What do you suspect God’s love language is? After an incredible encounter with God yesterday, I think I figured it out. It’s gotta be quality time. And I should understand this – as it’s mine, too.

I’ve been feeling spiritually and emotionally weak for the past couple weeks, and I had a come to Jesus meeting yesterday. In my shower of all places. Completely naked both literally and figuratively. Vulnerable. Confessing everything. Allowing His word to cleanse me.

Throughout all of this I heard him say,

“I just want you to want to spend time with me. I want you to desire to be in my presence more than anything. I don’t want it to feel like a chore. I don’t want to be something on your to do list. I don’t want you to “have” to spend time with me. I just want to spend a little time with you. Commune with me. Spend some uninterrupted time with me. Turn off your phone. Stop letting people interrupt us. If you’re not at home, I just want to be wherever you are. So that I can give you my peace (John 14:27). So that you can be free. So come to me. Not out of obligation, not even out of obedience, but out of the sincere desire of your heart, because you say you love me.”

If that ain’t quality time, I don’t know what is. I hear you, God. Let’s hang out.

What do you think God’s love language would be?

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Not feeling inspired to write. Not at all. But I’m writing anyway. Because one of the most important lessons I’ve learned this year is that we don’t operate in our feelings. So although I don’t feel like writing… here I am, writing away.

Today marks the 14th day of my attempt to surrender laziness to God (and giving up social media which is the primary enabler of said laziness). And let me tell you, Satan really tried it. On or about the 4th day of the fast, my laptop charger died. Ummm hello, productivity? How am I supposed to work with no laptop? Seriously. But then I won an iPad mini in a raffle! These things never happen to me- but He’s on time right? Not that I can really work on this thing. And of course now that I am typing this, I’m realizing that my computer charger dying is the perfect opportunity for me to rid myself of all laziness excuses. I don’t need a computer to clean up this disaster of a room. I don’t need a computer to call and check on my grandmother. And I definitely don’t need it to go in there and cook me something to eat.

So nice try devil. But I’m feeling all like Joseph. All… You meant it for my bad but God meant it for my good (Gen 50:20).

Excited to see what the rest of this 40 day fast is gonna bring. Most excited about getting back smack dab into the middle of God’s good and perfect will. Cuz MY will ain’t been hittin on bout nothing…

Obedience doesn’t have to be hard. Obedience is only hard if you look at it as a list of things you “can’t” do. But God tells us our obedience is a display of our love for Him. Not a demonstration of how well we can follow rules. And especially not a demonstration of us figuring out how close we can get to breaking the rule without actually breaking it (hello, somebody). What if we looked at obedience as God does. As love. What if we looked at it not as a list of “I Can’ts” but a list of “I can’s.”

I can’t have sex because I’m not married. I love God so much that I can totally remain pure and honor Him with my body (I mean it’s His body anyway, right?). Or how about, I can totally appreciate the security that purity brings (no STDs, no babies, no emotional attachments, no $800 daycare bills I have to pay on my own, no child support, etc.).

I can’t drink. I can definitely have a good time and enjoy myself without needing liquor. I mean, who needs liquor to have a good time??

I can’t listen to rap music (because we only listen for the beats these days…). I can totally protect what comes into my spirit, soul, and body. And for those of you who keep talking about, it’s the beat- let me introduce you to Lecrae, Trip Lee, Andy Mineo, etc.

I can’t take credit for the things that are happening in my life. I can give God all the glory for this amazing life He has given me. I can lead others to Him. I can continue to be a vessel (the buck does NOT stop with me!)

I can’t stay at home on Sundays and just hang out, have brunch, or just watch church online. I can show God how much I love Him by visiting Him in His house with His followers and get His message on Sundays. I mean, after all, he comes to my house every other day of the week- I’d love to pay him a visit!

I can’t go around cursing. Ok say this with me slowly. Out loud if you must: I can form complete sentences and make my point as emphatically as I choose without needing to use words that offend, hurt, or would elicit a beat down if I heard my 5 year old child saying them. I can use words that lift up God though! Ex: What in the Eden is going on here?!

Does that work? When you love someone should it feel like a chore? Should it feel restrictive? Absolutely not. It should feel liberating. It should overwhelming. In a good way. It should feel like you would do absolutely anything to make that other person happy.  Why in the world would we treat God any differently? If you can’t love God it’s gonna be difficult for you to love an imperfect person (including yourself).

Speak on it! What else can we do?

(That is how old people pronounce “courting.” And it makes me chuckle every time. Ok maybe I’m generalizing. By old people I mean my grandma and my great aunt.)

Check this out: Courting vs. Dating & Courting process

So about this whole courting thing. I know so many people want to know what it means. How is it different from dating? Are they the same thing? When you are dating someone, you go on dates. Does this mean when you are courting someone, you go on courts? Is this a potato pot-ah-to thing? Or more of an apples to oranges thing?

Well let me give you my two cents: I don’t care what you call it. Are you trying to be with someone because you want to be married and are evaluating that person? Or because you feel lonely? Or bored? Or just because? The intent is what matters – what you call it does not.

But there are some people who do care what you call it. And who have questions. So I’m attaching a document that a friend shared with me about a year ago. It breaks it down so that it is forever broke. So here it is folks: “Courting vs. Dating & Courting process.” The first page distinguishes between what it means to court (coat, tehehe) and to date. The second page walks you through the courting process. And while I don’t care what it is called, I definitely rocks with this document because it says the very first stage of courting is this:

“Commit yourself to being sold out for Christ.”

Step 1, check! (And if Step 1 is not a check, then do not pass go, do not collect $200). Cue music (and scene):

Just cracked open Priscilla Shirer’s Resolution for Women and boy oh boy is it gonna be a doozy. From Part 1:

“When you’ve concluded that what you already have on hand is enough, that it’s adequate – that it’s been deemed by God as sufficient – then you’re equipped and empowered to participate fully in the tasks set before you during this season of life…Your God can be trusted to grant you the supply you need to excel at His purposes. So if you don’t have it – whatever it is- it’s because you don’t need it. You may want it, but it’s not necessary in order to accomplish what He knows is most important for your life today. Otherwise He’d have given it to you.” -Priscilla Shirer (also see 2 Cor 9:8)

It’s as simple as that folks.

One of the things that robs us of our happiness is ourselves. It’s our constant desire to want more. Or to want something different. Our current phase, our current state, our current car, our current bank account balance, is never enough. As a single, we want to be in a relationship. In a relationship, we want him to propose. When you get married, you’re already thinking about a bigger house. A promotion. Kids. We are never present in the moment. Which means we are not truly practicing contentment. Not being content is the only thing that can truly rob us of our peace.  Comparing ourselves to what the next person has (or what they claim they have on facebook, twitter, or instragram) doesn’t allow us to fully enjoy the blessings that God has given us at this very moment. Valorie Burton, author of a great book called Successful Women Think Differently, calls it the hedonic treadmill. And she implores us to get off of it.  Well, I for one don’t like treadmills anyway. All that huffing and puffing and getting tired but going nowhere.  But I digress…

It’s important for us to realize that we have enough. That we are enough. That whatever God has ordained as our purpose for this very moment, he has provided. We have enough to fulfill today’s purpose. By desiring more than we need we are wasting energy, precious energy that should be directed towards our purpose. We miss opportunities to make today better for us or for those around us when we are focused on tomorrow. We often say, “I need more money” or “I’ll do that when I get my life together.” But repeat after me – I AM ENOUGH. I HAVE ENOUGH. (Repeat 10 times infinity times or until you believe it. And then repeat it some more.)

Also note that this is not saying that you shouldn’t be expectant and move when God tells you to move. Quite the contrary – there is a balance. But you will never find that balance if you are only looking at tomorrow and not savoring the blessings of today.

In what area of your life does this apply to? Resolve to be content. Acknowledge that you have enough. (And go get this book! Only one section in and I already know it’s gonna be added to the Life Changing Bookshelf.)

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“People tend to spend more time preparing for their wedding than they do preparing for their marriage.” – Dr. Naima Cherie Price (who came up with this invaluable document that is the basis of today’s post)

Getting to know the person that you are about to marry is really important. I think so many people get wrapped up in the lovey-dovey feelings or the planning of the wedding, that they don’t spend time really getting to know each other and asking each other the “hard” questions. Hell, sometimes we don’t ask each other the simple questions. And that can lead to putting yourself in a bind years down the road when you find out something you should’ve discovered early on but now you feel “invested” in the relationship so it’s that much harder for you to walk away.  For example, after a year, I should know how much money you make. You should know how much money I make. We should know where the other person stands financially. But maybe that’s just me. I’m not at all saying that money determines whether or not you should be with someone. Instead, I just think you should know who you are with. You should get to know this person inside and out.

When you are buying a house or looking for a new apartment, you check the place out. You read reviews. If it’s a home purchase you look at the historical sales prices. You look at the records of the property. And most importantly, you go through every nook and cranny of the house – opening cabinet doors, moving appliances out of the way, paying for an inspection, just so that you can make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. And not saying that your home/apartment will be perfect. Not saying that if the inspector finds water damage in the basement then you won’t move in – no it’s just saying that at least you have done your homework and can make an informed decision about your home purchase. Now, you are much more prepared to deal with the water damage, whether that means you save up for some renovations before moving in or just take extra precautions, at least you know! Imagine the horror of signing your name on the dotted line, instantly becoming hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, and then discovering a long laundry list of items that you didn’t know were wrong with the house. That’s the worst. We do the inspection before the purchase for a reason. I just wish we practiced that same due diligence when choosing and learning about our mate.

My aunt shared this document with me that she found when she was preparing to be married. It’s called Getting to Know Your Mate: Before You Say I Do. It’s 10 pages  (yes, 10!) of questions that you and your mate can work through to get to know one another. Ten pages. Single spaced. Yes, it’s that serious. And you really get into the nitty gritty. Some of the questions are admittedly for couples who are in the latter stages of an engagement, but there are definitely some here that can help lay a great foundation for a relationship at any stage.

Some good ideas to help work through this document:

-Do it for yourself! Before you even get in a relationship, think about these questions and figure out what you want and who you are without the influence of some adonis looking young man clouding your vision. We spend a lot of time talking about the type of mate we want when we should really be figuring out the type of mate that we actually are.

-Do a question a day. This is what the author suggests. She says it should take about a year to do it that way.

Do a section a week. The questions are divided into various topics and this is the way that we started to work through them. It was cool because each week at dinner we would have an in-depth discussion about either family life, religion, finances, etc. It sure the beats the typical “how was your day” conversation.

-Do it individually and then swap answers. I think it can be beneficial to write down your responses and then share them with each other (as opposed to just saying the question out loud and then responding together). Sometimes, in conversation, you don’t get the opportunity to share everything you were thinking. Or you may find that your answers are influenced by your partner’s response. This helps make sure your voice gets heard and makes sure you’re not just saying something because it matches what your partner said.

-Have a “question jar.” Or something.  This would involve cutting the questions into strips of paper. Then whenever you are just sitting at home chilling, or even about to take a ride or go out to dinner (set your own rules!) you can pick out a question from the jar and discuss it. You could have a question jar in the car, at the dinner table, and on the coffee table!

-Set some ground rules. Example: There can be no judgement. Or have a code word that lets the other person know when you can feel yourself getting upset and want to table the conversation for another time.

-Just insert the questions into your regular conversations. Some of the questions will be easier than others to adapt into your conversations. But if you feel like your significant other wouldn’t be down to do this type of “homework” just find yourself asking him/her questions at random times. “Babe, do you think you and your future wife will have separate bank accounts or a joint account for everything?” could lead to a really rich conversation and tell you something about your potential mate without it even seeming like a “task” you have to do.

-Have fun! This is work. It’s a lot of work. And it won’t always be pretty. But you can either put in the work now, or you can be surprised and upset later. Look at it as a challenge. It’s the discovery of your potential mate. And it’s one of the best investments you can make towards a lasting, and transparent, marriage. And if you find out something that causes you to want to end the relationship, aren’t you glad you discovered that sooner rather than later? That’s definitely a win-win.

Check it out. Getting to Know Your Mate: Before You Say I Do by Dr. Naima Cherie Prince.