Unraveling

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Since my last post over two years ago, I have decided to take my blog in a different direction, while still encompassing my faith in Jesus Christ in every post. The past two years I have learned so much, grown incredibly, and healed tremendously. I feel like I am a baby version of the woman I want to be. I am not quite yet “there” yet, and I feel as if I still have so much more growth that needs to take place before I am a viable source of information able to contribute to others’ well being. In the meantime, I have decided that my fears and insecurities have held me back for far too long and I am so tired of being held back from what I believe God wants to do in my life. That being said, I am going to do a recap so you can see how God has been working in my life, and hopefully gain a better understanding of how it all ties in to where I believe God is leading me.

 

I met someone while volunteering for a pregnancy resource center in October 2016, something I have wanted to help with for quite some time. I was never able to because my ex-husband did not want my volunteering to take away from the family. The man I met was exactly everything I had ever prayed for in a man. Our friendship grew into a sweet romance, and eventually we got married in March 2018. He has been so incredibly supportive the past couple of years, and I know God placed him in my life at the time He did for a purpose. We were planning our wedding for June 2018, but we didn’t quite make it. In December 2017, I entered into a long and arduous custody battle with my ex-husband, which not only drained me financially but also physically and emotionally. We cancelled our wedding for June, and decided on a small ceremony with our Pastor, mothers, my children, my sister and her husband. It broke my heart at the time because I have never had a real wedding and was looking forward to celebrating our love with our friends and families. However, our intimate ceremony took away all the distractions that a wedding should not be, and it truly focused on what it was meant to be, and I wouldn’t change one thing about it.

It was January 2018 when I started to unpack my emotional baggage from my previous marriage and enter into a journey of discovery and healing. My eyes were opened to the depth of abuse and deception I had endured at the hand of my ex-husband. I began to see things differently, seeing things I didn’t see before. I began to research the behavior I witnessed in my previous marriage, and I saw a common theme in all of them. Manipulative behavior, and all behaviors that pointed to something I had never heard of before, narcissistic abuse.  What is narcissistic abuse?  It is a form of emotional and psychological abuse. Some of the tactics used are gaslighting, silent treatment, demoralizing, perpetually violating boundaries, pathological lies, projection and a false public persona that is not in alignment with the one that is behind closed doors. The one I had never heard of was gaslighting. This was a new term for me. What is gaslighting? Gaslighting is a form psychological manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt into a targeted individual, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. My entire life began to make sense and come together. I had endured this for almost nine years while I was with my ex-husband. No wonder I was an emotional mess. I had anxiety attacks, panic attacks, heart palpitations, low self-esteem and melt downs where I could not even form a coherent sentence. When I received alerts from his messages it sent me into a tail spin of anxiety, panic, avoidance, nausea and fearfulness. After seeing a therapist, I was told I had PTSD due to the narcissistic abuse. I was reacting exactly the way he had programmed my brain to respond to his abuse. My therapist began to help me manage my anxiety, intrusive thoughts, work on setting clear boundaries in my life and help me stick with them.

I had to get my emotions under control before going to court though, and I wasn’t ready! I didn’t begin to see my therapist until after the first court hearing. So while trying to educate myself the best I could, I decided to learn everything I possibly could about going to court against a covert narcissist. I learned what to do, what not to do, and most importantly I hired an attorney. I was not capable of representing myself in court at that time. To make matters worse, I was not only going up against my ex-husband, but his fiancée was involved as well. She recently graduated from law school and decided to represent him. The fact that he had no legal fees, and didn’t care how much time we spent in court infuriated me. Then fear set in, and held me hostage for months. I would ruminate about the possible outcomes of what he may say, what I would say, then what he would say in return. Basically I was going nowhere fast and driving myself crazy in the process. I prayed for my judge so many times, that her eyes would be opened and she would see the truth. After the first hearing, she took away some of his custody and didn’t believe the lies the two of them concocted. I remember coming out of the court-house crying, hugging my attorney and thanking her for fighting for my children. God had worked effortlessly in that room, and I couldn’t take one bit of credit even if I tried. After the second hearing this year, we are currently in a place prior to the custody battle, almost the same amount of custody we both shared before. The only difference now, the fiancée has been ordered to withdraw as his representation or face zero participation in visitation with the children. I can look back now and see that God was walking in to the fire with me every single time. In those moments, I feared, I worried, and I said I trusted Him, but I did not have His peace.

After going through the trials I have this year, I want to speak out against narcissistic abuse and educate people about this. I understand why it is not recognized in our courts as domestic violence, it’s so hard to pinpoint, and sometimes impossible to know who the real victim is.  It does not make it right. Coercive manipulation should be recognized in the courts and those working in the courts should be educated on how to spot the behaviors associated with narcissistic personality disorder. I want to help those going through a custody battle with a narcissist, whether it is learning how to parallel parent with them, or just get through their day-to-day lives. Being tied to this person for years to come is one of the most challenging experiences I have ever been through and others should not have to go at this alone. I hope and pray that my post speaks to someone who has suffered or is currently suffering from an abusive relationship. There is help. There is hope. I am proof of this, Jesus walked with me every step of the way, and carried the weight on his shoulders that I could not.

 

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Why God?

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Separation from a relationship with God is by far the most frightening experience a Christian can go through. You begin to question everything. Am I really saved? If I were to die right now where would I go? Was I ever saved? Do I really know God? Was I truly hearing Him speak to me? How am I certain He is Truth? I began to question everything I knew about myself, the Lord, and my marriage in June 2015, when I chose to step outside of my marriage. It was as if I had a moment of being in the Garden of Eden, I kissed him, and nothing happened. I went further, and still I wasn’t struck to the ground by lightening. Why would I want to stop when there was no sign of any consequences? I was in a loveless marriage since the day we said I do. I wanted so badly to have my family together, even if it was at the expense of my happiness. I became pregnant with both of my children before we were married and I decided to make the commitment to stay together even though we were toxic together. So when the opportunity arose after almost 8 years of being together, I took it. There was no turning back after I had the affair. That is when I knew my life would never be the same

After sinning against Him, I felt separated from Him, our relationship had been severed. I could not continually sin against Him and pray He saves me from my awful marriage. My only prayer during those 4 months was that God would have mercy on me and rescue me from the bad decisions I made. I heard Him, every time I went to his house, He told me not to go, but I went anyways. Which only calloused my heart even more, and I began to turn into someone I never even recognized.

At the end of September 2015, my husband asked me if I was ever unfaithful. This was it, my chance to finally unload the heavy weight I carried around for the past 4 months. The Spirit was grieving in me and I began to cry. All I could say is “I don’t want to talk about this”, and I kept apologizing. I needed to face my sin head on. I cried out to Him daily, to make a way for me to leave my husband so I never had to confess. The only words the Lord spoke to me were “confess” and “stay”. So I did exactly that, I wasn’t happy with what I had heard from Him, but I chose to be obedient. It was the hardest choice I had to make because I looked at my husband and despised him. Why would God want me to stay with this man? Doesn’t He want me to be happy? Or should I just stay here and take the emotional and mental abuse? The incessant nagging that I was never enough, never good enough, or that I had not done enough for him was all it took for me to question my own intentions behind every action. I resented him for making me so insecure with who I was. Right after the confession, he asked me about every single detail. After I provided him with enough information to satisfy his appetite, he wanted me. I was a mess, but I felt as if I owed it to him because of my infidelity.

Days after my confession, I heard the Lord tell me to follow Him and to be blameless. I wanted to so badly. The desire to please the Lord was there. However I gave in to my flesh one final time with that man, and after that I stopped responding to him and decided that even though I felt nothing, I would follow Him. I would follow Him and seek Him until I felt Him again.

It was about 6 months that had passed where I believed my husband and I were on the path to recovery. We had good times, we laughed and I actually began to enjoy spending time together. Like a bull in a china shop, when we began to get along, he would knock it all down with his frustration that he was not getting enough of me. He would tell me if I didn’t sleep with him, I was driving him to be the man he used to be. He wanted to go sleep around and I made him want to. I had heard it plenty of times before so the manipulation didn’t take hold of me as it used to. Then one evening in March, he asked if I was unfaithful since my confession in September. I had to be truthful, so I let it out. No holding anything back anymore! He was furious, he yelled at me, told me he wanted to divorce me and then he left to get a beer. I was numb. I didn’t feel happy or sad, I just sat in bed and begged God that he would leave me because I no longer had the strength to walk away. When he returned he sat down and stumbled on his words and then confessed something I had waited almost 9 years to hear. He was never faithful to me. Our entire relationship was a lie. He had been with multiple women and took his guilty conscience out on my lack of self confidence.

Why God? Where are You? Why would You allow this to go on for almost 9 years? I always had a feeling he was up to something but could never prove it. After I had my daughter, he left us just about every evening to go out. It was the inception of all our arguments. He was around for the bare minimum until she was about 4 years old, and later told me to stop being bitter for who he used to be. I felt guilty for the grudge I held against him. Those were some of my darkest days and I ran into the arms of my Father because of him. For that I am grateful. In the coming days, his lies began to unravel, his manipulation tactics no longer had a hold  on me and I began to question the past 9 years of my life. I was angry. Angry that God told me to stay with him and I had no intention of speaking to Him. I didn’t pray for almost 2 days after, because I wasn’t ready to hear what He would tell me to do. I didn’t want to hear Him tell me to stay another day in that hell of a relationship. When I finally broke down to  Him, He began to reveal so much to me. He never changes. He gives one command at a time. He then waits for obedience and when you get to the next point, He will give the next command. He will make my paths straight and in the middle of all the lies I was facing, there was only one thing left to do: cling to the truth. What does He say about me?

I am loved. He loved me enough to die for me. (1 John 4:10)

I am His child. (John 1:12)

He is my Creator and He made me who I am and He will use this situation to glorify His Name. (Isaiah 43:7)

He is my strong tower. (Proverbs 18:10)

He is my shepherd, He will see to it that I have rest in Him. (Psalm 23:1-2)

He will heal me. (Hosea 6:1)

He has yet to let me down, so I will continue to cling tightly to His promises.

I have forgiven him. It doesn’t hurt anymore. I don’t feel sad or angry. I gave it to the Lord when He told me to walk away from my marriage. If Jesus can forgive me for all I have done, I can forgive him for all he has done. My God has a bigger plan for me. Sometimes we go through these trials in our lives so that He can bring us closer to Him. So we seek Him. So we find Him and know Him so intimately.  Even when the enemy still tries to tell me I am not good enough, He is there to remind me that He loved me enough to die for me, and through that He made me His daughter. I am the daughter of the Most High God, no matter what the enemy tried to do to separate me from my God. Nothing can separate us. I am His and He is mine.

On Fire For Him

Last night was the final night of my spiritual warfare class and I am deeply saddened that from now on, Thursday evenings I will be returning to work instead of being in my Father’s house. I’ve so enjoyed the last 11 weeks of being spiritually fed, it seems it is all I’ve known, and all I want to know for the rest of my life. He has revealed Himself to me in ways I could have never imagined. When I felt that I was staring evil in the face, He was there. When the evil one knocked at the door to entice me to open, He taught me how to not give him an opportunity. He is my Teacher, my Warrior, and my Redeemer. He showed me that I am not fighting for victory I am fighting FROM victory. He already won over the evil one, so why I am sitting here all helpless in my life as if I’m bound by the evil one’s tactics? I am not bound, nor am I under his authority. Learning who I am in Christ has been undeniably the most breathtaking experience I have ever had. He showed me a way out.

I was attacked by my thoughts. Literally, day in, and day out, attacked by what I thought were my thoughts. I would be driving down the street, thinking of something nice I could do for my husband, and BAM! This guy has the nerve to run past me without his shirt on….and one look….and two look….and STOP! Why are you looking? Because, he’s a good-looking guy, and it’s only a look. One look won’t hurt. I mean, he put in the work, might as well admire it. Admire it? Seriously? Uh, yeah! Don’t look, don’t look, don’t look, just one more look…..NO! Stop looking; are you honoring your husband right now? Nope, definitely not. See, some Christian you are. You can’t even not look at someone running past you! Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold that thought! Anyone been there? Or am I the only person in this world that has had those thoughts? That’s what I thought!

I see the world differently. I see the shirtless runner differently. I have blinders on now and my eyes are fixed on Him, especially when the shirtless runner passes by. Best part is, it doesn’t control me anymore! Jesus came here to take back the authority Satan had over us, so why are there so many Christians in spiritual bondage? Why are we not exercising the authority we have in Christ Jesus over the evil one? We have it! It is ours! He defeated Satan and death AT THE CROSS! Know your God, know your position, know your authority in Christ Jesus, and know your enemy. If you don’t know who your God is, how can you trust Him? If you don’t know your position, and who you are in Christ, how can you be sure you will have victory? If you don’t know your enemy, how will you know the tactics he uses to entice you into walking in the flesh?

There is a battle raging every day, the moment we wake up! Put on, and take up your armor folks. Every. Single. Day. The enemy knows your weaknesses, and he will attack you when you are vulnerable, don’t fall victim to not having all your ALL armor in place.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:19-23

 

Who you gonna call?

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Choices. We all have them. Why is it so hard to understand why people make the choices they do? When someone makes a choice I disagree with, I must accept it clearly I know that part. How about when they repeatedly make the same choice, and it becomes damaging to my relationship with the person? I still accept it, and then what? Continue to be as supporting as I always am? It is difficult for me because I am a 100% friend. I’ll explain, you are my friend; I am 100% in it for the long haul. I like to give my time to you, my ears to you; I want to be there for you as much as you need me. I give, give, give, give, and give because I care. Maybe this is my fault, maybe it is a blessing, not quite sure yet. It is how I’ve always been though, I love being available to my friends because I know I’ve been in some pretty low places, and I have needed someone.

There have been times where I have scrolled through my phone and thought I can’t call any of these people, they won’t understand me, or they have heard it all before. I find myself continually saying I wish I could talk to someone about this, and in the moment I want to, I want to talk about it and get it off my chest! Seriously though, when that happens, I hear Him say why don’t you come to Me? Why do you keep going to man? Not specifically a man, but to anyone other than Him. I am going to others with problems expecting to be validated for my feelings, or to be told I am right, or that the person I am in conflict with is wrong. I frustrate myself because I know better. Just like I tell my children, you know better! I know I need to pray, and I need to fall in the arms of my Father. He provides all the comfort I need, and I truly feel He fills my heart with joy.

So when I am worn out beyond what I can tolerate from circumstances in my life, I need Him to take over. He needs to take all my conflicts, all my problems, because when I truly give it to Him, I feel relief. I never get enough relief venting to friends or family, I just want to talk about it more! Then I turn in one big giant GOSSIP!

Father, I choose to call you, instead of anyone else. No one knows me like You. Fill my heart with joy, love, and kindness. Continue to help me tame my tongue, and I give all my burdens to You. You know exactly what they are, for You are El Roi, the God who sees. You see me; you see my frustration, be my strong tower Lord. Amen.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  Matthews 11:28-30. 

My Peace

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So I made the decision to remove my daughter from school for the summer, and it was more of a selfish decision on my part than her actually needing a summer break. Today was technically the first day of summer break where we didn’t have company in town, and my plan to wear my children out was in full effect. I have all these ideas of places I will be taking them, crafts we will be doing, and planning for many hot days at the pool. Then I remember, oh yeah, I work…after I do all these activities. After ONE day of activities with both of my children, I am worn out and beyond my mental capacity for dealing with back talk. I am at my wits end with telling children to sit, don’t move, don’t jump on the couch, don’t jump on the bed, and for crying out loud don’t TOUCH EACH OTHER! Yes, just one day of this and I am pulling my hair out thinking, did I make a mistake?

No, I most certainly did not make a mistake. As much as I want to question why the end of the day went horribly wrong, I can’t. That is how kids are. Unpredictable. Just when you think you have them figured out as angel children that say the sweetest things, or remind you so much of yourself, they are on to giving you a dirty look because you took a toy, or screaming at the top of their lungs in a restaurant because they don’t have their food. We’ve all been there, and trust me, I feel for parents when I see the look of exhaustion on their face when their child is throwing a tantrum. Here I am, thanking God that I am at home tonight when the meltdowns commenced, because I don’t think I have the energy to put on a happy face right now if I were out.

Right now I am being tested on how I handle situations with my children. I used to be a very angry person, and using my anger was the only way I knew how to handle situations. I keep telling myself to be a gentle, but firm mom, a mom than means business but can empathize with her children. If you are that mom, can you please write me a to do list of how you make it happen? I am struggling to no end on a healthy balance.

So I have a choice to make in these moments. Discipline my children out of anger, or discipline my children out of love. Which seems like a no brainer, but when you are faced with a screaming toddler it can be a bit tricky to always do the right thing. I know my intention of the discipline comes from love, but my action must come from love too. I do have to sometimes remove myself from them and go pray, and other times I can’t make it out of the room quick enough I pray right there where ever I am. It is always the same prayer, Lord; don’t let my anger control me in this moment.

Jehovah-Shalom, the LORD is Peace. Bam, that is all I needed today. When I am having a hard time disciplining my children because of exhaustion, or trying to calm my anger because I have said the same thing a thousand times, Jehovah-Shalom is there for me. I’ve learned that peace is not circumstantial, as much as I would love to be taking a bath, with candles lit, and no sign of children anywhere, that is not true peace. It may be a peaceful moment, but it can and will me taken from me the moment I step out of the bathroom and into the war zone of my children chasing each other down to tackle one another. Peace must reside in my mind and in my heart, and Christ is the only One who can truly be that peace for me. His kind of peace can never be taken from me. I just need to believe He is the peace that will be sufficient when I need it. So, I pray that these next couple of months I REALLY get to know Jehovah-Shalom and I will be acting in a manner that shows my circumstances don’t need to be perfect for me to have peace, because I have true peace in Him.

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Holy Spiritual Warfare!

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So I am beginning a spiritual warfare class, and I must say, it is probably the most enlightening class I have taken in my entire life and I am only one week in! This class has consumed every bit of me where I am hungry for more. I need to have that time with God where He is opening my heart and my mind to this study of really breaking down His Word. I haven’t been able to put my book and my bible down for the past week because I feel it has become so incredibly valuable. I have realized at times I have tried to fight for victory in my flesh, instead of from victory in the Spirit. After trying so hard, I fail miserably, and ask for God’s help again.

This study is opening my eyes to who Satan is, and just how incredibly sneaky he is. I obviously knew he fell from pride, but it never really hit me that he has tried to take me down with him! At times I have been the most prideful person on this earth. Telling my husband countless times I don’t need you, I can do this on my own, all the while knowing I shouldn’t be saying those things. Wow, I fell hook, line and sinker for this lie he has told me since I was young. Now that I know that, it’s all about remembering to not step out of Christ to handle this on my own. In the moment it can be extremely difficult to identify his tactics, especially when he makes them our own. He infiltrates our thoughts and has us thinking things that are in opposition to the truth, what God has promised us.

Looking back at my life, it’s quite scary how many times I have danced with the devil. Even to this day, he knows me, if he didn’t, he wouldn’t know how to get me to fall off track. Good thing is, my God knows me better, and I am on His side, so I know we’re going to win! 🙂

(Just to show you how the devil is working on me, I sat at the end of this post for 20 minutes thinking I should delete it because it was short, and maybe didn’t really have a purpose other than sharing my excitement for this class. I almost deleted it until I came to my senses and said NO! I am not falling for it, even though there is no purpose, I can still share it, especially because it is about him.)

Sisterly Love

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For as long as I can remember I have had the most strained and unhealthy relationship with my older sister. I know at one point when we were little we got along, in fact we were even good friends, however I can barely remember it taking place. All our lives we were compared to each other, the way we looked, the activities we were into, even down to our personalities. As we entered our teenage years, we began the painful process of separating ourselves from each other, trying to establish our uniqueness, and seeing what this world had to offer us both. When I entered high school, I remember having to set myself apart from her for fear of judgment from my peers. There were times we would walk down the halls and not speak a word to each other, and other times we would be dating boys that were friends and we were good again. Boys, that was something that brought us together as friends, and something that would end up tearing us apart.

Our troubled relationship continued well into my early twenties where it erupted with a period of silence between the two of us. Neither of us wanted to make it right, and I just wanted to be mad. I wanted to hold her accountable for every word she ever said to me, every wrongdoing, even every rolling of her eyes at me as we would try to tolerate each other. There were moments of maybe we can move on and forgive, but they were quickly followed by don’t forget why you hate her, she’s getting away with it. I even went so far as to not allow her at my wedding, which I now know hurt her to the core. It is a time in my life where I wish I could have a do-over, but unfortunately we don’t get do-overs in life, only opportunities to not make the same mistake. I want to be clear, during this period of hatred toward my sister, my relationship with God was pretty much nonexistent. I talked to Him, and thought I was a decent enough person that He couldn’t be upset with me, I wasn’t sinning that bad…right? I mean, I could be a lot worse.  I remember my younger sister saying over and over give it to God, and my response was always I have! I’ve given it to Him and He has done nothing with it! We are still just as angry with each other, there is no healing, and I can’t possibly move on. If God truly can bear my burdens as He has promised, why do I feel the weight of them on my shoulders every where I go? How do I know He has taken the problem I have given Him? God should want to relieve me of this pain and hatred I have toward my sister.

As long as we were having problems, I never really was searching God for answers for healing our relationship. I was so blinded, that it never occurred to me that it is Satan’s job to tear families apart. He is working day in and day out to tear us away from each other. He had me absolutely convinced that I was completely innocent in all our fights. Who me? I couldn’t possibly be wrong, I am always right, she is the one who needs to get it together! We both struggled with our own demons, and instead of trying to help each other through it, we both turned our backs on each other. There was a significant amount of pain as a result of this lack of sisterly love. The love that once was there was replaced by disgust, hatred, and annoyance at the mention of her name. That wasn’t me. That was truly the spirit of anger that overcame me and tried to make me be angry with her at every chance it got.

I couldn’t carry around everything that she had ever done, and feeling like I forgave her was only a temporary band-aid to this open wound. When I gave my life to Christ, I surrendered every thing she had done to me, and every nasty word I said to her. In that moment, I felt relief, I could breathe. For almost 15 years we were at odds with each other, and finally in that instant there was peace. He had healed me, and it took 15 years to do it. Everything I went through in my life brought me to Him. I ran with my arms open wide begging Him to just comfort me, hold me, love me, be my Father. After I surrendered it all to Him, I wasn’t done that is for sure, He spoke to me. Call her. Okay God, if You say so…what do I say? I will tell you when you get there. Okay Lord, if you say so. So I dialed her number and invited her to my baptism, with no expectations of her actually coming, but wanting a fresh start with her.

She came to my baptism, and everything went much more pleasantly than I could have every imagined it to go. With the death of the old me, came life in the new me, in Him. What better way to start out a new relationship with my sister? I remember after all was said and done, I went home and reflected on my baptism. I was baptized in the ocean, and I could barely stand up because the waves were crashing down and nearly knocking me down every time. This isn’t what I pictured it to be! I wanted it to be serene! Then He stopped me, seriously?! This is not about what you want. This is life Faith. Your flesh, your sin, trials of all kinds are going to try to knock you down. You must plant your feet firmly in the Word of God so you are not swept away with the waves. So, that is where I am, every day trying to plant my feet firm in His Word so that the waves don’t take me down. Even though that wasn’t my idea of my baptism, He planned it all along. Just as He planned how He would heal my relationship with my sister. We are still currently rebuilding our friendship, and I know it will take time. At least we both have God helping us through it, day by day, teaching us how to love each other again.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13

Flesh vs. Spirit

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Today is a ridiculously hot day, and I have done everything I possibly could to wear my son’s energy down. Finally, after the pool, he had enough and was ready for a nap. I wanted to sit down and post something that I had written a week ago, just never got around to posting, but I needed some water first. I remembered it was a new water container, so I needed to cut it open, nothing out of the ordinary, in my house we punish water! I grabbed a knife and began to cut it open, the next thing I knew the spout popped off and water was gushing out all over my kitchen floor! Just like a girl, I was screaming and trying to cover up the hole so I could run it to the sink. I took a look around my kitchen, and it was more like the swimming pool I just left than my kitchen floor. It permeated under the fridge, under the stove, to the carpet, and everything was soaked. Where do I even start? I took a deep breath, and asked God, Is there something I need to learn in this situation? (I think every thing I go through in life is because I need to learn something from it, or somehow missed the previous message)

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In that instance all I could think about was sin, my sin, anyone’s sin, just sin in general. The water covered my floor SO FAST! It was out of control and in less than 5 seconds I had almost a gallon of water making its way to my carpet. That is truly how I feel sin can be, it can spread just like the water did, and it will seep into every area of your life. It took a long time to clean this mess up, and just when I thought I had gotten all the water, I would find another puddle! This never-ending water mess was starting to get on my nerves. Another deep breath, and back to mopping I go.

Lately, I’ve been feeling my flesh going to war with the Spirit, and let me tell you, it can be disheartening. I’ve felt myself growing weary of doing the right thing, or not fulfilling fleshly desires. Then I realized it’s because I haven’t spent as much time with my Father. I feel that part of me begging to get out and act out like I used to. I really have to stop and ask myself if I am really going to get the pleasure of doing what I want, versus doing what God wants. The answer to that is no, I find those urges screaming at me, but for what? I don’t even enjoy thinking certain thoughts, or doing certain things that I used to. It’s like the water; I’m still finding little puddles of sin in my life that need to be mopped up. Just when I thought a certain area was cleaned up, I was wrong, I need to mop it up with God’s Word before it permeates through the rest of me. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 Why am I not going to Him when I feel this way but trying to fight harder against these feelings? I can’t possibly win with the flesh, so why am I fighting with my strength? The Lord tells me to “Put on the armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Ephesians 6:11

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“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.” Galations 5:16-18

So this is my prayer for myself, and others who are struggling with their flesh: Father, I know I am a sinner, and I know without You I can’t possibly overcome this. Help me put on Your full armor, day in and day out, so I may have victory against my flesh through You. Please strengthen my faith God so that I know that You have not forgotten about me in my battles. You have already won the battle Lord and all the glory belongs to You. Please help me walk the walk that is worthy of being set apart from others, and find rest in Your arms. Sanctify me Lord, In Your Name, Amen

Learning to Love the Haters

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So I was browsing down my Facebook feed when I came upon a post from a woman I used to work with. We still see each other often, and we do plenty of meet ups with each other and other close friends. This post was a blatant stab at my faith, not me personally, but against Christians in general. As I proceeded to look down all the comments, I read one after the other, each of her friends mocking Jesus and Christians. Poking fun at how we believe these stories, and “believers” reject anything that isn’t what they believe to be true or have been told to believe in “their book”, and so on. I was stunned, but I guess I really should not be anymore. My initial thought was That’s it! DELETED! Goodbye “friends”! Then I paused. Nope, not gonna do it! Then I wanted to chime in and say a few things, Nope, not doing that either. Instead, I prayed. I prayed hard.

I had to take it to God, I was angry at their words. I was angry that they posted that, all the while knowing they were generalizing, exactly what I’ve been told Christians do. They made a general statement about Christians and yet I’ve been told many times not to make generalized statements about their beliefs or lifestyle. These women, at least to my face, have never said a negative word to me about who I am, or my belief in the one true God.

After praying, I called my sister, and she said something to me that made me stop dead in my tracks, Remember Faith, they hated him first. Ahhh, yes, this isn’t about me. Silly me, now I remember, He said they would hate me because of Him. “Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.” John 15:20 At that moment I broke down in tears, and truly mourned what I feel is the loss of certain friendships. Now granted, they are able to say whatever they want on their Facebook page, and it is my choice to read it, but that does not negate the fact what they were saying hurt. Am I saying that as a Christian I can’t be friends with non-Christians? Nope, not at all. What I am saying is, I may be the only experience of Christ they will ever get and I feel saddened that I haven’t done enough to show Christ’s love through me. They still have this view of Christians, and they haven’t seen enough of Jesus in me.

I have prayed every time before we have met up that God would open a door so that the Holy Spirit would speak through me to them. Each time, without fail, my faith has been brought up, and quickly dismissed. We have talked several times, and not one of these ladies has ever even opened up the Bible. They are passing judgment based on what they see Christians doing. Disagreeing with their beliefs, condemning them, hating people, and so many other acts that some Christians may demonstrate. It is extremely hard for them to see Christians acting a certain way, and basing their opinion on Jesus based on us. The entire Gospel is about how Christ came to save us, not condemn us, and so many Christians condemn others when it is not our place. We are called to love them, and spread the Gospel. So tough though when my friends have absolutely no interest what-so-ever in hearing about the Gospel. It truly breaks my heart that they want nothing to do with our Savior.

I’m finding the more I disagree with them, the more adamant they are about making fun of me because I believe in Christ. So instead of getting hurt, upset, or even angry about their words, I’m just going to love them. Love them to pieces, and hope that eventually they will see Jesus through me.

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You said what?!

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A few nights ago my husband and I were in a disagreement, and I found myself becoming angry and raising my voice. I am usually the first one to say lower your voice, there is no need to yell, but this time I felt my heart racing and my blood boiling over, and I let it all out. It has been quite a while since I let my anger get a hold of me like that, and I had no intention of letting it continue on. We need to talk about this later. I couldn’t put a coherent thought together in the conversation for fear of further damaging him with my words. When emotions are running in overdrive, why is it so difficult to “tame our tongues”? I used to just blurt stuff out to get a reaction, or say something that I knew would definitely hurt him or anger him. Through God I have realized that I was only damaging my marriage and my intimate connection with my husband by saying such things to him. I hear the Holy Spirit say one simple phrase to me as my husband begins to go into a conversation that I know from the beginning will end bad, Tame your tongue Faith. That is all. No fancy wording, just simply don’t allow your mouth to say everything that it wants to. Basically, it may be in my head, but does it need to be said? This is something I have been working on since we started counseling, watching what I say and how I say it. It really is much more difficult to put this simple phrase into action, however I know it is possible.

I like to relate it to working out, training your body to do physical workouts that you are either not used to doing, or not used to doing as intensely. Say you were going to do push-ups for the first time in your life, and you barely squeeze out one, it’s because your muscles are weak and have never been put to use. Back to exercising discipline, the more you are disciplined in doing push ups each day, the easier it is because you are strengthening your muscles. Same with my mouth, for years I have not used this “muscle” of controlling what comes out of it. It just flows, good or bad, it flows. You can imagine the filth that came out of my mouth before choosing to exercise discipline in my choice of words.

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If the Holy Spirit is telling me to tame my tongue EVERY time I am in an argument, maybe I am not doing right! (Just a hunch I have! 😉 ) For almost a month now I have been meditating on the book of James. I have read it and listened to it countless times because I need it to sink in and marinate in my brain. I need to be better prepared for every day, because I open my mouth, every single day. There is no getting around this one folks, James 1:22-26 says it very clearly “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it-not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it-they will be blessed in what they do. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.” Wow! So I definitely have to work on that!

So if we think what we say “isn’t that bad” or “wasn’t that big of a deal”, we need to think again. The book of James has inspired me to exercise discipline in my words, and try harder to do what is right in God’s eyes. It really makes me think just how evil our mouths truly are. We can literally destroy people by what we say and that sure isn’t something to be proud of or happy about. Then after we have said all these hurtful words, or spread gossip, yes, we do it, we go to church and praise God. “But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” James 3:8-10. We need to be building each other up and encouraging each other with our words. I always think of Thumper from Bambi “if you can’t something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”

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It will take lots of work, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, in the heat of the moment, I can actually choose to exercise the closing feature on my mouth, and not let my heavenly Father down by what I say.