Friday, January 31, 2014

"On Fire": VIDEO OF THE DAY: A Man of God Listens to the Holy Spirit...


There's a spiritual brother of mine who I went to college with and these days, we find ourselves having some pretty interesting email conversations especially since I am a covenant doula and he is a relationship life coach.

Therefore, we've been chatting for a minute now about Jay's intentions to propose to his beloved. At 44, he popped the question, for the first time, to Jay's now fiancee' on last week and I'm sharing the video mostly because of something that he said in his email when he first told me that he did it. Catch it because it's key:

OK, so I did it...I popped the question.  I fought over and over in my mind and working through it with you and another friend how to do this. Finally, I believe the Holy Spirit moved me toward the one thought--the most logical one--that had not occurred to me.  What would SHE want me to do?  *duh*

That was easy.  She's a huge Chrisette Michele fan.  I found out when her next concert was, and it happened that it was on 1/25 in Atlanta...

It's a simple thing that Jay said but it *speaks volumes*. Rather than *him* figuring out what he needed to do, he *allowed the Holy Spirit to impart wisdom into him* (John 14:26-AMP) and as you can see, things went off without a hitch!

When a man is following the Spirit, he is someone you can entrust to lead.

Thanks for another reminder Jay of why it is so important to have a godly man...

Even when it comes to the wedding proposal!



Thursday, January 30, 2014

An Ounce of Prevention: '16 Ways to Pray for Your Future Husband'


As I was being led to the topic of the devotional that I will be penning in the morning, the lead Scripture definitely caused me to think about the "On Fire" ladies:

"Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures."---James 4:1-3(NKJV)

Rinse and repeat: We do not have because either we do not ask *or* it's because we ask amiss. To ask amiss means to ask in such a way to where it is "out of the right or proper course, order, or condition".

You know, Hebrews 4:16 tells us that we are to come to throne of grace for mercy and/or grace whenever we need it and yet, I wonder how many of us actually take out the time to ponder (Proverbs 4:26) if we need mercy and/or grace in our prayer life. I wonder if we ever really seek the Father to see if we are asking amiss when it comes to our future husbands. If we are open and humble enough to one, *listen* (Proverbs 28:9-Message) to hear if we are praying in a way that is truly pleasing to and in agreement with God's perfect will for our lives (Amos 3:3, I John 5:14-15) or if it is amiss---"out of the right or proper course". And two, if we are willing to have God teach us how to pray in a way that truly spiritually connects us to our future beloved...even before physically meeting him. If we are really and truly allowing God to make us whole, healthy and customized for our covenant partner and then, if we are really and truly trusting him to *wake our husbands up* when the both of us are ready. FOR MARRIAGE. (Genesis 2:18-25)

In other words...

I wonder if we've even considered that we actually need to be taught how to pray more responsibly, with more spiritual discernment and with a humble heart towards God. If we realize that selfish prayers are not what move the Lord but putting his will above our own is what will cause him to shake heaven and earth for us.

That said, I did "happen upon" (Proverbs 16:33-AMP) an article from a married couple entitled "16 Ways to Pray for Your Future Husband". The things on the list are things that I *definitely* encourage you to incorporate into your prayer time:

If anyone knows what’s it’s like to wait to find love and marriage, it’s me.

I waited 39 long years of life to walk down the aisle. Trusting God during the long wait was sometimes extremely difficult. Some days, all I could do was pray. I started to realize that “all I could do” was actually quite significant. I found out later how God-led my prayers actually were, once God revealed to me who I was going to marry and what he was going through in his life when I chose to pray certain things. My prayers mattered; my prayers paid off.

When waiting to find a husband and get married, it can seem like you are helpless and “doing nothing.” One of the best things to do while waiting is to pray for your future husband. To follow are 16 prayer points that you can focus on during your waiting season, to pray for his preparation. You likely won’t know who that person is going to be when you are praying these prayers. But thankfully, God does.

Pray for his walk with God, that he continues to grow spiritually and is prepped to be the spiritual head of a household, and that he makes God the top priority in his life.

Pray for his ability to hear God’s voice, for his ear to be in tune to hear all of God’s instructions.

Pray for his will to be bendable toward whatever God wants for his life.

Pray for his emotional health—that any past wounds be dealt with and healed. Pray for restoration in all areas.

Pray for his physical health.

Pray that he break free of any unhealthy addictions, if needed.

Pray for his career, his life’s work, that he be established in the field where God wants to use him and that he be wise with his resources.

Pray for his ministry—that he be sensitive to God’s call on his life when it comes to ministering to and serving others. Also, pray for God to prepare both of you for the ways you will minister together.

Pray for his preparation—that he yields to all that God’s potter’s hands would like to accomplish in him.

Pray for God to send any trials necessary into his life that will allow the preparation process to be complete. I realize that may be a bit controversial. Knowing how much God has accomplished in my life through trials, I would expect nothing less of my husband’s journey toward me.

Pray for God to prepare him to be a father, if the two of you will ultimately raise a family together.

Pray for God to help him be responsible with his finances and prepare him to be a significant contributor and provider to the household.

Pray for his identity as a man, his masculinity and self-esteem, that he grows into the man God wants him to be.

Pray for him to not be distracted by any counterfeits—especially other women that God doesn’t intend to use for his growth.

Pray for God to allow this man to see you the way God wants you to be seen, with God’s heart toward you.

Pray for God to show you how to pray for your husband. Be open to whatever His Spirit may whisper to you, to cover your husband’s needs. If you feel God gives you something specific, write it down and date it. Save it for later.

I hope that praying these prayers will encourage you in your waiting, and help you feel that you are accomplishing much in the spiritual realm. I pray you will wait on God’s best.

These prayer points are excerpted from Chapter 10 of my book, Finally the Bride: Finding Hope While Waiting.

Let me add something to this prayer list:

If you are already in a relationship and the person you are with has a myriad of issues on this list that you will *listen* to God about whether that person is *his absolute best for you*. Remember, Philippians 2:3 says that we are not to do anything with selfish ambitions. Don't want anyone (ANYONE) so badly that they come before God's will for your life because honestly, that's just a cryptic form of idolatry. And idolatry is not something that we are to embrace; the Word says that is actually something that we are to *flee* from. (I Corinthians 10:14)

Pray wisely. Humbly. And consistently.



An Ounce of Prevention: 'How To Stop Attracting The Wrong Men'


I remember when I first made the declaration "I like thugs." My mother's response? "Makes sense. Your daddy was a thug."

Now that I have a closer relationship with my dad, "thug" is a stretch but he and a lot of men I have fallen for do have similarities: a broken family dynamic, brilliant, bitter, charming, attractive, commitment issues, spiritually profound *and* unstable, extremely insightful, outspoken, fearless...and at the same time *extremely fearful*. Yes, there is a lot of truth in "You are what you attract."

Until you are willing to look at your patterns...and if need be, *break them*.

That said...

Although this article is long (I'm going to copy and paste it all), I discern that a lot of you can get *really free* from some of your own "attracting the wrong men patterns" if you're willing to read it all of the way through. It's a piece that features insight from different relationship experts. And while I'm not a fan of serial dating (at all), even when it comes to the first point, I see a whole lot of truth in.

Take heed. Oh and the paragraph that I made larger? That's on purpose. It's a real winner!

# The wonderful thing about dating is that we attract what we need to work on in ourselves.

Women get into bad relationships over and over because they don’t learn from their mistakes. The wonderful thing about dating is that we attract what we need to work on in ourselves. A woman who needs to learn to love herself is a magnet for men who for a variety of reasons are unable or unwilling to give. When a woman recognizes what the wrong man is highlighting for her – perhaps that she needs to take better care of herself, set better limits, be more assertive, or become better able to entertain herself – she can end the relationship and get to work on growing and developing in ways that will make her happier with herself and thus less susceptible to repeating her dating mistakes.

This kind of personal work is tough because it requires facing inadequacies, inner demons, and fears of being alone. But there’s a clear benefit to considering why you attracted the alcoholic, cheater, Momma’s boy, or commitment phobic and then acting to correct what you discover about yourself from that awareness. Women who stop to reflect on why they chose the wrong guy and accept responsibility for evolving from within to make better romantic choices in the future save themselves a lot of heartache. And the irony is that when you prioritize personal growth over rushing out and finding another guy to fill your time, you end up attracting Mr. Right more quickly — because you are self-sufficient, confident, level-headed, and discerning — precisely the sort of woman Mr. Right is looking for.

# Time to heal your Old Scars

It is Old Scars from childhood that draw us to the same kind of partner over and over. This is called the repetition compulsion. Here’s how this works. First, our unconscious makes us choose someone who emotionally resembles the parent who let us down or harmed us. I call this Setting the Stage. Because our partner is like our parent, in no time we are reliving the worst pains of our childhood. We do this, not because we’re gluttons for punishment, but because we’re hoping to achieve what I call our Happy Ending, which is a healing of the original wound. Sadly, the healing rarely occurs, precisely because our partners are limited and damaged in the exact ways that our parents were, making them unable to give us any more or any better than our parents did.

And here’s the tragedy, because we desperately need to heal, we don’t want to give that partner up–doing so would feel like giving up any hope of healing. If and when the relationship does end, we just find another player like the one before, so we can again re-stage the drama, fall into the same dance and, again, struggle for healing. The only way out of this painful and damaging cycle is to heal the Old Scar. Once it’s healed, you are freed from the clutches of this compulsion, and you will no longer find yourself drawn to the same type of destructive characters. Then and only then will you actually be free to choose a love who feeds your heart and soul. My book Till Death Do Us Part (Unless I Kill You First) shows you step-by-step how to identify and heal your Old Scar, and set yourself free.

# Making conscious choices means being aware of the whole picture, knowing what fits and what doesn’t, and having the courage to integrate the whole picture into your next step.

All of us, women, too, have an internalized definition of a loving relationship and what our role in that loving relationship will be. Often the relationship is determined by childhood experiences; our role defined by roles we have come to play or value most in a loving relationship. Choosing people who are bad for us usually indicates that there is some damage in our self-image. As a result, women choose mates who fit with a damaged sense of self-worth and wind up with men who cheat, are needy, or are abusive.

Of course, ‘bad guys’ often have damaged self-images themselves. This often plays a role in the attraction. “I will be the one person who gets through.” “I will be able to love him whole again.” This, however, is a misplaced sense of responsibility and an ill-advised source of self-esteem. Conscious awareness is the key to choosing a good man after a history of choosing ‘bad guys.’ This is often easiest to do through therapy, but it is not the only way. A woman who wants to change who she attracts into her life will need to do work understanding her concept of a loving relationship, her role in a relationship, and in what way her self-image plays into consistently choosing men who are ‘bad’ for her.

Making conscious choices means being aware of the whole picture, knowing what fits and what doesn’t, and having the courage to integrate the whole picture into your next step. Making change is a journey. It happens over time. Don’t expect to say “I want something different,” and have it just happen. Our brains are wonderful and complicated. They work on a stream of unconscious information that you send it every moment throughout the day. Becoming aware of — and changing that stream of information to reflect what you really want — takes time and energy. You can do it. You deserve it.

# To find a healthy partner, it’s vital to understand the three parts of attraction – Head, Heart and Hormones.

Head is the logical, analytical part that observes and collects information about people we meet. Heart is the emotional, i.e. feeling, connection that forms when people share, listen, understand and empathize with each other. Hormones are the body’s neuro-chemical reaction, the release of dopamine, which occurs when we feel attraction. This may feel like true love, but it is not.

When we meet someone new, Hormones usually lead the way. The rush of dopamine is so powerful that it overpowers the Head and leads us to idealize the person, overlooking or minimizing behaviors and qualities that we don’t want to see.

Therein lies the problem: With Hormones operating at full speed, the Heart feels love and the Head falls behind. We develop feelings of desire and love before we assess whether this person is a healthy match for us. It is the powerful chemically-induced feelings, we identify as “being in love.” Looking through rose colored glasses hinders us from making an objective assessment about whether or not this is someone with whom we truly want to become intimate.

The key to finding a good match is to be aware of the Head, Heart and Hormones trilogy and consciously choose to allow your Head to reign in the other two. Next time you meet someone new use your Head to write down what you observe and learn about this person after each date; collect the facts. Don’t jump to conclusions, but watch over time to see what patterns develop.

Does he listen deeply with empathy? Does he talk mostly about himself? If he shows up late, was he thoughtful enough to call you? Did he apologize? Is he caring and respectful? Only after you collect enough data will you be able to see a clear, realistic picture about who this person is.

The key to finding a healthy partner is to enjoy the Heart and Hormones, but always lead with your Head!

# Take a long, hard look at the common thread in all of your relationships

We are often drawn to the same dysfunction over and over again because it strikes an unconscious but familiar chord, reminiscent of the wounds we experienced in childhood. This psychological phenomena is called, “Repetition Compulsion.” As adults, we unknowingly re-create these scenarios to try to “win” them this time around. The problem is that this never works. Re-creating the same scenarios lends itself to the same sad, painful outcomes.

In order to truly “win” when it comes to dating, you must take a long, hard look at the common thread in all of your relationships, identify that “type” and truly accept that you will never experience peace and closure by romantically linking yourself to that familiar, comfortable but ultimately destructive person. Further, remind yourself that the only way to truly heal your heart is to mourn, process and ultimately accept your past and seek out someone that is whole and healthy on their own.

# Look at 3 important underlying explanations

Although there are many variables as to why women seem to fall into the trap of attracting the same kind of men over and over again, I believe that there are three important underlying explanations.

First, either consciously or subconsciously we tend to become attracted to partners who will meet a need or fill a void. From injuries or injustices that we experienced as children, we carry around psychological and emotional wounds. When we meet someone whose personality or character seems to give us the ‘missing piece’, we are drawn to him and we are unable to see his true or real character.

Secondly, we tend to be products of our environment and of what we have learned from the adults in our lives. If women are raised in an environment of disrespect, or of violence, or any type of abuse, this is what women often learn to accept for themselves and to expect from others. In short, women tend to be attracted to what they know, even if it is unhealthy.

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, women who are attracted to unhealthy partners do not ask themselves two important questions. One – who or what gives me self-worth? Two – do I chose my worth or do I allow it to happen randomly? Women who rely on their ‘man’ to give them their worth and who do not develop a sense of strong worth independent of their man will set themselves up for heartache, harm, and an unhealthy relationship.

What should women do to overcome this problem? Many years ago, I interned in a Women’s Shelter. For the women who had transitioned into a two year semi-independent living program (with their children), the Shelter required that the women date themselves for a minimum of one year. In other words, no relationships! They were to spend the year working on themselves – learning and developing healthy interpersonal skills, rebuilding their self-esteem and worth based on newly discovered values and beliefs, and, giving themselves time to heal the wounds from their childhood. The women who committed to this process, almost without exception, did not repeat their past patterns. For those who ignored it, they left the Shelter and returned to their unhealthy relationships.

# Value yourself enough to take your life seriously

A number of women do notice that there is a pattern in the “types” of men they attract. This is not surprising from a psychological perspective. Freud called it ‘the repetition compulsion”. We have experiences in our early life which tend to be repeated throughout our lives unless we decide to do things differently. This takes concerted effort and awareness and usually we need some professional assistance to rewire the neural pathways in our brain and to learn to make changes.

This involves unpacking the stories we tell ourselves and the meaning we have made of our experiences. It involves being prepared to look at some of the (possibly unconscious) patterns of attachment and behavior that we have used as an adaptive mechanism which may have served us well in the past but which now serve only to act as a barrier to us getting the love we want.

So, my single most important advise to women in this category is to see a counselor or psychologist to develop awareness about their behavior in order to facilitate change. It may be the most rewarding thing you do for yourself. Value yourself enough to take your life seriously. Be proactive about getting help from an expert to move you past this pattern of attraction so that you can really attract the partner you deserve.

# Begin by investigating what the “hook” is for you about this type of person, and where this pattern originated

The psychological term for repeating negative patterns is known as “repetition compulsion.” The best way to shift away from repeating unwanted patterns of any kind is with awareness. To change the pattern of choosing the wrong partner, begin by investigating what the “hook” is for you about this type of person, and where this pattern originated. Who does this type of person remind you of? What task, issue or belief, about yourself or the world, is this repeating?

Your unconscious self is likely attempting to work something out on your behalf, to do it better, or get it right this time. But, until or unless you recognize the pattern, and its source, you will likely be stuck in the endless whirlpool, and whirlwind, of experiencing it again and again. As happened to the character in the famous film “Groundhog Day,” until you get clear on what the core issue is, you will be drawn there, and stuck there, again and again. How does this pattern make you feel, emotionally and physically?

It is important to get to the root of this pattern, in its source and how it is playing out in your life, from the perspective of memories, beliefs, emotions, physical sensations and spirit or energy. Tapping into your unconscious mind, with approaches such as hypnotherapy, EMDR or guided visualization or imagery, can help guide you to the root of the issue more fully and clearly, helping you to make better and healthier choices in the future.

# Know where you are at before you begin your conversation

Good women often ignore open signs of relationships incompatibility because of their own internal patterns. Women attract the same kind of partner do so because it feels familiar to them. When they realize they keep attracting emotionally unavailable men, bad boys, abusers, or over-spenders; it is then they are feeling alone, angry with themselves, while feeling heartbroken again. This is your low self-esteem relationship.

If you are busy and on the move kind of woman (who isn’t) you may not realize that you are in over your head with your relationship until there is a crisis. Some of the reasons women do not leave their low-self-esteem relationships are because they feel exhausted; they are not clear on where to go, or what to do next. They have spent so much time and energy being with their partners while being pre-occupied by their dilemma. The question may arise “how can I help them?” before, ”how can I help myself?” this usually means that they do not where their partner ends and they begin. Some good women do not have emotional boundaries to protect themselves from unfulfilling, dangerous, and sabotaging relationships.

Once you know where are your boundaries are you will no longer have to suffer with may feel like a bad karma relationship. When your relationship began did you notice a difference between your physical energy and his physical energy? Did you notice a difference with your emotional interest in him vs. his emotional interest in you? Did you notice how comfortable you are with him and did you notice how comfortable he is with you? If you are aware you will notice these relational differences early on, instead of feeling the relationship disconnect after a few months.

These differences can indicate whether you prefer to ENDURE difficulties in your relationships. The difficulties may indicate that you feel happier and more secure when he makes the first decision-even if you know that decision isn’t the best one. The difficulties may further indicate that his energy and interest may wane while yours stays the same. Lastly, he may act like a different person in public versus when he is alone with you.

At anytime you feel overwhelmed, disconnected, or have changes in your energy it is a good time to assess your relationship boundaries. It is important to have family and friends support to rely on in order to help you. This can help ground you so you do not get sucked into another relationship vortex.

# Awareness is the first step

Freud called this “repetition compulsion”. He conceptualized it as an unconscious force that drives people to repeat painful patterns. Human beings tend to seek situations that feel familiar, even if they are destructive.

Another unconscious and more optimistic reason to explain why women may choose men who are bad for them is because of women’s desire for healing. In replaying an earlier trauma, healing becomes possible and the cycle can be broken.

There are lots of other explanations for why women may choose ‘bad’ boys. These include: the excitement of risk taking, the draw of drama, fear of commitment, low self esteem, the sense that they don’t deserve to be treated better, and/or the challenge of the pursuit of men who are unavailable.

The first step to change this, regardless of the reason for the pattern, is awareness. Awareness in and of itself, though, tends not to be enough to change behavior. As a psychologist, my bias is that therapy is a wonderful resource to facilitate change. Different therapists have different approaches. Reference to the past with a focus on the present is a useful algorithm for the therapy template.

# Clear-out the clutter

Some women have a habit of dating the same type of guy. This can be problematic if the men you are attracted to negatively impact your life. You could have a habit of dating men who are emotionally unavailable, verbally or physically abusive, or just generally incapable of meeting your basic needs. If this sounds like you, then there are a few steps you can take to break your “bad guy” habit and clear out the clutter.

Step 1 – Take a break from dating… just for a little while

By taking a break from dating, you give yourself the opportunity to reset. This will give you time to process through the last relationship and lessen your chances of making the same mistakes.

Step 2 – Identify your pattern

You can now begin to reflect on your dating history and see if you can identify your patterns. You want to focus on identifying what each relationship had in common. Try to identify what needs were driving your relationship choices.

Step 3 – Address your needs in a different way

Now that you have identified your needs, you can find healthier ways to meet them. This could include strengthening your support system or starting a new hobby. The point is to take responsibility for meeting your own needs instead of placing them on the guy you’re dating.

By taking a break, identifying your pattern, and addressing your needs differently; you will be on your way to clearing out the clutter.

# Work on becoming a whole individual before attempting to be a part of a successful dyad

Most times women fall for the same type of men because they are oftentimes looking for someone to complete them. Many women are confused about what truly makes them happy as opposed to what they think normalizes their lives. In this day and age, depression in women due to the stressors that exist within our society is a major factor in the development of this disease and also throws a woman’s natural ability to gravitate towards someone who is right for her off.

During a depressive episode, women need to concentrate on getting better instead of looking for comfort. Being lonely and depressed is a toxic mix, which oftentimes causes people to pick what seems good right now as opposed to what could be right for right now and the future. Picking what’s right for right now can be attributed to the development of a “broken picker”; a term used in the addiction field but one I find to be most appropriate for this type of situation.

Becoming whole is a process whereby you work on your sense of self from the inside out. And you also get the opportunity to truly see who is a compatible mate for you based on your wants and desires minus the rose colored glasses.

GOOD STUFF. But as Matthew 13:18-23 reminds us, seed only grows when it penetrates.

Stay open. And not hard-headed. This article is a game-changer. If you let it be. #literally



Tuesday, January 28, 2014

An Ounce of Prevention: '7 Ways To Let Go Of Insecurity In Your Relationship'


This morning, I participated in a self-esteem webinar on one of my favorite websites. There were so many pearls in it (so if you're on my devotional list, be on the lookout for certain references to it tomorrow). Take this for example:

Our ego wants to do what *looks* good
Our body wants to do what *feels* good
Our spirit wants to do what *is* good
High self-esteem comes from choices that are best for your spirit.

Yeah. That's some good stuff right there! You can thank Dr. David J. Lieberman for it. As I've been pondering it more, I looked for articles that addresses how to stop being insecure in relationships. 'Cause trust me, an insecure woman is not only unattractive and unappealing to a (spiritually and emotionally) healthy man but it's also a sign of deep-rooted instability (hence us being given *a sound mind*-2 Timothy 1:7). It's no man's job to make you feel good about yourself. You should have that down way before "he" hits the scene.

Out of the pieces that I checked out, I liked one entitled "7 Ways to Let Go of Insecurity in Your Relationship". It's a straight copy and paste here:

I have felt unworthy of love for a lot of my life. A common question that replayed in my head during my high school years was: “Why would anyone be interested in me?” My insecurity made me see problems where they didn’t exist, turning what could have been a successful relationship into a short-lived, dismal failure. Know the feeling? If so, here are 7 ways to let go of insecurity.

1. Stop thinking it is all about you.

A self-centered worldview will have you chasing boogeymen where they don’t exist. If your partner doesn’t feel like going out, don’t assume it is because of you when they just as easily could have had a really bad day at work that drained their energy. Stop psycho-analyzing every word choice your partner makes and be more present in the moment so you can notice the message behind their tone, physical presence, and posture. Obsessing with hidden meanings is a sure-fire way to miss the point. Don’t berate your partner for being too quiet, or continuously ask, “What are you thinking?” during every lapse of conversation. An overwhelming urge to fill every second of silence with needless words is a habit of an insecure person. Take your partner’s hand, breathe in, breathe out, and enjoy the silence together. Who says you can’t enjoy simply being with each other without words?

2. Stop psyching yourself out.

Your thoughts could be your relationship’s best friend or worst enemy. The quality of your thoughts has a direct effect on the quality of your relationship. Have you ever found thinking negative thoughts like, “I know they’ll get sick of me someday,” or, “How could they love me?” These thoughts have little to do with reality but a lot to do with fear. In other words, the problem you are concerned with doesn’t exist—you invented it! Any time you find yourself feeling insecure about your relationship, tell yourself, “The thing I’m worried about only exists in my head. I have full control.” 

3. Stop lugging around all that baggage.

Ever been in a relationship so terrible that you would love to just wish it all away so you never have to think about it again? Join the club. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a person who doesn’t have a bit of baggage because this love thing is an unpredictable (and sometimes rocky) ride. A little baggage is totally okay, but you need to lighten your load before jumping into any new relationship. Let go of any left-over hurtful feelings that might be lingering and realize that your new relationship is a new opportunity to put all of that behind you. The lovely thing about life: you can re-start as many times as you need to!

4. Stop seeing things in black and white.

How do you react when someone blames you for something that you don’t think is your fault? Survey says: you get defensive. Likewise, confronting your partner over a problem—no matter how obvious it may be to you—will most likely cause them to become defensive. This usually leads to a knock-down, drag-out fight that is the opposite of productive because you’re both too busy trying to prove you’re right to resolve your conflict. If you have a problem, don’t immediately point the finger, but instead approach your partner with compassion and understanding. Be comfortable in the fact that neither of you is fully “right” or “wrong.” The true answer lies somewhere in the middle.

5. Stop feeling paranoid over nothing.

Let’s face it: we all talk to people of the opposite sex. Just because a boy and girl (or boy and boy, or girl and girl) are friends doesn’t mean there is more to the story. Avoid the temptation to snoop your partner’s phone, Facebook messages, or email account. While this could temporarily calm your nerves when you see nothing afoul, it is also a behavior that could quickly become addictive, not to mention damaging for relationship trust when they find out Big Brother is watching.

6. Stop putting off uncomfortable conversations.

While conflict is stressful for your relationship in the short-term, it will build the strength of your relationship in the long-term. Facing your problems without fear will help you grow closer to your partner. Never mince words with each other and you will develop trust so strong that you can tell your partner anything that is on your mind.

7. Stop being dependent on anyone but yourself.

Having someone to hug, kiss, cuddle, make love to, and share your life with is nothing short of wonderful. But before you march off into the sunset in search of love, you need to learn to love yourself. Just like you shouldn’t invite a friend to your home while it’s a disorganized wreck, you shouldn’t invite a partner into your life while it is in disarray. Take care if your inner-house before you invite anyone else to it.

Hmph! "Just like you shouldn't invite a friend to your home while it's a disorganized wreck, you shouldn't invite a partner into your life while it is in disarray." YEP. NICE PHRASING RIGHT THERE!

I know a lot of women who suffer from "savior syndrome". You know, expecting a man to (cough, cough) "save them". I've been there myself, yet the only Savior any of us should have is Christ (anything else is idolatry-Exodus 20:3, I Corinthians 10:14). If you don't "love your neighbor AS YOURSELF" (Mark 12:30-31) that is not your neighbor's (i.e., husband, fiance' or boyfriend) fault. *That's yours*.

The good news is that you can do something about it (there's a pretty good read on it here).

You don't have to stay insecure. You have the power to change how you think about yourself. There's no time like the choose better. And more. And yes, healthier.

Choose wisely.



"On Fire": VIDEO OF THE DAY: Sean Lowe and Catherine Giudici's Abstinence Lie Detector Test

"There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, 'The two become one.' Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever—the kind of sex that can never 'become one.' There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for 'becoming one' with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body."---I Corinthians 6:16-20(Message)

Now here's what's a trip...

I John 2:16 tells us that the world is filled with nothing but lust and pride and so I really
shouldn't be surprised that (The Bachelor's) Sean and Catherine waiting to have sex until after marriage got so much media attention; that it's so much of an anomaly these days.  However, I am glad that there are still people who follow God's "recipe" when it comes to sexuality. "Dishes" tend to turn out better (A LOT BETTER) that way.

That said..

Not too long ago, someone was asking me if a) I would marry an ex (that I've had sex with...which is honestly all of my exes) and b) would I have sex before marriage. It kind of fascinates me that I continue to get asked that but the answer is this: I like newness and spontaneity and surprises. And I'm not the biggest regifter. Therefore, I want my wedding night to be like "WOW!" not like a rerun (no matter how great the "movie" might be-LOL). So the answer is "no" to both. A book entitled Sacred Sex is a big part of the reason why I've come to that conclusion and I've shared an excerpt of it following 1) a portion of the interview between Sean and Catherine about waiting until marriage and 2) the test results about if they were actually telling the truth.

And regardless of the whole reality TV thing, I will still give them "kudos" because when my time comes, I want to be able to proudly represent the same thing...

That I did it God's way.

That I respected my future husband enough to not dishonor his body.

And that if a took a lie detector test (whether it was about sex, oral sex, nudity, whatever) that I too could pass. With flying covers!

"Seeing sexuality in such a compartmentalized fashion has caused us to discuss sex more as an activity that can be brought under submission. But our sexuality is much more than just a part of us. We are, to our core, sexual beings. Our sexuality affects everything we do, and everything we do affects our sexuality. We may deny this truth, but we can't escape it...

[However] You can't fully and adequately understand God's gift of sex apart from God's gift of marriage. The attempt is similar to taking the main hard drive out of a computer and then expecting it to do the work of the whole computer itself...Likewise, when we remove sex from the context of marriage---even more, when we remove sex from the realm of the holy---we have unplugged the hard drive from the human relationship...

In the separation of sex from the marital relationship, we've taken the hard drive out, set it on the table, shown it to everyone, explained how it works, and asked people to enjoy it. Even more devastating is that we haven't completely embraced our sexuality (that part of us that enjoys sex and sexual things) as a healthy part of our sexuality (that part of us that longs to know God). As such, people keep trying to get the hard drive to work all by itself, but it never does. A hard drive that is unplugged from its computer will never fully do what it is designed to do. Sex, unplugged from marriage and our spiritual selves, will never do what it was designed to do...

The separation of our sexuality from our spirituality causes the sexual pain and evil that pervade our world. When engaged in without God by people without an understanding of the holy, sex becomes an object whose only purpose is a biological sensation or procreation. As a biological urge, all sex sooner or later falls victim to the law of diminishing returns---something that gives us a certain level of pleasure today will produce a lower level of pleasure tomorrow. God didn't design sex to be merely an urge or impulse. And He didn't intend that the excitement would wear off after only a few years.

Prayerfully consider this fact of creation: God created you as a spiritual and sexual person. Spirituality enriches our sexuality. And sexuality doesn't exist in a vacuum, insolated from the rest of our being. A sexually spiritual person is not an oxymoron."---Sacred Sex, "Holy Sex", Tim Alan Gardner, pg.20-22


And it's not (don't let modern-day Pharisees or plan ole ignorant folks tell you otherwise). Oh but "making love" to someone you're not married to is. God is love (I John 4:8&16) and light and there is no darkness in him (I John 1:5) and Christ said that if you love him, you will keep his commands (John 15:10) and Deuteronomy 11:1(NKJV) says this: "Therefore you shall love the Lord your God, and keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always." And being that Hebrews 13:4 tells us that fornicators and adulterers will be judged, for me, that brings these verses to mind:

"But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren."---James 1:14-15(NKJV)

Can you "make love" to your boyfriend (OR FIANCE'). Nope.

You can *make death* though.

Both of you deserve better.

Let this be just one more PSA to please choose wisely.



"On Fire": QUOTES OF THE DAY,on,quote,healing,quotes,poetry,words-8bcf46e59ecd3610874147197b34e960_h.jpg

Monday, January 27, 2014

An Ounce of Prevention: 'Single, Satisfied, and Sent: Mission for the Not-Yet Married'


Here's my disclaimer. There are certain sentences in the piece below that I encourage you to not take super-literally. For instance, this one: "It’s just a fact, marriage murders spontaneity — not entirely, but massively." I actually quite a few spontaneous married couples that could put some of the single people I know to shame when it comes to being spontaneous. If anything makes spontaneity challenging, it's *children*.

Secondly, there's no doubt about it. Paul was an inspired servant of the Lord. However, his views on marriage do not trump God's words or Christ's and they said this:

GOD: "And the Lord God said, 'It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.'" (Genesis 2:18-NKJV)

CHRIST: "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)

First, this sounds like the Godhead is extremely pro-marriage to me. Secondly, Christ was so on point when he said that you need to be mature enough (MATURE ENOUGH) for marriage. Especially spiritually mature (Hebrews 5:12-14). So yes, marriage is amazing. However, none of us come into this world without being single first and that said, this is the reason why I felt I should share the article entitled "Single, Satisfied, and Sent: Mission for the Not-Yet Married". Sitting around waiting for a man is not what being single is all about. Using this time to increase your uniqueness, to become (more) whole and to grow and develop in your individualized purpose---that is what being single is all about.

Now for the article:

If you’re single, Satan is after you.

Okay, he’s after all of us, but there are some unique dangers in singleness — especially in unwanted singleness. He loves to deceive and discourage single people in the church and derail our devotion and ministry. But God intends to use you, your faith, your time, and your singleness in radical ways right now, as you are.

You might come away from a reading of 1 Corinthians 7 with two categories in mind: those who will live, serve, and die single and those who must marry. Paul sings singleness’s praises, listing the spiritual benefits of being spouse-free. The single life can be (relatively) free from relational anxieties (7:32), worldly distractions (7:33), and wide open for worship, devotion, and ministry (7:35). So, Paul concludes, skip the ceremony, literally, and enjoy “your undivided devotion to the Lord.”

Most say, “More power to you, Paul… but I’m getting married.” Maybe temptation overwhelms you, and you need a God-honoring way to satisfy that longing (7:2). Maybe it’s abundantly clear that you need a helper to carry out God’s call on your life (or it’s abundantly clear to others that you do). Maybe you want to have kids and realized that you need help with that. Maybe you just have a deep, undeniable desire for a loving, committed companion. In each case, it is good for you to get married.

While it may seem like two categories at first, we soon discover in application that there are three: the single, the married, and the not-yet married. After all, as any single person knows, a desire for marriage does not a marriage make. My hope in reflecting on Paul’s words is to restore hope and ambition in the hearts of the not-yet married and set them solidly on mission in their singleness.

All Dressed Up and Everywhere to Go

Perhaps the greatest temptation in singleness is to assume marriage will meet our unmet needs, solve our weaknesses, organize our lives, and unleash our gifts. Far from the solution, Paul makes marriage out to be a kind of problematic Plan B of Christian life and ministry. Marry if you must, but be warned, following Jesus is not easier when you join yourself to another sinner in a fallen world.

While marriage may bring joy, help, and relief in certain areas, it immediately multiplies your distractions because you’re intimately responsible for this other person, his or her needs, dreams, and growth. It’s a high calling and a good calling, but a demanding one that will keep you from all kinds of other good things.

Therefore, for the not-yet married, our (temporary) singleness is a gift. It really is. If God leads you to marriage, you may never again know a time like the one you’re in right now. A season of singleness is not merely the minor leagues of marriage. It has the potential to be a unique period of undivided devotion to Christ and undistracted ministry to others.

With the Spirit in you and the calendar clear, God has given you the means to make a lasting difference for his kingdom. You’re all dressed up, having every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3), with literally everywhere to go.

With God’s help and leading, you have the freedom to invest yourself, your time, your resources, your youth, and your flexibility in relationships, ministries, and causes that can bear unbelievable fruit.

So, here are eight suggestions for making the most of your not-yet married life.

1. Avoid Trading Marital Distractions for Other Distractions

Paul may have been right about our freedom from spousal concerns, but in an iPhone, iPad, iPod, whatever iWant world, single people never have trouble finding their share of diversions. In fact, if you’re like me, you crave diversion and tend to default there, whether it’s SportsCenter, Downton Abbey, working out, fancy eating, endless blogging and blog-reading, surveying social media, or conquering the latest game. We might call it resting, but too often it looks, smells, and sounds a lot like we’re wasting our singleness.

“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Everything just mentioned can be done for God’s glory, and it all can be a dangerous distraction from it. If you deny the latter, you may need to put down the smartphone, controller, or treadmill.

Look for ways Satan might be undermining your mission with short and simple pleasures. You may not need to eliminate it, but limit it and look for ways to welcome others into your life through it. Be creative and make disciples over college basketball, cooking, or Call of Duty, rather than going AWOL from God’s mission because of them.

2. Say “Yes” to the Spontaneous

It’s just a fact, marriage murders spontaneity — not entirely, but massively. If you haven’t learned this yet, I doubt any of your (formerly spontaneous) friends have gotten married.

One of your greatest spiritual gifts as a single person is your “Yes.” Yes to a random phone conversation. Yes to coffee. Yes to help with the move. Yes to stepping in when someone’s sick. Yes to a late-night movie or the special event downtown. You have the unbelievable freedom to say yes when married people can’t even ask the question. When the spouse doesn’t exist, you can’t hurt them with your selfless, impulsive decisions. Be willing to say Yes! and bless others, even when you don’t always feel like it.

3. Practice Selflessness While You’re Still Alone

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3–4 will only get harder in marriage, so practice now.

Think of a couple people or families for whom you could lay down your single life. No one is expecting you to care and provide for others right now — no one, that is, except for God. So be mindful of the needs of others, especially those in the church, and consider contributing. It could be money or food or just time and energy. Maybe especially time and energy. Regardless of your paycheck, you have been given much. Spend it wisely and liberally on the needs of others.

Financially, you’re supporting just one person. Sure, save modestly for days when you’ll need more, but while you wait, look for ways to provide for others. While you’re not buying groceries for five, dinner for two, and endless diapers, budget to bless and develop attitudes and habits of sacrifice for others. It will serve your future spouse immensely and make Jesus shine beautifully to those around you in the meantime.

4. Do Radical, Time-Consuming Things for God

Just as you are free to say yes to more spontaneous things, you’re also able to say yes to things that require more of you than a married person can afford. Dream bigger, more costly dreams. Start a daily prayer meeting or some regular outreach. Commit to multiple discipleship relationships. Organize a new Christ-centered community service project. Do all of the above. You’d be surprised, with God’s Spirit in you and a resolve to spend your singleness well, how much you and your single friends are truly capable of, especially when you dream and work together.

Be radical, but not reckless. The idea is not to spread yourself dangerously thin, so make decisions prayerfully and in community with people who love you and can tell you, “No.” My perception, however, is that most not-yet-married believers can afford to give or do more than they are.

5. Spend Time with Married People
The longer you’re not-yet-married, the more time you have to learn about marriage from other people’s successes and failures. While you can’t avoid your own set of marital missteps and sins, you certainly can increase the odds of successes, small and large, by being a good student beforehand.

Look for opportunities to be a regular part of a married person’s life and family. If you’re not around enough to see any ugliness or messiness, perhaps you’re not around enough. Don’t impose on people, but don’t be afraid to initiate the conversation, either. It could be as simple as having lunch with them after church on Sundays. Make it easy for them to say yes by being a willing and eager servant. Offer to babysit on date night or help with yard work or bring a meal when one of the kids goes down sick.

Then be a student. Watch carefully. Ask questions. Take notes on what to imitate. In all your observations, be humble and gracious (if you could see your future marriage, this would be less of an issue). As our minds and hearts are being shaped by Scripture for marriage, we need examples of flawed but faithful marriages. These kinds of ongoing relationships make the principles and lessons real and repeatable.

6. Spend Time with Not-Yet Married People

While married people provide an important perspective and example, you need people in your life who are experiencing the same feelings, longings, and temptations you are. You should find and invest in people who are asking the same questions as you and also seeking to make the most of this unique season of singleness for Jesus’s sake.

Think about it, though he was never married, Paul did most of his ministry with someone. Find the trusted, gifted, and mission-minded friends in your life and be accountable to one another to make your not-yet married life matter for the kingdom. Following Christ was never meant to be done alone, even when you’re single.

7. Find a Fiancé on the Front Lines

Instead of making it your mission to get married, make your mission God’s global cause and the advance of the gospel where you are, and look for someone pursuing the same. If you’re hoping to marry someone who passionately loves Jesus and makes him known, it’s probably best to put yourself in a community of people committed to that.

Join a small group, not just a group of single Christians, but one actively on mission together. Get plugged into a ministry in your church that’s engaging the lost in the local community. Focus on the harvest, and you’re bound to find a helper.

8. While You Wait, Hope in Jesus More Than Marriage

Make it true first. Spend lots of time satisfying your soul in all that God has become for you in Jesus. Then be bold to say it when all anyone wants to talk about is your love life. “So, any women in your life these days?” “Are the two of you an item?” “She’s a really great girl. What do you think about her?” “Would you be willing to go on a date with my wife’s cousin’s roommate’s brother?” Married people have lines, too.

Use the awkward small talk as an opportunity to point them to the Groom who purchased your eternal happiness whether in life or in death, in sickness or in health, whether in matrimony or “on the market.”

So when you feel lonely or discouraged in your singleness, remember that if you’re saved, you’re sent. Instead of waiting until your wedding day to get about the work, make the most of this not-yet-married life.

If you take God's Word seriously and literally, singleness is not something you'll be able to "do over" once you do get married (unless your partner dies). So yeah, it would behoove you to embrace and enjoy the gift of your singleness even now.

After all, who knows what tomorrow will bring?



Sunday, January 26, 2014

"On Fire": What Are You Prepared to Sacrifice in Order to Be Married?

"Listen to me, daughter; look and pay attention. Forget your people and your father’s family. The king loves your beauty. Because he is your master, you should obey him. People from the city of Tyre have brought a gift. Wealthy people will want to meet you."---Psalm 45:10-12(NCV)

Sacrifice: the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim


I spent some time with one of my absolute favorite married couples (and parents). A wise man once said that if you want to have a healthy marriage, you need to surround yourself with healthy married couples. There's a lot of wisdom in that.

Anyway, one of the things that the husband and I spent a significant amount of time talking about is how worldly Christians are. Now by that, we meant this: It's dangerous how many people will try and apply Scripture to the world's system. And remember, according to I John 2:16, the world is full of lust and pride. It's self-consumed. That's its system. And yes, far too many people try and manipulate Scripture for personal lusts or pride-filled agendas. Remember, Christians on the other hand are supposed to esteem others as better than themselves. That's God's system (Philippians 2:3).

Something else we talked about is how many people don't really seek out the Scriptures for themselves (2 Timothy 2:15-AMP). Instead, they basically "gossip about it"---they repeat what they've heard someone (or many others) say before without really assessing if it's wise, right or not. And a wise man once said that a lie repeated a million times makes it no more true than if it were only stated once.

For instance...

Something that I have mentioned often is that I have never (EVER) dug the mentality that men should be the pursuers of women and the reason why is they are "natural hunters". Hmph. Do you know two men in the Bible who were hunters? Cain and Esau. Yeah...and things didn't go too smoothly for those two dudes (LOL). And besides. Do you know who else is a hunter? This guy: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." (I Peter 5:8-NKJV) And as far as men needing to pursue women, I have said over and over again that when King Solomon said that a man who finds a wife finds a good thing (Proverbs 18:22)...well, for one thing yes, that's true. If a guy finds a wife, that *is* good. In fact, he's basically piggybacking off of something that God said in Genesis 2:18 when he declared that it's not good for man to be alone. However, "find" has a lot of definitions. Only one of them is pursue. "Meet with" also means find. "Recover" also means find. "Discover or perceive after consideration" also means find. "Realize" also means find. "Discover by chance" also means find. (Discovering someone by chance requires no pursuing at all.)

And it doesn't stop there...

One of the reasons why people don't appreciate marriage *in marriage* is because they act married beforehand. And this doesn't only apply to sex (Hebrews 13:4). Only *after* marriage is a woman to submit to a man, *her husband* (Ephesians 5:22-24, Colossians 3:18). By teaching individuals that a guy is to be the pursuer of women, that already puts the woman in a submissive state...waiting on a man to lead. I'm sorry but when you are getting to know someone, they haven't earned the right for you to submit to them. That is something that they have to take vows to get access to. That's "playing married before marriage". The foundation of dating/courtship should be friendship. That is *mutual* and the only one that should be leading *both single people* is God.

And still it doesn't stop there. Check it:

"And the Lord God said, 'It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.' Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him."---Genesis 2:18-20(NKJV)

A huge part of the reason why I like (and honor) the Garden of Eden so much is because it shows mankind in a perfected state. And so if in the Garden, Adam could not find a you really think that *outside of the Garden* men are thoroughly equipped? Give me a break.

No, in order to get to who God has for you, a man doesn't need to feel like he *has to* pursue you. God needs to bring you to him and then he needs (after a relationship with God and a sense of purpose) to be spiritually mature enough to recognize who you are once you arrive. If you have to tell him, you're also going against the biblical formula. God "wakes him up" and then he sees things clearly:

"And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said, 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”---Genesis 2:21-23(NKJV)

Who did the work in the union of the first married couple? The man didn't. GOD DID. Again, the man was unconscious (asleep) for most of it. There's no telling how many not-God's-best marriages exist now because there was too much "man pursuing" and not enough GOD LEADING.

OK but that's not even the main point for this message...

Here's the next set of the instructions in the Garden:

"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."---Genesis 2:24-25(NKJV)

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to a woman about the fact that something else that is out of order is how "naked" we tend to be with men before vows are in place; not just physically but emotionally too. After a man vows to his Father (and yours) that he will love you and protect you as Christ loves and protects him, only then does he have the right to know the deepest parts of your body or even your emotions.

However, it's actually Genesis 2:24 that I really want to focus on...

A man is to leave his parents and be joined to his wife.

OK, and what does the lead Scripture for today say? You know, Psalm 45 is one of my favorites. In the New Century Version, it's entitled "A Song for the King’s Wedding" and in it, it says that the woman is also to forget her people and her father's family.

Does this mean literally forget? I doubt it. I mean, "loving your neighbor" (Mark 12:30-31) doesn't negate family. I discern that it's more along the lines of this: "to cease or omit to think of something". In other words, your birth family is no longer your top priority once you get married. YOUR HUSBAND IS (I Corinthians 7:34).

There are a lot of people I know who are in troublesome marriages just because they choose to ignore this one piece of divine instruction. The husband gets a job in another city (or country) but the wife declares she is not gonna leave her mama ("leave and cleave" cuts both ways, y'all-Hebrews 4:12). The husband wants to start a ministry but the wife objects because of her parents' advice. The husband joins his wife at his in-laws' home but things are tense because the wife calls over there every time there's a problem within the marriage.

If you are not ready to leave your family structure in order to create a new one with your husband, you are not ready for marriage. For some people, that will be difficult. For some, that is a part of the marital sacrifice.

One more...

I have said in the devotionals that I pen on more than on occasion that a part of the reason why a lot of men have issues with their wives submitting is because people are so busy writing personal vows for their wedding ceremony that they are leaving out *the purpose* of the traditional ones: declaring the order and structure of how their marriage should go.

For instance...

I actually SMH at the fact that most *bible believers* have taken "love, honor and obey" out of their vows. Why? Because God is the Word (John 1:1) and he never said to. The Word actually says this to Titus 2 women:

"But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,  to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed."--Titus 2:1-5(NKJV)

First up: Women who are advising you to not submit or to buck up against your husband? They are not giving you wise counsel (no more than people who advise divorce. God hates divorce-Malachi 2:16). They are actually "bucking God's system"...and that's just what the world does. Secondly, did you peep how right after it said that older women are to teach younger women to obey their husbands that a part of the reason why is so that God's Word will not be blasphemed?  Yes, it's *irreverent* to not keep God's Word. All of it. Even the uncomfortable parts.

Shoot, I've told people I counsel before that a part of the reason why they are in the state they are in is that they were so busy trying to be "romantic" in their vows that they weren't being *realistic* and *practical*. And yes, *orderly* (I Corinthians 14:40).

Does that mean I won't have personal vows in my wedding? I'm a writer who got my start as a poet so...probably. However, those traditional ones are going in there too and yes, I am going to go the non-feminist-yet-totally-godly route and say OBEY because the Word says that is what I am supposed to do for my husband. (As you can also see in Psalm 45.)

Submit means "to yield oneself to the power or authority of another" and "to defer to another's judgment, opinion, decision, etc.". Obey means "to comply with or follow the commands, restrictions, wishes, or instructions of" and "to submit or conform in action to (some guiding principle, impulse, one's conscience, etc.)".

OK, so you saw that submit is a definition of obey, right?

If you can't say that you'll obey "him", then you don't need to marry him. Submission is another part of the marital sacrifice. 

Honestly, when it comes to the healthy couples I know, submission is totally in practice and there's no abuse in it. By submitting, the wife has not lost her power. It's just that rather than using it to challenge her husband, she's using it to empower him to make his relationship with God stronger which makes their marriage better. I mean, do you have a problem submitting to God? Well, a man loving God as Christ loved the Church is a man you shouldn't have a problem submitting to either. God is giving him the tools to be able to lead you. That is something to rest in. Not fight about.


I promise you that I sense deep within me that some of y'all are going to make some *serious relational shifts* in 2014 and so this is the time to really think about if you're willing to make certain *biblical sacrifices* in order to one, get married and two, make your marriage work---and last.

The world tells us to get married for what we can get.

The Word tells us to get married for what we can give.

In order to be married, singles have to be willing to make certain sacrifices.

If you're not willing, no one is making you getting married. *Don't do it*.

If you are, get prayerful before saying "I do". Sacrifices are coming. For sure.



Friday, January 24, 2014

"On Fire": Be IRREPLACEABLE (Oh, and Be in an IRREPLACEABLE Relationship Too!)

Yes. Yes.

Most of us are quite familiar with this song (and video):

It's catchy. No doubt. But then again, so is (the beat of) "Drunk in Love" and yet...I'll just put it this way: I want to be the sexiest thing *ever* for my husband. Not for the masses. And I don't want him making *any* Ike Turner references to our relationship or being graphic about what we do together. *sigh* When Hebrews 13:4 says that the marriage bed is undefiled, it would help if all of us remembered that undefiled means "pure". It is not a license to say or do whatever just because you have a marriage license.

In other words, some things are inappropriate whether you're married or single.

It reminds me of something my mother once said "Saved or not, *no man* wants his woman naked [for people to gawk at]." Men don't. MEN. DON'T.

OK...but let me stay focused on the task at hand.

I just heard this song and I stopped and *really thought* about what Beyonce' was saying:

"Don't you ever for a second get to thinking, you're irreplaceable."

And then I thought about how many people have the tendency to go from one person to another person. Dating this guy (or girl) and then the next guy (or girl) basically with the "Oh well" attitude when it looks like it's not going to work out. I mean, is that not basically saying the same thing as she's singing? That people can be easily replaced? And in conveying that point, how happy is God with that? I mean, he doesn't treat *us* as if we're replaceable. Well, not all of the definitions of the word, anyway:

Replaceable: to assume the former role, position, or function of; substitute for (a person or thing); to provide a substitute or equivalent in the place of; to restore; return; make good; to restore to a former or the proper place

Yeah. Don't get me started on some divorced folks (who have single exes) who need to *honor* their former spouse as being replaceable in the sense of restoring the relationship (I Corinthians 7:10-11, Joel 2:23-25).

Yet for the single women checking this out, it's the definitions in bold that I encourage you to really ponder (Proverbs 4:26). Being that God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed life into him (Genesis 1:7),  being that the Word (John 1:1) says that he fashions our hearts individually (INDIVIDUALLY-Psalm 33:15) and also being that he said that his children are called to be *special people* (and you wouldn't settle for less than a believer and/or disciple, right?-John 17, I Peter 2:9-10) when you really stop to think about it, are we not totally irreplaceable to the Father? Every single one of us?

Irreplaceable: incapable of being replaced; unique

Special: pertaining or peculiar to a particular person, thing, instance, etc.; distinctive; unique

Unique: existing as the only one or as the sole example; single; solitary in type or characteristics; having no like or equal; unparalleled; incomparable; limited in occurrence to a given class, situation, or area; limited to a single outcome or result; without alternative possibilities; not typical; unusual

First up. Being that one definition of individual is "a single human being" (SINGLE human being), can you not see why it is *so important* to be whole in your singleness (James 1:4) *before* marriage? That you need to see (and embrace) the full picture of who you are before adding other pieces to the "puzzle".

Secondly, when you think of the fact that every single one of us is a unique individual, not only does it mean that we are created to be incomparable and unusual but we should also see others in the same fashion. So, rather than looking at a guy and being like "There's a lot more where you came from" or that "There's plenty of fish in the sea" crap (um, stuff-LOL), we actually should revere each one as being a unique entity.

And so, if we feel like we're going to treat them as no more than another pair of shoes, why start anything with them at all? To treat one of God's unique creations as something that can be substituted at any given time...that is a disrespectful to God himself. He didn't make us or anyone else to be seen as nothing short of...incapable of being replaced. One way or another.

That brings me to the final point...

So since we were made in the image of the Godhead to reflect their image (Genesis 1:26-28) and also being that God is love (I John 4:8&16), this means that we are unique beings who are to love in a unique kind of way. Not in the way that the world loves (which isn't really love at all-I John 2:16). We are to strive to see each person as "having no like or equal" (a unique experience) and we are to strive for our covenant relationship to be the most unique kind of love of all.

I mean, why should our future husbands feel like they are irreplaceable when several guys have gotten our heart, our affection, our intimate time, our secrets...our body?

How can a guy who is desirous of taking things to the next level with us going to be able to really trust doing so if he's not "limited to a single outcome" because we thrown out "I love you" like "Hellos" and we have treated multiple dudes like they are all candidates for one of the most unique relationships that there could ever be: *marital covenant*?


Why should we get into anything serious if the goal is not for it to be truly irreplaceable?

And it simply can't be that if we're giving each guy the same thing...

So, what if you've already found yourself guilty of giving up some of the "irreplaceable" stuff? Remember that one definition of replaceable *is* restore. Instead of looking for a guy to "fill the voids" in your life, ask God to *heal your heart and bind your wounds* (Psalm 147:3) instead.

And then, when you find yourself feeling whole again (and trust me, as someone who just celebrated seven years of abstinence earlier this month, he can make you whole or whole again!), instead of having the Beyonce' hook in your head, adapt to God's mentality by saying to guys:

"Look, I'm irreplaceable and you're irreplaceable. We both deserve to be with the person we are going to treat that way, so before getting into anything deep, let's pray about it and see what God says, if we have his blessing to move forward. That way, we don't end up using one another's time; time that could be put to better use elsewhere."

A guy who's not going to pray is already a red flag.

A MAN is going to find it hot that you see you and him in this fashion.

So thanks Beyonce' for the reminder this morning. Oh, and I hope you remember that we all tend to be a lot of what we attracted. If you treat a person like they are replaceable, chances are they see you in the exact same way. And we're all created to be so much more than that.






Tuesday, January 21, 2014

An Ounce of Prevention: 'A Man Knows the Role He Wants for a Woman to Play in His Life Before He Even Meets Her!'


There's nothing like hearing what a man is thinking *from an actual man*. This is a straight copy and paste from relationship coach Chey B. and it has some really good points in it. Oh, and when it gets to the sex slave part...earlier today, I was talking to a 28-year-old man who told me that a 30-year-old woman who he met (sigh) two weeks ago was sending naked pictures to his phone. Hmph. Amazing how a lot of people would automatically want to say that something was wrong with *him* but there's something very broken about a woman that would do that. Yeah...but I'll touch on how there are a lot of ways to "show too much" even if you do keep all of your clothes in a post soon. For now, here's the piece from Chey (and make sure to really hone in on the part in bold):

Before a man even approaches a woman, he knows exactly which role he wants that woman to play in his life. With each and every woman that he meets, he looks for ways she can add value to his life. With this in mind, it’s essential that you always put your best foot forward because the introduction is everything! The image that you present sets the tone for the value he places on you. From the very first moment he lays eyes on you, you will be categorized as one or more of the following: 1) A potential wife 2) A potential sex slave 3) A potential resource.

It’s true that a man will categorize a woman based on her presentation and treat her according to the category he placed her in, but in addition to that, what prompts him to entertain any one of these types of women is the way he feels about himself.  The way he feels about himself is always subject to change, but is primarily inspired by his spiritual, emotional, and financial stability. The best way to evaluate whether or not a man is emotionally, spiritually, or financially stable is by simply taking the time to get to know him prior to sleeping with him. Once you’ve slept with him, you’ll have already made yourself vulnerable to him emotionally, and will tend to overlook his shortcomings as a result.

When a man is not financially stable, he won’t be ready, willing, or able to pursue a relationship or a marriage. At this point in his life, he can’t afford a commitment, and it’d be more beneficial for him to pursue a woman who offers sex and resources. When a man is not emotionally available, he won’t allow a woman to get close to his heart, but he’ll gladly let a woman get close to his body as it will take his mind off of his problems. In the case, he will seek out the woman who offers sex! When a man is not spiritually grounded, there’s a chance he will choose any of the three options, however, the quality of those relationships will always be at risk because he has no principle based focus.

Each and every woman has an opportunity to show the world who they are, and the choices they make will determine who will choose to associate with them and the lack thereof. Many people make decisions that reflect their character but are ignorant to the fact that what they did or what they said does in fact portray who they are to the world! We’ve all gone to the mall, tried on clothes, and looked at ourselves in the mirror saying “This is ME!!!” Well when you wear those provocative outfits anywhere out in public, you’re saying to the world “This is ME!!!” So before a man has the opportunity to even walk up to you and say hello, he already has an idea of who you are, and will categorize you accordingly.

If a man decides to approach this provocatively dressed woman, he automatically knows that at the very least, he wants to have her as his sex slave. A sex slave is the value that he feels she can/will add to his life based on the way she presented herself. He’ll assume that because she’s dressed this way that her esteem is low, and she’s looking for attention. A man who’s not financially stable, emotionally unavailable, or spiritually grounded doesn’t have to invest anything more than time & energy into this type of woman, because in many cases, that’s all she requires.

If for example a man is struggling financially, or has been hurt, abandoned, or disappointed by a woman in his past relationship(s), it will cause him to close his heart off to the possibility of love. When a man is on the prowl looking for a woman in this state of mind, he will settle for the ones who in some way shape or form embody these very same characteristics. It’s an unhealthy solution to his problem, but it’s a road that many men take just to help them get by. You don’t want to find yourself caught up with a man who has this state of mind, because his misery can rub off on you.

It takes a man quite some time to become spiritually grounded, financially stable, and emotionally available, but when he does, he’s more likely to search for a woman using his heart. What this means is he’ll be motivated to pursue a woman not only by her outer beauty, but also by her inner beauty. A woman can show her inner beauty by being selfless and being kind to others, and by giving off positive vibes. When a man is looking for a relationship of substance, he will want to pursue a woman who embodies the qualities of a wife, and will overlook anything less for this position.

Women who show they have low self esteem make easy targets for men who aren’t at their best. What’s worst is, since a man categorizes you before he meets you, he will limit how close you can get to his heart. No matter how many years you’ve been dealing with each other, or how much you’ve been through, it’s the introduction that’s making him act so cold and never warming up to you. He didn’t respect you or himself when he accepted you into his life, and if you’re still in his life, he’ll resent the fact that he hasn’t outgrown you. Your purpose in his life was never to walk down the aisle; this was decided before he even met you! Your purpose in his life was dependent on the way you first presented yourself, and on the current position he was in when he met you.

Sometimes a woman may have access to something that a man needs, and he may say that as an opportunity to get closer to the real prize. If he’s unable to go directly for the gold, he’ll reach the gold through you! He’ll play whatever part he needs to play in order to keep the resources coming, however your purpose in his life was never to be more than just a resource. No matter how much you do for him, or how good you are to him, he has already placed you in a category that works for him, and has no intention on letting you out. What you want and need from a relationship is a man who’s with you for love, and can appreciate the extra added bonuses that come along with an open, honest, loving, and caring relationship.   

Any and everything you do, from the car you buy, to the dress you wear, to the words you speak is a reflection of your character. When a man looks for a woman, he’s the equivalent of a casting director. He’s looking for characters that fit the role for the leading lady in his life! Always present yourself as the person you want to be known and remembered as. Carry yourself with dignity and integrity no matter where you go, or who you feel is watching, because people (especially men) are always watching. You won’t always be given a second chance to show a man who you are, so take full advantage of the first opportunity you get and make a great, long lasting impression.

Physical beauty will certainly get a man’s attention, but it certainly will not keep a man’s attention. If lord forbid something were to happen to your physical appearance or ability to produce sexual stimulation, you may find yourself abandoned by the man you thought pursued you for love. From the very beginning though, he’s already made up in his mind that this woman is simply someone he’d like to have as a sex slave and nothing more. When a man determines that you’re worth less, he’ll never treat you like you’re worth more. He instead will utilize her for what he does in fact feel she’s worth (sex).

When a man comes across a woman he feels is The One, he will do everything in his power to both get and keep her. He’ll be open and willing to take a chance on love not only because of the way she looks, but also because of the way she makes him feel. There will be no doubt in his mind that she’s the one for him; in fact, any doubts about her being “The One” will only be put in place by “her” actions throughout the relationship. Choosing the right woman will be dependent on both the woman’s presentation, and the position he is currently in financially, emotionally & spiritually. So ladies, half the battle is the man being “ready”, the other half is making sure you are presenting yourself as someone who’s ready. Always present yourself as the person you want to be known and remembered as.


Words to live and love by.