Monday, February 27, 2012

An Ounce of Prevention: "20 Trouble Signs - You Love Him Or Her More Than He Or She Loves You "

Yeah...

Emotional roller coaster rides are no fun. Gonna straight copy and paste the list and while I do think that "love" is tossed around way to freely, I think we've all experienced the common use of it enough to get where this author is coming from. Oh! And while I'm pretty sure we all know that sex is for married people, I'm sure we also all know that we don't always do what we're supposed to and so I'm leaving the sex warning flags in as well (by the way, you can read the original copy here):

Here are some signs that you've crossed the line between "loving" to "loving too much".

1. You felt empty and unloved before you met him or her, but now you feel even emptier and insecure.

2. You want to talk to him or her every few hours/see him or her every few days but unlike you, he or she is able to go for long periods of time without talking to you or seeing you -- and it doesn't seem to bother him or her.

3. Your thoughts and feelings keep bouncing from "he or she loves me so much" to "it's all over, he/she is not going to call."

4. Much of your day is consumed thinking of this special person and developing strategies of what you'll say or do (and when) to make him/her see that you are meant for each other etc.

5. He or she seems extraordinarily independent and this is driving you nuts. He or she even makes you feel you could have sex with someone else and it wouldn't matter.
 

6.  One moment you find yourself unable to refrain yourself from telling him or her that he or she is unfair, selfish, insensitive, unmotivated, unpolished, boorish, depressed etc. and the next moment you are professing your love and desire for a committed relationship.

7. You live for his or her love -- and in moments of insecurity you try to squeeze out some words or actions that reassure you that he or she loves you and is there to stay -- although deep inside you know that putting pressure on him or her is the worst thing to do.

8. You feel like you are getting mixed signals from him or her (you probably are). One moment he or she is open and wants to be close and the next, his or her words and actions seem to say "I need my space" or "leave me alone".

9.  You're are trying so badly to please him or her, and do things to show him or her that you are deeply in love, and in the process losing your spontaneity and "in the moment" demeanor to the point that you are becoming increasingly "too serious" and "overly sensitive".

10. You want to (and actually do) talk about the relationship more than he or she wants to. And many of your talks about the relationship leave you feeling more insecure, unlovable and second-rate.

11. There is another man or woman in the picture -- and your man or woman can't seem to get him or herself to end the relationship with that other man or woman.  You can see that he or she is genuinely conflicted because he or she loves the other person too -- or more!
 
12. Your assessment of where the relationship is at is different from his or hers -- and when you point this out, he or she says you are making him or her feel pressured for something he or she can't give or isn't ready for.

13. His or her life -- professional and social -- seems so full that there is not much room for you.  Try as you do to get in, you always feel like the "outsider" and he or she is not doing much to include you.

14. The last time you tried to back away a little to gain more perspective on the relationship, you couldn't even pull that one through. You got so scared that a little distance might end the relationship completely.

15. You have sex with him or her because you think that that's what he or she wants,  You hope and pray that the closeness of sex will bring the two of closer to each other -- but it only makes you feel used.

16. You are constantly rationalizing the negatives and straining to believe him or her, even when what he or she is saying defies simple common sense.

17. You are obsessed with trying to interpret, understand and clarify his or her every word and action.  You are constantly searching for internet articles, asking friends and even strangers what they think -- does he or she love me or not?

18. He or she is in total control his or her feelings and of the relationship.  You are the powerless clinger.

19. Your anxiety is on the high end -- you are really afraid that this relationship might end (and expecting it to) anytime really soon.

20. There is a part of you that just wants to end it all -- actually wants him or her to leave so that you can regain your lost power (feel normal again), yet you are frightened of that prospect too.



Wheeeeeeeeee (inhale) eeeeeeeeeeee (exhale) eeeeeew!

Get free. You're deserving of it.

tmm,

SRW

"On Fire": QUOTE OF THE DAY

So...

I was finishing up a deadline on eco-friendly activities and I happened upon this quote: 

“There are many things that we would throw away if we were not afraid that others might pick them up.”---Oscar Wilde

You know, sometimes we recycle things (and people) that really are of no more use to us. Also, sometimes we hold onto things for *fear* of where they will end up once we release them. Hmph. Brings a whole new meaning to "Perfect love casts out all fear", now doesn't it? And remember, when you live in fear...WHEN YOU HOLD ONTO THINGS BECAUSE OF FEAR, the Word, which is God (John 1:1), also tells us that *fear involves torment* (I John 4:18). *Nothing* God gives us is for the purpose of "annoyance" or "misery" or even "provocation", "suffering" or "worry":

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning."---James 1:17(NKJV)

Some serious food for thought today. Hold on to "it" because it's good for you; not because you're afraid to go without.

tmm,

SRW


Saturday, February 25, 2012

"On Fire": QUOTE OF THE DAY

Yeah. You know you've got a good one when he says things like this:

Speaking to InStyle.com during a private dinner party in Los Angeles recently, [Oscar-nominated actress Viola] Davis recounted a message from hubby Julius Tennon. “He said, ‘If you want to wear it for your career, that’s fine, but in your life wear your hair. Step into who you are,’” she said. “It’s a very powerful statement.”

He was speaking of her going sans her wigs and rockin' her real tiny 'fro.

STEP INTO WHO YOU ARE. IT'S A VERY POWERFUL STATEMENT.

Words to live by. ;-)

tmm,

SRW

Thursday, February 23, 2012

"On Fire": Why Widows Are Becoming My Hereos

"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."---James 1:27(NKJV)

"When a wife has a good husband it is easily seen in her face."---Goethe


This has been a LONG week for me. Thanks to Saturday.

As I was telling someone earlier this week, I am so thankful to remain in a place where when I know that God has told me something, I do it. Irregardless of what the masses are doing. On this past Sabbath, while seemingly (most of) the world was watching Whitney Houston's funeral, I heard the Spirit say, "Go. Rest. And LIVE life." And so, I did. I only caught a couple of recaps on CNN later that night. And I'm more than fine with that.

Back to earlier on Saturday...after having an impromptu lunch with some friends, I came home to an email about my great-grandmother having congestive heart failure. Then I got a phone call about a "professional friend" (*very few* people in life are *all-purpose friends*) passing from a heart attack. He was 32. *Then* on my way back from the two-hour drive to see my grandmother, I received a text that one of my high school classmate's father *also on Saturday* died of a heart attack. On the year that is my 20-year reunion, the man that so many of us called, "Dad" and I saw just a few weeks ago, died.

Sometimes 37 feels...older. But when it comes to death, I still feel pretty young. Certainly too young to see the amount of death that I already have. But in times like these, I'm so grateful for a Comforter that provides appropriate Scriptures; ones that, to this day, I have not heard quoted in a funeral service *yet*:

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."---Psalm 116:15(NKJV)

"Those who are right with God may die, but no one pays attention. Good people are taken away, but no one understands. Those who do right are being taken away from evil and are given peace. Those who live as God wants find rest in death."---Isaiah 57:1-2(NCV)


We are not the final judge (I Corinthians 4:5) and it's *just as much playing God* to speak of people heading to heaven as presuming that they are not; once Christ returns (because if people in our lifetimes were already in heaven, why why would there be verses like, "the dead in Christ will rise first"?-I Thessalonians 4:15-17) the fate of people's afterlife will all be *just as Elohim believes it should be*. Oh, but in the meantime, it's nice to be comforted by the fact that there is mercy in death. And that there is rest there as well (Psalm 13:3).

I thought about that as I attended "Dad's" funeral on yesterday. Looking at the packed out room and hearing friends of his since childhood and adolescence speak of his quirky sense of humor, unbelievably huge and giving heart and his belief that the Church was *people* and not *buildings* (Selah! Amen!)...in hearing that one of his mottos was that "It's just as important to be behind the scenes as out in the front" (something more people could stand to be reminded of)...in listening to all of his many accomplishments, many that I didn't know about because he obviously took the Bible quite seriously including the verse, "Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips" (Proverbs 27:2-NKJV), I thought about what I admired about him the most: his marriage of 42 years and the fact that Goethe is right: it *is* seen on a wife's face when she has a good husband. Alan Craig's wife beamed *every time* I saw her and honestly, I can't remember one time seeing them more than a few feet a part.

As I hugged her yesterday and she shared some vulnerable words about her feelings in this season, I heard myself say in her ear while hugging, "The Bible says that true religion is taking care of widows and orphans. I'll be checking on you." And for the rest of the day, I thought about that statement. How, over the course of the past 10 or so years, I have come to develop my own network of widows and they are some of my most favorite of women in the entire world. The thing that they all have in common is that their marriages were stellar, in part because they were married to the complete and absolute love of their lives, and that while no union is perfect, they lived about as close to biblical textbook accurate as a marriage can get (when you follow *directions*, you get good results).

Therefore, you would think that these ladies would keel over and die from heartbreak once their beloveds transitioned in preparation for the next phase of their existence. Nope. They travel. They are active in ministries. Some have started businesses. I have stood back totally and utterly amazed at their resilience and even now I'm taken aback by the resolve that...

AS WIDOWS THEY HAVE SERVED AS MIRACULOUS ROLE MODELS OF WHAT A SINGLE WOMAN'S LIFE SHOULD LOOK LIKE.

With no man in their lives, *their life* has not ended; *their life* is quite full. If anything, I believe that losing their beloved reminds them that we are not to boast about tomorrow (Proverbs 27:1) and that yes, we are as vapor that appears for a little bit of time and vanishes away (James 4:13-15). As a testament to the life that they shared with another in a I Corinthians 13 existence, they carry on in tribute.

As I was sharing this with my mom last night, she put the final piece of the puzzle together with me; about why, more and more, I find myself sitting at the feet of these extraordinary women that we call, "widows".

"When you've had a great love that supports and nurtures you, you can live a full life because of it."

The widows that I know are in a good place *because of love*. They can be single and happy and whole and confident and prosperous *because of love*. The memory of their great loves plays a significant role in their new beginnings...even though those relationships have come to an end.

And wouldn't it be nice of we as single women *really got that*? That when the Word, which is Adonai (John 1:1), tells us that an unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord (I Corinthians 7:34), it's Adonai's way of encouraging us to enter into a *real and lasting love relationship* with a Spirit that loves us in an everlasting way (Jeremiah 31:3); a Spirit that will *never die*. A Spirit that, *because of love*, gives us the right to a full life as well.

THERE IS A GREAT LOVE, GRACE AND CARE THAT GOD HAS FOR US BY GRANTING US THE OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN WHAT MANY WIDOWS HAVE...BEFORE ACTUALLY BECOMING ONE.

It's a great wonder to behold: the love relationship we have with the Most High that gives us access to abundance even before we are united with our own beloveds. So that when our time comes, we too can have the beaming face of a happy wife; not just because of our husbands came, but because we knew what great love was like before they even arrived.

If you don't have a widow in your life, again, remember what the Word says; true religion tends to them. Therefore, it might be a good idea to get one. Personally, I love love and am learning more about the power of it with every passing day. And on the battlefield between good and evil, life and death, *marriage and divorce*, I must admit that the widows in my world, because of their love for God and love for life, in spite of what he gives *or takes away*...more and more, are becoming my heroes. 

Showing me how to love. FULLY. No matter what.

Because life is worth living because God loves us. No matter what.

And indeed, it is.

tmm,

SRW

Friday, February 17, 2012

"On Fire": The PRESUMPTION of Premature Wifedom

"The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, 'Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?' 

And He answered and said to them, 'Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate."---Matthew 19:3-6 (NKJV)

"It`s most presumptuous to believe we already know all the answers and will never get any more big surprises."---Andreas Heine



While (re)reading the story (and *rape*) of Amnon and Tamar (2 Samuel 13) earlier today...

I was a bit taken aback *and fascinated* about where the Spirit (John 4:24) led (Luke 12:12) me re: it. Almost every time that I read that story, I think about my absolute favorite quote on (illicit) sex: "Sex without love is violence." Author Eric Jerome Dickey penned that. Anyway, if you're not familiar with the story, Amnon was in love with his brother Absalom's sister. That may seem a bit...icky within itself, before I continue, it might be wise to remind us all that *even now*, in Abba Father's family, we're spiritually considered brother and sister. Marriage is the *only thing* that changes that dynamic. Therefore, sex outside of marriage may not be as brutal as the rape that Tamar experienced, but spiritually, it's still a very unhealthy situation: "spiritual incest" is what I call it.

Anyway, what I kept getting "stuck" on was this part of the story:

2 Samuel 13:4(NKJV): "Amnon said to him, 'I love Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.'"

2 Samuel 13:14-15(NKJV): "However, he would not heed her voice; and being stronger than she, he forced her and lay with her.Then Amnon hated her exceedingly, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, 'Arise, be gone!'"

Amnon loved Tamar. He *had to have her*. He had her. And then his hatred exceeded his love.

I have quoted this more times than I can count. Perhaps because I find it so indicative of Adonai's nature (Jonah 4:2): "We are not punished for our sins, but by our sins." It was Elbert Hubbard who said that and although fornication is not nearly, to the human senses, as horrific as sexual assault, spiritually, in many ways, is it not similar? The Word says not to fornicate (I Corinthians 6:9-10, Hebrews 12:12-17&13:4, Revelation 21:8) and yet, so many of us do; claiming that we love the person that we are engaging in the act with. And yet look at Amnon's *spirit*. He loved. He *had to have*. And then after the act, his hatred manifested.

How many of us are or have engaged in fornication *for the exact same reason*? We feel like we love someone and while we're not ready for marriage (which should *automatically mean* that we're not ready for sex, by the way), we feel like we've just *got to have* the person that we're with and so we overlook the Lord's instructions and we find ourselves, on some level, whether it's immediately happened or not...being punished for our sins (Romans 6:23).

Wow. Fornication carries about the spirit of Amnon: LUST. 
Love? Real love? It will wait. Until it's right. RIGHT WOULD BE MARRIAGE.

But the Lord had more. Something that I never thought about when it came to *another reason* why the Most High puts fornication in the "settling for less" category is because the act comes from a place of *extreme pride and arrogance*. And as Proverbs 16:18(NKJV) clearly states, "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." Sometimes "the fall" is what so many people call, "falling in love". 

You see, what I never fully considered before today is that another reason why God takes such issue with sex before marriage is being that it's for married people, even when we claim to love the person that we're engaging in the act with, aside from the fact that the act puts them in spiritual danger and the relationship in extreme emotional compromise, it also comes from a place of *extreme presumption*. 

Genesis 2:24-25(NKJV) tells us this: "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed." A man *and his wife* are who have the spiritual sanction to be naked and not ashamed. Matthew 19:6 states that what GOD has joined together, let no man separate.

Presumption: assumption of something as true; the act of presuming; bold or insolent behavior or manners

Synonyms: audacity, conceit, ego, gall, guess, nerve, opinion, postulate, shot in the dark, smugness, sneaking suspicion, swagger, vanity

Participating in sexual activity before marriage is either just flat out rebellious or the result of pure presumption: *assuming* that you will end up together and being so *bold* as to act like a wife...before GOD joined you as man and wife. That audacity, that ego, that utter gall and nerve are so displeasing in the eyes of the Father and, on a lot of levels, it's a "shot in the dark"...literally:

"The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness."---Luke 11:34(NKJV)

When we put *anything* (or one) before God's will for our lives---and as single women, his will would include sexual purity---it's like casting a shadow on our lives and in this case, our relationship. When we're *so consumed* with making a relationship work that we're not totally surrendered to serving God, our vision has some darkness in it and as a *direct result* our body becomes capable of doing some...very strange things. 

A STRANGE THING WOULD INCLUDE ACTING LIKE A WIFE BEFORE GOD JOINS YOU TO YOUR HUSBAND. IN MARRIAGE.

Now *please believe* that sex is not the only misstep in the area of premature wifedom. The other day, a girlfriend of mine and I were talking about how *utterly irresponsible* it is to give *single people* marriage advice; to reference them to Scriptures that apply to *what God has joined together* when they're not together, like that, with their significant other...yet (I Corinthians 7, Ephesians 5 and I Peter 3 immediately come to mind). And here's the thing: once you have entered into a *marital covenant*, there is a different kind of grace that you're given that no matter how much you try to *play house* in a dating situation, you just don't have. 

I have stated from personal experience that, "What wives call commitment, for a lot of single women, that would be settling." When the Lord calls a wife to respect her husband, to be faithful to her husband, to be a good homemaker for her husband (there's a good article on godly wife duties here), isn't it a trip how so many *girlfriends* will assume these positions *prematurely so*? Suddenly they are putting up with things that honestly, they can walk away from but they stay because they believe it's a sign of respect. They are not engaged and yet, talking about "faithful" and "cheating" in a relationship where they are no *vows* of such in place. They are just as involved in their boyfriend's daily affairs including bills and home upkeep when that is not something that a single woman is biblically-commissioned to do.

And here's the trap with that...

SINGLE WOMEN ARE OFTEN SO CAUGHT UP IN ACTING LIKE THEIR BOYFRIEND'S WIFE THAT THEY IGNORE WHAT THEY *HAVE BEEN* INSTRUCTED BY GOD TO DO: "CARE FOR THE THINGS OF THE LORD."

"There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband."---I Corinthians 7:34(NKJV)

Me personally, I haven't been fond of the whole boyfriend thing for many years now: I have no interest in someone getting the *benefits* of my being a wife without any of the *responsibilities* and at 37, I often say that I'm too old for a *boy* anything. But now I see why Satan probably likes the term so much. It gets us caught up in the "play wifey" mentality. The Word, which is Adonai (John 1:1), makes *very clear distinctions* re: the difference between a married woman and a single woman (which was supposed to be a virgin, by the way): a married woman cares about pleasing *her husband*. A single woman's responsibility says nothing about substituting the word "husband" for "boyfriend". Until she is united as one, she cares for the things of *the Lord*. And the *big bonus* in that is that the Word also tells us, that even when it comes to our dating/courtship situations, "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."---I Peter 5:6-7(NKJV)

WHEN WE HUMBLE OURSELVES UNDER GOD'S HAND AND POSITIONING FOR US, HE LETS US KNOW WHEN IT'S TIME TO BE PROMOTED (WHICH HONESTLY, IS PROBABLY MORE LIKE A LATERAL MOVE. THERE'S *GREAT BENEFITS* TO BEING SINGLE). WHEN WE CARE ABOUT SERVING HIM, HE REMINDS US THAT HE HANDLES, QUITE WELL, THE CARES THAT WE HAVE.

Hmph. It's a trip ain't it? The verse the *immediately follows* I Peter 5:6-7: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." As a single woman, a part of being sober-minded is not getting "drunk off of our emotions". A part of being vigilant is being "ever alert and awake" to our duties...*as a single woman who follows the calling, will and way of the Lord*. Who doesn't *act* married until she *is* married. Who uses this time to train for the position, but not with her *boyfriend* as her guide but God as her teacher.

Yeah. That was good right there, Divine Spirit.

Besides, who wants to *assume* in a relationship? You know how the saying goes about assumption. It's just not the wisest thing to do. *Another thing that I can testify to*.

Presumption operates out of flesh.

Faith moves in the Spirit.

The difference? The latter lets GOD lead. Not a "wifey". Or a *boyfriend*.

“With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”---Matthew 19:26(NKJV)

tmm,

SRW


Monday, February 13, 2012

"On Fire": THIS Is What the Power of Love Looks Like...

So...

I got an email yesterday from a spiritual brother of mine who has been walking a really...*detailed* journey towards healing. Healing from sexual abuse. Freedom from porn addiction. Deliverance from the sting of divorce.

And just as he was beginning to exhale in a new found love...

A health diagnosis. Stage four cancer. She's not even been given a year.

I was so moved by his "off the cuff" words re: his beloved that, with his permission, I have shared this with a couple of blog outlets. However, being that this particular blog is not just about preparing for love but *discerning* love that is *real*, I thought I'd share it with you gals as well. Sometimes, a lot of energy, on here, is placed on selecting the right man. This is a reminder of what it means to be *his right woman*.

Well done, my friend. Well done.

"There is a song playing over and over in my head today by Kenny Rodgers titled 'She Believes In Me'. The words, over and over again, telling me how she believes me. She has faith in me and she waits for me, her prince. She believes in fairytales and happy endings and I do too... How I wish I could change her world and maybe, just maybe on some special night, the dreams we have will come true.

Sometimes, though, regardless how gallant the prince may be, he may not save the princess.

I've come so far on a journey of healing. Healing from repeated sexual abuse and many many years of porn addiction. I've failed in love and marriage. I struggle to be a good father. I am a good man, however. How do I know? She believes in me. I may never know what she sees in me. That's OK. I have her love and that's enough. That's all I want. That's all I need. That's all I desire.

She is the most beautiful woman in the world to me. I've shown her pictures to others and they all agree she is gorgeous, but that is not what attracted me. It was what was inside her. Her spirit is so beautiful. I want to tell the world of her. How did she become the object of my desires? I was drawn in by the words she has written. For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. Out of the pain and the tragedies in her life she has found the love of God and she has shown it to me.

She knows all of me. I've hidden nothing from her. I have kept nothing back. If ever a woman like her could love a man like me, I have experienced the love, forgiveness and acceptance of God. If I never see her face or kiss her lips, I have experienced the type of love a man desires from a woman. The type of love I've never been able to experience before because through her love I have healed so much. She believes in me.

No one, not even myself, may not understand what she sees in me. They know of my past. They think they know me today. They maybe think that there is no way I've shared all of me and I'm holding out sharing the the ugly side of me and only showing my best side. It is all OK. She doesn't care what others think. I may not be able to change her world, but she has forever changed my life. I may never be able to be with her physically or sexually. I may never be able to marry her for reasons I can't explain right now, but I found something that transcends all of anything I can express in words; how I fell so deeply in love for the first time in my life. I've connected with a woman on a deeper level than I ever thought possible.

I know the years of sexual abuse and porn addiction has taken a toll on me, but just as I have faith in my children and this woman has faith in me. I've had faith in God to heal me and set me free from all the negative affects sexual sin has caused me, the sins of others against me and the sins against my own body, mind and soul.

So I say the love of this woman has done more for me in the past year than anything I've experienced previously all my life. Isn't that what the love of God does? It covers a multitude sins. The love of God has covered me."

REAL LOVE REFLECTS GOD.


REAL LOVE BRINGS A PERSON CLOSER TO GOD.


REAL LOVE MAKES A PERSON PRAISE GOD FOR YOU.


Definitely something to think about on this Valentine's Day.

Love to you.

SRW

Sunday, February 12, 2012

"On Fire": QUOTE OF THE DAY

This is a bit...startling.

That marriage, spiritually, appears to be on the "endangered species" list:

"The statistics are eye-opening. From 1970 through 2008, the U.S. marriage rate has declined from 76.5 to 37.4 marriages per 1,000 unmarried women. Not only is the marriage rate declining, but the rate of decline is accelerating. Creating a trend line, Martel comes up the astounding conclusion that if the current tendency continues, sometime between 2028 and 2034 the U.S. marriage rate will reach zero!

Preposterous? Of course. People will surely continue to get married. But we can't ignore the reality of the precipitous decline in the numbers of those choosing to walk down the bridal path.

In 1960, 72 percent of adults (over the age of 18) were married. According to Pew, the prestigious American research center, that number today is 51 percent, and five percent of that drop occurred between 2009 and 2010. Marriage rates declined even more for young adults. In 1960, 59 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 were married; today, it's only 20 percent. The average marrying age is 26.5 for women and 28.7 for men, compared to 20.3 and 22.8 in 1960."


One of the first gifts given to us was marriage. I think we lose sight of that more than we realize. I'm still processing this, but I do encourage us to pray for those who *are* married and for those who *desire* it. These stats, if nothing else, support the fact that marriage is under attack. On some many levels and for oh, so many reasons.

tmm,

SRW

"On Fire": There's a Miracle In Store (In Honor of Whitney and Kindness)

You know...

*A lot* of people have...transitioned since the start of this blog, but when I read the news of Whitney Houston's passing on yesterday, it hit me in a different kind of way. The generation before me (well, people about ten years older than I am), when Michael Jackson died (which also still throws me a bit to think about), they spoke fondly of the first LP of his that they bought. That's what I thought about with Whitney. Her self-titled LP with the slick back hair and apricot strapless dress was the first one that my parents allowed me to purchase. *I was so excited*. And to this day, spending two weeks of my allowance on her? I have absolutely no regrets.

But I'm shouting her out here because it's rather sad that *such a talent* became known just as much, if not more, for her tumultuous personal life as her *unbelievable* singing gift. That included her marriage. Now, I am a New Edition fan as well (they're actually in Nashville tonight although, I'd be really surprised if Bobby will be performing *now*). It takes two. In a marriage...it always does. But for such a female powerhouse to have "found dead in a Beverly Hills hotel room" as a part of her bio before even turning 50, it does remind me that choices...always have a domino effect. That *every single one* matters. That if my remaining single, for now, is what will *preserve* my life and the quality of it, then so be it. Love is to make you better. LOVE IS ALWAYS TO MAKE YOU BETTER.

And so, while there are a million and one songs that I could put up here, in honor of "Random Acts of Kindness" (February 13-19) week and Ms. Whitney Houston's signature that she put on the world, the song that I have chosen to post is one that I recall had a bit of controversy because (quiet as it's kept) it's actually about abortion. It's a pro-life message and most of you know that abortions are a part of my testimony (I Timothy 4:14-16-AMP). AND, I'm choosing it because I love what the chorus says, "Nothing should matter not when love grows inside you. THE CHOICE IS YOURS. THERE'S A MIRACLE IN STORE." Some are pregnant with babies, but we know what Romans 8 assures us all:

"All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it's not only around us; it's within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We're also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don't see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy."---Romans 8:22-25(Message)

Nothing should matter, not when love grows inside you. The choice is yours. There's a miracle in store.

THE LORD HAS PLACED WITHIN ALL OF US THE ABILITY TO GIVE AND RECEIVE LOVE.

The longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

DON'T RUSH THE PROCESS. WAIT FOR THE KIND OF LOVE THAT WILL MAKE YOU BETTER. THAT WILL MAKE YOU MORE LIKE HIM. JUST LIKE WHAT TRUE LOVE, *REAL LOVE*, IS SUPPOSED TO DO! BECAUSE THAT KIND? IT IS TRULY MIRACULOUS. PLEASE WATCH THE CHOICES THAT YOU MAKE AND *GUARD YOUR HEART* (PROVERBS 4:23). LOVE IS GROWING IN THERE.


Prayers go forth. For all who are hurting today. From a loss of love.

Be *kind* to yourself and others this week.

tmm,

SRW

Thursday, February 9, 2012

"On Fire": So, What's Your Love Relationship Like? WITH YOURSELF?

"So he answered and said, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’”---Luke 10:27(NKJV)

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”---Buddha


Hey Ladies...

Just a bit of food for thought. If you're one to check out any daily news feeds, you may have caught the story about former Victoria's Secret model, Kylie Bisutti stepping down because...well, for a few reasons: 

"...the more I was modeling lingerie, and lingerie isn't clothing, I just started becoming more uncomfortable with it because of my faith.'...My body should only be for my husband and it's just a sacred thing...I didn't really want to be that kind of role model for younger girls because I had a lot of younger Christian girls that were looking up to me and then thinking that it was okay for them to walk around and show their bodies in lingerie to guys."

And while this blog isn't really about her, because the focus of "On Fire" is to prepare us for marriage, being that she's been married for a few years now, let me just say "Big ups!" to her and her beloved. One, because she was married *after* she won the model search that earned her the coveted (literally) spot. Removing herself is about to change the face of their marriage (and finances) as they knew it as newlyweds...significantly. And two, for her to be where she is now, to me, it speaks to one of the main things that a marriage is supposed to do: support spiritual growth.

However, the main reason why I thought she would be a really good intro to this particular subject is that it takes *real self love* to make certain sacrifices. Because of her love for her God, herself, her husband and her influence on others, she walked away from a *very lucrative position* and a career that has put many a model on the supermodel map. For those of us who may not have that as a personal goal, insert one of your biggest dreams in the "Victoria's Secret Model" blank, *have it realized*, and then choose to walk away from it because it's not what's best for you.

Yeah. That's BIG.

Because I do quite a bit of marriage counseling, I read on the subject matter...*a lot*. Yesterday, I happened upon (Proverbs 16:33-AMP) a piece entitled, "Love Lessons No.2: Love Takes Work (Sex Does, Too!)" Now, most of us are single and so the sex part? Yeah. Not so much (LOL). OK, but there were some things that the author said about love that I think applies whether you "have a Valentine" or not:

"I hope you find this idea helpful: to take a step back and view your relationship as something outside yourself—something that needs your attention, care, and hard work in order to keep it alive. This basic attitude replaces a common misconception that good relationships come effortlessly. While we may wish it and Hollywood may sell it, it isn't so. You've got to work at love to keep it alive and well.

You see, good relationships are more like house plants than like weeds. Weeds grow without any care. Good relationships die without it. Since I have such a brown thumb, every house plant I have ever owned has died because I haven't kept a close eye on it. I didn't care enough to make the effort to find the right conditions of sunshine, oxygen and water for it to grow. Luckily, I care more about people than house plants, so I try to do better!

Love takes work. It takes effort to make the time and space in our lives to tend to our most important relationships. We are tired. We are busy. Add school, professional desires and commitments, children, chores, money, worries, health concerns, and obligations of all kinds.  There just doesn't seem to be enough time or energy left. But our relationships need us to find the room, to make the room. We have to work hard to remember that if we don't find room for them, we lose them."

LOVE TAKES WORK. In *any kind of love relationship*, work is required.

There's some stock art integrated within the article that says, "No one falls in love by choice, it is by chance. No one stays in love by chance, it is by work. And no one falls out of love by chance, it is by choice." Now, I'm gonna take a while to process the first sentence (I'll have to look up the word "chance" at some point), but I dig the rest of that. A lot of times when we think about a relationship being work, we consider our romantic or platonic situations and sometimes, we may even think about God (although, I think most of believe that he is to do more work than we do-SMH).

But what about the love relationship that we have with ourselves? *How much work do we put into that?* How much *effort* do we put into being patient with ourselves? How much *exertion* is used in speaking to our own beings with kindness? How *productive* are we at seeking out the truth about who we are, what we need and are deserving of? Indeed, why do we think someone should work hard at loving us when we don't do it? And sometimes, the evidence of this is in the kind of people that we *choose* to love us.

They don't work hard because we don't work hard. At loving ourselves.

It's worth mentioning, as much as we need to hear it, that loving our neighbors as ourselves means that with the same kind of focus and fervency that we may put towards loving someone else, we are to do the same for us. This is not a *recommendation*, it is a *command*. And boy, can you imagine what it would be like to arrive at Judgment Day to hear the Most High say, "Sorry, I can't let you in. You didn't love yourself enough." Yeah. May seem like a stretch, but he did say that we are to *keep his commandments*; that when we do, that's how we show him that we love him (John 14:15 and 15:10). The most healthy relationship books do say that it's unhealthy to be in a relationship with someone who doesn't love themselves because they won't love you well, either.

DING, DING, DING!!!

I'm sure I'll be posting, more than once actually, before that faithful (?!?-LOL) holiday that we all know and love so much. But I like that the Comforter (John 14:16-AMP) led me to pen this five days out from it. Whether you're in a relationship or not for Valentine's Day, take these next few days and *make the effort* to do something that commemorates the fact that if you don't already love you, you are about to start *doing the work* to learn how.

It's not only a good thing to do, it's *the godly thing* to do.

tmm,

SRW

Friday, February 3, 2012

An Ounce of Prevention: "A Look at Sexual Actions and Consequences AFTER Marriage"

Sidebar: This is an email discussion that one of my mother's "love daughters" sent her. GREAT FOOD FOR THOUGHT here and after she also shared a link to a piece re: Christians having as much, if not more, premarital sex and abortions as non-Christians these days...although it's not, unfortunately, shocking to hear/read, it does serve as a blaring reminder that we're called to be *set apart* and to do things...*differently*. 

Hi Aunt Gail...

I knew you would love that idea of worship. It is profound when I think of worship as complete submission in mind, soul and body. It makes perfect sense, yet overlooked when we concentrate on the performance of worship (i.e. corporate worship at church... ).

Well after speaking with you, I could hear certain things in your voice. And I spoke to my husband about your concerns. I want to share what he said to me because I think it is enlightening and holds deep truths. He said to me that when we were dating, and I wanted to change my life, he did not really want to change his. He was not at the same place as I was spiritually and when I would tell him things that God was sharing with me, through his Word and the voice of the Holy Spirit, he would simply not get it. He said sin had made him hard to the truths of the Gospel. And yet, if you saw him, you would've seen a performance of church at that time. We were now going to church every week and had even stopped partying yet we were not transformed.

Anyway, I remember a particular time in our lives, we were living together and I wanted to now be in separate rooms, he respected my decision but did not see the "big deal." He used to say, "We are going to get married anyway..."and before that statement would have settled things for me and I would have continued on as usual. But he noticed that it was plaguing me and how I would be filled with guilt and it would even cause anger in our relationship--we were fighting more than ever before. But he did not see it as the Holy Spirit wrestling with us. He did not understand the spiritual implications at the time and so even though I wanted to abstain, many a times it would only take a couple days before we were intimate again---living together was wrong in the first place and just led to all kinds of frustrations. And intimacy is not just sex---Sandton [a church in South Africa] young people know this to be true but they are trying to rationalize sin. (A kiss can be one of the most intimate things...so to be completely plain, it is crap when they try to ask about oral sex before marriage. I personally would not dignify that spirit of defiance with a response. Forgive me if I am being harsh.) There is one thing to be engaging in a lifestyle of sin and knowing that it is wrong, but then when we are in sin and justify it...we are far removed from the Spirit of God and this leads to grievances of the Holy Spirit. Dangerous place. 

Anyway, I left South Africa, the end of 2006--without knowing if I was to come back. As Tatenda took me to the airport that day, I will never forget. He had tears in his eyes because he saw it as me leaving him, and I said, "I cannot stay here like this and I will not be coming back for this. If I return then God has to be pleased." It was clear as day for me, our relationship was leading me straight to hell. Because now the Holy Spirit was opening my eyes. I saw what I was doing to T, I saw what he was doing to me and neither one of us was leading the other to heaven. I left not knowing where would end up, but I knew I had to leave. 2007 October, we got married. It took 10 months for me to repent and be reconciled with Christ. But that does not mean that I did not feel the mistakes even after we got married. T likes to say that I was more spiritual than him, but to be honest, it wasn't necessarily so.Yes, I had acknowledged sooner than he that I needed God but I believed that we were on the same path--I knew that he knew who his God was and would submit to him someday---I took that risk. (And what I have seen is the power of marriage in that when one is down spiritually, the other is there to pray and intercede. My husband was a deep intercessor for me last year and continues to be.) Nevertheless, there were serious remnants of pain after we got married--- that God has taken time to heal.

2011 was a year of deep healing for the both of us. But in that 10 months in 2007, I was alone with God. I will never forget that time. God sobered me up. I was in the Word and in prayer constantly. I knew that I wanted to be with T, but I did not trust my heart or mind to make that decision to be with him forever---I was hung over from the drunken years together; I had given so much to him that the thought of moving on seemed harder than staying because I would leave pieces of myself with him... But still that was not reason enough to stay with him, I had to get to a place where I could give him up completely for the sake of my salvation. And I did. The same as last year, I had to get to a place where I could give up my desires of wanting to be home during this time and I even gave up my professional desires and said to God, if I am to have any of these things I want it to be a blessing to my entire family not just to me. When we can give it up, that is when God trusts us enough to give us the desires of our heart. Otherwise we will put these same things we pray for before Him---we will worship them.
  
I knew that I had to really love God with all my heart before being able to be someone's wife. The process was not perfect but it was amazing. And I am not perfect but now I am convicted that I belong to Jesus before I belong to T. If T messes up. I am OK. When he disappoints me, I am OK. I can even pray and forgive---God's way is so much better than our way. And I pray that T forgives me when I wrong him. I see T as a human being---not my Savior. I still crave my alone time with God. And when I don't get it, I am not good to anyone. I depend on God---alone. Of course I hold T responsible as my husband but before I gave my life to Christ, I placed him in a position he did not belong and could not handle. Sex before marriage (without the blessing of God) puts the other person before God. I could not function without T because I gave him my mind and soul. I wanted to give my life to Christ in early 2006 and as a result, 2006 was one of my most painful years to date! Because there was a war for my life. God was fighting with ME. It was not T's fault, I gave myself willingly to T and so God was fighting for my life and I was in the way. I could go on and on Aunt Gail. My marriage is my testimony. I have seen how my submission to Christ has changed my life and how it has changed T. I can be better to him and for him, he was far from God and I contributed to that distance and I prayed to contribute to him choosing Christ.  If only we could understand the gravity of what unconsecrated intimacy does to the other person. We basically say, "I am more important than God---give your soul to me" It is that deep. But sin desensitizes us and hardens our hearts, and so we trivialize this thing and we give our selves to anyone who seems able to quench that thirst in our souls.

What I am trying to say through all of this is that your plea with the young people will fall on deaf ears unless they allow the Holy Spirit to soften their hearts (Ezekiel 36:26). PRAY for your young people, Aunt Gail.We need more prayer and less programs and sermons. I have close ones to me this side who are also consumed right now by sex---my generation is taking longer to marry but we are engaging in marital behavior and we forfeit the amazing blessings of obedience.  It is an addiction. What's worse is that we think God is being hard when He asks us to abstain. We don't see the benefit of abstinence. And I always pray to God to help T and I be an example even though we started off wrong. I do not want people to think that you can make grave mistakes like that and "everything will turn out fine." People may see that all is well in our world, but they do not know the struggle and the war that has taken place. The enemy wanted our souls--it's as simple as that.

As I said I have paid the price of disobedience (not completely, because of the grace of God) but I have felt pain that I could not see through. My husband and I have had to go through what I believe to be unnecessary strife because of our disobedience. Even though God heals and definitely restores, there are certain things that we will carry for this life as a reminder---scars---to be a warning to ourselves and others. I would warn the young people: do not play with the grace of God because what a man soweth he will reap. It's not a threat, its a fact of life. And I know that some of them are personally feeling the pain of disobedience. When we ask God, "why me?" and act as if its God's fault why our life is mess and nothing seems to be working out, ask the Holy Spirit, "what was my contribution to my present state? (the law again of reaping and sowing)" instead of blaming or being disappointed with God. God has shown me how my recklessness has contributed to delayed and even forfeited blessings.
  
Sex before marriage leads to a drunken soul and life...

Rochelle Davidson Mhonde 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

"On Fire": QUOTE OF THE DAY

Yes. Yes...

"You can't drag a person to the top of your mountain. They must be willing to climb their own. Can you imagine literally climbing a mountain trying to DRAG your significant other to the top with you because they are unwilling to even move? What’s going to happen? You’re going to fall backwards and kill both of you right? STOP IT."

There is a fine line between loving someone and giving up your life for them. *This would include your quality of life*. If you're wanting to move forward...MOVE.FORWARD. There's no telling what's already *ahead* waiting for you.

The rest of this article can be read here.

Good stuff.

ykl,

SRW

"On Fire": QUESTION OF THE DAY: "Are You Really a Victim If You Ignored All of the Warnings?"

I'm pretty sure that...

A lot of you have picked up on the fact that one of my favorite Scriptures is the Message version of Proverbs 28:9: "God has no use of the prayers of those who do not listen." Yet, after reading about an "emotional relapse" that someone recently contacted me about, I thought about that person's cycle: getting advice, not listening; being given warnings; still doing whatever they want; claiming to desire wise counsel, never taking it.

And ending up right where they started every time. In a situation that's ultimately going nowhere.

Something that I have personally found to be *real lifesavers* for me are *godly people* who speak into my life. In my pride and immaturity and sometimes stubbornness, I *used* to be the kind of person that would do whatever I wanted, when I wanted...how I wanted. These days? When people that I know talk to the Lord, love me and have my best interest at heart...*oh, and won't really benefit one way or another from the ultimate decision that I make* take issue with something I'm contemplating or participating in, I've been heartbroken enough times that I'm sick of it (literally) and so guess what I do *now*? I. LISTEN.

There's a reason why the Scriptures say, "Where there is no counsel, the people fall; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety." (Proverbs 11:14-NKJV) There is also a reason why Proverbs 16:18 (NKJV) tells us that, "Pride goes before destruction,and a haughty spirit before a fall." A lot of women *fall in love*, literally (like in a ditch), because their *pride* keeps them from adhering to *blatant warnings* that they are given. Warnings come "to give notice, advice, or intimation to (a person, group, etc.) of danger, impending evil, possible harm, or anything else unfavorable". When someone *warns* you and you choose to not listen, whatever result comes from that, who really is the greatest harmer? You or the person that you are (or were) in a relationship with? From personal experience and observation, I no longer think that the guy who hurts a person is nearly as much of a problem as the girl who was told he could be "dangerous", "evil", "harmful" or "unfavorable" and she moved forward anyway. Russian Roulette, literally or emotionally, is a crazy game to play.

When I went to the Lord about why so many women seem to remain in that kind of hamster wheel, I was like, "Ouch!" at what the Spirit (John 4:24) said: "I didn't tell anyone to 'leave and cleave' to a boyfriend. This 'You and me against the world' mentality is extremely premature in a dating situation. UNTIL THERE IS COVENANT, I SANCTION WISE COUNSEL."

And boy, was this confirmed via an email that I received on yesterday. Here's an excerpt:


"The real measure of the authority of Scripture in my life is not the respect I have for the Bible but the response I have to it...

If I listen to a friend’s advice but do nothing with it, they have no 'authority' in my life. I may like them and think highly of them. But authority is something I grant. Authority is my specific choice to come under their influence.
 
Similarly, if I refuse to submit to the Word of God, it has no authority in my life. If I respond only when it is convenient or agreeable, then I 'use' the Bible rather than allow God to use it to guide me. I seize control. My power usurps its authority."


A man by the name of David Timms penned that. Funny how *that* plays out. If you're too prideful to respect the Authority and authoritative figures that are placed into your life as a *single* person, what *possibly* makes you think that you will be able to *submit* as a wife? Too prideful to listen is...too prideful to listen.

And so, rather than some of us praying for someone to love in this season, perhaps the *really beneficial focus* would be for the Lord to *break that pride* so that promotions can come (Luke 14:11). In due time (Galatians 6:9).

Warnings come to *protect* you. 

"On Fire" ladies...*please listen*.


ykl,


SRW