants to be with me then we needed to get married. He wasn’t ready. He understood my points, he even respected my reasoning, but he didn’t agree that we needed to be celibate.

Why wasn’t he the one?

As Believers, we ought to strive to walk like Christ walked (see 1 John 2:6.) Christ was without sin. And we were deliberately sinning. I could appreciate that he respected my decision, but he didn’t agree. So if things got steamy, he wouldn’t stop and say “we shouldn’t be doing this.” Or if I said “Stop, we shouldn’t be doing this,” he wouldn’t be upset. He wasn’t willing to set up those necessary boundaries to prevent falling into temptation, but he also wasn’t willing to marry and have the approval of God to keep doing what we were doing.

Two: Handsome, “Man of God,” (I said that in quotes because that’s how he introduced himself to me.) We hadn’t known each other too long, but we hit it off. The conversation was great, we had similar interests, and we could literally talk about God on a regular basis without it being odd or “preachy.” Then temptations became known, and took over. We fell. Afterwards we said it wouldn’t happen again because it should have never happened. We individually went into our prayer closets, asked for forgiveness and set boundaries so that it couldn’t happen again. While hanging out a little too late, temptation came on the scene again. I said, “No” he said, “C’mon!” In my mind I justified it, and we fell again. As time went on that became our relationship, until he moved away.

Why wasn’t he the one?

Regardless of the fact that he moved, he wasn’t honest about his intentions with me. In a conversation I had later down the line, it was apparent that his intentions weren’t to properly court me, propose and then marry me. His intentions were to sleep with me, and leave. But he lured me in with his “Man of God” persona. For some of us who are struggling to wait on God in this pool of single-emotionally available-working-heterosexual men who love God, that feels extremely shallow, we become anxious and jump at the first opportunity that presents itself, instead of waiting for God’s green light to proceed. Then the next thing we’re cooking for and taking care of him as though he’s our husband because we want him to stay. When we never received confirmation that God wants us to be where we are. Philippians 4:6 says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (NIV). He knows the desires of your heart. He sees your obedience, if both of those areas are in check, He’s got you covered (see Psalm 84:11.)

Three: Dating lead to sex (again, yes I know – I’ll talk about underlying issues later.) God grabs a hold of me and says, “Come back to Me!” So I told  “the one”, “Look, I have work to do, and I can’t get it done while sinning. We need to stop.” He’s upset and wondering why. I told him how I felt. “I love you,” and proceeded to tell him that I not only cared about him while he’s here, but also his salvation was very important to me. We’re not pleasing God in what we’re doing, and I know this hurts, but I have to step away.

Why wasn’t he the one?

In all that I was saying relating to his salvation, my salvation, our individual relationships with God. His only rebuttal was that’s not what he wanted. It’s like he wasn’t even understanding what I was telling him. All of that “God stuff” wasn’t as important as his desires. The bible tells us the man is the spiritual covering/ head of his household (see 1 Corinthians 11:3.) I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a husband who is not willing to acknowledge that God’s will should come before our desires.

It is awfully hard to expect someone to act in a way that you don’t act yourself, and for that I cannot fault any of these men that were not for me, but like the popular quote, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” If you both have a strong desire to please God in your life and relationship, you will both be diligent about ensuring it gets accomplished. Had I waited on God instead of jumping because the response wasn’t coming quick enough for me, these men would have naturally shown themselves to me, and I would have backed away knowing he’s not what God had planned for my life. I know it’s hard waiting. But that’s where faith comes in. Faith in knowing that God hears you, He sees you, and He knows His daughter’s desires. And by doing His will, your thoughts will align with His thoughts and you will find peace in knowing He has you in His hands. He will carry you. He will see you through the difficult times just like He did with David, Moses, Abraham and so many more!

Be encouraged.

A Man is NOT a Financial Plan

Standard

Being a mother is tough! Any mother will tell you that.
Being a single mother is even more tough! Especially if you’re not getting financial assistance from your child(ren)’s father.

That struggle in itself can make you feel a little desperate…
Now get out of your feelings Sis!

I used to think the only way things would get easier for me was to get married. You know, a two-income household is stronger than one. He’s a man. He’ll work hard to take care of his family because that’s what he’s supposed to do according to the bible, right? I would be able to be a stay at home mother and only work if I wanted to, no pressure though.

Then I had to check myself… I was about to settle for a man who had the financially stability I wanted,

BUT…

His spirituality was lacking significantly.

Unless I was on his back about reading, studying, going to church, paying tithes, he wouldn’t do it…

Wait! Doesn’t the bible say the man is to lead the household to God?!
Why am I doing that?

Yea, he wasn’t my Adam, but I was so set on his financial stability I was willing to allow the spiritual inconsistencies to take a back seat to his bank account.

Now the bible tells us “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21.
So if I treasure his bank account, over his relationship with God, I love his wallet more.

The thing about loving your (or someone else’s) wallet more than God is: wallets get lost, stolen, taken away. People get fired, laid off, demoted.

ANYTHING that’s not God can change! So if you’re valuing something other than his love for God and his ability to lead you and your children/ future children to God, then you’re already starting off on the wrong foot.

Marriage is for a lifetime.
What would happen if:
You got married to this financially stable, yet spiritually inconsistent man, and he lost his job?

The reason you decided to marry him is no longer there, do you divorce him because he’s no longer able to provide? Or are you no longer attracted to him?

Well God also doesn’t like divorce, so what do you do?

Resent your husband? Talk bad about him to your friends? Hold out on intimacy? Cheat?
See, that escalated pretty quickly. But it happens.

If your marriage has a foundation of God and nothing more; rain, hail, sleet, snow, tornado, hurricane, earthquake, whatever will not tear your marriage apart because you’re bound by the ONLY unchanging force. God.

Yes it’s tough being alone (not lonely for God is ALWAYS with you), but imagine introducing your child(ren) to a man, only to have to explain to them what divorce is. Or have them see you unhappily married…

God knows your needs. He provides you with what you need. Make sure you’re being a good steward over those things (often times we think we are, and we’re not).

Don’t become desperate because things are tough or you’re tired of doing things on your own. Stay patient and in expectation of God’s best, because we know God won’t hold out on His best for the righteous.

Allow God to lead your every step and He will not steer you wrong. Yes it may take some time,
“But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord, one day is a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us” 2 Peter 3:8,9 NKJV.

Don’t allow this so called “biological clock” to overrule the Author of Time Himself.

Be encouraged.

Remove the LUST glasses

Standard
As women, we easily become victim to our emotions, especially when we’re not thinking clearly. I’m pretty sure I even cried on Toy Story 3 when Andy leaves for college.
 
Yes, I cried over a cartoon movie – don’t judge me.
 
That is why it is of the utmost importance to keep our eyes open AT ALL TIMES! – Especially when courting (I will post on the difference of dating and courting very soon).
 
Let me start by sharing a few things about myself:
I’ve been in three different relationships where marriage was a serious topic. One of which was with my daughters’ father. 
We had pre-marital sex (obviously) and I just knew I was in love! Although things didn’t always line up: He’d step outside to talk on the phone all hours of the night, he’d say he was going to be home “in a minute” but would leave me waiting up for him until 4 or 5 in the morning. Yet, I stayed. Because I loved him. He had me wrapped around his finger (and sometimes had his hands wrapped around my neck). It was a physically and mentally abusive relationship. But I stayed. Why? Because I thought he loved me too. EVERY TIME we would argue, he would start kissing me and EVERY TIME it would lead to sex. Our problems were never solved, just covered by physical attraction. That wasn’t love, but lust. 
Another relationship: we had instant chemistry even without sex. I thought I climbed Mount Everest because I waited a month to have sex with him (I was being a lady this time). But things didn’t add up with him either. He would say he loved me, and how he wanted to marry me, but would never let me meet his parents. I thought I loved him too. After all it was perfect how we met through a friend… I was 23, he was 25 and we both wanted to be married within a year. God sent, right? WRONG. Sadly, he was controlling. Wanted to know my every move. He would even call my friend to make sure I was where I said I was! But the sex was good. So I stayed. Once again, lust fooled me.
And then: the man of my dreams comes along. This time I had been celibate for 8 months prior to meeting him, and didn’t sleep with him for 3 months (I was REALLY a lady now!) Only 3 years later, after ring shopping, meeting family members and kids, various trips away, he decided he wasn’t ready for that commitment. WHAT?!? But it took all of that for me to see: Although he is an amazing person, he’s not the one for me. I loved him as a person, a friend. But what I was in love with was his stability, his ability and potential. Once all of that was no longer on the table, my feelings changed INSTANTLY! Once again, fooled by lust! Only this time it wasn’t only physical lust, but lust of how he looked on paper.
 
How could I let that happen to me not once, but THREE times?!?
 
I was letting my flesh, my hormones, my SELF tell me how I felt. 
 
I LOVE science, so let’s get science-y for a moment: We know that sex releases oxytocin in your brain. It makes you feel good, loved, all of that mushy stuff. Once that’s released that act (sex or the idea of it) triggers something in us to say “oh yea I like that!” So we relate sex to feeling good, loved and happy. Why is it so hard for an abused woman to leave her abuser? Oxytocin. Her brain is telling her, if you leave, you’re not going to have that feeling anymore. Although getting hit hurts, your brain chooses not to remember that, but remember the good times.
THAT IS SO DANGEROUS!
 
Ladies, it’s time to take the lust glasses OFF!
 
What if I’m in a sexual relationship?
You can still take them off. If you’re serious about walking in your purpose and trusting in God for everything, be celibate. 
Oh, your “man” doesn’t believe in “church”? 
     You’re unequally yoked, and the Bible speaks against that (2 Corinthians 6:14-15). It’s time to part ways honey. 
•Your “man” doesn’t want to lose that part of the relationship? 
     Sex shouldn’t be a foundation of your relationship anyway. If he’s that concerned about losing it, yet not ready to marry you, then you don’t have much of a relationship to begin with. 
•Your “man” knows premarital sex is wrong, according to the Bible, but he’s not ready to get right with The Lord yet? 
     Then he’s also not ready to lead you, as his wife, or a family closer to God. LET HIM GO!
 
Sex is a wonderful thing. After all it creates life! But it should be enjoyed under a covenant made before God (Him saying “Baby I’m gonna marry you” as he’s undressing you DOES NOT COUNT!) You were bought at the price of our Savior’s life. Don’t sell yourself short to someone who cannot MAN up and marry you! 
 
“But we don’t have enough money for a ring.” Who ever said you HAD to have a ring?
Society did.
And we don’t live by the rules of society anyway (Romans 12:2). 
“Getting married is expensive.” A marriage license which makes you legally married is no more than $60 in a majority of states. If you can’t afford that, then there are several other reasons you shouldn’t be getting married (We’ll talk about finances in another post).
 
The way that I see it, (now, because I clearly didn’t understand this years ago) – Why create an unnecessary soul tie with a random (a man you either don’t intend on marrying, or doesn’t intend on marrying you). Each time you have sex with someone that’s exactly what you’re doing. In order for you to be a wife that benefits her husband you need to be cleansed of any past hurt from previous relationships. Otherwise you’ll take that into your marriage and your husband will already be at a disadvantage because of your scars. The more partners you’ve had, the longer AND harder it’s going to be take to break those ties.
 
I read a quote that said,
“The person God has for you will NOT try to have sex with you before you’re married.”
How can you trust someone to lead you closer to God, if he cannot exhibit self-control?
 
I feel that being physically attracted to your future husband is very important, but just because you’re physically attracted doesn’t mean you have to act on it, and neither should he. 
 
How can you prevent being fooled by the lust glasses? 
Don’t put them on.
 
Give yourself the peace of mind in knowing you made a sound decision based on truth, rather than making a decision based off of a chemical being released in your brain that is KNOWN for causing people to make irrational decisions. 
 
I can honestly say when God introduces me to my husband I don’t even want us to kiss until we’re married (sounds so old school, I know) BUT, I know myself. I know what causes me to think irrationally. I know my limits. And if I am going to fall in love with a man that God has for me for  what REALLY matters, I won’t need to label him a good kisser before we say I do. 
 
Take the lust glasses OFF! Set boundaries, make them known and don’t lower your standards. Instead, wear the truth which is found in the Word. 
 
Be encouraged. 

How to Ask a Question

Standard
Image
My babies, Nikaeyla and Nariyah at 10 or 11 months.
 
I saw an interesting question regarding new mothers taking their children out of the house, before they’ve gotten their immunizations. The first comment said those mothers lack common sense. Another response praised the person asking the question for being wise. Lastly, a response alluded to the mothers who do take their children out lack “home training”.
 
I was appalled… to say the least.
 
Why?
 
Because I am a single mother. I have been since I was 3 months pregnant. 
Why was I appalled? 
Because although I lived with my mother and brother at the time, my mother worked and my brother was in school. Besides, my daughters are NOT my mother’s or my brother’s children, they’re MINE. So that makes them my responsibility. If they needed diapers or any other baby essentials I had to leave the house with them, if no one else was available. Rain or shine, hot or cold. They went where I went.
 
Now of course, I don’t know the person’s intention when asking the question, but I like to learn, so I am making a learning experience out of this.
 
So why is this titled, How to Ask a Question?
 
Having been in difficult situations, I understand what a lot of people go through. Not having enough money to pay rent, not having gas to get to work/ school/ day care/ church. Eating noodles several days throughout the week to stretch the few dollars you have until payday. Barely making enough to live, yet making too much to qualify for any type of assistance. Choosing what to pay late in order to pay something on time. Yes, I have been in ALL of those situations since my daughters have been born. 
 
What do I appreciate about those times in my life?
 
They’ve taught me to love others. Not to think too much of myself. And not to look down on anyone, because I’ve been there AND could possibly be there again. I also learned how much people need a helping hand.
 
So when we come across people in those situations, instead of questioning why they are doing something that we wouldn’t dare do, why not ask if you can help?
 
Would you like me to run to the store for you?
 
Hey, I know you have a newborn, do you need anything from the store while I’m there?
 
Do you mind if I pray with you?
 
Do you need a babysitter?
 
Do you need help cleaning up around the house, keeping the kids entertained so you can take a nap, do you just need “a moment”?
 
Those are the type of questions we should be asking our neighbor (doesn’t have to literally be next door), but those around us who look like they could use a helping hand.
 
Quick story:
My daughters were maybe two or three months old and I needed to go grocery shopping. So I went. 
I was brave.
I had one baby in the carrier on my chest, the other in the carseat in the basket. They were fed, changed, clean, EVERYTHING!
 
As I’m checking out (one of the bag-your-own-grocery type of stores) one of the babies starts crying. Now I’m trying to bag groceries with one crying baby. Then the other starts crying and I am trying to bag groceries with TWO crying babies.
 
These two women, I have no idea who they were, came and started bagging my groceries and trying to console one of the babies. My heart was warmed. They didn’t know who I was, but they saw I was in need. They didn’t ask me why I tried to conquer grocery shopping with two infants, they JUST HELPED!
 
We need to be like that, with everyone. Don’t judge, don’t ask why they’re in the situation, JUST HELP!
 
After all, we are striving to be Christ-like, He just helped. He tells us in Matthew 25:31-40 (NKJV) 
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him,
then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 
32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them
one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 
33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 
34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed
of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of
the world: 
35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me
drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 
36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was
in prison and you came to Me.’ 
37 Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You
hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 
38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 
39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to you?’ 
40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch
as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
 
That was a little long, but I think it proves the point I am making. Before you question “Why?” ask “How can I help?”
 
Be encouraged.