Lost in Translation: A Lovers’ Quarrel

Wouldn’t it be nice if people came with warning labels? Like cigarettes and cleaning products. Sure they have a purpose; but when used incorrectly or too frequently, can be hazardous. I need to stop playing and start this new business for the good of suckers hopeless romantics everywhere cause love will make you do some crazy things.

lgsijd

Another one bites the dust. It was all good just a week ago. Not really, but enough with the lyrics. Who I thought was my next is now my ex. Hindsight 20/20 I knew this was coming, but we made the mistake so many of us fall prey to: we believed in what could be instead of seeing things for what they really were. If you ask couples who have stood the tests of time what are some of the key ingredients to lasting love, you’ll hear some of the same answers: put God first, communicate well, and learn to trust one another. (That’s not all of them, just some that I repeatedly hear.) Our relationship lacked all of those, so it’s no surprise we didn’t make it. I’m not angry, sad, bitter, or anywhere in between. The truth of the matter is we didn’t speak the same language.

I loved you. You loved me too. But love didn’t mean the same thing for the both of us. For you, love meant doing anything to make your significant other happy. Anyone who didn’t do the same was putting conditions on their love. I don’t speak “Anything Goes”. That kind of love is dangerous territory. For God so loved the world that he gave (John 3:16). But for what purpose did He give? It wasn’t so you could be happy. No, the purpose of his giving was much greater than that. To base what you do for a person solely on the fickle emotions he or she may have at the moment is precarious.

I talked to you. You talked to me too. But nothing ever sounded the same. For you, honesty meant keeping it real and never holding your tongue. It made you feel comfortable to speak freely and frank. Anyone who couldn’t handle the truth needed to grow a pair. I don’t speak “Rant and Rave”. Evil communication corrupts good manners (1 Corinthians 15:33).  Our words have more power than we give them credit for. If God can speak things into existence, is it so far-fetched to think that what we say can either develop or degrade someone? A vast vocabulary is useless when it causes strife.

I wanted a lot. You wanted a lot too. But your ambition had no boundaries. It was all or nothing. Black or white. Always at one end of the spectrum but never a happy medium. I don’t speak “0 to 100 Real Quick”. I have learned to be content regardless of the circumstance (Philippians 4:11). It’s easier to find balance within your life when you work on the things you can control and let go of the things you can’t. I’m carefree but not careless. I felt and still feel that I will have my happily ever after. Whether it was with you or someone else wasn’t something I worried about. Sorry if that made me seem unattached.

You had warning labels. I guess I did too. Maybe we didn’t read the fine print.

Detours of Faith

I usually start my day around 6:45 a.m. to get my 8 year old son ready for school. I drop him off around 7:20 in the morning. I return home, get dressed, and go to work at 8:30 a.m. Today, my terrific Thursday decided to take a detour from the norm. I couldn’t start my car! My son and I went back into the house. He usually eats breakfast at school. Since I would have to walk him there, he wouldn’t have enough time to go the cafeteria. I prepared some oatmeal and turkey sausage for him instead.fall

There’s a paved walking path in front of our apartment complex which passes by my son’s school. The start of the trail is in the opposite direction of the road we drive on to get to his school. As we began walking, my son asked, “Where are we going? I thought we were going to school?” I assured him that was exactly where we were headed. A few minutes later surrounded by trees, grass, and leaves he asked again if I was sure how to get there. I repeated, “We are going to your school.” In the warmer months, I run on this trail. I knew where it would lead us because I had been in a place where my son had not yet travailed. What’s funnier is the second time my son (about 1 foot shorter than me) doubted my sense of direction, I could already see the building close ahead of us.

In those moments of our walk, God reminded me of His character. He knows my ending before I begin (Isaiah 46:10). He is a guide lighting my path (Psalms 119:105). Regardless of how confused or lost I may feel, my steps are ordered when I focus on Him (Psalms 37:23). He is all knowing; even before I can fix myself to pray (Psalms 139:4). Nothing is beyond His comprehension (Psalms 147:5).

I’m the type of person who likes to make plans and know what’s going to happen before it happens. It’s hard to let others take control, but God can be trusted as a navigator. He already knows the who, what, when, where, why and how of every matter I encounter.control

My day started off rocky, but I was taken care of in the Master’s hands. On my walk back home, I called my auto insurance company for roadside assistance. Within 5 minutes of returning home someone had arrived to give me a jump. I drove to the same auto parts store where I purchased my last battery 2 years ago. The warranty for a free replacement expired after 36 months. Somehow, someway, when I offered the store associate my receipt from the previous purchase, he said he didn’t need it. (I assumed my info was in their computer system.) Even still, I should have gotten an $82 credit towards the purchase of a new battery. Instead, I wasn’t charged anything. He replaced my battery and sent me on my merry way.

God will prepare you for what’s ahead. Let Him take the lead. Don’t be discouraged by your surroundings and the scenery. He knows the right way and the right time.

Each One Teach One: My First Family Bible Study

mom and son artMy 8-year-old son’s father committed suicide in 2012. It’s hard to explain to a child why he isn’t going to see his daddy anymore. It’s even more challenging to talk about what happens after a person dies considering I’m a Christian and his father (and his family) is Jehovah’s Witness. Though his questions may be difficult to answer, I can’t allow him to be misguided.

He’s on punishment this week for previous misconduct. Usually I’d give him busy work and reading assignments since he can’t enjoy playing his Nintendo DS or watching television. Instead, I printed a Bible-in-a-year reading plan that he and I are going to begin. I’ve read the Bible before but not with complete understanding. The first time around, finishing was more of a concern than applying God’s word. This time I aim not only to gain understanding but to help build my son’s faith as we seek the answers to so many of his burning questions.

600-00934291I have a paperback New King James Version as well has a hardback New Living Translation Bible. Since we would be reading together, I opted to bring the English Standard Version of the Bible up on my computer so that we could view a larger print/font. I also opened an additional webpage for the dictionary to clarify words he didn’t yet know the meaning of.

At the start of our session I explained to him why we were going to read together. Whether its biology, geometry, or U.S. history; many of the things he will be taught in school will be instructed through the use of a text-book. An acronym I learned as a child growing up in church stated B.I.B.L.E. stand for basic instructions before leaving earth. This is the most important book he will ever read. Also, in the same manner you may discover something new after watching a movie you’ve already seen; you can never stop learning from the gems of the Bible. Lastly, it’s important to not only know the answer but to know why you know the answer. I want his faith in God to be biblically based, not just a form of tradition or blind faith-based on what Momma said.

On the first night we covered Genesis 1-3. When he began reading, I could tell he was excited. He read as if he were proclaiming the good news in front of a congregation. There was so much cheer and pride in his voice. We stopped in between the verses as they described the days of creation to review. After finishing chapter 1, I gave him a worksheet where he could match each day to what God did on that day. He worked through it the same way he has a tendency to rush through his homework for the sake of finishing and moving on to “play time”. I asked, “Why are you rushing? What do you plan on doing after this? You’re not going to watch television or play any of your games, so you might as well take your time and do this right.” He started to cry. I was angry but didn’t want to chastise him in a way that would cause him to relate Bible study to a chore or a punishment. It was neither. It was a privilege and likened to a treasure hunt.

After summarizing the gift and importance of reading the Bible with intention, things went smoothly. Chapter 2 describes the creation of man and chapter 3 narrates the fall of man. He has heard the story before from children’s church but not with the depth in which we read I presume. What did God tell Adam? What did Eve tell the serpent? How were they different? How did the serpent tempt Eve? Why didn’t Adam say anything to stop her? What was the first thing Adam and Eve did after they sinned? He offered his own opinions to my probing questions.adam & eve

We were having fun until it was time for him to complete the rest of his worksheets. There was a word search, a crossword puzzle, a maze, and key words to unscramble. It was after his bedtime of 9 o’clock when he groaned he couldn’t find everything on the word search. He had found them all except 2. I glanced at the sheet to make sure they were there and told him to keep trying. I walked away but heard him start to cry…again. The Bible lesson turned into a life lesson. There’s a saying that you don’t cry over spilled milk, or in other words, things that don’t matter. As upsetting as his response to the worksheet was, it reminded me that people (adults included) have a similar reaction to challenges. We give up too easily. We aren’t willing to work on something that takes more time than expected. We want answers (and much more) handed to us. Matthew 7:7 says to seek in order to find. Not cry and find. Not complain and find. Not procrastinate and find. Seek! He eventually found the last 2 words but not until I confirmed that they were there. I ignited his hope. If he truly believed the words weren’t there he would have given up; maybe even pretended as if he had found them just so he could finish.

I truly enjoyed our time together with God through His word. My foundation of faith began as a child and now my son’s will too.

Mr. Tacky McCreepster: 9 Side Eye Worthy Things Women Wish Men Wouldn’t Do

princeLast year was the first (and last) time I have ever lent a guy money. We had been dating for a short time; maybe 6 or 7 weeks. His request seemed simple and harmless. One day we were walking together in Wal-Mart. I was picking up a few items. The only thing he needed to purchase was a calling card for his cell phone’s pre-paid plan. We got to the checkout lane, he put his item next to mine, and asked me to buy it assuring me he’d pay me back. I didn’t want to make a scene or cut him with my eyes. I paid for it under the assumption that he would pay me back. He never did. That relationship was short-lived; mostly because he was a liar, not just worthless cheap.

Fast forward to current day. I met a guy about 5 weeks ago. We’ve hung out a few times, have good conversation on the phone as well as in person, and he’s even visited my church. Today he told me there’s a 3 day certification course he wants to take to enhance his business, but he doesn’t have sufficient cash to sign up for it. I’m like, “and?” Why is he asking for my help? Do people think I’m well off? Even so, we don’t know each other like that. He’s not my family, and that’s the only exception when it comes to a man asking for money in my view. I told him to kick rocks try a Go Fund Me page. I’m so turned off right now and feel it might be helpful to let the fellas know the tacky, tired, and annoying things men do that us ladies wish they wouldn’t. Some of these may apply to both sexes, smh.

  1. If the street harassment video has taught you nothing else, please stop commanding telling us to smile. No one walks around with a permanent smile on their face. That’s just creepy.
  2. 1Stop being a lazy dater with this, “let’s chill” or “hang out” nonsense. I understand you may have been taken advantage of in the past by thirsty (and hungry) broads, but don’t make the next chick pay for the past chick’s transgressions. If you’re truly interested in getting to know a woman, be willing to invest your time and attention into her via a date. Not all dates require you to shell out loads of cash. Be creative (which we appreciate also).2
  3. Chill on social media. I made the mistake of adding someone as a friend to my Facebook page too soon and he went stalker mode on me. He liked 80+ pics…in ONE night!3
  4. Learn to take rejection graciously. True story…I left a bar downtown when this guy standing about 20 yards away catcalled me. First of all, why are you yelling like a negro uncivilized brute? I ignored him and proceeded across the street to my car. He then says, “Oh you can’t talk to nobody? I hope you get hit (by a car).”4
  5. Stop lying. If your mother hasn’t taught you this by now, when a woman asks a question, she usually knows the answer but wants to hear your response. A woman’s intuition is real.5
  6. Don’t ask for my number if you’re not going to use it. I don’t know why this happens, but it’s very confusing.8
  7. Be assertive, not aggressive. Shy guys will likely finish last. The worst thing a guy can do when he’s out with his boys is to send his wingman to a woman (or a group of women) like a pre-qualification application. Women need to feel safe. If you’re too scared to approach me, what confidence could I ever have that you’re “man enough” to protect me?9
  8. Stop expecting a trophy when you aren’t the real MVP aka have realistic expectations (men and women). Don’t expect more than you’re willing to give. If you want a woman with an hourglass figure who can cook while balancing the checkbook, be sure you’re that hardworking man with a six-pack who can change the car’s oil after taking out the trash (without being told to). 6
  9. Stop going MIA. Consistency is key. I despise the “hey stranger” texts and phone calls months after no contact. Be hot or cold, in or out. *A side note about communication* One day I will be married. I will see and/or communicate with my spouse daily. The boyfriend/girlfriend stage is like a prerequisite for what is (hopefully) to come. If a man can willingly go a full 7 days without speaking to me, that’s a red flag. 7

Ladies, what else am I missing? And I know the guys have some rebuttals for me. That’s okay. Communication is like a coin. There are two sides. You can’t have one without the other, and together they have value.

The Value Equation

xboxI am a single mother of an 8 year old boy. Not too long ago he told me he wanted an Xbox for Christmas. I know a lot of kids his age, including some of his friends and cousins, have gaming consoles. I’m still not prepared to spend what I feel is a considerable amount of money on a child’s gift. My son has many positive attributes. He’s well mannered, funny, inquisitive, optimistic, and full of energy. Despite his many strengths, he’s also irresponsible. I have to remind him to wash his face, use lotion, clean his room, bring his jacket home from school, stop rushing through homework, clean the table after he’s eaten, etc. I suppose these are things all children have to be reminded of and shouldn’t be used to say he is undeserving of an Xbox. I’m just not sure. I guess my fear is that since he doesn’t take care of the little things, he won’t take care of something on a larger scale either. I’ve already heard a friend complain her son has lost some of his games. Thus far my answer isn’t necessarily no, just not right now.

tabletI don’t subscribe to Netflix nor do I watch DVDs for this purchase to benefit me. Another friend with children my son’s age offered an alternative which I may pursue. A tablet can be loaded with more educational games than what we’d likely purchase for an Xbox. It’s also less expensive and something I may be able to employ during the times he is on punishment from its use.

He already has a Nintendo DS. He loves that thing more so than any of his other toys. Children and adults share something in common. We treasure what’s important to us. It is that which we we are willing to invest in. My son may forget to bring his jacket home from school, but he wouldn’t dare leave his Nintendo DS behind. It holds more value to him.

anointJohn 12 records the story of Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, anointing Jesus’ feet with a pound of expensive, fragrant oil. Judas Iscariot, one of the 12 disciples, complained that the oil could have been sold for 300 denarii and given to the poor instead. A denarius was the equivalent of a working man’s daily wage, therefore, 300 denarii would represent about one year’s salary. Interestingly, once Judas found an opportune time to betray Jesus, he did so for 30 pieces of silver (representing the price of a slave according to Exodus 21:32). John MacArthur writes in his book Twelve Ordinary Men, “The contrast is staggering: Our Lord is anointed with overwhelming love by Mary and betrayed with overwhelming hate by Judas at the same time.”

A comparison between the actions of Mary and Judas cause me to question, what is it worth? My son wants an Xbox, so maybe I’ll ask him what he’s willing to do to work for it. Likewise, when I find myself unhappy in a situation, I need to ask myself what I’m willing to do to change things. Mary and Judas knew the truth about who Jesus was yet they had very different responses. This also reminds me to not be disappointed with how others treat me. People are capable of anything. The same mouth that blesses the Lord also curses people who were made in His image (James 3:9). It would be wise for me to take heed to the way I’m treated because it likely reflects how much that individual values me.count

Rules of Disengagement

Have you ever had a friend where it seems like every time you talk to him or her there’s a new boo in their life? I’m that girl…well, kind of. I hung out with an acquaintance recently, and she inquired about my love life. You know how it goes with questions like, “Hey, are you still talking to such-and-such?” “What’s new with you? Seeing anyone?” I laugh at myself internally when answering because I know the person she may be referencing is long gone given such a short time span. I’m not a serial dater. I just keeping it moving when I know things aren’t right. Here are the three questions I try to ask myself to decide if I should move forward with a budding relationship.

  1. Is it a win-win situation?

bendIn 2011, I had a boyfriend. For privacy’s sake, let’s pretend his name is Leon. After 3 or 4 months of dating I broke things off with him due to a misunderstanding. We reconnected about 2 months after our initial break-up. As much as I liked him (and he liked me), it still wasn’t working for me. I felt like I was getting the short end of the stick. Not to sound arrogant, but he was the one reaping the benefits of our relationship. Both parties need to be realistic and willing to give just as much as they expect to get out of the relationship. Compromise requires you to bend, not break. If I ever feel like someone is “mooching” off of me, I’ll be gone fast.

  1. Would I feel shame or embarrassment introducing this person to my family and friends?

or nah1About 5 years ago I dated a man who was 18 years older than me. I have never made it a habit to date older men and typically wouldn’t be attracted to someone that much older than me, but he was a complete sweet heart. If ever a woman wanted to be treated like a queen, he fit the bill. Although there was nothing wrong with him as a person, I still felt weird about introducing him to my family and never did. Their assured disapproval made me think twice about whether or not he was someone I should be with. I liked him but he was in love with me. We agreed we weren’t quite right for each other long-term and broke up.

  1. If my best friend were in the same situation, what advice would I give her/him?

girl byeSimilar to question #2, this helps me to be more objective about what’s really going on. Sometimes (but not always) people from the outside looking in have more clarity because they don’t have a multitude of emotions blocking what should be common sense.

I don’t know if it’s a woman’s intuition, the spirit of discernment, or high detecting BS sensors that are at work. Maybe it’s a combination of sorts. When it comes to love and relationships, I’ve never been afraid to let go of what (or who) I have because there’s an undying hope that I will have my happily-ever-after with a man God has purposed me to marry. Letting go can be simpler than people make it. If you have a $20 bill in your hand, would you be reluctant to give it away when you know you’ve got a winning lottery ticket in your back pocket? Put your faith into action and divorce your past so you can marry your future.

tao

Ramblings After Church

My eight year old son is a know-it-all (like his mother). He likes to be right and will confidently state his case despite his error(s). One day in the car he quizzed himself. He said things like, “I know what 100 + 100 is. I know how to spell Mississippi.” Somewhere in the sequence of proclaiming his brilliance, he told me he knew how to spell apple. He began, “A-P-P.” Giggles. He started again, “A-P-P.” More giggles. Pee-pee may sound funny to an eight year old but not so much to a more mature person.

frustrated As children often can, I find myself easily frustrated. It’s a challenge I have to work on since it is foolish to quickly be provoked to anger (Ecclesiastes 7:9). People like me can become frustrated when things don’t happen as expected. There is a difference between time and seasons. Time is continual but seasons are cyclical. We can’t maximize our time if we haven’t learned from seasons past. We serve a God who does not operate in time but in eternity. Our finite minds can’t always comprehend why God hasn’t done it yet. Maybe it is a job, a spouse, or peace of mind. Whatever it is, we shouldn’t resent the process.

I may be simplifying things too much, but I’ve always felt that if I want something Irejection don’t yet have there are likely two reasons. Either it’s not ready for me, or I’m not ready for it. I recently heard a sermon that encouraged me greatly as I am in a season of waiting. Pastor Marcus Johnson of Hungry Church said, “If the place you’re headed exceeds your maturity level God will delay you to prepare you.” This can be illustrated in the book of Exodus. Twelve spies were chosen to scout the land the Israelites were soon to inherit. Ten spoke in fear while two, Joshua and Caleb, brought back a favorable report. Recall that the Israelites wondered in the wilderness for 40 years as opposed to taking a shorter route. Do you ever feel like it’s taking an exponentially longer amount of time than expected to accomplish some things? Sometimes there must be a season of separation. God had to allow an entire generation of doubting, whining, ungrateful, and forgetful people to die off before those with faith could reach the promised land. If you think your crew, posse, family, friends or whoever you’re connected to aren’t an issue then maybe there’s something within you that God has to cut off. God doesn’t want anyone to go into a promised land with an Egyptian mindset.

sacrifice Another issue Pastor Johnson reminded me of is at what expense we pursue certain things. We shouldn’t pray beyond our level of sacrifice. Let’s say you’re shopping for a pair of pants and you only have $60 to spend. You pick a pair you like and it costs $50. You would likely buy the pants because you can afford to. However, you could also decide not to buy the pants if you feel it isn’t worth your $50. Your choice confirms how much you want those pants and what you’re willing to do to get them.  That was a fairly simple example but things get complicated when you add faith to the mix. Can you let go of what you can see in hopes of getting that which you cannot see?