Posted in Abundance, Book promotion, Books, discipline, exercise, faith, God, Hope, lessons, life lessons, prayer, Random, Reading, reviews, soul surgery, Spiritual disciplines, spiritual training, Uncategorized, War, Winning

In which prayer is my most powerful and unused weapon…

Having spent the last two weeks in almost non-stop prayer and worship, I can safely confirm that I do NOT pray nearly enough.

There’s a story that’s told of a man named George Mueller, a minister, evangelist, and the man who took care of over 10,000 orphans in his lifetime with faith and prayer as his foundation. He began each day very early in prayer. Sometimes for hours before the sun rose, he would be found on his knees in supplication to Almighty God and this continued without fail until his death.

The story is that one day, he was interrupted by one of his assistants who, stressed about all that needed doing that day came to ask if they could shorten their morning prayers in order to make room for the expanded schedule of events. George Mueller took one look at his assistant and said very calmly,

“Absolutely not. In fact, BECAUSE of all we must get done today, we will need to pray LONGER.”

And he did, adding at least one more hour to their prayer time that day. At the end of the day, the assistant was amazed. Not only did they get all of their assigned tasks completed in record time, but they ended the day at rest and at peace, instead of frazzled and hurried. Their focus had been on God from the beginning and He was big enough to handle all their burdens.

I did not quote the story word for word, but the essence of it is there. When I first heard it, I puzzled over how “losing” ANOTHER hour of time to prayer would help them complete their tasks with time to spare, but the answer was so very simple. Did you see it?

Their focus was on God from the beginning and He was big enough to handle all their burdens.

Prayer is the greatest weapon God has given us in our arsenal and it is sadly the least used. Without prayer, faith cannot thrive, because it has no focus and no line of communication to the Author and Perfecter of said faith.

I was recommended a book to read by one of my dear friends and a woman of faith I have looked up to as an unofficial mentor in my life.

It’s called Prayer & Spiritual Warfare

I’m only 2 chapters in and BLOWN away by the fact that in spite of my almost 3 decades of claiming to be a Christ-follower, I have absolutely NO idea what prayer is all about. I mean, I’ve read the Bible from cover to cover, memorized the Lord’s prayer, read through the Psalms dozens of times, and just two chapters of expounding on the Scriptures has proven how very ignorant I am of the greatest weapon I have in my possession. I’m eager to read more, but it’s 11 at night and I really need some solid sleep. I’m pretty sure my eyes are bugging just writing this post.

If you EVER want a great read on what prayer is and how it works in your life, read E.M.Bounds book.

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Be aware that it will transform your thinking in regards to your walk with God and the power of prayer. Like my friend said, “Be prepared to be rocked, lady.”

My favorite quote so far is this one:

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Just imagine what the world would be like if prayer was used the way it should be, and faith was more than just a trite word we throw out there to impress no one. If we truly “prayed without ceasing” and prayed for each day instead of worrying about tomorrow’s cares.

“The EFFECTIVE prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” James 5:16

I’m just learning what that means.

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Posted in discipline, faith, Family, Freedom, God, Home, Hope, marriage, mission, Pain, prayer, soul surgery, Spiritual disciplines, spiritual training, Transparency, Uncategorized, War, Winning

In which I discover the art of war…

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I’m not a pacifist by any stretch of the imagination. My husband might even insist I thrive on conflict and battle. He’s called me his warrior wife enough times for me to get the hint. I’m not a pacifist.

However, I wouldn’t say I am pro-war either. I’ve seen the aftermath of many a bloody conflict in my thirty plus years of life and not all of them were in some god-forsaken desert in a never-ending campaign against a faceless enemy.

No, the wars I am thinking of now are the ones against an enemy far more insidious and destructive.

An enemy that comes dressed in light and so subtle a twisting of truth and good, that you don’t realize you’ve been pierced by his poisoned blade until you’re left bleeding and dying on the battlefield. More often than not, he takes out your loved ones right along with you, leaving a trail of wounded in his wake.

I watch this enemy rage on in a war that very few are even willing to acknowledge anymore and I wonder why that is. What happened to this world that makes our greatest enemy triumph over and over an over again, meeting little resistance along the way?

The answer is both deceptively simple and horrifically complex.

The enemy is winning in simple terms because we’re letting him win.

The complicated answer? This world is his stronghold, a kingdom stolen from its True King, many thousands of years ago. A stolen kingdom that the True King has already victoriously won back in one fell stroke of ultimate sacrifice and triumph.

The reason it’s complicated is that the True King’s warriors are living like that AMAZING victory NEVER took place. His warriors carry on as if they are living a sedate, civilian life, untouched by the horrors of the war they keep perpetrating through their complaisance and denial. All the while, the enemy is right within their camp, watering and tending the seeds of division, deception, and doubt, until the warriors cannot tell a truth from a lie, reality from fantasy, right from wrong.

All the while, the True King grieves at the chaos and discord, desperately wanting his warriors to experience the victory he paid SO high a price to win. Begging them to accept the freely given gift in exchange for total submission to His benevolent, just, unconditionally loving authority. All He asks for is their everything.

Stupid, selfish, blinded creatures that His warriors are, they refuse time and again, accepting instead, the deceptive, destructive promises of the Enemy, completely blinded to the fact that they’ve signed their names in blood to a contract that is High Treason to the True King.

We lay down our swords and shields for empty promises of peace and happiness, and we have yet to fully understand that TRUE peace and happiness are merely byproducts of a life given over to complete obedience to the True King. The temporary drivel that we cling to in our selfishness and vanity is eating us inside out like acid, destroying everything that made us warriors and victors.

We walked away from the war, raising our white flags in surrender to the enemy. But here’s the thing. We LOST. We weren’t just assimilated into a new order and given a free pass to live as we please.

NO.

By laying down arms and taking up the colors of our Enemy, we’ve LOST. Lost our lives, lost our freedoms, lost our happiness, lost our humanity, lost our identity, lost our purpose, and lost our reason. We’ve won NOTHING. We’ve gained NOTHING.

EVERYTHING in this life that is worth gaining is worth FIGHTING for. It’s not a victory because we chose the easy way out. We just handed ourselves over to the enemy on a silver platter and he’s laughing his ass off in hell. Because God’s people are proving to be cowards and deserters, not men and women of valor. And the Devil is counting heads as they walk through his gates willingly.

Christ may have won the final victory when He willingly walked to the Cross. But He’s still waiting for His soldiers to act like soldiers and take up arms against the enemy who hides like a coward in the shadows and teaches his recruits to do the same.

He’s waiting for Men to stand up and lead their families with passion and conviction, teaching their children to obey ALL the commands He’s laid out for a successful battle strategy. To equip the next generations to stand firm on their convictions, even willing to die for the cause of a Kingdom NOT only of this world but the next.

He’s waiting for Women to stand firm as shield bearers and women of valor, fighting bravely to deflect the fiery darts of the enemy aiming to destroy their families and their homes. To stop picking up selfish and fatal causes and to stand for what’s right and true.

He’s waiting for His people to rally around HIS standard for marriage, for family, for the sanctity of life, for the defense of the helpless and oppressed, for the poor, the widows, the orphans, and the least of these.

He’s waiting for His warriors to live counter-cultural and willing to face death for HIS cause. To stand up for Truth and Justice, to give Grace and Mercy, to stand as victors and not cowards.

To believe that He is who He says He is and to LIVE and LOVE in that belief.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am the worst sort of coward. I talk big, but when the line is drawn in the sand, I’m the first to lay down my arms and give up the fight. But I am ALSO the first to admit that this cowardice is NOT acceptable in my life.

I just made a promise to my children and my husband tonight that until my dying breath, I will fight my worst enemy and I won’t back down ever. Because to do so would spell destruction for my marriage, my children, and my place in God’s army.

My worst enemy?

Myself. Oh how I shudder in fear when I face me.

But by God’s grace, I will face that fear and remember whose warrior I am and what war I am actually fighting.

And the first weapon of defense is Prayer.

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Posted in discipline, faith, God, laziness, life lessons, Love, marriage, Pain, prayer, soul surgery, Spiritual disciplines, spiritual training, Tattered and Mended, Transparency, Uncategorized, War, Writing

In which I see firsthand the consequences of disobedience

I woke up this morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed.

At 4:00am.

It might now sound weird to some early birds, but my usual wake up time is more around 5:00am and I don’t wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed.

That’s AFTER the coffee. And the workout. And my Shakeology.

Not necessarily in that order.

Point being, it takes a bit to wake me up in the morning and I NEVER wake up from a deep sleep bright eyed and bushy tailed.

I still want to know where that particular idiom originated.

So there I am at 4 in the morning, after falling asleep sometime after eleven the night before and knowing I needed to get up in an hour to start my day. Clear as day, I knew it was a God thing. It wasn’t so much a voice telling me to wake up and pray, but I got the distinct impression of a rather large nudge and the urge to pray.

I’m awake, I’m alert, shouldn’t be too hard to obey that particular nudge right? I’m up anyway.

I wish I could tell you that I obeyed. My husband and I watched the War Room just recently and LOVED it. I remember thinking after the movie was done that I wanted to have a neighbor like Miss Clara and I wanted to be a prayer warrior like her too. Here I was, not two weeks later, already failing my first Noticeable God Nudge.

Oh I’m a praying woman. I pray at meal times, I pray for patience when my kids have taken the last dredges of mine and run away with it. I pray at bed times, and I even pray during my quiet times, which have increased in frequency and quality over the years. But I still have a LONG way to go toward really earning the label Spiritual/Prayer Warrior.

Which brings me back to the Noticeable God Nudge to pray. Which I VERY pointedly ignored.

It wasn’t that I needed sleep. If you hadn’t already noticed, I was bright eyed and bushy tailed. It wasn’t that I wanted to sleep.

I just didn’t want to pray.

Do you remember disobeying your parents as a child? Do you remember the consequences you faced? Some had a harsh wake up call and others might have gotten a little more of the grace side of things. Others might have gotten away with it and have no idea what disobedience actually means.

I should have prefaced this with the events of the night before. See, my spouse and I were not seeing eye to eye on some issues. It’s not a big deal in the larger picture, because we are pretty good at working things out. It WAS a big deal because we hadn’t worked it out when we went to bed and the lack of resolution led to some troubled sleep for me. It wasn’t like we were angry at one another, we just hadn’t resolved the issues satisfactorily. Thus, it still hung over us.

Fast forward to my early morning NGN (Noticeable God Nudge). It was  a definite call to action and that action was prayer. I didn’t get a script downloaded into my brain, just the urge to pray.

And I ignored it. In fact, I went one step further, since the Nudge wouldn’t go away. I walked upstairs, grabbed a blanket off my couch, fluffed the nearest pillow, and turned on my iTunes to the KJV Bible as read by James Earl Jones. (Beautiful rendition of the KJV by the way. His voice is SO dreamy)

I let JEJ read me to sleep and didn’t wake up until spouse and children woke me a couple hours later.

I wish I had obeyed the God Nudge.

The consequences didn’t hit the moment I woke up. In fact, the morning started out pretty okay. We worked out, drank coffee, talked about how our day was planned out, and it seemed fine.

Then the subject of the unresolved issues came up.

When I say all HELL broke loose, I’m not exaggerating. It wasn’t until both my spouse and I were left a bloody, wounded mess (not literally, I’m talking heart/soul wounds) that we separated to cool down and it hit me HARD.

The realization hit me HARD, but Grace is SO amazing. While I was breaking down in the bathroom, back against the wall, I heard the NGN again. Only this time, it was more of a gentle voice, reminding me of my act of disobedience that morning. If I had only obeyed the God Nudge, I could have avoided the whole Armageddon sized war that had erupted.

If I had listened and heeded, I might have saved my husband and I a whole lot of heartache. What hit me HARD was how deliberate I had been in my choice to disobey. It wasn’t like I was lost in the bustle and busyness and just didn’t HEAR. I HEARD and I closed my ears.

It didn’t matter who started the war and who was at fault and who had the biggest wound in the end. I’d already drawn first blood when I chose to ignore the God Nudge to pray that morning.

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He asked me to do a simple thing. Pray. Not because I would change anything. We still had issues to resolve. But God knew I would need that time with him to center my heart and mind and act as my husband’s guardian/protector as well.

I cannot recall a more poignant or deeply impressive lesson on the power of prayer. I set the tone of the day with my act of disobedience and I honestly can’t explain what possessed me to choose that route. Pride? Stubbornness? I can’t say the Devil made me do it, because the choice was ALL mine. God asked for my obedience out of love for me and I did not love Him enough to obey.

Thankfully, His Grace covers a multitude of sins, and my husband and I did not leave it there. We resolved our issues and I took a LOT of time to pray today.

I only hope that this remains a Lesson Learned. The consequences are not something I ever want to experience again.

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Posted in Abundance, Faith, Hope, and Love, Family, Free Fall, God, Gratitude, grief, Healing, Hope, Joy, life, Love, Pain, soul surgery, Tattered and Mended, War, Writing

In which I start a New Year

I began 2016 in a bad place. Oh, I’m pretty sure I put on a good face. I smiled and laughed my way through the holidays, but the dark places don’t always engulf you at first. Sometimes, it’s a slow, insidious crawl through the light until all that’s left is a tiny pinprick of flickering luminescence in the distance and your eyes have already adjusted to its absence.

It usually is the little things. Like child training going well until a little, repetitive irritant starts to escalate a situation until you find your voice is hoarse and your children look at you like you’ve just stolen the most precious thing in their world. And they ask why.

Or the quirks that endeared you to your husband become a creeping, crawling noise that shatters your stillness and you want to blame him for all that is wrong in your world.

Or family and their obligations that would normally fill you with unceasing joy, but now become another task on your to-do list that you desperately hope to check off.

Or time spent in the Word that used to feel so sweet and precious, but now feels like an unpleasant, additional hurdle you have to cross after you just broke the tape at the finish line.

And you wake up one morning wondering where all your joy went. More importantly, you wonder where that inexplicable peace went that you know you experienced just a few short weeks ago. When all was calm and bright and your nights were restful and your days a fountain of smiles and giggles and beautiful little gifts in the form of four foot and under pixies and a handsome, hardworking, amazingly patient man who treats you like the world revolves around you.

All the things that used to fill you with overwhelming pleasure, feels tired and exhausting. Or maybe those pleasures are still there, waiting for you, only YOU are too exhausted to care.

You don’t care.

But somewhere, in the darkness, that pinprick of light is still there and it whispers and sings to your heart.

Call me. Come to me. You, who are heavy laden. I AM your rest. Let me carry you.

So you answer. You reach out and take hold of that whispering melody and it washes over you in a flood of tears and pain and an agony of soul that you find difficult to describe to anyone who has never experienced it before. But your limbs are infused with strength and your heart feels the beginnings of something that seems very close to the peace you desperately seek. And you find the tenacity and will to hold on as the waves break over you and you try not to drown in them.

For me, the pinprick of light is a direct link to my Savior. My Lover, my Hope, my Truth, my Friend. His song, plays in my heart, whether it be through the beautiful voice of a precious friend or a song of worship reminding me of His amazing grace or a verse that I’ve passed over a million times before, but suddenly it awakens and stirs my soul on the million and first time.

I fear the darkness. Not that such fear is healthy and I would not recommend it. Fear of the darkness often keeps me firmly rooted in the middle of it when I should be reaching out to grasp the Light. I’m not saying it’s a good thing. Just stating a fact.

What I fear more, however, is losing the Light. My soul, my shattered heart could live without so much, but without the Light, I am nothing. I have nothing.

And that is not something I can ever bear to contemplate. Instead, I take a hold of God’s grace and His mercy and let it wash away the darkness. I grasp onto Him with all the desperation of a drowning woman and He refuses to let go.

In the end, as peace fills me once again, all I can ask is,

How can it be?

If I never know the answer to that question, I’ve discovered that I can be content in knowing the One who holds the answer.

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Posted in Celebration, faith, Faith, Hope, and Love, Family, Free Fall, God, Gratitude, grief, lessons, life, life and death, life lessons, Love, Memorial, Pain, spiritual training, War, Winning

In which I honor my fallen heroes

My family has a rich history of service to our nation’s military. I can honestly say that every branch of the service is represented in the fine men and women with whom I share a genetic bond. I am proud of every one of them for what they have sacrificed and fought for down through the ages.

I want to also remember those who have fallen, either in battle or in the natural passing at the end of their lives. I also want to remember those who have fallen in a different way entirely. Those soldiers who have fallen in to civilian life and do not know quite how they fit in the puzzle that is not a war zone. Those soldiers who have fallen because war hardened them and shaped them in ways even they cannot fully comprehend. All bitter memories and pain too deep for words.

My grandfather died in the natural course of his life at the brilliant age of 89. July 25, 2013, three days after my husband and I celebrated our seventh anniversary. I’ll always feel the bittersweet of those memorial days now. He lived a long, amazing life. A man of integrity and character, he knew what it meant to build with his own two hands, the life he wanted. He fought death so hard, because he was stubborn enough to try to outlive it. I loved that man and wish I’d told him more, exactly how much he meant to me.

My father is also fallen but not in the eternal sleep either as a soldier dying with honor on the battlefield or an old man at the end. My father has been broken and changed and rebuilt and destroyed by life, not just as a soldier, but as a man. He won’t admit it, because pride comes in many different forms. His wounds aren’t all shrapnel and amputated limbs and the stench of gunpowder in his lungs. But he too clings stubbornly to life with the tenacity of a man who’s still fighting on the battlefield. I love this man too and even with all his wounds and his pride and his damned stubbornness, he’s a hero I’m h0nored to know. I wish he could trust in THAT truth above anything else. It would sure make our relationship a little easier.

But I have my own wounds, and while I was never on a battlefield (unless you count the reenactments during the civil war days or a museum at Cantigny Park) I too fight my own battles. I hope to follow in the footsteps of these two great men and in the footsteps of my other family members who have fought and fallen before me.

In the great exodus of the Israelite nation, the people stopped along the way to commemorate both the bitter and the sweet of their journey. The battles they fought both within and without, the lives of the fallen and the lives of those yet to fall. They memorialized things that to some, might seem trivial, meaningless. Unless you’d been there and witnessed it for yourself.

Today, I want to commemorate the men and women in my life who have fallen and those who have yet to fall. In life, falling is not always a bad thing, though we seem to make it that way with all of our ideas about failure and fairness and black and white. Sometimes, falling is just the precursor to learning to walk. For those who are learning to walk and falling a little or a lot,

Thank you.

 

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A Blessed Memorial Day!