Friday, October 31, 2014

"On Fire": (Quick Thought) Are You EASY TO LOVE?

Earlier this week...

I checked out an article entitled "The Mind Of A Married Man: What Makes A Woman Wife Material". Feel free to click on the link to read the entire piece. For now, the part that stood out most to me was this:

She's Easy to Love... She's not playing games, making him "prove his love" by doing ridiculous things or creating arguments based on her insecurities. A confident woman who knows her worth, understands her flaws and accepts love and support from others is a woman that any smart man will want to keep around. One thing women often fail to realize is the same barriers we put up to protect our hearts often keep out the men who can help heal them. A marriage-minded man will appreciate a fair chance and won't waste his time doing petty things to prove himself to you. One guy mentioned that he shouldn't have to, "Start at zero and earn points with you based on your insecurities."  Instead, he should start with all of the points and lose them based only on his own actions instead of your experiences with others.



I wonder how many guys would say that a big part of the reason why they've ended a relationship---or didn't even let one get off of the starting mark---was because the woman in their life was doing *these very things*.

And then there's the definitions of easy:

Easy: not hard or difficult; requiring no great labor or effort; free from pain, discomfort, worry, or care; providing or conducive to ease or comfort; comfortable; fond of or given to ease; easygoing; not harsh or strict; lenient; not burdensome or oppressive; not difficult to influence or overcome; compliant

In the dating and courtship phases, it's a good idea...

To not be difficult...
To not make a man have to go through great lengths of labor..
To spare him unnecessary pain and worry...
To help him to feel comfortable and at ease in your space.

And is it transitions into engagement and marriage...

To not be harsh...
To not be burdensome...
To not be (catch it) difficult to influence (one way to look at submission)...

It's an epidemic, how many woman are...*uneasy to love*. Oftentimes it's because they don't know how to love themselves first. It's almost as if they are looking for someone to make the self-love journey not as challenging for them when honestly, *if you don't love you*, you're automatically going to make it harder for someone else to do it.

Welp. That's all I got for now. ;-)

If you're in the process of pondering-and-purging, it can't hurt to do some self-introspection.

*Have you been easy to love?*

There's no time like the present to start.



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

An Ounce of Prevention: (VIDEO) 'When a Man Loves You----He Plans and Prepares for You'


On Huffington Post last week, I read an article entitled "This Man Has Been Saving Up For The Perfect Proposal Since He Was 12". 12?!? I'm used to young girls putting together wedding books but not young men getting a wedding piggy bank together. Yeah, that definitely caught my attention.

And then watching how much thought and care that he put into planning the proposal and also after listening to what he said about his beloved, I knew that it would be a nice fit and great reminder, once again, of what it means to not settle.

Every man will not propose in this way...

But *your man* will make you feel just as special as this man made his future wife feel.

Believe that...

The Perfect Proposal from CandleLight Films on Vimeo.




Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"On Fire": 10 Benefits That Come from the 'Waiting to Have Sex' Season

Last weekend...

I went to speak at a church. About sex. And relationships.

Something that I realize is an all too unfortunate trend is that many churches spend more time talking about the consequences that come with not waiting until marriage more so than the benefits that come with doing so.

And so, as someone who has been waiting longer than I ever (EVER-LOL) thought I would, I sat and thought about where all of this waiting is getting me. I came up with 10 things (I know, right?). If you're waiting as well, maybe you can relate.

1) You don't have to worry about pregnancy tests or STDs. Look, when I was sexually active, I could've taken stock out on some of the pregnancy tests that were around at the time (I was buying one darn near every month) and although thankfully, I only had one STD (chlamydia and yes, thankfully because I wasn't the biggest on condoms), there is nothing like rolling through each month and not particularly caring my period is a couple of days late. It's also pretty awesome to go to the doctor and know that if they find anything, it won't be STD-related. Sexually active people are not able to have this kind of peace of mind. Yep. Peace of mind is a real perk to abstinence. That's for sure.

2) You can trust yourself better when it comes to developing feelings for someone. I have quoted it many times over the years. "It" being something that a male friend of mine once said: "Sex will make you 'love' people you don't even like." In other words, there are a lot of people walking around in relationships believing that they're really into the person when it's more like they are into how the person makes them feel---sexually. I've had orgasms before. They're awesome. And so the person who gave them to me, I found them to be pretty awesome as well. Because of their great personality or impressive character? Nope. I didn't even really care about those things. Don't get it twisted. Fornication is one heck of a drug. If you want to know if you like someone, let your brain decide; not your libido. Trust me, if your libido gets "a voice", it's going to scream---loudly. Sometimes way oer your common sense (Proverbs 2-Message) and that's never good. On the heels of that, you might want to read "How Premarital Sex Rewires Your Brain, Affects Your Chances of Finding Life Mate". There's some good stuff up in there.

3) You can cultivate a healthy relationship with yourself; especially your body and looks. OK, I'm not referring to masturbation. I penned a piece a couple of years ago that shares, explicitly, my feelings on that. Long story short, sex is about becoming one with someone else (YOUR HUSBAND-Genesis 2:24-25, I Corinthians 6:16-20-Message), not yourself. There is no need to become one with yourself. What I mean with this particular point is that back when I was having sex, I was caring a lot about what my partners cared about when it came to my weight, my appearance---all kinds of stuff. Shoot, my last boyfriend even had a lot of say in how I did my hair. These days, I've actually gotten more compliments on my look/style than ever and I think a big part of it is because I have been focusing on who Shellie is, what Shellie likes and how Shellie wants to look. The cool thing about that is whenever "he" wakes up (Genesis 2:18-25), he will see the Shellie who likes Shellie. We'll be in agreement about her and so I won't have to be jumping through hoops to impress him. Will his opinion and suggestions matter? Of course. However, he'll be meeting me as I am now. I dig her. He will too.

4) You can learn what real intimacy is. If you think of the most beautiful woman in the world (to you), ask her if she's been heartbroken by a man. For good measure, you might also want to ask her if she had sex with him before. *Sex doesn't keep a man. Covenant keeps a man*. And that's only if he truly reveres God's Word (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7, Matthew 19:1-6, Ephesians 5). During your time of abstinence, you can stop making sex so much of priority in a relationship. This means that you can get to understand what real intimacy is. A man by the name of Robert Sternberg once said "Passion is the quickest to develop, and the quickest to fade. Intimacy develops more slowly, and commitment more gradually still." I counsel a lot of couples who have a lot of sex and you know what? The bedroom is the only room in the house where they can truly get along. A big part of that is because affection, communication and mutual respect were not properly cultivated while they were dating. Passion is easy. Intimacy? That takes a bit more time, energy and effort. You're more willing to invest in intimacy when sex is not your focus.

5) YOU CAN HEAL. There are so many women who don't really want to deal with their childhood traumas, their past relationships, their cyclic dramas. For some reason, they feel that a man will, and worse *should*, fix it all. A husband is a companion, not a savior. Christ is your Savior (John 3:16). One of my favorite verses in the Bible is "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds" (Psalm 147:3-NKJV) The Message Version of I Corinthians 6:16 tells us that "Sex is as much of a spiritual mystery as it is a physical fact". When you finally do get to have sex with your beloved, he's not just having sex with your body. He's joining himself to your spirit as well. Remember, you are to be his divine help source (Genesis 2:18). That said, why would you want him connected to a beat up and broken spirit? In fact, about broken spirits, the Word says this: "A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones." (Proverbs 17:22-NKJV) A broken spirited woman tends to be more burdensome than helpful. It's good to use this time to tend to those wounds. One book that you might want to cop to help with the journey is Healed Without Scars by David G. Evans.

6) You can have your mind renewed. The New King James Version of Romans 12:2 says "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." The Message Version of Jeremiah 31:21-22 says "Set up signposts to mark your trip home. Get a good map. Study the road conditions. The road out is the road back. Come back, dear virgin Israel, come back to your hometowns. How long will you flit here and there, indecisive? How long before you make up your fickle mind? God will create a new thing in this land: A transformed woman will embrace the transforming God!” I've had a lot of really good counterfeit sex in my day (I mean, can it be legit if it's wrong and against God's will?-Hebrews 13:4). Yet you know what? As more time goes by, I remember less and less details of what went down. That's a good thing too because I don't want to be bringing "ghosts of sex's past" (or is it demons? Just sayin'-Matthew 12:43-45) into my marriage bed. I wrote a post on here once entitled "Is Your Bed Green?" It comes from a Scripture in the Song of Solomon. Some of the things that the color green symbolizes are growth, harmony, safety, freshness and yes, fertility. I want to have a "green mind" so that I can have some *green sex* (LOL). How about you?

7) You can get excited about planning to have sex (someday). This past June, I turned 40. When people asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I said lingerie for my hope chest. Hey, Romans 5:5 tells us that "Hope does not disappoint", right? Not only that but one definition of wait is "to be available or in readiness". I'm not exactly sure when "he'll arrive", but God and I've been talking about it. Whenever the time comes, I've got a feeling the dude is not going to want to drag his feet (LOL). And besides, there is something very special about planning and preparing to do something God's way---the right way. My point? If you see a teddy or a garter or some other goodie, it's fine to pick it up. It's a token of faith (2 Corinthians 5:7). And something to surprise your future hubby with someday.

8) You can put yourself into a spirit of expectation. In one of the devotionals that I penned this week, I referenced a couple who shut their own reception down (meaning they were the last ones to leave). When they were asked if they wanted to be alone, they commented about the fact that since they were living together before marriage, they were in no rush to have sex on their wedding night. Guess what? They're divorced now. Yep. That's tragic---*on so many levels*. The last thing that I want to do on my wedding day is to be looking at my husband, thinking about having sex with them and basically feeling...bored about it; like he ain't got nothing to offer me that I haven't already seen or experienced. Another definition of wait is "to continue as one is in expectation of; await". To be in a spirit of expectation is to be "the act or state of looking forward or anticipating". When you were a child, did you ever sneak a peak at your birthday or Christmas presents before the actual day? If so, wasn't it hard to be as excited as you initially were? Sure, the gift was still cool's hard to act as elated. Shoot, on my wedding night, I want my husband to look at me and be like "So, are you gonna stop giggling and jumping on top of the bed so we can get this party started?" (LOL) Waiting is about expecting and anticipating and James 1:17 tells us that every good and perfect gift comes from God. I am expecting a good and perfect wedding night as a result of my obedience. God honors obedience. Remember that.

9) You can develop more patience. Oftentimes, I refer to I Corinthians 13:4-8, the Love Chapter, as the "Love Fruit Juice Box". The first ingredient that is in it is patience. You are not going to be able to love your mate well or long without it. So tell me something? How can you master patience in a relationship with someone else if you can't master patience with yourself? And yeah, patience is not a "warm fuzzy word". Patience is defined as being "the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like". It's also defined as being "an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay" and "quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence". If you ask any marital covenant couple about something that you should be prepared for, it's the spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:10-20) that comes from Satan hating a God-ordained husband and God-ordained wife coming together. If you can't be patient now, if you won't allow patience to complete you now (James 1:4)...whew! You are going to make it really hard on your spouse by deciding to use your marriage as your "first-time testing ground".

10) You can value yourself (including your sexuality) more. At the peak of my sexual activity, God was still whispering Matthew 7:6(NKJV) into my spirit: "Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces." One definition of swine is "a coarse, gross, or brutishly sensual person". You are not being loved and you are not being loving, by coercing someone into sin and that includes sexual immorality. My running statement on this topic is that fornication is not "making love"; it's "making death". Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death so that's why I say that. And you know what? The more time that you take to really let all of that settle in, the more that you'll find yourself not only not "casting pearls before swine" but also taking this parable into your human trinity (mind, body and spirit): "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it." (Matthew 13:45-46-NKJV) A pearl is my birthstone and so just in that alone, I hold it dear. And yes, a pearl goes through a lot. I am investing a lot into my purity. The right man will see the value in that and do what *God requires of him* to have me. All of me. From the living room to the kitchen to yes, the bedroom.

The waiting season is not easy. LORD, IT'S NOT EASY.

Yet God knows what he is doing. From the first day of waiting until the last.

For your sake.
For your future husband's sake.
For your marriage---and your marriage bed---as a whole.

Amen? Amen.

"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.
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.
God knew what he was doing from the very beginning."---Romans 8:22-29(Message)



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"On Fire": So, What 'Kind of Love' Do You Want?

"[The Man] I went to my garden, dear friend, best lover! breathed the sweet fragrance.
I ate the fruit and honey, I drank the nectar and wine. Celebrate with me, friends! Raise your glasses---'To life! To love!'

[The Woman ] I was sound asleep, but in my dreams I was wide awake. Oh, listen! It’s the sound of my lover knocking, calling! 

[The Man ] 'Let me in, dear companion, dearest friend, my dove, consummate lover! I’m soaked with the dampness of the night, drenched with dew, shivering and cold.'"---Song of Solomon 5:1-3(Message)

While doing some 'net surfing over the weekend...

I "happened upon" (Proverbs 16:33) an article entitled "The Seven Types of Love". After checking out a couple of types, it definitely held my attention. After checking them all out, I'm pretty sure you'll see why:

1. Liking

Characterized by high Intimacy but no commitment or passion. Sternberg says that this is friendship where one enjoys the company of another but does not feel sexually passionate toward them or indeed feel any long-term commitment to them as one would with a family member.

2. Companionate Love

Long term romantic relationships tend toward Companionate Love. There is Intimacy and Commitment but no sexual passion. Most people feel Companionate love toward their family members. There is more commitment than in a simple friendship. Feeling companionate love for a person does not stop you being annoyed or irritated by that person. Indeed, that irritation and resentment can often be the cause of the loss of passion. Often cantankerous older couples have strong companionate love for each other even though they argue all the time.

3. Empty Love

In empty love there is commitment but no passion or intimacy. Relationships where couples are leading separate lives under the same roof. A relationship can slip toward Empty Love when a couple stay together for family reasons.

4. Fatuous Love

Commitment and Passion with no Intimacy are the hallmarks of Fatuous Love. When a couple fall in love seemingly instantly and marry with haste they will often find themselves in the trouble of Fatuous Love. Without intimacy or friendship the reality of the dream life that the couple thought they would lead can come as a shock. The relationship can still make it but it will be hard work since the couple don't really know each other.

5. Infatuation

Infatuation is love at first sight. It's passion without intimacy or commitment which explains why it can disappear as suddenly as it appeared. The reality of life with another human being is very hard on Infatuation. There's nothing wrong with Infatuation as a starting point in a relationship, many relationships start that way but the relationship won't last unless it can become grounded in some Intimacy and/or Commitment. This helps to explain why our passion cools after a while - it has to in order to enable to relationship to survive.

6. Romantic Love

This is the one we think we all want, passion and intimacy bound up together. Passionate love gives us that sensation of "fusion" with our lovers so that we seem to become one. Unfortunately it isn't grounded in commitment. As described by Dr. Sternberg Romantic Love is a whirlwind of intense emotion and bonding but it can fall apart if the emotional high is not maintained through a lack of commitment or stickability.

7. Consummate Love

According to Dr. Sterngerg this is the "perfect" form of love that can be found right in the center of the triangle. In it Intimacy, Commitment and Passion are all equally strong. This is the true love that can last the whole lives of the couple and allow them to survive the inevitable ups and downs of life. A couple experiencing Consummate Love can truly say that their lover is their best friend. They are true life-partners, committed, passionate and intimate with each other.

Over the course of time of counseling couples, I have met individuals in all of these forms of "love"

Many got married way too quickly.
Many confused "good sex" for a great relationship.
Many did not make the time to heal from past situations before jumping into a new one.
Many were more consumed with "making a family" than *building a marriage*.
Many were quite simply horny, fearful or both and became tired of waiting.
Many did not receive wise and thorough counsel.

And most did not realize that Consummate Love should be the ultimate goal.

That a solid relationship has intimacy, commitment and passion---all in one.

And that during the dating/courtship phase, *no individual* should be so needy (or is it desperate?) to get married that they compromise (or is it settle?) in any of these areas.

INTIMACY is defined as being "a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group". It's also defined as "the quality of being comfortable, warm, or familiar" and "sexual intercourse". It takes time to get familiar with an individual. And although *no one is exempt with God* when it comes to being instructed to wait until marriage before engaging in sex (Hebrews 13:4), it is important to pay attention to one, if you're physically attracted to someone and two, if both of you are physically affectionate with one another. Trust me, I know some pretty lonely married folks and it's because their spouse pretty much only touches them when they want to have sex.

So ask yourself:

Are you both "thoroughly conversant" and "easygoing" and "unconstrained" in your interactions with one another?

Does "he" hold your hand? Kiss you on your cheek or forehead? Put his hand around your shoulder? Hug you without trying to cop a feel (just sayin')?

COMMITMENT is defined as "the act of committing, pledging, or engaging oneself". Not only that but "a pledge or promise; obligation" and "engagement; involvement". Personally, I think/believe/discern that one of the main causes of divorce is that far too many people "act married" with way too many people prior to their wedding day. And while marital covenant vows (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7, Matthew 19:6) are to be reserved for a marriage license and ceremony, do pay attention to if the person you are considering "going to the next level with" engages you, is willingly involved in your life and *keeps their promises*. Make sure that you also do the same. Someone who is poor in these areas on the front end of marriage is going to make things really challenging (REALLY CHALLENGING) later.

PASSION is defined as "strong amorous feeling or desire; love; ardor", "strong sexual desire" and one of my personal favorites: "a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything". Listen, I've heard really churchy folks say "It doesn't matter if you don't have a strong physical desire for who you are with; that's about the flesh." *Where in the Bible does it say that mutual physical attraction within a marriage that doesn't matter?* In fact, there is a whole book (Song of Solomon) that's got passion all up in it and 2 Timothy 3:16-17(NKJV) tells us this about Scripture: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."

Strong desire, a lot of love, strong sexual desire and also a deep fondness and profound level of enthusiasm for the person you are considering spending your life with are *all vital* to the success of the relationship. Mutually so too.

There's more that must be said about passion as well. One author insightfully penned this:

Because the word passion is so degraded today – confused with ego ambition, sex, bullying, etc. – I also use a lot of other terms which seem cognate with the meaning I want to establish. I have a
number of key metaphors and alternate expressions, such as the leap into the unknown, being staked to the ground, and others. 

I see passion as the key to the Jewish approach to faith in the Old Testament. I now think I have found another word in Hebrew for the Greek passion: this word is cleave. Cleave is a strange and powerful word which turns up in various places and in various ways throughout the Hebrew Bible. A man cleaves to his woman in marriage; the tongue cleaves to the roof of the mouth; tired bones cleave to the skin. But what really grabbed me was that in Deuteronomy, early on in the Old Testament, the text repeatedly says, again and again, cleave to God.

Passion is our cleaving to God.
I love the very word, cleave.

In English, as in Hebrew, this word carries a paradox, a contradiction, a mystery, a secret. For, it means both to join with, and to separate. In fact, more concretely, it means a warm embrace, but yet when we wield a sword, we can cut an opponent’s head in two: we cleave them in half. To cleave is at one and the same time to hold on to and unite with, yet also to rend, to tear into pieces, to
divide. Poetically this captures the peculiarity of passion as I have written of it in so many different ways. To cleave is to love...

*Nice*. That is just an excerpt of the article and so you might want to check all of it out sometime. For now, though here are two main points: A truly passionate relationship consists of two individuals who cleave to God. So, if you're dating someone who does not have a strong relationship with Elohim (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit---yes, all three-I John 5:8), that is something to get some divine wisdom (James 1:5) and wise counsel (Proverbs 24:6) about; *especially as a woman*. A husband is supposed to lead your home. How can you trust him enough to submit to him (Colossians 3:18) if he is not fully humble towards and submitted to the Father (or at least showing fruit that he is trying to be?).

And secondly, the King James Version of Genesis 2:24-25 is where we all get that a man is to leave his parents and *cleave* to his wife. "Leaving, Cleaving and Becoming One" is another awesome read to check out. here are a few excerpts of it:

Part one of that process is Naming:

There is a Naming that Adam does, the husband establishes the relationship when he officially, legally declares what the relationship will be, he identifies that this woman is a part of him, and  she is his missing part. Adam is the one that names her, calling her woman, (Is shah) in the original language. This is what is supposed to be happening at your wedding – you are declaring to the world that this is officially, spiritually, and legally your wife, your missing part and she is now your woman. You do this before God, your family, her family, friends, enemies and past lovers. Her father passes the responsibility of her care, nurture and protection over to you when the minister asked,”who gives this woman”. You said. “I Do” and accepted the responsibility spiritually, emotionally and legally to take care of , love and provide for her...

Part two of that process is Leaving:

There is a Leaving that Adam must do: Your mother and father are your first helpers, they play a
vital role in your existence, nurture and maturity and you should always honor and appreciate them for that. However in order for the husband and wife  to make a good lasting connection you must change your relationship with your mother and father.  The Bible says leave your mother and father- the word leave means to leave, loose, forsake, depart from, leave behind, let alone, abandon. Why would God ask you to leave the two people who have probably done more for you than anyone else?  Your mother is your first helper, she does almost all of the tasks that your wife must now pick up, she washed your clothes, prepared a home, nurtured you, comforted you, feed you, befriended you etc.  These are now all the duties that your wife must pick up plus one that  mother could never do.  If a man does not make the emotional, physical, and spiritual break with his parents his wife cannot make the bond as his new help meet and it can eventually destroy the marriage...

Part three of the process is Cleaving:

Once the leaving has taken place you can now cleave which means to overtake , stick to, cling, stay with, pursue closely, follow hard. You are to be the glue that runs after and pursues your wife, God holds you responsible to do all in your power to keep the bond tight and firm and when you have done this properly you two become one flesh. In the sight of God you are like one person, flowing and moving together to serve Him. Cleaving must be maintained through hard trials, sickness, financial pressures, crisis, drama with children, mistakes and hurt.

Maintaining a healthy spiritual relationship by praying with your wife, leading your family in the study of the Word and worshipping together is the first key.

Maintaining a healthy emotional relationship by communicating, not shutting down, speaking the truth in love, forgiving one another and pushing to reconcile is the second key.

Maintaining a good sexual relationship by keeping the romance going making her feel special, showing her care, protection , complementing her will give her the motivation to keep connecting physically. This is the third key.

Do not take on substitutes to meet your sexual needs in other ways, ( fantasy, pleasuring yourself or
flirting with other women)  this is the one need she meets that no one else on the planet is supposed to be meeting. Sex helps a husband and wife stay connected.

I could go on for a really long time about what Consummate Love is designed to be. For now, my prayer is that all of this plants a seed. I have a sense that some of you are seeking clarity and confirmation about the man you are considering or seeing right now. My hope is that this information helps along the way and as Romans 5:5 tells us "hope does not disappoint".

Consummate Love is the best kind of love.

Wait for it. You'll be glad that you did!