Fear and Afflictions

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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.

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Your impatience WILL NOT intimidate God!

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Revised: October 2016

It has been a little while since I’ve posted, and for good reason. I got a job!!! Yes on top of being a mother, student, volunteer, and working my own business – I got a job. It is a huge blessing!

Anyway, I have had this topic on my plate for a little while, and it is about time I share it with you all!

When this came to me I had to laugh at myself (it is truly the best medicine, if you’ve never done it you have to try… you won’t be disappointed.) There have been countless times I’ve tried to do what I thought was best for me and each time I fell flat on my face!

Why is that so funny?

It’s funny because we do it to ourselves TIME AND TIME AGAIN! We rush into things God never said we are ready for and then wonder why our hearts end up hurt in the end. Uh… we weren’t supposed to be in that position anyway! HELLO!

How many times have you rushed God? Or said, “Ok God, I’m going to do [insert activity here] now, and I’m expecting you to bless it because it’s what I want.”

✋🏾 Yes, I am guilty.

If God’s plan was for you to be single until your mid 30s, He doesn’t care if you see someone attractive and strike up a conversation at 23 and think it’s going to change His plan for you because you have good conversation.

Just because the relationship was smooth, and you didn’t have any major issues doesn’t mean that person is meant to be your spouse.

I strongly believe that we each know, deep in our hearts if the person we are dating is meant to be our spouse. If they aren’t, there’s a little uneasiness about us, we tend to feel unsure, or that there’s something missing. Ignoring those feelings because your “biological clock” (that doesn’t exist by the way) is ticking, is impatience.

The Bible says in Psalms 90:10, “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; …” Now understanding that with sin in the world, that time is not guaranteed to us. But we were built to live long lives (you must take care of your body though – eating healthy, exercising, all of that good stuff!) Abraham and Sarah had their first child when they were 100 and 90, respectively. The babysitter that cared for me when I was a child had her son at 45. If you’re anxious about having children and feel it cannot happen for you unless you’re married by the time you’re 30, you have officially placed a limit on God.

For the record, YOU CANNOT LIMIT THE LIMITLESS!

God is not man, therefore He cannot lie (Numbers 23:19) AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, He CAN do the impossible! The unimaginable! The extraordinary!

If He could bless Abraham and Sarah, even after their disobedience, surely He can bless you too and give you the desires of your heart.

One thing I find extremely interesting; what if God’s plan was for you to have [insert your desire here] by now, but because you were so caught up in your “biological clock” and making things happen for yourself (because God wasn’t working fast enough for you) YOU have now postponed or even canceled the plan God had for you… I really want you to think about that.

I’ve thought about it.

That relationship you’re holding onto because you’re afraid to be “lonely”, that job you haven’t left yet because you “can’t afford that pay cut”, that grudge you haven’t let go of because “they were in the wrong”…

God is God… you are human…

Unlike your co-workers, children, family, friends – you CANNOT intimidate Him! Stop trying! All you are doing is hurting yourself. Delaying the blessings that God wants you to have! He doesn’t want to see His precious children hurting, lonely and lost. We first need to be complete in Him, THEN He can start pouring out our desires.

It takes work, it takes prayer, it takes God to make this transformation in your life. Read the love story He wrote for us (the Bible), learn it so you can meditate on it and remind yourself in those troubling times, and most importantly LIVE IT!

If you’re following God in everything you do, you will be in the right place at the right time in order to receive the blessings He has intended for you.

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Be encouraged.

Surface Christians

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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”

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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

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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.

Single Ladies: Stay In Your Lane

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Ok, this is going to be short, but exciting…
 
Is it just me, or does it feel like when you’re single EVERYONE is in a relationship, getting engaged or getting married?
 
To be honest, my flesh makes sure to become full of discontentment because I’m single.
 
BUT…
 
We are all created with an individual purpose. God has already decided what we are to do while on earth. It’s up to us to listen to His instructions and fulfill that plan. Who am I to say what season someone else is in? 
I am not God.
I have no idea what He is instructing them to do.
I do not know if they’re being obedient to His instruction or not.
I can’t be jealous or upset.
 
By getting upset, I’m not showing that I’m upset with people for being in love. I’m showing that I’m upset with God because He hasn’t given me a companion.
How can we be upset with God when He has done SO MUCH for us?…
After all, if you’re reading this, He woke you up, you’re breathing, your eyes can see, and you know how to read! There’s no reason to be upset! We are so blessed!
 
Our youth minister said “There are a lot of us that would be further in life than we are, had we not entertained a certain someone we had no business entertaining…”
 
Ain’t that the truth!!
I can definitely attest to that!
 
Our disobedience is what has caused these long, uncomfortable seasons… That’s not God’s fault!
 
Then, we watched this spoken word.
 
 
Let’s just say… I will wait!
 
In the meantime:
I am focused on becoming the Ruth for my Boaz, the Rachel for my Jacob, the Eve for my Adam, the Proverbs 31 woman.
 
Ladies, we CANNOT expect to attract a wonderful Godly man, if we are not a wonderful Godly woman! Just as we aren’t able to change a man (like I’m sure we have all tried to at one point in life and failed miserably) a man cannot change a woman either. We have to be open and willing to submit ourselves to God, FIRST and allow Him to change us. If we cannot submit to God, we will not submit to our husbands – which goes against God’s instructions for families (Ephesians 5:21-24).
Do you see what will happen?
By settling for any man, instead of waiting for YOUR man, you are making a vow before God to submit to him. If he’s not worth submitting to, then you have a real problem on your hands… By not submitting to your husband and allowing Him to lead you, you’re back in that unnecessary season that could have been avoided with obedience. 
 
Don’t focus on what you don’t have, focus on what you strive to become – Believe me! Like the popular saying, “Stay in your lane” – if you’re busy working on your relationship with Christ and improving yourself, you won’t even notice what’s going on around you. 
 
Be encouraged.

God and Your Relationship

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I read an interesting question the other day from one of my favorite Facebook pages. It is dedicated to single Christians that are walking/ learning to walk in their purpose while trusting God and waiting for their spouse.
The question asked, “Does God really care about who we marry? Or does He want to be involved in the selection?”

My response: Yes and YES!

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

In ALL your ways, not just some of them.

I’ll use this personal example:

I was in a relationship, it wasn’t bad, abusive, harmful or anything. It was actually going really well. Then it ended.

The REALLY hard part came when it was time to explain to my daughters why he wouldn’t be coming around anymore – I have learned some helpful lessons about dating with children, I’ll address that at a later time – I tried to break it down as easily as possible for them to understand, I simply said, “God didn’t choose him for me, I chose him.” When asked for more details, I asked them some questions:

Why do we pray? They answered, “To talk to God.”

I asked why are we supposed to talk to God, they said, “So we know what He wants us to do.”

I affirmed them.

We talk to God for direction, for guidance.

(as usual, while teaching them, I end up learning something myself)

Now although I was praying while in this relationship, I was praying that this man WOULD be “the one”, I didn’t start asking if he was until close to the end of our relationship… and guess what God said?

NO! He pointed out several reasons why he wasn’t my husband, but did I call things off? No… Had I ended things earlier (when I was told to) I wouldn’t have experienced the hurt I did because of how it ended.

Now back to the question: Does God care about who we marry?

ABSOLUTELY!

We have been given instructions on who we, as Believers, should connect with/ marry:

“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” 2 Corinthias 6:14

We have also been given specific instructions on how husbands and wives are to treat each other in marriage:

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the savior of the body.” Ephesians 5:22-23

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,” Ephesians 5:25-26

Knowing this, why wouldn’t God care?

Marriage is a covenant made before God and He wants us to be connected to people that will enhance our relationship with Him. If our partner is hindering that relationship instead of enhancing it, what’s the point? Companionship? Sex? Children? – Those things are bonuses to marriage, not the purpose for it.

Now for the women, as a wife, would you submit to someone who is leading you in the wrong direction? Of course not! Especially when we know right from wrong. As a wife, we would be disobeying God by not submitting to our husband. Now, the fact that our husband is not someone we would want to submit to (for whatever reason) would be no one’s fault but our own. We weren’t seeking God’s approval of this person before we made our vow “’til death do us part.”

For the second part of the question: Does He want to be involved in the selection?

YES!

Galatians 5:16 tells us to walk in the Spirit. By walking in the Sprit we can avoid “fornication, adultery, hatred, envy, selfish ambitions, idolatry” (verses 19-21)

-Notice, I included characteristics that are usually present in relationships where God isn’t –

When God is involved, we are less likely to fulfill our own selfish, lustful desires, so we NEED Him to be involved in order to keep us focused on the task at hand – enhancing the Kingdom of God!

This can be a challenge, because we think we know what’s best for ourselves (or we get caught up by how they look on paper or in person), but as David said in Psalms 139:1-3 “O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways.” (The rest of this chapter is good too, but I’ll let you look it up yourself).

He knows us better than we know ourselves!! He knows what we NEED!

Not only what we need today, but what we’ll need tomorrow – we don’t. Let Him direct ALL your paths, not just some of them…

Be encouraged.