"If our heart is captivated by anything other than Christ, we aren't elevated to our purpose, we are frustrated with our circumstances."
The word "frustrated" is defined as feeling or expressing distress and annoyance, or being prevented from progressing to our rightful position.
If we are experiencing frustration or discontentment with life in general, maybe we need to step back and ask ourselves some tough questions. If we want to overcome our frustration and be elevated to the position as a woman, wife, and mother that God has for us, finding honest answers to those questions is the key. The first question to ask is, "What is captivating me and my time?"
As I pressed in to the Lord recently, I realized that my time was slipping through my hands like sand through my fingers. Lots of things were captivating valuable time that needed to be recaptured. As I continued to pray for wisdom, the Lord posed some even more challenging questions for me to ponder as a way to check my heart. The Bible says, "Where your heart is, there your treasure will be," If we are finding our treasure in distractions instead of the love of the Father and the love for people then we are missing the two most important commandments that Jesus taught. When we miss love, our heart can become distant and discontented.
Here are some questions we have to answer if we want to take back ground the enemy has stolen put our hearts back in the right location.
1. Do you love sleep more than you love meeting with the Father every morning? Jesus was only as powerful in public as he was intimate with the Father in private. The scripture says he stole away every morning to meet with the Father. If we want to captivate the world with the love of and light of Christ, we have to live in daily intimacy with him in order to walk in his power and reflect his glory to the world. Time with God in the morning is about renewing our minds and polishing our crown.
2. Do you love social media more than you love socializing in real relationships with people? Jesus socialized with people. He ate with people no one else would eat with. He healed people no one else would touch. He loved people everyone else hated. When social media came into our culture it changed how we relate to people, how we spend our free time, and how we even view ourselves. We can either use it or let it use us. Social media provides a captivated audience so use it for sewing seeds of good for God's kingdom. If we're not careful, it can rob us of the joy of relating and loving people. With the constant influx of information, we can find ourselves living in constant frustration because we are measuring our behind the stage lives based on the front stage performance people post on social media, despite the fact that most people only post the best parts of their lives or exaggeration of their lives. If we’re honest, if we're spending more time on social media than we are spending with real people, we are in an intimate relationship with a computer and there is nothing real, emotional, or loving about that.
3. Do you love being busy more than you love abiding in Him? Busyness is the enemy’s greatest weapon for distracting us from God’s business. Notice there’s only one letter difference between those two words. When Jesus was in the wilderness, Satan offered him three counterfeits to establish his kingdom. They were very similar to God's plan but they were substitutes for the real thing. If we're not careful we can find ourselves doing a lot of good things instead of the "God" thing our Father has for us to do. Notice again that these two things are very similar but they are just enough different to confuse us from the truth about our calling.
The next time you find yourself discontented, step back and do a self evaluation to see where your heart really is. If it belongs to anything but your first love, the Bridegroom of Heaven, then you could be falling for substitutes instead of the real love God has to offer you with himself and people.
Due to a month of Fasting and Prayer, there will be no blog posts during the month of January, 2017. Happy New Year!
The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days." Luke 5:35 ESV
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV
This December, as the season of Christmas quickly approached, I started hearing these words in my head and it seemed they were popping up everywhere. They aren't just the words in the famous carol “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”. They are also the words spoken by the angel Gabriel when God sent him to bring the prophetic good news of Jesus' birth to Mary and Joseph over two thousand years ago. God had chosen the obscure couple to be the parents of the Messiah who would bring peace and goodwill to the world. Gabriel then went on to share the miraculous good news of another son, John, coming to Zechariah and Elizabeth, who would fore-run the ministry of Christ. Finally, the mighty angel trumpeted the good news to the shepherds in the fields once Jesus had been delivered!
God has always held names in high regard as proven in the nine hundred forty-four plus times he named himself, named things, or changed the names of things or people in scripture, Surely it was no accident the angel chosen to sound the trumpet of the Messiah's entry would be “Gabriel” which means God is my strength. Gabriel had nothing more to offer than a message, and his name represented the news he came to bring. Gabriel proclaimed Jesus as the promised deliverer who would be our only strength against the enemy in our world. Gabriel wasn't sent to bring glory to himself, but to remind us we cannot fight and win the battles we face without the confidence of Christ. He had the honor of announcing our only hope for great tidings of comfort and joy!
How do we live in tidings of comfort and joy in the midst of chaos at Christmas? Clearly, in the hurried, holiday hustle and bustle, we can lose sight of the gift we were given on that first Christmas morn. Reality is, despite our pursuit for peace in our palace, chaos does, at some point in time, knock on our palace door to rob us of the presence of Christ, not just at Christmas but all year round. Just as Mary had pondered in her heart the message of Gabriel, I too was pondering the presence of peace this Christmas when I realized Chaos had come to steal it, and I didn't even see him walk in. When we're taken by surprise by the thief of our comfort and joy, we have one of two choices to make if we want to regain the gift the Messiah gave. Mary and Joseph faced the same choices. They could refuse to accept the gift they had been chosen to receive or they could make the journey to the stable where it could be birthed. God is our strength when chaos wraps at the palace door, and we can either stand and fight the frenzy in our own power or kneel and pray for the gift of strength found in the manger.
Lastly, Gabriel appeared in the fields where the shepherds watched their flocks, broadcasting the birth announcement the Savior had been delivered. Why was the news carried to the fields and announced to the lowly shepherds? Because, they represented the common person and the lowly nature of us all. The baby King had come to save everyone from the chaos in our field, no matter where we dwell.
Nearby, in the fields outside of Bethlehem, a group of shepherds were guarding their flocks from predators in the darkness of night. Suddenly a messenger of the Lord stood in front of them, and the darkness was replaced by a glorious light—the shining light of God’s glory. They were terrified!
The angel Gabriel said, "Don’t be afraid! Listen! I bring good news, news of great joy, news that will affect all people everywhere."
With Christ's arrival, Gabriel's message was no longer about his coming but about the presentation of his gifts. The word tidings means news, information, notification, and intelligence. Gabriel had come to give notification of the good news that comfort and joy had arrived. The word comfort is defined as a promise of freedom from pain, grief, and distress that the Messiah had come to bring. Joy is defined as delight, triumph, rejoicing, and rapture. The babe in swaddling clothes birthed delight in the midst of distress, triumph in trials, rejoicing in the midst of rebellion, and our rapture in the midst of ruptured, shattered relationships.
As the queen of our home, positioned by the king we've married, we gaze over the field of our harvest every day just as the shepherds did. Our palace is the place where we produce our fruit. Our children are the fruit we bear. They are the sheep we nurture standing by our husband's side as he leads the way. Together we watch over them and care for their safety until they leave to begin their own lives in their own field. Just as with the shepherds on that dark starry night, we labor and work to make sure our home is in order so our sheep can find green pasture and living water. The only hope we have for order in our field of harvest is the promise of comfort and joy that Christ brought.
So consider the message of Gabriel this holiday season, as we head toward the beginning of a new year. Stop and check the level of comfort and joy in your heart. If chaos is in your midst, take a step back and ask yourself two important questions. First, do I believe in the hope of Christ? If you have not yet chosen to put your faith in the comfort and joy Jesus came to bring through a personal relationship with him, it's not too late. This Christmas could be the beginning of the real peace he came to bring. All it takes is a trip to the trough where he lay. There you can find living water to quench your thirst for comfort and joy. His message is timeless and the salvation he brought on that fateful night 2000 years ago is still your hope in the field where you labor today. Follow this link to find the hope the baby brought forth just for you.:
If chaos is scrooging up your Christmas, the second question to consider is, “Am I listening to the authentic voice of Gabriel?” If you have a voice proclaiming any news in your field other than comfort and joy, you are listening to a counterfeit who is not a true Gabriel at all. If you have chaos and not comfort, and your home is in jeopardy without joy, silence the angel of anarchy and run. Run from your field back to the stable where you'll find the truth Gabriel was sent to proclaim! Your hope is wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger, and it's really not that far from the field to Bethlehem......
Today a Savior has been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.
At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises:
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace and good will to those all men, on whom his favor rests.”
"The Eagle has landed!" You may remember these famous words spoken by Neil Armstrong on July 20, 1969 when Apollo 11 touched down on the moon for the first time. It was unlike any other day in history as two human beings stepped out of the Eagle into the unknown to do something they had never done before. They had no idea what might happen or if they would be able to launch back into space and reconnect with the base ship still in orbit, yet they took the leap of faith. "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."
As we gather ourselves together as a nation following a brutal political season, where do we go from here? Do we dig in and refuse to move forward, or do we embrace the risk while advancing onward, taking a giant leap for mankind? I have remained relatively silent in this tornado of television propaganda, however, following one of the most historical elections of our lifetime, I'm taking a leap myself to share with you something that happened months back before the election occurred. No matter which side you voted for, this story is relevant to our future. It's relevant to our healing.
It all started with an unusual dream. When I awakened from the dream, I quickly realized its significance to our future as a nation, no matter how the election would end.
What was my dream?.
I heard something very loud outside my home so I ran out of the garage to see what it was. At the side of our driveway was a huge bird. The bird was screaming and fighting for its life. It was facing away from me with its head hanging down so low I could not tell what kind of bird it was. It's wings were dark brown so I assumed it was the hawk that lives in our back yard. It was so badly injured it was gasping for air. I felt compelled to run into the house to get a glass of water in hopes it might help. I was afraid of the bird, so I stood back to back behind it, sticking the glass around to its beak as it gulped down the water. Each time it finished the water, I ran back in for more. Every time I returned, I could tell the bird was getting stronger. The last time I offered the bird a drink, it suddenly raised it’ head and screamed. To my surprise, its head was as white as snow. I realized it was the American bald eagle. Suddenly I heard a voice say, “America is gasping for air and living water is the only thing that can save it. If my people will generously pour out living water, America will be revived.”
What does the eagle mean?
After I awoke, hours later I thought of the scripture, Isaiah 40:31,"But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." I had always been intrigued by God's choice to use the Eagle in this verse rather than another bird, so I decided to do some research. I wanted to understand why he might have made this choice. What I discovered was eye-opening. When an adult eagle is teaching its young to fly, it will take it to a place that is in direct reference to the sun and line it up before the flying begins. Then it starts to fly in small circles prompting its young to follow. With each small circle, as the eaglet begins to get stronger, the adult eagle begins to lead its young to make larger and larger circles while ascending higher and higher, getting closer and closer to the sun.
How does this apply to us?
We have to line up our lives in direct reference to the Son of God, focusing our eye on him at all times. Prayer is our greatest circle of influence, and it keeps us accountable to God's plans As we grow stronger and stronger in prayer, our circle of influence grows larger and larger and we begin to ascend closer and closer to Jesus in faith and relationship. He renews our strength and we mount up as eagles. We run without growing faint or weary as we follow his lead.
What about the water?
As I pondered the symbolism of water, I was reminded we are in one of the most significant droughts in American history. There are only a few other droughts that out-measure this one. Where's the water? Maybe deliverance and revival are on the horizon and the water is on its way? Deliverance throughout biblical history came through water many times. For example, Moses' mom sent her newborn son down the Nile river in a basket in hopes of saving his life from Pharaoh's order for all baby boys to be killed. Her faith and God's faithfulness delivered him from the water because God had need of him in the future. He grew up to lead God's people out of generations of slavery in Egypt as they followed him through the parted waters of the Red Sea and walked into their freedom and future. Then there's Jonah, called by God to dish out some living water to the people of Nineveh. Instead, he chose to run the other way. As the endangered ship's crew threw him overboard to save themselves, God had Jonah right where he wanted him, in the water where he could deliver him. God sent a great fish to save him and spit him out on the beach, where he went on to give the people of Nineveh the drink of salvation. And then there's Noah, who built a boat in a desert despite the fact it had never rained. When God brought the flood waters, Noah and his family were packed away safe inside the ark. His family was our only hope of a future. Mankind was delivered through their flood. The most significant person of all is Jesus, who came through a virgin. As her water broke, God brought forth the choice of salvation to us. In the Jordan River, at his baptism, a dove descended on him, signifying the beginning of the fulfillment of his call and our liberation from sin.
Is there significance of offering living water to the world around us?
As I think about the dream now that the election is over, I realize our future isn't about our government, it's about its people. I believe this is a season God is longing to restore our nation with the water of life and bring revival to us all. If you and I are going to be a part of the restoration process, we have to start pouring living water. The same living water Jesus offered at the well to a woman who was a loner, a prostitute, a divorcee, a live-in girlfriend, an outcast. We are living in a nation full of this kind of wounded, hurting people. The call to us all is to drink from the well ourselves, and then offer what we have found to everyone we know who is thirsty.
As we stare our future in the face, what gifts do you have to pour?
I only have a book, a blog, and the ability to teach, and I pray daily somehow those gifts give someone a drink of water. What do you have to pour? You have a circle of people who are thirsty and have been placed in your life for you to pour into. If we want to restore our nation and mount up with wings like an Eagle, we have to dig a well of water with our prayers. We can't do it on the backs of government officials. We have to offer our hands in service and do something different from what we've been doing. So I'm asking when and where will you pour out the living water you have to offer to the world around you who is longing for a drink?
I've spent the last year sharing my heart on how to conquer chaos and embrace peace especially in marriage and relationships. If we're honest, I think we would all prefer the peaceful palace over the chaotic, war-torn castle every time. But what happens when chaos comes knocking on the palace door without your permission? Chaos is a nation gone mad, an illness, the loss of a job, a death of a loved one, a spouse who doesn't want the marriage you want, or even a child who walks away from everything you've raised them to be. Reality is, one day chaos will come. How do I know? Because the Bible says so. There are many references to the fact we will face difficulties in our lives on this earth. 2 Timothy 3 states,
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure and not lovers of God, giving the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.
Here's the good news... Chaos is never an unannounced intruder to God. When chaotic turmoil bangs at the door, we can find peace in the promise that God knew he was coming. We can also rest in the promises God will give on the threshold of combat and cling to them until victory comes.
How do we do battle? There's a wise old saying, "To win a battle, you must first know who you are and who you are fighting. If you know who you are, but you don't know your enemy, you will lose. If you know your enemy, but don't know who you are, you will also lose. But if you know who you really are and who you are really fighting, you will win every time."
Let's tackle the first point of knowing who we are. Scripture tells us we are fearfully and wonderfully made and God knew us before he formed us in our mother's womb. Most importantly, it says in II Corinthians 6:18, "And I will be a Father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me." If we are then children of the King of all Kings, we are already rulers over our enemy. Another aspect of our identity comes in putting on the full armor God offers us in Ephesians 6:11 to stand against our enemy's schemes.
Let's consider the armor pieces one at a time. Let's start with the helmet of our salvation. It's the helmet of our identity in knowing our Abba Father as Lord and Savior. Marching in that identity as child of a King keeps our thoughts clear during the fight. It gives us a sound mind as stated in 2 Timothy 1:7, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and a sound mind." It means we fight by faith not fear. A faithful battle plan will be counter to our flesh wanting to run and hide when Chaos knocks. Instead, we step forward and fight, verifying what looks like faith and what acts like fear. Our natural inclination is fear, pushing us to grab for control and hold on to what we're fighting for. Faith is counter to hanging on for dear life. It's letting go for the sake of finding victory. When we release our situation into our Father's hands, he is more than able to make us conquerors. Victory starts with a clear understanding of who we are. We must put our faith in the one who is greater, and walk into battle believing in what we know and not what we see.
The next four pieces of armor are defensive in nature. The breast-plate of righteousness protects the heart and the other major organs from injury. We can't win without it because battlefields are full of heartbreak, grief, and shattered dreams. Wearing it means we exit the war with our hearts intact, despite the pain we experience. It falls into place when we get on our knees and ask the Father to unveil the places in our heart that are unrighteous--the contributions we made that gave Chaos our home address. We ask, "What part did I play?" If the answer is truly "none", then we simply petition the Father to protect our heart and keep our thoughts and motives pure as we fight our enemy. If we played some part, either directly or indirectly or through manipulation or selfish prayers, then we confess our role in it and ask for forgiveness. Then we stand up, without guilt or shame, and forge ahead wearing our breast-plate.
The belt of truth is next. Truth must surround us like a belt during the battle, otherwise we'll trip over ourselves unable to run the race. Without it we will listen to the voices in our head instead of the Commander and Chief in our heart. Our enemy is the father of all lies. To defeat him, we must walk into war with eyes wide open, deciphering lies from truths as they blaze toward us in war. Putting on the belt means asking the Father to expose any lies that helped create the battle and surround us with truth in the midst of the war. We confess any deception we've told or believed about the crisis to receive forgiveness and march on.
The shoes of peace are what we will stand in on the battlefield. According to scripture, they're tailored to our feet as a direct result of the gospel of our salvation. Miraculously, we can find peace in the middle of a war zone, while fiery darts of the enemy zoom past our heads, if we stand firm on God's promises. The battlefield is declared "Holy Ground" if we keep our minds fixed on Him. Without peace, we lose hope and confidence in our victory, but when we stand on his promises we walk in peace even while the battle rages.
The last "defensive" piece of armor is the shield of our faith. Scripture says our faith is found in the things we hope for that God has promised and not in what we see. The shield we hold is not found in the past victories we've had or the things God has done. That's only half the hope, and no warrior enters war with half a shield. A complete shield is found in the fullness of the power of who our Father truly is. He is resurrected Savior, King of Kings, and Lord of all. Hold up who he is and worship him. God always sent the worshipers out first before each battle because worship holds the power to bring triumph. He is Jehovah Magen, the Lord our shield, and he is the defender of our faith.
Now that we've established our identity, as recommended by the Chinese saying, and grasped some of the pieces of our armor, the last step to victory is about knowing our enemy. This is key before we take hold of the last piece of armor. Ephesians 6:12 says,
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.
Despite what you might think, we're not fighting people. Our battle is not against the ones bringing chaos to our door. If we consider them our adversary, we'll lose every time. They're just casualties on a battlefield the enemy is using. If we determine to destroy them out of bitterness or unforgivness, the battle is lost. Instead, we pray for them out of compassion.
Our Father knows our archenemy and calls him by name. Scripture says he's a roaring lion, roaming around seeking whom he can devour. Daniel, an OT prophet of God, found himself thrown into a den full of ferocious lions. In that moment, Daniel chose to pray and not panic. God answered by sending angels to shut their mouths. The enemy's tactic is to roar loudly and drive us to fear, but if we listen to the battle cry of our Father's commands, our faith will silence the roar.
Lions in the wild, on the prowl, circle around their prey. They lie in wait for the one stray lamb, all alone and vulnerable. If he is ravaging a member of your family, surround them with love and prayer. If you feel compelled to isolate yourself in the battle, out of heartbreak or embarrassment, don't, or you too could become a victim of the lion, helpless, vulnerable, and disconnected from the flock. Instead, gather allies. You are going to need the help of other trusted followers of Christ. I'm not suggesting you tell everyone you know you're at war. Telling the wrong person can make you more vulnerable. However, if you pray for the Lord to send you the prayer warriors you need, he will answer faithfully. Keep your eyes open and ears alert to the voice of those he sends. They are sent to pray, act, or even impart valuable battle plan information from their own experiences. The key is embracing the wisdom in their hands God sends as a part of his winning strategy.
Now we're ready for the sword, the last important part of the armor. Every other piece defends, but the sword is offensive. The Bible says the word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword. I believe one side of the sword is God's power and the other edge is our courage. Together they behead the lion. Before beginning His ministry, Jesus entered the wilderness for forty days and nights where he faced the roaring, roaming lion who had come to devour him. Jesus conquered him by wielding the sword of God's word. As the enemy offered him three tempting substitutes to the real thing God had planned, Jesus swung the sword of God's word and defeated every lie.
Satan had waited for Jesus to enter the wilderness alone, not to mention hungry, then he pounced with three tempting choices. First, he offered bread to eat in exchange for the real bread of life. I think women struggle with this temptation the most. At times I've found myself on a battlefield, tempted to grab food for comfort. Satan offered food to Jesus in hopes of taking advantage of his vulnerability. Jesus reminded him that he did not live by bread alone but by God's word, the bread of life. If we're not careful, we can grab for food when what we need most for nourishment is God's word in the midst of the calamity. Winning doesn't involve sitting down at the table and using food to soothe our pain. We've got to reach for the only substance that can fill the emptiness in our gut. God's word will sustain us and destroy the enemy's substitutes in battle. We win by living on and digging into the bread of life to sharpen our sword and by speaking it out loud when the enemy comes.
Next, Satan offered Jesus the chance to rule a false kingdom instead of the whole world. We can't accept anything less than the victory God has to offer. Don't allow yourself to accept the substitute of a short-term win in place of a long-term, bigger defeat of your adversary. Lastly, Satan offered Jesus the opportunity to prove his strength by jumping from a tower versus hanging on a cross. Jesus chose the most painful option because winning a war requires sacrifice. Something has to die. We may have to sacrifice our pride, our goals, or even our dreams to win. Anything we're grasping to that God asks us to sacrifice must be laid on the cross, so we can pick up the sword and possess victory.
We all want a peaceful palace, but when chaos comes knocking at our door, we can put on the full armor and take hold of the sword. Know yourself, your enemy, and your weaponry and God will give you the triumph over Chaos every time!
It's fall y'all! This is one of my favorite seasons. September is the ninth month of the year and it's always held a special place in my heart. It's not just the beginning of fall, but it's the month I became a mom for the first time twenty-two years ago. A woman never forgets that day and mine was quite “eventful” to say the least! I'll share some of what happened later, but first let's talk about having children. “How does a couple know when the time is right to have a baby?” Or “How does a couple decide whether they should have children at all?” In order to find answers lets explore some of the misconceptions of our day on the matter and examine what God has to say about it.
Let's be honest, today's culture is not very interested in children according to recent statistics. I would even go as far as to say we are not living in a very “child friendly” world. Could it be we've lost our perspective? In Psalms 123:7, God gives His perspective on the matter. He says, “Children are a gift from the Lord.” Even if they scream and cry, create sleep deprivation, and scatter toys all over the floor, they are unquestionably, exceptional, one of a kind blessings. I can verify that it's all worth it. God even goes on to say in the same Psalm that a man is blessed if he has a “quiver full of them." What's a quiver? It was the holding place where warriors held their weapons until time for battle. In that same scripture children God calls them arrows because they are the weapons meant to be held in the quiver.
Unfortunately, many couples today are choosing to forgo parenthood. One reason is “fear of the unknown”. Realistically, life is full of the unknown and if we're honest with ourselves, isn't that what makes life memorable? Without the unknown, life would be mundane and purposeless. Another reason prompting couples to remain childless is the pursuit of careers and a desire for no inconveniences. Based on my experience, as crazy as it may sound, I got better at what I did once I became a parent. Choosing to have a baby brings a whole new level of understanding, maturity, and education to your resume'. Now that we are pushing towards our older years, it's easy to look towards the end of a great career and realize if there's no one to share your later years with or to leave all you've worked for behind to, then what was the point? As far as inconveniences go, the experience of birthing and pouring into the future is not an inconvenience but an incredible opportunity to impact culture on a whole new level.
Finally, many couples are choosing not to pursue parenthood because they have been told the world is over populated and overpopulation is creating all the problems in the world. The overpopulation myth is just that, a myth. In fact, studies show cultures thrive when they are highly populated versus sparsely populated. The mathematical numbers show the real truth about the population. Did you know if you took every single human being alive today and put them in the state of Texas and gave them each 1,500 sq feet to live in, the rest of the entire globe would be completely empty? Over populated? Not at all.
On the flip side of that argument, if we stop having children and raising them to be responsible, productive, moral human beings there would be complete chaos in the world. If we choose to do our job well, children are our one opportunity to leave behind a legacy that can change the future for the good of mankind. They are the weapons of good we can launch to help glue the world back together. Don't get me wrong, having and raising children isn't always easy, but God never promised everything he calls us to do would be easy. Instead, he promised he would be with us and help us through it all. Not to mention he promised to bless us if we fill our quiver full as stated in Psalms 123.
Choosing to have our three children was the best decision of our married lives. It is one of the most challenging yet rewarding things we've every done. It changes your perspective on everything. In fact, I often say it's like being color blind and putting on a new pair of glasses and suddenly the world goes from being black and white to being full of a whole rainbow of colors. So if you're pondering whether you and your spouse should have children, then maybe I can encourage you to pray about God's timing and trust him with the details.
Here's my story....When I got pregnant with our first, I was an aerobics instructor. I optimistically believed I would be able to do labor easily, and there was no doubt I would go all natural. I developed my birthing plan for how the process would unfold. I knew what I wanted from the time we would arrive at the hospital to the labor music I wanted playing during the pushing phase. I determined to have no drugs, and I knew the doctor I wanted to deliver my baby based on the on-call schedule.
By now, if you have had a baby, you are probably laughing your head off at my birthing plan. The reality is, nothing in labor goes exactly as planned, no matter how much we prepare down to the last detail. In fact, I believe the labor process is a part of God's last hour of preparation to help us embrace the “unknown” and the reality we will be dependent on Him from that moment forward, for the rest of our lives.
The first sign that my plan was in trouble came as I handed my doctor a copy of my birthing plan and she laughed. I wasn't sure what was humorous, so I didn't ask. The next surprise came when my friend, who was due on the same day but went early, called to say “Go ahead and make your sign “Epidural NOW!” because when you get into labor you will not be able to speak and believe me you do not want to give birth without drugs.” I shrugged her off because I was in such great physical shape.
My baby was due on August 23rd, but during my prayer time one morning I kept seeing the number 9 in my mind and I knew it had something to do with our baby's birth. I assumed I would deliver my baby on August 9th. I was excited, the sooner I could lose the weight the better. When that date passed, I thought maybe it meant I would only be in labor for 9 hours. When the due date arrived and I showed no signs of going into labor, I began to do everything in my power to help my body along in the process. I even took castor oil because my mom had taken it when she was pregnant with me. Never mind this wasn't a part of my birthing plan, someone should have told me it was a laxative.
When day eight of being overdue rolled around, the doctors started discussing intervention. They chose to give me something the night before that would calmly kick-start the process so I could go in early the next morning to be induced. No induction needed! That calm kick-start came in like a hurricane with contractions starting at five minutes apart. I was screaming, “Wait this was not a part of my plan!”
They insisted I go to the hospital immediately. Unfortunately, I was trapped in “no man's land” all night. They couldn't admit me because I wasn't dilating, and they couldn't let me go home because contractions were too close together. I spent the next 9 hours walking the halls and laying on a hard gurney as an out-patient. The next morning, after I calmly threatened the doctor with bodily harm, I was admitted. I was desperate. I had reached the end of my rope. I didn't think I could hang on any longer. When I let go, the Lord took me by the hand, and took over. My plans went out the window and his came rushing in. I realized he was there when the doctor told the nurse to put me in room number “9”. Our son was born 9 days late, in room number 9, weighing in a little over 9 lbs. on the first day of the 9th month of the year. God had been faithful. He had tried to prepare me, but I had my own agenda. His agenda was so much better than mine. I needed him there for the emergency C-section that was never a part of my plan.
After coming home with our beautiful son, the failed plan was forgotten because it had all been worth it. I soon began to ponder the meaning of the number “9” so I looked it up in scriptures. The number 9 means “the end of God's judgment, the end of a matter as far as God is concerned.” The birth of Jesus was a gift to us and he was the end of our judgment as far as God was concerned. He was the weapon God launched for our future. When we choose to receive the child God sent us, we are choosing to grab hold of one of the greatest gifts God has to offer. When we choose to become parents ourselves, we receive the next best gift he has to offer. When we stop controlling birth and give birth to life, God offers us the opportunity to take part in helping him create a small tiny life than can change the course of history. We have the incredible privilege of raising up children with love, peace, honor, and integrity so we can launch them into tomorrow like arrows.
Our children have turned out to be the most amazing blessings we've experienced in our lifetime. As we have taught them, they have taught us what it really meant for God to give up his one and only son. Our Father gave us everything he had so we could experience everything his love had to offer. There is no perfect pregnancy or labor and there is no perfect time to have a baby. If you wait until perfection, you'll never do it and before you know it, it could be too late. As the creator of the entire universe, God clearly says in his word that there is “a time to be born” and his timing is always perfect. If we let go of our own agenda, we get the honor of watching him bring forth a new life, and He calls the miraculous experience of childbirth a glorious gift!
To learn more about what God has to say about the topic, check out “Chaos in the Castle or Peace in the Palace?” where I share in greater detail what I learned when I suddenly found myself pregnant with an unplanned, surprise third baby in mid-life. It was quite the journey, but it taught me the truth of God's heart toward birthing life.
As we turn the corner and head into a busy new school year, our marriage relationship can sometimes take a beating. Especially when it comes to staying connected in conversation and intimacy. We can find ourselves busy with new activities, keeping the children on time with their lives moving forward, and as a result, we neglect to connect with our spouse either out of distraction or exhaustion.
Regardless of how busy or tired we are, our physical oneness must still remain a top priority because it is key to staying in sync with one another in the thick of the chaotic busyness. Believe it or not, we might actually have to put love on the calendar to guarantee sex does not get neglected. Why? Because physical connection is the glue in our marriage when the storms of life come.
Last November, as I was wrapping up writing the three chapters on intimacy for “Chaos in the Castle or Peace in the Palace?”, I came across the results of an interesting new study. In my research I discovered a scheduling scandal. It was an interesting detail about what happens to the human female body when she puts sex on the calendar. I know! I know! You probably think this theory seems unromantic or less exciting. In fact, many women shun the idea for fear it removes spontaneity from sex with their spouse. Honestly, I have avoided the notion myself for that same reason. Surprisingly, in a study where both men and women scheduled intimacy and researchers checked their blood hormone levels something surprising happened. Research concluded that sexual desire hormones actually shifted for the women when they placed sex on their weekly calendar. They determined the shift in hormones was due to the participants thinking about and looking forward to having sex. Surprisingly, men’s hormones in the study did not shift at all. That came as no surprise to me. After all, they are always looking forward to intimacy with the queen of their palace.
I realized when I read the study that, once again, our God never ceases to amaze me. He literally built into women the ability to change our sexual hormone levels despite our busy “mom on the run” lifestyles. He knew all the hats we’d wear as wife and mother and he gave us a gift that would increase our desire and move us toward peace in the palace if, along with all the many other things we place on the calendar, we actually put the word “SEX” there too. Scheduled sex can put an end to chaos in the bed chamber. No matter how busy or tired we are, if we schedule sex, our longing for seduction is automatically elevated. That is an amazing idea that only our Creator could have devised so we could continue to stay committed to and enjoying intimacy for the sake of the marriage covenant. It may mean scheduling an overnight baby sitter or a trip to the grandparents now and then, if you have children. Never the less, regardless of circumstances, we must pursue intimacy and make it a priority.
As you head toward busyness in the new school year, get down to the business of scheduling SEX as the order of the day. Sex on the calendar doesn't have to be a scandal when it helps your marriage stay strong and you stay connected to your spouse. With just a few marks on the docket you can have yourself a year full of love regardless how busy or tired you may be. This is one of the most exciting new scheduling ideas I’ve heard in a long time. So girls, get out your calendars and start scheduling!
Recently I had the privilege of literally standing on the battlefield in Yorktown where our nation fought for its freedom over 200 years ago. It was eye opening to stand in the midst of the place where so much blood was shed for our nations freedom.
As I thought about this month's blog I felt led to stray away from marriage to our spouse to marriage to the real bride groom by sharing my life story about freedom. As I have meditated on the word freedom, I realized that
FREEDOM = SACRIFICE
In order for freedom to exist, something has to die. Scripture says in Galatians 5:1,
“It is for freedom that Christ died.”
Despite how we view our nation in the midst of this dark season, our freedom doesn't come from a piece of paper or from protesting, or shooting, or fighting, or arguing our point. Our freedom only comes through the sacrifice that was made on our behalf in history on a wooden cross over 2000 years ago. Christ died to set us free and that is the only true freedom we have.
Not only did Christ die for our freedom, but in order for us to find freedom in him, we also have to die to ourselves. Matthew 10:39 says, “Who ever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”
If we want to find freedom we have to go to our death to self. In fact, just as Christ began his death in a garden, I believe we all have to go to our own Garden of Gethsemane where we must die to ourselves as Jesus did and say, “Not my will but thine be done.” That is the only place we find freedom and resurrection from our nations turmoil, our emotions, our circumstance, and our confusion.
At one of the darkest hours in my own life, I found myself in my own garden. It started when my father died without a will. In the midst of the legal chaos, I abruptly learned I might not really be my father’s daughter. After 7 years of being in court, the Lord told me to offer to take a DNA test. On the day of the test I grabbed a book as I walked out the door called "The Gift". As I sat waiting my turn for the DNA test, I didn't realize it, but I was walking to my own death and I was about to receive the greatest gift of freedom the Lord had to offer me. He was calling me to die to the pride I had in being called “my father's daughter.” I had been proud to be my father's daughter because everyone knew his name and I used his name to my advantage to open doors. I was a name dropper. On this day, as I sat realizing I did not know who I was anymore, I opened the book I had grabbed to the page that was marked. To my shock it said, “For you no longer have to worry about who your father is, for you are an heir to my throne through my son." Gal. 4:7
In an instant, I became the daughter of a great King.
Romans 8:15 says, “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
When we enter into a relationship with our Heavenly Father, we become children of a noble King. We are grafted into a vine and given a new blood line. We then walk in nobility and we can rule our kingdom well as we live by our new identity and walk out our purpose..
As a result of that freedom, we then willingly make sacrifice. Jesus had to lay down his identity as teacher in order to become Savior and we have to lay down our old identity in order to lead the world to the Savior. When we sacrifice ourselves, we are resurrected from our spiritual death to walk in freedom. When we find freedom through sacrifice of our self, we can then go and set others free through our story. God calls us to lay down our lives so we can find it and then give our hearts away so others can find him.
As we move forward in this nation in pursuit of freedom, remember that freedom only comes in truly know who you are in Christ. If we all embrace that identity, all the other issues of our day would be resolved.
"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness the prisoners." Isaiah 61:1
What's your favorite Season. The "hot" season has definitely arrived in the South so I thought it would be a great time to talk about a “hot” topic, Let's explore the birds and bees and the seasons of love. Did you know that the seasons of intimacy are a lot like the earths seasons. In many ways our sexual relationship actually has seasons that come and go. In fact, sexual intimacy has highs and lows like the thermometer.
Let’s start with one of my favorite seasons of the year, Spring. Everything is awakening from a time of dormancy and plants are budding with the beginnings of new life. Spring was the season that Adam and Eve first experienced in the garden as newlyweds. Everything was new and they had no hindrances or sexual barriers. From the heart of God, out of his love for us, our Father longs for our first time to be within the covenant of marriage. He knew from the beginning that sex outside the covenant can cause challenges later when we finally marry. The great news is spring is known as a season of restoration and God is not only the Creator of all things but the restorer as well.
If you experience sex outside of marriage, God can restore and renew your heart and emotions before you marry if you confess those choices to him, ask his forgiveness, and accept his mercy and healing. As a teenager I dated a lot of people so I speak from personal experience about our Father’s restoring power. The fact is with each dating relationship people have the tendency to give a small piece of their heart away as a result of emotional entanglement, not to mention the physical temptations faced due to an improper understanding of love and relating to the opposite sex. Before I met my husband, I had experienced a lot of what the world had to offer. He on the other hand had only had one other dating relationship prior to me. After we started seeing each other, I began to realize how much I longed for God to heal me from my past. I longed for him to restore my purity and renew my mind. I determined to take each relationship I had been in and confess any parts of it that were dishonoring or unhealthy, then I repented of any bad choices I had made, and God healed me from my past relationships. On our wedding day after I walked down the isle, we walked through the season of spring on our wedding night. Nothing is impossible with God and he longs to restore and heal us all from any past we many have in order for us to experience the “Spring” season in intimacy in our future.
In spring things begin to awaken. On the “honeymoon”, the bodies of the bride and groom are awakened from a period of sexual dormancy and every experience is fresh and new. The couple begins to learn about each other’s bodies and how to please one another. Even if one or both have experienced sex outside of marriage, the sexual relationship between a husband and wife is different inside the boundaries of marriage. There is a freedom that comes from being intimate with your spouse once you’ve entered into a covenant of love for a lifetime. There is a whole new level of intimacy based on the security of a lifelong commitment. Everything you experience can be refreshing and new. You may leave that season and enter another, but as sexual drives rise and fall throughout your life, it’s like starting anew each time.
Spring may come many times in a marriage as things are refreshed. One example might be after giving birth and having months of healing and breastfeeding behind you. It’s like starting the honeymoon all over again. Another example is when a woman enters menopause and her body goes through many changes. That’s when learning starts anew.
Summer follows Spring. Summer is the time of year when everything is in bloom and the newness is gone, but it is still exciting to see the fruit that is produced from the blooms in the spring. This is so true in marriage once the honeymoon phase is over and you’ve conquered the new beginning, then Summer just naturally follows. At the end of that time, you’ve fully come to know each other’s bodies, but there is still the opportunity each time to experience something new. Each time a couple comes together with their hearts and minds in the right place mutual enjoyment can be the fruit of their labor. At some point in “summer” the fruit you produce can also be the fruit of life. It’s a joyous time when a couple begins the process of partnering with God to create life by giving birth to a baby.
The most important thing to remember during the season of summer is to keep your perspective and don’t allow yourselves to become so focused on the end goal of having a baby that you forget to enjoy the process. I know so many couples facing infertility problems, and in their desperation to conceive they forgot to continue to love. There’s no reason to panic if you’re not getting pregnant immediately. The best thing to do is step back and regroup. Don’t allow pressure to become your partner because pressure will kill passion every time. Pressure can drive you to make wrong choices out of fear of failure. Trust God with his timing on your children. There are times in this season that you may have to seek medical advice, but remember that God is the great physician and holds the key to your success.
Fall is a time of resting where things are beginning to slow down sexually and settle in. You may be focused more on your career or other outside interests. If you have children, they begin to take some of your focus. For our marriage, fall was a time where children came into our lives and we entered a time of physical exhaustion. Quite frankly it was a time where I was so tired I thought I would fall like the leaves falling from the trees. This season too shall pass, but during this time intimacy can easily fall by the wayside because you’re so busy or you’re just too tired to commit to the work required to enjoy it. It’s OK to realize the season for what it is, but don’t allow yourselves to be apart for so long that you lose your oneness with each other. Scripture says in 1 Corinthians 7:5,
“Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (NIV)
During this season you may not enjoy the full capacities of sex, but by giving each other grace, you can still enjoy sex because it’s your way of staying connected. All other parts of your life, including the emotional health of your children, are cultivated from a healthy marriage foundation. A part of that foundation is sexual intimacy. It may be a time when quantity is less, but you can still strive for quality. This means regardless of how busy or tired you are, your physical oneness must still remain a top priority. You might actually have to put it on the calendar to guarantee it doesn’t get neglected. If you do have children, it may mean that you schedule an overnight baby sitter or a trip to the grandparents every now and then. It’s very important to remember that regardless of circumstances, intimacy must be pursued.
As you know, winter is the coldest season of the year. Winter is actually my favorite season. I love it because I enjoy the quietness of it, and I know spring is coming. In marriage, couples can visit this season several times due to different circumstances. It doesn’t have to be the gray and depressing time in our sexual lives, it can actually be the winter wonderland. It’s not necessarily the season at the end of our lives. It might simply be a season we enter for a time due to illness or injury or maybe even menopause. This doesn’t mean we have to stop enjoying our sexual relationship. It just takes on a whole new meaning. As long as we’re married we can love one another and enjoy the intimacy of just being together. It doesn’t have to be exciting all the time. It can simply be the peacefulness of feeling warm and cozy with your commitment to each other. After the dormancy comes the spring!
Just as in nature, seasons come and go in the royal kingdom. It doesn’t matter what season you’re in, each one can be a wonderful season of mutual sexual enjoyment for you and your spouse. Actually our differences as men and women can mean each season holds a new meaning of enjoyment for each of us and change is always good. It keeps us from getting bored and complacent in the bed chamber! If you want to learn more about joys of intimacy you can check out the book and order it on line at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Christian Book Distributors. It’s sure to bring a season of Spring to your marriage!
Did you know that in the scriptures a wife is called a beautiful tiara? That’s right ladies, we're meant to shine in the crown of leadership that sits on the top of our husband’s head.
“An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who shames him is like rottenness in his bones.” Proverbs 12:4 (NAS)
No wonder diamonds are a girl’s best friend? We are a jewel ourselves! I dare say that I am a diamond in the rough some days, but, nonetheless, still a jewel in my husband’s crown. As a result of that role, I say "let the spring cleaning proceed". It’s time to take out the crowns and polish them up. In order to do that, we have to answer this question first, “Do I want to polish his royal crown or will I tarnish it instead?” You might be asking, “How do I tarnish the crown on his head?” That was a question I had to answer myself, and what I learned as I searched the scriptures for the answer was eye-opening.
The “male ego” is a very fragile thing, and as noble women, we can build that ego up or tear it down by the choices we make as the queen by his side. That ego can easily be wounded, and one of the most common ways women tend to tarnish their husband's crown is with the words they speak. If a wife speaks embarrassment or ridicule to other people about her husband she is tarnishing his crown. In turn, this action affects us as well. If we tarnish their image, we are tarnishing ourselves since we are the crown that sits upon their head. Most importantly, the way a husband interprets this kind of betrayal is the way a king would interpret treason. It means his queen has gone over to the other side and joined the enemy’s ranks.
There is an example in the Bible that quickly comes to mind here, and we can learn from this queen’s mistake. Her husband was King Xerxes, the King of Persia. His wife was Queen Vashti, and boy did she really rub his crown the wrong way. In fact, she tarnished her husband’s royal crown beyond repair. The short of the story is the King had called all the dignitaries and rulers from other lands together for a very important summit. They were discussing war and how to conquer their enemies. On the other side of the royal palace, the queen was having her own party with all the wives. I can imagine they were getting their hair and nails done while talking about the new fashion trends in royal clothing. Unfortunately, Queen Vashti was having so much fun with all the girls that when her King requested her appearance she refused to stop the partying. He had beckoned her to come and dance before their guests, which was customary, but she refused to go. As a result of his embarrassment, he had her put away. In fact many historical papers imply she was possibly beheaded. Her husband’s image of power was tarnished in front of the most important people in the land, in the midst of a war at a crucial time of leadership. She had undermined his authority and he took her betrayal seriously. Maybe the bigger the ego or position, the greater the offense to the king of the kingdom? Whatever the case, his embarrassment caused him to end his marriage and possibly her life over her act of treason. He really had no choice because weakness at a time of war by his most trusted confidant was inexcusable and could cost them the kingdom.
In modern-day times, how can we apply this lesson? I personally learned about my ability to tarnish a crown early on in our marriage when I misspoke a few times in public about my knight in shining armor. To my surprise, Dan quickly confronted me once we were alone. After praying about it, I committed to always present him with nobility by pointing out his strengths versus his flaws to other people. I’ve worked really hard at being sensitive to his request and making sure the shine on his crown stays there.
Let me give you another modern-day example of this “help meet” principle gone awry. Years ago, while Dan and I were out having date-night, we ran into a young couple we knew also on a date from their children. Her husband held a pretty important position in the community. We both shared where we had been on our dates. She quickly informed us they had just finished a movie and her husband had cried through the entire thing. The look on his face painted a clear picture of the dagger she had just driven through his heart. Men are taught to be tough and never show emotion in our culture, but showing emotion with the queen in his life should be safe. We can be a place of refuge for their innermost thoughts and feelings. Dan and I considered this couple our friends, but after that conversation, he avoided us until they moved away. He was humiliated by her sharing his vulnerability with us. It was like her waving the white flag from the castle spire saying, “We have weakness in the kingdom, we surrender." We didn’t see it that way but he did.
A few years back, while sitting at the salon, I began to listen to another female in the chair next door. She was bragging about how she had recently attended a party and gotten so carried away she had to call her husband to retrieve her. She laughed as she told how she hung her head out the window relieving herself as he drove her home. She thought it hilarious that she had so much fun on a "girls night out" at the expense of her husband's honor. As I sat in the salon chair, I wondered if he thought it was funny?
What will you do with his reputation? These examples clearly show we not only hold the power to tarnish our husband’s crown, but we hold his reputation in our hands. If we show our husband’s weaknesses to the world, embarrass him with unladylike behavior, or ridicule him for his mistakes, we might as well let down the draw bridge for the enemy to cross the moat, take over the castle, and overthrow the throne. Realistically, none of us have husbands without imperfections. Women have shortcomings too, but hopefully we are all working on becoming better people, better wives, better husbands, better mothers and fathers. However, none of the failures we have should be displayed before the world. Weaknesses on display are “welcome signs” at the gates of our kingdom for the enemy.
You can bet the serpent studied Adam and Eve from a distance, watching for their weaknesses, before he curled around that tree and sold them a lie. Our duty as a wife is to always uphold our husband’s position in leadership at home, especially before our children, at church, in the community, and in his career, and even through our own public actions. He may not always put his best foot forward, but we can nudge him along until he’s ready to step up. So get that polish out and remove the muck from his crown, fair maidens. If you’ve wounded him in the past, make amends, ask for forgiveness, and commit to yourself never to sling mud in his direction again. As stated before, women hold great power in their hands. We can build our kingdom up with our two appendages or we can tear it down. We can build our husband’s reputation up before others or we can destroy it.
Proverbs 31:10 says, “Who can find a virtuous (noble) woman? For her price is far above rubies.”(KJV2)
Remember you are your husband’s headdress, and to shine brightly in your role as "wife" choose to be a noble "help meet." Take out the polish and shine up his crown. In the end, he will love and appreciate you for it and you will become more radiant as the beautiful tiara atop his royal head!
*To learn more ideas and way to polish your husband’s crown check out “Chaos in the Castle or Peace in the Palace?” at Barns and Noble and CBD-Christian Book Distributors.
Do you want to live in a war-torn castle or a peaceful palace? The decision is up to you. You are the child of a Great King and you have the power to change the world you live in!
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