April 14, 2014

Do You Know the Benefits of Dating Yourself?

By Tatianah Green

My me-date at the John Legend concert

I have a new article up on Black and Married With Kids for the singles about the benefits of taking yourself out on dates. I think it's important to date yourself as a single because you don't need another individual to validate you or your worth. 

In the process of waiting for your future spouse to come into your life, take some reflection time and learn about you, your likes and dislikes, and treat yourself how you'd want to be treated on a date. Fear nothing! Kick those negative thoughts to the curb and enjoy your life. This is why I love to post the S.O.S. Summer of Single series on the blog. (SN: if you have ideas for that feel free to share with us at bliss4singles@gmail.com). 

In this new article for BMWK I share my experience on a "me-date" and some benefits from dating yourself. Have you been on a me-date before? Be sure to Like and Comment in the article!

April 8, 2014

How do you like your popcorn? Rushing vs. Waiting in Dating

By Tatianah Green 

I feel like I deal a lot with the issue of waiting on this blog. I mean, as singles, we have a season of waiting like we'd like to see it (short!) and then there's the reality (God's perfect timing). Maybe you can testify too that God's timing can take, well a while. It’s kind of like making popcorn.

You have a couple of options: you can either do it the “old fashioned way” by using corn kernels, oil, etc. or you can pick up a package of popcorn and put it in the microwave for about a minute or so. You know how long it can take for the natural method? About ten minutes. But you’re hungry now and you don’t want to take all the effort, energy and time to get that delicious and buttery popcorn for your favorite movie or TV show that’s coming on soon.

When comparing dating to making popcorn, we can see the differences between the two methods. Now, the results look a bit similar, but the taste is where the similarities stop.

Microwave dating is as instant as it is dangerous. It's quick and seems to easily resolve a yearning or desire while saving you time. Can God bless you in an instant? Absolutely. But when it comes to our life journey, God is constantly pruning the old impatient us into the likeness of His Son Jesus, who is a great example of faith, patience and not taking the easy way out to get results.

In Luke 4 He was tempted by satan to rule over the kingdoms of the world if He would just bow to the father of lies. He resisted the devil with scripture, reminding the enemy that it is God whom He will worship and serve. Now, when your flesh, friends, and family come to remind you about how old you are and ask where is your wedding day-- knowing dang well you don’t even have a potential boo in mind-- you don't have to succumb to the pressure to get into a microwave relationship.

If we chase dating and relationships on our own terms, we are not consulting God with our decisions. A man and woman may make plans in their hearts, but it is the Lord who directs their paths (Proverbs 16:9). You may have heard of the phrase “fools rush in” before and it’s never been truer than in these times. Rushing into dating or relationships can cause a destructive pattern for all those involved.
  • Like with the microwave popcorn, just because it comes to you quickly doesn't mean that it’s good for you.
  • Microwave popcorn gives the illusion of a healthy snack but it’s packed with preservatives and sodium that are not good for you in the long run.
  • It’s great at first to have a quick start and finally get going on something good, but if it’s not on the right settings, it can easily and quickly get destroyed/burned up.

Now making the case for traditional popcorn, it takes time, concentration, and effort to make the popcorn of good quality and taste. You have to pay attention to details. It requires having the right ingredients to make the perfect blend of spices and elements to create something great. I almost deviated from the topic when I found this list of 40 popcorn recipes, including red velvet flavored. You'll note that most of them take time to make the delicious goods.

  • Have a goal, purpose, and mission in mind that respects both you, God, and those who you get involved with. No shortcuts when you're going the Lord's way.
  • Evaluate what you have within you that will nurture or build up a relationship. We often get into relationships expecting the outcome to be solely on the hands of the one we are with but that’s not the case.
  • Don’t date or enter relationships unless you’re ready to. Not “thirsty” or anxious ready, but ready with a sober and mature mind released from God to go after the opportunities.
  • Overall, don’t rush a great thing for the sake of having something that you think is great. This is not for just popcorn and relationships, but with many decisions that we make in our lives on a daily basis.

April 1, 2014

Reasons Why You're Not Married: Wrong Intentions

By Tatianah Green

We normally hear one part of scripture in service and run with it. One of those happens to be in
John 15 when Jesus was giving an excellent metaphor about vines, branches, and our discipleship. I'm sure you've heard before, "Ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you." That's what Jesus tells us, then we start going crazy in praise because we can get whatever we want if we just ask the Father.

Hol' up, there's more to this verse than what meets the eye. It's important to read the rest of the related scriptures with that verse to get context as to why it was said, who it was said to, etc. The first part of John 15: 7 states "If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you." The keyword in that whole text is IF. We can get whatever we wish, but on the "condition" that we remain in Christ and His word remain in us. It's just that simple, and it's just that hard.

I think that one of the many reasons why we as singles are not married yet (for those who want to be married anyway) is because we are asking with the wrong intentions, mindset, and spirit. I can witness to this myself because I've done it-- praying for marriage with the wrong intentions and no knowledge of what it meant to be married and the purpose of it for my life. For example, I would say I want to be married for some legal sex [legal sex = sex within marriage]!

Yes, we Christians can get in our hormones and desire, lust, and idolize marriage if we have the wrong intentions for marriage. We can be hopeful about being married one day, but asking God to give you a husband or wife when you're not giving your time to God is asking with the wrong intentions. Asking to be married on selfish reasons, for legal sex with your spouse, to be taken care of, to keep up with friends or colleagues, or any other vain reason is simply with the wrong intentions. Men do it, and women do it.

We have also heard the scripture referring to "you have not because you ask not" before. Again this scripture is also taken out of context often and I've probably done that on this blog referring to a previous post but when looking at the whole James 4 in the Message version, it's a butt whoopin' for the spirit. Believers in this text are referred to as "spoiled children," boldly coming to God and asking for things and people that God never intended for them to entertain. The NKJV states that we are asking amiss, meaning we are asking "wrongly or inappropriately." Singles, we are those spoiled kids that James referred to every time we come to God in prayer with the wrong intentions for marriage. 

It's more than just having a title, marriage is a ministry, it's hard work, it's to help others, it's to easily forgive, it's to be selfless, it's to break down yokes and strongholds in generations. If you're prayers don't include some or all of those things when you ask God for marriage, what are you asking Him for exactly? If you want to get married someday, you must make the decision to be a good partner to the One who gave you life. I'm learning and living this thing too, so don't feel discouraged at all! Keeping Christ at the center of your life is more than just doing it to get a spouse or a new home or other blessing either. We love God because He first loved us, and His will for us is better than what we could ever want. 

What helps you remain in Christ? Prayer, fasting, meditating on scripture, renewing your mind in Him. We want to be actively living out the principles of Christlike character and loving our neighbors as ourselves, bearing the fruits of the spirit. We have to work on holiness and righteousness in our single season; improve your holiness for your future spouse and family, but most of all for God because that's what He wants from you. Remember that we are the branches and Christ is the vine; we cannot do anything without Him. And why would you want to? We need God's direction and Holy Spirit working within us to accomplish our purpose on this earth and obtain favor from the Lord. It's "I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength" [Philippians 4:13] not "I can do this on my own." That's why so many divorces happen, because people got tired of waiting on God and went after marriage without His timing or approval. 

Don't be like the prodigal son, asking our Father for a blessing before it's time because you're bored or acting spoiled. Get busy and get in God's business. When you center your life around Christ you will think more like Him and your wants and will for your life will mirror His. That's the whole point of the scriptures in John 15. We are to bear fruit like Christ, not bear our own fruit our own way. John 15:16 MSG says “You didn't choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, He gives you." 

So if it's not your season or year to get engaged or married, it's okay. Stay in the will of the Father, please Him and seek out His perspective on you getting married. Ask Him to change your mindset on finding love and rid your heart of any wrong intentions. I hope this helps someone. I'm tired too y'all, but guess what, we have to carry our crosses and walk after the One who gave us life. He knows what you desire. Ask with the right intentions, leave it be at His will and pace, and get back to business. 

March 28, 2014

Why Men should still want to be a “Good Guy”

By Tatianah Green

My friend Russelyn Williams shared this experience and question on her Facebook status this week:

“I recently talked to a gentleman who is actually a really good guy. The gentleman is 33 years old. He mentioned that when he was younger he would date girls who would tell him, ‘You will make a really good husband one day for someone, just not for me.’ He said that is part of what influenced him over the years to become a bad boy in a sense because those girls would go after the bad boys.

Can women be blamed for some of what we have to deal with concerning men because of how we've used our power of influence?”

Yes, women can be manipulative, lead on, give false information, etc. Women do have a level of influence on the men they date, and men have powerful influence on women in the same way. We as men and women can do damage to one another's egos and lives when it comes to relationships. Every bad experience should be a lesson on what not to do and what to do. If you change yourself for the worse to get the people you desire then you're going after the wrong things. 

Don’t take rejection too personally.

Men, I truly commend you for being able to do something that many of us ladies are too proud to do—approach. It’s not easy to approach and  pursue a woman, go out on dates only to be put in the "friendzone" or rejected the way that the man in our question was. In the midst of all that rejection, you have to realize that it’s not about you. If you feel that you gave your best efforts in good faith, then why take it personally? I encourage you to be confident and be strong in the midst of rejection and wondering why you’re not winning but the bad guys are. Trust me, ladies think the same of the “ladies” who are being celebrated out here lately.

You have to let it go, brush yourself off and try again with wisdom and not a chip on your shoulder. Don’t let any bad experience with a human being change your personality and true identity. It’s not in you to be a player, a dog, a baby daddy. God didn’t set you up like that. So if you get rejected because she’s not ready for you yet, it’s okay. Someone will be ready when the time is right. For now, get your confidence up and be determined to improve your best qualities so that you won’t have any doubts about yourself.

Get busy. 

What are you preparing for? If you think that you’re a good man, are you sure that you’re a good husband? Take some time in your single season and not date while learning what it really means to be a godly husband, an Ephesians 5 kind of husband, Proverbs kind of man, etc. When you meet a woman who is about her business she’s going to make sure that you know what you’re doing, so get some more knowledge because learning in powerful and it’s attractive!

Guys, we know it can be as frustrating waiting or looking for a good woman to cross your path as it can be for us women. As my pastor shared with us recently, he’s in a place where he has taken the focus off of his future spouse and left that desire at the altar. This means not giving up on meeting someone special, but to get your mind off of it. God already knows what you want, but if you’re at the point of obsessing over it you can’t fully be busy doing His work since you’re distracted! Many of you will have one of those ironic moments when you find something you’ve always wanted when you were not even focused on finding it; what a pleasant surprise that will be when you meet the person that God has for you! 

Also forget about comparing yourself to the bad guys. Don't envy what they have (Proverbs 24), for it will not last. That's stated many times in the Word to get through to us that we can't try to be like the world and get God's results for our lives and relationships. You have to be wise and remember that your moment will come in due time.

Know that you're different for a reason.

You were created to be different and set apart from the world. You are not made to please people, we were all made in God's likeness to please Him with our lives. You're cutting yourself short by letting rejection and bad dates turn you into someone you never intended to be.

So your experience may feel like one of those cases which the "good guy finishes last." But we have to remember that the difference between the bad guy and the good is that the good guy FINISHES. We know what the bad ones do: they take off, fall off, cheat, abuse, etc. Ask yourself or your friends how going with that bad boy ended up. Most times they ended badly for one reason or another. A good guy will finish what he started, a solid foundation, marriage relationship, raising children, bettering the environment around him to his last breath. A good guy will come through when times are tough because he knows better than the bad guy. 

When you allow God's timing to rule over your life, emotions and desires for a mate, you won't have to be hindered by rejection or want to compete with the bad boys/guys because God has the very best for you. Continue to be the good guy and run your race, we need more of you than you think.

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you
will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” -
Philippians 1:6

March 23, 2014

Why do we need marriage in 2014?

By Tatianah Green

In honor of Black Marriage Day 2014. I pray that marriages in our community are celebrated and covered by God, that marriage be honored by all others, and that the couples remain faithful to their vows to each other. 

In the 21st century it has been difficult to identify needs, wants and desires. Some are attainable and others seem to be impossible. For instance, statistics show that 70% of African American women will not get married ever. I ask that you firstly not get hung up on statistics because they are not often accurate. Secondly, if you have a desire to get married, it’s a good thing and it’s a step closer to actually getting married. If you believe in your heart that you want to get married or that it’s part of what you feel is your life’s plan, then take the time to discover the need to be married.

Yes, the need  to get married. This goes for men and women, who nowadays have delayed marriage  for several reasons, most current being the  economy. We all have something to contribute to the world, to the body of Christ that is bigger than ourselves-our purpose in essence. Is your future marriage a part of that contribution or positive change in the world?

The need to be in a marriage relationship suggests that one is desperate to be in a relationship or avoid loneliness, but I suggest that we see the glass as half full. We need marriage to build a strong and healthy basis for a home and a family. We need marriage to help others with the new beings we create or raise with our spouses. We need marriages to assure current and future generations that stable relationships can exist and take determination, commitment and God to succeed. 

We need marriage to encourage our friends and neighbors of other cultures to respect and regard one another in a Christ-like way, to combat what’s displayed in the media about us. We need marriage to complete the assignments of God’s will regarding the generational curses and cycles in each other’s families. Two people praying are better than one. We need marriage to build up our communities, engage in the growth and development of our economic standing in this country. 

We need marriages to compliment God's word on His love for the Church. We need marriage to show and prove that flesh doesn't win; the word of God stands firm and doesn't change because circumstances do. If marriage is something you're considering, then pursue God like no other time in your life. Get your partner involved and go at this together. Get godly counsel, mentors, education, and tune ups along the way to the altar and afterwards. 

If you are already married or newlywed, find new ways to honor your spouse and honor God with your relationship. Remember that it's not always just you two alone. You have God, you can get support and covering for your relationships. Challenges will come your way but God is the #1 supporter of marriage -- He created it and He will sustain you.

March 21, 2014

10 questions to get to know a man better

By Tatianah Green

The Wood (1999)
A few years ago I did a survey on dating and one of the results revealed that Men are more influenced by society and friends when it comes to dating and relationships. Reminds me of the film "The Wood" from the late 90s. It begs the question what society are they subscribing to and who are their friends?

If you really want to get to know someone, ask good questions that are open ended and not short response types. Don't ask these following list of questions all at once and make him or yourself feel like the date is an interview, but consider these questions to bring up in conversation to go beyond the surface of small talk. 

Also take note on the verbal and non-verbal cues that they give off when giving the answers. Is the person you're asking lying to you to say what you want to hear? Your discernment should be up and ready.  

This list is to help women better understand specifically what influences the men they are dating or in relationships with. There could be more for sure, but I just wanted to kickoff with ten. Their answers can give you a deeper insight on them and how they view life, love, and the Lord. Men, you can ask yourself these questions as well; it's important to take the time to self-evaluate to be aware of where you are and where God has you.

Ask about...

  1. Who does he look up to or want to be like?
  2. Who is his mentor or does he mentor someone?
  3. Who does he confide in outside of God?
  4. Does he serve in a ministry that supports his growth and development as a man and disciple of Christ?
  5. Does he now or he did at some point have issues with authority, elders, or leadership?
  6. Who are his closest friends and why?
  7. Who is giving him advice and what kind is it mostly (worldly, godly)?
  8. How does he approach his role in dating and relationships?
  9. What are his sources for getting wisdom?
  10. What are his thoughts about his brothers, both in a community and Kingdom perspective?

**Bonus: What does he think about Jesus?

Yeah, get all up in there with those questions. It's only "too deep" if you're not trying to take this person seriously. Sooner or later you will find out, but cut the time and fear by asking the important questions when the opportunity calls.

Scriptures to meditate on:
"Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” -1 Corinthians 15:33 NKJV

"Do not be envious of evil men, Nor desire to be with them; For their heart devises violence, And their lips talk of troublemaking." -Proverbs 24: 1-2

"He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed." -Proverbs 13:20 

"Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?" - 2 Corinthians 6:14-15(read the full chapter for more context).

March 17, 2014

What makes a Christian Man sexy?

By Tatianah Green

Actor/Model Charles Michael Davis
So I Googled the word “sexy” this past week. Not like I didn't know what it meant, but I wanted to know if I wasn't the only one who thought this before: “is it okay to call Christians sexy?”

In this series on encouraging the men, I’d like to attempt to dispel the rumor that Christians are boring and unappealing creatures, especially singles. Whoa, where did that come from? Perhaps from the world’s view on believers, and some religious folks as well. The issue with the definition of “sexy” is that we think that it’s subjective (one way) when it’s really objective (personal to the observant). In the world’s view, sexy is based primarily on the physical appearance and what the flesh desires from that person. We think that sexual attraction belongs to the world. Nope!

When we refresh our minds in a godly view, it’s very possible to be and acknowledge sexiness among our fellow believers. We aren't that prudish that we don’t find the opposite sex appealing in some way. If no one in the body of Christ ever thought of someone else as sexy/desirable/appealing, there’d be less people in the world. There are attractive and sexy people in the Bible, pleasing to the eyes of those who saw them. Sexual attraction is natural, but it cannot be abused to tempt, seduce, manipulate or cause someone else to sin. It’s inevitable that you are going to be attractive to someone, but save the full-on sexy for your spouse. Modesty and discretion are necessary for all believers.

We can have the desire to have a physically attractive mate, there's no shame in that to want someone fine to wake up to every morning (when you're married)! Aside from looks and other attributes that we may list as sexy when the question comes to mind, there are some attractive qualities of the heart and character that are undeniably attractive in a Christian man that you'll love as well.

Humility (Proverbs 15:33)
Loving and acknowledging God first is something that women like to see in men. It’s literally exciting! Not in a fleshly, sinful way, but a joy in the spirit arises when one acknowledges God and Jesus Christ. And if this person just so happens to be your significant other, it’s a nice plus to all the other qualities that you love or will love about them. 

When Matthew Mcconaughey gave that humbling speech at the Oscars this year, women looked at him in a different light. “He’s not bad on the eyes and he thanks God? I’m sold!” If we wanna get technical, he didn't say Jesus so it could be any “god” but it was perceived to many including me as the God Almighty whom we serve. You want a man who is not ashamed of the Gospel and what Jesus has done for him. He is willing to admit his mistakes and take into account that he didn't get to where he is without the Lord. James 4:10 says “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He shall lift you up.”

Self Control (Proverbs5:23)
Who wouldn't find this appealing? Self control of one’s body and desires is important in our faith because we are not living to please our flesh (Romans 13:13-14), but to please God. Abstaining from anything that will taint or corrupt your spirit and body shows that you care about your health and respect God’s will. Jesus made example of that on earth by resisting temptation and He set the tone for all to follow, including men. Men, ladies love a man who is not trying to pressure them for sex before marriage or take advantage of them. 

It’s attractive to hear a man is waiting til marriage because he realizes his worth and he can’t just share his gift with any and everyone. It’s mysterious, exclusive, special for that one woman he meant to marry. That is sexy for men to not only maintain their purity but to maintain the women who they date, court, and marry. We respect you more and will likely stick around if we are waiting too. Most men are no trying to marry women who are loose with their bodies, because it’s not attractive. Um guys, we don’t like that either. It is a challenge to remain pure in thoughts and actions, but it is still possible. God always provides a way of escape and a wise man of God will not put himself in situations to tempt himself or the woman he’s with. That consideration is both wise and attractive.

Women don’t always want to be in charge of things, believe or not guys. Most women would like for a man to take charge on date plans, show initiative and lead with the keyword: confidence. A man who is confident in himself and is able to show himself a leader in some way or another as a single and ideally lead over his one-day family as it says in Ephesians 5. In the words of Jesus, if one wants to lead, he must serve first. How is the man in your life serving others, his family, and you? A man who knows his purpose as a man and takes on the authority and leadership role in his life is attractive. There’s no room for insecurity on the destinations you all are trying to go on. This attractive man of God knows how to lead and be led by the Father.

A Solid Prayer Life
This reminds me of this t-shirt that I saw in the mall once: “Every woman wants a B.M.W. (Black Man Worshiping).” He has no issue taking the time to pray to God in good and bad times. Prayer is the best way to connect to God, and we need men to be connected in order to be effective leaders, confident, self-controlled, and humble. Remember Morris Chestnut’s character in The Best Man Holiday? It was attractive to see a man of his stature and success take a knee and pray to God. It takes a strong man to pray, and women notice that. You don’t have to have a long drawn out prayer, but come to Christ with a sincere heart and open spirit.  Daniel, David, and Jesus are just a few examples of men who weren't too proud to pray. Initiating prayer and being humble enough to pray is attractive and a desirable character trait in a Christian man.

Teachable (Proverbs 13:18, 19:20, 19:27)
A man can have everything going on for him when you meet him, but that may be a chance that he has a certain way of figuring things out or  that he’s stuck in his ways. This is particularly true for men over 35 years old. No matter what age, a Christian man is attractive when he has a teachable spirit. Sure this man may be smart, but he also yields to wise instruction. Pride is not his portion because he will listen to his wife even though he ultimately makes the final decision. 

Teachable makes this list because I don’t recall anyone saying that stubbornness is cute or sexy. There’s stern as in upholding a standard, and then there’s being a stick in the mud and not wanting to listen to a new idea that’s presented. We serve a God whose ways are higher than our ways and thoughts; a man of God is attractive when he acknowledges that he may not know all the answers but will strive to get them and is open to change that yields spiritual benefits.

Show me a sexy man in the world’s standards and I’m going to want to see more than his fine looks and hear his smooth talk. Get a real Christian man, because long after the looks fade, the heart of the man is what will keep you loving him as his wife and being his friend for life.