The Thin Line Between Preparation and Infatuation (Idolatry)

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As the idea for this blog initially came to me, I thought it was going to be an extremely long, detailed explanation of how to determine whether your preparation was becoming an idol in your life. After reading more about pursuing God whole heartedly, that idea changed pretty significantly. 

Just to ensure we’re clear, an idol is:

1. an image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed.
2. any person or thing regarded with blind admiration, adoration, or devotion (Dictionary.com)

Is it just me, or does it seem like when you’re single, EVERYONE else is in a relationship or getting married? UGH!
In these times it’s easy to diligently read the articles like: “How to get a man and keep him” or “Why aren’t you getting asked out?” or “10 ways to make him love you”…
The problem with these articles is they usually focus on how you should dress, assert yourself, or even change who you are to be noticed and accepted. I have not seen one of these get-yourself-a-date-quick messages talk about staying in your purpose and being patient.
We have to remember, we are believers in a sin-filled world. Most of what we see on the newsstands does not glorify the God we serve. While it’s convenient to pick up a magazine while we’re standing in the checkout line, as my previous post depicts, “Not Everything Is Beneficial.” We have to understand the perspective of the article is not for someone striving to live more like Christ. 
Now for the juicy part…
How to determine whether your preparation has become an idol.
1. If you are spending more time reading pre-marital or marriage material, sitting with married people asking questions about how they knew their spouse was “the one,” or dreaming about/ planning your wedding day (and night), than you are reading the Word, serving, and being in God’s presence, it’s become an idol.
That’s it!
Matthew 6:19-24 talks about storing your treasure in heaven. By being infatuated with marriage, we are placing our hope in a union that may not be in God’s will for our lives (I know that’s hard to hear, but it’s the truth.)
What happens if we spend most of our time focused on marriage, and how to be married, but it never happens or happens a lot later in life than we thought it would? We would have used valuable time that we could have been serving God, and being His hands and feet, in feelings of discontentment because we didn’t have something we wanted. Being anxious about something that was never guaranteed to us. 
After storing your treasures in heaven, Matthew 6:25-34 talks about not being anxious. The passage ends with this:
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Vs. 33-34 ESV).
I truly believe the more we seek Him, the more our thoughts and desires line up with the plan God has for our lives. 
This concept is not just for the singles looking for marriage, but for anyone who is spending more time focused on their wants and dreams, than God Himself. Even if God has given you an idea, you have to intentionally stay connected to Him in order to know which way He wants you to go next. It is easy to get consumed in executing the vision, but without God, the vision can easily sway from what He wants, to what you want.

If we believe the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10), then our joy is in, and comes from, Him. Not a relationship nor marriage (or whatever else we’re hoping for.)
Be encouraged.

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.

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.

Open House

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Recently I felt a strong urge to get closure in a relationship that ended, but didn’t have the typical “I hope I never have to see him again” ending.

I reached out to him and expressed what I was looking for, and he gladly decided to help me out.

Now, mind you, he has moved on. Although at one point there was a possibility that we could have reconciled. It just didn’t happen.

After speaking with him, and getting a few things out in the open, as well as learning a few things about my actions in our relationship I felt relief, but at the same time, it felt like my heart was broken all over again!

How weird is that? I wanted to feel better, not worse, right?

After the discussion, I felt horrible about myself!

Am I not wife material? Am I not pretty enough? Smart enough? It’s the fact that I’m a single mother, right? Or is it because I’m not as financially stable as a man would want his future wife? What does she (or they – as in other women who have similar stories to mine) have that I don’t?

All of these thoughts just rushed into my head and I couldn’t control all of the emotions that I was presented with.

I prayed.

Cried.

Prayed some more.

Cried some more… you know how that goes…

Then, when asked how I was doing, I responded with “I’ve been better.”

After being asked (although I really didn’t want to talk about it because just the mention would make my eyes well up with tears), I briefly summarized, and I got this amazingly encouraging response (yes I got permission before I shared it)

“If you want new furniture in your house you have to remove the old furniture. Or it all won’t fit. It doesn’t diminish the value of the home, it’s just meant to enhance the comfort of the home and be a reflection of the owner. Even with a house, there is a time when the land is cleared, the foundation set, the frames, windows, walls and paint are put in place. Then there’s a time when the house is shown to potential buyers. The buyers are allowed to visit, but not stay to imagine what living in the house would be like. They evaluate if the home is suitable for their life plans. This process can take time and the house can be empty for years. But when the right buyer comes along, the house will be filled with items, memories. It will be a shelter, comfort, a landmark for the family. It will grow, change and maybe even have some unplanned additions. This is the house becoming a home.”

Being honest, I had to read the whole thing before I connected my situation to the analogy sent to me, because I am not a house… but one day I would love to be a home.

That amazing analogy was followed up by this:

“People are just like the house becoming a home process. There is no need to judge the empty house for what it is. You look at the potential for what the home could be, and if that home is what you need. Our emotions make us feel out of control, but we are ALWAYS in control. The devil just takes the opportunity to create confusion to challenge you and give you struggle. This is the process of growth. ‘All things work for the Kingdom.’…”

It was then personalized for little ol’ me:

“It seems you are a great house and many see the value, but it looks like you’ve had some squatters occupying your property. And as long as that was happening, you could not find a family to make it a home. It also sounds like the eviction process was painful. But now when you look at the value of the property (you) and the house (the woman you are), all of a sudden your stock rises. A vacant sign (single) is out and you have an amazing broker (God). Before you know it your experience will be used to keep your home together for the family that lives in it.”

WOW! Can you say the nail was hit directly on the head!!

Now, this is coming from someone who doesn’t know the full extent of the relationship or my feelings.

When I thanked him, he said he’s just the messenger.

LOOK AT GOD!

My mind was so distracted with emotions that I wasn’t listening to what my Father wanted me to know.

As I’ve mentioned before, breakups are hard. They take time to get over, and you can’t rush the recovery process.

After a season of harvest, in order to make sure the land can nourish another harvest, farmers have to let the land just sit. They don’t plant anything, it’s just an empty field, that way when it’s time to plant, their product will be healthy and plentiful.

We are just like that!

We need that time to rest, recuperate, and review. Everything in life is a lesson, and unless you’re taking time to review the material, you’re going to end up in the same situation once again.

Those words touched me so much today (and yes I got teary eyed – don’t judge me it was much needed).

So on top of telling you that just because you’re no longer in that particular relationship that you are still valuable and there’s a better fit for you, I also want to encourage you to encourage someone else.

If the Lord has put something on your heart to share with someone, be obedient. You never know exactly what they are going through and how your words can deliver them from what they are going through.

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.