Thursday, December 29, 2005
This year it’s been enjoyably breathless. Thank You, Lord!!!
My marriage has grown up by leaps and bounds and we’re enjoying a December that’s been filled with heart chocolate and warm snuggles. Thank you all for the prayers…. many of you have been His voice of truth to help me hang on to the fact that God is good and He has a good plan.
My kiddos have been joyous messes as we’ve baked cookies and wrapped and unwrapped lots of love in specially chosen packages. They’ve added so much sparkle to this special time of year.
On top of all that, God saw fit (in the fullness of His time) to extend an early Christmas present in the form of three published stories due out in March and October of 2006. I’m so excited about these stories because in each of them I get to share my heart and offer words of encouragement to three special groups of people~ fellow diabetics, expectant moms, and teen girls.
Adding to my excitement is my wonderful web designer husband who has my website almost ready to launch. And he’s done an amazing job. The debut will be THIS SATURDAY~ NEW YEAR’S EVE!!! (www.amywallace.com) My husband’s heart and talent shine bright on every page. This site is our way of ringing out a year of growth to be celebrated and ringing in a new year full of promise. Please come visit me there!
Then, just to be sure I got the message that God does indeed have good plans for me, He did something even better than I could ask or imagine…
He, through the wonderful people at Multnomah Publishers, extended a THREE BOOK CONTRACT!!!!!!!! Come February 2007 Ransomed Dreams will move from the dust bunny hideout under my desk to store shelves and beyond.
God is so good!!!!!
He was good when life hurt so badly I wanted to give up this time last year, and He is good now. What an awesome God we serve!
As we celebrate the end of 2005 and the beginning of 2006, please join me in dreaming big. God is good and He does have good plans for each one of us…
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
Monday, December 12, 2005
Here's the link: www.amywallace.com I'd love to hear what you think.
Before I went to bed, I surfed to a website I used to check often to see if I made it into my second book compilation. But enjoying Christmas with little ones has had me so happily busy I hadn't checked the site in a good while.
Well, last night I saw that the list was posted...
I MADE IT!!!
The U-Turns book The Choices Teens Make will be coming out in October of 2006 with my story "If Only I Were Beautiful" in it. I'm SO excited!!!
Still no news about my two novels, but I'm learning with every baby step that God is good and He has good plans, contracts or not. It's nice, especially this bustling time of year, to relax and enjoy the goodness of God.
God kisses and heart chocolate make this the most wonderful time of the year for me!
Friday, December 02, 2005
This is truly a most wonderful time of the year this time round! All the painful work God has done in this past year finally feels like it is coming together and creating an incredible holiday season I'm thoroughly enjoying with my family.
We started with a Thanksgiving to remember... dancing with my two year old to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade and watching all three of my princesses wide-eyed wonder at the floats and singer and festivities. My youngest pointed to the Rockettes' routine on the TV and said, "mommy dance." I look nothing like a Rockette, but it sure felt nice to be so seen by my baby. ;-)
Since then we've enjoyed decorating the house, hanging precious picture ornaments together on the tree, having Christmas pictures taken, (and actually enjoying it!) and making a gingerbread Christmas tree. And we still have many more fun, memory-making things planned. Tomorrow we bake cookies and next week we are going to see the Nutcracker at the Fox Theater in downtown Atlanta.
Plus, we have the annual holiday trip to Brusters for scoops of eggnog and peppermint ice cream all around. And ice skating on Christmas Eve. Then my girls' favorite thing to do on Christmas Day...putting up the Baby Jesus on our advent calendar.
We’ve done most of these things for years now, but this year everything sparkles a little more through happy tears as we read Christmas stories and snuggle together by the glowing tree my girls picked out and their daddy cut down.
My heart is full and overflowing.
But that’s not all…here’s where the unexpected God kisses multiply.
As my family life has grown more and more healthy, I’m learning to enjoy the moments instead of frantically capture them. One huge God kiss after another there. My writing as well has taken me places I’ve never gone before—some amazing and some awful. I’m still waiting to hear back from two publishing houses that have been very interested in my first two novels. This is both amazing and awful at the same time. ;-) I’ve also made it to the final editor stage for three short stories, with contracts signed.
Then I found out the highest paying one fell through. I didn’t make the final cut. And it was the one I felt most sure I’d see it printed. I was sad, took it to God, and then moved on and kept working on my third book.
Here comes the coolest part…
Yesterday I got the entire galley for the Chicken Soup book my story didn’t make it into. I was shocked and decided to delete it, not wanting to know which ones made it without mine in there.
But my husband insisted I just look. So I did.
And there was my story.
It's the last one in this compilation. I get to close this awesome book with one of my favorite lines I’ve written to date.
“Dance. Even when life hurts. It’s worth every step.”
I made it after all!!!! I was in total shock. Then I shared the news with my girls and they danced around and said, “Yeah, Mommy!” That’s when I felt it.
My eyes watered…
My heartbeat grew faster…
And God bent down and whispered a kiss into my soul.
He does have good plans for me. For my writing and for my precious family. Because I’m His and He loves me.
To be loved like that is the greatest of all gifts my Daddy could have given me this most special time of the year.
Thank you, Abba. You’re the BEST!
Thursday, November 17, 2005
This year is different. The family argument has already taken place before the holidays even started. But this time I’m different too. I laid appropriate boundaries and stuck with them even when my mother laid all the blame at my feet and said because of my boundaries she would not come visit and hung up on me.
Needless to say that was a hurtful conversation. But I took it to God and am still growing into all He’s show me through these circumstances. One of the first things He revealed was my “place” in my family of origin. I have, ever since I can remember, been the family “bad guy” and “scapegoat” because I tried to be the family counselor and no one wanted to hear what I had to say. I was the problem for saying we had a problem. When I became a Christian in my teens, I became even more of a “problem” because I had words to define the awful stuff that went on in my “everything looks good on the outside” family.
It took this year’s argument with my mother for me to face my role as the “bad guy” in my family. To see that I still believed her insults even though I pointed out what’s wrong in our family system and said I wouldn’t continue to walk that way.
But God had something different to say about who I am.
When I went to Him with all the hurt and all the painful things that were said, God took me to three different verses about blame. I’ve personalized them in my special Bible verse album (it’s a dollar store photo album) that I look through when I’m discouraged. It helps me remember the Truth.
The first verse was Ephesians 1:4: “For God chose Amy in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love…”
The next verse God showed me is one of my all-time favorites~ 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24: “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify Amy through and through. May Amy’s whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”
At this point the truth started to seep into those wounded places in my heart and wash out some entrenched lies. I don’t have to “get blameless” or prove anything to my family. God is the one who makes me blameless and keeps me blameless in Him. And, not to be cold, but it doesn’t matter what my family thinks. What they say and how they treat me is on them, not for me to bear and live as though it’s true.
How I act is another story.
So I started talking to God about all the ways I’ve failed to be a godly example to my family and all the ways I’ve failed to honor and respect my parents. I started to see how I’ve tried to push harder and work faster to get blameless and make myself perfect to avoid the painful rejections from my family when I did mess up. Instead of resting in God’s perfection, I tried to get there on my own.
But one that is like all others… paid for at the Cross.
When I started thinking about the Cross, that’s when my Martin Luther moment happened. Like Luther’s reading in Romans and realizing salvation is by faith alone and the amazing revelation of God being a God of grace and love, I had my “ah-ha” moment reading in 1 Peter 2:23-24.
“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”
All I could think over and over in my mind and heart was, “Jesus bore my sin. Jesus bore my sin. Jesus bore my sin.”
While I’m pretty sure I had a vague understanding of this at salvation some twenty years ago, the everyday truth I missed. But in reading those verses and talking about all my family stuff with God, He made it real to me. I don’t have to bear my sins. In fact, I can’t. Jesus already did.
Even if my family wants a perfect Amy who sees no wrong or else I’m insulted and punished verbally for my opinions, I don’t have to receive what they believe and play the family scapegoat role. Jesus bore my sins. And He left me an example to follow as well as the Holy Spirit’s power within me to do as Jesus did.
So this holiday season will be different for me in many ways. While I won’t see any of my birth family and that saddens me some, I also won’t be playing the old family role either. I’m stepping into a healthier place. One where I hope and pray my parents and siblings will choose to join me. I’m trying to invite them in little ways. But even if my family doesn’t respond, this truth and the healthier place it has produced in me is bearing fruit in my own family. I’m learning in action that I don’t have to be perfect to be loved, and neither do they. My husband and I and our precious princesses are being freed by this truth to enjoy each other and celebrate this holiday season with renewed hope.
We give thanks because Jesus came as a baby and grew into a man for the purpose of bearing the sins of the world on a tree.
My girls and I were talking about this a few days ago. About how the shadow of the cross was on the infant in the manger. What an amazing truth.
I pray I’ll remember each day that the shadow of the cross rests on me because the blood shed there paid for my sins. Totally. The only role I have is that of God’s Beloved Child. I don’t ever want to forget or fail to be moved by this simple truth…
Jesus bore my sins.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
The whole idea of living free and especially grasping the truth of unfailing love is a tough one. Before this week I don’t think I could have really processed the little that I did last night. I’m so glad God is Sovereign and cares that I read the right thing at the right time for it to burrow deep into my soul.
Not only that, but He also orders my circumstances to make sure I don’t miss a thing. Even when I wish He wouldn’t.
It’s been a tough few days around my home. Make that a tough few weeks, and really, a tough few years. Looking at it objectively, there have been some wonderful good times and some horrendous bad times. Lately it feels like the tide has turned back to more of the bad than good. But I think that’s actually a function of my attitude more than it is the “facts” about each day.
God is using it all to drive home a point about unfailing love.
I can’t get it from my husband.
I can’t get it from my children.
I can’t get it from my friends.
I can’t get it from my writing.
And I can’t even force God to prove it.
That hit me like a load of bricks today. Me, try to force God to prove He loves me??? Yep.
Unfortunately, that being two before God thing doesn’t always mean I’m cuddly and sweet and coming to Him like an adoring child. I think I’m a lot more like a two-year-old tantrum than I wanted to admit.
So God had to shine the light and hold a mirror in my direction once again.
And He worked through one of His favorite means in my life… my girls. Not just my three little princesses, but also my Bible study girls. One of which sent me an email today talking about the deadness she felt inside. All I could think to say in response was, “Me too.”
So that’s what I typed. But my conscious wouldn’t leave me alone. Just commiserating about how life sucks isn’t what God gave me words to do. Sure it’s important to bear one another’s burdens and weep with those who weep. That’s what I started doing, but it wasn’t enough.
And maybe nothing I said will be enough. But I’m praying what God started to show me as I typed will be. If nothing else I hope it will plant a seed.
This young lady is precious to me, as are all my Bible study girls and the seniors I teach on Sundays. But the one who emailed me today is unique in that God seems to be walking us down similar paths. It’s humbling to write with the intent of encouraging and teaching only to end up realizing I’m the student.
I didn’t start my email response to her with the purpose of teaching. My only thought was to let her know I’m right there with her. But I couldn’t stop typing once I started, because God got a hold of my heart.
I remembered my Bible study last night on unfailing love and it hit me that I'm feeling numb inside because I shut myself down. Because I'm so tired of my own failure and the hurt from other people failing me. I'm even a little angry with God for not answering prayers and changing things I've begged Him to change for a long while now.
There’s that forcing God to prove He loves me. I didn’t realize it, but I was saying in effect…
Heal my body and I’ll believe You love me.
Heal my marriage and I’ll believe You love me.
Give me a book contract and I’ll believe You love me.
God says simply, “I love you with an unfailing love.” Period.
Just the Cross.
And His Word.
Proverbs 19:22 “What a man desires is unfailing love; better to be poor than a liar.”
Proverbs 20:6 “Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?”
Every human alive longs for, desires, and is so hungry to have unfailing love that we'll do anything just to get a taste. Even numb out as a way to deny the pain when this need feels unfulfilled.
But only God is capable of unfailing love. In fact the Biblical words for unfailing/ agape love ONLY refer to God. We humans can't muster or get "holy" enough to love that way. And no human can love us that way all the time. We all fail. We fail to love and be loved well.
But God doesn't. He loves anyway. No matter the sin. No matter the anger. No matter the deadness inside. No matter what I perceive as unanswered prayers.
Those “unanswered prayers” are one way God got my attention to see that the fight I’m to fight isn’t about forcing Him to prove He loves me. Or to get others to love me the way I want to be loved.
It’s the fight of faith that counts. The fight to believe the truth. And walk in it.
The fight that runs to God believing that God and God alone is the only one capable of unfailing love.
We either fight the fight of faith and keep fighting or we try to deaden our hearts a little more every day. If we fight, there will be times of rest, times of healing, and- ultimately... finally...in God's perfect time - complete rest, healing, and peace.
But if we give up and deaden our hearts, what is there? No hope. No possibility of joy. Nothing. That's where the enemy wants us to stay. Because he knows who we were created to be and he fears us.
Love and joy and faith are painful. No two ways about that. But inner deadness isn't really death. It's self-protection. And it doesn’t work.
As I finished up the email to my friend, I was reminded self-protectiveness is a sin because it's denying God's rightful place in my life. He's my Protector and Comforter. He's Daddy and Mommy; Strength and Peace. He's everything I need. And it’s God, and God alone, that loves me with unfailing love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 “God is patient, God is kind. God does not envy, God does not boast, God is not proud. God is not rude, God is not self-seeking, God is not easily angered, God keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. God never fails.”
Jeremiah 31:3 "I have loved you with an everlasting love.”
Not only is God’s love exactly what I need… it’s what I want, what I desire too.
What about you?
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
With my other two I didn't mourn their babyhood being over. I think I was way too busy to notice, what with another one on the way. But this time I know this is my last biological baby and my other two are long past the lobster claw hands begging to be picked up or the long rocking chair snuggles.
So I suppose my little princess's "NO!" with a smile and pushing the outer limits of my patience are gifts in disguise. They certainly keep me laughing or praying so much I hardly notice she's growing up.
Wonder if I still look two to God…
Mark 10:15-16 says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.
I don’t mind looking two in this context!
But it took me having children to see firsthand what this verse meant. Then it took years of heart healing before I could receive it deep and let it free me to come to Him as a little child.
That’s what happened earlier this week.
Last blog I shared about my first visit to the Healing Rooms. What followed that blog post was a week of physical and emotional trial. My blood sugars went wild again and my emotions with it. I grew angry with God and that affected how I treated my children. Except God revealed quite clearly that wasn’t the source of my inner rage. And not until I faced the rage issues and came to Him in prayer about them, would I find the healing I longed to receive.
So being the “good Christian” that I am, I pouted. I accused God of not loving me and said I wouldn’t go back to the Healing Rooms again. (Talk about two year old behavior!)
Then I saw my rage mirrored in my oldest child—in her sad eyes and anger spilling out in everything she did.
I went back to the Healing Rooms three days later.
And God met me there beyond anything I could hope or imagine. I realized then that my first visit to the Healing Rooms weeks before was amazing preparation work. But I hadn’t yet experienced the physical healing I’d hoped for because God was working on something far greater than I expected.
As my prayer team prayed with me, I felt such an outpouring of love. Even as I shared about the abuse I’d endured and the ugly things I’d done in response, they still prayed for me and loved me. They really saw me, emotionally laid bare, and loved me. I cried and bawled with total strangers like I’ve never allowed myself to do before.
Because I felt safe. Safe and genuinely loved.
God used them to speak so clearly and so personally to my heart. They prayed things only God could know I needed to hear and led me to see God in the midst of my pain. Through their prayers for me and with me I finally reached the core of my rage and was able to experience God’s amazing forgiveness, total unconditional love for me, and deep healing from that rage. They spoke such encouragement to my heart and soul and were the arms and hugs of the Lord.
I haven’t yet received complete healing from my diabetes, but I know it’s coming. I now have the hope I lacked after my first visit because God has cleared away so much junk that was blocking all the good He has to show me. I know to the core of my being He will continue His healing work in me.
I’ve seen some improvements in my physical health. Enough to remind me that God’s timing is perfect and I'm willing to wait in expectant faith for the total healing He has already begun. Had I given up after my first visit and stayed angry with God that He didn’t immediately heal my body, I would not have received the heart healing and forgiveness of sins that Jesus knew I needed more than physical healing. Just like the paralytic in the Bible, Jesus knew I needed to experience forgiveness and healing from rage before He could begin the physical healing. And now He is.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
I’ve learned that healing prayer is not a “quick fix” or the way around sometimes slow and painful growth. But through healing prayer God does restore and renew both heart and body as well as prepare a person to receive all the good He has in store for them.
All that to say, I guess I really do look like a two year old to God. Stubborn, wanting a quick answer that comes exactly when and how I want it. At the same time, I know God sees my heart. And while I lovingly discipline my two year old, God is doing the same with me. He’s teaching me the in’s and out’s of growing up in Christ.
And I know He’s laughing with me like I laugh with my littlest princess.
I’m so glad she’s two…and then some!
Saturday, October 15, 2005
I blogged a few weeks ago about my heart chocolate experience in Nashville and how Brandilyn prayed for me. Well this week I followed through with something else the Lord put on my heart from that time in Nashville. To visit the Healing Rooms. First I visited their web page, which I would encourage you all to check out. There's a quote there that immediately grabbed my heart…
"If you want to walk on water, you must get out of the boat."
Peter and his water walking is my all-time favorite story in the Bible. God has used it over and over to teach me so much. In my marriage, my writing, my teaching, my friendships, in all I hold dear— I sink and cry out… and am learning to walk on water.
So I read the quote and did it again. I got out of the boat and made plans to visit the Healing Rooms. The enemy attacked on so many fronts. My marriage took some painful hits and we almost didn’t follow through with the plan to go for prayer. But God is God and He had appointed a time for us to go.
My husband stepped out of his boat and decided we’d go, even if I wasn’t willing to talk to him. The entire trip to the Healing Rooms was spent in silence. Me listening to the Holy Spirit’s conviction of how I’d treated my husband and forgiving him for how he’d treated me as well. (Over a small incident of selfishness we both fell back into old patterns of relating and let the enemy have a field day in our relationship. Thankfully God is not about to give up on us and has better plans that even our foolishness can’t thwart.)
While we waited for our appointed time to be prayed over we read some of the books on display. One in particular caught my eye. In it I read about diabetes and both physical and spiritual/emotional causes of the disease. I’ve know since I was diagnosed 18 years ago that my mind and heart had a lot to do with this disease manifesting itself in my body. So nothing in that struck me as odd. What knocked my feet out from under me was the statement about severe rejection being one of the emotional roots.
Immediately my mind went to the fact that I’ve never known my biological father. He’s known how to contact me, but never has. And I’ve tried to contact him with no return response. But God had far deeper places to take me.
My husband went to be prayed for and I went a little later with a totally different team. Not my plan, but God knew exactly what He was doing. The team that prayed for me was incredible. We did talk through some issues of forgiveness, but not towards my dad. What came out of my mouth was all about my mom.
After that, the two wonderful ladies on my prayer team spent most of our time together praying for my physical healing. It was an experience like I’ve never had before. Going into the prayer time I had the assurance from the Lord that I would be healed, but that my healing would not be an instant happening. In fact, I had to sign a form that I would not stop any medical treatment before seeing my physician. God showed me then that He had far bigger plans for my healing than just my freedom from diabetes.
What happened at the Healing Rooms is a precious memory to me now, something I will go back to and be reminded of God’s amazing power and faithfulness. But what happened later that night is an even more incredible memory.
It began with one of the prayer ladies speaking to me about God being whatever I needed. I have received Him as my Daddy, my protector and provider, my strong tower where I would run. But I’ve struggled with Him being my comforter, softly and tenderly drawing me to Himself and enjoying me like a mommy does her little ones.
So that night, I prayed about God being whatever I needed and He gave me these verses:
Isaiah 66:12-13 “For this is what the LORD says: ‘I will extend peace to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; you will nurse and be carried on her arm and dandled on her knees. As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.’”
Isaiah 51:3 “The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.”
As I started to personalize those verses and pray them, God broke open the floodgates in my heart. Pain I had kept stored there, rejections that felt like a noose around my neck, years and years of memories. Ones I had forgiven and even felt before, but not like this. Not in the context of rejection and how I’d allowed it to define me. I cried curled up in a ball rocking back and forth on my bedroom floor for what felt like hours.
But this time as I cried, I felt the cleansing that can only come from being in the presence of God, laid bare and yet totally loved.
I feel it’s important to say here that I love my mom and she loves me. She is a wonderful person who, like me, lived out of her wounds and wounded others.
But I had to face those wounds, not so much what she did or didn’t do, but what I received from the enemy through those wounds and allowed to continue hurting me over and over again. Feeling the wounds in the safety of God’s arms and proclaiming from my heart forgiveness for my mom, freed me. Internal walls crumbled and I felt God’s presence, His soft, gentle comfort surround me.
I reread those verses and cried tears of peace and joy. God had answered the cries of my heart. I wrote them in a little notebook this way:
This is what the Lord says, “I will extend peace to Amy like a river, and the wealth of nations like a flooding stream; Amy will nurse and be carried on My arm (provided for and held dear) and dandled on My knee. (enjoyed) As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort Amy.
The Lord will surely comfort Amy and will look with compassion on all her ruins; (my physical body, my past, and the difficulties in my marriage) He will make Amy’s deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in Amy, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.
Typing this I can’t help but smile. The Lord has been so good to me.
And He continues to be. He’s answering the prayers for healing from diabetes and continued healing in my marriage. I’ve already started to see physical improvements in my body and my blood sugars. Slow and steady, but there nonetheless.
And in my marriage… wow. God has been teaching us new ways of living and relating to each other for some time now. But after Thursday, I’ve seen what a major work God is dong in both of our hearts and how it extends far beyond us. Quiet, but powerful, like the sun after a solar eclipse. That’s how I feel. The eclipse has passed and the Son is shining—even brighter than before.
Please keep praying for us. I’m seeing that marriage is a journey of the heart— healing, rejoicing, stumbling, and growing even more, going deeper and deeper still with God and each other. Please pray we’ll stay the course and let our light shine so that many will be drawn to the Lord. In the same way, that my physical healing from diabetes will be used to show many that God is indeed still in the business of working miracles… inside and out.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
So what's the theme?
The recent news reports of prominent people bringing such pain with their poorly chosen words have grieved my heart. Then I look in the mirror and listen to the words that come carelessly out of my mouth and I’m grieved even more.
A few Sundays back I was talking to my 12th grade girls about the Church. In sharing about leadership and their roles within the Body, I felt compelled to share a verse that cuts straight to my heart and sits heavily there.
"Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." (James 3:1 NIV)
I take that verse very literally and pray with fear and trembling that the words I speak and the words write honor the Lord. Last night that verse weighed even heavier on my heart as I stepped into a new place in my writing career. I received an email from an editor requesting more information because my very first novel is now under “active consideration” with a major publishing company~ my brass ring for that manuscript.
I thought I was going to throw up.
Not the response I'd expected to have when I reached this place. I thought I’d be dancing around and leaping for joy. But I didn’t. I wanted to cry. Because it hit me with renewed vigor the importance of words and how vital it is that I choose mine wisely.
So much so when I write words that people who don’t know me will read.
See, with the senior girls I teach if I say or do something wrong I can face them and ask forgiveness.
Even more so with my daughters. They are quick to forgive when my words are less than godly. Because they know my heart and know I love them. It grieves me so much when I hurt their hearts. It’s an area I’ve committed to bring to the Lord daily. I have so far to go. But when I remember the pain in their eyes at my harsh comments and their speedy forgiveness when I confess my sin, I’m humbled. Humbled that I’m forgiven and that I have another chance to grow and learn and try again to love well.
Same goes for my best friend and writing partner. She calls me on my words nearly every day. Whether on the phone or over the computer, I can trust her to hold up the mirror to see if my words are honoring words of life… or not. And if not, she lets me know and helps me see how to change them. I love that!
She even gave me a plaque that reads, “Lord, keep your arm around my shoulder and your hand over my mouth.”
I so need to pray that prayer… often!
But with a novel, words that I’ve written receive no second chance at explanation. I have no option to ask forgiveness if I blow it and write something that offends, or worse, hurts.
Then I remember Martin Luther standing before his written words, being asked to recant what he’d penned. He steadied his resolve and said, “I cannot. I will not…recant. Here I stand.”
The prayer of my heart is that I will walk so closely with the Lord as I type and speak that I too can stand with passion and boldness and know my words are for His glory.
I’m acutely aware that doesn’t mean everyone will like my words. I already know from experience not all words are received with immediate joy. My daughters and my Bible study girls don’t often like the words of correction that come from my lips. But they know it’s because I love them. I don’t like those correcting words directed at me any more than they do. But I’ve learned to receive similar words from people that love me because I want to grow.
And so, I pray that those who read my words will hear my heart. Even more, that they will hear Jesus.
With that prayer on my tongue, instead of throwing up at this new avenue for my words to go out, I’ve decided to throw myself in my Daddy’s lap and ask Him to make my words His. He has called me and I’m trusting He will accomplish His good, His way, and in His time.
I don’t want to war with words, using them to bring death. Instead, I want to fight the good fight and speak words of life. Please pray that I’ll do just that in all I write and in all I speak.
I love the way The Message writes Ephesians 4:29. “Say only what helps, each word a gift.”
May that be true for each of us…
Saturday, September 24, 2005
It’s a pretty neat way to describe something that nourishes the heart with a sweetness that makes you long for more. This past week and a half was so full of heart chocolate that I’m only now starting to really process through it.
Right on the heels of my awesome beach vacation I attended a writer’s conference in Nashville. It was my third one with ACFW. I learned so much from the awesome teaching. Even more from the incredible people that make up this neat organization.
My first inkling that God was doing something big came on Friday morning. There was a special time of prayer and I was on my feet before I could think. I ended up in a line with two incredible authors praying for the people who came forward. One of them was a dear friend who knows my story and has prayed for me throughout my desert journey. The other was a lady I had the privilege of praying for, along with many other ACFW authors, years ago. (Her miraculous story of healing from Lyme Disease is worth your time to read. Here’s a link to Brandilyn’s story.)
I thought I was up there to pray with Deb and was calm knowing I didn’t have to explain anything about my life, because she already knew. But God had me there to pray with Brandilyn. I so wanted to ask her to pray for my healing from diabetes. But I knew my husband had been praying for this and he wanted to be a part of God doing this particular miracle in my life. So I stumbled through asking for prayer for my marriage and that God would use me to touch people’s hearts through my writing.
Brandilyn did pray for a miraculous healing in my marriage~ which God has most definitely been doing and continues to do. But she also prayed something that struck me as very odd at the time. She prayed I would make friendships at the conference. Why was that odd to me? Well, because I’d come to Nashville with two wonderful new friends, was rooming with my best friend, and I had other established friendships there.
Little did I know God was going to stretch my heart to include even more. Sort of like chocolate does to my thighs. But it's all good.
Later that same day I talked with Brandilyn, in the restroom of all places, and explained why I hesitated with my prayer request to her that morning. I told her about my diabetes and my husband’s prayers. She prayed for me again, not only that God would heal me, but also that this healing would be used for even deeper healing in my marriage. She spoke about walking in faith that God will answer this prayer and that my husband will be a part of it.
If you read my last blog post, you have to know I struggled to receive this. What if it wasn’t God’s will for my healing? What if it didn’t happen? I talked that over with God and left those questions with Him.
The conference continued with its typical ups and downs. Excitement for the many God appointments He had for me. Sadness that what I’d hoped would happen with my writing career didn’t happen. Joy over a new direction and deep growth in my relationship with my best friend. Physical exhaustion. God kisses.
Amid all the ups and downs, Brandilyn’s prayer for friendships became a reality. I quickly connected with two amazing people. And one of them offered me a bite of her very special imported dark chocolate. ;-) These were totally unexpected and a clear reminder from God that He knows exactly what I need and He has a very good plan for me.
I also got to hang out with my amazing crit partners who make me a far better writer and person than I would ever become on my own. And I spent one evening talking with the author who got me started in ACFW. Connecting with her was a time of real encouragement both for my heart and for my writing.
Then came the closing time of prayer. After an amazing testimony by another precious author friend of mine about her healing, Brandilyn invited people to come up front and she would pray for them. I kept my behind on the seat knowing that for me to go forward was not an act of faith. For me to sit in my seat, believing God had already answered the prayers prayed for me, was my walk of faith. So I sat. Then God nudged me to pray for another lady still sitting at my table. One of the precious new friends God had given me. I prayed for her and we cried together as Brandilyn, totally not knowing her situation, prayed specifically for her. God is so good!
After that it was time to go home. I thought I’d received all the heart chocolate my mind could conceive. But God had even more.
My wonderful mentor talks often about asking God to give you others who you can “pull up.” Those that God speaks of in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” I’ve been praying for someone who I could pull up and encourage. I thought it would be another writer after I had a little more writing experience, so I wasn’t really looking for that person.
Well, she found me. Just before I left Nashville, I got to talk with another author whose life journey is much like mine. We’ve emailed often ever since. Not only do I have the privilege of walking this journey of healing with her and sharing my experiences that she is now going through, but she is also a great encouragement to my heart. I get to relive the amazing things God has done for me as I share with her. And I get to hear amazing things God is doing in her life as we email and pray for one another.
I went to Nashville with the hope of loving others well, of praying for people and encouraging them. I also went hoping for clear direction in my writing journey. What I received was so God… heart chocolate. In such abundance that I’m still overwhelmed at the thought of it all. Sweet stuff that doesn’t hug my thighs, but that makes my heart and my capacity to love grow even greater.
God is so good. In giving myself in honest transparency, I received far more than I asked or imagined. Heart chocolate… bar upon scrumptious bar to be savored for a lifetime to come.
How about you? How’s your chocolate stash? Wherever it stands, I encourage you to ask God to show you where He can use you. Not what you can do for Him, but what He wants to do through you. In so doing, I know you’ll find what He’s promised. That the plans He has for you are so good and so over and above what you can dream.
I’d like to close with my favorite scripture prayer from Ephesians 3. I often personalize this with my name and the names of those I love. Prayer is such an awesome way to love well and see God do amazing things through you!
I pray that out of Your glorious riches You may strengthen (my hubby and precious daughters) with power through Your Spirit in their inner being, so that Christ may dwell in (my husband’s and girls’) hearts through faith. And I pray that (my husband and daughters), being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that they would each be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to You who are able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to Your power that is at work within us, to You, Daddy, be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Then she lost them again. But this time they belonged to her little sister.
This little sister suggested we pray right then. So both my girls prayed we would find the sunglasses that night. By the end of the evening, I stumbled onto the glasses tucked away in a stroller out in the garage.
After that, the suggestion to pray about anything and everything has been met with an enthusiastic round of little girl prayers. I add my reluctant prayers, usually wondering what I’m going to say to “bail God out” when we don’t find the little puzzle piece because someone threw it in the trash can.
But we find it. And I’m left to wonder if I will ever have the faith of a little child.
Each and every time when I’ve thought the lost item was too insignificant or even impossible to find, God’s shown us right where it is. My girls whoop and holler about how good God is. I shake my head and wonder why I don’t just trust Him like my girls do. Especially when our list has grown into pages of “little things.”
So God keeps working on me in totally unexpected ways. A case in point is our last day at the beach this past Sunday. We’d had an amazingly wonderful time hanging out as a family and enjoying God’s beautiful ocean. Saturday we pumped up a raft we’d forgotten we had and carted it out to our beach chairs, adding it to the pile of shells, my sandals, and another raft we’d purchased that year. We hoped with another raft, all three girls would agree to go out farther than they could stand. We’ve done that other years and come within feet of a huge sea turtle that was awesome to see.
Well, the girls agreed and we had a blast floating in the ocean and watching fish and crabs and even a huge jellyfish. We left it well enough alone, and fast! But when we came back in and packed up our stuff, I was missing one of my black flip-flops. We quickly realized it had caught a ride on our old raft and gone out to sea with us. Only it didn’t return.
True to form my little ones promptly prayed that God would “bring Mommy’s shoe back to the beach so it could go home with us.” I balked. Then I tried to explain that there was no way that little shoe would wash back up on this beach anytime soon. It was most likely somewhere out in the vast expanse of the Gulf, never to be seen again.
My oldest, with hands on her hips, (don’t know where she got that from!!!) pretty much told me that God could do anything and we should just wait and see.
My husband added his prayers that God would let us find my shoe on the beach the next morning. Feeling very “protective” of God’s honor and trying to bail Him out in case my shoe was indeed lost at sea, I launched into my usual lost items prayer. I asked God to help us accept whatever was His will and to trust that He knows best.
My girls gave me that “Oh mo-om” look and just grinned. Like I’d lost even more brain cells than I thought I had.
The next morning as my hubby and I sat on our balcony reading our Bibles, he got up and pointed out to the beach. “Do you see that?” It was a black “thing” far to the left of where we’d been stationed the day before. There was no way the tide could have run opposite its normal course and dumped my little shoe that far up the beach.
My husband just grinned and went to retrieve my shoe.
The black “thing” turned out to be a huge rock, far bigger than my foot~ thank you very much I told him later. But instead of giving up on God bringing my shoe back to us, he listened to the Lord whisper for him to look to his left. Even farther away from where we were playing the day before.
And there was my shoe.
My little, insignificant, black flip-flop was right there on the beach.
My eyes filled with tears and my heart nearly burst. First there was regret for once again not believing God would do something like that for me. Then there was overwhelming thankfulness that my girls would grow up knowing such a big God cared about even the smallest things we brought to Him in prayer.
When it was my turn for a little early morning stroll on the beach I wanted to find something too. But we hadn’t lost anything to pray about finding. So I thought maybe I’d find a sand dollar my girls had hoped take home, but didn’t yet have. Maybe a cool message in a bottle? Something.
Like I needed more proof God cared.
Out I went. I found nothing. All I could think to do then was sit in a little deserted beach chair and sing. I actually signed, something I do when I really want to praise God. I finally got that God had already done something big and instead of wishing He’d do more, I was ready to just say “thanks.”
After a neat time of hanging out with my Daddy, I knew I should head back inside. As I turned around, to my left, the gorgeous orange/gold sun was peeking up over the buildings. Immediately, I felt the Lord’s overwhelming presence. The thought popped into my head that this was a kiss from God. A reminder that He did see me.
As tears welled in my eyes, I realized that I had indeed found something that morning. Something I’d lost. Something precious to me.
My childlike faith.
The faith that just believes. The faith that says with my heart, words, and hands, “My Daddy loves me.” And in believing receives a most precious gift… His gentle kiss. His whisper that it wasn’t my shoe that was important to Him—it was my heart.
On the way home we lost something else and my girls immediately prayed. I started to utter my “bailing God out” prayer and stopped. My husband smiled and my girls cheered. What I asked instead was that the Lord would show us where my missing ring had gone and I added that I trusted Him to give it back to me.
Then I lifted one last bag hoping my ring was in there. It wasn’t. So I picked up another bag, one I’d already checked in, and my heart ring popped into my lap.
All I could do was laugh. God does indeed have a sense of humor! And He never wastes an opportunity to show His slow-to-learn child that He really does have it all under control.
Even lost black flip-flops and little heart rings.
What an awesome God!
“I once was lost, but now I’m found. Was blind, but now I see.” Lord, may Your incredible grace be ever new and ever amazing to me!
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Not that we don't have our bad days. Oh boy, do we ever! Seems my oldest and I are cut from the same cloth and tend to sin in similar ways. Makes for quite a tiff when we're not walking in step with the Spirit.
Add to that all that’s happening in the world around us and it makes me realize just how vital walking in the Light really is. My heart is heavy after looking at pictures of the devastation in Louisiana and Mississippi and elsewhere. If nothing else it reminds me how necessary it is to stay close to the Lord. This world is uncertain at best and horribly dark at worst. Either way we desperately need the Lord. In fact, I’m learning that it’s not just that we need Him, but that nothing in this world will ever truly satisfy.
Even my relationship with God doesn’t shield me from the pain of this world.
It’s bittersweet to live with my head out of the sand and to walk in the Light.
Because in the Light I see and am touched by the pain around me.
There I am also driven to my knees to pray.
It’s not a bad place to be. But it does hurt. Especially when pain touches even closer to home. All I can share freely is that someone I care about (outside of my family) has made some tough choices and my heart is still reeling and waiting to see if they survive. I hate to be so vague, but for right now I have to be. The Lord knows, so any prayers you feel led to offer, for me and for a friend of mine, would be so greatly appreciated.
All that to say, knowing WHOSE you are and WHO you are in Christ is so very necessary to walk through this tough world. My prayer is that my small offering here on this blog will help someone take another step closer to the Light and to knowing who God created them to be.
With that in mind I offer this information on the last three spiritual gifts~ Giving, Leadership, and Mercy.
Those with the gift of giving are motivated to be a part of the Lord’s work by giving of themselves and their resources. Matthew is a Biblical example of the gift of giving.
Characteristics of the giver:
Able to see resources, opportunities, and needs that others miss.
Wise and disciplined in their use of money.
Desire to give high quality, things of lasting value.
Long to know their gift is an answer to prayer.
Prefers to give in secret and without the pressure of appeals.
Motivated by God showing them where to give.
Concerned with how money is used and don't want to give in a way that people become dependent on them.
Very frugal and exercises personal thriftiness.
Give to motivate others to give also.
Walking in the Spirit
Thrifty (NOT stingy)
Walking in the flesh
Ungrateful (forget Who the Source is)
The driving force of a leader is to organize that for which they are responsible and to work hard to accomplish the goal set before them. Nehemiah is a Biblical example of the gift of leadership.
Characteristics of a leader:
Able to see the big picture and visualize the final result.
Ability to break down the major goals into smaller, achievable tasks.
Decisive and disciplined.
Ability to know what can and cannot be delegated and to whom.
Tendency to remove self from distracting details and focus on the ultimate goal.
Willingness to endure objections they know will come.
Need for loyalty and confidence from those who are being directed.
Tendency to assume responsibility if no structured leadership exists.
Desire to complete a task as soon as possible.
Joy and fulfillment in seeing all the parts come together and others enjoying the finished product.
Quick to move on to the next project when one is completed.
Walking in the Spirit
Walking in the flesh
Those with the gift of mercy are driven by deep compassion for others. John is a Biblical example of the gift of mercy.
Characteristics of the mercy giver:
Ability to feel on a level most people don’t.
Can sense a person’s emotions and identify them.
Desire to remove hurts and bring healing rather than look for the benefits of hurt.
Greater concern for mental distress rather than physical distress of others.
Attracted to and understand people who experience mental and emotional distress.
Sensitive to words and actions that hurt other people.
They are the cheerfulness and joy of the Body of Christ.
Tendency to react harshly when intimate friends are rejected.
Fiercely loyal and devoted.
Ability to sense genuine love and a have a greater vulnerability to deeper and more frequent hurts from the lack of love.
A strong need for deep friendships in which there is mutual commitment.
Measure acceptance by physical closeness and quality time.
Tendency to avoid firmness unless they see how it will bring benefit and eliminate greater hurt.
Quickly close themselves to those who are insincere or insensitive.
Walking in the Spirit
Sensitive to other’s needs
Deference (willing to submit)
Walking in the flesh
Calloused (don’t feel anything)
With all this information, one point I want to really emphasize is this: Each and every believer has been given at least one spiritual gift. 1 Corinthians 12:7 says it this way, “A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church.”
Please hear that. YOU have a spiritual gift. It was given to you by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of helping the entire church. Please, please, please… ask the Lord to reveal to you what your gift is and how to walk in it for the sake of the Body of Christ.
You are so very needed!
Monday, August 22, 2005
Long time, no blog! Sorry it's been a while since my last post. I've been busy doing some really cool things and I finally have a minute to share. A little background first… August in my home traditionally means a month of high stress wrapped in chocolate. Getting home school lessons ready, preparing for a writers' conference in mid-September, and consuming far too much chocolate to survive all the late nights required. This August God added a 12th grade Sunday school teacher’s position, major house renovations, and a beach trip to prepare for in early September.
All these things (except for the chaos of house renovations) are things I’ve prayed about and longed to do for some time now. The neatest part of all is that I’m not stressing out. I’m enjoying it. With six years of home schooling under my belt, I’ve finally stepped out from boxed curriculum and am using things that fit my girls’ learning styles and me as a teacher too. It’s been a lot of work to organize, but I’ve designed a curriculum that will teach me, uhm, I mean my daughters, lots of fascinating facts and we’ll have fun doing it. ;-)
With my writing, I’m at a place where I feel confident leaving my work in the Lord’s hands and trusting His timing for a contract. I’m done trying to fit into a nice, neat category and I’m writing the stories and books God’s placed on my heart.
And teaching senior high? Let’s just say I’m loving it!!!
Why am I so excited about all these things? I believe it’s because I’m living out of who I really am and doing what I was created to do.
A lot of it has to do with the healing in my heart that God is hard at work accomplishing. The more comfortable I’ve become with being me, the more excited I am about stepping out and doing the things I love to do. Those things can be summed up in three words.
Truth-telling and teaching.
Spiritual gift inventories say I’m a prophet-teacher. I agree. Any definition I’ve heard of these two gifts fits me like a glove. All the work God's done in my heart and in my marriage has freed me to be more of who I am and to be comfortable with myself—to teach what most excites me and to write what most moves my heart. It’s an incredible place to be.
In blogs past I’ve shared a great deal about my journey to healing. It’s been a long desert walk. And there’s more walking to do. But I feel like the surroundings are changing from a desert to the beach.
Let me just say, beach sand beats the desert any day!
Something else that’s helped me grow more comfortable in my own skin is learning more about how God created me and the gifts He’s given me to use in building up the Body of Christ.
I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned through my pastor’s teaching on spiritual gifts. As I do, I hope that you will see how God has gifted you too. And in seeing your gifting, that you’ll see God’s smile as you live out of who you really are.
I’ll start with prophecy and go in the order listed in Romans 12:4-8.
The driving force of a prophet is to proclaim the truth for the purpose of motivating people to right living. Peter is a Biblical example of the gift of prophecy.
Characteristics of the prophet:
Strong need to express themselves verbally.
Rise up at an injustice, perceived or actual.
Strong sense of discernment. Can sense the character and motivation of others.
Deeply commitment to the Word of God.
Want to correct a wrong because prophets see future consequences and don’t want people to suffer when change could prevent unnecessary pain.
Not concerned with feelings, but with truth.
Wholehearted involvement. Prophets do their best to get the job done.
Little patience with indecision.
Open to correction.
Loyalty is very important.
Willing to suffer, to take a stand for what is right no matter the cost.
Know what they believe.
Speak the truth strongly because they love deeply.
Walking in the Spirit
Walking in the flesh
Those with the gift of service are driven to meet practical needs. Timothy is a Biblical example of this gift. 1 Timothy 5:23
Give of self to help others.
Very alert to people’s likes and dislikes.
Strong desire to be with other people.
Strong need for approval and appreciation.
Wants to meet needs quickly without red tape.
Likes short term goals.
Tendency to feel inadequate and unqualified for position of spiritual leadership.
Walking in the Spirit
Walking in the flesh
Unconscious of need
Teachers are driven to systematically present the truth. Luke is a Biblical example of this gift.
Orderly, exact, lead in an understandable way.
Very interested in details.
Strong desire for knowledge, truth.
Emphasize the importance of words.
Strong need to validate information and confirm accuracy.
Asks lots of questions.
Loves to learn.
Checks out teacher qualifications~ who they are and where they learned their information.
Great frustration when questions are not answered completely.
Strong need to understand why.
Alert to practical details.
Walking in the Spirit
Walking in the flesh
People with the gift of exhortation or encouragement are driven to see others reach full spiritual maturity in Christ. Paul is a Biblical example of this gift. Colossians 1:28
Able to visualize what God can do in someone’s life.
Strong desire to help people see the root problems in their lives.
Likes to prescribe steps of action to deal with an issue.
Desire to encourage.
Willingness to share personal examples to help people grow.
Welcomes opportunities to learn and grow.
Willingness to watch others suffer so that they’ll grow.
Prefers face-to-face discussion to insure a positive response.
Desires to gain spiritual insight through personal experience.
Always looking at future consequences.
Strong desire to see harmony, people growing together.
Walking in the Spirit
Walking in the flesh
Well, that’s all my tired hands can type tonight! ;-) I’ll try and get the last three gifts posted soon. If you’re interested in an online spiritual gifts inventory, a decent one can be found at www.elmertowns.com
My hope and prayer is that you’ll see yourself somewhere in this information. And in learning about your gift, that you’ll allow the Lord to reveal more of the wonderful, multifaceted treasure He created you to be!
Walking in the Spirit with the knowledge of who God is and who He created us to be is powerful. That’s what walking in the light is all about…
And it’s beautiful to see!
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Here’s an interesting “formula of sorts” that explains what it means to love boldly:
“Hungering for restoration+ revoking revenge+ pursuing goodness= forgiveness that invites repentance and the opportunity for reconciliation.”
As I’ve walked through some painful places in my ten-year marriage, none were as hard as looking in my own mirror and realizing how poorly I’ve loved. I’ve spent a lot of time having no desire for restoration and used revenge in the form of angry words and icy silence to punish when I’ve been hurt. Anger has been my protection and my comforter for a good part of my life.
But in the desert I’m walking through, I’ve seen anger for what it really is. A heavy bundle that only weakens my back for the journey. Instead of providing protection, anger insulates. It chokes the desire for restoration and in so doing deadens any hope. All the time I thought I was being kept safe by using anger I was, in truth, separating myself from healing and the life-giving forgiveness that only comes from the cross.
As I’m learning to let go of repayment for an offense, I’m more able to see what love truly is. There are a few quotes from Bold Love that say so perfectly what God is making real in my heart.
“Love may pardon an offense, but it does not ignore the ugliness and arrogance that blights beauty.”
“Love must be an intrusion of a good gift of word or deed that makes the greatest demand of life: Follow Christ and serve Him with your whole heart, soul, strength, and mind.”
“Bold love is the tenacious, irrepressible energy to do good in order to surprise and conquer evil.”
Love is not a weak emotion. It has more to do with calling people out of hiding and into Christ than the warm fuzzies we associate with it.
In my own experience this has best been done when I refuse to allow anger to control me. Instead, I address the person who’s hurt me with a love that says “I want to have a relationship with you, but we have to deal with your sin.” I spare no words in calling sin, sin. (mine or anyone else’s) At the same time, I’m learning to do so with a heart that desires change for the other person’s good. And ultimately for God’s glory.
Love draws people to life while at the same time warning them of death. An example that comes to mind is a conversation, actually many conversations, where my best friend has allowed me to spout off about a hurt I’ve received. She will listen, sympathize, and sometimes offer direction. But if I begin to badmouth the person who’s hurt me she will stop me short and say with powerful love, “You are sinning. I love you and I care that your heart is hurt. But it will not help you or honor God if you keep going down this path.”
The first time she said those words I about blew a fuse. I’m hurt and she’s pointing out my sin? Yep. That’s love. She loved me enough to point me to God and warm me of what would destroy me.
How do I do the same? Especially when I’ve been hurt badly. How do I love the person that feels at that moment like an enemy?
Bold Love defines an enemy this way: “An enemy is anyone who intentionally or unwittingly harms you for their gain.” I’ve been an enemy to those closest to me when I’ve tried to manage life without depending on God. I didn’t hurt them on purpose, but nevertheless I did hurt them because “my way” is all about me and not pointing anyone to God.
It helps to realize I’ve been an enemy when I consider loving someone who’s acting like an enemy to me. But it doesn’t quite answer the “how to” of this call to bold love.
I believe the best place to look for that answer is in the Word…
Romans 12:20 says, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Now the goal here is not revenge. It’s not to inflict pain, but to offer what the enemy really needs. In giving what’s needed there may well be pain, but it’s a redemptive pain. Like that of wrestling a sick child to get the necessary medicine down his or her throat. The purpose is to give what is good. To love. Even when it doesn’t feel like it.
The way to love an enemy is through disruptive grace. Not giving an enemy what is expected (retaliation, anger, cowering to his or her demands) but giving the enemy what is needed to point them to God.
Disruptive grace is not an “I forgive you, let’s move on.” It’s an honest presentation of the problem, consequences, and a clear choice of what’s next. Like Nathan’s confrontation of King David in 2 Samuel 12. The prophet exposed David’s sin and left the king with a clear choice—get right with God or don’t. Either way the consequences were severe.
In the same way disruptive grace exposes the sin in our own hearts so that we have a clear choice—get on our face before God or don’t. If we will allow the Lord to purify and renew us, then we can be the holy tools God uses to extend His disruptive grace to those we love.
This grace longs for freedom and for both people in the relationship to know God and be changed for incredible good. It refuses to ignore the sin, but it confronts it with cleaver goodness—giving what is most needed. Kindness without compliance or minimizing the sin. Strength coupled with tenderness. These combinations only come when we are walking in God’s light and listening carefully to Him.
From Bold Love: “Goodness surprises evil because it does not fight according to the principles of brute force, power, intimidation, and shame. It is creative and unpredictable, and can be powerfully overwhelming to an enemy whose victory depends on using his skill to play the same game over and over again.”
Where do we start to learn this different way of relating?
Pray for wisdom. James 1:5 “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
“We are to pray to the Father to act on behalf of our enemies; we are to pray for God to work in our enemies’ lives, to restrain evil, to deepen consciousness of harm, to destroy their arrogance so that life and grace might flourish. We are equally to pray for wisdom and all that blocks the development of wisdom in our life.”
“Prayer is the best way to invite God to use us and to teach us what it means to love boldly.”
Give good words. Speak words of truth that will guide an enemy to God. Be honest about your hurt and the consequences of their behavior.
“Our words of blessing are meant to arouse legitimate longing, expose emptiness, and deflate the enemy’s attempts to shame or intimidate. Blessing should be designed to open the heart of an enemy to astonishment and curiosity.”
Do good deeds.
“No matter how powerful, clever, and penetrating words are, they are never enough.”
My own experience in applying what I’ve learned in Bold Love has taken many forms. It’s included boundaries in a relationship that cut off contact until the enemy was ready to deal honestly with their heart. When I did that I was clear on my motive (to restore the relationship) and kind with my words (by God's amazing grace and control of the Holy Spirit.) Meaning I didn’t slam them, but I was honest about the reason for the no contact request. Loving boldly has also included welcoming that person back into my heart, one small step at a time.
Love is hard. It’s messy. And it doesn’t always feel like love. Often it feels more like the cross. But that’s the most perfect picture of love there is.
Even though I have a long way to go, my hope and prayer is that, as I grow closer to Christ, I’ll learn more and more how to love well.
To love boldly.
Will you join me?
John 13:34-35 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
In atypical fashion I spent the first hour or so with God trying to avoid the issue all together. Sort of like my oldest when she’s up well past her bedtime. It goes something like this:
Me, “What are you doing out of your room at ten o’clock at night?”
My oldest, “Mommy, I just wanted you to know I think you’re the best mommy in the whole world. Can I tell you about this book I read?”
Needless to say, my little sweetheart is pointed right back to her bed and told to get some sleep. Books can be discussed another time.
Not God. He didn't tell me to head to bed. He waited. And listened. And waited some more. After a solid hour, I was tired and wanted to quit. But there were some awesome people praying for me and I’m sure their prayers kept my feet to the fire just long enough to get my heart ready to hear. (THANK YOU!)
And hear I did.
First, God started with some memories I would have rather forgotten. Scenes of a serious college relationship played through my mind. One in which I killed my heart for a little affection. I spent two years of my life trying to look good enough to compete with my boyfriend’s computer pinups. I lost. I also thought about how in arguments I yelled loud and used horrible biting words. My sharp tongue was the only thing this guy ever respected about me. But in gaining his respect, I lost my own. I gave away my heart and body. Only to have them both thrown back and stamped with the words, “not good enough.”
I’d talked to God about this relationship before. But it never dawned on me that this guy’s reaction to my anger~ respect when he respected nothing else of me~ would have been used so strongly by the enemy to write so much on my heart.
So lie by lie God revealed my sin, my shame, my foolish choices in living by the lies~ then and now. I so wanted this guy to just see me, love me, make me feel beautiful. Instead I was ignored, used, and thrown away like trash. Among many lies I believed, the one that stuck deepest was, “I’m worthless.”
God held me while I cried. And cried. And cried.
Between sobs, I shared with God a long-standing dream of mine. One in which I’d stand before a crowd of women and say, “If I could look deep into each one of your eyes, I know I would see something few of you ever notice when you look in the bathroom mirror.” I would talk about how we look at our reflection and judge so harshly our size and shape and wrinkles. But we forget the One who sees the depth of our souls in all their mess and glory. I’d tell the women, “What we most often miss in that mirror is this—God’s smile. And His loving words, ‘You, My child, are a woman of great worth.’”
I cried even more after that. “But I'll never be able to speak like that. Because no one sees that I’m a woman of worth, Lord. No one sees me!”
Then God whispered, “I do.”
When my husband spoke those simple words on our wedding day they curled my toes and made my heart skip in anticipation. And here was the God of the universe stooping down to whisper those same words to my heart.
"I do, Amy. I see you."
In that simple declaration I found my worth. I found the faith to believe it too. And the courage to make my own declaration, one that echoes the Psalmists words: “Because I am a woman of great worth in the eyes of my God, I resolve that my mouth will not sin. I will be who I am and speak accordingly.”
This morning, I opened two familiar books, The Power of a Praying Wife and The Power of a Praying Parent. Where the pages were bookmarked, I read these words:
“May Your Spirit of love reign in the words I speak.”
“Let the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord.”
In Praying Parent:
“A heart filled with the Holy Spirit and the truth of the Word of God will produce godly speech that brings life to the speaker as well as the listener.”
“Enable us to speak words of hope and life and to resolve that our mouths will not sin.”
These are words I’ve read and prayed for over four years now. But not until I dealt with the lies filling my heart, was I able to say them with confidence and pray them with power.
Lest I fail to be 100% honest, I’ve already stumbled a number of times. But instead of heaping guilt on my head for messing up with my mouth, I remembered. “I’m a woman of great worth.” Those words I said in frustration are not who I am nor how I want to act. So I confessed to God and to my girls and received their forgiveness.
My declaration still stands, “I’m a woman of great worth in the eyes of my God, and I resolve that my mouth will not sin.” No matter how many times I stumble, I resolve to look up and remember who I am.
As I do that, I feel my heart and my mouth being cleansed. I’m also beginning to see a clearer picture in my mirror.
What do you see your mirror?
God is smiling. His arms are open wide.
Listen closely. Hear His loving voice...
“You, My child, are a woman of great worth.”
Monday, August 01, 2005
First it was a walk in the desert. I'm still covered in sand and experiencing the burning heat of intense refining. All the way up to my eyeballs. And it isn't fun... not one little bit.
But even in the pain, it's good. God is at work.
Then God turned His spotlight on my issues with weight.
This weekend He added yet another area, my mouth. And He’s showing me how they’re all interrelated. Everything I’m experiencing can be wrapped up in one intense struggle, one question~ Am I valuable because of what I do (or say or how I look) or because of who I am?
Right now I’m wrestling this out with God. He’s winning.
At the same time, I’m still fighting Him. Still believing the lies. By the time I got to bed last night I was worn out by this struggle. I felt like a worthless failure in every facet of life. My marriage, parenting, writing, ministry, and especially the words that shouldn’t come out of my mouth but do.
In my reading earlier, I’d come across a scripture in Job 31 about making a covenant with your eyes not to look lustfully. I didn’t see how that applied to me, but God kept it on my mind. Before I fell asleep I understood why.
Job walked in integrity before God. He made a definite decision that he would not sin with his eyes and said so before God. That’s serious business. While I may not struggle with my eyes, I so struggle with my mouth. I say things with angry, bitter words instead of staying quiet and letting God speak to the pain.
Last night I hit an all-time low. And it rocked me to the core. I saw how I was letting the enemy’s lies about my worth fan the flame of my words. James 3:6 says, “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”
I didn’t keep a reign on my words last night. I didn’t even try to. And the damage it did to my heart and that of the person receiving my words attests to the scorching world of evil an unsubmitted tongue can bring.
All I could do before I went to bed was cry out like Martin Luther did in the excellent movie about his life, “Jesus, I’m Yours. Save me! Jesus, I’m Yours. Save me!!!”
This morning, God brought Psalm 17:3-4 before my eyes. What jumped out at me were these words: “I have resolved that my mouth will not sin… by the word of your lips…” David also cried out to God in prayer saying in Psalm 19, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
I’d like to say I have made that covenant with my mouth, but I haven’t. Yet. Tonight, after my girls are asleep, I’m returning to the wrestling mat with God, praying He doesn’t have to dislocate my hip like Jacob’s before I receive His truth. I know in my head I’m valuable because I am His, but I need that in my heart. I need to hear His truth about me and make the hard choice to believe it. Then bow before Him and resolve that my mouth will not sin. Like David, I will live up to that vow only in the strength God supplies and only by keeping His Words before my eyes and ears.
Pray for me. Pray I’ll have ears to hear. And a mouth that honors God.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
She waved me into the front hallway and stood by the mirrored closet. "Because I look in the mirror before I go out~ just like you." She proceeded to turn around and inspect the appearance of her backside.
I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
Laugh because she was so proud to be like me. Or cry because she’s already picked up on the subtle (or not so subtle) clues that I don’t like the mirror’s reflection.
After three babies my body looks more like cottage cheese with a droopy cover than the exercise gurus I mistakenly think I can look like if I just try hard enough. Some days I have a little breakthrough and realize I look okay. Those are usually times when I stay home and avoid the mirror. Other days, when I go out and see flat-tummied mommies with three or more kiddos, my mirror and I don’t get along. At all.
Why is that? Why is it most women are trying to either lose weight or “tone up” what looks just fine? My best friend says the same about me. I disagree. I see where I can stand to lose thirty pounds. Wish it were as easy as simply working out, and ta-da… I lose weight.
More than half my life.
I truly want to be comfortable in my own skin. I just don’t like there being so much extra of it. There are days I believe God is thwarting my weight loss just so I’ll chose by faith to believe what He says about me.
“The King is enthralled with your beauty” (Psalm 45:11)
“He rejoices over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17)
There are days I do go there. But far too many more I look around the Mall or the magazines at the checkout counter and wish I could look like what I see. Then I start to think, “If all I ate was a salad for dinner, I could look like that.”
Every time I’ve tried, I was so cross my daughters plied me with compliments and said, “Mommy, you don’t have to lose weight at all. We like you just like you are!”
Wish I did.
Maybe the sheer fact that I’m fighting the world’s view (even if I’m losing the mental battle most days) shows a tiny step of maturity on my part. That and canning those workouts from the dark side where I feel a trip to the ER is in order after I’m done.
But I think there’s more to this longing to be beautiful than a size 2 dress or six-pack abs. What if outer "perfection" is just the bill of goods the enemy has sold us as the only way to find validation? To know we matter, that we make a difference, that we’re worth something we have to be a “perfect ten.”
So we rank each other at parties or on Sunday mornings. If we look better than most, we’re okay. If not, we’re depressed. Or we let male attention be our measuring rod.
I’ve lived long enough to know neither standard works. So what’s the answer? How do we get comfortable in our own skin? How do we accept in our hearts, and not just our words, that our beauty doesn’t come from the outside, but it’s our “inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.”? (1 Peter 3:2-4)
I think the answer is simple, but not easy.
It starts with asking God what lies we’ve bought into and why we’re letting them determine what we see in the mirror. For me it’s a painful journey back to fifth grade where I ballooned out when my classmates shot up. I remember vividly my mother and grandmother’s terse comments about how I needed to exercise more. I knew I wasn’t acceptable the way I looked and felt totally helpless to change.
And I’ve spent fifteen years trying to perfect that fat faced fifth grader. But it hasn’t worked. My fifth grade pictures remain unchanged.
Maybe being “all grown up” has more to do with looking into God’s final word on our worth than working hard to achieve a “perfect” reflection in the mirror.
My mom and grandma didn’t and don’t have the authority to say I’m not acceptable. Truth be told, they never said those words. But I felt them. Maybe my ten-year-old reasoning was off target. It could be that they saw my chubby cheeks as an indictment on their worth and a painful reminder that someone said they didn’t measure up either. Maybe it really wasn’t about me at all.
Could it be that TV, magazines, and Hollywood don’t have that authority either? That the only One who can speak truth about my beauty is God? And His Word has already spoken… He’s enthralled with my beauty. Your beauty. The beauty He gave us. Beauty that shines from our eyes and our smiles and invites people to relax, to know they’re beautiful too. Of great worth in God’s sight.
That’s what true beauty does. It invites. It welcomes others into the presence of God. To rest in the fact that they are beautiful, they are loved—not for outside perfection, which is fleeting—but for who they are.
Daddy, help us to see with Your eyes. Help us to grow up unto Christ and believe the truth. You have made us. You rejoice over us. The breathtaking beauty of a dazzling sunset doesn’t hold a candle to Your light and life shining through the unique people You created us to be. Please help us see our beauty, and in so doing reveal Yours.
Maybe one day soon my five year old will announce she feels all grown up and run over to the dining room table instead of the mirror. “Look, Mommy! I’m all grown up~ just like you!”
Then she’ll pull out our family Bible and smile.
Sunday, July 24, 2005
Each treasure has a name~ April, Ari, Christin, Hannah, Kristen, Tiffany.
At our first meeting my daughters gave each of the youth a gift~ a beautiful card with words they prayed would show six girls they’d never met how much God loves them. My daughters drew each of the girls as princesses with a crown too. The pictures were beautiful. The girls even more so. (Remember: “The King is enthralled with your beauty!")
My daughters also gave them a gift bag with a small, framed print. Inside were these words:
April, Ari, Christin, Hannah, Kristen, Tiffany,
"You are my Beloved Princess. I love you~ Jesus"
After they opened their gifts, I asked them one question. "Why are you doing this Bible study?" I cautioned them to go beyond “Sunday school answers” and really think about what they hoped to get out of our time together.
As we talked that first night, one of the girls shared some deep details of her story to help one of the others. Her openness and vulnerability had all of us in tears. Her sacrificial act of loving kindness set the course for our whole time together. Her honesty invited each of us to do the same.
And we did.
We were real. We gave each other the gift of ourselves, with all the bumps, bruises, and warts. ;-) We shared our joys, our tears, and our stories. We talked about boys and beauty, hurts and healing, lies and love. We met God and experienced Him. Together.
I bugged them weekly with tough questions that challenged them to go deeper. They did. And heaven applauds.
Many nights I cried as I prayed for them and listened to their stories. Most evenings we were all in tears and no one wanted to leave. They trusted me with their hearts. And I will be forever grateful for that gift.
I am forever changed too.
During one of the most difficult times of my life, God sent me six precious princesses to show that He is good and He has good in store.
Through these girls I’ve seen what the Body of Christ was created to be. It’s beautiful.
My heart’s desire when I started teaching was to draw these girls to God. To make disciples.
What I see today is that they’ve done this for me.
My heart is full.
To my precious girls: THANK YOU! I love you dearly. You are a treasure.
Christin~ keep seeking. You are God’s moon, reflecting His incredible love and grace. God is pursuing you and He will continue to do so every day of your life. He is your Great Physician and I can see His beautiful work shining in your eyes, through your tears, in your prayers. I see Jesus’ beauty when I look at you.
Ari~ keep writing. In your journal, keep writing about what God is doing in your life. In your life, keep being God’s pen to write about His love in every life you touch.
Kristen~ keep searching. God is the One who meets every need, every longing of your heart. In His time. In Himself.
Tiffany~ keep going deep. Your heavenly Daddy’s hand is always extended in your direction. “Come.” You are beautiful. You are loved. Philippians 1:6
Happy Birthday Monday too! ;-) I’m praying for you.
April~ keep shining your life. You are a beautiful example of a heart surrendered to God. Listen to the voice of Jesus. He sings over you.
Hannah~ keep speaking the truth in love. You are His heart and His voice. A truth teller with deep compassion. You may not see that yet, but I do. Even more importantly, God does. He looks at you and smiles.
There is so much more I want to say…
April, Ari, Christin, Hannah, Kristen, Tiffany~ God’s eyes light up at the thought of you. You are His beautiful princesses. You are loved.
Go ye therefore and make disciples. Share your life. Teach the Truth.
In so doing, you will see…
God’s twinkling smile.
His amazing grace.
His passionate love.
Come to Him. And then go... make disciples... and be made even more like Him.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Today I also celebrate something else. I celebrate freedom. All three of my girls have taught me how vital freedom is and how it’s worth the fight to experience it. Their hearts are worth fighting for my freedom from the enemy’s lies so that I can show them the path of life, the joy of walking intimately with the Lord. God has been doing an amazing work in my heart, bringing together much I’ve learned in the past to a huge crescendo of freedom. Of healing.
Where to start? I suppose a good place to begin is with a book God is using to revive my heart. The title is Captivating and it’s written by John and Stasi Eldredge.
The book and their ministry, called Ransomed Heart, are both worth checking into. Here’s a quote from their web site introduction:
“Life is a Story. This is true for every soul.
It is a love story, we assure you. But it is set in the midst of a life and death battle. That is why it seems so hard.
The story of your life is the story of the journey of your heart through a dangerous and beautiful world. It is the story of the long and sustained assault on your heart by the enemy who knows who you could be and fears you. But it is also the story of the long and mysterious pursuit of your heart by the God who knows you truly and loves you deeply.
As we live through the pages of this story many questions arise. Who am I…really? Where will I find life…really? And, What is it God wants from me? We know those questions well, for we have lived them ourselves. And we offer here something of the beautiful answers we have found.”
Please take some time to check out their site. It’s so worth the read.
I second their comment about knowing those questions well. Who am I? Why am I here? Do I make a difference? And as a woman, am I beautiful? Do you see me? Do I matter?
I, like Job, don’t get the whys of pain and suffering and I cry out to God for answers. I’ve also read the last few chapters of Job. Sometimes I wonder if putting my hand over my mouth is a better choice than demanding answers. ;-) God is God. He measured the depth of the sea and He knows the number of hairs on my head. Maybe I should just let Him run the universe and learn to trust He knows what’s best.
But the questions won’t go away, won’t be silenced. As I’m still on my desert journey, having all I’ve depended on stripped away, I’m starting to see how much I’ve taken those questions to the wrong people. And the mess I’ve made of things by doing that. I’ve looked to my parents and then to my husband to answer my deepest questions: Do you see me? Am I beautiful? Do I matter?
In their wounding, their grasping for someone to answer their questions, they’ve each answered my questions with a painful, “No.”
In Captivating, Stasi Eldredge addresses the issue that this validation, the answer to our questions, the “yes” that we long for, is the driving force of our lives. All too often we go to the wrong places for our answers, demanding human beings to answer the questions only God is qualified to answer.
Through this book, God has again extended His hand to me amid the crashing waves of my life and invited me to, “Come.”
Ask my questions.
Listen to His answer.
His hand is extended to you too. Look up, away from the waves.
Here’s a taste of what I’m learning, what God has brought together for me today. It’s a simple truth that packs so much power. Here goes…
The path to healing has three interwoven parts: body, soul, and spirit. All three need to be addressed if we’re to experience the abundant life God has set us free to experience.
The aspect of body can be addressed in many ways. In simple terms, it means taking care of yourself. I talk about this in depth in the post The Place of Grace.
Eldredge adds another point to taking care of our bodies in the process of healing. That of medication. I know a lot of people shut down and get defensive about this topic. I’m not going to step into that battle here. But I do ask that as you keep reading, pray. If medication is not a way God is using to help you, be aware it is a way He is helping many. Yes, it can be abused. But it can also be used responsibly. For example, I’m diabetic. If I don’t take insulin, I die. No one questions my use of medicine to help my body do something it stopped doing on its own. I think we can give the same grace to people whose bodies don’t produce or balance certain chemicals well.
But this isn’t the only aspect to the path of healing. All three are necessary.
The next aspect is our soul. The focus here is our heart, getting with God and addressing the wounds and lies we’ve allowed to define us. It can include a godly counselor, as in my husband’s case. He is seeing a godly man who’s trained in sexual addiction who can help him walk through all that his healing entails. For our marriage this aspect was so lovingly spoken to through the Marriage Intensive we attended in March. There we learned some amazing tools to help us walk further down the path of healing: how to recognize our fears and how to take responsibility for dealing with our hearts by talking to God and asking Him what the truth is. My blog posts titled The Fear Factor and Borrowed Hope go in depth on these and more of things we learned.
This aspect of healing is also where we learn to take our questions to God. Ask Him what He says about you. According to His word, He has answered your deepest questions with a resounding, “YES!” He is the God who sees you (Genesis 16:13), listens to you, knows you best, and loves you most. He has called you by name (Isaiah 43:1), created you with specific gifts (1 Corinthians 12:7), and called you His beloved child. You do matter, you are beautiful, and you were created for a good purpose.
Spend some time here. God has so much good to say to you and about you.
The third aspect is our spirit. This is where spiritual warfare is addressed. There are some wonderful books that have helped me understand the what, why, and how of the fight of faith we are called to in Scripture. They are: Waking the Dead by John Eldredge, Praying God’s Word by Beth Moore, and Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge.
Here are some specific Scriptures worth studying as you look into this dimension of healing:
1 Peter 5:8-9 “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.”
James 4:7 “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Ephesians 4:27 “and do not give the devil a foothold.”
Luke 10:18-19 are Jesus’ words concerning the disciples he sent out, “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."
Ephesians 6:10-18 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”
“That whole Ephesians passage about putting on the armor of God… He meant it. We would need it.” Stasi Eldredge.
We do. More than we sometimes realize.
In Waking the Dead, Eldredge speaks of how the stories of our lives are part of a much larger Story, an epic battle, an adventure of mythic proportions. Some days I believe that and experience the thrill of discovery by walking with God and seeing His amazing work in my life. On other days I let laundry, bills, and family problems weigh me down so that the only adventure I face is how soon can I crawl into bed and be done with the day.
There are three eternal truths Eldredge outlines that, when I consider them, help me remember the adventure I was created for and cause my heart to beat with hope. They answer a lot of life’s whys.
Eternal Truth Number One: Things are not what they seem.
I wonder if Job ever knew the battle in the heavenly realm that just looked like pain and random destruction to him on earth. In the same way, I often wonder if I’ll ever grasp that God can and does work all things together for good. I struggle with that when the road is rough and I see no way out of the pain today holds. It helps to remember that what I can’t see is more real than what I see with earthly eyes.
Eternal Truth Number Two: This is a world at war.
Not only do physical wars rage on all over this globe, but there is also a daily battle in the unseen realm that affects every believer, every day. Like Aragorn in Lord of the Rings said, “Open war is upon you whether you’d risk it or not.” The choice is not whether we will engage in this war, but if we will fight the right battle.
Eternal Truth Number Three: You have a crucial role to play.
God created you with a unique blend of personality, gifts, talents, and experiences. What He can do through you is specific to you. (Ephesians 2:10)You are an important person in God’s great Story.
Ephesians six adds some important information on how we play out our crucial role: in the armor God supplies, with His strength, because the battle has already been won. We must stand firm and apply it.
Where Waking the Dead compelled my heart to see beyond the reality of my five senses, Praying God’s Word gave me the tools to fight this unseen battle. Beth Moore takes an honest and enlightening look at our two offensive weapons: The Sword of the Spirit, God’s Word, and prayer. She teaches how to wield them effectively in the destruction of strongholds. In each chapter she covers a specific stronghold, from pride and the insecurity of feeling unloved, to food-related strongholds and depression. This is a book I use over and over because the scripture prayers in each section are the Word of God laid out in a way I can use them to stand firm in the truth.
There are numerous books that speak to this issue of spiritual warfare and offer prayer examples. Neil Anderson’s books The Bondage Breaker and A Way of Escape, as well as Stormie Omartian’s Praying Parent are some that have been very helpful to me.
The last book I mentioned in the list of wonderful books God has used to teach me about spiritual warfare was Captivating. This book has helped me go deeper in my understanding of how I enter this battle as a woman.
I’d like to offer a few quotes from Captivating that have inspired me today as I shared them with my girls and as I’ve seen God work through them in my own walk with Him.
In regards to standing against the enemy and commanding an evil spirit to leave: “This can feel a little weird at first, talking to the air and saying stuff like, ‘I bring the cross of Christ against you. In Jesus’ name I command you to leave.’ Sometimes you have to be firm and pray several times. As Peter said, ‘firm in the faith.’ But leave it does.”
“Often the hardest person to fight for is… yourself. But you must. Your heart is needed. You must be present and engaged in order to love well and fight on behalf of others. It is time to take a stand and to stand firm. We are at war. You are needed.”
“We need to grow in our understanding and practice of spiritual warfare not only because we are being attacked but because it is one of the primary ways that we grow in Christ.” I would add, that we not only grow in our faith, but also in our understanding of how big and powerful our God really is.
“Women warriors are strong, yes, and they are also tender. In fact, offering a tender vulnerability can only be done by an incredibly strong woman, a woman rooted in Christ Jesus who knows whose she is and therefore knows who she is. Offering our hearts wisely, living in the freedom of God’s love, inviting other to rest, alluring those in our lives to the heart of God, and responding to the heart of God in worship are some of the most powerful ways that a woman wars for her world. But she also puts on the full armor of God daily and takes her immovable stand against the powers of darkness.”
“Your life is a Love Story set in the midst of a life-and-death battle. The beauty, the adventure, the intimacy—they are what are most real. But it is a battle to gain them and a battle to keep them. A battle for your own heart and a battle for the hearts around you. ‘The Lord is a warrior, the Lord is his name’ (Ex 15:3). Jesus fights on your behalf and on behalf of those you love. He asks you to join him.”
In seeing spiritual warfare as a dimension of healing, I’ve seen the Lord take me even further on this journey to healing. It’s amazing. I’m enjoying a taste of freedom today. I believe God has created me for a good purpose. He loves me. And He says I am His and I am beautiful. I fight as His dearly beloved child the battle He has won, called me into, and fights for and with me.
This is abundant life.
A life worth celebrating.
Even more than I celebrate five wonderful years with a child who is a joy to my heart, God celebrates you.
Ask Him your questions. Let Him lead you in the path of healing. And listen to His answers.
It’s worth the fight.
Remember… In Christ you’ve already won.