Friday, July 31, 2015

"On Fire": You Should Be EASY and AMAZING (Yep. I Said It!)


I've been coming across some Bob Marley quotes on relationships that have had me be like "OK Marley, I hear you." Case in point:

It tripped me out, the first time I realized that cowards are on the list of folks that will be a part of the second death in Revelation (21:8)! Don't settle for a man who doesn't have the courage to love you and the courage to act on it (I John 3:18)!

Anyway, when I heard that Bob Marley was also the author of the "easy amazing" quote, I knew it was something that needed to be expounded upon.

Only, this is going to be with a bit of a twist...

If you've been reading these long enough, you know I'm the gal who believes that dating/courting tends to be a lot more complicated and dramatic than it really needs to be. In the Garden of Eden, there were no games or chasing or manipulation. Adam had a relationship with God (first) and a purpose (second). *God decided* it was time for Adam to get hooked up with a wife. He put Adam into a state of unconsciousness. He made the Woman. *God brought the Woman to her man (Adam)*. Adam acknowledged her as his woman. And it was a wrap. (Genesis 1-2)

So whenever women telling me about how much a man needs to chase her, my mind tends to immediately go to *the curses* following Adam and the Woman's disobedience. It's *because of sin* that Adam had to toil for provision (Genesis 3). For this reason, it's still my belief that a man shouldn't have to kill himself in order to get a wife; that things should be a lot *easier* than that.


In fact, one of my favorite love stories reminds me of all of this. Back in 2009, I did a blog of stories from various married couples. You can click on the link to read more "So, How Did You Know?" entries from husbands and wives. For now, I'm going to copy and paste Duawne's (the husband) and Carmen's (the wife) story of how they came to be. For the record, they're still married and Carmen is currently carrying their fourth child:

Wedding Anniversary Date: October 7, 2001

How he knew his wife was the one for him:

I met my wife at age 19. I had just transferred from a small college in Maryland, to an even smaller college in Alabama. What I noticed first about her were her eyes. Not so much the color, though they are beautiful, but more so their intensity. When I looked into her eyes, I could see my future. Funny thing is, I don’t remember becoming friends with her. I just remember being friends with her. Ours was a great friendship because neither of us was available. I was dating someone else back home and so was she. This allowed us to get to know each other on an intimate level without physical intimacy, which was the foundation for what we share today.

I remember feeling comfortable with her from the very beginning. Being with her was not just fun, but easy. Neither of us had to fight for the other’s attention. It was generously given. I did not know then that I would marry her because I would not allow my mind to think of her as anything but a friend. Remember, I had a girlfriend at home who I loved and respected. But I grew to love my wife on a completely different level than my girlfriend. I just loved sharing the same space with her. I loved knowing that this really pretty girl was so incredibly cool at the same time. I loved that I could talk to her about whatever, and I really loved looking out for her. I even told her once that my children would call her 'Auntie' because I knew we would always be in each others lives. But I’m glad that they call her 'Mommy' instead.

10 years would pass between our meeting and our marriage. Long story short, she knew I was hers before I knew she was mine. Most women do. But when I knew...I really knew. Having fostered a solid friendship, I was afraid of exploring a relationship with her. I didn’t want to risk ruining what we had. But when she began dating a guy she had known all of her life, a casual friend of mine, I then realized that the possibility of us ever dating may never be. That made me uneasy.

At a wedding of a mutual friend we reconnected. She was a bridesmaid and I was the singer. As she came down the aisle, I was in awe of her. Though we had kept in touch we had not seen each other for a few years. She was now a woman – a very beautiful woman. She was the first bridesmaid to enter and I was singing, 'I want to spend tomorrow here with you', as she walked in. That day God gave me a foreshadow of what was to come. I saw her dressed in white coming to vow herself to me. For the rest of the day, I could not be away from her and when it was time to leave I did not want to. I always missed her when either of us left but this time I felt like pieces of me stayed with her. That day she took my heart home with her and didn’t even know it. I was afraid to tell her.

Nearly two years passed before I asked God who my wife was. I wanted to be with His choice for me. I had been dating and up to this point, all of my choices had proven to be inadequate. Unknowingly, I had been comparing every relationship to the woman my soul loves.

When I asked God, He answered me immediately. He said, 'Carmen'. It was as if He had been waiting for me to ask. 'How did I know it was God?' you may ask? It’s just like when my mom calls me on the phone. I don’t have to check the caller ID to figure out who I’m talking to. Because I’m in relationship with her I know her voice. And even if we were in a noisy, crowded room, I would still recognize her voice above all others because I’ve spent years with her. Her voice is familiar to me.

The same is true of God. When you spend time with Him you get to know Him and how He speaks as it relates to you. Not only did God speak it, but He also confirmed it through the mouths of three others. It was made more than clear that Carmen was His choice for me. And when I reflect on the decade of friendship we shared prior to our covenant day, she had always been my choice for me as well.”

What he loves about her mind: It's sharp and ever-seeking to expand. It is attentive to whatever the task. Be it one or many, she starts smart and finishes strong.

What he loves about her body: In her eyes is God’s reflection. In her smile there’s a radiance quite like the sun. In her arms there is such safety. In her heart is a special place for me alone.

What he loves about her spirit: It's free. It soars without any reservations and is always focused on the big picture. It sees the good in all things.

Duawne's advice to single men about marriage:  
"My brothers, your standard of perfection will never measure up to God’s. Some of you are afraid to trust Him with choosing a mate for you because you know He does not have the same hang ups that you do. When you realize the weight of a husband’s role, you will not want to make that choice based on your own intellect. The husband is called to love. Love is service. Love will carry the weight, and keep believing when everything looks hopeless. Love will not give up when your wife wants to. Love will be patient with her as she is transforming, and will be kind to her even when she’s not. Love seeks no glory but will take the back seat and let her shine. Love will keep you faithful even when it’s being thrown at you. The level of spirituality in your household is directly proportionate to your faith in God. If you don’t believe your marriage will be successful, how can she?

As well, a husband’s role is to lead. I guarantee your wife will follow you if you lead her, but you must first be led of God. I have noticed that if I don’t lead on some things, my wife will not. Not because she cannot, but because she’s not supposed to. I am responsible for bringing God into our home, not her. And as with Adam, if there is a deviation from God’s plan for our marriage, He will come to me and ask what happened. When it’s all said and done and the trumpet sounds God will ask me, 'Where is Carmen? Where is the family I gave you?' I want to be able to say, 'Right here next to me. You’ve trusted me with them and I’ve led them to You'.

A husband is the house band. You are the one responsible for holding it all together. Do not take that lightly. Do not allow yourself to be displaced or replaced. The enemy wants to ruin your marriage. Don’t let him. Cover your wife completely and never give her a reason to question your love and loyalty to her. When you do this, God will bless your union and your marriage will be a testament to the Kingdom and not a deterrent from it.


Bookmark that...

Wedding Anniversary Date: October 7, 2001

How she knew her husband was the one for her:

1990 - What’s funny is that I don’t remember meeting my husband. It’s funny because my husband is strikingly gorgeous and many of the women I know remember meeting him. I just remember knowing him.

We met at a Christian college in Huntsville, AL where many people go expecting to find their mate. Not me! I didn’t want to live in the States. I just wanted to go to school, get my degree, and then go back home to work.

My future husband and I had an immediate connection; a chemistry that others looking at us could see. This connection was strictly platonic, however, because we both had significant others. Yeah, we were attracted to each other, but neither of us crossed the line because we both took our commitments seriously. Watching this man stay faithful to his girlfriend only made him more attractive and would be the foundation for my faith in his commitment to me.

We were inseparable. We spent many hours laughing, talking and even singing together (we stood next to each other in the school choir). I felt like I could be myself with him. I wasn’t afraid to show him my frailties because he made me feel safe. I remember thinking, 'I want to marry a man like this.' I had never met a man like this before. He was not just trying to 'act' like a Christian, but really trying to BE a Christian. He was a man who would open car doors and try and run ahead of you to open doors to buildings. Now mind you, this man was barely 20-years-old when we became friends, but he showed such godly maturity. God heard my mind speak, and it was during this time that God began to tell me that he was my husband.

Then he left. He left our college to go and start his music career. I missed him like crazy. My friend was gone and there was no one to fill his place, even though my 'boyfriend' arrived soon after.

My friend and I still stayed in contact with each other. I went to his graduation (1994) , he went to mine (1996) and at each occasion people would say, 'When are you and Duawne getting together?’ I would smile and try not to respond, while thinking in my head, 'When God says so.'

Then there was the time when I came to visit him in Nashville and we went out to eat. We were talking and out of the blue, he said, 'Carmen, when are we going to cut the crap?' Well, I nearly choked on my dessert. 'What do you mean?; I said trying to be calm, while my heart was racing. Somehow he got out of answering the question. We both changed the subject and acted like nothing had happened.

I don’t know where the time went, but it was 10 years between the time we met and the time we got married. I take that back I do know where it went. It went to stepping out of God’s will on both of our parts. Making mistakes and learning life’s lessons. During these years I read a lot (even some of the books that Shellie has listed). I wanted to improve myself and get ready for my husband.

1997 – After growing in God and trying to better myself and just be happy with me, I wrote a poem about my husband and me finally being together forever. I shared this poem with no one.

2000 - I decided that I was tired of messing up God’s plan for my life and since this was a new millennium, I decided to reconsecrate my life to the Lord. I went to the beach and sang 'I Surrender All' and cried. I was tired…tired of trying to do things my own way. By October, I didn’t see any major things happening with my love life. I decided I would go on a 10-day fast. This fast was to give me strength. Strength to tell the guy I was dating, 'Goodbye' because nothing was happening AND 'Goodbye' to Duawne. At the end of the fast, I was intending to tell Duawne, 'Even though we haven’t dated, we aren’t going to. Goodbye.' I had finally given up on the idea of us ever being together. God knew that I was serious and that I had FINALLY surrendered ALL.

God said, 'Not so!'

During my fast, Duawne called me. What?!? I had been in Bermuda for four years and we had spoken infrequently, but that night Duawne asked me all sorts of personal questions about life. How many kids I wanted...where I would live if I didn’t live in Bermuda...if I knew who my husband was...if I thought he was a godly man. What?!? Where was all of this coming from? At the time I didn’t realize I was being 'interviewed', but I woke up the next morning singing Fred Hammond’s 'Thank you, Lord' in my spirit.

Two days later, he called me back and asked me to spend his birthday and Christmas with him. That was the beginning of a rapid and wildly exciting time in my life. We spent seven months dating, three months engaged and our day of destiny is celebrated every year on October 7th. We got married in 2001.

What she loves about his mind: My husband is a creative genius. He’s a great writer. He writes and sings songs given by God to bless this world.

What she loves about his body: EVERYTHING!!!. OK...OK seriously. My husband is gorgeous. He is 6'4”, with dark chocolate and fine. I love his eyes; they are dark and deep. I love his hands; they are gentle yet firm. I really love his lips, too.

What she loves about his spirit: My husband is a God chaser. He is always seeking God’s will for his life and direction from the Holy Spirit.

Carmen's advice to single women about marriage:  
“Prepare yourself to be a woman of God. He has to be your first mate. Wait on the Lord. It was completely out of character for me not to tell Duawne how I felt about him. I have messed up many relationships telling people how I felt. God knew that if I had told Duawne I knew he was my husband in 1997 he was run, very fast and very far. Tell God how you feel about your husband---your future mate. He’ll honor you if you are honoring Him, and if it is the right one. Some more advice is that you make sure he is your friend. There we will be times when you get right on each other’s last nerve. But when he’s your friend you always make up. And with benefits, now.”

Because my late fiance was friends with Duawne back when we all were attending MTSU (Damien, Duawne and myself, not Carmen), I remember when Duawne was in the "She's amazing...and just my friend" stage. I also remember Damien being like "Dude. Have you *seen* Carmen?" There was a suit that Carmen used to wear that, let's just say earned her major (MAJOR) props with Damien (LOL)!

And as I became closer to Duawne and Carmen following the passing of Damien, I also witnessed a lot of the transitioning...more from Carmen's side than Duawne's. And you know what? If someone were to ask me how to sum up their love journey leading to the altar, I would have to say it's a true testament of *timing* (Ecclesiastes 3:11, Acts 1:7-Message) and that things shouldn't be *hard*. When God's doing the matchmaking, things actually should be *easy*.

Uh-huh. What was it again that Duawne said about being with Carmen?


Here's a video of them today (well, back in summer of 2014):
That's why, when I read a quote like Bob Marley's, I tend to see it through a different kind of lens.

A woman should have standards.
A woman should not give a man what is only her husband's.
(Proverbs 4:23, I Corinthians 6:16-20-Message)
But she still needs to be easy to be with!

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

Just this week, I was talking to two single guys who are pretty hot commodities around these parts about why they're still single, what it would take for that to change, etc. One of the things they both said is sometimes they get weary of women because everything is always so dramatic. One even said that he's starving for female companionship in the form of friendship but so many women have an "all or nothing" approach.

I'll stand up and say that it took me a while to realize that a man wanting to be friends is not *a demotion*; it is *foundational*. And when things start from an organic place like friendship, *if God sees fit for the relationship to become more* (get your eyes and expectations off of "dude" and point them both towards the Lord!--Philippians 4:6-7), it will be a healthier kind of love and connection.

Bob Marley is right in the sense that a woman who knows that she's the temple of the Holy Spirit will not allow a man to desecrate her via sexual sin. A woman who knows her worth is not *easy* to bed up and yes, she is amazing.

But as you're praying (I Thessalonians 5:17) and pondering (Proverbs 4:26) about your own journey towards your "Ish" (Hebrew for man and husband simultaneously), take out a moment to think about if you've been making things *easier* or *harder*.

Do you have a habit of making things difficult?
Can men feel comfortable around you?
Are you easygoing?

Do you help to cause burdens or lift them?

Men are not just looking for women who are amazing...

Wait. Let me start over...

One of the things that makes a woman truly amazing is that she's drama-free...

She's not difficult.
She's comfortable.
She's easygoing and not filled with burdens.

As you're continuing to pray about you and "him"...

Let Duawne and Carmen's journey remind you of the importance of friendship...
The purpose of hearing from the Lord...
And the beauty of his timing...

And then get on your knees and ask God to help you not to make things hard...
To be(come) the kind of woman who is both EASY and AMAZING!



Monday, July 20, 2015


"On Fire": Your Husband Must Love, NOURISH & CHERISH You


When I tell you that me and some of my *truly covenant convicted* friends (of which are married) are on the battlefield, fighting for some marriages in trouble right now (WHEW)! Words cannot describe!

And so...

If you haven't read an article that I've referenced before, please make the time to now:

No matter what pop culture is doing (Luke 6:26-Message) or how so much of the global Church is (UNFORTUNATELY) becoming so much like it, *divorce is not God's will*. Therefore, if you're dating someone and contemplating marriage right now and there are deal breakers (ANY KIND OF DEAL BREAKERS) in your mind, really pray about if they are truly the one for you. And if you're not dating someone but in your mind you've been saying "If he does so-and-so or such-and-such, I'm out"...really do more *biblical research* on God's true stance on marriage, on marital covenant. And remember that for the God of love (I John 4:8&16) to *hate anything* is something that we should certainly *not* want to be a part of.

And for those who are like "But the Word says that we can get a divorce for adultery, right?" (and by the way, that is the *only reason* mention), the author of the article leaves no stone unturned. Again, check out the article but the long-short of it is *Moses permitted divorce* due to the hard-heartedness of people in response to their partner but *nowhere in the Word* are we told that *God ordains divorce*. Why not? Because he doesn't.

So, if you are single and are considering dating a divorce person, *please don't*. Remember, this website is not about preparing people for simply marriage. This website is for the purpose of putting people in line for covenant. Two single people marrying one another for a lifetime. And/or a separated or divorced person who is seeking information and healing as it specifically relates to marital covenant.

And what if you already are divorced?

God forgives all sins (I John 1:9-10). Divorce is indeed a sin though and as with all transgressions, amends should be sought as much as possible. It's the sign of a changed heart towards the poor choices that we've made.

That said...

If your original partner is still single, the Word is clear. Remain single or be reconciled to your partner (I Corinthians 7:10-11). And honestly, the "ouch" is that even if they are married to someone else, this truth remains:

Once again, we need to return to the teaching of Jesus that (1) if a man divorces and remarries, he commits adultery, and (2) if a man divorces a woman (for whatever reason) and another man takes her as his wife, he is guilty of adultery (Matthew 5:32, 19:3‑11; Mark 10:212; Luke 16:18).
God does not permit remarriage after divorce, as long as the first partner is still alive. Although the marriage bond may be legally dissolved, the “one flesh” relationship (and the vows made to God) does not become non‑existent until the death of one of the partners.

Paul affirms this position on remarriage in I Corinthians 7:10‑15. Simply stated, he makes it clear that two married believers are not to be divorced. However, if they do divorce, only two options remain: they must remain unmarried, or be reconciled to their original partner (7:10,11).

Verses 12‑15 of I Corinthians 7 deal with a marriage between a believer and an unbeliever, a common situation in the early days of the church. Again, Paul's instructions are clear. The believer is not to leave; on the contrary, he is to do everything possible to preserve the marriage, and nothing to break it. The unbeliever must be allowed to stay as long as he is willing. Paul did recognize that the unbelieving partner in such a marriage might leave and divorce his mate, in which case the believer could not prevent it. But in no case was the believer free to remarry. Verse 39 establishes the conditions of remarriage: the death of the first mate, and that the new partner must be a believer.

The issue of remarriage after divorce is simplified by the question, “Did you vow, 'Till death do us part,' or 'Till divorce do us part'?” Although one partner may break his part of the vow and destroy the marriage, the other part of the vow must still be kept to God—”till death do us part.”

Nowhere does the Word say that divorced people are free to remarry. Period. Yet, *at the very least*, if you are divorced, *healing*, as much as possible, needs to be sought between you and your ex. It's amazing how people in a broken covenant will speak of their ex with bitterness (Hebrews 12:15), if not straight-up hatred (I John 4:20), when not only does the Word say that we should strive for reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:12-21) but to *love our enemies* and the Word explains how we are to do that:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect."---Matthew 5:43-48(NKJV)

The Word also tells us this:

"Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift."---Matthew 5:23-24(NKJV)

It doesn't say that if we've hurt someone, we should wait for them to come to us. It says that we are to humble ourselves and *go to them*. Yeah, that's been a bit of a challenge for me too. It's the Word's standard, though.


So what does all of this have to do with today's message? Well, being that a true covenant is until death, *no matter what*, then if/when you're in the process of dating, it's important---*imperative in fact*---that you not only pay attention to if the guy seems that he is capable of truly loving you (I Corinthians 13:4-8) but that he can *nourish and cherish* you too.

Yep, there are several covenant wives in my life who've admitted to me that while they know their husbands do indeed *love them*, they don't feel very *nourished and cherished*. You don't want to wait until you've taken vows before God (Ecclesiastes 5:1-7) before discovering that your husband is not committed to assisting you with your growth (especially spiritual growth) or that you're not being fully embraced with tenderness.

And how can you know whether or not "he" is lacking in these areas? Good question.

A wise man once said that it's just as important to know what you don't want as what you do and there is an article that I checked out entitled "30 Signs Of Emotional Abuse In A Relationship". I'll provide 10 of 'em:

They regularly demean or disregard your opinions, ideas, suggestions, or needs.
They accuse you of being “too sensitive” in order to deflect their abusive remarks.
They correct or chastise you for your behavior. 
They belittle and trivialize you, your accomplishments, or your hopes and dreams.
They make excuses for their behavior, try to blame others, and have difficulty apologizing.  
They are emotionally distant or emotionally unavailable most of the time. 
They don’t show you empathy or compassion.
They play the victim and try to deflect blame to you rather than taking personal responsibility.
They share personal information about you with others. 
They invalidate or deny their emotionally abusive behavior when confronted.

If you see *any* of this in your relationship, you're not even close to being nourished and cherished. And again, if there is not a concerted amount of effort being put forth to make sure that you're becoming better spiritually as a direct result of the relationship and if tenderness is not being provided when he's talking to you or in the *appropriate affection* that he is offering you, you're also not being nourished and cherished.

If this is indeed the case, am I saying break up with him?

I'll say this: *You're single* which means that *you are your top priority*, not your relationship.

Spend some time in prayer for godly wisdom (James 1:5).
Seek wise counsel (Proverbs 12:15 & 24:6).
*Be realistic* about who he is and if he's even interested in changing (Ecclesiastes 7:18-Message).

And then proceed, even if that means ending it, from there...

God loves us.
He's looking out for us in so many detailed and intricate ways.

A man loving you is not nearly enough...
You deserve to be nourished and cherished too...
Just as any godly husband should care for his wife!

Marriage---Christ and the Church
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband."---Ephesians 5:22-33(NKJV)



Sunday, July 19, 2015

"On Fire": E Pluribus Unum: Out of Many...One

God is so amazing...

Literally, right as I was sitting down to pen this, I got a text from a spiritual little sister that she and her husband had just gotten back from a trip. While they were there, they went digging for clams and one of them had a pearl in it and she/they wanted to give it to me.

Me: "How did that even come to your mind?"

Her (after a pause): "Umm...because you told me about you and them."

Me: "Awh! Thanks for remembering!"

Yet you know what? I get that it was probably the Holy Spirit more than anything else that was in action!

Yep. I do dig pearls.

My birthstone is a pearl, for one.

I have always like Matthew 7:6's warning about not casting pearls before swine, for two.

I also like what pearls symbolize: Purity, Spiritual Transformation, Charity, Honesty, Wisdom and Integrity. There are also authors who say that pearls are a symbol for Christ Himself.

However, it's *the timing* (Acts 1:7-Message) of her text that is truly extraordinary because, as I've shared before, one of my favorite parables is also about a pearl:

"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)

One of the things I've asked God for concerning my future husband is that he'll be an awesome *spiritual appraiser*.  And yes, this means that he'll need to have spiritual maturity (Hebrews 5:12-14, Matthew 19:11-12-Message) and impeccable spiritual discernment (I Corinthians 2:14). 'Cause you see, one of the main things that I like so much about the Parable of the Pearl is the fact that it speaks to a merchant, *a man*, who was among lots of pearls...and yet, *he settled on just one*.


That's why, when the Latin phrase "E Pluris Unum" popped up as the Word of the Day on Dictionary several days ago, I jotted it down and told myself that it needed to be an "On Fire" post. Aside from the fact that the phrase is super on-point, it goes right in line with something that the Lord said to me fairly recently:

"Shellie, don't trust your choice. *Surrender it*."

Yesterday, I was talking to someone and I was like "When, *oh when*, are we going to get back to the Garden of Eden when it comes to how we decide to live out our lives?" (Joel 2:3) For instance, personally, I really like the fact that Jeremiah 17:7-8(Message) says this:

"But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God. They’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers---Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season."

And you know what? In the Garden, Adam didn't pursue and the Woman didn't chase. They let *God* do the matchmaking. And yes, the story of how they both came together (Genesis 2:18-24-25) indicates that this was a man and a woman who fully and totally trusted God. And through it all, their marriage lasted. Until death parted them.

It all brings me back to an article that I read on a Jewish website that I like entitled "The Matchmaker":

The story is told that a Roman matron once asked Rabbi Yose: "How has your G-d been occupying his time since He finished the creation of the world?" "He has been busy pairing couples," answered the Rabbi.

She was astonished. "Is that His trade? Even I can do that job. As many man-servants and maid-servants as I have, I can pair."

"Perhaps it is a simple matter in your eyes," replied the Rabbi. "For G-d, it is as intricate as the splitting of the sea."

She promptly placed one thousand man-servants opposite one thousand maid-servants and declared, "He will marry her, she will marry him," and so on.

The next morning, two thousand servants came to her door, beaten and bruised, complaining, "I do not want her, I do not want him!"

She sent for Rabbi Yose, and conceded: "Rabbi, your Torah is true." The Talmud explains: Matchmaking was a simple matter in her eyes because she, unlike G-d, could not understand the fundamental differences in the human character that militate against one stranger being successfully matched with another.

There is no doubt, the Talmudic Sages conclude, that G-d Himself had to be the first and ultimate shadkhan (matchmaker). Who else could blend two disparate personalities so that they cleave together "as one flesh?" Did he not arrange the union of Adam and Eve? The conclusion was irresistible, and it was written no fewer than five times in midrashic literature: "Marriages are made in Heaven."

*Marriages are made in heaven*. Or at least, they are supposed to be. One thing that all of us need to keep in mind about God and his perfect will is "I know that whatever God does, It shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, And nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear before Him." (Ecclesiastes 3:14-NKJV) Yes, a part of the reason why Christ said that what God joins, *no man is to separate* (including the two spouses involved--Matthew 19:6) is because, since the beginning of time, since the Garden of Eden and the very first marriage, a marital union, *no matter what*, was designed to last forever.

That's why we need to be *very careful* about declaring what kind of relationship is of God. If it truly is of him, there will be spiritual fruit (Matthew 12:33) and an amazing tenacity (I Corinthians 13:4-8) that will confirm it.

Not only that, but if it is of God, there will be no need to be anxious (Philippians 4:6-7) during the waiting time (Romans 8:22-29-Message) because you will know that God is making both you and him whole (James 1:4) and spiritually insightful enough to make *the best choice*: GOD'S CHOICE.

Out of the millions and millions of people on the planet...

Your future husband will be wise enough to choose you.
You will be wise enough to choose him in return.

Whatever else is going on in the world won't matter...

Someone else's looks won't matter.
Someone else's accomplishments won't matter.
Even someone else who is interested won't matter.

Why? Because you and he will be trusting God to be your matchmaker...
You will have the faith that, out of so many, he will unite the two of you. Perfectly. (Psalm 18:30-32)

One spiritual sistah to another, please do what God told me to do...

Don't spend so much time choosing...
Surrender your choice.

So that you can know what it's like to have a marriage that is truly made in heaven.
So that you can proudly say someday "Out of the many, I am my husband's chosen one!"



Saturday, July 11, 2015

"On Fire": 7 Huge 'Acting Married' Mistakes That Single Gals Make (A LOT)

"It’s best to stay in touch with both sides of an issue. A person who fears God deals responsibly with all of reality, not just a piece of it."---Ecclesiastes 7:18(Message)

OK. So...

While I'm preparing for the next devotional that I'm going to pen about waiting vs. settling, I peeped an article entitled "Top 10: Signs She's Settling for You" on a men's website.

I know, right? Not signs that *he's settling* but *you are*. I'm just gonna share the bullet points from 10-1; feel free to click on the link for more details:

You have logical discussions, not passionate ones
Routine is the foundation of your relationship
You don't spend time together, yet she talks of marriage
You don't have much in common
Her views on love are jaded
She describes your relationship as "nice"
Parenthood is her main excitement
Your world is ordinary rather than special
Conversation is practical, not personal

[1 is irrelevant because we're not having sex yet. Or anymore. RIGHT?!?]

The reason why I think this is a good way to start off this particular message is because it reminds me of something that a wife once told me as I was going on and on (and on...and on) to her about problems that I was having with my boyfriend at the time.

Her (after a sigh): "Shellie, you're not like me. You didn't make any vows to God. You're single. You don't have to tolerate all of that. All you have to do is break up."

At first I was like "Whaaaat?" Then, after internally ranting about how insensitive she was being about my relationship for a few days, something...just...clicked. She was right! Even though I broke every rule that I'm about to share when it came to my relationship and even though doing that caused my heart to deceive me (Jeremiah 17:9) into believing that I was "basically married", I really and truly wasn't. If I was that unhappy/dissatisfied, I owed that man nothing. I was free to bounce. And I should have...way before I actually did.

That's a huge part of the reason why I oftentimes say when I'm public speaking...

What wives go through? That is called "commitment".
When single women oftentimes send themselves through? That is usually called "settling".

And yes, a lot of women, because they don't date properly, appropriately or responsibly, they find themselves settling for a stagnant boyfriend rather than waiting for the right man to become their husband.

There are a lot of reasons why this is the case (fear, desperation, low self-esteem, pop culture, coveting, envy, impatience, etc.); today I'm going to share only one of them. It's one that isn't discussed nearly as much as it should be, but it's also one that I'm coming to realize is a truly toxic practice. Not only because it hinders women from truly and fully embracing each relational season as it comes (when you're single *act single*, when you're engaged *act engaged* and when you're married *act married*) but because it actually causes many of them to prepare to divorce rather than marriage.

Just look at the cycle (Proverbs 26:11):

Date. Act married. Break up.
Date a new guy. Act married to him. Break up with him too.
Find another guy to get over the other two guys. Act *really married* with him. Break up again.

See my point?

And so yes, since a man or woman who fears God is called to deal with the reality---the facts---of things and deal responsibly with them at that, here's a reality check that all of us tend to need from time to time:


And the best way to keep this all in check is to pay attention to the signs of acting married when you're simply not:

You're having sex. I can't remember if I recently mentioned it here but I definitely did in one of the devotionals that I recently penned. After listening to two men talk about not being ready for a marital relationship (although they have sex and one of them has a serious girlfriend), I interjected and said "This is our fault. If we refused to have sex with you until you married us, you'd have no choice but to get married, become homosexual or masturbate." They paused for a moment, shrugged their shoulders and then said "Yeah" basically simultaneously. Ugh! Sex is not for single people. *Sex is for married people* (Hebrews 13:4). There are no exceptions. *At all*. Adding to that, I'm a firm believer that when two people were raised with the understanding that sex before marriage (not "married in your hearts" but *legally bound*) is wrong and they partake anyway, a breach of trust  transpires. A woman doesn't totally believe that the man will protect her (or nourish and cherish her--Ephesians 5:25-33) because he's already uncovered her and a man doesn't totally believe that the woman is a good helper (Genesis 2:18) because she's helped him to sin. If you're having sex with your boyfriend, that's *acting married* and trust me, sooner or later, the physical pleasure will not outweigh the spiritual consequences (Psalm 106:15, James 1:14-15, I Corinthians 6:16-20-Message)...*even if you do end up getting married*. Most of the married people I know who had sex before marriage, in hindsight, wish that they never had. Satan *only comes* to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10) and sexual sin is a temptation (I Corinthians 10:13) for a reason. He's not "hooking you up". He's "bating you in". BIG. DIFFERENCE.

You're sleeping together (even without sex). If the only thing that made a marriage intimate was the fact that a husband and wife could have sex, then they could still live in separate houses and have sleepovers. My point? *The marriage bed* is sacred across the board. And so, sleeping with your boyfriend is also a not a girlfriend right but a wife privilege. If you live in the same city, time your dates to where you are not too sleepy to drive home to your own place. If you live out of town, it's pretty impressive if he's able to put you into a hotel. Yeah, it might sound antiquated but more than that, it's *spiritually/sexually safe*. Plus, it will give the two of you just one more thing to look forward to *after* you're married. Some of the wives in my life tell me that some of their fondest memories of their husband is spooning with him during the middle of the night or early in the morning. Girlfriends shouldn't be chiming into that sentiment. Besides, how would you feel if you knew that you were just one of many that he did that with? Not too hot, huh? Wanna throw out the mattress, eh? *Even if there was no sex?* Yeah, why *is* that?'s intimate and special? #checkmate

You claim you're not single. Yeah, this is actually a really big pet peeve of mine. Listen, everyone (EVERY SINGLE PERSON ON PLANET EARTH) who is not married is single. There are only two exceptions. If you're divorced, you're also not single. You're divorced (which is why God tells divorced people that if it is at all possible, they should try and reconcile with their ex--I Corinthians 7:10-11). And widows are free to marry someone new (I Corinthians 7) but they do bear the title "widow" until they do. Everyone else? SINGLE. Yeah, I know some of y'all are like "What about the engaged couples?" I hear you but technically, *they are still single* too. You can't check "engaged" on your taxes. You don't earn the rights that married people do by getting engaged and (praise the Lord!) breaking off an engagement does not fall into the category of what God hates: divorce (Malachi 2:16). This is something to keep in mind because when you're walking around telling people that you're not single or changing social media statuses to reflect that your not single, even if it's on the subconscious level, it conditions you to think that you're "off the market" and "off limits". A man who takes vows before God to care for you for the rest of his days is the one who takes you off of the market! Until then, you are free to...consider other possibilities. Sadly, a lot of people---especially women---rob themselves of all of the joy and opportunities that come during their season of singleness. And what if you are in a serious relationship? I'll say this: If it's *so serious* what the hold up on the *legal* status shift? And if it's because you feel that you are too young, then you're probably *also* too young to be in something so serious in the first place. Bottom line: Unless you have a marriage license and a wedding band, when someone asks you if you're single, the answer is "yes". Enjoy it! If you plan on being as responsible in your marriage as God expects you to be (Ecclesiastes 7:1-5), there will be no going back once you're married. So really...what's the rush?

You command monogamy. SMH. True confession: As much as I write about relationships, guess what I just discovered a couple of weeks ago? *The true definition of monogamy*. And you know what? NO ONE IS MONOGAMOUS BUT MARRIED FOLKS. And technically, married folks who have only been married one time! The definition is "the practice of marrying only once during life". For the record, another is "marriage with only one person at a time" but again, unless your spouse dies, God is expecting you to live out the first definition. So, if you're dating someone and people ask you "So, are y'all monogamous?", the answer should be "no". *You ain't married, so you ain't monogamous*. And you know what else? Unless you're engaged to one another, there shouldn't be a ton of pressure for the two of you to be exclusive either. Are you gasping? Hear me out: Spending years only seeing each other serves what purpose? If you're ready to enter into that kind of territory, again, *why not get married*? And if you're not ready for marriage, *why rush (or is it force?) exclusivity*? All that does is set people up for being expected to "not cheat" and yeah, that's another big no-no to me. How is some guy "cheating on you" when he's not *married to you*? Adultery is not a word that is to be tossed around lightly or loosely. *Vows were taken for that to truly transpire*. Some guy who you are not in covenant with, no matter how much the two of you care for one another, did not *cheat on you* if he decided to talk to another girl or even sleep with another girl (if he did the latter, he was disloyal to himself and God). He may have *lied* (also a problem), but you are not his wife. Therefore he did not *cheat*. That said, marriage should represent a monumental transition from the single state. But how is that a big deal when you and he were acting married way before your wedding day? Trust me, you're going to feel a lot more secure in your marriage if a man chooses you out of all of the possibilities that he had *while he was single* rather than being with you because he's expected to after *being on lock down* during his single years. Date? Sure. Get closer? Within reason. Feel like you can't ever take a date with someone else or even be attracted to someone and you're not some man's wife? Yeah, that's over the top. Single people need to act single. Until *both of those single people* are mutually ready to marry one another. Until then, monogamy, for them, does *not* exist.

You're all up in his family (and vice versa). After my last boyfriend, which was over a decade ago now, my mother implemented a rule: No more bringing me into your relationships until it's time for me to get my "big white hat". The hat is code for her wedding day attire. The rule is inspired by the fact that when we bring the people we date into our families and things don't work out, *we're not the only ones who have to grieve that out*. So do they! And it's not fair. Not by a long shot. So, am I saying that the first time your parents should meet your significant other is at your engagement party? No. What I *am* saying is 1) a guy really needs to show the signs, fruit and character of truly being a significant other *first* and 2) a guy doesn't need to be treated like "one of the family" until he actually *is* one of the family. Your future husband has earned the privilege and right to call your parents "mom" and "dad" and to spend all sorts of holidays with them. A boyfriend? Unless he donated one of them a kidney or something, what did he possibly do to get that kind of right? Same goes for you and his family. Families are sacred ground and should be honored as such. Plus, their hearts need to be guarded and protected too. If your family is a part of your accountability team, that's one thing. But bringing your boyfriend home for Christmas just so the two of you can be cuddled up in your mom's living room especially when there are no guarantees that he'll be there next year? Yeah...rethink that. *For real*.

You have access to his personal accounts. Unless you pay your boyfriend's internet and smartphone accounts (and if you do, that's another blog for another time because why can't he afford to pay for those things himself?!?), what are you doing having access to his social media accounts, email and smartphone? *You are not his mother or his wife*. Whatever is going on is *his* business. If you don't trust him, *why are you with him*? And if he "can't talk" to the opposite sex, that's unhealthy anyway. Same goes for him having access to all of your info. A part of the joy of being single---a single adult---is you're answerable to the Lord, not some guy you're dating. Submission is a privilege (Colossians 3:17) he has to earn. Therefore, it's none of your boyfriend's business who you're talking to *unless you choose to tell him*. And the same goes for him. If you don't like this particular point, you should really ponder (Proverbs 4:26) long and hard about why you want to be all up in one another's stuff to begin with. My recommendation: "Police less" and *pray more*. The awesome thing about taking that approach to dating is you can trust that God will reveal to you just and only what you *need* to know. And you'll get the information without being a controlling stalker or a meddling snoop.

You're calling your *boyfriend* your "husband". I used to do this and one of my married friends would correct me every time: "Shellie, *you* don't have a husband. *I* do. I earned the right to use that word. You haven't yet." At the time, just like with the other wife, I thought she as being "too much" but basically, she's right. I ain't got no hubby, I ain't no man's wifey either. I'm Shellie Renee' Warren and until a man goes to God and asks for me to "get on his team" and take his last name (and I agree that it's what's best), the guys that I date have their name while I have mine; titles are irrelevant and unnecessary. Pet names are cute to a point but nothing even remotely close to husband or wife should be referenced. At all. Ever.

I'll say this: Satan is slick. By getting us into the practice of "playing house", even outside of "shacking up", it desensitizes us. Just like we get all hot and heavy with boyfriends and then "break up", we then find ourselves moving into marriage with a very similar mentality. Yet if certain things were off limits before getting married, they'd be held in higher (much higher) esteem after.

I already know. Some of y'all ain't gonna listen to any of this...
Yet one day you'll look up and realize, I really shouldn't have acted married before marriage.

Here's praying you don't have to learn it the hard (full of regret) way)...

You're single.
Don't act married.
Until you *are* married.

Amen? Amen.




Sound investments.

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so true