The Struggles of Life and the Real Enemy

Reading through Priscilla Shirer’s Fervent and this was all so needed this week. Because I’m tempted to blame hormones, or my season of life with babies, to blame sleepiness – my circumstances, and I miss what’s really happening.

When you can’t seem to respond to spiritual stimuli with the same optimism and obedience as you once did why do you think it could only be attributable to your bad character? To a drop in your hormone levels? To the normal deterioration that comes from age and accumulated adversity?

Maybe another less noticeable but equally probable reason is that you’ve been a victim of satanic sabotage. It’s a strategy. Against you. On purpose. An assault launched with pinpoint planning and detail…

Satan is a full-time accuser… Instead of convicting you for the purpose of restoration, as God’s Spirit does, he condemns you for the purpose of destroying, humiliating… Condemnation always leads to guilt-laden discouragement… [Condemnation] makes you focus on yourself; [conviction] points you to the grace and empowering mercy of Christ.

When I’m tempted to blame hormones, when I’m tempted to look at how poorly I’ve handled my responsibilities today, and feel sorry for myself and look to those things as the reasons for my discouragement, may I let that be a red flag to me that I’m letting the liar pour his lies into my soul. He is the one telling me I’m not good enough when the Father has told me that as His child I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. (2 Cor. 5:21)

Hormone shifts may be present. Nights may be sleepless. But the struggles in that are a distraction the enemy uses. He is the one pointing me to everything but Himself so I won’t recognize him for the condemning liar he is.

God give us grace to rebuke the lies poured upon us and take hold so eagerly to the abundance of truth You have given us to claim. Give grace to us to hold the Sword of the Spirit ready to fight off the lies thrown in our face today. (Eph. 6:17)

This is Day 28 in 31 Days of Listening

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My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

What do we pray for?

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This morning, 6 something, I prayed what is my usual prayer at that time of day. God please let her sleep just one more hour… Baby Liesel has not been sleeping well this past week, and my days have been hazy and lazy. This is what many of my prayers have been looking like of late… it’s actually what I’ve uttered many a night for the past two and a half years… since I became a mommy.

That was my first prayer this morning, not long after which I dressed the girls, packed them in the car and headed off to Bible study. It was a good morning and it ended with a question. What do my prayers look like? How often do I pray for comfort and convenience and how often do I battle in prayer for faith in the midst of discomfort?

It’s a question I didn’t want to answer myself because I knew my own answer wouldn’t please God. But I don’t have to hide in shame. Jesus took my prayer record on the cross, and gave me His record with His risen life. He provides all I need to have the confidence to pray… Himself.

This is His battle call to me to go to war with my prayer, this is what He wants me to do. And as it was said today, who wouldn’t want to serve a God like this? He prepares the things in advance that He wants me to do, He motivates me and guides me along as I do them, and He promises rewards to me if I do them. That’s the God we’re asked to serve.

For all of His children, may we answer the call He gives. May we claim the risen life He has given us with our prayers. May His grace move us so much that we cannot resist taking up the battle to claim the victorious prayer life He says is ours, no matter how much the enemy wants to tell us it doesn’t belong to us. May we step into the life He’s prepared for us and so passionately desire to live a faithful life that our prayers look more like a battle against discouragement than a begging for comfort. May we live and pray in victory. So let it be.

By the way, DaySpring.com is celebrating all of the Write 31 Days readers who are supporting nearly 2,000 writers this October! To enter to win a $500 DaySpring shopping spree, just click on this link & follow the instructions. Good luck, and thanks for reading! You can enter through the 29th.

This is Day 27 in 31 Days of Listening

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My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

How Babies Might Hold the Biggest Secret to Life

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Seeing Liesel express her needs is something so free and beautiful. She has a boldness to express herself that I do not.

I’ve been thinking on 1 Peter 2 this morning… “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk…” It was part of Nano’s lesson in class a few weeks ago.

He taught on Matthew 15 and the lady who asked for the “crumbs” from Jesus. The application of that story never made more sense to me than it did after hearing Nano teach on it. I’ve been wanting to hold on to this thought and explore it more, the pleading for crumbs, the little things that Jesus gives and letting those little things work through our hearts as He creates a big picture of love in us one little piece at a time.

Longing for spiritual milk as a baby longs for milk, chasing after the crumbs we can get from the Lord… maybe it’s saying that there’s value in pouring over the simple pieces of truth we find, the simple steps of faith in front of us, the simple prayers and words of worship that we can give Him. This longing for milk… it’s connected to tasting the Lord’s goodness.

“Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation – if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Peter 2:2-3) Maybe it’s in savoring the crumbs from Jesus that we taste His goodness the most.

“…if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious.” It’s in this, tasting His goodness… the more we taste how good God is, the more we know how valuable we are.

“You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ… you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (Verse 5 and 9) When we taste His goodness and know ourselves to be valued, it is there that we offer acceptable sacrifices. It is there that we proclaim the excellencies of His grace, because it is there that we most know it ourselves.

Becoming like babies and being willing to drink the milk, that is where we live most freely. Laura C. Robb talked on her blog this week about looking for something big when God is offering the small things right in front of us. And maybe this is what He needs me to hear today, that maybe the biggest secret to living free is in opening my hands to the crumbs from His table. Opening hands to the crumbs will look different with every moment and maybe for me now it looks like being willing to pray the simple prayers, and simple words of worship.

Maybe babies hold the biggest secret after all. They have the simplest, most child-like longings, yet they express themselves the most freely. Maybe when I am most like my little Liesel, maybe there I will be most confident to trust the Spirit living through me.

This is Day 14 in 31 Days of Listening

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My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

The Balancing Act

Yesterday was full and the writing I had planned didn’t happen. Yesterday, I was frustrated with the fullness of the day. I didn’t take time to hear the blessings. I was on a mind rant, a bad attitude, mad at anyone and everyone who ever said you could have an organized home and life with a newborn and a toddler in the house. In imaginary land, I was accusing them all because they had to be lying to me.

Today I’ve been thinking on Proverbs 31 and two blog posts that both sort of touched on yesterdays struggles and attitudes.

The first post put into words a little bit of the balance my soul longs for.

“A clean house might help your soul breathe, but a clean house doesn’t give you value.” The cleanliness of my house usually takes the back burner. When my house is clean, it’s usually always because I’ve neglected the people in my life and focused too much on clean. So, I tend to try to lean on that idea that a clean house doesn’t give me value, and prioritize everything else above clean, but sometimes I put it so low on the priority list that life feels out of balance. I forget that a clean house helps the soul of those who live in it. And I can’t figure out how to pull the great balancing act between relationships and responsibilities. Maybe this all speaks to more than just my house.

Proverbs 31… it’s such a perfect description of a woman. Certainly, the Proverbs woman doesn’t label housekeeping as a low priority, and keeps her house while managing to put the truest value on relationships. She looks to have it all together and it feels like an unattainable standard.

I read this today (another article) that helped it make better sense. Another lady who felt the same way about that passage…

I have… come to realize that this passage is not the description of a woman who has had it all together from the start, but of a woman who has grown in character and spiritual maturity through life’s experiences. Wisdom is not just timeless; it takes time.

I like her words. And maybe this is a piece of what He’s telling me. Simple things… knowing that wisdom takes time, trusting that He is providing the things I need to grow in wisdom, being earnest in prayer, asking for wisdom… maybe these things are my simple call for the present.

And tonight I read these words, that help me hear more.

Maybe you have certain ideas about what it means to do your thing the right way… but you are stuck in a pattern of defeat… In the midst of all your try-hard effort to do love right, you are missing out on loving well. Are you allowing your own expectations to hinder you from freely expressing yourself? Is your idea of the right way keeping you from your best way? Are you too distracted to show up?  (Emily P. Freeman – A Million Little Ways)

Her words make me realize that I look too much at my own self. I think I’m the one who has to do it. I try to do the balancing act, looking at my own feet, looking at all the reason I could have to fear. I’m like Peter looking at the waves tossing at my feet. 

I pray I live free, trusting He’s already done the balancing act for me. Knowing that while I can’t, He can. There I am free, and there, while I still can’t balance it myself, He can live it through me and that is the most beautiful thing I could ever ask for. May He live in me.

This is Day 8 in 31 Days of Listening

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My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

To Bring Beauty to the World

The enemy battles to tell my soul that I have no purpose, but He who lives in me is greater and gives grace to speak purpose into me. He provides it through my motherhood, through my failing to keep my cool, failing to hold onto worth on my own. This new stage of life, this busier motherhood, the enemy has used to tempt me to question my purpose, but God’s grace is sufficient for my weakness. He provides the grace to use these feelings to root me deeper into the knowledge that I have a purpose that He meant to be fulfilled uniquely in me and by using my motherhood.

Mother, the enemy says that means I don’t do anything meaningful, that my life is on hold. But we all were created to bring beauty to the world at every stage of life… at every stage of life. And my purpose lies here. Because not only do I get the joy of fulfilling my own purpose, I am the mother of two little ones who put so much beauty into this world. I get to fill the purpose of giving voice to their purpose. It’s not just about the purpose they will one day have. They have purpose in the present, in these days of little, and I am here to let them know that, if not in the words they don’t yet understand, than in the looks and the smiles and the language that is spoken without words. And I am here to help let their purpose show. They have a monumental purpose in the world today and I get to help them voice it.

I am told to be like a child and they teach me. And, God, He gives Amayah and Liesel the purpose of showing me what that is.

Liesel, she shows me what it is to be dependent, to be a person with need, something my heart wants to fear. Because maybe living for Jesus looks more like a needing baby than I like to think.

Amayah, she talks to me in words she’s just learning and I get to hear in words the freshest perspective of life from a child. That’s a treasure. She learns in book what it is to remember and forget and what it is to be happy and sad and when Liesel cries, her words “Liesel sad. ‘Member her,” they are a valuable reminder to a mommy who longs to know she has a meaningful purpose. She teaches me that showing people we remember them spreads happiness and that that’s a beautiful purpose we’re all meant to fill.

Me, the young mother, I have this privilege to carry this purpose. I learn these lessons firsthand. The purpose of these two beautiful little ladies shows itself to me first and I get to carry that, like an interpreter who carries the words a missionary can’t say, I help them carry out their purpose. It’s just a part of who God made me to be.

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

Consider it Joy


Some days I struggle to find joy, but James 1:2 “Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds.” What better trials to have than ones that are filled with the adorable faces of my daughters and the tears and hugs that fill our days. Trials like the one last week when Amayah didn’t want to get dressed and she screamed and fought me with all she had and when I did get finally get her dressed she rammed her head against the wall in anger, which made her cry, then she ran to me for a hug…

It’s in the middle of those moments that I feel failure and I need wisdom and He promises that if I ask for it, He will give wisdom generously and without being disappointed in me for my lack of wisdom. – James 1:5

I can find joy because this is a beautiful part of the story that He’s using to grow me, like Joseph’s story. He’s using every part to make the big picture more beautiful. These words of James are my sword, to fight the devils lies in this battlefield of my home. This sword calls the trial joy and reminds me that the way these moments can make me feel is not the way my God sees me. I hold to my sword for fight, but it’s my God who will do the fighting. He is my Hope and Strength.

I am found in Him. When I feel useless, He says I’m useful. When I feel less than, He says He is able, through me, to be their mommy. When I feel overwhelmed and insufficient and failing, I can rest in the promise that I am beautiful and holy in His sight… I have the Spirit inside me. I can count the trial joy in experiencing faith with my God through faith lived out on this battlefield.

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

Hope

Hope… it’s the idea that sometimes feels like the help just out of reach. Sometimes I feel like I’m racing to hold on to hope, to keep up with her and sometimes I have to ask myself what the use is in trying any way.

Like the way I felt in the delivery room two weeks ago… I was trying to hold on, trying to stay calm. Birth the first time around really wasn’t bad, I didn’t give much place to panic. I stayed calm and they called me strong. Birth this time was different. I tried to hold on to the same calm, but the hurt got so bad I didn’t care anymore or even remember why I wanted so much to stay calm. So I let go. I let it all out. I screamed with every bit of energy I had and when the birth was over, my throat was sore.

The first few days with Liesel were so smooth and I was so happy and just when I was feeling proud for not letting the hormones get to me this time around, I looked at all the little fears and worries that I could concern myself with and they became monsters and I let go of everything I was trying to hold onto. Then the tears came.

And I pull myself up and I try again, to hang on to joy, to say no to fear. And yesterday I dwelt in the failure, in the sad truth that I couldn’t do it. And then, He invites me to remember, this truth that I keep forgetting. That, no, I can’t do it because I’m not meant to, but He who is my Strength can. I have to let go.

I try so hard to hold on to this false hope that sometimes I believe is more secure. Why do I keep having to let go? Because I’m trying to do it on my own. I’m trying to rest in my own strength instead of my Strength. He is my hope. I just can’t do this life myself, but praise God I have a hope. Someone else has already done it for me. The promise of the life He’s lived for me waits to be wholly mine in eternity.

“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” -1 Peter 1:13  

 

Joining in with the Five Minute Friday community this week to write on the word hope. Please give these sweet writers a visit. :)

http://katemotaung.com/2015/07/09/five-minute-friday-hope/

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

Love’s Beautiful Mess

Almost a week since our new little Liesel was born. She’s my cuddle bug and she’s surprised us in how easy-going she seems to be. New life is beautiful. New life in her, new life in me.

I’m learning to rest in the new, in the fresh reminder to remember God’s benefits, (Psalm 103:2-3) to remember my newness in the newness of my daughter. She too is a precious gift who He points me to the Gospel with. For now, I look at the newness in her and remember it, she is new, and I am made new in my Jesus. The miracle of birth takes place in me as I experience the miracle of being found in my Jesus and the new creation He makes in me.

Learning to take my Nano’s advice to let the Lord be my shield. (Psalm 3) To be my shield against hormones and fears and doubts and all the senseless worries that want to fill my head. When I feel inadequate He is “my glory and the lifter of my head.”

Learning to Love two daughters together, that that’s messy, but to let it be messy because it’s beautiful… That was the theme of the Curious George movie I watched with Amayah the other night. Thankful for lessons learned even in the cute, silly ways… Loving both is messy because sometimes I have to give Liesel attention and Amayah doesn’t understand, and sometimes I give too much attention to one and not enough to the other and sometimes I just want time to slow down so I can enjoy them both better and there’s a million other worries along with that. But I can never know the beauty of Love without plunging into the beautiful mess of it. I want to give my Love fully, not cautiously, and living messy is the only way to do that. I want to enjoy these moments with my girls and that means just Loving and letting it all come out messy. And maybe Love is just that way all around… a beautiful mess.

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.

Perplexed


Sometimes it’s the little failures in life that are the greatest burden. The perplexed mind stumbling around for an answer to how to deal with life does face a real struggle. Those perplexities can really be a deep pain to a soul, and it’s a difficult pain to deal with because often it’s a pain we deal with alone. Those who do hear the perplexities may not think of it as pain. And even the person struggling with it may refuse to accept it as pain in light of all the pain in the world around them. But none of that changes the real fact that it is pain.

Most normal days as a mommy are full of perplexities, a life that desperately wants an answer to anything from her child’s sleeping problems, to the afternoon temper tantrum, to knowing how and when to discipline and sometimes to simply finding time to just be and breathe and feel like a sane person. These are my daily struggles, my perplexed moments, my temptation to carry the weight of failure. They are moments that can drive me to tears and whether I want to admit it or not, those moments are often my biggest pain. Sometimes, though, I look at a world of people around me who are going through so much more and I feel shame for thinking of these moments – moments that every mom goes through – as painful. But, as my husband reminded me when I was talking to him about these struggles, the first step toward healing is admitting that there is a problem and that applies no matter how big or small the problem might seem.

Some friends and I have been reading through Emily Freeman’s Grace for the Good Girl together and this week my friend Jozette pointed out the beauty in this statement we read: “Do not compare your pain with others. The worst pain you will ever feel is your own. That does not mean you are selfish – that means you are human.” (Grace for the Good Girl, Ch 17) No matter how good our life may seem on the surface, we all have our own form of pain. Whatever that pain is, no matter how big or small we think it to be, it exists in our life for a purpose, to point to the Gift in some way, but how will we ever see the Gift through the struggle, if we never accept it as pain? Ann Voskamp says it this way, “Brilliant people don’t deny the dark; they are the ones who never stop looking for His light in everything.” – Ann Voskamp

I’m having to learn what it means to really accept my daily struggles as pain. It’s not that I’ve never thought of them as pain before, but that whenever I have, I shame myself for it. I feel like I’ve done something wrong in thinking of this daily occurrence as something that can really hurt, as if I’m giving it some sort of power over me by thinking that. But what does His Word say about the perplexities of life? “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” (2 Cor. 4:8-10)

Perplexed. The word used here is defined as “to be left wanting, to be embarrassed, to be in doubt, not to know which way to turn. to be at a loss with, one’s self, be in doubt; not to know how to decide or what to do, to be perplexed:” It’s listed right there in between afflictions and persecutions. Those perplexed moments, those moments that tempt us to rename ourselves failure, they really are a struggle and a real way that we carry in our bodies the death of Jesus. As Christians we do have pain in perplexities and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. We only do wrong in accepting the pain when we despair, when we give up all hope. But just as Jesus accepted the pain He went through and wasn’t ashamed of it, I can accept my struggles as pain as a way to identify with my Savior in making light of His life in the world. I can know my struggle as pain and there, I can find the Gift that it beautifully points to.

My prayer is that you find God's grace pouring through your insecure moments. In this audio series, you'll receive a few quiet minutes of encouragement each month free in your email inbox. I hope it helps you find sweet gifts inside the feelings.