So my family has gone through a lot to say the least within the past seven months; more so within the past two months. It all kicked off with my little brother getting shot in April (Praise God for keeping him), to just about all of my parents siblings being admitted in a hospital for some reason. All three of my father’s sisters and my mother’s brother have been in the hospital. (1) My aunt April was recently diagnosed with bladder cancer so she is dealing with that (2) My uncle Quinton just had major heart surgery to correct his leaky heart valve (3) My aunt Violet had to get shock treatment on her heart to prevent it from going under cardiac arrest—she has an enlarged heart (4) My aunt Helen (Evon) had a heart attack this past weekend and was in a coma for a little over 24 hours. Praise God, she woke up from her coma this morning (July 22, 2012). Not to mention tomorrow (July 23,2012) will mark the three-year anniversary of my fathers’ brothers passing. As you can imagine, a lot of emotions have been weighing on my parents shoulders, but through it all, God has kept my family and I under his mercy and grace.

One thing that I did notice in the midst of all this, despite my praying over my family members, I still let the issues I am dealing with, surface their way up to overly important matters—when they really don’t deserve it. I managed to succumb to my own emotions during times where my prayers over my family mattered most (not to say that my prayers don’t usually matter). I’ll describe this more in my next blog—I just wanted to introduce it in this one.

Overall, words really cannot describe how grateful I am for the magnificent works God has done for my family. Thank you seems far from enough

 
 
After me venting to Candess about my struggling time in Orlando and her sending me self-reflection questions, she decided to answer them on her own. Goes as follows:

1) How much alone time do I spend with God?
At LEAST 5-10 minutes. Sometimes more. What Im finding is that the time I spend with Him doesn't have to be the same thing. Sometimes its the bible...maybe a date a conversation, journaling, listnening to a sermon, reflection is always a good one for me. 

2) Who is in my environment?

I've been blessed with some AWESOME Men and Women of God that I actually like and get along with. A lot of Christian's neglect the notion that just because I love Christ and you love Christ, doesn't mean we're gonna automatically get along. The crew I got meshes naturally. We click SO easily. Everyone is concerned with God's plan for the season they're in right now. It's easy to be myself..flaws and all. Unfortunately, I don't see them everyday and a few of my closest friends have yet to accept Christ as their Lord & Savior. This sucks...sometimes. My mind is actually the worst! 


3) What areas of me are still broken?

Adapting the mind of God. I'm still pretty judgemental and lie about stupid things. Like not even kinda important little stupid things. My lack of Obedience.

4) Have I really forgiven myself?

I have. It wasn't that long ago, but I have. 
5) Have I really forgiven those who have hurt me?

Again, it wasn't that long ago....but I have. 

6) Have I surrendered my all to Christ (or do I still try to control)?

I have! HOWEVER, I still be tryna neogtiate with God. Accepting His will means accepting His timing in my life. God is also teaching me that faith just is. When I tell you to move, you move. "Your faith should be so fast that your feelings don't have time to react"

7) Do I even know how to do number 6?

He is the way, the TRUTH, the life, DYING TO FLESH! 

8) What does salvation really mean?

MAN!! I could go ON about this one!! But i'll sum it up with this: My death, burial, and resurrection that's possible ONLY because of His death, burial, and resurrection. Im a sinner drowning in the SAME Grace that freed me! Walking in His vision. FREEDOM. True Freedom! 

9)What am I feeding my spirit?

WHOLE FOODS.......with a little Junk food every here and there. It's gotten better. Twitter will trip me up every now and then. I be havin to deactivate dawg....I've cleaned out my itunes but old school R&B hasn't left yet. #alanaknows lol 


10) Do desires of the world still motivate me?

Not like they used to. The thought to do something worldly will arise in my head and I have to pray about it. I won't say Im MOTIVATED by the desires of the world, but they're not gone from my life. ex: when I began working on my 1/2 sleeve, I was inspired by art but I was motivated by the approval of others and the fact that they thought I wasn't "BOLD" enough to do it. Though I LOVE IT and am proud of it, God has showed me that my heart was in the wrong place when I got it. He's reminded me that Im unique enough. There's nothing to prove and CERTAINLY NOT to man. Good thing He showed me this to because if the world was to hate me tomorrow for having it, I'd be crushed because that's where I found my validation. The boldness we need in Christ, is deeper than being a spectacle in public because you've changed your appearance. Me being a Christian makes me stand out enough. lol

11) Am I regularly confessing my sins?

Every single day! I try to find a scripture or literature to combat it too! this thing is a DAILY effort!
 
 
Dear Miss Alana,

God has so much favor over your life that it would take you 6564645353 lifetimes to fully comprehend. That’s the beauty of life though. Don’t try to seek understanding, rather have faith and be thankful for all the many blessings he pours over your life. All the things you once thought were the start of the end of your world were just petty milestones to get you where you are now. If someone told you that you would be the mother of a two year old mini-you would you have believed them? Of course you wouldn’t. At the age of 18 the only worries that ever came across your head was what to wear at the party that following weekend. But God had a different plan for you. Becoming with child at such a young age you didn’t know which fork in the road would be available to you and although HE didn’t praise you for your actions, he made/makes sure that you have absolutely nothing to complain about. Look at your life! You have the most supportive family anyone could ever ask for. You may not always understand nor care for the advice that Mr. & Mrs. Flowers give you but just know that they have and will ALWAYS have your best interest at heart. 

Remember the nights where you cried holding your pregnant belly after coming to the conclusion that you are and will be a single mother? Here and now, you are preparing to walk across the stage as of December 2012; you are a full-time student/parent that wakes up every morning to go to class only to start your second shift when Addyson comes home from daycare. Many look up to you for your ambition and drive to do better not only for you but for your child as well. Days seem hard but have you noticed that every time you feel like you are on the brink of breaking down, the Lord comes as a knight in shining armor and you are back on your feet again. So once again, give continuous praise for this is only the beginning of all the blessings you have in store. You have absolutely nothing to complain about.

 

Check Up

07/16/2012

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When on my vacation in Orlando over the 4th weekend, I was conversing with Candess about how I was ready to come back home; how bored and frustrated I was; how I felt like I was out of God's presence by me being away that long. Fortunately, me venting helped out more than I thought it would. She sent over a list of questions for me to give myself a check up on my relationship with Christ and other areas of my life. These were VERY helpful and forced me to dig deep into myself to retrieve the answers. These questions are, I believe to be, very helpful to those who need a Self Check Up.

1) How much alone time do I spend with God?

Depends: Every morning I thank him for waking me. Quite often throughout the day when I’m on twitter or just personally interacting with people, I’ll say a prayer in my head for people-whether they ask or not. I say my grace for every meal. Every night before I go to bed I say my prayers. I thanks God for everything that happens to me and repent for my wrong doings—BUT—often times it feels like routine. Like something I’m supposed to do because I am so used to doing it.

2) Who is in my environment?

That depends too. While I’m in Columbia, it is just Addyson and I. I have very few negative and tempting influences around me in Columbia. When I’m back home in STL, it is a completely different scene. I have my family which can often be home of my frustration. Then I have my friends and associates who I entertain STILL, even though they partake in stuff that I would rather give up..but I choose to continue.

3) What areas of me are still broken?

On-going tension between my father and I. Failed relationship between Addyson’s father and I.

4) Have I really forgiven myself?

I always think I forgive myself for what I used to do and who I used to be—but ultimately—I haven’t. I often think back to things I’ve done and feel a cringe in my stomach and a sense of embarrassment. Too many times. I entertain conversations with people who bring up my past and get defensive. If I truly forgave myself, I could care less what others think/say and keep it moving. I’ve already been forgiven..why can’t I humble myself to forgive myself.

5) Have I really forgiven those who have hurt me?

And again—I always think I forgive others—then there are times when I catch myself in my feelings and grow angry at just the thought. I always feel like I forgive Addyson’s father but have times where I grow angry…out of no where. I try not to think of my molester…I’m not sure if I can ever forgive him. My parents—still too touchy. Other petty situations, I tend not to give too much attention. Not sure if I forgive but I no longer care..if that makes sense.

6) Have I surrendered my all to Christ (or do I still try to control)?

I’ve spoken with my mouth that the Lord is more than welcome in my heart and have confessed and repented my sins—but have I surrendered my all to Christ? No. I still try to have control over some areas of my life. Some areas I have given over to God but not all. It can be a scary thought to let go..but I know I need to.

7) Do I even know how to do number 6?

No

8) What does salvation really mean?

Freeing yourself of the bondages of the world and falling under the mercy and grace of God—letting HIM be the Father that he is and take care of his child. No anxieties, fears, or worries because you have so much Faith that God’s Will will always take care of you; whether we are in agreement or not. God knows best.

9)What am I feeding my spirit?

A mixture of nonsense, worldly matters, and a hint of Godly matters. Sadly, I based a lot of things off of how I am feeling. I let the world weigh in on me and continue to push Him away while I’m in my feelings. Case in point…I’m listening to Drake right now smh.

10) Do desires of the world still motivate me?

YES! While in Orlando I still wanted to hit up the club. I wanted to shop for clothes that aren’t flattering to my walk with Christ. I #lowkey wanted to engage in petty gossip. I got overwhelmed in the thought of being without a job this summer and bummed out on how I don’t have any income. I placed money as an idol. I kept listening to Project Pat. This is a process for me y’all…a very hard process.

11) Am I regularly confessing my sins?

Every single day—the only thing with that is, I’m not sure if I really mean it or I am just so used to saying it that it has become routine. I have conviction and feel bad and want him to forgive me. Not for the sake of me knowing he will, but because I do get tired of living wrong. I want him to know my heart yearns to be near him each and every second of every day.

 
 
Just about 10 minutes ago, I gave a few words of encouragement to a friend of mine --which inspired this new posting. Another fellow student-parent that I know (we’ll call her Terry for the blog sake) recently got her IPod stolen out of her car. The reason Terry is so distraught is because her iPod had all the pictures of her daughter in it since the baby was a newborn. She placed the pictures on her iPod due to her laptop crashing and the father lost the SD card so the iPod was her primary source to hold the pictures. Besides the fact that theft is very petty, disrespectful, and basically…. a sin-- as a parent, I completely understand how she feels. I have almost 2000 pictures in my phone. 80% of them are of Addy alone. She brings home artwork multiple times a week from daycare and I attempt to save as much as I can in a shoebox.  I saved my baby shower balloons, bracelets I wore in the hospital during delivery, and even the stub of her umbilical cord in her keepsake box. She is my firstborn so I try to keep as much as a can.

When trying to give words of encouragement to her, I came to my own realization. I told her how much I understood why she was upset and that I was sorry but I also told her not to be attached to wordly objects. Yes our pictures and items from different times in our life are important to us, but they are of the world. God willing, I will always have good memory to remember all the precious moments of my child. We are not here to develop emotions over wordly objects. Our homes, cars, clothes, jewelry, cell phones, money, electronics…list goes on. All these things are important to us but when we tie emotions into them, they become idols.

All things we put above God are idols. We can spend hours looking at our Twitter TL (people don’t be talking bout nothing!) but rush through our prayers...if we pray at all; we can stand in line for some hours for some J’s or a video game but complain when church is going past it’s typical hours; working multiple hours a week just to skip church Sunday because we are too tired.

We put so much worth and power into these wordly things not realizing God is a jealous God and has the power to take it all away in the blink of an eye. Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions-is not from the Father but is from the world 1John 2:15

I am not saying that Terry lost her iPod because she loved it so much and God decided to remove it from her life. It inspired me to talk about how we as humans tie our emotions into worldly things and how it can weigh heavy on us when we lack those worldly things.

It is okay to place value and worth onto things we possess. But as I just figured out, Money is not the root of all evil- The LOVE of money is the root of all-evil. You can replace the word “money” with any other noun we tie emotions to. 

 
 
It's been a minute since I've been able to blog and I figured it's about that time. Glad I was able to go through something to help someone else. Story goes as follows....

My family and I (parents and younger brother) are all in Orlando,FL for a vacation. We departed on the 4th and won't be returning until the 9th. Nice get-a-way—no work—no kids (Addyson)—just good family time enjoying cousins who happen to live in Florida. That is the mindset I should have kept throughout the trip-but of course-my spoiledness always tends to appear. 

This is my first time in Florida, first time seeing Disney World and Orlando Studios, first time on a beach—but yet— I still managed to grow....bored. I grew frustrated at the fact that I would be with family for the next five days..straight. My every move would be restricted due to lack of transportation. Where they would go I would have to go. Age appropriate things open for me to do were unavailable to me due to my little brother only being 19. God knows what he being doing though. I wanted to get into clubs and I wasn't able to. I complained rather than thanking God for keeping me from something that COULD have happened. I complained about being around my family for five days straight rather than praising God that I have a loving family to be stuck with. 

I complained about always being in the third row of a car site-seeing rather than praising God that I was sitting in a well air-conditioned vehicle taking me places I could never see back in St.Louis. I let frustration and pettyness overcome me for several hours. I mean I was in Disney World and Universal Studios..these are things I've only seen on television. (We didn't go inside the actual park..tickets cost $90..AINT NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT!) But I was still there. Amongst a myriad of cultures—so much diversity. But typical Alana, always finding something to complain about. *Sigh* I've came to my senses though. 

Needless to say, I am enjoying myself. No work, no child (although I miss her very much) just plain ol' vacation. Thank you Jesus for this blessing. I appreciate it.
 
 
Being in my first "relationship" at the age of 16, I had the immature mentality that if I did everything on my part of the relationship, then all would be fine. As many young-minded females do. When dealing with guys that we are "involved" with, we hold them to the standard that we hold to ourselves. "I text you when I make it home so how come you dont?" When I go shopping, I think to buy you something to...how come you dont?" Real petty stuff like that. I'm sure most of us women have been there and you probably just got a sense of embarrassment as you reminisced.

Then there is the whole loyalty thing. People feel obliged to remain "loyal" to their "partner" or those they have known for a very long time because after all, length of friendship measures your obligation to others- that makes perfectly good sense (-____-). Many times we get caught up in the idea that humans have obligations over others. That we should remain "loyal" and "faithful" when majority of the time- the situation that the "relationship" was founded on is all wrong anyway. 

1) Your friend's man/woman is "cheating" and you know about it. It is NOT your OBLIGATION to include yourself in such gossip to run back and tell your friend. That's not your position-that is God's place.
2) Your friend is involved in something that you know is wrong. Y'all are super close and feel "obliged" to join when they ask to remain loyal-NO! Your friend has no control over your salvation. Your friend is human just like you. #NeverForget
3) Those with kids (THIS IS ONE THAT I HAD TO GRASP) Yes the idea of being with the person you have children with-whether married or out-of-wedlock- is something you want to become reality. I mean that's how it's "supposed" to be right. Biological parents and children. (I guess this is more for the singles) Stop trying to force something that is not there. Yes I wanted the whole "family" outlook but the more I pushed for it, the more it became worse. It isn't meant to be. You could be doing everything right-good parent, good partner, good cook- but if it isn't God's plan for y'all to be together, he will personally intervene to end it. 

I guess #3 can apply to many people in "relationships." Often times we enter relationships with marriage standards and ideals and that only leads to failure and disappointment. You're not married. One thing I have learned when it comes to investing time in people and deciding who to spend time with (because I am not in a relationship), I pray before I make decisions. I no longer base my decisions off of attraction, feelings, or emotions. All of these things are temporary conditions. All three can fade. I want something that will last, and the only way I can obtain that is if God sets it up for me and I follow his lead. If being single for a while before this happens is what I must go through, then so be it.

Don't get me wrong...being single sucks at times-a lot of times. Sometimes I want the enjoyment of male company..but I refuse to invest in something that isn't purposed for me. No matter how tall, dark, handsome (you catch my drift). I also want to get to the point that if I am one of those who God has purposed for me to remain single that I am comfortable with it being just me and God- (but I'm praying whole-heartedly that God has someone for me..just sayin).

Feelings and emotions can lead you astray. Let go of the wheel and let him take over. It could be a scary thought giving over rights of your life to someone else but ultimately, everything is in His hands and He has the final say so. The relationship you are in may not be the one God has purposed for you. Pray on it--He'll let you know.
 

YOLO

06/28/2012

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YOLO <— We've all heard this infamous saying based off of Drake's 2011 hit single (You Only Live Once)..it should pretty much be living on a single thread by now as much as it is used. As much as the saying is true, yes, we do only live once, but what are you doing with your life to serve God? When the last day comes and He asks you what have you done to glorify 

That saying has soooo many people caught up. Especially our youth. Many of us feel like we are invincible; feel like we are SUPPOSED to live a reckless life, try everything once, have fun..YOLO! Many people hold the idea that "God is going to forgive me of my sins anyway..we are all going to die anyway so I might as well LIVE." But since when is smoking,drinking,sexual intercourse pre-marriage and all the things of the likes considered standard living? Don't let society have y'all out here like that. 

Just because we are young does not mean we are immune from the wrath of God. We are held accountable for everything that we do and have been blessed with a conscious and knowledge to know right from wrong. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect-Romans 12:2.

I am very well aware of how hard it is to even try to live right. We are faced with attractive temptations each and everyday. I've been drunk, I've been high, I've been involved in sexual relations and each time I was engaging in any of these things, I more than likely wanted to do it whole-heartedly. But there comes a time when the conviction overrides your decision to continue doing wrong. You begin to feel bad and you get a feeling in the pit of your stomach that maybe you shouldn't be doing such things. All your friends are doing it, and you were already doing it and may have even asked for forgiveness from the last time. It's only too many times that God will continue to grant you forgiveness because you're days are not guaranteed.

If being saved and living right was easy, everyone would be doing it and I wouldn't even be writing this blog post. It is not intended to be easy. The enemy is a conniving and deceitful man. His purpose is to make you fall and stray as far away from God as possible. Thank God for his grace though. But the time is drawing near. In the last days, people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness but denying its power- 2Timothy 3:2,3,4,5

All things that can be seen in this world today. As long as God is granting you with another day, that is another opportunity to let go of the steering wheel and let him take control. Blessings are endless when God is in control. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up- Galatians 6:9

I know God loves me just the way I am, but he loves me too much to let me stay that way. God Bless!
 
 
Negative Nancy, that’s what my friends used to call me for a while. Up until about a year ago. Naw, more like 8 months ago. I was a pessimist. Because of all the things I went through over the past couple of years led me to have a hard-hearted spirit. I always look at bad things that could happen or dwelled on the bad things that have happened and blamed them for present disappointments. Sometimes I wonder how the close friends I do have put up with my dim presence for so long. Nobody likes a Debbie Downer.

This past Sunday there was an alter call for those still struggling with forgiveness; not necessarily forgiveness of other people (I’ll touch on that later), but forgiveness of yourself. We get so caught up in past happenings that it hinders us from healing and coming into the person God purposed for us to be.

Take me for example. I didn’t have a totally hectic past, but there are a handful of things I’ve done that I am not proud of. Even to this day, the thought of some things cause discomfort.

(1) My PLANNED Pregnancy: I’ve become more open about it now when I tell this story because I’ve come to terms with it. At the same time, when I repeat it back to myself, I just feel dumb. The looks I get when I tell people Addy was purposely made just adds to my “dumb” feelings. My daughter will be 3 this year, so when will I ever come to FULL terms with the fact that at the age of 19, I selfishly decided to bring a child into this world knowing I didn’t have much to provide for her let alone myself? I trust that God knew what he was doing. And forgiveness has gotten a lot easier but I’m not 100% there yet.

(2) Sexual Immorality: SIGH…I said the goal was to be transparent so here goes nothing. In high school, I would always pride myself on being a virgin (until I lost it of course). It was very seldom that girls my age, even my closest friends were still virgins and I was proud of that. Even when I did lose my virginity, I would make myself feel better by justifying that I was only with ONE person so it wasn’t THAT bad. I don’t want to delve too much into this because I will have a whole post later in the future about my decision for celibacy. Previous decisions I’ve made dwelled in my mind for a very long time, even to this day.

Forgiveness for other people who have wronged me is a whole different story, but just as hard as forgiving myself.

(1) Addy’s Father: This is probably by far the only person that took an abundance of strength to forgive..like physical strength. A lot went on within our relationship (too much that doesn’t need to be repeated) but caused much hatred, hurt, and resentment inside of me. I carried it for a long time and it was the origin of an array of crazy emotions. One day I’m depressed and the next day I’m fine. A lot of times I would even “fake forgive” him. You know, when you say you forgive somebody because you are so prideful thinking you’re over something but as soon as something happens that brings knowledge to that same situation, you get mad all over again. That would happen to me a lot that made me aware that I was no where near forgiveness with him. Thankfully, God has delivered me from that and I can honestly say I forgive him.

(2) My Parents: I’ll keep this brief because this is still very touchy and personal to me. I don’t want to give off the impression that I had a horrible childhood or anything. My parents provided me with all of my needs; my brothers and I. We never needed for anything. Just seeing my parents as I got older and how arguments would increase. It made me resent marriage and everything it stood for. I didn’t want that kind of marriage. It wasn’t any abuse, verbal or physical, or anything like that. Just the dynamic wasn’t there. Like two people used to each other. It made me turn away from the concept of a strong family foundation. Still working on forgiveness from that.

I could go on and on about minor run ins with people who have hurt me and vice versa, but the point I am trying to get across is that forgiveness is necessary. It has the power to eat you alive, if you let it. Think about it this way….all the times we knowingly and voluntarily defy God’s will by fulfilling our own selfish desires. Over and over and over again. But yet, he still gives us another chance. So if a man so powerful who loves us so much continues to wash away our sins and give us a new day to :live for him, who are we to hold grudges and unforgiveness over those who have wronged us?

As far as struggling with forgiveness, you will know when you have forgiven someone. Think of it this way. Remember when you were a child and you did something that your parents told you not too? You knew once you got caught, and you did, you would be in for the whooping of your life. And you did get it. You feared what would happen once your parents found out. Now that you are older, you and your parents can sit back and laugh at something that caused you fear as a child and disappointment as a parent. With time and prayer EVERYTHING heals. If you choose to do it on your own, not only are you telling God that you don’t trust him, you will be in spindle of indecisiveness and confusion over your own feelings. Forgiveness unlocks the door to your own happiness. If he can forgive, for he is the highest of all high, who are we not to.

 

GBKD

06/23/2012

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Finally got my GBKD shirt. Also known as my "God Be Knowing Dawg" shirt. I love shirts...but this means so much more to me. I always have a "God Be Knowing" moment so I wanted to make it something that everybody knew and that everybody can join. I've mentioned it before but just to give refresher, I always say "God Be Knowing Dawg" when things happen in my life that are just so unexplainable. Some people believe in coincidences..I don't. God knows all! He shows me this every single day and for that, I am SO IN LOVE with him.  I'm excited to see how this grows. Not just a shirt...it's my life! Want a shirt? Let me know!