The content for this blog has been on my heart for quite a while. I would discern new things. It’s something that will always be relevant in my walk with Christ. It is something that will always be relevant for a Christian period. Doesn’t need much of an introduction. The title is… When You Become A Christian.

*I find these things to be common happenings amongst many Christians…old and new. Although I am mainly speaking for myself… I feel as though I am speaking for many others in their walk with Christ.

When you become a Christian

A glow appears all over your body…like radiance. Like an outer-body experience. A new you. All things of this world you once desired, you no longer lust after. You actually become physically sick at the thought of it. Everyone around you will praise you for your decision to give your life over and encourage you in your walk. Tangible blessings will just be pouring left and right to the point where it may overwhelm you. Life.Is.Amazing.

But forreal… that’s what you would like to think right? Don’t work that way bruh. COMPLETE OPPOSITE!

The enemy starts to come with the heavy hitters. Blind-side you. Now that Christ is your foundation, pray for the Holy Spirit to give you strength to deny the enemy so that he will flee. When he arises to bring strife in your life, stand firm on His word and promises to know that all will work out for your good and you can endure.  Sounds WAAAAAAY easier than it is..because it is easier said than done. But just like with anything else, practice makes perfect…or intentionally living for God makes the enemy’s attempt easier to deny.

Your past will always be brought up. People enjoy reminiscing in YOUR past. Constantly bringing up all the people you hooked up with after parties, all the times you blacked out from too many shots, how many white castle burgers you ate after smoking 5 blunts…. Whatever was your poison back in your worldly days. In the beginning you will even entertain the conversation, laugh, and then you start to reminisce and even wish you waited to “get saved.”

You’ll begin to raise your nose at people; even those close to you. Your worldly desires will fade but the people around you who still entertain those worldly desires will be looked at differently through your eyes. Some of the things you say may come off quite judgmental… intentional or not. You’ll think to yourself, “Why do they even do this. Do they not understand that God hates this!!) If it were that easy, you (as in you and I) would have lived right a LONG time ago. This can be very easy to do and not even realize it. PRAY! Pray that you keep a spirit of meekness and understanding when dealing with others who aren’t “saved” yet. Keep a constant reminder that you are still a sinner and was once among those who did everything God hated but He poured His grace and mercy over you. You need to carry that same grace over to those who need it just like you did. It is not your place to judge… just to pray.

Along with you raising your eyebrows at the people close to you… they will begin to do the same to you. They will begin to notice the changes in you and feel compelled to speak on it. Comments such as, “You too good to ______ now” or “Don’t judge me.” You may hear the latter one quite often. Things you used to entertain with people close to you, as soon as you decide to let go of those things and they are still participating in “said” activity; they will always feel like they are being judged by you. Granted, they may be. Keep watch for who is in your circle. Let go of the “loyalty” band and discern those necessary to keep around to not only encourage you to grow in Christ but you to encourage them as well. Friendships will change. Friendships will end. That is okay. Man has no say so in where your soul will rest… only God does. Can’t please both man and God. DISCERNMENT is key!!

I mentioned above about how sometimes we may even get to wishing that we had “waited a little while longer” before giving our lives over to Christ. One more party, one more partner, one more bottle, one more blunt…. Pick your poison. That’s real. Desires don’t fade as soon as you take your spiritual bath. That doesn’t even sound remotely possible. Baptism isn’t a transformation chamber…well.. in a sense it is but you know what I mean. The enemy knows your desires just as much as God does. The enemy knows the sinful things you enjoy and you will notice that those things will be presented to you more now than EVER!!! Alcohol will be cheaper if not free for you at your finger-tips; your crush that paid you no mind will be hitting you up out of no where; you will keep getting invited to events that you have no business being at because you will be tempted greatly. The enemy knows exactly what he’s doing… but God also provides an outlet for you. Will power to withstand backsliding cannot come from you. God knows the areas you are weak in. What you can and can’t handle. That’s why He provides the Holy Spirit within you to do those things that we cannot.

I feel as though you catch my drift. Before I get too long-winded, the moral of my story is that following Christ is everything but attractive and pleasurable. Just being honest. Man has been subdued to the very thought of what society says is “fun” or “cool” or simply “okay to do while you’re young.” And YES! All of it does seem fun and okay. I enjoyed myself at parties with glasses/bottles in my hand. I enjoyed random smoke sessions with friends from high school. I enjoyed intercourse with the guy I was dating at the time. Obviously, if I didn’t have an interest in those things or enjoy them… I wouldn’t have done them. I asked for heavy conviction and discernment and that’s exactly what I got. Each time I would partake in those things, by the end of it I felt guilty. The guilt grew more and more with each event until I couldn’t take the feeling anymore. I needed that. I was mentally aware of what all I was doing and how much I didn’t need to be doing it… that didn’t mean I felt like stopping. It was beyond my mere human power. I had to feel that guilt/embarrassment in order for Him to get my attention.

It’s not easy and its not pleasing. Just like apologizing to someone when you are wrong or offering to go out of your way for someone else. You may not feel like it and it may feel uncomfortable…. But it is NECESSARY! Being ostracized from friends because you don’t do what they do, having to endure seasons of “loneliness, forgiving people who have wronged you, doing favors for people who have wronged you, praying over those you want to punch in their face… etc. etc. It is not FUN! AT ALL! Sacrifice! Dying to self! At the end of the day… it is not about us. It is about God and our job to bring others closer to Him… or at least plant that seed.

With each test/trial comes a testimony/triumph. Each season is necessary and each growing pain is essential to growing in Christ. I’m thankful for His heavy pursuance and to know that He loves me so much to go all out to bring me to Him.

He loves you. He does not care about your past but wants to be in your future. As long as you have breath in your body that means there is still a chance to let Him in. It is not easy and if you are “waiting on the right time” or “getting your life together first”… that is never gone happen. The right time is NOW and you do not have the power to “get your life together.” If you did than your life would already be together… right? I digress….

I just want to encourage those who are on the fence or wanted a greater idea of what this Christian walk is like. I cannot reiterate how easy it is NOT but I embrace every moment. There are good times in this walk. The non-tangibles you gain, the blessings and favors that pour for obedience, the fellowship with other believers, the ability to finally be transparent and open, and to know that whatever you are going through He will fight your battles for you. He gives you peace beyond measure; wisdom; discernment; understanding. Once you lose yourself, trust me, you will gain everything else worth gaining. Just got to trust that He can lead you better than you can lead yourself.

 I may not know you, but I’ll be praying for you. 

 
 
I pretty much suck at this whole “blog consistency” thing. It’s things I want to write about never gather all my thoughts and type on my Mac. But this one subject has been on my heart to express. Piggy-backing off of my previous blog about “What’s Your Motive”, I became heavily convicted in my own doings. Let me explain.

For the past three weeks and some change, I’ve been on this whole health kick. I’ve been in the gym at least 4x a week every week and attempting to change my diet by eating healthier foods and cutting out the fast food. I’ve even started this whole “water only” diet for the past two weeks meaning any beverage I consume (excluding Gatorade, chocolate milk, and post workout smoothies), I can only drink water. It is really all-mental. I have never been this motivated to be fit and in shape. I am not really out of shape but don’t let my small frame fool thee. I have a very poor diet and even get tired by bringing the laundry basket up the stairs. I also have the “skinny girl” pudge. Stand sideways and my stomach just protrudes; It’s only water weight though.

This new lifestyle has become very consuming. I’ve found other people on Instagram who are fit and live a healthy lifestyle and I’m always looking for new health recipes or new exercises I can do. It’s crazy man. It wasn’t until recently when I randomly asked myself, why am I REALLY trying to reform my body? (Out of the necessary of course). Is it because I am really trying to get healthy, cleanse my body of all its toxins, tone up the weight that I do have, or post pictures of my progress on Instagram for everyone to see and to obtain their compliments and approval? Is petty and crazy as that sounds, vanity is real man. I really had to check myself. I always take a picture of my progress and keep it in a Fitness folder in my photos but in the back of my mind I want to upload them on social networks. WHY THOUGH! I really had to ask myself.

Granted, I am very proud of the progress I’ve made compared to my previous habits but once it becomes consuming, it can become a problem. I also got to wondering, if I can be this disciplined and dead set on working out and what foods to eat and not to eat, why am I not this disciplined and dead set on living out the will of God?!?!?! BAM! Once that revelation came over me I really felt like slapping myself in the forehead. That’s real man. I’ve been stuck on only drinking water and having juice and soda in front of me but always siding with water, as hard as it is. I wake up in the morning when I still want to lay in bed and get a nice 2-hour workout in routinely when I could still be at home. These are new habits I’ve formed and remained disciplined. But when it comes to God, I waiver. I constantly position myself on the fence of indecisiveness; contemplating over things I know I shouldn’t do but still have a desire to do. Over things I am well aware God wants me to let go of but I keep a firm grip. This isn’t over anything specific, but my life in general. Is it because working out produces “instant” results? It’s easier to correct things that appear on the surface because everybody can see it and leaves room for judgment while the inside remains corrupt?

There are more people in this world more focused on shedding pounds than shedding sin. I am all for taking care of the temple and being healthy. All for it. But when our image takes precedence over our character…. Our Kingdom building character, it’s all for nothing.

To sum all this up, I encourage you to reflect on your motives and really ask yourself the reasons behind your doings. Is it the approval of man that drives you? The paycheck that appears in your bank account every Friday? Self-gratification? Fear of failure? I mean really. It is a reason behind everything, but if your sole reason isn’t to glorify God then you will spend all your time seeking something that is already given to you. Grace. I am not saying that we aren’t allowed to do things we enjoy, but corrupt intentions never have positive or fulfilling results. I praise God for heavy conviction, especially early on in my life. He be knowing man!! 

 
 
Shoutout to Jamal for posting this link into the Current GroupMe.  Video Highly recommend it. In short, it’s a video pressing for you to reflect on what motivates you. What are you waking up for? The things you do with your time….why do you do it? What are your motives? Money, Notoriety, Fame, Void-Fillers, Insecurity Killers….  God? Honestly. Going to school to get an education, waking up every morning for work….where does that drive (if you have any drive) come from? It really had me thinking and also posed A LOT of conviction within me. For instance…..

(1) Me graduating from college with my daughter in tote. I was very proud of that accomplishment. To this day I get a lot of praises and acknowledgments on this obstacle I overcame and how many others in my shoes would have never finished and blah blah blah…you know the rest. It hit me; one of the main reasons I chose to go back to Mizzou was to prove to people (those I liked and those I did not like) that I wasn’t a quitter. I possessed a lot of pride….at the expense of my child. I wanted to be seen with Addy on my hip and my book bag on my back. Granted, God kept me the entire time. Took me six months to find a job, blessed me with food stamps, a working car, affordable daycare, and a great support system in Columbia which greatly helped me thrive. I didn’t go back to Mizzou because I thought that’s what God wanted for me…. I wanted to PROVE to MAN what I could do. Very selfish. But just like God, he used what I had arranged for bad to work for my good. I came to Mizzou with selfish intentions but left a new creature. He be knowing.

(2) I graduated with a major in Communication with initial intentions of pursuing a career in Public Relations. I was even a contributing writer for an online magazine; following professional Public Relations specialists on Twitter; trying to network. The whole nine. The thought of working behind the scenes in the entertainment industry but receiving the perks intrigued me. That was the lifestyle I thought I wanted. It sounds fun right? That’s what “drove” me. The thought of being creative, getting money, mingling with the stars. No passion; no God-given passion; No service of other people without intentions of getting something in return. Just me. No God. Just me. Wasn’t until I took an Argument and Advocacy class last year (I wrote about this in a previous blog), where I had to write a 15-page paper on something I would advocate for. I chose single-father advocacy. The ability to provide resources to fathers fighting desperately to be in their child’s life and how to co-parent with the mother. Nothing like a father in the home. That class helped me realize my purpose. My gift of service belongs to rebuilding households. May not possess a lot of money salary wise…. But the thought satisfies me alone. God will provide in every. No doubt.

(3) This third one is the most common. When I get on Twitter and see tweets like “wake and grind” or “headed to the money” or people always stating what they don’t have time for because they are “Getting money.” Greed in the most blatant form. Money is what they live for. No genuine happiness, peace, or anything. Dollar signs reign over all. God knows we need money to survive. To place that over him is pure idolization. May seem like you are “getting money” and satisfied right now…. But as my sister Candess says, “God will leave you completely WITHOUT before he lets you place something ahead of him.”

“ For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs”- 1Timothy 6:9-10

 

“You cannot serve both God and money”- Matthew 6:24

 

Everything I am saying, I have also been thoroughly guilty of. I am a part of this too. I praise him for his consistent conviction and turning me away from that direction. Just reflect, on your actions and your motives behind them. Pray for him to probe your heart and shine light on the things that need to be let go of, prayed over, turned away from, etc. God is a jealous God and things placed before Him will always have an expiration date.

What are your motives ??

 
 
I got hip to this song when my church in Columbia, Urban Empowerment, used to sing it and it always lit my soul on fire. It was a great morning worship song. Getting you
 
 
Often times when I take a shower, I consider that my isolation time to not only cleanse myself but reflect and spend time with God. Considering I have a 3-year-old always running around, this is technically the only time I have to myself...besides her sleeping time. I consider that my spiritual cleanse time. I am not only physically cleansing all the "dirt" that piled on my skin throughout the day but I am cleansing myself from the inside out. 

I pray that God rids me of all things that I possess inside me that does not glorify him or that he does not find pleasing. I pray that he cleanses me of all pollutants that I voluntarily place inside of me. Whether is be words of gossip. thoughts of lust, envy, jealousy, or hatred, or just little things that idolizes everything but Him.

We take the time to work on our physical appearance everyday (I'm assuming). Knowing we will come across others everyday and want to come off as well put together but can be nothing but trash on the inside. I will never be cleansed if I do not start from the inside and I am well aware that I cannot do  that on my own. The thoughts I have, food I eat, words I speak.....all these are vital to my body as a vessel in building his kingdom. Next time you take a shower, pray for a true cleansing. Dial, Zest, or any brand of Bath and Body Works cannot do anything with this kind of cleanse. 

Recite these words....or say whatever helps you communicate to God the way you like to.

"Lord, right now I ask you to cleanse me of all things not like you. From the inside/out. I am aware that I sin daily but now I am a new creature and my intentions are to please you...even when the outcome doesn't always look that way. I do not want to possess anything that does not glorify you because i know whatever is inside of me will eventually come out. Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. Cleanse me Lord. Amen"
 
 
Earlier this year, I began writing letters to Pops in my notebook but soon neglected it due to laziness. It was on my heart to speak to him in the form of pen and paper for this last day in 2012...

Hey Pops!

It's been a while since I've taken the time to thoroughly gather my thoughts and talk to you. Although I pray to you daily, I'm not always in the right space (charge it to my head and not my heart).

With this being the last day of the year, I'm reflecting on 2012. The good & bad and ups & downs. All the promises you've kept and blessings you've provided. This has been a MAGNIFICENT year for me. I couldn't think of any better adjective to describe it. I've been overwhelmingly blessed and could never thank you enough....

(1) Baptismal 9/16/2012
(2) Internship @ Parentlink
(3) Lite semester (4 classes)
(4) Meeting Heather Lindsey
(5) Witnessing a Parliament concert first hand and hanging with the band afterwards
(6) Graduating from MU on December 15, 2012 with my daughter walking with me
(7) 3.5 GPA
(8) Candess as my roommate this final semester
(9) Sparing my brother's life
(10) Sparing my aunt's lives
(11) Trip to Chicago !!
(12) Finding my purpose !!!

*Other than number 1, this list was in no specific order of importance*

Just to name a few. It's been so amazing to experience your wonders and be a witness to your greatness. And to think...I was always familiar with who you were but never took the time to actually care to know you..care to seek you or fall in love with you. I was always consumed in myself; my own issues and problems; my own self praises. The image of God that I used to have of You is NOTHING like who you really are. They were all fabrications of many people's perceptions of you...I always took their word without seeking for myself. For that I am sorry. 

Better late than never right. I sought you. I found you. I received you. Throughout all circumstances and experiences that seemed to be disastrous and unfavorable during that time, all served a special purpose...bring me back to my first true love.

I'm still so in awe as I sit and reflect on you goodness. Regardless of what others saw/see, thought/think of me, you see me as royalty; heiress to your riches and glory, your child. As a mother, I completely understand the unconditional love for your child. It is mind-blowing the strengths you will go for your child. You never cease to amaze me. 

Overall, I just want to praise you for 2012. One of my greater years if you should ask me. I am ultimately excited for 2013 (Number 13: Powerful Blessing from God) I am overly excited to be a witness to wonders as I grow in my relationship with you. 

"Lord, as you carry me into the new year, I pray to remain a new creature. To not fall victim to my environment and past temptations or comply with associates who do not care to know you. To not compromise my salvation. To get my butt off the fence of indecisiveness and plant my feet firmly in the land of righteousness. I just want you Lord. Use me at your will. Use me to bring people to you...to use them. No hidden agendas, ulterior motives, or desires of praise and notoriety. Just a huge, whole, and pure heart filled with everything you consist of. Please hear me Lord. Amen..." 
 
 
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The day has finally came and gone. All four years and one extra semester of preparation for 21 seconds walking across a stage in front of hundreds of people. Even now...6 days later...I don't even feel like I am done with school. I just feel like I am on winter break and will be headed back to Columbia once January arrives. It all happened so fast. I didn't have any finals so my last few weeks were pretty lite and really all I had to do was pack. It began to hit me a little that this all was coming to an end...like Addyson's last day of daycare and my last day of work and my last day at my internship. I was literally saying bye to environments I've called home for the past two years. It was approaching waaaaay to fast. I mean I knew I was graduating but DANG...it had arrived that fast!!!!

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I remember writing in an older blog post over the summer about my 5 year plan. Part of that 5 year plan was declaring and decreeing that my last semester of undergrad would be the best semester of undergrad that I've ever had. And I say, God has definitely kept his promise. Re-cap:
(1) Only had to take 12 credit hours this semester and Addyson attended class with me on Friday's MEANING I didn't have to wake up early to take her to daycare.
(2) I got saved on September 16, 2012 (day before Addyson's 3rd birthday!)
(3) Parliament came to MU and Candess and I were able to sit on stage and kick it with the band. Even had waffle house with them afterwards and they gave us their drumsticks from the show.
(4) I had the opportunity to meet Heather Lindsey when she spoke at our Pinky Promise event a few weeks ago. Beautiful spirit.
(5) My trip to Chicago over Thanksgiving break. All I can say is, I have felt God moved but not as swiftly as he did during this time. My trip to Chicago is a whole entire blog in itself. Just know that I've found my purpose by going to Chicago.
(6) I ended the semester with a 3.5 (3 A- and 1 B-) I am definitely satisfied
(7) Addyson walking across the stage with me during graduation. One of my proudest moments. She tried to act up during the commencement but even that couldn't stop me from allowing her to walk with me. She had her own cap and gown. Standing ovation. Interviewed by a newspaper. Amazing day

( I got two speeding tickets within 10 days of each other, including graduation day, but I can't let that stop my joy. Thank God for graduation money right)

This leads me to now. I keep getting hit with the infamous question, "So what now?" I said that the next time someone asks me what am I doing post grad, that I was going to say I'm TRAPPIN! But seriously....graduate school is in my plans but I am also taking the semester off to see if that is in God's plan for me. I know I want to go into Non-Profit... it's just a matter of do I really need a Master's Degree to pursue a position in Non-Profit? It just sounds good when talking to people about post-grad plans. Right now I am enjoying my time off, resting my brain, spending time with my daughter, and going through growing pains...AGAIN. I am about to blog about the season I am in real soon. 

 
 
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*Le Sigh* this is a very special day for me. It is the day that I celebrate my one-year anniversary of celibacy. It feels amazing to see this day. I contemplated on this blog, well, when I would write it. I stopped engaging in sexual activities officially a year ago but didn’t place a purity ring on my finger until March 8th of this year. Even though I waited six months, I knew in my heart on that day last year that I was done. This will probably be another one of my interesting blogs so I’m going to try to be as detailed and on point as possible. I tend to go off on tangents…but y’all knew that. Let’s see, where shall I begin.

To be honest, I never knew that sexual impurity would be something I would struggle with. I was always self-conscious about my body growing up and felt uncomfortable for my mom to even be in the room while I was changing. I had my share of boyfriends back in the day. Well they weren’t technically boyfriends considering I was only 13,14,15 years old and I was not sexually active as of yet. I would always go to basement parties and be one of the main girls in the middle of the floor dancing on every guy in sight. I was perpetrating as if I weren’t a virgin, not intentionally, but seeking attention and flirting was my forte. Even with that said, when a guy would approach me with the idea of being sexually active, that was my green light to dismiss that young fellow and go on to the next. Talking on the phone and dancing at parties was enough for me. The thought of sex made me feel embarrassed.

Wasn’t until I was 16 years old when I met “this guy.” Every girl has that “one guy.” I still to this day don’t know what made him different from anyone else I sought interest in prior to him but there is purpose in everything. 3 months after “dating,” my virginity was lost…along with my mind. After that day I was never the same. Emotions ran high everyday and he stayed on my mind. Sex became the norm between us. There were many times when I didn’t want to but did anyway because I felt that if I didn’t, he would no longer want me. (Side Note: I was never pressured into doing anything. Don’t want to send that message). My emotions were so highly involved in him. He was basically my world. I had a life outside of him but a life without him was too much to bear.

Along came Addy. (Trying not to make this blog about him). After dealing with what I had to during my pregnancy and becoming postpartum, I slowly but surely began to feel comfortable hanging with other men. I was too scared to engage in anything sexual but attention was what I needed. After all, I was still engaging in sexual activities with her father. Around October of 2010, I met a great guy. We hit it off pretty well and began dating. He was my second. That was mind blowing to me. I remember when there was a time I couldn’t even imagine being with someone besides Addy’s father. For me to have a “second” was just crazy to me. He began to grow great feelings for me that I couldn’t handle. It was with him that I realized I had an emotional disconnect with men and I didn’t want to be close to anyone. Not too long after us dating, I cut him off. I couldn’t handle it.

Not too long after came number 3. He was a potential person to be in a relationship with, but the feeling of becoming close was uncomfortable and that ended just as soon as it began.

It was all becoming too easy for me. The thought of being with someone else was once scary to me. Now it became an option. Then came 4th, and 5th. Guys who I knew and found attractive, but didn’t expect to expose my soul too (that’s what happens every time you engage in sex. That is why it is made for a husband and wife). Why was it so easy for me to do this? I don’t love let alone like these men. I just think they are cute. Some even offered the invitation to be a boyfriend. That was all I needed to hear to cut them off as well.

Then came the 6th. (Even as I am writing this with pure transparency, I still feel embarrassed and convicted. God has forgiven me so I need to work on forgiving myself.) I was just reckless. Homecoming weekend last year is just the weekend for everyone to forget all his or her morals. Drinking, smoking, sex…like why Alana? Anywho… this particular guy became too comfortable. One time turned into two, then three, then four. Even found himself in my bed when the sun came up. It was October 27, 2011 last year when I lied and said I was on my period to keep from exposing my soul one last time. I wouldn’t do it again. I couldn’t do it again. Conviction never felt so heavy. I mean, I would feel a sense of guilt and disgust after being engaged with other men but conviction was never that heavy. I am not sure what made this time so different, it doesn’t matter, I just got tired. At that moment I felt God was literally shaking his head at me in utter disgust. It is a horrible feeling. Kind of like disappointing your mom. If you have ever disappointed your mother and seen the look on her face, this feeling was ten times worse.

I thanked God for probing my heart without ceasing. I heard him all the time, but all the time I chose to do what was against his will. He loved me so much that he continued to gain my heart. Thank you God for your grace and mercy. Thank you for me not being in another circumstance where I could have been pregnant again or obtained an STD. Each time I defiled my body, my temple, you covered me when you didn’t even have to. That’s why I love you! After all the things I’ve done, KNOWINGLY, and you still chose to pursue me.

Thank you God! This year has not been easy but it was possible and you have kept me. The choice to give my body back to you is the best decision I have made. I will never be a virgin again but I am born again. I am a new creature. Saving myself for the man you have purposed just for me.

For those struggling with sexual impurity, celibacy is possible. Do not defeat yourself. You do not “need” sex…now that statement is a different story when you are married. If you tell yourself you can’t go without it than your spirit is weaker than your flesh. Ask the Holy Spirit to dwell in you to guide your decision. Die to yourself daily. Kill your flesh daily. It is not easy but it does get easier. Desires fade and you just stop placing yourself in those situations. God is calling you. Your body is not your own. Your body is God’s. This is for men as well as women!! Do not get caught up in what society says..that it is okay for men to explore but women can’t! Men and women are ROYALTY! Heirs to the most High riches and glory! Men and women have so much worth! Understand that!

Let me get off my soap box! End of the day all I want to say is that when you ask God for deliverance, it happens. May not happen when you want it but God’s timing is perfect. I have made the declaration to wait, until the man he has purposed for me replaces this here ring.

Love you Daddy,

            Alana


 
 
            Every year around this time for the past four years, a lot of pre-planning would take place for Homecoming. Figuring out what outfits to wear for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday festivities. Figuring out whom I’m going to mooch off of to get some alcohol in my red cup. Living carefree for an entire weekend. This was something I looked forward to every October since 2008. I never missed a Homecoming at MU. Not even when I went back to St. Louis for school shortly after the birth of Addyson. It was the norm. For Mizzou to be the birthplace of “Homecoming”, how could I not celebrate?

            So for this to be my first Homecoming at MU that I am not participating in the nightly festivities is very new to me. I didn’t know how to approach it. Old friends have made their way back in town and I am excited to see them. Just like old times. Slowly came to my knowledge that if I were not attending a party, I would not be seeing half the people I anticipated. This is all so new to me. I was (am) tempted from every which way. Those I partied with last year anticipating me to join again this year. Prior to this weekend it never crossed my mind. I even became bumbed out at the thought of me not joining in on the festivities. Bumbing it out on the couch scrolling through my Twitter timeline to live vicariously through everyone else. I began to miss my old life. Even after becoming a new creature within Christ on September 16, for a weekend I just wanted to live my old life. Isn’t that just like the enemy to try to tempt you with past habits ??

It wasn’t until I made a late night trip to Wal Mart that God brought forth clarity to me. (Technically like 2 hours ago). I always like to late night shop due to it not being a heavy crowd…I was wrong tonight. College kids in club attire cruising through the alcohol aisle to get some last minute pre-game essentials. I’m just trying to pick up some last minute things for the house. I even saw a couple of kids my little brother graduated with….in 2011! I felt so old!!! I finally made it to the line after seeing a handful of kids making their way to their destination somewhere downtown tonight. Bottle in hand and attire to turn heads. It actually hit me that THAT WAS ME! That was me hanging with my female friends getting last minute alcohol to “turn up” for the night. That was me looking for the shortest/tightest outfit with intentions to get “chose” for the night. This was what I considered fun! That was me!

I immediately began to shout in the car. Okay not shouting for real but I began a conversation with God on the way home just constantly thanking him for grace. Thanking him for probing my heart to the point where I could no longer avoid him. In the midst of me “living that life” I always knew that God was not happy with me. I always knew. The conviction was never heavy enough to keep me from doing so….until this year.

That is my prayer for everybody out this weekend. I am not in a position to judge nor am I trying to. I pray that God keeps you all over this weekend just like he did me. Even the times we engage in things we have no business doing, Homecoming or not, he keeps us under his grace and mercy. Remember that. Homecoming is supposed to be a fun time. It is tradition. I just pray that tradition shifts to a more glorifying custom. To all my friends out “turning up” right now, be safe and stay warm. Love y’all!

 
 
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So I went ahead and had my “spiritual bath.” September 16, 2012. 1:00PM (somewhere around that time) Water was so cold but warmed up so fast. I felt amazing. Still do honestly. That was something I kept postponing for a long time. Never really knew why though. “What is keeping you”- Candess would ask me this and I never had a reason. That is because whatever words you form to come out of your mouth will never be a good enough reason. There is NO reason. But of course, it took me to the age of 22 to finally figure it out that I was ready to live for God. “Alana, what made you give your life over”- Well I’m glad you asked! Lets see how brief I can keep this testimony.

Growing up, I never had a church home. My mother tried attending different churches and the one I could remember was a Jehovah Witness church. We were there for a little while and I remember my mom would have bible studies sometimes at the house. I was so young so learning about God and the Bible never stuck. Never paid attention. Fell asleep in the pews at church. You know…what kids usually do during church (there wasn’t a children’s church in the back of the church back then). That slowly but surely fizzled away and my Sunday morning routines were spent at home. Wake up, breakfast, sports, play, homework, bed. Every single Sunday. We were too comfortable on Sunday’s. Never really spoke about church either. As I got older, to appease my grandmother, we would go on holidays. Mother’s Day, Easter. Those were the main two. If I would spend the night at a friend’s house and their parents went to church, then I would go. I would always hope that the parents over slept and didn’t want to go anymore. After all, I still never understood what the Preacher was saying and it always put me to sleep.

It was that way for a very long time. Growing into my later teens, it was all about me. No cares in the world. I always had good grades in school so I had a lot of leisure time. Family, friends, parties, fun. What worldly teenagers do. Around 16 years old, I met this one boy. Every girl has that “one” guy. The role that relationship played on my life weighed so heavy on me. Along with taking my virginity, he took my mind. I was only 16 and felt several emotions in one day. The epitome of a teenage girl. My every thought surrounded him. Every text message and phone call I received, I wanted it to be him. I had a life outside of him. I was always involved in something with school and with friends but when all that was over, I just wanted him. You can just imagine how the course of my relationship went. Break up to make up. Verbal disrespect. Immaturity. Careless intercourse, which of course, led to a planned pregnancy.

My pregnancy in 2009 was the result of a conversation her father and I had prior to leaving for college. It made so much sense when conversing….at the age of 18. We would have a baby so we could always be together-simple. Smacks my own forehead. Downward slope. We got exactly what we asked for. A child and we always have to be in each other’s lives as long as we live. Argument after argument after argument. Continuing to break up and constant tears. Most of this is explained in another blog a posted a few months back,  so I won’t go in too deep with this blog. 2009 was a hard year for me. Gave birth to my child and shortly became postpartum. I cried all the time and never wanted to be around Addyson. I resented her father and just wanted my old life back. I prayed everyday asking God to take to the pain away-assuming it was supposed to be an instantaneous process. God doesn’t work that way. I didn’t know that back then. I didn’t have a relationship with Christ or a Godly foundation in my life. I was just calling on him when it was convenient for me.

As months passed, I grew out my depression. I went back to school and keep my credits up and was working. A lot of my mind was occupied for the most part but my heart was still with her father. I was in bondage. Anger, bitterness, resentment…all still rested in me. Even when I came back to MU in January of 2011, I still had those feelings in me. My only solution to help get rid of these feelings was to involve myself with other guys. Regular dating and sexual intercourse. It made perfect sense. In order to get over her father, I would seek interest in other guys-simple. Of course that didn’t work. I kept trying to convince myself that it would. You couldn’t tell me anything.

August 2011, I began my senior semester of college (the first of 3 semesters). It was a new me. I had once again decided that I was over her father so I did what society tells single young females to do. I had cut off all my hair, changed my number, and moved into a new apartment. It was supposed to be my new season. All about me. I was thankful that God had delivered me from previous pain and hatred over her father but reacted in a negative way. My attention diverted from God to myself. “I’m 21 and single. Do me” was my motto. Weekends of partying, smoking, drinking, occasionally sex (another blog coming soon) and it became a routine. Addy was still taken care of and schoolwork was still done, but my mind was all on me. The more I would partake in these things, when I would go home with no one but my thoughts, I felt conviction. I knew it was wrong. I always felt guilty when I would do those things. Conviction was never heavy enough to keep me from doing those things but I definitely felt guilt afterwards. More and more. I would go to the club and in the back of my mind I would think, “Alana you have no business here. This doesn’t feel right.” I would have sex and afterwards I would feel disgusted. I felt like God was looking down on me in utter disgust and disappointment. The thought would always make my eyes well.

I fell to my knees one afternoon listening to Praise is What I Do. I was tired. God I was so tired. I was tired of temporary satisfaction. I was tired of my arrogant, narcissistic attitude. I was tired of my selfishness. I was tired of my worldly ways. I was tired of being out of his will and I never wanted to feel that way again. Just like in 2009, I prayed for God to take this pain away but this time, it would be to grow into him. I wanted Him. Church became the regular for me. Sex was completely cut off. Drinking slowly dwindled and so did partying. I was stepping into a new season.

More into 2012, my relationship with Christ continued (and still continues) to grow. The desires of the world began to fade (they never really went away. I am just strong enough to resist temptation a lot more than I used to be).

Here I am today. On fire for God, which was my hope for this blog (name change coming soon.) I was ready. No pressure. No force. No judgment. I was ready. I was keeping me from this season. Fearing that I would have to give up so much to live for God and granted, I did. Those things don’t matter. Everything God takes out of your life he provides so much more. 2x better. It’s not about me. Everything I go through isn’t for me. People here my story about past relationships and say, “Thank you, I needed that.” It is not about me. I’m so glad God has gotten me to see that. I am still learning.

If there is one thing I can say that can encourage everyone who is reading this is to pray for the desires of the world to fade. Don’t be afraid to let go. These things in the world that we seek pleasure in hold no weight to the things God wants to give us. Restoration, peace, patience, grace, love, the desires of our hearts. All of the riches of his glory that he promised. It feels amazing y’all! It really does!

To conclude: What I can say about my “new beginning” is that I am still human. I am still subject to fall and make mistakes. Only difference now is that my intentions are whole-heartedly to please him. Repentance for the times that I mess up. I am not perfect. Do not put me on a pedestal nor view me in a judgmental eye now that I am “saved.” Continue to pray for me. This is the time that the enemy is really going to try to throw his hardest punches at me…. but I am not moved. Thank you God for continuing to pull on my heartstrings and get my attention. I am excited to see where you are taking me. Love you pops! Muah!