Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"On Fire": Stop *Romanticizing*

Just a quick thought. Kinda. Sorta.

Today, while penning a blog for another site, I referenced the word "romantic". It's not ever been one that has been a big part of my love or lack-of-love life and up until now, I wasn't totally sure why. Quite honestly, it's not even on my nominal list of what I desire in a husband (and I say "nominal" only because time [Ecclesiastes 3:14] and wisdom [Proverbs 4:7] are teaching me, "Look Lord, I want what you want me to want."-LOL). And it never really has been.

So I pondered (Proverbs 4:26) as I did a quick Word (John 1:1, 2 Timothy 3:16-17) check on it. Maybe y'all knew this, but I didn't: I don't care what version or what context (romance, romantic, etc.), I couldn't find it in the Bible. Not one time. Not even in the Song of Solomon (and you *know* that if you can't find it there, *where can you find it?*).

And yet, so many woman seem to put that on their "If God were Santa" wish list: a man who's romantic. Why is that? Do they really know what it means or is it a lot like the two-word combo of relational destruction that drove me up the wall even when I was promiscuous: MAKE LOVE? How do you make what God already is (I John 4:16)? Isn't that, at best, a bit arrogant (Proverbs 16:18)? But that's another blog for another time...

Anyway, here are some definitions of romantic. In case anyone was wondering.

Romantic: fanciful, impractical, unrealistic; imbued with or dominated by idealism, a desire for adventure, chivalry, etc.

Synonyms: charming, colorful, dreamy, erotic, fairytale, mysterious, *sloppy* (?!?), starry-eyed, whimsical, wild

Now, of course I picked some of the most extreme synonyms that I could find. *On purpose*. The reason is because sometimes I think we're asking for things and we don't understand *the totality* of our request (insert "husband" and "children" here, for example-Malachi 2:15). Oh but Adonai, *the ultimate wordsmith* does. Sometimes, I think our ignorance (Hosea 4:6) surrounding our vocabulary is just another reason for the "Proverbs 18:21 heads up". Indeed, death and life *are* in the power of the tongue. Praying for a romantic man, are ya? Does that include him being impractical, unrealistic (Ecclesiastes 7:18-Message), sloppy and wild? Something tells me it doesn't. Or at least shouldn't (LOL).

Of course, there are some definitions that ain't so bad. A desire for adventure (in context) and chivalry are good things. Synonyms like "amorous", "fascinating", "passionate" (again, in context), "tender" and "visionary" are some beautiful ways to describe and define a person. Although, I also caught that another  romantic definition is to be dominated by an ideal and no desire is to consume you. Unless it's a desire for more of the Lord and what he has in mind for you and your life (Jeremiah 29:11). And even then, we are simply to surrender to the process. Not run it over.

Actually, now that I am, as my mother says "unpacking" all of this, I get why I, even in my rebellion and sometimes stupidity, still managed to say, "I want an attentive and affectionate man." Romance, like charm, which again is a synonym of the word, can be fleeting (Proverbs 31:30) *or* it can be so multi-dimensional that one day you get "fantastic" followed by "corny" on the next. Be careful what you ask for. Be knowledgable of what you pray for too. While interceding for the women participating in the "Clear Response" fast, I've been spending some concentrated time in Psalm 106. There have been reported cases of Adonai giving people what they wanted *while it brought leanness to their soul* (verse 15) and I do not think it's by happenstance that this message is being sent out today. Again, be careful what you pray for. In all of thy wisdom, *get an understanding*.

I spent some time this morning (re)reading Song of Solomon 4. I have already had a special affinity for when he said, "My darling, everything about you is beautiful and there is nothing at all wrong with you." (verse 7-NCV) And you know what? While some may call that "so romantic", I'm opting to use the word "aware". Similar to what Adam said when the Woman was *brought* or as some translations say, "presented" to him (Genesis 2:18-25), this man knew that his Woman was a blessing. In every way. I wouldn't call that "romance"; I prefer to think of it as "awareness".

"Lord, please bless me with a man who is *aware* of who I am in his life."

Yeah. Romance? That's for the ignorant.

And when you know better, you do better. Even (and in some ways, especially) in your praying. ;-)

Love to you,

SRW

"An Ounce of Prevention": Are Your Relationships SINCERE?



We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says: in an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.”---2 Corinthians 6:1-10 (NKJV)

“Sincerity is the way of heaven.”---Confucius


Side note: I want to send out a * very special and sincere thank you * to the spiritual sistah of mine who shall remain anonymous; however, she granted me the permission to share an excerpt of an email that she sent to me earlier today. It serves as another example of how all things work together (Romans 8:28). Sometimes in ways that we least expect.


Do you ever find yourself having twilight conversations with the Lord? You’re not really awake, you’re not really asleep, yet you’re alert enough to know that something supernatural is transpiring? That’s what happened this morning as the Comforter (John 14:16-AMP) took me back into my own personal time machine. Back to a conversation that I had with my mother sometime ago: “Shellie, at this point, I just want you with a kind man. A kind man is important.” Hmph. Indeed it is. So important that it’s the second definition of love in the Love Chapter (I Corinthians 13:4-8). What was odd as I recalled that shared sentiment was that in response, I found myself saying to my Abba Father, “And what I want, from now on, is for my relationships to be sincere.” When I awakened fully, I reflected upon the fact that I don’t think I’ve ever made that simply-yet-poignant request before. I’ve said that I wanted to be loved. I’ve said that I wanted to stop feeling like I was doing all of the work. I’ve said that I wanted to stop feeling used. But not that my relationships would be * sincere *. And then I got the email from my spiritual sistah. It was then realized that such a desire (Psalm 37:4) should be far more reaching than my own “inner court” circle; that this was a request that needed to be shared for others to ponder (Proverbs 4:26) in their own lives.


There’s Comfortable (for a season). And Then There’s Love (that’s eternal).

James 5:16 (NKJV) is a verse in Scripture that I think most of us are quite familiar with. Yet, I wonder how many of us * really respect * the magnitude of its assurance: “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”  The Amplified puts it this way:

Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].”

As I’ve been processing this new season (Ecclesiastes 3), this new level of glory-to-glory (2 Corinthians 3:18) that Elohim is calling me to, I can’t help but to ponder over how many of my relationships, in times past, had James 5:16 as a big part of its mission statement. I’ve really had to sit and ask myself (and await for the Lord’s answer-Jeremiah 33:3) how many of those people I could safely confess to * and * entrust them to get a prayer through based upon my confession. In other words, how much was prayer an actual part of the relationship; especially since the Word, which is God (John 1:1, 2 Timothy 3:16-17), instructs us to “Continue earnestly in prayer” (Colossians 4:2) and to “…pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17)---that in * everything *, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, we are to make our requests known to Adonai (Ephesians 4:6-7).

Honestly? * Not many *. There are people I have a lot in common with. There are people I have a good time with. Yet, even as I am typing this, the Comforter is taking me back to something that I oftentimes advise people of in premarital counseling: “If you’re going to have bridesmaids and groomsmen in your wedding ceremony, in my opinion, don’t pick people to stand up with you just because you’ve known each other since the first grade. Pick people who support you and your partner * as a unit *.” After all, the Word does say that the “two shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24-25), right? If you have people standing up with you as a sign of being in agreement with your new life (and when you decide to unite yourself to your life partner that should be seen as * a new life *), then they should receive you as having a life anew. With your covenant partner (Malachi 2:14).

Exactly Shellie”, is what I heard in my spirit man (I just love that Numbers 27:16 [NKJV] defines the Father as “…the God of the spirits of all flesh”). “And so, as you’re moving into a new dimension, don’t pick people that you are just * comfortable with *. Pick people who actually love you…and that you love. Sincerely.” Hmph. Amazing how words can boomerang at the oddest of times. A long time ago, I penned a quote which says, “Love is a choice. Choose wisely.” CHOOSE. WISELY.

This conversation was illuminated by the email that I received from my spiritual sistah (who is a virgin, by the way) entitled, “I’m About To Have Sex” and this included as the reason why:

There are two things in life that utterly scare me: commitment and rejection. One of the things I declared to do this year was embrace commitment and not fear rejection, however, it’s easier said than done. As far as sex go, I don't see myself in a relationship no time soon, however, I have found somebody that I'm comfortable with...man as I type this it sounds crazy to me, so I know it sounds crazy to you. Man oh man!

I feel like all of this is fairy tale. All the people that have had sex tell you to wait till marriage while they continue to partake. More so, do as I say and not as I do. I'm at a point where it’s become annoying. I understand that it’s a vow between God and I. It’s a gift to my husband. Its the #1 shoe in to not getting pregnant or getting caught up in the STD or AIDS scare but still...

Another thing is I'm tired of being a tease, grant it I don't have to let things get to that point but at 31 I'm irritated with saying "no we can't go any further." That's the most repetitive [stuff] ever, I'm personally tired of hearing me say it.

I feel alone on this journey and have felt so for quite some time. I hate feeling sorry for myself or having others feel sorry for me but physically, spiritually and emotionally this is where I am. I honestly don't know anybody else that's endured or enduring my struggle to this extent. Grant it there are people who are older and are virgins who haven't done anything and are okay with that but that's not my testimony.

I don't know man...this has been on my chest for quite some time and I felt prompted to tell you about it. Crazy I know but this where I am...”

Honestly, it * does * sound crazy. Relatable and crazy. I Timothy 5:22 (NKJV) tells us, “Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, nor share in other people’s sins; keep yourself pure” and while I * never * heard that verse in any of the Christian schools that I went to while growing up, it has become such a part of my spiritual psyche at this juncture of my journey that I was inspired (Luke 12:12) to create some T-shirts with that very reference. Since the Lord is calling us to be pure, since it is * only * in the marriage bed that sex is considered to be pure (Hebrews 13:4), then to go outside of God’s boundaries also means that one is choosing to not be as protected as one could be if they remained within them (Psalm 91). And to choose that, as I penned an entire book about based upon my own personal experiences, yes…that is * crazy * (doing the same thing and expecting a different result). Abraham * and Sarah * did it (Genesis 16). Lot’s daughters did it (Genesis 19). Samson did it (Judges 14 & 16). King David did it (2 Samuel 11-12). King Solomon did it (I Kings 11:3). I did it. THE WORLD IS DOING IT (I Peter 2:11-12, 2 Peter 1:1-5). And when did “doing it” outside of God’s formula ever turn out to be God’s ideal, his best (Ecclesiastes 3:14), for his children? * Not once. Not ever *. Testimonies (I Timothy 4:14-16-AMP) can come from learning the lessons of * blatant disobedience *, sure. But you know what? At this stage in the game, I’m looking to give praise reports that come from obedience (I Samuel 15:22), the right way, the first time. Instead.

And so, I thought about what my friend said. And then I called her.

“So, what’s up with dude?” I asked.

“He’s just a friend,” she casually replied.

Again. It was relatable and crazy to hear what she said because already I saw just how much the Liar (John 8:44) was out to destroy her * and her purity * (John 8:44). Then I thought about my life. Never again do I want to refer to a man who becomes one with me and my human trinity (mind, body, spirit) as “just a friend”. He needs to be * my husband * (I Corinthians 7:4).

I heard the Ruach Hakodesh, the Divine Spirit, come out of my mouth. “Naw. He ain’t your * friend * if he’s willing to do * that * with you.” King Solomon put it this way: “Do not devise evil against your neighbor, for he dwells by you for safety’s sake.” (Proverbs 3:29-NKJV) In times past, I don’t think holistic safety was ever on the top of my friendship priority list. Oh, but as this is manifesting itself in black and white, it will be now! Because our human trinities are three-in-one, this means that what affects (or infects) our minds affects our bodies and spirits. What affects (or infects) our spirits, affects minds and bodies. What affects (or infects) our bodies, affects our minds and spirits. If this guy were * really her friend *, being that the Word says that the wages of sin is * death * (Romans 6:23), then he wouldn’t be down for receiving what was only intended for her husband. A true friend would safely protect her, yes, by rejecting her. How interesting that my friend said that she was out to embrace commitment and no longer fear rejection…and yet, she would be at such a crossroad as embracing sin and rejecting God’s best for her life.

I thought again about me and my current relationships---how there are some that I am basically where she’s at in a different way and yet the commonality is that when it comes to my flesh, I am comfortable with them. In other words * my flesh is comfortable in the relationship *, but when it comes to my spiritual safety and sanity, both male and female, some things need to be (re) evaluated. The Word says that a friend, * a true friend *, loves at all times and that a brother is born for adversity (Proverbs 17:17). Being that love does not fail us (I Corinthians 13:4), this means that love is not to cause us to fail. LOVE ENCOURAGES US TO SUCCEED, SPIRITUALLY, MIND, BODY AND SPIRIT. A true friend is not one that makes us feel comfortable (easy to accommodate oneself to or associate with) so much as safe (secure from liability to harm, injury, danger, or risk). Indeed, as Paul once stated, “Love does no harm to a neighbor.” (Romans 13:10-NKJV) If being “at ease” in your flesh is putting your spirit man at risk, your comfort level in your relationship doesn’t sound like a blessing. That sounds more like a trap.


Sincerity Develops Strengths. Not Weaknesses.

Recently, I called a friend of mine to tell him how much I loved him. He didn’t pick up and so I found myself leaving a voice mail. I also found myself very full on the call. I think it’s because I can’t really remember the last time I really loved a man and knew that the Lord cosigned on the sentiment. The friendship has been * quite the journey *, but through it all, one thing that I can say is that knowing him has * consistently * made me a better person. He’s like a spiritual trainer. He’s an aid to develop my * strengths * rather than my weaknesses.

Hmph. 20 times over. A man by the name of Francois de La Rochefoucald once said that “Weak people cannot be sincere.” That speaks * volumes * considering that fact that Christians (Romans 12:9), believers (Mark 9:23), disciples (John 8:31) are called to love from a sincere place:

Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because ‘All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever.’ Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.”---I Peter 1:22-25 (NKJV)

As followers of Christ, we have a * responsibility * to love others sincerely, to love with a pure heart. In ALL relationships, this should be the agenda, the mission, the purpose. The priority. Personally, I’ve had to spend some real and serious time evaluating the fact of if sincerity and purity have been the foundation of my connections with those around me. And here’s the thing about sincerity and purity: they are one in the same:

Sincere: free of deceit, hypocrisy, or falseness; earnest; genuine; real; pure; unmixed; unadulterated

When you think about your friendships, your RELATE-tionships (Amos 3:3), is there honesty in them? Do you present the totality of who you * really * are? Are there lies and secrets and half-truths? Is it based in a genuine desire to see one another live the best life (John 10:10) possible? Is it * real * (Ecclesiastes 7:18-Message)? Is it unadulterated (meaning is it “absolute”)? IS IT PURE?

Pure: free from anything of a different, inferior, or contaminating kind

Just as the Liar gets us to throw out the word “love” around far too loosely (ah ha, would that be another way of taking the Lord God’s name in vain?!? [Exodus 20:7], being that God * is * love? [I John 4:16), it would appear that he does the exact same thing with the word “friend”. A * true friend * who loves you in a * real * way is going to work to support you in staying away from * anything * that would contaminate you. To “contaminate” is “to make impure or unsuitable by contact or mixture with something unclean, bad, etc.” I love how Romans 12:9 tells us to love without hypocrisy. In other words, love with purity. Don’t say that you love when really…* you lust them *. Stop saying you are the “best of friends” with someone when the * truth * (John 8:32) of the matter is that all they really do is bring out your weaknesses rather than develop your strengths. Real talk? A lot of people don’t have * friends *, they have * fixes *. A junkie and his supplier are not friends. They just have an arrangement to meet a fix. One’s fix is money. Another’s is getting high.

It was Adonai who once came upon Azariah, the son of Oded and said, “The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you… But you, be strong and do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded!” (2 Chronicles 15:2 & 7). A good friend is going to remind you of these things: to remain with the Lord so that his * Spirit * will remain with you; to be strong so that your work can be rewarded. A good friend knows that, “We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” (Romans 15:1-NJKV) A good friend knows that they are to be * prayerful * not * predatory *. A good friend is going to remind you that, “…the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (I Corinthians 1:25-NKJV) and so the Word will * always * trump their opinions (and if you don’t have friends who know the Word well enough to know * and encourage * the difference, that is something to really seek [Matthew 7:7-8] the Father about!). A good friend is going to know that it’s the Spirit that helps us in our weakness (Romans 8:26-NCV); that it’s Adonai’s grace that is made perfect in our times of weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-AMP).

And yet, here’s the thing about that.

Did you notice how the lead verse says that we are not to receive grace of God * in vain *? One definition of “in vain” is “without effect or avail; to no purpose” and while I’m sure that we all know that God’s grace * always * serves a * purpose *, I’m not sure how many of us are careful with the fact that his grace can be used “in an improper or irreverent manner”. Grace, much like salvation, is a gift (Romans 5:15). We should honor it as such. Thinking that we can do what we want, whenever we want and that it’s fine because we are “saved by grace” is not only disrespectful, but a bit presumptuous. Indeed, it was Paul who once asked, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:1-2-NKJV) He expounds further here:

“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.”---Romans 6:15-19 (NKJV)

Bottom line? You can pick people who, through their influence and love for you, aid in leading you to righteousness or through their lust for you lead you to death. Indeed, someone truly can “love you to death”. A godly relationship exemplifies grace. A compromised relationship constantly seeks (and needs) mercy. A godly relationship further develops your “moral power, firmness, or courage”. A compromised relationship brings out your “inadequate and defective qualities”; it encourages you to be “self-indulgent”, “feeble” and “deficient”. It is helping you to “fail”. And again, according to I Corinthians 13:8, that is the furthest thing from love’s mind because love? It * never * fails.


Things Don’t Grow in the Shade. They Grow in the SON.

Do you see how in the lead verses it says that we as ministers and servants are not to offend? So many people take that, like judgment (Matthew 7:1-6, I Corinthians 6:2 & 11:32), the wrong (or is it scapegoat [Matthew 25:33]?) way. The * true * definition of “offense” is “a violation or breaking of a social or moral rule; transgression; sin”. Chastening (Deuteronomy 8:5, Proverbs 19:8, Hebrews 12:6-10) and exhortation, biblically, are not to be synonymous with “offense”. The Word tells us that we are to “warn the unruly” (I Thessalonians 5:14), that when and where necessarily (as led by the Spirit), those around us are to be rebuked (2 Timothy 4:2). However, what I believe the Lord is really wanting us to understand is that our actions are not to offend others; that we are not to serve as their stumbling block (Romans 14:13).

Something that we should keep ever-present in our minds is that our relationships are tied to other relationships; that what we do, or don’t do, can directly affect * or infect * people that we may never see, but we will have to give an account to on judgment day for. Who fully knows how my abortions have influenced how the fathers of those children view women and parenting? Who fully knows how my promiscuity has influenced their sexual choices? Who fully knows how deeply my brokenness cut others? Who fully knows but God? That’s not to say I have not been forgiven (I John 1:9); that’s to say that for every action, there is, undoubtedly, a reaction…that sowing and reaping are not be, well, * taken in vain * (Galatians 6:7-9).

As I prayed about a couple of my relationships over the weekend, it’s almost comical, the word that the Comforter gave me: SHADY. The definition of * that * is “dubious or questionable as to honesty or legality”. The best way to * biblically * define it would probably be “lukewarm” (Revelation 3:16) and most of us know where “having or expressing little enthusiasm or conviction” leads. Some of us think that by not getting on one side or another, by “playing in traffic” and not getting hit (er, yet) that we are OK. That the relationship is somehow not hurting us. That we are * safe *.

Awhile back, I recall telling someone that we needed some space because things don’t grow in the shade (in a lack of conviction) but in the SON. After all, the Word does tell us that, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36-NKJV) If the Son makes you free, you shall be free, you shall be “a person who is not in slavery”, you shall be a person not in “bondage”, you shall be not “the condition of being subject to some influence or habit” IN-DEED. As disciples, we are to love * in deed * and * in truth * (I John 3:18). It is he who does truth that light is shed and his deeds are * clearly seen * because they have been done by God (John 3:21). If you’re in something with someone and you don’t know what it is because it’s so obscure that it’s undefinable? Yeah…that’s not just another flag but a huge, blaring warning sign. It is or it ain’t. Hot or cold. Period.

That said, I wonder how many people realize that their relationships are simply a modernized form of slavery; that they remain in the spiritual state of where they are because of who they associate with. I Corinthians 7:23 (NKJV) instructs us, “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.” In the case of my virgin friend’s current struggle, this goes * perfectly * with, “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (I Corinthians 6:18-20-NKJV) Satan is * such * a liar. He knows that my virgin friend, even on her “peak of weakness” days, is * far more free * than if she were to partake in sexual sin. Of course he is after her, like a roaring lion (I Peter 5:8), because he knows that it’s a virgin woman, it’s an * unmarried woman * who can more easily care about the things of the Lord (I Corinthians 7:34)…who can serve God without distractions.

From my own personal testimony, I’m here to tell you that I have gained a new level of respect for wives because it takes * real discipline * to balance your relationship with God while still serving as a helpmate (Genesis 2:18). And, on this side of sexual purity, I can also tell you that what I often say is true: distraction is worse than sin. Would the Woman had partaken of the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3) without allowing herself to be distracted (rendered incapable of behaving, reacting, etc., in a normal manner, as by worry, remorse, or the like; irrational; disturbed) * first *?

Yesterday, I was at the beach. The sand, water and weather were fabulous, but all of that skin on the beach with it served as a bit of a distraction. My friends were laughing at me because I was out there in a T-shirt and jean shorts. A bikini? Even a few weeks from 37, I could rock. But just because I * can * doesn’t mean that I * should * (I Corinthians 10:23). I just don’t want people seeing all of my information, er, anymore (LOL). When my husband sees me in my undergarments, I want him to feel like he’s getting something * exclusive *; something different from what everyone else just saw yesterday at the beach.

My focus on my (future) marriage bed is what’s keeping me from being distracted away from that fact. My friend said that she was looking forward to reading this. I hope it will refocus her away from the distraction of fornication too. Why give yourself away on loan? Why be a slave to lust when you’re a free to purity? Why participate in something so…* shady *?

Don’t you dig how the lead verse says that sincerity is the way to heaven? I appreciate how The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy (Third Edition) defines “heaven” it as “The dwelling place of God, the angels, and the souls of those who have gained salvation; a place of the greatest peace and beauty”. I continue to find it tragic that so many Christians are so consumed/concerned (or is it obsessed?) with the afterlife that they neglect to live life * now *. Christ came (and died) so that we could live abundantly…even now. And so, therefore, his * sincere love * for us, the sacrifices made on it’s behalf, was so we could dwell in God, so that we could have salvation…so that we could experience peace and beauty. Again, even now.

In (re)evaluating your relationships, being that two can only walk together when they are in agreement, how does the love that you give * and accept * add up? Can you say that God dwells in the union? That salvation (protection) is a focal point? That peace and beauty exist because sin does not?

My friend made a confession today. I’m going to take it to prayer tonight. And I ask that you "touch and agree" (Matthew 18:15-20) with me that she will maintain pure until marriage unites her with the * only man * who is truly deserving. That this "friend" of hers will appear as a spiritual foe. Supernaturally. Soon.

That’s what sincere love does.

It supports people getting to heaven. It discourages them away from hell.

In this life and the afterlife.

Anything less…is deceitful. It’s hypocritical. It’s false, phony, unfaithful and untrue.

It’s insincere.

Christian friendships are supposed to have a much higher standard than that.

Freedom. Not slavery. Out of the shade and out in the Son. Always.

Amen. And amen.

©Shellie R. Warren/2011

Monday, May 23, 2011

"On Fire": Snoring Pearls (aka "The Gatekeeper")

"Be faithful to your own wife, just as you drink water from your own well."---Proverbs 5:15 (NKJV)


Ministers-in-Training,

I'm gonna be on the road quite a bit over the summer (in and out, in and out) and so these will come about kind of...sporadically. Please bear with me. :-)

Anyway, while traveling to a speaking engagement over this past weekend, the latest issue of "Ebony", because Jill Scott and that recent weight loss of hers is *killa*, caught my eye. It wasn't really until *traveling back* that I realized why. In it, there's also a featured entitled, "What Black Men Think (When They Think About Women)". A lot of it is...I guess "engaging" would be a good word. However, what I marked was this:

Thomas: I haven't met a lot of women who just value me as a man before seeing me as the dude in the picture that they already have on the mantlepiece.

It wasn't until I got on my connector flight that the dots began to connect re: why that resonated with me so.

One thing about plane (and train and I guess sometimes even automobiles based on the scenario) rides is that you rarely know who will be joining you for one to five hours (give or take) of your life that you'll never get back. This particular aisle seat was filled by a woman in a tailored pin-striped black suit, royal purple silk top, modest-yet-expensive glasses and a string of pearls. Very prim. Very proper. A woman of very few words or even facial expressions for that matter. "Dull" was how I *thought* my next several minutes of traveling above 20,000 ft. was gonna go. Never assume. Never assume.

*That* chick? OK. The reason why this message is entitled the way that it is, is this: her snoring was just...obnoxious. At first, I thought only I could *really* hear it but after about 15-20 minutes or so, other people started looking at me with the similar expression that people give mothers of  restless two-year-old toddlers in grocery stores or restaurants. I specifically recall this one guy across the aisle from me and the "snoring pearls" catch my eye with an "Are you serious?!?" look on his face. "Love is kind. Love is kind." That is all that went on repeat in my mind. Translation: her snoring was too rambunctious to be able to politely awaken her without giving some blaring stares (and possible snorts) of my own. So, I replied back with an "I know, right?" glance and an "I'm just trying to concentrate on this article" shrug.

After awhile, her snoring, although *still* annoying, became almost humorous. The outside of her looked so together. Poised even. And yet, that noise was coming loud and all too clear from what was apparent her alter-ego. Or was that actually the real her? I kept looking for a wedding ring. Her right hand was tightly clutching onto her left. I couldn't tell if she was a wife or not. But I wondered. Oh, how I wondered if there was a husband and if so, if her marital bed (Hebrews 13:4) was just as...audibly entertaining (or is it distracting?) as it was on this plane. It was a question that God didn't want me to know the answer to...yet. Bookmark this, though. We're coming back to it shortly.

Another magazine that I picked up on my travels was the latest issue of "Newsweek". It's cover feature piece is "The Good Wife 2012". Yeah (LOL). Y'all know me well enough (in this area) by now to know that was good enough for me to drop $5.95 plus tax on. Even in *this* economy. Anyway, there were actually a few journalistic gems in there (as I writer, I really do miss *good, thorough journalism*). Like the narrative penned by John McCain's wife, Cindy McCain: "Spouses Get a Bad Rap" (pg.57). The other part of this installment's title? The "aka" part? It was some of her wisdom that inspired it:

"Sometimes the spouses get a bad rap, because we are the gatekeepers. I think we're misunderstood by staff and others when we're trying to be a good spouse. All I ever wanted was for John to be happy and healthy, which he was. I felt like my job was to make sure he ate and got plenty of rest and the basic things. Nancy Reagan told me years ago, 'Always remember you're his eyes and ears. You have a very important voice in this, because you're the one person that he can trust.' That's very true. When you are the closest person to him, you hear and see things. Telling him what you think becomes a very important role."

Hmph. Reminds me of something that the Comforter (John 14:16-AMP) inspired me to say to another Ezer Kenegdo (Hebrew for "helpmate/meet") after hearing her *very anointed* husband of less-than-three-years speak not too long ago: "I'm going to be praying for you because we see *the anointing*, but you live with *the man*."

So, what's my point? And what the heck does that to do with the lady that I will ever refer to as "snoring pearls"? Well, the Scriptural set-up is this: "Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins." (Proverbs 10:12-NKJV) And before we proceed, here's the thing about the word "cover". It's loaded:

Cover: to place something over or upon, as for protection, concealment, or warmth; to hide the wrongful or embarrassing action of another by providing an alibi or acting in the other's place; enfold; keep secret; to bring upon (oneself); invest (oneself) as if with a covering; to assume responsibility for (a person or thing); to have as one's territory; to be sufficient to meet (a liability or expense); to insure against loss, risk, etc.; to guard or protect (an opponent, team-mate, or area)

Gee. There are lots of ways to cover someone (or thing), isn't it? It makes me think of another similar verse in the Good Book (John 1:1, 2 Timothy 3:16-17): "He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends."

Now, let me say something before this all culminates. YOU'RE NOT MARRIED UNTIL YOU'RE MARRIED AND THERE'S SOMETHING (BIG!) TO BE SAID FOR ACCOUNTABILITY (HAVING SOME OUTSIDE OF THE RELATIONSHIP THAT YOU ARE IN). COVERING A SIN IS *NOT* ABOUT SNEAKING AROUND AND HIDING FOOLISHNESS OR BEING SOMEONE'S CO-CONSPIRATOR IN CONSCIOUS CRIMES COMMITTED AGAINST THE FATHER. SO, IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY ENGAGED IN A SIN WITH SOMEONE, THE VERSE THAT YOU NEED TO CLING ONTO IS ACTUALLY JAMES 5:16 (NKJV):

"Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."

That said, please take where this blog is going *in context*.

What I believe the Comforter is desiring for us to see is that as wives-in-training...*ministers-in-training* ...we should be building up our character (Romans 5:1-5) to a place of knowing that just as our husbands are to provide for and protect us, we also are to make it a point to be a place of warmth; to not want to reveal their embarrassing actions; to *invest* (love that!) in our beloveds; to assume the responsibility that comes with being a life-saving aid; to be a kind of spiritual insurance assistance when it comes to supporting them against loss and risk. To help them to guard their hearts (Proverbs 4:23). *Wives are to help their husbands guard their hearts...because LIFE is there*. Gatekeeping is keeping the good in. The bad out.

This is what I thought about as the seat belt sign faded to black and we all got out of our seats. Ms. Snoring Pearls is actually a "Mrs." with a beautiful ring set. As I smiled and pondered (Proverbs 4:26) in my mind, I couldn't help but think about something a friend of mine (Brian) said about his wife (Rachel) in another blog project from a couple of years ago: "If we are to love our wives as Christ loved the Church, then we are to first humble ourselves to God and His will and then to the cause of presenting our wives as best we can."

I so dig that Brian believes (Mark 9:23) that apart of his responsibility, as a husband, is to present his wife as best as he can. The free-setting truth (John 8:32) is that in a marital relationship, this should be one of the main missions for all spouses.

Being that Mrs. Snoring Pearls snores on planes, I'm pretty sure that had she been sharing the seat next to her with her husband, he wouldn't have been as surprised as I was. She *looked* one way. Some other things made her *appear* another. *We all have that same testimony*. Differently. Yet, I couldn't help but wonder what does her husband know that we don't? What is really going on past that business suit and freshwater pearl set---behind that "I took etiquette class more than once" disposition? If she has a *good* husband, the majority of humans on this earth will never know.

You know, there was another good read towards the end of the issue. It was an interview with Betty White (pg. 84) speaking on her two previous failed marriages and her third successful one. In speaking on marriage #2, she said, "He didn't want me to be in show business. When you have a calling you have to follow it, so I made the choice, blew the marriage and I never regretted it."

Divorce (Malachi 2:16) is another message for another time. It's the "follow your calling" part that I'm honing in on at present. If you believe you are called to marriage, then please believe that I'm preaching to the choir when I say that means that you are called to an increase (and for some a complete overhaul) in character. Shoot, even Christ himself said that:

"But Jesus said, 'Not everyone is mature enough to live a married life. It requires a certain aptitude and grace. Marriage isn't for everyone. Some, from birth seemingly, never give marriage a thought. Others never get asked—or accepted. And some decide not to get married for kingdom reasons. But if you're capable of growing into the largeness of marriage, do it.'"---Matthew 19:11-12 (Message)

Some may be wondering if God wants them to be married. However, as we're exploring more that is required to make a successful marriage work, the better question may be, "Do YOU really want to be married?" Or are you just lonely? Or do you just want to have sex? Or do you want to have a wedding because all of your friends have had one (or two) by now? None of these are good enough reasons for the work that is required to make a marriage...well...*work*. And not just work. But work. WELL.

Gatekeeping. Gatekeeping. Thanks, Mrs. Snoring Pearls for showing me, *loudly* (LOL), that marriage is not just about loving. But covering. Cause none of us are only what we appear to be; someone needs to love us through that, anyway.

And when that someone is a man? When he finds a woman who can *really* get that, being faithful to her is not a chore but a perk. A plus. A blessed bonus. One that not only makes her a *good woman* but the *right one* just for him (Genesis 2:18).

Love to you all,

SRW

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"On Fire": Date. For...WHAT?!?

"God made husbands and wives to become one body and one spirit for his purpose—so they would have children who are true to God. So be careful, and do not break your promise to the wife you married when you were young."---Malachi 2:15 (NCV)


Today, I went to visit a former youth pastor from my high school days. Basically to give him (and his wife of almost 36 years) his flowers while he's still here...to tell him how much I appreciated him being *a real Christian* role model in my life. For selflessly planting the seeds into my soul's garden that he did.

He's also a (pre)marriage counselor (as am I) and so we found ourselves having a really interesting discussion re: something that we both agree on: dating is a joke. Actually, my statement was "boyfriends and girlfriends are" and his belief was that dating (basically what most boyfriends and girlfriends do) is. I have shared on more than one occasion that playing married when you're not seems really counterproductive and that the older someone gets, having a "BOY" anything just sounds...weird. But he brought about another perspective: "Dating is a 20th Century invention for people with too much time on their hands", he said (and I must admit that him saying that made me laugh right out loud). "Before then, there was *courtship* and customarily, it took place around 16 so that people could marry at 18. Now that puberty is starting earlier (one of my love nieces just started her period at a whopping [whew!] 10!) and people are getting married later, folks are trying to find a way to compensate for all of that time...a way to deal with their hormones. You know what it's called? DATING. And sadly, with the way people are doing it, it's not preparing them for marriage. It's simply teaching them how to get a divorce. How to end a relationship rather than maintain one. How to love in every way but the foundational way. And that's the agape way."

That stayed on my mind as I drove home. Then, I went to a quote file that I have stored away in a folder of my Yahoo account. My...my:

"Don't do anything halfway unless you plan to be half happy."

"What defines a relationship is another relationship."


"Anything less than extraordinary is a waste of my time."

"My type is indescribable but 'not him' is a good start."


"You cannot treat real people as if they're characters in a script and then expect a fairytale ending."

"You can never replace anyone."

"You either date to break up or date to get married."


"Balance is not allowing anyone to love you less than you love yourself."

"The future is no place for a person with an incomplete past."


"Marriage takes your whole heart. Selfish people can't pull it off."

"Things had too easily can't be valued."


"Men are apt to despise things that are easily acquired."

"If you're never someone's girlfriend, you can never be someone's ex-girlfriend."

Most of these came from movies or television programs and something (I'm pretty sure it's the Holy Spirit) tells me that a lot of you can relate to a lot of these. And yet, it's as I revisited a quote by the actor Terence Howard that I decided to pen this: "Hopefully my heartbreak is your wake-up call." And I pray that it is. Lord knows that I've done "psuedo-marriage" and "semi-divorce" enough to feel qualified to pen this.

That said...

I don't care what version of the Bible you use or research, you will *not* find "boyfriend", "girlfriend" *or* "dating" in it. And yet, a lot of the emails that I get, some from "On Fire" women and some not, are about people (especially women) wanting someone to date. Apart of the reason why one of my absolute favorite courtship Scriptures is listed yet again today is because I soooooooo dig how it says that GOD *MADE* HUSBANDS AND WIVES. Not boyfriends and girlfriends. And do you see how the Scripture ends? It tells men not to break a promise to the *wife* that they married. Not some chick that they're hanging out with.

Yeah. I know some of you must be close to emotionally hyperventilating at the fact that the verse speaks to the wife the man married when was *young* (LOL). Especially since none of us are getting in younger. However, even as I thought about *that*, another verse that I stockpiled came to mind. It's from a movie entitled (uh-huh), "Playing House": "A woman is never late if she's worth waiting for."

A *WOMAN* IS *NEVER* LATE IF SHE'S *WORTH* WAITING FOR.

If you fall into the "I want a boyfriend" category, when you really think about the root of your impatience, really...what is that all about? How much in what Pastor Mike said resonates within your own psyche? Cause real talk: if you're *husband focused* then why would you want to date? After all, as I often say, "WIVES DON'T DATE." Be honest: Is it about being lonely? Is it about being hormonal? Is it about being like everyone else? Is it about being paranoid (concerning your age or your eggs)? Is it about YOU rather than GOD? If so, I'm sure you well know that *none of these reasons* are about being a good wife. A solid helpmate. A gifted Ezer Kenegdo.

I have been delivered from wanting to date (or a date) for quite some time now and I don't think it's by happenstance that the longer I am abstinent, the less I want to be with some dude who ain't my Beloved. Yet as I thought more and more about my then-pastor-and-now-friend's findings, I couldn't help but think, "Wow Satan, you found a way to make people want *less* than what Adonai desires for them. You found a way to have folks be consumed with a counterfeit. With participating in play-date-marriage". And even worse, he's found a way for those of us who *deserve better* to think that we're actually missing out because we're not doing things the way the world does. I mean, being that we are of a royal priesthood (I Peter 2:9), does it not make *total sense* that we would be called to COURT-SHIP?!?

I really thought long and hard on how many women talk to me about being alone. And then I thought about how "single" is defined as being "whole" and "complete" (James 1:4). Hmph. If a woman was *truly single* then how could being alone really bother her? If her focus was on preparing for *her husband* rather than *a boyfriend*, how could she possibly think that God doesn't have her best interest at heart? Because if she *really believed* (Mark 9:23) that a husband was apart of Adonai's will for her life, then she would entrust him to make a way...even if sometimes it seems (or feels) like a way out of no way. After all, we didn't come up with the marriage concept. It is *God* who makes husbands and wives. HUSBANDS AND WIVES ARE NOT CONJURED UP. BY GOD, THEY ARE *MADE*.

So, am I saying that dating is a sin? Absolutely not. Actually, if people could do it casually and purely (I Timothy 5:22) without turning into psycho chicks (or dudes) when things don't go as planned, I would probably not be so hardcore about advising against it. Dinner and a movie is cool so long as you're not picking out china patterns online once you get home if all goes well. Basically when it comes to all of this, what I'm thinking more and more is about what Paul once said about things...in general: "Everything is permissible (allowable and lawful) for me; but not all things are helpful (good for me to do, expedient and profitable when considered with other things)." (I Corinthians 6:12-AMP) Just because you *can* doesn't mean that you *should*. After all, since Adonai already knows who your husband is, why don't you let him *bring you to him*? AT THE TIME OF COURTSHIP.

When is that?

Well, everyone's journey is unique. As a wise man once said, "The best love story is your own." Yet again, I hear *so many women* get frustrated because presumably, they are ready to get married while the object of their attraction (and sometimes desire) is not. OK, but we know how old school courtship played out, right? The young man had things in order (he was *ready* to be a husband) and the young lady's father decided if it was enough for the man to spend time with the young lady. Then they courted (because the fella's *intention* was to be married). Then they got engaged. Then they got married.

How is that *any different* from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2)?

Adam had a relationship with Adonai *and* a purpose.

Adam noticed that he didn't have a partner like him.

Adonai decided when it was time for him to be united with the Woman.

Adonai brought her to Adam.

THEY WERE UNITED.


*Five simple steps*. And here we are being like the Woman was at the tree (Genesis 3)---listening to the serpent tell us that we should apply another formula; that Elohim needs our help because the Godhead doesn't know what they're doing. Quite frankly, my eyes have been opened to the world's system of operation and I found out more than I *ever* wanted (or needed) to know. I have *no problem* not knowing any more men in any more ways. My husband, and however the Lord wants to culminate that experience, is good enough for me. MY HUSBAND IS GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME. TO WAIT.

You know what I want? I want a marriage, yes. However, I want a marriage that was *made in heaven*. For the Lord to look at My Beloved and I and say just as he did at creation. That because he did it, "It was very good."

With no need for a date. Other than a wedding date.

Love to you,

SRW


Friday, May 13, 2011

"On Fire": Fight. Then Rest. Then Fight. Then Rest. Some More.

"And who knows, maybe God will see the trouble I'm in today and exchange the curses for something good."---2 Samuel 16:12 (Message)

Fasters...

Today, this message is *especially* for the women who have made both the *commitment* (Matthew 5:37) and *sacrifice* (Jonah 2:9) to partake in the "Clear Response Fast".

After chatting with several of you and taking those issues to prayer (Jeremiah 33:3, James 1:4), I feel *total peace* in sharing something that I heard in a statement that I saw in a movie ("Management" starring Jennifer Aniston) last weekend:

"You're so busy being selfless that you're treating yourself like (switching up a word here) crap. The people who love you shouldn't feel like they're annoying you."

Let all of the healthy people say, "Amen!" LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF (Mark 12:28-34). This was the second (and next greatest) command of Christ.

See, if you're following *all of the steps* with consistency and fervency, then there should be something that you are unanimously sensing: that you are getting to know more about who YOU are and what Adonai, your Creator, desires for YOU. That a husband, for many, is very much so apart of your future (Jeremiah 29:11), yet not before some other things are solidified. Real talk? A lot of us are looking for husbands to do things that are not on God's "to do list" for them. At least not in the way that we think they should be. Healing must take place. Single. Clarity must take place. Single. A new introduction to love, courtship and covenant must take place. Single. A RENEWAL MUST TAKE PLACE (Isaiah 43:19). Single. And yes, if you're taking those facts seriously, for a season (Ecclesiastes 3:1), that can be...EX-HAUST-ING!!!

This is why I adored the Comforter (John 14:16-AMP) so much today as he led (Luke 12:12) me to a story that I was not familiar with (how *do* people get bored with the Bible, you know?!?): 2 Samuel 16 and a set of challenges that David went through. How he was hoping (and hope does not disappoint-Romans 5:5) that some good would come out of what he was experiencing and you know what?

"David and his men went on down the road, while Shimei followed along on the ridge of the hill alongside, cursing, throwing stones down on them, and kicking up dirt. By the time they reached the Jordan River, David and all the men of the company were exhausted. There they rested and were revived."---2 Samuel 16:13-14 (Message)

Speaking of *revival*, another purpose of this fast:

"Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way."---Psalm 119:37 (NKJV)

I know that some of you are tired. There's no harm, foul or sin in that. Matter of fact, Christ told us, "All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:27-29-NKJV)

Whenever you are exerting the power of your mind and body, whenever you are striving towards a goal...whenever you are working hard, that is called "labor". And when you are laboring for the will of self-improvement and adjustment from your will to Adonai's, Elohim sees you and they provide ways for you to rest. Often unexpectedly.

I think that is why the movie quote got to me so. No one is doing anyone any good by being so busy focused on others (or what they desire from others) that they are leaving themselves by the (pun intended) waste side. And, quite honestly, some of us need that reality check (Ecclesiastes 7:18-Message) when it comes to our desires for a mate. It shouldn't consume us to the point that we don't take care of us...that we can't see *just how vital* that is to wife preparation *now* and wifedom...*later*.

And so, my sistahs, while the fast is going through June 19, while there is much more work that needs to be done, know that through the lead verse, the movie quote and this blog, you have the Lord's permission to rest. TO. REST.

Find a way to do *something* that will give you some "refreshing quiet or ease". Pamper yourself. Get a pedicure. Buy some candles or a pint of your favorite ice cream. Do something...different on Memorial Day. Something that will make for a great memory in days and years to come. Whatever it is, just know that even Christ himself would fight and then rest...fight and then rest. Some more.

Remember when Christ fasted out in the wilderness and it says that after the devil left him, the angels came and ministered to him (Matthew 4:11 & Mark 1:13)? The Word (Titus 1:2) assures us that when we resist the devil, *he will flee* (James 4:7). Do you think that when you do what is right, especially when it's hard, that the Lord's messengers will not do the same for you? THEY WILL. They are doing it now. Hold onto that fact and this Scripture. No matter what:

"He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him--not for my earning it, but] for His name's sake."---Psalm 23:3 (AMP)

Keep hangin' in there.

BIRTH FOLLOWS LABOR. ;-)

Love and even more prayer to and for you...

SRW

Monday, May 9, 2011

"An Ounce of Prevention": The Purity Shirts Are In!

Yeah...

This is probably gonna be my shortest blog *ever* (LOL). The "Purity Is The New Virginity" T-shirts are here. For $25, I'll ship you one. The sizes range from S to XL. The pic explains the rest. ;-) Personally, I soooooooo dig the I Timothy 5:22 quote.


Love to you,


SRW


Thursday, May 5, 2011

"On Fire": Not the Wedding. The Rehearsal.

"So observe and practice all they tell you; but do not do what they do, for they preach, but do not practice."---Matthew 23:3 (AMP)


Well now...

Did *y'all* know that was the origin of the saying, "Practice what you preach?" (in reference to doing what the Pharisees say rather than just merely preaching it). I certainly didn't. Until this morning. Whew! Sufficient for the day is not only its own trouble (Matthew 6:34), but its own lessons as well.

Anyway...

To say that a sistah is jet lagged would be a *major* understatement! Just the fact that I woke up yesterday at 4:45am (London time) and got to Nashville at 11pm (Central Time) last night with the two continents being seven hours apart...yeah, I'm sure you get it. I'm actually gonna pen something on the devotional side re: spiritual jet lag later today. Long story short: STAY IN YOUR TIME ZONE. You can get *really restless* (Philippians 4:6-7) when you don't.

So...

When I returned to my home last night, I was so beat that I didn't even get out of the "I'll Marry Harry" T-shirt that I purchased the night before the wedding from some female college Brits that were making camp on the left-hand side of Buckingham Palace. Yeah, the trip to the Royal Wedding was just *that good*. That revelatory. That...spiritually strategic.

But I'm getting just a wee bit ahead of myself. Let me go back a second. To the plane ride there...

While traveling to meet my mom at JFK Airport (she lives in South Africa and was here promoting her book, "Now This Feels Like Home"), I picked up a copy of "People" magazine's "Most Beautiful People" issue. In it, there was a map for the Royal Wedding and also some other unexpected gems. One like this quote from a (if you ask me) brilliant comedic writer, Tina Fey:

DOES YOUR DAUGHTER ALICE KNOW THAT YOU'RE FAMOUS? Um, I'm afraid she does. When someone on the street says, "I love you!" she's like, "What?" So I've made it clear that's not a relationship you can count on.

A love relationship is something that you can (say it with me, y'all) *COUNT. ON.* Love that. LOVE. THAT! Makes me think of a conversation that I had while on a layover in Charlotte last night with a 20-something woman by the name of Maggie (named changed to protect her identity) who had a "delayed flight" (you know how Adonai tends to be-Acts 1:7-Message) and so we ended up having an hour-long conversation about a guy named James (again, same sentiment applies) that she sees once a month, met just this year and has already slept with...yet he hasn't told her that he has feelings for her. Eh hem. Directly. Which in reality time (Ecclesiastes 7:18-Message) means not at all.

Ministers-in-Training, there is *nothing* like seeing your life in reverse. It *definitely* gave me a new respect for my mom and other parents, especially of adult children. Wisdom tells me that Maggie is being used. That dude is not being monogamous. And a big part of the reason why I say this is because Maggie admitted that she has a trend of having sex really early and the relationships falling apart. As I dug a bit deeper, this provided an "ah ha" moment for me: she and her father "love one another a lot but are not that close". An earthly father is our first male relationship. Yep. Speaks volumes.

My meeting with Maggie is another blog unto itself, yet I know that seeds were planted. She left saying, "I'm going to have a conversation with him about being monogamous. You are the second person to tell me that and you saying it means that I need to do it." Yeah. I know. She didn't walk off saying she was going to be abstinent. Rome wasn't built in a day. Neither was the restoration (Joel 2:25) of most people's self-esteem. However, after leaving London, I knew that Adonai placed Maggie into my path. She deserves better than her cycle of random sexual escapades because of the power that she *thinks* flesh gives her (James 1:14-15). She deserves a prince. And her "he" deserves a princess.

*We all do.* And we all can. If we're willing to put some things into *practice*. First.

And so, here's my set-up for how last Friday went down. For me. I didn't go to the Royal Wedding. I mean, I was never supposed to go *in* but my mom and I had plans to be *at* it. However, like a lot of you all, I sat on the couch and watched it on the telly. So why go all of the way to London to do what I could've done in Nashville? *Good question*.

First, I went for sentimental reasons. In July of 1981, when I was a bit more than a month into 7, my mother and I sat and watched Prince William (um, the Duke of Cambridge)'s mother, Princess Diana, get married. On television. In Nashville. This time around, we thought it would be really great to actually see it in London. But again, we attended what my mother calls, "the rehearsal". Not the wedding.

Here's where it gets good.

My mother? Initially, she was *all about* going down to the palace early Friday morning, but Thursday I found myself saying, "Why don't we just go tonight? Before all of those people get down there." It was one of the best things my conscience, the Comforter (John 14:16-AMP), could've *ever* suggested. One, because we could freely move about. Basically everything that was featured on pg.130 of the "Most Beautiful" issue, we went to. Buckingham Palace, Clarence House, Westminister Abbey, the Eye, Big Ben...all of it. Matter of fact, my mother jokes that it went so well because we blessed the space before the wedding party got there (LOL). Two, as the sun was setting, there was a calming-yet-celebratory presence. Energy. Aura. You saw so many excited people but because it was not the day of the event, you didn't feel like a "groupie" so much as a supporter. You weren't a fan so much as an individual who kindly wanted to pay your respects and send your well wishes their way. Hmph. This must've been something that resonated with Prince William and Prince Harry as well because about 30 minutes after we left (I know, right?!?), they both came out to greet those who were walking the grounds (Harry, we will meet, my love. Someday-LOL).

Yet, it is the third point---something that I didn't realize, really, until I got onto the plane heading back home---that made me smile. And giggle. And almost tear up. Just a bit.

A couple of years ago, the Lord gave me a promise Scripture as it relates to my (future) wedding. Time and experience and being careful to how I listen to the Father (Proverbs 28:9-Message and John 8:18-New Century Version), my ultimate wedding planner and premarital counselor, have taught me that I don't have to, nor should I, share *everything* and so I will keep it to myself. I will say this, though: it speaks to just how *much* that day is going to be in, to and for my life. And so, as I walked around those royal grounds; as I spent a time of great restoration with my mum (LOL); as I processed just how wonderful my Baba (her husband) was for sending us; as I watched my mother do an exercise last Sabbath that included having eight random women put on each other's shoes and attempt to walk around the church in them...as I reflected back on just how special it was to be at the wedding while not being *at the wedding*, I thought again about what my mother said. That we were attending the rehearsal.

How fitting that on this National Day of Prayer, that on 5 (grace)-5 (grace)-11 (judgment), the day before, as I was looking at another sunset while soaring 28,000 feet above the clouds, the Lord would have me to read this passage from one of my favorite books, at present, "The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness: Preparing to Practice" by Rabbi Rami Shapiro:

"This is the key to grace. Each day God provides you with exactly what you need for that day. If you take of it freely, and embody it fully, then all is well. If you seek more than you can eat in hopes of stockpiling it for the future, what you hoard rots. Today is for today only. Tomorrow will take care of itself....The opposite of grace is not God's enmity but your own anxiety...God is *what* is happening. It is you who create[s] a story of *why* it is happening...From the perspective of grace, worry is a great destroyer. Grace is the antidote to anxiety...Without the distraction of worrying about what might be, you attend what is...Each action, each moment, has its own integrity...Living gracefully is knowing what time it is, and acting in sync with it. If it is planting time, plant; if it is harvest time, harvest. But if your mind is on harvesting when it is time to plant, you will most likely plant poorly and harvest little if anything at all [this is Shellie interjecting. I Corinthians 3:8 has a great promise re: Rabbi Shapiro's statement there!]...Does this mean you should not plan for the future? No, it means that the future will not follow your plan. There is a plan for the future that arises out of conditions of the present. If you wish to change tomorrow, you must engage today in a new way....Why are we so rarely in a state of grace? Because we rarely have the courage to expend ourselves fully in the moment. We want to know that there will be manna tomorrow, and we imagine that the best way to know this is to hoard some away. This is narrow-mind reasoning: fearful, untrusting, lacking in faith....To live in grace you must use up each moment and become empty again...God says, 'I deal with each person according to merits, but to the person without merit I give grace' (Deuteronomy Rabbah Va-Etchanan, 2:1)."---The Sacred Art of Lovingkindness: Preparing to Practice, Engaging Life Through Grace, pg.35-39

Oh for grace to trust you more, Abba Father. Indeed.

"Time" magazine has a "The Time 100" issue that is currently out. In it, Heidi Murkoff, the author of "What to Expect When You're Expecting" (and in the case, the pun *is* intended-Romans 8:22-25-Message) said something that I want us all, especially those currently on the "Clear Response" fast, to hold close to our hearts in and at this time (Ecclesiastes 3). A time that, I *know* (that I know that I know), is one of *great* and *abundant* transition: "Miracles can be hard to understand while going through it." Adonai, via the prophet, Isaiah put it this way:

"The Lord says, 'My thoughts are not like your thoughts. Your ways are not like my ways. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. Rain and snow fall from the sky and don't return without watering the ground. They cause the plants to sprout and grow, making seeds for the farmer and bread for the people.The same thing is true of the words I speak. They will not return to me empty. They make the things happen that I want to happen, and they succeed in doing what I send them to do."---Isaiah 55:8-11 (NKJV)

God's ways are not our ways highly in part because he can do *exceedingly above* all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20)! My mom and I went *planning* to go to the wedding. He had the "rehearsal" in mind instead. Makes sense being that a rehearsal is "a session of exercise, drill, or practice, usually private, in preparation for a public performance, ceremony, etc." And what is this entire "On Fire" movement about? Preparation. Practice. *For our own public ceremony.* What a beautiful spiritual metaphor. Kate (um, the Duchess of Cambridge) had her day but I Peter 2:9-10 says that *all of Adonai's daughters* are of a royal priesthood. The first royal wedding where I am to be an attendant and not a mere spectator? That would be my own! By design. Way before any of my plans. *Obviously*.


I came back with a Dartington crystal commemorative vase marking the special day. On one side, there are their initials. On the other, it says: "To commemorate the Royal Wedding of H.R.H Prince William & Miss Catherine Middleton. 29th April 2011." Hmph. To be *reminded* of last Friday. On this side of the journey, every time I put a single rose or a votive candle in it, what I will be reminded about most of all is that with all of the covenant seeds that are being planted, with all of the work that is required with "On Fire", "10...Again", (pre)marital counseling and the like, with the nights that come (and go-Psalm 30:5) when I wish I could cuddle up next to a person rather than a pillow, the Lord sees me. HE. SEES. ME. And although he didn't have to prove that fact, he provided me an all-expenses paid round trip ticket to witness, up-close-and-semi-personal, one person go from a woman to a princess.


As a reminder to continue to *practice* for my own day in the sun. And Son.


A bride with her bridegroom. In covenant. And royal. Someday. Soon. Enough.

Beaming. Beautiful. FULL OF GRACE (Luke 1:28). 


Oh, and it just keeps on going. Before checking out Fandango, I had already decided that tomorrow, I'm going to treat myself. I've been waiting to attend a movie where I don't feel like a goat (Matthew 25:33) is gonna jump out at me at any moment. And voila! "Something Borrowed" *and* "Jumping the Broom" are premiering. Keeping with the theme, I see, Lord (LOL). I can dig it. What a splendid (and thorough) way to end the week. Thank you.



Love to you ladies,



SRW