Wednesday, June 29, 2011

So True To HIS Word

I have such a testimony to share today, although I'm a day late and because of life around me I have only a short, sweet, condensed version to give!


I asked the Lord to teach me to pray, and this journey with Warrior Prayers for the last 21 or so days has been a blessing more than I can give words to. 

In the midst of this, we've had joys and sorrows.  We've had loss and deep disappointment.  I've been afraid.  I've been confused.  My faith was shaken, really shaken to the core.  I've carried sorrows I'm unable to share.  I've journeyed through the valleys of a loved one's death.  My HUSBAND ALMOST LOST HIS LIFE HERE ON THIS EARTH.  My Mama walked out on my children and me.  My sister betrayed this family.  We continue to fight for a child we love.  I have found a lump where a lump does not need to be in my body.  Joy.  Sorrow.  Pain.  Fear.

Then God revealed Himself SO LOUD, SO CLEAR, AND SO ABUNDANTLY to remind me and TEACH to really pray for this family.  Like Brooke shared in her conclusion....I didn't expect this calling.  But we are here and I SHOUT PRAISES to the Lord tonight.  Praises and thanks.  In the midst of my deepest pain, I opened a grey tattered binder to show my husband what I had been working on while he had been away at work.  The same husband who only came home to us by the grace of God.  The same husband whom God had laid on my heart to also cover deeply and completely with scriptures in prayer recently. 

With the tears that night, we saw God's grace.  We felt His provision.  He gave us the gift of seeing in my own handwriting just where and what scriptures He had led me to pray over my husband, my son, my entire family.  That faith.....the faith that was so shaken only minutes before, was renewed. 

And I remember each time a worry, a fear, an irritation, or a burden creeps upon my mind.....that I am not my own.  My family is not my own.  No....we belong to Him.  I will always fall short and therefore need my Lord and Savior even to serve those I love in the simplest way.  So I am reminded further why I need the Lord to even teach me to pray....because I alone could never be good enough for them and what they deserve.

Only through the love of Christ, the power of God's word, and the Grace He's abundantly showered this family we stand today! 

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to Brooke over at Warrior Prayers!  For me this isn't the end of this journey, only the beginning!  We had left on vacation so I had just grabbed extra copies of several days worth of my prayers and the book.....then I came home last night and opened up my original Warrior Prayers book....and I'm so sad to see it come to a close.  The changes, the lessons, your sharing, and above all, using SCRIPTURE to cover my family in prayer......I thank you for letting God use you to help me see the power in doing that for them!  I can only say PRAISE GOD, and thank you for your obedience!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Spiritually Dizzy

Dizzy.  Spiritually Dizzy.

Am I the only one who feels this way at times?  So much going on in my heart, my walk with God, my ministry to others, my FAILURES where my intentions were to let Christ's love shine through my life. 

So much going in and around inside of my mind.  Such great ideas, plans, revelations of the work God is doing in my life.  Concerns for others, prayers on their behalf, and struggles in how I should play a part in it all.  And I get dizzy.

Before I started this post, I already knew where the answers to the questions would lie.  Tonight, they lie in not resting and recharging in who God has called me to be.  How much can I possibly have to give when I'm not being filled myself.  And how do I become filled again when the faster I soak it in, the faster I empty to those around me?  Even Christ stepped away to be alone and pray.  And even I know that however unintended, my disobedience lies in not doing enough of that I suppose. 

Dizzy.  I looked up the definition.  The first was simple and made it's point loud and clear


The next pair of definition brought words to the answer I know is waiting in my heart.

Dizzy: (a) having a whirling sensation in the head with a tendency to fall. (b) mentally confused

Referring to 'a tendency to fall', I've been reminded that if I don't do as I know I should, there are always consequences.  The Lord does not give us commands to punish or confuse us.  No, what he demands is out of love, protection, and knowing what's best for our lives even when we are not able.

Tonight I know that I would be foolish and silly to not slow down and find a way to be filled.  I know that the dizziness I refer to will lead to a stumble of heart or mind or control....if I don't reach out and touch the hand that's extended to me for balance.  Only the Lord can steady my way tonight. 

I've prayed, oh how I've prayed.  I've come to some painful realizations today, about some of those around me.  And even more painful, at my failures to one whom I love so very much.  I know that our Lord is faithful and just to forgive.  I also know that He will redeem what I hand to Him in repentance.

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

Our God is awesome, He is so big, and He has been so faithful to show his presence alive, real, and powerful in my life and this family.  Tonight, I can't keep up.  Tonight I feel unsteady.  And I know the only way to find my balance is to reach out and touch the hand being held out.  Do I have the endurance tonight, for just one more prayer, just one more request.  A simple plea that He take hold of my heart and steady it, steady me.  I don't really know.  Do I just lie down and be still?  Knowing that He is all, knows all, and has all under control?  Or do I continue to wonder, question, and work this out in my utter exhaustion? 

Perhaps I should sign off for the night and give the Lord's job back to Him.  Will I ever learn to step aside and let Him shine?

Lord please keep me tonight and those I love.  You know our needs and my hearts thoughts before they ever come into being.  Please Lord, keep me where you would have me, let your grace cover those I love in protection, guidance, and love where my prayers and actions come short tonight.  In Jesus' name.  AMEN.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

All In A Whisper

It has started as a whisper. 
It hasn't gone away.
And then I remember....
Asking the Lord to teach me to pray.

Today I'm filled with praise.  Everything around me.....He is at work in it all.  I feel His comfort.  I am grateful for the soft, gentle reassurance as He guides my steps.

I feel a fog lifting from my soul.  I've just gone through something major, something big, something that as a rarity was centered around me.  When Mama's down, the world still goes around.  And it has.  I am well today.  Perhaps better than I've been in a very long time.  I praise Him for fixing me.  For helping me see today that my body wasn't broken, it just wasn't well.  And now, I think I can be.

So with a huge burst of energy, I go about being Mama again.  REALLY being Mama.  I've taken little bits on at a time, fighting with myself and worrying emotions most of the way.  I've loved my babies while others cared for them because my body wasn't completely able.  But today, I am well.  Today, I am more than I was before.  Today, He has brought beauty from the ashes in my heart and also my body.

To appoint unto them that mourn in ion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.     Isaiah 61:3

And now....the journey carries on.  We aren't ever REALLY complete in who He's called us to be are we?  That perfection doesn't come until our jobs here on this earth are done.  Mine is not.  Our perfect Father continues to gently call upon my heart.  One whisper at a time.  And I know why. 

....For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required....    Luke 12:48

I praise Him, adore Him, worship Him, and I stand in awe at what He's bestowed upon my life through this family.  I could never give back in service, in love, in adoration, in anything.....even a smidgen of what has been given to me.  But I can pray that He use this life, this family, these blessing.....all to the glory of He from whom they have been given.

That whisper, it tugs a little more on my heart today.  Never too loud.  Never too much.  Just perfectly enough.  Always lovingly clear.....

Do You Trust Me?

In simple things, the small tasks of my day.  I hear His call upon my heart.  Perhaps the words are my own, but the is from Him.  I've stayed in His word.  Come closer to Him in prayer.  I've poured my heart out, covering my family in scripture, in truths He's given us.  In that obedience, He continues to whisper to me at the simplest of times.....

Do You REALLY trust me?

Through a deep breath and the calming of my soul, I remember just how small I am.  I remember just how much I need to give Him.  Where much is given, much is required.  But in His perfect grace, it doesn't feel like a requirement today.  Instead it is a comfort, a peace, a reminder of who I belong to.  And I wonder.  Do I really trust Him with EVERYTHING?

I've tried to control it all.  Hold it all together.  Find the solutions, even in times where I don't have the slightest clue of what the trouble really is.  From the smallest of thing to the biggest of trials in our lives....I've tried to lead the way to resolution.  In the process, only really muddying the waters and making those around me a little tougher for the wear.

And I realize....all of the study in the world, all of the greatest of intentions, all of the wonderful plans I've had....not a one matters unless it was given from HIM!  I am not my own.  My blessings are not self given and definitely not self earned.  No.

Do I Really Trust Him?

Only through His grace, His patience, His love am I able to turn even the smallest of burdens to He whose hands can (and will) carry them.  I can do that.  Only through prayer, which is something He's commanded me to do in the first place.  Isn't it funny how we always think we've come across some HUGE revelation and come to find was ALL HIS IDEA TO BEGIN WITH!  Surely I'm not the only one who humbly humors myself with that thought!

Do I dare consider this whisper on a larger scale?  Could I ever really share my whole story?  Put words to a testimony that holds such heartaches, struggles, and most importantly FAILURES?  Today, this is my question alone.  Though I know that likely it stems from a distant knock on that door of my it is only that.

When that purpose shows up at the doorstep of our lives, will I answer?  When the knock becomes so loud, so clear, so obviously my purpose for that day, will I remember the question and from whom it came?  Will I fear the task at hand or will I find the comfort I find today?  Will I try to reconcile the details on my own or will I remember whose plan it was to begin with? 

I will  pray for the grace, the endurance, and the ability to count His commands as blessings.  No matter how small.  No matter how big.  I only need to trust in Him.  How quick He is to remind me of that favorite scripture hidden deep within my heart....

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.    Proverbs 3:5

And I am reminded of what is my job and more importantly, the things that are His.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Hope Inside Her Heart

Tonight I miss my husband.  Tomorrow my friend buries hers.  Can I really follow that sentence with any words that will matter in comparison?  I went to visitation tonight and I couldn't find my footing.  My heart was unable to gain solid ground.

My friend....her heart was hidden tonight.  Hidden behind beauty, grace, busyness.  She couldn't stand still.  That's okay.  We talked last night, we prayed.  Tonight, she went through the motions. 

She has a ministering heart.  To love the Lord, to serve to the Lord, is to have hope amidst the crises.  To know that every tear, every ounce of confusion, every angry bout of not having understanding......He's counted them all, He's loved before it's happened, and His love will continue to hold her in the days to come.  Hope.  With hope, it's okay to not really be okay.

Closer to our Lord.  Further from the things of this world.  Our God.  His word.  My family.  His ways.  Beyond that, I have no solid ground.  My heart still can't find it's footing.  His love will carry me through the night.  The rest will be here in the morning. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

She Who Hates, Attacks, and Hurts

It's been years now.  Years.  It hasn't been a rare occurrence, it's been all but every experience surrounding this part of our lives.  I've prayed.  Many, many prayers.  Some specific, some vague, some filled with words, others only my speechless heart crying out before the Lord.

My family has been hurt, heartbroken, disappointed, and dragged through the mud.  Not just one child, but all of them.  When you hurt one of us, we all hurt.  But in this case, not only one, but all of us have been targeted and wounded....yes, that covers from the head of the home in my strong husband to the baby of us, in all of his precious one year old innocence.  That's alot of hurt, even carried amongst the shoulders of all six of us.  Pain and things that aren't of God have a way of seeping out, reaching their self seeking tendrils to any and all who they can.  That's happened here.  Other people ache at the opportunities lost and the exhaustion they see in us to continue standing and fighting for what is right, for what is important, for what the Lord has told us to do.

Why?  Because we love our oldest child.  A child that was not born of me, but of my husband.  A child whose life is so intertwined and woven within this family that we aren't capable of letting her go, nor have we ever considered doing so.  I love her because she's my husbands daughter.  I love her because she's my children's sister.  I love her because she's my daughter too.  And of course, I love her simply because she is her.  This child IS mine also, because God has given her to me to love, protect, nurture, and parent in a way that He has intended.  I've never tried to take her mother's place.  No.  I've only intended and acted as to play MY role in her life (yes, it's important too).  That role includes supporting and nurturing her relationship with both my husband AND her Mother.  She needs her Mom, she loves her Mom.  A child's place is with their Mother.  Until a mother chooses not to really be a mother.

Horrible things have been said about us.  The most important parts of my family, our values, who we are, and the way we live our lives....those are the things that have been twisted, lied about, and dragged through the mud.  For all to see and look upon.  I've gotten to where I don't defend us.  No, I step away and I pray.  My hope is in the Lord, not in anyone elses opinion or ideas of who we are.

What's been going on for years is not okay, to anyone other than her mother.  The rest of us, our oldest daughter included, we are the ones who pay the price.  The more we try, the more we fight for what's right..... the worse things get.  And the more we are persecuted.  I fear.  I have for a long time now.  As a Mom and wife, my job is to protect this family.  And she continually tries to tear it to the ground. 

The risk of losing her only child didn't make her change her behaviors for the better.  No.  Instead, they've gotten worse.  There is no regard for the heart of our oldest daughter, and certainly no concern for my other three children, my husband, myself, or even the court system and it's orders.  As much as it hurts us, my husband and I have always known this isn't about us.  But is IS about these children, ALL of them.  And it certainly IS ABOUT the way the Lord intends us to protect, care for, and shepard the little hearts that have been entrusted to us.  To ALL OF US!

My children....she has attacked MY CHILDREN!  Did you catch that earlier?  Physically, or even to their faces?  No.  But words are sharp and there's just some places even the lowliest of men don't go.  She has verbally assaulted us in front of our children.  They fear her.  I can accept fear and deal with it, these children shouldn't have to.

My ministry work....she has attacked that too.  How much more personal can her actions be with our Lord?  But that's not for me to decide.

Remember...I have prayed.  I have cried out to our Lord.  I have begged and pleaded with Him to fix this.  I know He will.  I also know that His timing is not my own.  That His plan is bigger, better, and beyond any of my simple understanding. 

In the meantime, we still hurt.  We are robbed of things that should be ours, including parts of our children's innocence and our family's ability to be a whole family, even if that's to be just every other weekend and holidays. 

Now let me share perhaps my biggest struggle in all of this.  Praying for her Mom.  Yes, the one who uses, persecutes, hurts, and attacks us for doing the right thing.  The one who takes from us, not for the sake of the daughter we have in common, but for her own desires.  The one who hates us.  The one who has led us to believe she will only stop if we have nothing to do with the child she's making so vulnerable to the world's ways.  The child she's failing to care for, to lead, and to protect....even when her role in her life came into legal question.  Yes, her.

I've KNOWN I'm to pray for her.  She hurts us.  I spoke to my pastor a long time ago and he assured me that God knows my heart, to keep trusting in Him.  She lies about us.  I've studied at length God's words and promises, to be sure I haven't been led astray, that our righteousness lies in Him alone.  She attacks.  I've turned this to our Lord, to be sure our actions are in harmony with His will for our life and family, and not our own.  She drags us through the mud.  Years into this painful struggle, I STILL. TRY.  TO.  PRAY.  FOR.  HER.

Most of the time, I fail miserably.  My heart is able to force out the thought, a tiny prayer that God's will be done in her life.  Sometimes even the prayer that He be with her.  But do you know how hard it is to pray for someone who is ACTIVELY HURTING your family?  Someone who is exactly what the Bible describes as the type of person we are to have nothing to do with.  One whose only fruits are those of wickedness, even if she brings herself to church on many Sundays?  To pray for the person whose failing the one child that God has blessed her with?  It's almost impossible in my human, fleshly heart.  So usually, my heart resorts to lowering it's head in defeat and asking God to forgive me for not being able to do what He has commanded me to do.  And somehow, I try again.

I try again because I KNOW that the things I can't understand are STILL HIS TRUTHS that He has commanded me to cling to, to trust, to believe, and to act upon.  He has cared for my soul in giving me just a couple of rare, precious moments where I've been able to pray for this woman.  To really pray for her.  These moments have been filled with tears, the release of any fear that this prayer will make my family vulnerable, and the overwhelming, all consuming love of our God.  The God who loves me.  The God who carries me.  The God who accomplished what I myself can never do.  And that includes being able to pray for her.  So yes, I will try again.  For I know this is right.

While we were sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

He didn't only die for those who loved and followed Him.  The key here is in the word WHILE.  Not after we were sinners.  Not when we got our lives together.  No.  He paid the price for us, suffered for us, and died WHILE we still willfully chose to disobey Him.  He died for those who used Him, persecuted, and hated Him.  Isn't it the least I can do to pray for her who hurts us?  It is. 

I'm not capable of doing this on my own.  I'm too human, too scared, too worried about this family to lift her up in prayer on my own. 

For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded, is life and peace.  Romans 8:6
And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  Romans 8:10

Only through Him, I can.  I am reminded that His strength is made perfect in my weakness.  Christ's strength takes over where I can't succeed.  He carries this weight for me, just as He carried the weight of my sins on the cross.  And I can rest in the peace of obedience.  I prayed for her today.  I really prayed for her.  Not in my strength or ability, but in His.  With the spirit He has allowed to lead my heart.

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.  Romans 8:14

Because I couldn't, I can't, do it on my own.  I don't know if I'll ever be able to.  But I will be obedient and reach for the things He's told me to.  Even those impossible things.  Simply because ALL things are possible in Him.  It is not mine to decide what our God can accomplish in us, in our families.  No, it is only ours To obey.  To trust.  To follow.  Even when it hurts.

But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.  Luke 6:27-28

Those are Jesus' own words.  He died for me, for us all, for her.  All He's asking me to do is pray.



Monday, June 13, 2011

Purity Is More Than What It Seems

Reading, studying God's word.  That's been my strength.  Prayer.  Combining the two?  Life changing.  Hearts are opening, waking up.  Changing.  Perhaps mostly mine.  I started this challenge just days ago.  It almost took on its share of what could have been discouragement or confusion.  Instead I just followed His lead and prayed.  This started for my oldest son.  This quickly became about all of us.  Tonight I've found some understanding.  

I hear their sweet, rhythmic breathing as they rest and recharge here in my bedroom.  Just a few hours ago the race was still on, the teeth needing brushed, the brink of cooperation being overcome by the level of the days exhaustion creeping over us all.  Now they rest, and I find my hope.  The pulse of what will keep this Mama tumbling on through tomorrows joys and challenges, discouragement and victories, humor and exhaustion.  I'm being blessed, my heart transformed, and my armor strengthened for this family daily.  And not a moment too soon.  As my body heals, my heart heals.  As my uncertainty and discouragement peel away, I grow ready to stand, to fight, to pray my family through what the world has thrown at us.

Tonight I took the last three day's prayer topics and one by one, verse by verse, I covered this entire family in God's word.  Then I ventured onto my group leader's wonderful blog and found not only more Godly encouragement, but that I too have something to share tonight....

I was blessed to find more information about purity, along with an excerpt from a book on the same, here at this post tonight.  It was so good to read, so very important.  So very true to God's word and plans according to what He's promised us. 

So with tears in my eyes and my heart in my throat, my appreciation and love for what He is giving my family began to pour itself into this keyboard.  And here it is......


Touched.  Changed.  Humbled.  This is me tonight.  You see, my children are still 'little'.  Only my oldest, my stepdaughter (sadly not safe from these things, even in her home) is the possible one I would have considered this a concern for....before tonight.  The Lord has used this section of Warrior Prayers to reveal some big things to me. 

ONE~My oldest daughters future is not mine to decide or assume.  How dare I let her circumstances bring me to an assumption of where her future 'may' lie...especially in this area.  By the Grace of God....she is growing into a beautiful, exceptional, GODLY young the midst of, and in spite of, her influences.  What little faith I've had.  God is so much bigger than this!  And what a deference from the enemy.  NO MORE!

TWO~I was praying the last several days' scripture over my ENTIRE family.  We consist of Daddy, Me, beautiful 10 year old stepdaughter mentioned above, 6 year old son whom I began this challenge specifically for, 3 year old daughter whose heart I long to nurture as a growing young woman, and my 1 year old precious baby boy.  And I realized....

Purity is not only of the body.  It is not only for the 'pubescent' teen.  It is not only for the sanctity of marriage.  True purity is in our hearts, minds, emotions, and bodies.  It isn't just includes every part of who we are.  I believe it's meant to encompass every part of who God has created....and intends for us to be.  So tonight I plead purity over my entire family.  Each and every one of us.  In each and every aspect of who God has created us to be. 

May 'this family' be pure in heart, for 'we' shall see God (Matthew 5:8)
May we be blameless and innocent, a 'FAMILY' of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation.  (Philippians 2:15)

May 'we' have religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father; to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep 'ourselves' unstained from the world. (James 1:27)

May 'each one of us' think on 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, may 'we' think about these things (Philippians 4:8)
I'm so thankful for this challenge, for my group leaders encouraging posts, for all of us sharing in these heart and life changing lessons.  And of course, that our amazing, forgiving, patient, loving Father has allowed me to be here, with these children, at this place in my life, and serving HIM! 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Challenge, A Blessing, & The Unfolding of Answered Prayer

I've been away from the keyboard.  In the meantime my heart and mind ponder over the transformations taking place in our family and each of our hearts.  The awesomeness in the simplicity of what's been in front of me the entire time!  And yet the only way my eyes have been opened is through crying out to our Lord for guidance, help, and unknowingly....the eyes and the heart to 'get' what He's so graciously handing me!

I asked God recently to Teach Me How To Pray.  That's right, the Mama whose leading her children in the Lord's ways, volunteering as a counselor in ministry work for our Lord and Savior.  Me, Bible reading and believing Me....asking Him to Teach Me How To Pray.  The me whose good, well rounded by the world's standards, family seems to want less and less to do with me the closer I grow to our Lord and His ways.  That's right, I admit, I haven't been quite there yet, as hard as I've tried. 

In the meantime, I'd been checking out this idea of learning how to pray for my sons.  To be honest, I'm not sure which came first....the realization that I need to strengthen my prayer life, or the hunger to begin this 21 Day Challenge of praying for my oldest son specifically.  God knows.  And He's transforming hearts in this family through a process above and beyond any I could have expected.


I've learned that when the enemy gets mad and rears his ugly head with lies, discouragement, and obstacles....then I'm doing something right.  Something God has called me to do.  Ever since He called me to work with women in crisis, sharing the gospel with each and every one, our family has been under attack.  So I've studied, pondered on, and put to use so many times the weapons and armor He's instructed us to use.  I KNOW these verses, I live by them, I share them with others regularly.  They are hidden deep inside my heart!

Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate or righteousness;  And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;    EPHESIANS 6:11-18
And there it was, that moment that fills you with peace, comfort and the knowing that we have a God that is bigger and stronger than we could ever be.  A God that loves us when we don't know how to love ourselves.  A God that is patient to love, guide, and continue to show me these things that are right in front of me.  But He's told us that about His word.....

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  HEBREWS 4:12
And I know, once again, that His word is not only real and powerful, but ALIVE.  Those verses in Ephesians that I cling to, live by, and have studied for so long.....they've taken on new meaning this week.  In working through this prayer challenge, I'm seeing the heart change in my oldest son.  Not a subtle heart change, nor a perfect child, but an obvious change in his desire to listen to my guidance.  Then there's the piercing into this Mama's heart.  For He works on me too through these prayers. 

The realization about prayer that He's opened my eyes to?  It's not that I've been doing things wrong, it's that the things I've been doing right are more powerful and pleasing to Him when done TOGETHER.  When Paul wrote about the 'whole' armor of God in Ephesians, I've always read and understood that as having all of these things, living each of those principals, knowing each and every part.  In His faithfulness and the life of His word, God has revealed that the 'wholeness' in this armor is how each and every part of it is intertwined.  It works best when each piece is used together to create a whole.  Hmmm....sounds much like the Body of Christ, the church, His people, doesn't it? strength.  Prayer....I've asked for more strength.  Scripture....hid away in my heart but alive in our lives. to find the Word's God wants us to pray over our children, our families, our friends.  And these first few days of praying scripture over my son are all of the proof I need.  It's gone from being about my oldest son, to hungering for the strength of God's word over the hearts and minds of my husband, all four of my children, and myself to assure that I am who God has called me to be for them!

A challenge?  One I'm enjoying.  A blessing?  Absolutely.  Answered Prayer?  As always, above and beyond anything I could have ever asked of our Lord.  He assured us of this.  In ending this post, I stumble upon yet another huge reminder of who is leading me through this journey.  Just days ago I wrote about My Secret Place and in searching for the verse about how the Lord knows our needs before we ask, I found and leave you with this....

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.  But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.  Be not ye therefore like unto them:  for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him.MATTHEW 6:6-8
I think there's been enough words from me tonight.  For HIS are enough.  I thank you Lord for this journey, this challenge, your living Word, and for giving me the greatest gift of entrusting this family to me!  I LOVE YOU LORD!  AMEN

Friday, June 3, 2011

An Unexpected Service

Seasons.  Seasons of change, seasons of trial, and seasons of rest.  Labor pains, the bible talks about those too.  As each year goes by, each birthday passes, and I watch my children grow, I think I'm beginning to catch a teeny tiny glimpse of what I'm supposed to learn as I grow up.  That's right, ME, MAMA, the one that holds us all together here in this house....still growing up with the rest of them! 

As a Mom, I know what labor pains bring.  A miracle, beauty, joy, life.  As an unnoticed part of such a strange, changing American culture, I recognize the signs of the times.  Labor pains.  They hurt and we ache with the sight of broken families, natural disasters, moral decline, prodigal sons, and the innocent bystanders involved.  But as Christians, we have a hope.  Even in the midst of uncertain times and in a society where any and everything goes, we need not fear our eternal future.  The good Lord told us these things would come, and that we would be okay.

I'm not an infant Christian, neither am I old and wise. I think I can humbly yet safely say I've gained some bit of maturity in my faith.  I live this faith, raise my children in the same, and ACT on my faith.  So some would think I've conquered the biggest, baddest boulder of them all!  I serve the Lord, I mean actually get out there, get my hands dirty and let my heart be torn and SHARE THE GOSPEL!  I have family I love who don't seem too happy with me anymore.  They're wonderful people, they love me dearly, but I've become too 'religious', a bible thumper, better than them in their eyes in a way that lets their irritation and annoyance with me seep through their tone and comments. 

I won't change.  My feelings being hurt by some of the people I love the most is a small price for the life I've been given.  I'm not a Christian because I'm good enough, but only because I know I'm not.  My heart breaks that I can't share this with those mentioned who I love so very much.  See, that's the sad part of it all.  I don't think they really know what exactly it is I believe at all, because I've never been given the chance and their open hearts to share with.  They just can't seem to get past the 'bible thumper' and stereotypical idea of who they think I've become long enough to hear who I've really become.  And this post wasn't supposed to be about that or about them.  So I will leave these thoughts by telling you that I CAN and WILL continue to pray for them. 

Wait just a minute.....those thoughts found their way into this post for a reason after all.

Because what's really on my heart is that I DON'T KNOW HOW TO PRAY!  I can't quite wrap my heart completely around that sentence, but I know it is true.  Slowly, patiently, our gracious Lord is prodding my heart where it needs strengthened the most. 

It's taken me several days, maybe even a week to really put my finger on exactly what this means and how it fits into my relationship with God. 

Now I'm really going to go out on a limb and pretend I can come close to correctness in making an overall assessment in my walk with Christ....

I'm a very strong student in the word.

I LOVE the Lord and acknowledge Him in every part of my life and this family.

Daily I stumble, which has led to truly knowing repentance.

My confidence is weak, possibly because of the above mentioned stumbles.

I have a strong sense of right and wrong and discern such through the Word and the Holy Spirit's presence in my life.

I love to praise Him and have grown stronger in doing so.

I serve Him with gladness, sharing the gospel with women in crisis and many others.

I filter the influences which come into this family because I know the importance.

I pray.  I pray throughout my day, I pray at meals (admittedly in a hurried, required way), I've gotten past the fear of praying out loud or with others (a big step), and I know what it is to drop to my knees and plead, cry out to, and bed the Lord to hear me.  To FIX THIS.  Because I just don't understand.

Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?  Something is missing and it comes to a hole my prayer life.  I can study all day, I can share all day, and I can even remember to pray and truly mean it when I talk to the Lord.  But I CANT SLOW DOWN long enough in the midst of crises, fear, pain, and trials to really meet Him where He has asked me to come.  This is a big deal, this is detrimental in my walk with the Lord, this is something that brings my husband, children, and entire family to a very vulnerable place.

It allows them to be open to arrows of attack.  It allows embers of change to slowly go unnoticed and burn out.  It stops me from doing what He has called me to do for THEM.  I know that His plan and His grace are bigger than this, than them, and definitely bigger than little, unsure me!  But I also know that when He calls, I am to listen.  And He is calling me, telling me, giving me this opportunity to see what it is I need to strengthen to better serve Him and better protect this family. 

I have this way about me, this ability to become distracted from the need by thinking about the need.  I know I'm supposed to pray more.  So what do I do?  I read about praying more.  I know I'm supposed to trust.  What do I do?  I worry about how I'm going to be able to trust.  I know I'm supposed to be still.  So what do I do?  I THINK ABOUT being still.  That's not BEING STILL!  All of these things are ME...trying to do God's job, trying to fill the hole, trying to FIX whatever it is that needs God's help the most.  I have failed at learning how to just be.  I have spent more time thinking about praying than praying.  I have let the enemy have a foothold over this family by doing so.

The perfect example is KNOWING that God is trying to teach me this.  So what do I do?  I thought long and hard....several days worth of long and hard.  I thought about asking Him to teach me to pray.  Now that's a big deal, that's a scary request because I KNOW He will answer those words.  So I've stood back and timidly wondered what events He would bring into our lives if I uttered those words to Him.

So silly, the way our human, fleshly, worldly minds work!  At least mine anyway!  Like God doesn't really have all of this figured out already!  I'm sure He gets a kick out of me when it comes to stuff like this!  He's here, just waiting to bless us, already taking me down the road of this lesson, showering me in His grace, and probably slightly entertained at the fact that I think that I, little ol' me, can affect or prevent some of the plans He has for us by not letting these few words slip from my mouth.  Oh how patient He has to be to love a child like me!

And then I realized.  Life IS happening, all around me.  My children are growing and learning daily in a world I'm preparing them to stand for Christ in.  My husband and I love and grow and stumble through things that may be easier navigated with prayer.  A friend's Mom lay in the hospital tonight as her family tries to cherish their last moments together.  We are fighting for a child we love, trying to protect her from the person whose supposed to protect her the most.  WE ARE IN NEED of a PRAYERFUL MAMA.  An armed Mom, wife, and friend.  One whose not blind to the distractions the enemy has laid out to keep me from fighting the battle our Lord has called me to fight.  The directions and the keys have been layed out clearly, the battle even described.  I KNOW this, I've studied this and continue to do so.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.  Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;  And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
Ephesians 6:10-18
So I did what I do best.  Knowing I need to be stronger in being PRAYERFUL and FAITHFUL in doing so, I had to study first.  I suppose that just how I work.  In doing so, I did find some pieces to encourage me where I lack....

Speaking of a demon his disciples were unable to cure a man of because of little faith, Jesus says,

Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.  Matthew 17:21
Aha....that's making some sense.  I believe those unanswered prayers may be unanswered because I haven't truly given of myself to them in prayer.  Okay, we're getting somewhere.

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.  John 15:7

Lord, I know Your words live in me!  And perhaps you abiding in me is perfected in finding that level of prayer where I can just be still in your presence.  I do believe there's something to that, all according to Your will, not my own.
Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.  John 15:16

 We are chosen, we are appointed to these tasks.  And more than once, these tasks include the asking.
And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fasting and prayers night and day.  Luke 2:37
Wait a minute.  SERVE God with prayer?  I've prayed with obedience, love, praise, and pain.  But I'm not sure I've ever prayed to SERVE Him!  Is that what He's been trying to tell me that I'm missing?
And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.  Luke 6:12

That would be Jesus He's talking about.  Jesus.  Savior.  HE prayed, went up a mountain and prayed ALL NIGHT.  So there is my example.  Step away, pray, and pray some more.

So like I do best, I continued to ponder this some more.  I was taking a Bible to a family member (I do have many who relate to our life also) and just so happened to stumble across the greatest message of them all.  I thank God for really bringing it home, and when I wasn't even looking for an answer.  It included a scripture I love, quote, and apply to life almost daily.  But the answer has been hiding, surrounding the words I've been so familiar with.  And here it is....

For thus saith the Lord, that after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.  Then shall ye call upon me and ye shall go and pray unto me , and I will hearken unto you.  And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.  And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather your from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.  Jeremiah 29:10-14
 I've known the promise.  Tonight I see more.  There may be a time and a season that needs to be accomplished for me to see a promise come to light.  And it will, I know it will, and I cling to His word.  And tonight I see the rest of His words.  I shall call upon Him and GO and PRAY unto Him, and He will hearken unto me.  I shall seek Him and I will find Him when I search with all of my heart. 

So tonight before I sat down to write, I uttered those six words, covered by and filled with a huge step of trust and faith to our most deserving God....

Lord, Please Teach Me To Pray
Where He has called, I will go.  And where He has promised, He will be glorified!  My heart hungers for you Lord, to find this place, and to serve you in love with prayer. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Can I Really Do This?

I sigh as this post begins.  And then I remember to stop and pray.  A prayer for guidance, a prayer for peace, and a prayer that my inspiration today is of the Lords will and not my own.  And I realize that I can't find the answers without first asking the questions.

There was a seed planted a very long time ago.  I'm watching that seed begin to sprout.  I can clearly see God's patient and kind guidance and encouragement along the way.  And then.....the doubt begins to creep in. 

Can I really do this?

I know the 'right' answers.  I study the Word, I hunger over it, I ponder scripture, and I hide God's words deep in my heart.  I apply His wisdom, His grace, and His love simply in being who He's created me to be.  And I fall short.  I stumble, I fall, I repent, I get up and I try again.  And He continues to shower on me this wisdom, grace, and love.  I know His strength is made perfect in my weakness.  I know He's told me to write.  Then I see pictures of all of these beautiful, inspiring bloggers whose words really, truly make me feel at home in my journey.  Women whose story's are similar to mine, who hunger and thirst for the same things I do.  But they seem so perfect.  I begin to think that they can't yell at their kids, be disappointed by or angry with their husbands.  I know their houses have to be immaculate.  Surely someone serving God on that level can't be as imperfect and fall as short as I!  Perhaps that's nonsense, more lies from the enemy trying to stop me from going to the place God has called me.  So I take another deep breath and come back for my next post.

Can I really do this?

I've been told that where much is given, much is expected in return.  Oh how I know and hold dear to so many truths His word promises.  He is perfect, His promises are true.  Not only will He never leave or forsake me.....but neither will He ever leave or disappoint me.  So when I figured out that the Lord was calling me to a Secret Place, a place where only He and I meet, a place where my heart is poured out in prayer, where I share the true disappointments of myself and those I need to be so much more around me......I'm left to ask the next question.

Is it okay to keep this secret?

I know I'm supposed to let my light shine.  I believe I set His love on a grand candlestick for all to see.  I'm involved in church, I share my love of Christ, I'm even a counselor at a Pro Life ministry where I get to share the gospel of Christ with each and every woman I see.  I teach my children to love and obey and even where I fall short through example more times than I like, I know God is bigger than me!  I know that He will answer my prayers, pleading with Him to cover me where I fall short.  Calling on a promise that His grace is bigger than any of my shortfalls as a Mom.  And then there's my husband.  We love each other, we love the Lord, and we're in a rough patch.

Did I really just admit that?  Is it OKAY to admit something like that?

So there we are, back to the secret.  Although I let my light shine, my life does bear the fruit of the Spirit, and God is working wonders in our family.....I'm still imperfect, hurting, disappointed, afraid, and unsure of so many things.  Things I can't tell many of the people around me right now.  Some things I know I'm not supposed to share with everyone.  Or anyone.  And on the other end, I know I am supposed to share in another place right now.  And I believe that place is here.  I think God has led me to this knowing I will find safety in the anonymity.  I blog for my family and friends, I share about God's love and his amazing grace in the transformation of our lives.  But there are things I can't share in that place.  So I'll begin by sharing here.  As for the future and where this may or may not go.....that's up to The Man in charge and I know He will reveal His plans in His perfect time.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.  Jeremiah 29:11

Do I tell my husband?

OF COURSE.  And I think maybe only my husband for now.  Our family blog has become something he loves to read and follow, especially while he's away at work.  It's touched me to see that my words are important to him, not just the pictures.  I see the possibility for that to reconnect and heal some of the places in our hearts.  I don't keep secrets from my husband.  Never have, and won't start now.  Our marriage is founded on such strong principals, committed under the same, and full of a lot of good.  Which still leaves me afraid of the next question.

Can I really put all of my heart into this blog?

Wow!  Deep breath for that question.  You see, there's things I'm afraid to admit to the world.  Because I'm not perfect.  I let my kids down at times.  And right now, things aren't perfect in our marriage.  Love, commitment, and vows don't always make for an easy ride.  I just had major surgery, I'm not use to being down.  My body is trying to heal.  But in all honesty, so is my heart and my marriage.  So, what's okay to share and what's not?  He will be the only person in our daily lives that will know about this blog.  That opens up the floor to my honesty without the fear of judgement from everyone else in our lives.

But what about him?

I know this can help us heal too.  Maybe better help my husband understand me?  We don't mean to hurt  one another.  We both always have the best of intentions.  We have a strong marriage.  We love each other so very much.  And still, we fall short.  Still, we struggle.  Still, we can't understand each other's every thought and feeling.  And I believe we both are often left disappointed.

Those are my fears, those are my worries.  I know the right answers for all of the other questions.  But what about these?  It all comes back to the first one of them all today.....

Can I really do this?

And I know the answer.
I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.  Philippians 4:13
I don't have all of the details worked out.  But He does.  He's told me to meet Him in our secret place.  I will come.  He's told me to share.  I will share.  I will consider the fears, worries, and other questions about what to share as only an ineffective attempt by the enemy to interfere with one of God's glorious plans.  I don't know where this will lead.  But He does.  In the meantime.  I'm going to meet him there, trust, listen, obey......and just write.  The good Lord will take it from here.

Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.  Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. 
Hebrews 12:1-2
Yes, He knows exactly what He is doing in me.  In you.  In us all.  I too, can endure for the joy that is set before me.  Isn't that the least I can do in light of what was done for me?

Lord, please increase my faith in You and even more, in the work you are doing in and through little, unsure me.  Amen.