Mom: Enemy Target #1

Dear Sisters, as Mother’s Day approaches I’d like to share a word of warning and encouragement with you.

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“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

Satan knows how influential we are. He hates God-fearing moms. He wants to destroy us, kill us, and stop the powerful eternal impact we are having in our world. Without tiring the enemy attacks us with struggles not limited to:

1. Image and Self-Condemnation

You’re not thin enough, fit enough, strong enough, pretty enough, successful enough, homeschooly enough, Proverbs 31 enough.

2. Comparison

You will never be as good a woman/mom as so-and-so; why do you even try? Your kids must wish they had a different mom, because you are a loser.

3. Discontent

You hate going to other people’s houses, to see all of their fancy remodels, when your house is falling apart and unfashionable. You will never have a clean, beautiful home – until your kids are grown and gone, and then you will be lonely and haunted by regrets.

4. Fatigue and Illness

How can you do this? You can barely make it from day to day! You’re a bad mom because you don’t have the energy and vitality to be a good mom. So alone. You may never be well again. How can you continue to do most everything around here while your husband has chronic illness? You’re going to burn out, never making it through the long road ahead! You’re in a bad sleep pattern – and you’re never going to have a good night of sleep again.

5. Aging

Look at those wrinkles, bags and sags! Prov. 31:30 sounds so virtuous, but what does inner beauty really do for you? Your youth and beauty are fading, and people are starting to look at you as middle-aged and lackluster. You feel frumpy because you are frumpy. You can’t handle being a mom because how can you help emotional growing children when you can’t even handle your own emotions?

6. Overwhelm and Self-Pity … Suicidal Thoughts 

You never wanted to be the mom who had a martyr complex, but life is so demanding and frustrating!! Sometimes you would just rather be dead, rather than live this stressful life. Your husband and kids must be so disappointed in you. Maybe you should leave.

Do any of those lies sound familiar?!? Whether we give birth or not, we women are nurturers making a huge impact (+ or -) on everyone around us. And the One Who gave us life and spiritual life, is THE ONLY WAY WE ARE GOING TO MAKE IT – – – STAY CONNECTED TO THE LIFE-GIVER.

“But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” Psalm 1:2-3 NKJV

Just last week I cried my guts out and didn’t see any way forward. The demons were screaming in my ear, and I had no desire to read my Bible. I still believed God is real and knew He is my God. But, I felt ticked off – my life stinks and God isn’t answering my prayers. Tired, so tired.

So, I contacted three women I knew I could trust to give encouragement, prayer, non-judgmental godly advice – a safe place of truth and grace. HELP!!!

Each one stood beside me in prayer through my crisis. One (a pastor’s wife) graciously told me I don’t have to try to be a perfect Christian for a couple days. Sigh of relief. Another correctly told me that I was getting lies straight from the enemy, that old devil. And she tried to breathe Scripture into me. I couldn’t read it for a day, but the next day I was able to rest my eyes on it. Another held me with words of encouragement and support. I went numbly through my day, recalling from time to time the passage that talks about the Holy Spirit praying with moaning and groaning when we can’t (Romans 8:26-27). Thank God.

The following morning, I skipped my usual “greet the Lord first thing” and was considering how I could help my sick husband that day. Then I had what you could call an imagination awakening. It wasn’t a vision, and it was Scriptural in content.

I imagined I saw Jesus standing at a slight distance, in the same room, but facing the other direction. I weakly called to Him, and He immediately turned His dear head and gave a look of extravagant love, deep relief, and true excitement that I was calling Him to come close once again. I ran into His strong arms and was safe, loved, and knew it was going to be okay. He reassured me that everything I needed to do that day, He was going to do with me.

Through His Word, His Spirit, His daughters, and through sanctified imagination, God gave me a huge hug. God also gave me an idea of something that could help my husband feel better. We tried it, and he has definitely noticed improvement!! Praise You, Lord!

God showed me it is going to be okay. He released the power of the enemy and was my refuge.  He showed me that the only reason Satan wants in is because he sees something valuable.

                                                        VaLuE

Our contentment and endurance are inextricably linked with Christ – being connected to Him, hearing His realities (in His word) that block out and disarm the enemy, and the encouragement of His people who speak His love, grace, and truth to us.

“Let brotherly love continue. And be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear what can man do to me?'” Hebrews 13:1, 5b, 6

You and I have figured out that this Christian life isn’t easy: be a good little girl and all will be well. What is completely miraculous to me is that when Satan does get us down, and we reach the bottom (like I did last week), the outcome is counterintuitive to what Satan devised!! Instead of victorious, he is defeated!

In our crisis of faith, God deepens our confidence and we are so closely bonded to Him, that we can’t help but tell others, GOD IS REAL – GOD CAN GET US THROUGH – THERE IS HOPE AND STRENGTH IN CHRIST.

Don’t be afraid to cry your guts out from time to time! There will be days when you don’t feel like reading your Bible. That’s okay. But, don’t stay there long. Don’t isolate yourself – reach out to women of God, talk to me or someone you know who will uphold you in love and breathe truth into you with grace. And know that God is with you and will accomplish His perfect will in and through you! You’re going to make it! We are going to make it, praise God!

You are beautiful, precious mother – Satan says you are of little value because he is scared spitless, knowing you are just the opposite! God through you is powerful and God is using you to accomplish more than you can ever imagine.  Happy Mother’s Day!

“I waited patiently (or impatiently in my case 😦 ) for the LORD; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth – praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the LORD.” Psalm 40:1-3

Love you, Sara

His for 40, His Forever

Can it really be 40 years ago today that I bowed my blond curls in my grandmother’s bedroom, to ask for forgiveness and receive God’s gift of salvation? My Mom, at that time, was my current age. Wow. And I was nearly four. Here’s a rare picture from that time (a bit younger). And it looks like someone is immensely enjoying a popsicle!
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As a kid, life seemed endless. I was excited about life and dreams! But, at some point I realized that I needed something much more than yummy popsicles to satisfy me.

Jesus is the only One who can do that.

People try pleasure, money, education, career advancement, sports, or even service. But, nothing gives peace like what the Prince of Peace offers. [You can read more about my salvation experience here.]

Now that I’m halfway down the path of life, I mentally check off the decades and gasp in shock that it’s gone so quickly. (They said it would. They were right.) On this momentous day I have mixed feelings: gratitude and guilt.

Shouldn’t I be more involved, more spiritual, more verses memorized, exude stronger faith, have led more people to the Lord, be a better wife and mother, and be completely over my insecurities by now?

One of my favorite verses is Philippians 1:6 –

“being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;”

I’m not in this on my own. He takes personal responsibility for my growth and has an incredible way of teaching me to see things His way. All of my sins are forgiven, and He remembers I am dust. Even the women mentioned as faithful in Scripture went through a process of becoming who God wanted them to be. And best of all, He used them in the middle of their mess!

Does that mean I can just be a lazy Christian? No. Sometimes I am. Sometimes I’m not. Generally I am heading the right direction with God. He never lets me get too far away. I want to grow more and do as much as I can for His glory for the rest of my life!!! Not because it will make Him love me more, but because I love Him more and more.

When I was newly married, I was in a Bible study with two women in my church. One with a rough history bemoaned one day, “I wish I were more godly!” The older sister said, “But, what is godly?” She went on to explain that it isn’t based on what we’ve done or haven’t done in the past.

We are godly because God chose us, paid for our sin at Calvary, and declares us righteous. Then God patiently moves us to greater obedience, more durable faith, and a deeper knowledge of His love.

Godliness is what happens when God redeems a person who then learns to depend on Him, having a childlike faith, an eye on eternity, a teachable spirit, and a humble desire to reflect Christ, not self, to the world.

We are not in a competition against our sisters in Christ. We are all running the race God has given to us. Sometimes that involves the thrill of a successful ladies retreat presentation, and other times it is soothing a sick child and being exhausted out of your mind. Or, in my case today, it is all-out-war, taking back my kitchen from a very unwelcome mouse!! Not glamorous, but God is with me. And each of these experiences are part of His plan to grow and stretch me into a more useful vessel for Him.

Surrounded by God’s grace, and enjoying an occasional popsicle, I move forward with God to the next forty years and beyond. I rededicate my life to His service, thanking Him with everything that is in me for including me in His life and plan. It is an honor to live in Him, with Him, and for Him!!

If you are searching for true peace today, I’d love to introduce you to my Savior. I will close now with verses that beautifully sum up my humbled, grateful heart and my deepest desires. To God be all the glory! Great things He has done!

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.  Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:  whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.  For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,  who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” Philippians 3:12-14, 19-21 NKJV

 

God Meets Us In Our Prison – Lessons from Joseph

My theme this year is God Is Strong. This has been a huge encouragement throughout some frustrating health issues. As a family we talk often about the armor God powerfully provides (Ephesians 6) and were even able to see a visual demonstration of it last week at a local Renaissance fair.  Our boys’ eyes got big while we observed sword fights, coats of armor, and jousting “knights” on real horses! We are thankful that God provides His armor for us every day.  This morning in my study about God’s power, I landed in the account of Joseph.

In Genesis 37 I observe a talented teen who has a great wardrobe.  Best of all, he appears to have had a healthy confidence in God.  Why wouldn’t he?  He was the favored son of a wealthy, prominent family.  Joseph was the beloved descendant of men who had talked with God!  His future was guaranteed, according to God’s covenants, to make his descendants as the sand of the sea and the stars in the sky. The whole earth would be blessed through him and his family, so explained Grandfather Abraham. God had helped him deal with the tragic loss of his beautiful mother, Rachel. His dreams were vivid and his future bright!  Powerful stuff!

Well, we all know that things went downhill quickly for Joseph. Yet, God got him through the pit, the betrayal, being sold into slavery, and being forced to live and work in a strange land (imagine the post-traumatic stress!). Things had looked up for awhile. However, when all his endeavors blossomed as Potiphar’s manager, and even when “The LORD was with Joseph,” (39:2), the balloon burst when sickeningly sweet and vulgar Mrs. Potiphar tried to claim God’s son, Joseph, for her own.  What of his faithfulness? Hadn’t he been through enough already? Bing, bang, boom, and Joseph’s address became prison.

Do you ever feel imprisoned?  Insufferable boss? Lonely marriage? Chronic illness? DHS investigation? A strict diet?  Stuck in a ministry you don’t like? Endless infertility? Sick spouse or child? Entrenched in the ministry of homeschooling and trying to keep a household going when everything seems to be working against you? Depression? Guilt and shame? A family member in jail? A close friend lied to you and went a different direction? Abusive relationship? Terminal diagnosis? Debilitating debt? Grieving a terrible loss? I’ve experienced many of these, and I’m familiar with that trapped feeling.

This morning God pulls my vision up to Him through His word.  And He makes it clear that whenever the bars rattle and the chains clank, child of God, we can trust in His powerful care.

 And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison.  But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the LORD was with him. And whatever he did, the LORD made it succeed.” Genesis 39:20-23 (ESV)

When Joseph had

  • No money
  • No Bible
  • No family
  • No church family
  • No pleasures
  • No home
  • No health insurance
  • No favorite foods
  • No access to the outer world
  • No lawyers
  • No Friday night plans
  • No hope of a family of his own
  • No TLC
  • No respect
  • No hope
  • No freedom

GOD was with Joseph!

GOD showed Joseph His steadfast love!

GOD gave him favor in the sight of the prison keeper!

Whatever Joseph did, God made him succeed.  The results were not always immediately evident, but Joseph was never alone. Joseph was safe right where God wanted him, being a powerful receptor and reflector of God’s power – for the greater good for him, his family, generations to come, for us, and for God’s ultimate glory. (No mere human could think up stories like this – God is the Master story weaver, and when we follow Him, we are guaranteed a good ending!) God gave him strength to be faithful!

With God, not one of His daughters is favored over the other. He loves us all perfectly, more than we can imagine, all the time. He wants to meet us where we are, even if we feel like we are in a prison. He wants to hold our hands, empower us, and speak truth to us.  He want to set us free. Maybe we can’t be freed from the pain of circumstance right now, but we can be free in our spirit and soul and mind, knowing that we are not alone! God’s power in our lives is too strong for any family member, boss, government official, circumstance, or situation to take away from us (see Romans 8) .

God is real! God is here! God has a plan! God can be trusted! And each moment draws us closer to the time when He will come to get us to be with Him forever. Thank You, Abba!


“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” Genesis 50:20 NKJV

“So He (Jesus) came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:

‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.’

Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’” Luke 4:16-21

“Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:36

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5

Loving the Here and Now

I feel the weight on my shoulders growing as I see article after article about how to be a better wife and mother. Tonight I saw a Pinterest post about how to make edible gummy Legos, and I wanted to scream. (I don’t hate any of you adorable gummy Lego makers.  The never ending creativity God has given His children amazes me!  Some day I may be making those wiggly Legos for my grandchildren.  We are in an information overload society, and I am relieved when I remember that I can be a good mom without decorating fancy cake pops or making sandwiches that look like Curious George!) 

Truly I appreciate the many fabulous articles about becoming a more godly woman, but often I find myself feeling pounded down by how far I fall short.  And I’m sure I’ve been guilty of it here – providing opportunities for women to feel guilty because they aren’t doing enough for God. I’m sorry. God loves us – not for being woman of the year.  He simply loves us! Oh the wonder of it.

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Is it just me or is there a nagging expectation to be on Facebook or else I would simply melt into nothingly irrelevance? (Doesn’t sound too bad. But, I would miss my lovely friends around the world too much. Sigh. Be thankful.) The blessing sometimes becomes a burden, so I appreciate my friends who understand I often need a FB break.  Thank you!

I get bedraggled as I, along with many of my sisters in Christ, ache to be thinner. How much of our energy is wasted in worrying about our looks, thinking about food, feeling guilty because we haven’t exercised X amount of time today?! Blah! (I’m all for caring for our temples, but honestly, I wonder how gleeful Satan is with our obsession of personal beauty – ahem, the world’s definition of beauty and success.)

The sin inside me and around me can overwhelm. I can go days without end and not read of current events, blissfully ignorant (more nagging guilt).  Fears threaten to beat down the door of my heart and take me prisoner.

But, wait a minute.

As a Child of the living God I should be the personification of God’s peace, joy and love in this world. I am forgiven, bought back, redeemed!  The Light of the world is inside me, shining.  So what’s with my bushel or the world’s bushel basket trying to snuff Him out?  Why is it so hard and my daily cry repeats, “Jesus, please come back quickly!”?!

I want to live the way God wants me to live. I’m giddy when I realize that God made me to be a joyful, peaceful daughter of His!  And this is possible because …

  • God’s gift is freedom (Luke 4:18; Galatians 5:1)!
  • Christ died to free me from self, sin, and Satan so I can direct all glory to Him and have a relationship with Him so sweet and lasting (John 3:16; 14:3; 17:4: Romans 5:8, I Corinthians 10:31).
  • He declares in His word it is possible to live in the world and not of it (John 15:19; James 4:4-8; I John 2:15-17).
  • He offers me peace, which is so different from what the world offers (John 14:27; Colossians 3:15).
  • Jesus is real! So my daily living should be filled with His love, light, and abundance (Matthew 5:16; John 10:10; Philippians 2:15).
  • He provides all I need for life and godliness (2 Timothy 2:22; 2 Peter 1:3).

I’d rather focus on God. His beauty lifts me above the mundane, and I am at rest.

I’m not talking about giving abundantly to the church offering so you can be assured God will make you rich. There is a richness that Satan is committed to us missing out on.  He’s convinced us that the bliss of walking with God will have to wait until heaven. I don’t want to live like that, and I don’t think Christ wants me to, either.

This life is full of suffering, yet our God is a God of resurrection! He resurrects my worn mind and weary heart to see good birthed from suffering. He is seen most clearly when I am at my weakest!  God’s love and grace are greater than sin and Satan NOW. He has already won, and I can live in that knowledge as I gratefully accept Abba’s daily provision of manna from His Word and Spirit.

I often feel too tired to blog, or too humbled to the dust to expect that anything I say is worth hearing. But, I need to write. God made me with the need to express what is inside for a reason. So, I will write. About my God and His love carrying me day by day. I can look forward to eternity with Him, but I believe He wants me to love the journey with Him until He takes me home.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NKJV

Easy Mexican Gobbler Wraps

3 TBSP butter
1 medium onion, sliced
1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey
3 sweet peppers, sliced
2 tsp. onion salt
1/2 tsp. ground savory
2 tsp. granulated garlic
2 tsp. cumin

Toppings: Avocado, sour cream, shredded cheese, salsa, tabasco sauce
Wraps: Lettuce/tortillas

1.) Melt butter and place sliced onions in to carmelize.
2.) Crumble turkey on top and cover for 10-15 minutes.  Stir a couple times.  When turkey is partially cooked and onions are carmelized, add sliced peppers and seasonings.  Taste test and season to your liking.
3.) Cover and simmer for about 10 more minutes.  Serve with love!

Hot Chicken Salad Skillet (AIP)

This is a combo that I love: chicken with artichoke hearts and spinach.  Why do they go so well together?!  I imagine also adding in kalamata olives and eventually goat cheese.  A smidge of apple wouldn’t hurt either!  I served this just for my husband and me, so this recipe is figured for two people.

Ingredients

Bacon lard
2 chicken breasts
Sage
Salt, to taste
Half red onion, chopped
8 artichoke hearts (mine came from a jar from Costco)
Handful of spinach (raw)
Olive oil
Optional: Olives, apple, goat cheese


Instructions

1.)  Heat up saucepan with bacon fat to medium high heat.
2.)  Smother one side of chicken with sage and sprinkle both sides with salt. Add to pan (cover).
3.)  After about 6 minutes, turn the chicken over and add the onion pieces on top (again cover).
4.) When they are thoroughly cooked, add the artichoke hearts and big handful of spinach at the very end.
5.) Drizzle with olive or coconut oil and re-salt.  Add the love!  Serve on a bed of greens.  Ahhh!  Refreshing.

 

There Is a Rock Unmoveable [Malachi 3:6]

Change.  There are constant changes in the weather, government, social expectations, schedules, appearance, numbers on the scale, gas prices, moods, friendships, health, technology, location, styles, stages in life, etc. The world system reminds me of a magnet, spinning faster and faster while threatening to suck people into a cloud of meaningless exhaustion and turmoil.  We are so easily side-tracked off the road of faith by the rabbit trails of restlessness, a product of a world changed from perfect to pernicious by our faithless disobedience.  It is enough to make me wish for a spiritual AAA number – come pick me up!  I’ve been stranded.  Thankfully there is something better … and my restlessness brings me to that point once again.

Tonight the vortex is threatening to undermine my security: my boys are sprouting up before my eyes, my body is aging, friendships come and go, moods ever wavering.  It’s easy to see the fickleness of the world, and less easy to see it in myself. I am soooo thankful that God is unlike me.  How awesome to consider my Best Friend is Someone so absolutely perfect that there is no room for improvement, never a sliding back due to celestial laziness.  Perfect Love!  Perfect Wisdom!  Perfect Strength!  Perfect Holiness!

“For I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed,

O sons of Jacob.”  Malachi 3:6 NKJV

Thank You, God!  Because I belong to You, I will not be a satanic casualty.  Because of You there is absolute truth and rock-solid security in my world.  Help me to shine as a beacon of Your light to those caught up in their own religion of no absolutes. Jesus is my Rock in a weary land.  Selah.