Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Joyful Spirit

A willing heart and a joyful spirit sounds like a simple thing. As a wife, a mother, a daughter and a sister I often feel joyful in loving those around me. I sacrifice my own needs for others and I do it willingly because they are worth it to me. But as this holiday season approaches I struggle with giving my whole heart to those around me as I know the toll the season will take on my body and spirit.

A decadent spread to lay, a mountain of dishes to clean, a multitude of guests to entertain are all part of my family’s Thanksgiving Feast. As past times have proven, I’ll start out spilling joy and excitement to those around me and as the days go on and the load becomes heavy I’ll end the season like the Grinch. One who wishes for someone else to do the cooking, someone else to clean the dishes and someone else to provide the entertaining.
And that’s the beginning of the end.

Aggravation stirs in my heart giving way to frustration which inevitably turns to blame of those responsible for my sacrifice. If only they knew the cost of my sacrifice they would not be so joyful in partaking of my gift. And so my heart becomes calloused and rooted in bitterness and resentment toward those whom I’m to love.
And Satan wins.

But I’m reminded of the Lord’s sacrifice and how he gave His son willingly. Jesus didn’t come kicking and screaming and being dragged to the cross. He came with a willing heart. And although I can only imagine the cost of the sacrifice, I partake in His gift. Daily. As a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister and a sinner. And yet He holds no grudge against me and blames me not.
So as I approach this holiday season I pray for the Lord to make me like Jesus. One who closes my heart off to Satan and opens it to the rest of the world. Giving my efforts willingly and lovingly to those who partake of what I have to offer and holding no grudges or disdain toward anyone I am commanded to love. And I pray for you my dear readers that YOU will have a willing heart in all that you do this season so the Lord can shine through YOU!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Life Like Job's

I’ve recently read the first few chapters of Job. He was a good man. A wealthy man. And seemed to have it all figured out. As I continued to read I became intrigued at the insight revealed in the relationship between the Lord and Satan. As a Christian I often put the Lord and the Enemy on different sides and rightfully so, but I don’t believe I’ve ever thought about them communicating. Does Satan often petition God to torment his children? Does the Heavenly Father give permission so willingly? It’s a concept I can’t explain or understand. But I do know one thing. The Lord limits Satan’s power.
And I am comforted by this. It reminds me that no matter what Satan has planned for me, the Lord is still in control. Satan may be the prince of this world, but the world is full of God’s children. And I truly believe He doesn’t want harm to come to any of them. But I also know the Lord is certain I will be stronger from the trials I undergo. And so He doesn't give me more than I can handle.
Because with Him, all things are possible.
In many ways I am like Job. I have become angry with God. Questioned Him. I have asked Him why I was born and even asked Him to take my life. But now that I've I read through the entire book of Job I have learned that because of Job’s perseverance and faithfulness to the Lord, he was rewarded in the end. He even ended up better than he’d started out! So even though the road is tough I encourage you to push through the pain and persevere. And hold out to the end because the best is yet to come.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

One Stitch at a Time

In Beth Moore’s Personal Reflection Series Jesus: 90 days with the One and Only, she presents this concept that the Lord heals us stitch by stitch.1 And she put in my mind the image of the Lord literally sewing me up.1 As I rolled it over in my mind I began to fall in love with this concept.
Here I am wounded physically, spiritually and emotionally. And as the Ultimate Healer, he comes along with a needle and thread and begins to sew. Mending me one stitch at a time.1 Often putting me back together in the way He sees fit and in the time He sees fit. In certain moments it’s painful and uncomfortable but it’s something that must be done for me to be completely and fully healed. He takes careful consideration with the parts that are tender to the touch and other times it’s clean and quick to minimize the pain.
But most importantly it’s a process. One that He takes his time with insuring I am being sewn up in the proper manner. Sometimes when I’ve gotten myself into a real catastrophe a scar is left. But the scar is a nice smooth line barely noticeable to the naked eye. And when I run my hands across it no pain surfaces because He has healed it through and through.
And because He is such a great healer I can trust Him time and again to heal what is broken. To make me whole. To make me His. His unfailing love is unconditional and merciful. If you have been wounded and are in need of some healing I ask if you’ve been to the Ultimate Healer. Have you let him stitch you up and put you back together one piece at a time?

1   Moore, B. (2007). Proclaiming provision. In B&H Publishing Group (Eds.), Jesus: 90 days With the One and Only (pp. 81-86). Nashville: B&H Publishing Group.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Be on Guard

Satan has been alive and active in my life these past few weeks. I have lost all sense of balance and control in my life. Which of course the concept that I even had control of my life is an illusion as God controls all things, but I’ll save that for another blog post J I have found it difficult to focus on the things that need to be done around my house as well as tend to my children with a willing heart. Not to mention this “summer cold” that has attacked my body knocking me out for the count. And I can’t help but wonder why all of this has hit my family at this particular time in my life. And as my mind peruses through the past few weeks it all becomes painfully clear.
The Lord has used my writing to reach others. I have this blog of course, but I have also been published on another blog. You may find that article here.  I have been given the opportunity to write in my chiropractor’s magazine as well as a few other projects the Lord has put on my heart. And as I know God’s purpose for me and see with my own eyes the path in which he has put me on, baby steps are being taken to reach the end goal. And I can’t help but feel that Satan is furious at the work that is being done. And this makes me smile. As I think about the good things that are to be done in the Lord’s name I must also realize that Satan is going to fight back with a vengeance.
So as I think about the timing of all of these things I should not be surprised that I’ve been thrown off my axis and need to regain balance. My friend Tia Stone and I are reading the Bible in a year. She’s a runner and would call it a Bible Reading Marathon! We have been keeping one another accountable and “checking in” so that we don’t get too far behind or fall out of the race all together. As I had let life get in the way I was about 6 days behind (which in Bible Land-that’s A LOT) but today I took some time to catch up. And it’s amazing how getting back on track with that has restored some of the balance I’d lost. If you find yourself thrown off your own axis pick up the Bible, it’s a good place to start in regaining your balance. And be on guard for whatever the evil one may throw your way because if you're doing the Lord's work, it's sure to come.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Marriage in the Face of Illness

Maintaining a healthy marriage in the midst of chronic illness is difficult to say the least. And the evil one would have me believe that it is an impossible task and one not worthy of trying to accomplish. He forces his way into the cracks and crevices of my marriage and attacks with a vengeance.
Early on in my marriage, when my illness first struck, my husband and I realized we were being targeted. And as Satan wiggled his way in we had to find a way to kick him out and put up barriers.  We filled in the cracks and covered up the crevices. But that was only half the battle. We soon realized that if we didn’t change the dynamic of our marriage Satan would continue to poke and prod at our weak spots. So we girded up our loins and put together a battle plan.
Communication was at the top of the list. Most importantly with the Lord. Together. As a unit. But we also needed open honest communication with each other. If we weren’t honest about our frustrations regarding the situation and discuss them on a regular basis, resentment would soon put a wedge between us that only God could remove. So we talked. And talked. And talked some more. You know that kind of discussion that you have so often that it couldn’t be any deader if you beat it with a doornail? That’s the one. At first, the discussions were more like bickering and complaining. Mainly about how much we “disliked” the situation itself. But once we came to terms with the fact our situation was not changing we then sought the help of those who were going through similar circumstances. And we listened and we learned.
Teamwork was next in line. Despite my illness chores still had to be done and children had to be fed. So we devised a plan of attack. By trial and error I discovered which household chores were detriments to my recovery and which ones were not. And as juvenile as it sounds, we developed a chore chart. I became responsible for the cooking, cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms while my husband accepted the responsibility of the laundry and washing of the bath tubs. And keep in mind as my health increases or decreases in severity we tag team one another’s chores. As he is the main breadwinner of our household it is important to me that he does as little as possible around the house. And the children do their share as well.
For us it’s about meeting one another’s needs. Helping each other with the hand we’ve been dealt and leaning not on our own understanding. This is the “in sickness and in health” part that we never thought would apply to us. But now that it does, we are learning how to maintain a household and a marriage through extenuating circumstances. And seeking all the help we can get! 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Identity Crisis

All I ever wanted to be was a mom.  I had no aspirations of being a teacher, a dietician, a doctor or a savvy business woman.  I wanted to find my best match and start a family.  And the Lord provided.  But little did I know that I’d have the TOUGHEST job in the world.  And somehow I became all of the other professions I had never aspired to be (minus the savvy)!
As my afflictions became part of my daily life.  I often wondered who I was and if I still wanted to be a mom.  I couldn’t participate in the physical activities I had in my youth.  I could no longer stay up late with the girls.  I couldn't attend work.  I had children to take care of and for the most part they took care of me.  Who had I become?  Not the fun girl of my youth.  Sure, the Lord had given me all I ever asked for, but was this it?
Don’t get me wrong, being a mom has had tremendous rewards.  And I love my children to the depths of my soul.  But somewhere along the way I had forgotten what I wanted to be when I grew up.  My sickness controls so much of what I am able to do and is so much a part of who I am that I’m no longer the same person I used to be.  And this saddens me.  I liked her.  A LOT.
Leaving the past behind,  I wonder if I have changed because of circumstance or if this is how God has shaped me into who He wants me to be.  If none of this had ever happened would I still be the same person I am today?   Or was I always meant to be this girl? 
I’ve come to realize that the Lord has given me all I’ve ever asked for.  He has heard my prayers and answered my cries, but I can’t do it alone.  Every day is a struggle and He has been with me every step of the way, carrying me through and guiding me in the direction He would have me go.  So that I may continue to be the person He’s always intended me to be.
Whether I am a teacher, a dietician, a doctor, a business woman or a mom I am foremost a child of God.  And that’s just who I want to be when I grow up.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Person of Action

I used to be a person of action.  One who participated in every youth function I was involved in.  One who looked for a place to serve.  One who gave my heart freely without question.  One who dreamt of making a difference in this big wide world.  And then my world was turned upside down, and I lost the will to do anything.
Unable to enjoy life I sank into a pitty party that lasted for about 10 years.  As I’ve gradually worked through the struggles, I’ve come to realize that being a person of action [again] is what I want for my future.  One in which I can serve the Lord through my writing and use my talent of encouragement to reach others who are in need.
As I thought about how to do this I thought about something Dave Ramsey said on his radio show at the beginning of the year.  He was talking of goal setting and how dreams only become achievable when they are written down.  So I began to write.  I made of list of the things I wanted to accomplish on a daily basis and what I wanted to accomplish long term.
Making the list has made a world of difference.  I’ve never been a ‘goal setter’ but I’ve been amazed at how well I’ve stayed on course.  Four months in and I’m two weeks ahead on my daily bible read.  I’m writing weekly as I balance three different projects.  
I also recommend having someone of accountability.  I need to give a big shout out to Tia Stone who has enabled me to stay ahead of the game in my Bible reading.  Otherwise I would have quit a month after I started.  Thanks girl!
So do what you must to discover your God given talents.  Map out a plan and find someone to take with you on the journey.  Pray. Pray. Pray.  And be a person of action, despite your afflictions.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Partnerships and Practicalities

Let’s talk practicalities.  In all my years of struggling with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Hashimotos I have leaned on the Lord.  But I also know that I must do everything in my power to make my quality of life as rich as it can be.  My Lord and I are in a partnership.  Just as in any partnership we have constant communication, concerns and plans to iron out.  And just as He has promised me plans and prosperity I must carry my share of the load and the responsibilities within that partnership. 
Obedience is a MUST.  To follow the guidelines He has set before me through his Word and the leaders of our churches.  I must do what I can to make my attendance at church as regular as possible.  If it means I work part-time instead of full-time to make this happen then so be it.  And some of you may not be able to work at all.  There are times when I am too sick to make it, but I believe God understands my limitations and His grace is sufficient.
Serving is ESSENTIAL.  This is difficult for me as I am not able to serve as often as I’d like.  Nor in ways I would like.   I am involved in things that I can be involved in without sacrificing my family.  I serve in the church nursery when needed and I am involved in a prayer group.  I also facilitate a Bible study with my ‘Beebe Girls’ and I volunteer at the Beebe Schools when I’m able.  Food for the spirit is just as important as food for the body.  And there’s no better food for the soul than helping someone else.
Speaking of food, another responsibility I have in this partnership is LOVE.   And I love my family by cooking for them.  I LOVE to cook, but am often too weak for the long hours entailed.  So, when I’m in a cooking frenzy, I’ll make extra food.  Freezing casseroles and other items to prepare for the days I know are coming.  And in this way I can take the burden away from my husband when he has worked a 10 hour day all he has to do is throw a pan in the oven.
As a parent, my children are to share in these responsibilities.  They are eleven and seven.  Chores are a MUST in this house if we are to function at our best.   I cannot work part-time outside of the home and be expected to care for the entire house all by myself.  So two nights a week my eleven year old does the dishes (along with a few other chores) and my seven year old does  the ‘picking up’ of the living room when things get cluttered (again, along with a few other chores).  These are ways that we work as a team to have the best environment possible under difficult circumstances.
So, I ask you.  Are you in partnership with the Lord?  If not, petition Him for your needs.  And be ready to carry out your responsibilities.  For when we are fully committed to a partnership amazing things can happen.  Especially when your partner is the One and Only!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Judge or Be Judged

I’m ashamed to admit I have judgmental tendencies.  It’s a familial trait.  One I’ve tried to overcome. Sometimes I look at the surface not bothering to look any deeper and then the Lord puts me in my place.  Almost without fail if I’ve had a judgmental encounter, I’ll have a rough couple of days.  It’s the Lord’s way of telling me Remember the only reason you can get out of bed is because of me, so step it down a notch!  Not to say that every time I have a bad day is due to sin, but it’s one of the ways the Almighty gets through to me.
And then the tables turn and I’m the one being judged.  Many have said that I am not healed due to a lack of faith.  Or that my faith must be shallow since my church attendance is not adequate [in their eyes]. 
And most members of the church family that say this haven’t dealt with any type of chronic anything.  They only see what’s on the surface just as I had done.  And then I realized I’ve never shown them what’s beyond the surface.  They see what appears to be normal.  They see me with my make-up on, my hair done up, my clothes ironed and joyful to be worshiping my Father.
So through the course of the years, I’ve swallowed my vanity and allowed my family members to see me when I’m struggling.  Some have seen me at my absolute worst, laying on my deathbed while I nap on their couch and others get just a glimpse of me in my pajamas (yes, I’ve worn my jimjams to church) with no make-up on and the hair disarray.  It’s not a pretty sight, believe me.  But I think it helps others to see the reality of what I struggle with and makes it real for them as much as it is for me.
 My faith in the Lord gives me strength and I have faith enough that the Almighty can heal me.  He’s just choosing not to.  And as His purpose for me is to bring encouragement to others who are chronically weak then I will accept my illness and find the purpose in it, so that He will be glorified through my weakness.  
So heed my warning and please remember the next time you’re inclined to judge realize there is more to the story than meets the eye.  Keep your opinions to yourself lest someone’s eye be turned upon you.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Too Tired to Fight

First, I must ask your forgiveness for letting you down the past few weeks.  Two bouts of strep, two bouts of ‘the bug’, a staph infection and spring break have kept me rather busy.  My children are quite well now, but it seems taking care of them has caught up with me.  This week I’m battling migraines and only doing what I can as I can and I’m tired of the fight.
Today I read about David and his battle with the Philistines.  Uzzah has already died for touching the Ark of the Covenant and David has been anointed king.  The Philistines were upon David and he prayed to the Lord for guidance asking if the Philistines would be handed over to him.  The Lord put the mighty Philistines into David’s hand and David squashed them like a bug.  Then David wrote a song to the Lord.
I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my

He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
                he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
                from my foes who were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
                but the Lord was my support.
                                -Psalms 18: 1-2 & 16-18

This really resonated with me today as I am feeling the weakness of my human form.  Unable to handle all that is cast my way.  But the Lord is mighty and He will defeat my enemy for me, so that I may rest comfortably in the days to come.  As you go through your week I encourage you to lean on the Lord and be renewed in Him.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fight for the Lord

Satan laughs in the face of my discomfort.  He relishes in the midst of my hardships.  And he delights in the burdens I face.  Some would say I give him more credit than he deserves but if his ultimate goal is to keep me from my Father, I think not.  He’s evil and he’s on the move.  The Lord tells us he prowls around like a lion looking for those to devour (1Peter 5:8 paraphrased).  He’s spiteful, vindictive, and manipulative.  And he kicks me when I’m down.
I’ve given much thought about my circumstances and questioned the Lord, my God.  Repeatedly.  Why give me a body that doesn’t work and then expect me to maintain the same standards of those around me.  Are the rules no different for me?  How can I be expected to serve with the heart of a servant given the physical limitations placed upon me?  Am I not weaker than those who’ve gone on before?
And when I've asked these questions of my Lord he whispered across my heart of others who’ve done his will despite the agony thrown upon their path.  Paul with his thorn in the flesh.  Job with his losses incurred.  And I’m comforted knowing I am not alone.  Many of God’s chosen suffered in one form or another.  And we are all God’s chosen.  For how can He shape us into what He needs us to be without having to lean on Him for understanding? 
So I’ve asked myself, what are my talents and how can I serve?  The limitations endured are neither an excuse nor a reason to give up.  Simply a way to glorify God.  Ask yourself how will you glorify God through your afflictions and stand up in the face of the enemy.  Show the evildoer what you’re made of and who you’re made from. The One. True. God.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Walking the Tight Rope

Balance has eluded me most of my life.  I’m an extremist.  Not in the fanatical sense.  But when it comes to making decisions as a wife, a mother or a friend I struggle to maintain the level headed logical determination that inevitably comes if I take a few days to think on it, pray on it and take the emotion out of the equation.  So how does one find balance?
Physical limitations bring another element to finding balance.  Dishes and laundry don’t wash themselves; kids can’t drive themselves to school, sporting or church events, and I meet myself coming and going as the weekend approaches.  I crash into my bed and sleep for 12 hours while the rest of the family fends for themselves.  Knowing that even after a day or two of sleep I will only feel half-rested before the process repeats itself with the next weekend around the corner.
The more repetitious my days are the better my body copes with its physical limitations.  And by repetitious, I mean routine.  My body does not recognize change.  Even positive change has a negative impact on me, so most often I find myself only able to do the things I’m ‘supposed’ rather than the ‘fun’ stuff.  So I write it all down.  And the calendar fills.  About the time I feel like the breath has been knocked out of me is when the Lord lets me know it’s time to say NO.  At least to the things I can say no to. 
Saying no has become my theme song in life.  And after twelve years I’m starting to get used to it.  And when I don’t say no when I should, the Lord says no for me.  Most often by knocking my feet out from under me and forcing me to rest.  So I try to make sure I have energy for the basics.  Church, family and work are a given and there’s not always much left for anything else.  I make a deliberate effort to participate in bunko every month so that I stay connected with my dearest friends of which I may or may not get to connect with at church.  I make a concerted effort to call my Beebe Girls on a weekly basis so that I even if I don’t see them, I stay connected.
I very seldom am able to participate in the extra-curricular activities our church enjoys.  For if I say yes to one thing, I’m saying no to something else.  Not because I’m being anti-social, but because with what energy I have my family must come first.  And although my fellow brothers and sisters may not literally understand my physical limitations, they understand my desire to put my family first and I know they wouldn’t have it any other way.  So I challenge you this week to find some balance by saying no and gaining a little bit of control in a world of chaos.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sickness of the Mind

Satan fooled me into thinking there was no way out of the darkness.  The light was a mere pinprick from where I sat.  Unable to move from my bed, unable to love my husband or care for my child, because of a migraine so painful all I could do was sleep it off.  The daily aches and pains kept me bedridden.  The guilt from not being a proper mother and wife was too much to bear.  And this was with medication.  
The darkness hovered over me suffocating any hope that lingered in the depths of my soul.  The enemy whispered thoughts of pity, sorrow and hatred for my life.  Death the only way out.  It did not matter of the family I’d leave behind because I had faith enough God would take care of them.  I just didn’t have faith God would take care of me.  And my mind forged a plan.
Being a coward, I prayed every night for the Lord to take me, but the spirit of the Almighty intervened.   And before any action was taken God rescued me from the claws of Satan.  He poured His grace upon me, and more light escaped through the pinprick punching me straight to the heart.  He pulled my mind from the darkness and drove me out of a land of helplessness into a land of abundance. 
I am certain the Lord knew if I’d have stayed in my current environment I would have succumbed to the lies of Satan.  And within two months from forging the plan, I found myself surrounded by loved ones who could help.  Family who understood the depths of my sorrow.  Doctors who could diagnose and help manage my pain.  And a magnificent church family who wouldn’t judge me by my circumstances.  To all of these merciful souls, I say ‘Thank You’.
Not long after, my Heavenly Father blessed me with another child.  To this I was quite shocked.  The decision to have no more children had already been made.  Or so I thought.  Why would He give me another child to which I could not care for?  Satan jumped at this opportunity and took advantage of the looming darkness. 
But by this time, I was aware of his tactics and recognized him in this form.  So I began to pray a different prayer.  A prayer of Life!   My God had brought me out of the darkest depths of my soul to a place where the pinprick of light had burst open, shining directly on my face.  The warmth flooded my soul and I was amazed at His glory.  The circumstances of my health had not changed.  But He surrounded me with His children and put the proper people in my path, changing my heart, my soul and my outlook on life.  Forever.
My prayer for you, if you are one struggling through the darkness, is to hold fast to the Lord Almighty and cling to His truth.  For He is not one of lies, as the enemy would have you believe.  Learn to recognize the evil one’s tactics, for they will be specific to your own weaknesses.  Bare yourself naked before the Lord crying out for His help and trust Him to break through the darkness with the light of His glory.  For He has said, “Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest (Matthew 11: 28).

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Mommy Guilt

Mommy guilt is inevitable when struggling with physical limitations.  It consumes me.  And the enemy uses it to take away any happiness motherhood would otherwise bring.  Doubts flood my mind and worry encompasses my entire being as I fear any repercussions my illness might cause.  And there are always repercussions.  It’s simply cause and effect.  Will my children’s spiritual lives suffer because I have not always been of sound mind in teaching what needs to be learned?  Will their social skills be inhibited because playgroups were only an occasional outing?  How can they be taught integrity and righteousness when I’m not physically able to be consistent in their upbringing?  And will their church attendance be sporadic when they reach adulthood because I failed in leading by example?
I don’t have the answers to any of these questions.  But God knows.  And He has a plan.  Of this I am certain.  Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know that 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.”  For years I’ve wondered why the Lord placed my spirit in such a weak body.  Even from birth I fought for life, only to be fighting for strength throughout the life I’ve been blessed.  But His will is accomplished even through my weakness, even because of it.  He’s used my weakness to keep me close to Him and to be an encouragement to others.  This has been proven to me time and again.
And so I have faith that in seeking Him first and foremost, putting His will before my own and responding to His Holy Nudges, through actions and prayers, that my children will come through this stronger and with a better understanding of God’s love.  The Lord has turned my mommy guilt into growing experiences for my children. 
My once four year old who made me lunch and took care of me is now maturing into a responsible eleven year old.  He’s used these instances to mold her into what He wants her to be.  But it’s not easy.  As parents we don’t want our children to suffer, especially due to our own inabilities.  But when I can see how my children are growing closer to God through my weaknesses, I wouldn’t want it any other way.  In what way is God using your weakness to accomplish His plans for you and yours?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Seeking Refuge

The Lord Almighty provides refuge from the enemy.  Most often in the form of His servants.  But Satan clouds our perception of the refuge trying to break thru the haze.  He’s a swindler who turns my blessings into burdens and cajoles me into thinking there’s solace in loneliness.  Children who need to be coaxed and soothed tearfully turn to their father for comfort.  Brothers and sisters in Christ offer help that I reject.  And Satan whispers that no one can ease the pain.
But he’s wrong.  Through prayer and perseverance I am learning to share my struggles with my fellow brothers and sisters.  The Lord is teaching me to be open and honest about my ailments.  And to look for the positive power revealed.  What good has come from my sickness?  What delightful pleasures have been presented?  For me, my children hit the top of the list.  Although there was a time and not that long ago, I considered them a burden.  And shamefully so.  But I have recently come to enjoy them as every parent should.  Their laughter feels my heart to the fullest and they lift my spirits.
My fatigue forces to me to slow down and spend time with them that I would not otherwise spend.  And there are ways to triumph, even when stuck in bed.  I pile the kids in with me!  Coloring, watching movies, playing games or simply reading books has never been more fun than when I’m relishing in the blessings only God can give.
So…be mindful of your attitude, quit fending off the gate, and look for the positive power God provides to those that love Him and are called according to His purpose (Roman 8:28 paraphrased).  After all no one likes to be surrounded by gloom.  So, I challenge you to find some blessings out of your burdens this week and put Satan on his rightful tack.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Warding off the Evil One

The physical and spiritual are woven so tightly together within us that what affects one will affect the other.  For good or for bad.  Satan undoubtedly knows this and uses it to his fullest abilities.  He’s used my ailments to tempt me.  Given me a reason to not go to church, not be involved and interact with others.  What he’s given me is an excuse.  And I took the bait.
The line between sickness and excuse became fuzzy and I couldn’t tell one from the other.  My attendance was poor, my worship shallow and my time in the Word non-existent.  My prayer life had not suffered and thus another trick Satan used to fool me into thinking that all was right with the Lord. 
So how does one tell if it’s a trap or an excuse?  I call it a ‘gut check’.  On the days I feel weak, I pray for strength and I search my soul looking for the traps that may lie within.  Am I too sick to go out for coffee?  Am I too tired to see an upcoming flick?  Am I too weak to clean my house?  Am I too down to shop?  If the answer is yes, then I know the sickness is in its truest form and it is in my best interest to rest my body so I can continue in God’s work. 
But if the answer is no, then Satan is tugging and tempting trying to keep me from God’s will.  And I’ve learned to recognize his presence and pray for power over the evil one with the authority of the Most High, pressing on in service to the Lord.
So be mindful of your weaknesses (physical and spiritual) for Satan will puncture your soft spots tearing the wall down one piece at a time.  Walk with the Lord daily through scripture and pray without ceasing.  For if we aren’t even keeping the foundation of friendship alive how can expect to thwart the enemy?  And do a ‘gut check’ when the urge strikes you to not be involved.  It may very well be God wanting to carry you through.
The Lord is sovereign and holy.  My father, my friend.  We are in partnership together discussing daily the hardships I face.  He delivers me from one day to the next.  One moment at a time.  And He will do the same for you…if you let Him.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Willing Heart

One of my greatest struggles living with a chronic illness is the endeavor to have a positive attitude and keep a willing heart.  A willing heart seems like such a natural part of motherhood.  As mothers, we put everyone’s needs before our own and we do it joyfully.  It’s part of being a mom.  But what happens when we can no longer do that through no fault of our own?  The joy exits the equation, the ‘mommy guilt’ sets in and Satan readies the trap.
He has many traps.  Of this I am certain.  His traps differ from person to person, depending on which is most effective for him.  But these are the ones of which I am familiar.
Depression inevitably sets in when physical limitations are present.  There’s no escaping it.  It is all encompassing and a formidable enemy.  Monotonous and mundane chores leave no sense of accomplishment.  Loved ones demand physical and emotional attention that may never come.  Friends hang in the background unaware and often unable to understand the depths of the suffering.  Judgment claims the righteousness that seems miles away.  And the one I am most familiar with...Manipulation of the heart. 
Satan’s ultimate goal.  To claim it and use it for his own purposes. 
I gave in to the lies Satan laid on my heart.  He twisted my thoughts to believe others were judging me.  He kept my friends at a distance to prevent encouragement and help.  He turned loved ones into burdens rather than blessings.  Piles of stuff surrounded my house with no end in sight.  And he forced me to believe there was no way out.
But the Lord rescued me from the snares of Satan.
But He said to me-My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.  Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
And so I hope you will join me on this journey of how I have come to have a willing heart through all of the weakness that has been brought upon me.  May God be glorified and you be encouraged and forewarned if you should find yourself in my shoes.