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.