Grieving Good Friday

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Good Friday.

The day Jesus died.

We know the story. And we know what happens 3 days later.

For years, I read through the story of Jesus’ crucifixion in a steady rhythm with the resurrection already in my mind. It eased the sting of the words. It made it a little happier to read. I resisted soaking in the visual of my Savior being mocked and tortured…for me. My stomach churned to settle into that place.

Oh yes, Sunday was coming. But Friday came first.

The explosion of Christ’s glory was coming. But his blood came first.

I wonder how “good” the day Jesus was crucified looked to his followers.

Their King, their Savior, was betrayed, captured, mocked, spit on, tortured, then crucified. That doesn’t bring the word “good” to mind.

It looked like it was all over. It looked like darkness had won.

The Messiah; the one they had hoped for, the one they believed in, the one they gave everything up for; was now hanging lifelessly on a cross.

The forehead that wrinkled in empathy for the hurting and the lost; the forehead that crinkled when he laughed and smiled, was now wrapped with a crown of thorns. Blood poured out, streaming down the length of his mangled body.

The strong arms that had embraced little children were now stretched out. The same rough, carpenter hands that touched blind eyes to give them sight and that washed the feet of his disciples, were now nailed to the cross.

The feet that had walked countless miles to bring hope to the hurting were also now nailed together.

The voice that commanded the winds and the waves, “Peace! Be still!”; that called into the tomb, “Lazarus, come out!”, was now crying out from the cross, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”

Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

We have come to call today Good Friday. We call it good because that day changed everything.

On the day He died, we were brought to Life.

My heart and mind settle into that raw place of his crucifixion. My stomach still churns knowing He took the punishment I deserved. And my heart aches with raw gratitude knowing how desperately I need his salvation. It breaks me. It brings me to tears.

Chants of victory are coming…

…but groaning cries of bitter mourning came first.

So today, allow yourself to grieve and feel the weight of that day – the day that changed everything.

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

So Tired and So Happy – Encouragement for Every Mom

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“Motherhood is an experiment in how long your body can function without adequate sleep or nourishment and fueled only on adrenaline, caffeine, and baby smiles.” — Unknown

“Being a mom is the absolutely beeeeeest!” my friend squealed as she closed her eyes and covered her heart with her hands. She began describing all the wonderfulness of her new title of Momma. I had been married for less than a year, so babies were not yet in the forecast. I did however, have a puppy name Rowdee. I knew I would be able to relate to my friend, because babies…puppies…same thing. The only difference is with a puppy you are horribly inconvenienced because you can’t take a puppy into the grocery store with you.

“When she sleeps, she smiles and coos and it’s just the cutest thing ever!”

I totally get that. My puppy is adorable when he sleeps. Especially when he dreams of chasing a squirrel and his little legs start running. Ah, that’s the best.

“She’s not sleeping the best at night though. So I’ve been up with her a lot. But once I pick her up and see that sweet little face. It makes the tiredness worth it.”

I had to wake up at 4 in the morning last week to let Rowdee out to pee. His scratching at the back door totally interrupted my REM cycle. Man, I was exhausted the next day. I can totally relate.

“I’ll look at her and our eyes will connect. It’s just…indescribable!”

Rowdee looks at me when he wants a treat. Like, right in the eyes. So cute.

“She has these blowouts though. And the noises that come from that little girl! Wow! It’s kind of funny. We go through so much laundry every day.”

Yeah, Rowdee pooped in the floor the other day. Not funny though. I don’t get that one.

“I just stare at her and think, ‘Wow! I helped make that!’ I see so many of my features in her!”

Ok, that one’s all you.

When someone tried to explain motherhood to me before I was a mom, I smiled and nodded, thinking I understood. But really, I had absolutely no idea. I couldn’t possibly understand the depth of the word “momma” until I was actually there. I couldn’t comprehend such a fierce love until I held my child for the first time and my heart felt like it was going to melt right on to the floor.

As mommas, we don’t know what we’re capable of until we’ve been stretched and pressed and pulled in every direction imaginable. And still we emerge stronger, better, braver. Not just as mommas, but as women.

You’re doing it, friend. You are a good mom.

 

“Being a mom has made me so tired. And so happy.” –Tina Fey

You wake up in the middle of the night to rub hurting tummies and to kiss sick little foreheads. Tired aching feet, make their way into dark bedrooms, so you can play the role of knight in shining armor, scaring away bad dreams and shadow monsters. You stroke sweet heads and hum soft lullabies to calm scared hearts. You bounce, you rock, you walk and sway for miles upon miles, trying to get restless babies to rest. On a daily basis, you are faced with the dilemma, take a shower or sleep for 15 more minutes? The latter usually wins.

You do without, so they can have.

Momma, you are selfless.

“A mother is a person who, when seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.” — Tenneva Jordan

With the precision of a skilled surgeon, you carefully pull out splinters from tiny, kicking feet. When fun adventures take a turn, you bandage and kiss scraped knees. You hold wiggly arms and smile at crying faces during doctor’s appointments. With complete confidence, you reassure hurting little hearts it will be ok, even when you desperately need to be told that yourself. All of their aches, pains, bruises and scrapes hurt you more than them and sometimes it’s hard to stay strong. But you do it. Sometimes you feel like there is no strength left. But the moment they need it, you somehow always find a little more. Because you are their strength, also known as their momma.

Momma, you are strong.

“Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed.” — Linda Wooten

Motherhood is not for the faint of heart. It is not weak or easy or safe. You see the darkness in the world. You see the dangers. You see the pain. And if you could bubble wrap your babies for the rest of their lives, you would. But you know you can’t. Your task is far more difficult than simply keeping them safe. You have to teach them to be brave. That will include them experiencing pain and heartbreak. Simply the idea of them hurting in any way feels like a dagger in your heart. But you know a pain free life isn’t the ultimate goal. It can’t be. There’s no such thing. The goal, as a momma, is to raise little lives that will be bold, courageous and brave. Voices that will yell into the darkness, “I am not afraid!”; hands that will grow strong because they are constantly helping the weaker; feet that will lead others to freedom; hearts that will help carry others’ burdens to Jesus.

And at the end of the day, despite total exhaustion washing over you, when you hear that tiny, raspy voice say, “I wuv you, momma”…it’s all worth it. And you’re ready to do it all over again tomorrow.

Momma, you are brave.

Yep, you’re doing it. You are a good mom.

“Making the decision to have a child — it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” — Elizabeth Stone

Forgive and Forget

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Sometimes our 2 year old likes to remind us that she is in fact, very much 2. That is accomplished with ear piercing shrieks as she runs and hides behind the curtains at bedtime. Or sometimes it’s through very stern, unwavering NOs. She does NOT need a jacket in subzero degree weather. She does NOT need a nap. And most assuredly, she does NOT need to eat dinner before dessert. 

After one of her statements got…umm…brain-rattling loud…she was warned that if she screamed again, she would get a time out. There was a pause and then “the look”. If you’ve raised or even babysat a toddler, you know the look. It says, “I know I’m not supposed to, so I’m going to because I’m 2.” Our house filled with “Noooooo! AHHHHHHHHHHHH!” I’m pretty sure I heard every window in our house shake and every dog in our neighborhood howl.

Needless to say, she was told to march to her time out spot.

She served her time well and was released on schedule due to good behavior. I was so proud of her. She said she was sorry. We told her we forgave her. There were kisses and hugs and I love yous. And off she skipped to go play again.

My husband smiled at me and said something that really got me thinking. “I love that she simply accepts our forgiveness then skips off in freedom. I can’t imagine if she kept thinking about a mistake or continually felt guilty or sad for something she’s done. My heart would break. As a dad, I would be like, ‘I forgave you. It’s over. It no longer needs to affect anything. I forgive and forget.’ I bet that’s how God feels towards us when we keep dwelling on past mistakes instead of accepting His forgiveness and moving on in freedom.”

No truer words have been spoken.

It only takes me a moment to mess up, but I can beat myself up about it for a long, long time. I have the endurance of a marathon runner when it comes to dwelling on the mistakes I’ve made. Even after I’ve asked for the Lord’s forgiveness, my flesh sometimes likes to remind me of my failures.

My thoughts overflow with all the “what ifs.” The “I should haves.” The “I could haves.”

But I’ve realized something.

The enemy loves when we stay in an emotional and mental state of regret because it keeps us focused on the past. And as a result, our present is eaten away and we are not a threat to him in the future.

If the enemy can keep us embarrassed, he can hinder us from growing bold.

If he can keep us ashamed, he can prevent us from knowing our worth.

If he can keep us regretful, he can keep us from experiencing freedom.

If the enemy can keep us distracted, he can keep us from being effective.

We can’t expect the ground around us to flourish with joy and power if we keep our feet planted in contrite soil.

Sometimes looking into the past can bring healing and enlightenment. It can free us from bondage. But sometimes, looking back just reinforces the chains of those bonds.

Jesus has been showing me that it’s not about my mistake, it’s about my heart and choice today. And when He says He has forgiven me, He has forgiven me. Period. That’s it. End of story. He will never remind me of my mistakes to bring me shame, embarrassment or guilt. He will forgive and forget.

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:11 -12

Do we believe that Jesus’ blood was enough? If we do, may we live like it.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

Thank you, Jesus for the abundant life that You make available to us. May we live in your freedom. You are faithful & good. Your grace, your freedom, your forgiveness is sufficient for me. 

That Time I Sat In Pee

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So there’s been a lot going on in our home this week. I’m finishing a book proposal, my oldest daughter is potty training & my littlest is teething. I have seen 4am a few too many times this week, so my eyes are in a permanent state of bloodshot. I don’t know how you super duper early risers do it. I think there may be something wrong with you. Your eyes look happy & you smile way too much to be someone who gets up before the sun even sees fit to arrive. It’s just not normal. I’ll pray for you.

Anyways, needless to say there has not been one dull moment in our house this week. Case in point, I sat in pee. Not once, not twice, but three times.

As I was in the kitchen, my 2 year old ran up to me & said, “Uh oh, Mommy. Pee pee!”

Now for those of you with children, you know this means one of two things. Either your child is suddenly overwhelmed with a potty emergency & is requesting to go pee pee or…there is already a puddle of pee…somewhere.

As I turned the corner, I said a little prayer & clung to the hope that it would be the former.

However, it wasn’t.

I peeked over the recliner & there it was. A puddle. No, no, more like a lake. A lake of pee. Now there’s a visual for you.

I reassured my daughter it wasn’t a big deal & that I would grab a rag & clean it up. Well, sweet girl asked to help clean it (c’mon, how cute) so I grabbed a couple paper towels so she could help “clean” it until I could actually CLEAN it. Know what I’m saying?

We patted & dabbed.  Then she told me she had to pee. Again.

So with all the speed we had in us, we ran down the hallway to the bathroom to finish the job. As we were walking back to the living room, my littlest broke out in a scream-cry. I picked her up, but nothing would console her. So I sat down & began feeding her & she settled immediately. However what should have been a moment of relief quickly turned into the need for a floatie because once again, I found myself sitting in the LazyBoy river.  Or maybe it was the Pee-cific Ocean (See what I did there? I’m so punny.)

Yep, just from the time it took to take my toddler to the bathroom & pick up my baby, I forgot the recliner was soaked.

Again, those of you with kids know that when your teething baby is scream-crying, you will try EVERYTHING to console her. You will bounce. You will walk. You will bounce walk. You will roam the house 1,000 times until your arms feel like they will literally fall off. So when I sat down & nursing immediately calmed her, there was only one thing to do. Sit in the puddle & not move.

I texted my husband & I told him I was a prisoner to a pee covered recliner. And we laughed. Well, we both LOL-ed which is pretty much the same thing.

After the little was calm, it was nap time for the toddler. So I buckled the baby in the swing & started nap time routine. We got blankets all cozy, stuffed animals perfectly arranged & a book for her to read while she fell asleep. As I closed her door, I realized that my early mornings were really taking a toll. So I made some coffee & sat down. In pee. For the second time. This time, my sense of humor was nowhere to be found. “Really? Again?!” I thought to myself.

I went to the kitchen, opened my pantry to grab some cleaning supplies.

As I opened the door, some disgusting smell from the garbage can smacked me in my face. So I took out the bag, set the bag in the garage & put a new bag in.

There. That’s better. 

Before I could shut the door, the baby began crying again. I rushed over to console her quickly so she would wake her napping sister.

But nothing was working. Bouncing. Swaying. Walk rocking. Yes, that’s a thing. Nothing was calming her down.

Then I remembered that nursing her had worked earlier, so I thought I’d give that a try again. I sat down, began feeding her again & realized the horrible, horrible mistake I had made. For a third time. I closed my eyes & silently scolded myself. “Well, you must like sitting in pee. How did you do this for a third time?! The first two times weren’t enough?!”

Do you ever do this? Not sit in pee, but keep coming back to something that you know isn’t good; something that you know you need to let go of?

I catch myself doing it more often than I care to admit. I beat myself up about past mistakes. I get frustrated at myself for holding on to unhealthy relationships. I get deeply discouraged for not finishing certain things that I know should have been done years ago.

I’ll keep coming back to that “thing.” I’ll feel guilty or sad or frustrated or discouraged or angry about something. But instead of truly letting it go & moving forward, I just keep coming back to it.

I keep sitting in the pee. Over & over. And afterwards, I always ask, “Why do I keep doing this?”

I have to repeatedly remind myself sometimes that I am not who I use to be. I think differently. I live differently. I even love differently than I used to. My God has truly made me a new creation.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

Yes, I made some mistakes. Yes, I wish I had done some stuff differently. But all those things do not bind me. They do not control or own me & they definitely do not define who I am. I have been set free from condemnation.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”- Galatians 3:13

I do not have to wallow in regret or become paralyzed by discouragement. Today is all I have. The decision I make in this moment is all I have. And praise God, that is enough. His grace is sufficient for me.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

So let’s remember who we are now. Let go of what needs to be released & embrace what needs to be held on to. Let’s make forward moving decisions in this moment.

Because trust me, it’s not fun sitting in pee.

Lord, Do you see me?

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“My child,

I see you. I see you right now, in this very moment. My eyes were the ones that first beheld your beauty; long before anyone else was captured by it. I created your inmost being; I knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). Even before I formed you in that secret place, I knew you. I set you apart & I appointed you as a prophet to the nations (Jeremiah 1:5).

There is not a part of you that I don’t understand. There is not a piece of you that I do not love. There is not a wound you have that I cannot heal. You are my masterpiece. I take delight in you with gladness. I will calm your fears with my love. I rejoice over you with joyful songs (Zephaniah 3:17).

I am so pleased with you when you do what is right (1 Peter 2:19). I don’t ask for perfection, I ask for obedience. Our relationship is an ongoing, always-deepening one. It’s a journey. Keep chasing Me.

I know there are times when your heart aches. I promise to give you my peace that goes beyond your understanding (Philippians 4:7). When you are brokenhearted, I am closer to you than your next breath. I will save you when you feel your spirit is crushed (Psalm 34:18). There is not a depth vast enough, or a darkness strong enough to keep me from you. You are always in the palm of my hand & nothing can change that. No one can take you from me (John 10:29).

Do not rely on your own inadequate strength. You were created to rely on me. It is I alone who arm you with strength and keep your way secure (2 Samuel 22:33). Look to me; seek my face always (1 Chronicles 16:11). I have overcome the enemy. The victory is already yours.

I am El Roi, God who sees. I see you, my precious one. And oh, how I love you.”

Life’s Broken Promises

I was recently told, “Thank goodness you’re out of the scary part of your pregnancy.” I replied with a smile & a “yeah”, but to be honest, that’s not how I felt. When we lost our first baby, we were past the “scary part”. I know painfully well that making it to a certain day doesn’t guarantee anything in life – whether it’s with pregnancy, a job or a relationship.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21

I don’t want that concept to be discouraging or fearful, like it doesn’t matter what we do in life because the chips will fall wherever anyways. My point is this. God’s faithfulness & my desperate need for Him do not increase or decrease depending on whether or not my circumstances look safe.

Relying on Him fully, trusting in Him fully & declaring Him faithful fully, isn’t a backup plan or a safety line when my heart hurts or my circumstances are shaky. Instead of making it optional to acknowledge God’s control & faithfulness, it needs to be the foundation on which I do my entire life. Jobs. Relationships. Dreams. Family. Everything.

I rely on Jesus every day. And as easy as it can be to sit back & loosen my grip on Him when it looks & feels like things are going to be safe or reliable, I want my grip to stay desperately attached to Him.

We are not guaranteed anything if we can just make it to a certain point in life or wait a set amount of time. Even if we reach our goals & get to the comfortable, safe & reliable circumstances we work so hard for, we are not guaranteed to keep them. It doesn’t somehow secure us in life.

Life can change in a heartbeat.

Storms will come. Hearts will break. Circumstances will change. Jobs will be lost. Relationships will fail. Dreams will fade. People will leave.

But instead of focusing on avoiding the storm, let us take refuge in our God who promises to protect us. It won’t matter how hard the rain falls, or how powerful the storm becomes – because we are covered. We are covered by His protection. We are wrapped in His safety. We are filled with His steadfast love.

…fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Life will break it’s promises, but our God will not break His. Our only guarantee is through Him. He is the only anchor that will hold fast when the waves get higher & the storm gets violent.

And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10

So today, at this very moment, whether you are in a season of abundance & happiness or walking through a valley of drought & despair, desperately cling to Jesus. The Lord your God is in every detail. He is fully present in it all, so be confident in His sovereignty & refuge.

I declare my God as faithful!

Honestly

I have to honest with you.

I’ve been working on a happy post for you. But the more I wrote the heavier my fingers felt. They got so heavy that they finally stopped typing. I couldn’t force it. I didn’t want to. You are too important to me.

The reason that this post changed isn’t a dramatic one. But here’s the truth. For the past few weeks I’ve been in this place of emotional & spiritual…sluggishness. I’ve felt less passionate & more worn, less motivated & more distracted. I’ve been here before. And the moment I realize where I’m at, I want out.

I love when my feet are moving steadily in life. I love when passion moves me so greatly that it causes me to start running. There are also times in life when something will happen & I have to crawl for while. But at least there’s forward motion.

That’s why I dislike this place so much. I feel like I’m trying to walk while I’m knee deep in mud. Does that make sense?

I haven’t been consistent submerging myself in God’s word. And that’s what I need – to be consistently submerged. Not sprinkled to feel good but drenched! But when I’m not consistent in this, it causes my heart to start drying out. I know what the result will be if I put my guard down, but I allow myself to passively slide down into this ditch. And the thirst grows greater.

My focus then becomes fixed on what is wrong, instead of the One who renews & refreshes us daily, the God that changes hearts & the Savior that transforms lives.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. Romans 8:5

Yep. That cycle.

But He is here. He is always where I’m at. And He continues to demonstrate the endlessness of His grace. When my feet become bogged down, it causes me to look up more intensely. When I’m having trouble moving on my own, it truly makes me rely on Him more fully.

He is showing me that it is ok to be still & to even feel stuck. Even if my feet don’t feel like they’re going anywhere, I can stay focused on Him. That is what matters. That is what He wants.

Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Proverbs 4:25

What a beautiful, merciful & gracious God.

What love.

Have you been in this place I’m describing? Maybe you’re there now. We might be sitting next to each other.

Well, we are not alone. Our God remains faithful & is with us. And this is my prayer for us – for you, dear friend.

Lord Jesus,
We come to You right now feeling empty, stuck & even frustrated. You are acquainted with our hearts & see into the depths of our souls. There is no hiding from You. So we honestly express the weariness we are feeling & we desperately cry out to you for the freedom that only You can give. Please come into these places in our lives & hearts that feel so dry & motionless. We know that if we keep our eyes focused on You, You will guide us out of every ditch, over every mountain & through every valley. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I declare my God as faithful!

The Year of Awesomeness

It has arrived – 2014 is here! There’s something refreshing about beginning a new year, is there?

That new number brings with it endless possibilities for the upcoming 365 days. I tend to dream a little bigger & more colorfully at the start of every year. A new year means a fresh start & that in itself, is a great feeling.

It’s exciting to get motivated & dream & make plans for the year, but I know many of us make “resolutions” only to become overwhelmed or discouraged & ditch them by the second week of February. We vow to work out more or lose weight, write that book or learn to play that instrument, break out of our comfort zones or reinvent ourselves. None of those things will happen overnight so we’ll have to stay consistent & persevere. And let me tell you, those two things completely clash with my natural ability to procrastinate & give up. If you’re looking for someone to do something consistent for about 2 weeks but then get distracted by something shiny, I’m your girl. But if I want to make changes or accomplish my goals, I know it’s the small decisions I’ll make every day that will ultimately get me there.

So along with asking God to help me stay consistent & to persevere this year, I’m also asking the Lord to show me areas of my life where I’m using my time & energy incorrectly. There are projects & even relationships that take more energy & emotion than what is healthy to give. Sometimes we just need to step back & rethink some things. Re-prioritizing can be a really good thing. For 2014, I’m going to focus in on a couple of things & give them the dedication & energy they need in order to complete them well.

Commit your work to the LORD, & your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3

One of my goals is to finish a children’s book I’ve worked on little by little over the past couple of years. I’m down to the “cleaning up” stage which requires a lot of time & yes, perseverance. Again, this is a tricky task for me because there are a lot of shiny things in my house. The process can be tiring, but if I’m going to be tired from doing something, it better be from doing something awesome & finishing it 100%. Am I right or am I right?

Above all else, I desire to constantly seek God & know His heart more. I can make good plans, admirable goals & have good intentions, but staying focused on Him will keep my priorities in the right order & my energy renewed each day!

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, & he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5&6

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21

Let me ask you- is there something that you’re excited to do this year? Maybe it’s finishing a project or investing more time in a friendship. Is there something that you have been meaning to do, but just haven’t taken the time to do it? Who have you wanted to get coffee with, but haven’t yet? Well, my friend, it’s 2014 & this year holds so much potential! So get out there & be the awesome you that you are!

And let’s remember to keep encouraging & motivating each other along the way! It’s the small decisions we will make each day that will lead us to that super-duper-amazing-accomplishment!

Happy 2014! I declare my God as faithful!

Anxiety & Fear

Anxiety.

That word just sounds ugly to me.

Have you battled anxiety before? I sure you have. God’s Word repeatedly tells us that there is a battle for our minds & thoughts. The root of many addictions, fears & problems start in our minds. If it’s true that our minds hold such power, then of course that is exactly where the enemy wants to attack & weaken us. He wants us distracted, anxious & focused on anything other than the sovereignty & peace of our Savior.

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

This issue is very close to my heart. I have battled fearful, anxious thoughts since I was a child. I remember experiencing my first panic attack when I was about 11. There were a few things that I could do to lessen them, but it was temporary & another one would eventually happen.

After I got married, I would ask my husband to pray over me when I would begin to have a panic attack or feel anxiety trying to settle in. He would pray over me, but then he would always ask me to pray over myself…out loud.

As I would be lying there completely paralyzed with fear & anxiety, the last thing I wanted to do was pray out loud. I didn’t feel bold. I didn’t feel strong. I didn’t feel like my words could battle anything because those words were coming out of a very scared, overwhelmed girl.

But with every attack, I began to rebuke any fear & anxiety & declare my God as more powerful than any fearful thought trying to take hold of me. I would keep verses all over the house so that I could look at them & claim them out loud when I began to feel anxious. Even if I couldn’t think straight, all I had to do was look over at the verses, read them & claim them out loud. As I would verbally claim God’s Word, I noticed that the anxiety lessened & lessened. After a while it wasn’t nearly as bad as it had once been.

I know a lot of things can cause anxiety. Sometimes it has a lot to do with chemicals or hormones in our bodies. Sometimes it’s a spiritual attack directly on our minds. Sometimes, it’s a mixture of both.

With new seasons come new things that try to cause us to worry or be anxious. After feeling so much better for so long, anxiety came back & it came back with a vengeance. My breaking point came soon after my daughter was born. I have never loved another human the way I loved her & the responsibility in that was too much to think about at times. I wanted to roll her up in bubble wrap & keep her home forever. I never wanted her to feel the pain of this world. I never wanted her heart to be broken. I never wanted her to experience the disappointments, hurts & sadness that life would surely throw at her. All these thoughts coupled with raging, mommy hormones, was a combination that on my own, I couldn’t handle. They brought me to my knees. No, they knocked me to my knees.

I looked around & saw my mommy friends handling motherhood like champs. And here I was at 2am making my husband check all the locks on the doors…for the third time that night. Why couldn’t I handle it with grace? I hadn’t showered in 3 days much less been out of the house. I felt alone. I felt inadequate & overwhelmed.

Isolation is a dangerous thing. It makes us feel like we are the only ones experiencing something; that we’re the only ones that can’t handle the situation we’re in. What a lie. Almost every mommy I talked to felt the same way I did. I wasn’t treated like a failure. They loved on me & empathized with me. Sometimes the first step towards freedom is being brave enough to ask for some help & support. After I did just that, things began to change.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3

I began giving God this new fear & anxiety that was trying to steal my mind & thoughts. It was a slow process over the course of a year & I still battle anxiety sometimes, but I know the power to defeat it is held in God’s Word!

If you feel anxious, no matter to what degree, always remember that you are not alone. And no matter what thoughts try to consume you, God’s Word is your shelter, shield & sword! His promises & truths are yours to claim! So claim them out loud.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7

You are loved & treasured! Please let me know if I can support you in prayer during this process! Victory is yours!

I declare my God as faithful.

Golden Idols and Felt Boards

Golden Idols and Felt Boards

prayWhenever I hear the word “idol” I always get two images in my head. The first image, I have to thank my Sunday school teachers for.  Thanks to the felt visuals displayed on our felt board, I will always associate “idol” with a golden, felt calf. But that’s a whole different story.

The second thing I always think about when I hear that word “idol” is someone worshipping something other than our God. It is almost always a “bad” idol that I am thinking about.

And of course, I do not have idols in my life. I’m a good Christian. There are no golden, felt calves in my house. No sir.

But I heard something interesting this week. And it’s challenging me like crazy.

Are you ready for it?

Idols are usually formed from good things.

Did you catch that? Things that we can make into “idols” are usually not bad in and of themselves. This makes it a little more difficult to identify them, because after all, they’re good, wonderful things…on their own.

Now I don’t know about you, but I was perfectly comfortable placing all the ugly, dirty, obviously wrong things in the “idol” box. I could happily look in that box and say, “Nope. I haven’t put any of those bad things above God. I’m good. No idol here.”

But just because I don’t physically bow down before something that is obviously bad or chant in front of it or intentionally place it above God, doesn’t mean I’ve set God at the absolute highest and rightful place in my life. Or in my heart.

So how do we know whether or not we have created an idol out of something or someone?

Before this week, I would have thought an easy way to figure that out would be to ask the question, “Well, what are you living for?”

But I’ve been challenged this week to ask myself a different question. I shouldn’t ask myself what I’m living for, but ask myself, “What am I most afraid of losing?”

The answer to that question reveals where my value, heart and life are held.

Ouch. Did anybody else feel the sting of that question?

“What am I most afraid of losing?”

Another interesting telltale sign of identifying an idol is looking at the areas of our lives that we have uncontrolled emotions in. What or who are those emotions directed at? Once we identify that, we can probably agree that too much of our heart, value and life is being held in that thing or person.

Financial stability
Success in a career
Spouse
Family
Physical beauty
A relationship
Control
Social status
Life plans
Marriage

The list is endless. Do you see how all of these things are not bad things? They’re good things. Things we should love and value…but not idolize. Even when an idol is created out of a good thing, it’s still an idol. And an idol will always, always break our hearts.

No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other….”
Luke 16:13

Lord, please reveal areas of my life that I am holding closer to my heart than you. Show me the people and relationships that I’ve allowed to hold my value, heart and life. And as You reveal these things, please fill those places with Your truth! May I place You, my Savior, above every one else and my Salvation in You above every thing else! You are the one, true God worthy of my praise, affection, energy and attention! You are holy and anything other than You is counterfeit and temporary. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
John 4:23