Jala was almost finished helping Mrs Lueth prepare for all the young adults who were coming over for fun and fellowship that Saturday afternoon. Mrs. Lueth’s house was big enough to accommodate several groups of young adults at the same time and she enjoyed having them over. Jala could hear Mrs. Lueth calling her softly as she finished cleaning off the kitchen countertop.
Jala sank into one of the plush brown outdoor chairs on the balcony, suspicious of what might be coming next.
“Auntie Lu, what’s going on?”
“Something’s been on my mind recently since you introduced me to that young man.”
“Oh dear!” Jala let out a sigh as she cuddled one on the cushions placing one hand under chin. “Do we really have to talk about Ephraim?”
“Aaah… we don’t have to talk about Ephraim, but we do have to talk about you. I’ve been praying for you, asking GOD what’s happening? Jala…You are in a series of reaction. I only wonder if you can see what you’re reacting to.”
Jala felt something in the pit of her stomach. This conversation has gone so deep so fast. She knew she could not be surface her answers to Mrs. Lueth. She was motherly with a dark chocolate complexion and pleasingly plump, with deep dimples that created apostrophes around her smile.
“Auntie, I don’t want to go back to where I’m coming from.” The tears started welling up in Jala’s eyes but Auntie Lue was not letting up. Her gentle countenance was most disarming, backed by her evident love. She folded Jala into a side hug which softly communicated that there was no getting away.
“You’re in quite a fight Jala. I see you waging a war against what started on the inside of you. When you end the war inside you’ll end the war outside.”
“These people hurt me! They dragged my name through the mud. Hardly any ever asked me to my face what happened. People I trusted spread lies about me and him. I’m still so embarrassed. I genuinely thought Jonathan loved me and was interested in being married to me. We got prophesies, Auntie!”
Jala was breaking and tears were flowing from her broken heart as she struggled to control her usually well guarded emotions.
“People said I slept with him! Oh my goodness Auntie. I felt like a church floozy! Me…a virgin!”
“It’s ok precious. It’s ok!” Auntie held her the more but Jala heaved until they were both on the tiled floor.
“Just let it out.”
“I never talked about it! I felt too ashamed. I messed up! I went too far with him. I could hardly talk to God after my repeated offence. Again I felt ashamed. Auntie….only to find out I was just one of the girls he was with in the church?
Her mouth opened with no words or sound, just tears. All this time Jala toughened up and blamed herself for being this foolish.
Auntie moaned alongside Jala like a midwife helping her to give birth.
“Let it out,” she comforted.
“It wasn’t even a month later he was engaged! I looked like I was trying break up their union…Auntie I wanted answers! Why did he choose me to make a fool of and why didn’t I see? How did I miss God?”
After many tears and snot, Mrs Lueth prayed her red hot fiery prayer for Jala, who was like a soaked handkerchief.
“You must forgive yourself Jala. You’ve repented for you part. Receive God’s forgiveness and freely give forgiveness to those who hurt you. The more you hold on to the pain, the less able you are to move forward. Your healing has started.”
Mrs. Lueth wiped her face.” Jala, remember that Ephraim was not there. He should not be punished for what others did.
“I knew that in my head. I felt I could not allow him to think for a moment that I was interested in him. I realized that I really enjoy his friendship once there was no threat of a relationship or others thinking there was.
Mrs. Lueth could hear the cars pulling into the cul de sac and got up to remotely open the gates from the balcony so that the early birds could park in the yard.
Walking back to Jala she added, “Don’t waste your energy trying to get people not to talk about you. My mother once told me, ‘Live free and let people be.'”
Jala quickly got off the floor, to fix up before everyone was inside the house. “Thank you Aunty Lue. I feel so light. Yes, and free!”
As soon as she disappeared in the bathroom, Chari’s loud voice filled the house.
“Auntie Lue, I smell something good!”
Abe and Ephraim followed behind carrying all the bags Chari gave them to take in the house.
“Hello my children,” Auntie did a dance coming down the stairs. She greeted them one by one and made effort to especially welcome Ephraim.
“Where’s Jala, Aunt?”
It’s been a hectic morning. She’s gone to shower.”
“So Ephraim I hear that you go to the Baptist Church not far from us.”
“Yes, mam,” answered Ephraim trying not to appear awkward while fighting the memory of his first introduction to Aunty Lue.
The three sat around the island in the kitchen, while Auntie Lue plastic wrapped the trays of food and chatted about her friends at the Baptist Church that Ephraim attends.
The bell rang again as Jala came into the kitchen greeting everyone and she grabbed the remote to open up from the balcony.
“Can I help you with anything,” asked Ephraim.
“Great, thank you. Ephraim, you take the igloo out to the balcony, Abe you get the ice from the deep freezer and Chari you come with me.”
As Ephraim headed to the balcony he hesitated as if he wanted to make a u-turn.
“Fraim, sang Jala, I’m so glad you came.”
“Really, cause I don’t want to embarrass you anymore.”
“You don’t embarrass me, but I’m embarrassed about my behaviour toward you. Could we please start over?
Jala extended her hand for a handshake.
“Nope,” Ephraim turned his back.
“But we can pick up from the where we left off in benevolence.”
Jala slowly breathed a sigh of relief, quickly shaking Ephraim’s hand.
“Friends,” they both agreed.
Auntie Lue glanced at them and gave out a “Thank you Jesus!”
Chari and Abe were just in time to create a huddle and a strong bond was formed.
Hey, we’re not done. More Church Girl Series coming. Tell us if you can relate these characters and scenarios. Jot us a line and be sure to share the story with friends. Thanks in advance!
After many days of clearing out the benevolence room, with very little help, Jala could see her vision materializing. She had a passion for the poor and devoted every evening after work for the past month, to revamping the room.
Her vision was to ‘help with honor’ way beyond just giving the poor a few food items. She finally had the approval for the construction of a small office within the large benevolence room. Jala removed the dark curtains that blocked the sunlight and brought in a few sheer panels she had convinced her friend Chari she did not need. Chari was used to Jala pulling her into the benevolence Ministry to help at a moment’s notice.
In benevolence ministry, she had latitude and could avoid being upfront, yet serve the people she was passionate about. Chari often tells her that she hides in benevolence to avoid interaction with majority of the church.
This was Jala’s passion!
“Jala, you’re back there?”
Jala could hear a coarse male voice calling her as it drew closer to the benevolence room. It was Pastor Pruitt, who played a major role in Jala becoming a Christian.
“I’ve got some help for you! Where do you want the cupboards and the shelves?
“Pleasant evening Pastor Pruit,” said Jala as Pastor Pruitt steps aside.
“This is the help I brought you. Meet Ephraim who will be doing the cupboards and shelves for the room. Please tell him where everything goes.
“Oh Hello, Ephrem, E-phraaim?”
“That’s okay. I’ve heard it all. I’ve even had someone spell my name starting with an ‘F’ for Ephraim.
Jala laughed and ushered him into the room.
“I don’t know what my mom was thinking. If she wanted a Bible name, why not David?”
“Follow me, David!”
They both laughed. Jala explained the new layout and Ephraim wasted no time measuring up the space.
As Ephraim worked, he and Jala chatted away as if they had known each other for years.
“So, what is this church like, and how long have you been a Christian?”
“Wow! That’s a lot of questions…let’s see…vibrant church, not without issues and 5 years.”
Stopping to process what Jala said, he added, “That works.”
“You might consider me a baby Christian, but I’m excited about my new life. I got saved at a church not far from here about a year ago.”
Jala was standing on her desk trying to hang a few frames, while Ephraim continued measuring outside the office.
The light flickered…
“Did you see that?
“I’m glad you did,” replied Jala.
Soon there was an explosion and the electricity was out. Hardly any light came through the window now.
Jala, frighten, tried making her way off her desk and twisted her ankle in panic.
“I’m here… I’m here. Are you alright?”
Ephraim pulled out his phone flashlight and found Jala trying to get off the floor. She was embarrassed. Jala hated to admit her need for help to a complete stranger, no matter how kind he appeared.
“Did you fall?”
“No,” she snapped. By this her ankle was pounding and painful. The tears were rolling down her cheeks and she was grateful for the darkness.
“How embarrassing,” she thought.
Realizing that Jala could hardly walk Ephraim offered to help. She reluctantly laid her pride aside and held on to David, hopping out of the room.
“What was that?”
Ephraim understood that the bubbly personality he met only hours ago was now very uncomfortable. He shifted the attention to the incident at hand as they walked down the hallway.
Upon approaching the exit door, they could see lights. There were lights of fire trucks, ambulances and a fire at the gas station across the road.
A crowd had gathered outside the church, as many prayed for those who were being placed in ambulances.
Jala realized that her pride being hurt was insignificant to the dire situation before them.
“Jala we had forgotten about you and Ephraim around the back,” said Pastor Pruitt. “Are you okay?”
By this Jala was standing on her left leg, while Ephraim braced her from the side.
As soon as Pastor Pruitt asked the question all eyes gazed puzzlingly to Jala and Ephraim. Jala knew what that meant. She could only imagine their conversations and thoughts.
“Didn’t she just meet him?”
“What’s his arm doing around her?
“They wasted no time.”
“Is he even saved?”
Again… Jala felt a covering of embarrassment. It was what she wanted to avoid the most…giving church people something to talk about. Her swollen right ankle left her no option. She had to take the help and risk being falsely accused. It only got worse when she got in her car and Ephraim drove her home.
Jala had a few things to say to GOD.
“God how could you do this! You know I have maintained a clean reputation. I’ve stay away from unfruitful relationships and things that fuel gossip. Now I seem to be caught up with a man I know nothing about…a baby Christian at that. The poor thing has no idea what he just stepped into. I will have to live this down. Why, me? I hope this guy doesn’t get any ideas in his head.”
Follow us on the next blog to find out how the guarded Jala handles the unwanted attention from her church family and poor Ephraim.
It’s love and it’s beautiful! It’s heart-thumping and nerve-racking, but sweet! There is a bond, a connection and a feeling like forever is not long enough. It’s what the movies are made of! There is the occasional step back that makes you wonder if this is “too good to be true.” But what more could you ask for when the love is undeniable?
So glad you asked. Let’s stop for just a crucial moment and turn down the background music to really take a sober look at the marriage you passionately desire. Like any iconic building, marriage needs a strong foundation. After building that strong foundation, please turn back up the music and let the church bells ring with joyful laughter.
Even before starting the building, please consult the ‘Marriage Maker’ to find out if it is worth your time, effort and emotional investment. Did GOD give you the nod? This might leave you feeling lost, so let’s be clear. Very rarely will the voice of GOD thunder from heaven in approval of your spousal choice. Instead, this requires a relationship already established with Him where you, as His sheep, hear His voice. In worship when you have drawn close to Him and sense His presence, pop the question and wait. You might not get a worded answer, but you have started the quest. He is a good Father who will not give you a stone instead of bread. God wants you to know who to marry.
For me, He guided me by His profound peace. I came to realize that many of my decisions would be made this way since He wants me (us) to know Him this intimately. God will, in addition, confirm His approval in many ways: some very logical and others crafted just for you.
The work has just begun!
Not because he or she is the “one” means that it will be smooth sailing! You both have to empty your trunk of junk from the past, air your expectations in marriage and make a plan for this new family unit that you can both agree to. You guessed it…get pre-marital counseling! By the way, counseling should start when you both decide to pursue each other for the purpose of marriage – courtship. It does not start after you have sent out your “Save the Dates” for the wedding.
This preparation period if mishandled will turn something beautiful into a horror show! Besides the trunk of junk that each person carries into relationships, each has undefined expectations that one may consider is commonly known. Oh, contrary!
Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Pr 4:7
God is entrusting you to love His daughter or His son and it will require serious adjustments on both sides. Some things will come naturally for you, while others, you will be taught in the process of learning to love each other. It is work! It’s not automatic! The more you are yielded to God, the more easily you will love like 1 Cor 13. This chapter speaks of committed love, the only kind that marriage should be built on. Note…1 Cor 13 goes where no emotion nor fling can follow. It too takes work!
We’re in London, England on our first anniversary…what could go wrong?
Sorry I asked…
We were chipper leaving the hotel and heading off into the great unknown to make our own anniversary adventure. Oxford Circus was a buzz and an exciting vibrant atmosphere surrounded us as we delighted in all its architectural offerings.
Admittedly, it was a little dampening when we learnt we could not catch any of our favourite plays in a theatre that day since they were fully booked. Still, if there was one thing we were – it was hope-full.
We shook that off and headed for dinner. You know, a little fancy restaurant to enjoy fine cuisine. The restaurant we settled with didn’t look ideal but we thought it might do the trick. After ordering, we chatted and shared our excitement about being on tour with the band for a month as well as all we would do together. Soon our Italian cuisine arrived and though not visually stimulating, we were ready for “new.” We got just that! Frozen squid in tomato sauce plopped on top of spaghetti, was new.
Eventually, we gave up on food and decided to browse the vibrant Oxford Circus. We soon found a struggling Czech Republic migrant who drew this picture with one pencil. He captured some facial features well and missed others, but we were happy.
Night was starting to fall and we decided to catch the train back to our hotel, after getting some directions to the station. We soon realised we were lost, very lost! We were lost for hours. All the honey in our moon was gone and we became annoyed with each other. We waved at taxis one after the other and stood confused as to why they ignore us. Hours passed and it was dark…and hopeless. We comforted each other, feeling the scourge of rejection. It dawned on us that we were Black. After praying, waving at more taxis and waiting, a kind taxi driver drove past us and returned. Interestingly, he dropped us in front of our hotel in under 5 mins. We were so close to the hotel.
As we entered the hotel lobby, we were greeted by band members who added the icing to our ‘anniversary experience.’ They informed us that the tour had been cancelled and we had to find a place to stay by tomorrow!
We laughed and laughed! Indeed, we were on a longer ‘adventure’ since we were stuck in England for a month now, with no more concerts. We decided to make the most of it and ride every wave that came.
At the end of that night, we ordered room service and had the best lasagna ever! We celebrated our love for each other and apologized for the moments we lost track of the main things. Looking back over the 21 years of marriage. Our attitude has been a lot like that first anniversary. We challenge each challenge together as one force and laugh a lot.
Courting is an exciting time of discovery and romance, laden with the mystery of weaving two lives together. I remember how keenly we planned our many excursions which strangely erased unfamiliarity and brought us closer together. The task of getting to know each other was the most rewarding job we could have been given. Certainly, we would do it well...like two nerds with sharpened pencils at the front of the class.
When we decided to upgrade from friendship to courtship, we promptly brought our decision to our pastor. So here was the assignment: get a journal and extensively log all your expectations in marriage and after writing, exchange books with each other. Hmmmm…interesting!!!
While you may call our premarital counseling somewhat of a drive-by counseling, these two nerds took the assignment to task journeying across Jamaica with our journals. Whether with fresh caught fish on the seaside or discovering a castle on a mountainside, we pulled out our Expectations journals (EJ). Discovering each other stirred deep conversations.
Like flipping the pages of our hearts to view the next set of details we uncovered our expectations in marriage ranging from how we want to be loved to who washes the dishes. Dating became fruitful and very interesting.
As I often say, the marriage you’re going to have is already programmed into your heart. It therefore makes sense to unveil the heart unashamedly in the early stages so each gather enough information to know if this is the one worth committing to. Differences are certain, but an amicable conclusion can often be reached.
After honestly and diligently going through a range of topics in our EJ, we were better prepared to tackle the tumultuous early years of marriage, understanding each other’s expectations.
Here’s a taste of a question you’ll tackle in the EJ, “If we have a conflict, how would you like me to approach you?”
After 20 years of marriage, we want to help couples navigate through the premarital stages with the Expectations Journal.
Unlike a plain journal, we have made it special with prompts and pictures that you will make into your own memorabilia, while getting on the same page with your spouse. We have provided a list of potent subjects that premarital couples should certainly discuss before marriage.
Interestingly, we still have our Expectations Journal and carry them on almost every anniversary. We chuckle over want we use to expect and refresh what we now expect. This premarital tool can accompany you on any date.
Get ready! Choose a topic. Write your heart out about it! Exchange books !
You may think you know what to expect!
Enjoy each other!
Order your copy of The Expectations Journal by Tania Case on Amazon.com.
Cherish…to hold or treat as dear; feel love for
For years I have counseled ladies to check for the clear signs that a guy cherishes them. It may seem quite simple and even a little insignificant, but think again. The reason a man cherishes a woman is because he has discerned the level of her value. Without that sense of treasuring you, he can easily mistake your identity and mistreat you.
Let’s find a biblical basis for this claim.
“He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favour from God.” Proverbs 18:22
If the man does not recognize that you are a “good thing” that leads him to increase in favor with God, you cannot expect him to truly cherish you. Your value is lost on him. It is important to identify that quality in your relationship. When you are treasured, you are treated with love, care and caution.
Take a look at one of my favorite Kings – King Lemuel.
“A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.” Proverbs 31:10
This King understood that to find this woman is rare. He likens her worth to more than that of rubies! Do you think that he understood and cherished the value that this woman carries? Let’s be fair. Notice the woman that this man cherished. She is of noble character.
These words are used to describe the Chayil
strength, might, efficiency, a force like an army, rich in abilities
She is a woman of valor.
So while we advocate for being cherished in a relationship, we equally urge you to possess high character qualities that will make it abundantly clear that you are a daughter of the true King and therefore royalty. Value yourself and you will be setting the standard for how you are treated.
Tassia has imagined her love story from as long as she could remember. Though life has thrown her some hard punches, her hope remains buoyant and fresh. Much to the annoyance of her friends she continues to talk about her dream marriage. It’s as if she is as excited about it as she is about her Christian walk. If you’re around her, that fervor will either annoy or inspire you. When she talks about her husband, eyes usual drift to her uncrowned finger in wonderment. It’s not that she is not aware that her faith and fervor thins out her crowd. Some laugh in front of her face but many more the moment she turns her back. She is void of any emotional stress that their rolling eyes may convey.
For Tassia, this confidence came out of a deep place of relating to GOD in prayer. She sought Him and He assured her of the son He has assigned as her husband for His purpose. Consistently and affectionately she seeks Him, who fills every void in her. She has dealt with the baggage she carried into several relationships unknowingly. Tassia would expect disappointment in various forms, so she braced for it in her relationships. Eventually, she would herself sabotage the relationship in order to avoid suffering the pain at someone else’s hand.
She was called away to GOD. There HE opened her heart and show her the persons she had to let go. HE showed her the beliefs she had to surrender to renew her mind. It was a power struggle. It took time for her to realize that the very thing she was comfortable to keep could kill her destiny. The fasted lifestyle took a hold of the rope that constricted her generations from healthy marriages demanding that it be fragmented. She partnered with the only One who could deliver her, denying her own way for His.
Don’t grudge her as she rises from the reputation you’ve known her to have, or the past that predicted her failure. Tassia is a bride made ready for her groom through yielding. She is no longer fickle, needing someone to fulfil her. It’s in her GOD that she has been made whole and strong.
Is she healed just so she can be married? Oh no! Her healing is the reason you can call her a faithful friend. Her processing is why she was employee of the year and many gravitate toward her.
Those who laughed, their laughter have been abruptly silenced and they are in awe as her many weighted words make way for her dream to materialize. Learn her ways. They are not unique to her. The Marriage Maker welcomes you into the same healing and strengthening. Honestly, Esther would attest that there is a price called – sacrifice. Don’t fear or discredit yourself, for you are granted the empowerment you need to succeed.
Here’s a little secret…If you’re not healed from the thorn-bush experiences that you’ve repeatedly tumbled through, you’re probably not in the best shape to know your type of guy. Will you not choose from those who do not threaten the unhealed areas of you? Well that would mean that your past pain is ruling your future.
If the right one comes along, will your scarred lenses detect him as you look through windows of pain? I would never dear to kick you while you’re down. No I am here to administer medicine you may likely think you don’t need.
It’s time now to purposefully return to the scene of the crime. Where they hurt you. Where they abandoned you. You know that place you erased from your memory in order to cope. Little did you know that you’re daily reacting to that trauma. Making decisions based on it… choosing friends based on it….viewing life based on it.
If only we could go there and remove the fears you found and carried from there. There were some decisions you made as a result of the heavy disappointments that your heart could hardly carry. They were vows intended to protect you against that terrible scenes but instead the vows built chains binding you to your unwanted past.
Again…I’m only here to administer medicine for a soul that can be healed. I need you to cooperate. Aaah…open your mouth and denounce those vows.
Open again…keep it open and repent of becoming so self sufficient, that you can hardly receive help from anyone – your defense mechanisms employed to protect the wound, but it shut you out of living.
Open up again and forgive the perpetrators of that penetrating pain. Please can I ask you once more to cooperate with me as you denounce hatred which sprung to existence taking advantage of your awful situation. Father’s arms are opened for you to collapse in it and surrender…
Did I say, “Father?” Now you don’t want to hear me since much of your pain came from him. This FATHER is not like that one. HE says He’ll never leave you nor forsake you. His love is forever…yes steady…like a credit card it’s maxed out on you…He wants you healed and whole…flourishing from a prosperous soul.
The healed you is amazing with strength and resilience. You’re telling your story as people wonder if it’s even possible to rise from such dark places to the light of the platform you stand on. Your soften heart embraces the many who are where you were. You only know to love them to life after Father poured his love all over your life. Look at you!
Now confident in GOD’s love, you have permission to fearlessly receive and give love. So who is your type? I’m holding his description against the one you once had and they are looking drastically different. With cleaned heart and cleared lenses, love finds this “good thing.” You know now that you had to be healed to even known and receive your type.