How to Navigate a Waiting Season

Human hand cutting the impatient word

My daughter is a “champ at the bit” girl – the type of girl who wants what she wants – right now. She’s impatient and struggles with bossiness, and it’s a struggle for me whether I can lovingly, patiently guide her or will I lose it and get impatient over her impatience? (How many ways can you explain patience before you just want to bang your head against a wall? Clearly, I still need help with patience!)

I look at my baby girl, and it’s like I am looking in the mirror. I’ve been known to hit the steering wheel when delayed in traffic. Worse, she’s seen me grumble at the store because there was only one checker, and I had to wait. This is an area I have to work on, and I am recovering from impatience (very patiently, of course!).

My recovery from being impatient would start when Scott and I were trying to have a second child. This waiting period reminds me so much of the long season Sarah (Abraham’s wife) went through.

She deeply desired to have a child and had lost patience. Sarah would take matters into her own hands instead of waiting on God perfect timing. Her foolish attempts ultimately resulted in massive amounts of suffering.

Sound familiar? Oh, how many times I attempted to make something happen in my own strength and didn’t wait on God. (No, I didn’t learn from Sarah and Abraham’s example.) Those long months trying to conceive caused a head-on collision with destructive behaviors like impatience, envy, and doubt.

We deeply desired to have a second child. Because of my age and health issues, I was high risk and knew I could face severe issues, including death. The natural circumstances seemed extreme, but I didn’t care. I often thought of Sarah as she had been promised a child just as I had been given a baby name, and I thought God was telling me another child was in my plan.

Sarah grew weary and insisted Abraham make a child with Hagar. This ultimately caused her great pain and torment. Why did she do that? Her advanced age (Genesis 18:11) was all Sarah could see. There was a lack of trust that led to her mistrust and impatience. She wasn’t looking at God and His promise… rather she zeroed in on all the negatives.

That’s exactly what I did. I wanted what I wanted, despite the great risk to my health. We listened to the advice of doctors rather than the voice of God. Rather than trusting the Lord, we pursued medical procedures without asking God what He wanted us to do. There was great suffering as three times we conceived and miscarried. With each loss, faith waned and fear took root.

Our impatience became the lens to which we made our decisions, and we began to engage in fear faith. We focused on the days of my cycle more than we focused on the peace and joy of the Lord. And as a result, we never conceived again after the third loss. We’ve had to spend a lot of time healing, accepting and repenting. The damage that was done to our marriage is still being worked out to this very day.

Sarah would get her child. For us, it was a blessing that would not come. But through this tragic season in my life, I gleaned some wisdom I’d like to share now:

Patience is possible!
I first learned that I have no real control over my life. I am here at the delight of God, and it’s the Holy Spirit within me that provides the strength to do what is required.

Patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, difficulty or annoyance without getting angry or upset. The King James translates it “longsuffering.” A patient person is slow to anger because they rely on God to provide comfort and self-control. I thank God that patience is a fruit of the Spirit, a freely given gift! Once I learned how to use the power of the Holy Spirit in my life, my days became a lot calmer and less stressful.

I see impatience as sin – a result of fear or believing a lie that God will not show up for me. It was a serious lack of trust on my part that had to get dealt with!

Our timeline is not God’s timeline
We’ve become a fast food, instant gratification world. The enemy has us convinced that if we are not being blessed immediately, then God is not for us. How many times have you felt God must not be listening to your prayers? Why shouldn’t God deliver promises on our time frame? Doesn’t He want us to be happy?

Of course, God wants us to live a life filled with contentment, but while we adhere to seconds, minutes, hours and days, God does not. 2 Peter 3:8 explains that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day”.

 I realized in my hard season of waiting, that I demanded God’s resources without honoring or respecting His timing. However, God wanted something greater from me… a trusting heart, so He had me walk through a trial in order to get me out of my own way. Surrendering and accepting His timing and plan, I was able to learn how to live in hope and keep peaceful while God works out my problems.

Periodically, I have to ask myself, “Am I merely giving God my long list of ‘I wants’ or am I really listening and accepting what He desires for me?” God has a perfect plan, and I must be willing to let it unfold according to His way, timing and purpose.

Sometimes, that is rough for me, but I’ve learned God’s plan is always better than the best plan I could conceive.

Waiting seasons are faith-building seasons
Hebrews 11:11 tells us it by faith that Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she believed God to be faithful in His promise.

I had to accept the reality that I was no Sarah! Even though I had every reason to trust God, I allowed the fear of being “old” to trample all over my faith.

I didn’t rest in God’s promise. I didn’t stand on Luke 1:45 as I had when I was blessed with my daughter. “Blessed is she who believes what is spoken will be accomplished.” I was impatient and did not stand firm on my faith!

Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty while praising God in the midst of the waiting. It is trusting God even when everything looks grim. It is silencing the accuser by taking every negative thought captive.

Waiting seasons are opportunities to grow.
Isaiah 40:31 says that those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. I don’t know about you, but I want to soar on wings like eagles, run and not grow weary, walk and not be faint.

The key to being able to soar is growing in the Lord.

1 Corinthians 16:13 charges us to be on guard; to stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Think of a waiting season like boot camp… we must surrender to God’s commands. We must be trained. Any good sportsman or warrior has perfected their craft over countless hours of practice and training.

There is a choice to be made in any waiting season, and the choice is this: Will you squander the opportunity to grow or allow the Lord to guide you into His purpose for you?

God’s not waiting for us to be perfect.
Waiting seasons don’t end when we are perfect and get it all right.

Imagine this: Sarah laughed in unbelief when, at 90 years old, she heard an angel tell Abraham that she would become pregnant (Genesis 19:12).

Even worse, when she heard the Lord inquire, “Why did Sarah laugh?” To that, she quickly denied her laughter even though He knew she had laughed. This poor woman mocked God by laughing at God’s plan for her, and then she lied to Him!

I’ve made more mistakes than I care to count. However, God, who had great esteem for Sarah, looks at you and me the exact same way! He loves us and desires to bless us despite our failures and poor choices. Yes. It’s true that I didn’t get blessed with a second child; however, through these years I have watched God bless my marriage, my daughter, my business and our finances in ways I could have never imagined.

I will sum it up like this: waiting season sometimes require us to learn a lesson or rid a sin before God will move on our behalf, but it’s important to know that God does not expect perfection from us. It is Satan who tells us this ridiculous lie. Don’t believe it!

Waiting seasons help us realize He is in control.
The concept of fully relying on God became a reality in my life as a result of this painful journey.

I love the way Elisabeth Elliot, author of Passion and Purity: Learning to Bring Your Love Life Under Christ’s Control, put it when she wrote, “I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able to honestly to pray what He taught His disciples to pray: Thy will be done.”

While Satan tries to tell me, “This is the only life you’ve got… live it up,” I’ve learned that my life is not my own. All that I am and will be are because of God. This truth enables me to leave behind the control freak mentality.

Waiting seasons can be a time God desires us to rest.
Waiting literally means remaining inactive or stationary. It is the act of staying in one place or remaining inactive in expectation of something.

In Matthew 11:28-29, God invites us to go to Him when we are heavy laden, and He will give us rest.

I’ve grown keenly aware of where I am striving or thriving. God promises I will find rest for my soul if I will rest in Him. It’s when I am able to recognize that I am striving that I am able to see that I have surrendered my place of rest and picked up old bad habits such as impatience and fear faith.

Patience is a choice.
I have a golden opportunity standing before me. As a mom, I am required to train my daughter up in the way she should go. I am to model what a Godly woman looks and acts like. My daughter will see me fail time and time again to be the person God calls me to be. I could get impatient and give in to shame, or I can keep trying.

I get to make a choice whether to show my daughter patience when she is at her worst. Will I choose: love or fear; good or evil; right or wrong; patience or impatience. I thank God that He’s there to guide me. I am grateful His mercies are new every morning as He shows me patience over and over again through the grace He lavishes on me. My prayer is that I can show even a minuscule amount of that patient love to my daughter.

God Loves Ugly

Young woman in heart shape cave towards the beautiful sky

Do you ever feel that you were not good enough, smart, strong or beautiful enough? Do you think you are too much of a mess, and your “stuff” is just too much for God? Maybe you believe you’ve done too much in your life that God won’t forgive, so why bother? Have you ever felt God didn’t love you?

So many of us are walking around thinking that we are not worthy of God’s love, He takes those disgusting parts of our lives and creates new opportunities for His glory to shine. It’s like taking lemons and turning them into the sweetest lemonade. God takes all our deception, the guilt-ridden, shameful places that none of us wants to talk about into wondrous testimonies for us to be able to help others.

I learned this truth so many years ago, as I was once bound up by the shame of having multiple marriages. Even as writing I am thinking, “Do I want to tell the world my dirty laundry?” The purpose in telling you this is to expose the enemy’s grip and put God’s glory in its place!

I was attending a prophetic training where a women said, “You are the woman at the well.” My first thought was questioning how did she know my shameful past? Even though I knew that the Bible teaches that prophetic words are meant to lift us up, and yet all I felt was shame. She went on to say “You drank the Lord’s living water and have felt His unconditional love. You will share this love with many to glorify God.” This word has been instrumental in my sanctification. I am guided with the Spirit of God and completely feel the unconditional love of the Lord.

The Biblical woman at the well was very instrumental in sharing the Gospel. There are similarities between our two stories. Scripture doesn’t tell us how she might have felt but the Lord brought beauty, hope, acceptance and restoration to her even though she felt so much shame for her transgressions. Let’s see how Jesus interacted with her in John 4:10-26.

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

At that moment, Jesus reveals the truth about Himself to this woman. He was just as vulnerable as she was, and I want to believe that Jesus didn’t want her to feel alone in her transparency. The Son of God knew she was a lovely woman who deserved the truth to know God loved her, and that she wasn’t just the woman with five husbands. He chose her to go and tell the people about His goodness by sharing their encounter, and she went down in Biblical history as an evangelist. The prophetic word I received revealed that our stories don’t end in the test, but live on in the testimonies of God’s goodness we get to share with those in our path.

I can remember broken pieces of my childhood. I suffered from a lot of painful heartache and trauma that left me wide open to find relationships with incompatible people. It was like the song “Looking for love in all the wrong places” was written after my experience. It goes something like this:

“Well, I’ve spent a lifetime lookin’ for you; singles bars and good time lovers were never true. Playin’ a fools game hopin’ to win; I was lookin’ for love in all the wrong places, Lookin’ for love in too many faces, searchin’ their eyes and lookin’ for traces of what I’m dreamin’ of.”

I was destroyed from this grief, trauma and damage from things in my past. I desperately wanted to be filled up with wholeness again, to have the shattered pieces of my life go back together, but I didn’t know how. I felt defective, fractured, injured and crippled. I believed a man’s love could repair my dismembered self. If only I could be loved, be married and have that “Ward and June Cleaver” relationship with 2.5 kids, everything would be normal, and the pain of the past would cease.

My warped thinking took me many years to work through, and I endured the pain of suffering through several failed marriages. I believed the lie that I was suffering the consequences of my actions. Divorce, more hurt, more pain and, of course, the shame of this echo blemish called multiple marriages. I suffered along with my children and family from my choices. I cannot take back the fact that I chose to marry several different men and the baggage that came with them; however, with God’s help, I could learn some valuable lessons and restore my hope for a bright future. God says in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the thoughts I think toward you and they are not to harm but to give you a hope and a future.”

God didn’t stop loving me and wanted me to know it. Even in my darkest moments, He kept on pursuing me and still does to this day. God worked all of my messes into valuable tools used for His purposes, and if you let Him, He will do the same for you.

You might think of your mess as the end, but God sees it as merely a detour. When you have veered off track, the Holy Spirit guides us right back to righteousness in Christ Jesus. When at first we don’t succeed try, try again, as the old saying goes. God works all things for good according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

God is always waiting at your front door desiring to have an intimate relationship with you. It’s your choice to open the door. God loves you and is smitten by you. He is wooing you this very second because of who you are not what you’ve done.

God loves you like good parents love their children. Even though children are not perfect and often break the rules, parents love them unconditionally. The same is true for God. He simply loves us unconditionally. This is beautifully illustrated in the Bible when Jesus loved the woman at the well.

God’s love for each one of us is unstoppable and unshakable; His love penetrates tribulation, distress, persecution, pain, difficulty or any crises that we might face. Our job is to invite God into every area of our lives. Sometimes is easy to compartmentalize our lives. For example, we can invite God into areas of our lives that are all neat and tidy, but when we haven’t dealt with a painful area, we are not ready for Him (God) to be involved because it looks a little messy. But God loves us no matter what, and the reality is that He sees and knows all anyway. You actually have nothing to lose by asking Him into a bad situation; however, you have amazing things to gain if you will trust Him with your mess.

Psalm 36:7 says, “How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings.” Can you imagine what it would be like to find shelter in the midst of your storm? What about letting Him guide out of your wilderness? Or what would it be like to be released from the prison of our mess?

The truth is that I am not the guilt and shame from my past. I have been sanctified by the love of God and was created in His image. I am a new creation in Christ Jesus, and the great news is that you can be too.

God loves me when I’m beautiful or ugly, happy or sad and in spite of anything I ever could do or say. I am His beloved daughter. I am His royal princess, and you, my friend are also a cherished member of God’s extended family. Beloved, It is my prayer that you will let this blog take root in the hurt places in your heart. May you come to truly know that God’s love is unconditional.

Beloved one, if it is time for you to truly receive God’s unconditional love to strengthen you, simply repeat the prayer below, have faith in God’s truth and trust that God’s word will never condemn or harm you in any way.

Prayer:
Father God, I thank you that you are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I recognize that I have come into agreement with the lie, I take responsibility for believing that ______________ (fill in the blank). When I believed the lie, I felt _______________ (fill in the blank). I repent for entertaining negative thoughts and renounce the lie. Father God, I ask you to replace the lie with your truth. I thank you for your forgiveness and for your unfailing love. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I break any agreements I made with the enemy and ask for a fresh revelation of my identity in Christ. Amen.

Questions to pray and ponder:
Have you felt that God couldn’t possibly love you because of past mistakes? If yes, ask the Lord to lead you to some Scriptures that you can memorize to understand God’s immense love for you.

Has guilt and shame caused you to feel unwanted, unworthy unlovable? Remind yourself of God’s sacrifice. Meditate on all that Jesus did for you when He went to the cross. Let this example of unconditional love you fill all your heart wounds.

What are some ways God has shown me that He loves me?

From Chaos to Refuge

Man hand with lifebuoy ring over blue sea water

Have you ever asked God where He is in the midst of a storm? In a crisis situation, have you ever had trouble discerning the voice of God with the enemy’s lies of deception? Have you ever heard a voice prompting you, almost desperately harassing you, to do something irrevocable that does not line up with God’s Word? Do you believe in principalities?

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world,” 1 John 4:1-3

It was a beautiful sunny day at the lake, and little did I know I was about to test the spirits. I was there with my daughters and one of my daughter’s friends. The day started out pleasant enough just like every other day at the lake. We borrowed a blow-up air raft to relax on the cool water. Remember this is a blow-up raft.

After unpacking the car, carrying a heavy load down the long hill, we noticed the anchor and two life jackets were missing. It was a hot day, and the water looked inviting. Nicole quickly chimed in, “We do not need the anchor and the life vests. We are only going to be in the shallow end of the lake.” Famous last words!

There was a lovely breeze blowing across the lake with the sun glistening like diamonds. The sky was so blue and clear. We were all excited with anticipation to relax and float on the water. We put the raft into the water and took turns taking the rope and walking the raft around the shallow end of the lake.

When it was Nicole and her friend’s turn, they decided to go out just a bit, then a little further, and the next thing I see is the water is now up to their necks. The waves came rushing. I yelled for the girls to get on the raft. There was to be no more playing around, but both girls ignored my command. Within seconds, the raft drifted out where they couldn’t touch, and we were now approximately 30 feet from shore. The waves were raging as I pleaded with the girls to get onto the raft. They had other plans and decided instead to swim to shore.

I was very worried and filled with fear! The waves were strong. We were very far from shore and getting further away with every passing second. My other daughter, Heather, quickly grabbed the two life vests and decided to swim toward the girls to give them a life vest to hold onto.

One question kept badgering me. Are you going to let your children drown or are you going to try to rescue them? The voice was taunting me as the waves got stronger and I drifted further into the abyss of the lake. The taunting in my mind felt like I was being bullied. Are you going to let something happen to your children or are you going to do something about this?

Just as soon as panic began to set in, I heard another voice. This one was calm – a still small voice, peacefully telling me to stay put on the raft. I sensed that I was to stay put because I was older and not in any shape to fight the lake. I felt like the best thing I could do for my children was to call 911.

I was hearing conflicting voices at the same time. One was filling me with peace by speaking life over this terrible situation, while the other was cunning, full of chaos, and confusion spouting probable death.

I was not strong enough to swim against the turbulent waves of this lake because I wasn’t well. I was drifting further away with every passing second. I had a choice to make. I decided to listen to the still small voice and help my girls the most effective way I could.

The girls had their cell phones in a compartment on the raft. I grabbed one and immediately dialed 911. A nice gentleman answered the call and asked for my location. I pleaded to please help my children, and I began to explain landmarks of where I was.

This was extremely dangerous as this was a blow-up raft. I am now in the middle of the lake with no life vest. Normally, I would have panicked, but there was a peace, a shalom peace, that came upon me. It says in Philippians 4:7, “…the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” I believe that was what was happening to me.

By the time the fire department arrived on the scene, they found the girls on the shore, but I had drifted so far they couldn’t locate me. (I’m glad I didn’t realize this at the time.) I focused on the truth that God was with me through the Holy Spirit that dwells in me. I was taking comfort in what 1 John 4:4 says, “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”

I had a choice to make in the midst of this storm. Would I trust that still small voice telling me I’d be okay or the one that was desperately seeking to steal, kill and destroy? My emotions were all over the place but I knew the turmoil I was feeling was not from God. I could feel the Holy Spirit guiding me, gently pursuing me with peace and love to make the best decision for all involved, but more than that, this voice kept soothing my wearing soul so that I would break down in panic. It would be roughly an hour later, I was rescued, Glory to God!

Looking back now, I am convinced God was keeping all of us in His secret place. Psalm 91:1-3 says, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.’ Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence.”

I learned that day that the spiritual realm is not a fairy tale like Cinderella or Snow White. There are principalities in this world. There are forces of good and evil. The evil of the world tries to fill and cloud our judgment with deception and lies, while God’s voice tries to fill us with peace and joy even in the midst of scary circumstances.

John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart I have overcome.” It says right in the Bible we are going to have trouble, but we are to trust Jesus. Can you say that you trust Him in the middle of your struggles?

Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” That verse is so encouraging and inspires me to listen to God and to see the future He has planned for me.

I will be honest. I faced fear, but I also had enough faith to see me through all the dread. Faith is key to combating the lies of the enemy and to seeing victory in your life. It only takes a mustard seed of faith to believe what the Word says.

He takes that seed, waters and nurtures it, and faith begins to bloom. I learned that day that it’s vital to have confidence in God and His promises. The lies were trying to lure me to attempt to swim when I wasn’t physically able. But God was peacefully pursuing me, encouraging me to stay put.

No matter what you are facing in your life right now, know that God is a stronghold in times of trouble. God alone is your mighty deliverer and champion. God was my anchor, my life vest, and my refuge that chaotic day on the lake. He alone delivered me from the evil one’s trap, and friends, I am certain through my story, He wants to encourage you. You too can hear His voice in the middle of chaos. Instead of tuning into fear, zero in on that quiet voice… the one telling you no matter how bad your circumstances seem, you will be okay.

Beloved one, if it is time for you to truly trust God’s love to find your place of refuge, simply repeat the prayer below, have faith in God’s truth and believe that God’s Word will never condemn or harm you in any way.

Father God, I thank you that you are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I recognize that I have come to an agreement with the lie, I take responsibility for believing that ______________ (fill in the blank). When I believed the lie, I felt _______________ (fill in the blank). I repent for entertaining negative thoughts and renounce the lie. Father God, I ask you to replace the lie with your truth. I thank you for your forgiveness and for your unfailing love. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I break any agreements I made with the enemy and ask for a fresh revelation of my identity in Christ. Amen!

Questions to pray and ponder:

  1. Has there been a time in your life that things were going along smoothly then suddenly something unexpected happened that caused you to feel out of control but you weren’t sure what direction to take? What voice did you listen too?
  2. Recall a time that you felt bombarded with accusations and condemnation stealing your peace. What are some verses that you can lean on next time so that the enemy doesn’t rob you?
  3. What are some steps can you take to nurture and water your mustard seed of faith so that you can start discerning God’s voice while drowning out the enemy?

The Cavities in Life Are Not God’s Fault

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When I was young, I got a cavity. I wasn’t nervous sitting in the chair with all the silver tools around me. After a few deep breaths of nitrous the nurse swabbed some numbing cream on my gums. A flash of anxiety washed over me as I glanced at the large needle heading towards my mouth. There was the stick, the sting, and boom – the worst was supposed to be done.

Moments later I noticed a look of concern on my dentist’s face. The room filled with tension as he began to shake my right cheek.

My face went numb, my tongue was double its normal size and my right eye was now closed. My cheek, now swollen to the size of a large softball, was sadly turning black and blue.

Apologetically, the dentist explained to my dad that I had a tiny mouth, and for the first time in this seasoned dentist’s career, he accidentally shot the Novocain into a vein.

The result was I couldn’t enjoy solid food for a couple weeks. From my forehead to my neck, it looked like I had been beaten up and the relentless teasing at school took its toll on me. This trauma took about a month to heal physically, but the emotional hit would affect my life for decades.

Dr. Bettis didn’t mean to cause such trauma as he only wanted to care for my teeth. This was an oddity, not a planned attack, but I blamed him and now feared every dentist in the world. They couldn’t be trusted and wouldn’t protect me. I would battle irrational anxiety that, by my 20s, kept me from being able to walk in an office for a routine cleaning for nearly a decade.

I finally went to the dentist, and much later I realized I saw God how I viewed the dentist. It’s easy to point the finger and blame God for the bumps and bruises, the hard times and the things that happen to us that just are not fair. It’s easy because the voice of the enemy is relentless in his pursuit to get us to doubt God’s goodness.

Accusation is a nasty evil that if not careful, can warp the way we view God. It can be very subtle often using an element of truth to set us up to believe a counterfeit truth. These lies hinder your relationship with God, work to tear down your identity in Christ, and open the door to other strongholds like bitterness, anger and fear.

I fell victim to the enemy because I was not cemented in the Word. I didn’t truly know God’s character or my identity in Christ. I saw Him as a punisher and accused Him of making me pay for mistakes.

I thought of God as I thought of the dentist ­– unsafe and not to be trusted. Why? Because I believed God was responsible for all the good and bad that happened in life. This lie absolved me of owning the poor choices I made, but worse, it took the blame right off Satan. It was God who looked like the bad guy. By all appearances, He was against me, but nothing could be further from the truth.

These accusations would nearly destroy me by the time I hit 40. Satan blamed God for all he was doing to wreck my life. And I ate up every bit of it and grew disappoint in God. This also kept me in denial because I couldn’t see where I bore any responsibility for the mess.

I stewed over all the unmet expectations I placed on God. I wanted what I wanted and when I didn’t get it in my timing, accusations against God surfaced, such as:

  1. He did not hear my prayers
  2. He was not for me
  3. He wasn’t a good father
  4. He was a punisher

So many lies swirled in my mine because I didn’t understand it was my job o take the destructive thoughts captive and defend the Father. The negative thoughts fueled my pain and kept me from forming a solid relationship with God. I was convinced He was responsible for all that was wrong in my marriage, my job, my health, etc.

We had just lost our fourth child, and accusation led me to develop a fear of the Lord that was ungodly. I also felt abandoned by the One who said He’d never leave or forsake me.

I held God responsible for killing my babies as I had come into agreement with the accuser’s grandest lie: God is responsible for all that happens in life. I felt like He didn’t protect them to punish me, and I thought I must not be worthy to be a parent. This destroyer was killing my dream of raising a child, crushing my spirit, attacking my relationship with God and slowly tearing up my marriage.

As a result I rebuked God. I was so angry at Him that I no longer saw a good Daddy, but only saw perceived abuse. Accusation was stealing my peace and joy, making me an explosive mess in my home and robbing me of enjoying the pleasures that come from a man and wife creating life. Accusation was opening door to many other strongmen to come and wreck me. Envy, bitterness, rejection, complaining, control and manipulation… Those were just a few.

One day I found myself on the floor of our church crying to God to take my pain away. I had heard our pastor declare, “What grieves God most was bitterness and iniquity of sin.” He made an alter call, and I flew out of my chair. I was dying inside and wanted a way out. As I walked to the front I felt like a voice was telling me my iniquity was bitterness, and it needed to be ripped out of me. Then I was smacked with the reality I was guilty of accusing God because I didn’t trust His timing.

I repented and renounced all the agreements I had made with the devil. Bitterness with God stemmed from the lie that He killed my babies, but the Word says the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. Envy was the result of the accusation that God was blessing everyone but me because I was a bad person. Anger was the by-product of placing expectations on God when Satan twisted the verse that says, “Ask and it will be given to you.”

It was wonderful getting set free. The Lord showed up in a mighty way and filled me with peace. He plucked that envy right out of me, and I was no longer afraid of Him.

This was the beginning of a journey that culminated in the holding my daughter in my arms a year later. It was the full expression of Phillipians 4:4-7.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

If you think you are being attacked by an accusing spirit but are not sure, take a look at the following checklist and if these characteristics apply:

  1. You are suspicious.
  2. You project fear and analyze others motives, including God’s.
  3. You are bitter.
  4. You do not trust others.
  5. You consistently believe the worst.
  6. You are easily offended and/or can create an offense.
  7. You make rash judgments based on limited knowledge and misunderstandings.
  8. You turn away from relationships and fellowship even after there has been repentance.
  9. You zero in on the flaws, weaknesses and evil in others while tending to exclude the good.
  10. You live in denial and always find someone to blame.

If you feel like you have been participating with accusing spirits after reading the list above, simply repeat the following prayer out loud:

Father God, I thank you that there is no condemnation to those who are in Jesus Christ. And it is in His mighty name that I recognize and take responsibility in my life and in my generations for all accusation. I repent for and renounce participating with all spirits of accusation against God, self and others. I release all my guilt, shame, fear, mistrust, judgments and offenses and ask God that you fill me with your peace, love and truth. I ask for forgiveness and receive my forgiveness for participating in and serving accusation. I thank you Father for your mercy and grace. Give me the wisdom to discern your voice and the ability to recognize accusing thoughts so that I can take them captive. In Jesus name, amen.

Next steps:
If you’d like to learn more about Satan and how he can use spirits of accusation to cripple you in your life, click here and listen to the teaching on accusation.

When Drivenness is Destructive

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From a very young age, critical voices influenced how I viewed myself. I was drowning in a river of negativity with thoughts that began with “You’re not (fill in the blank)”.

Good enough. Smart enough. Talented enough. Pretty enough. Qualified enough. Creative enough. Innocent enough. Skinny enough.

Enough. Enough. Enough.

I recall hearing this voice for the first time when my family moved. My parents were proud to call themselves homeowners while I felt forced to leave the life I enjoyed to start the last year of elementary in a new school filled with strange faces.

Fifth grade was a hard year for me. This school was night and day different from my old one, and I felt like a fish out of water. While I did make friends, this was a lonely year.

I think this is where I began to strive for perfection, as I believed I would be liked if I was the best in class, a great Girl Scout and a stand out on safety patrol. I was driven to make the best Valentine’s Day box, get straight A’s and excel at skating. I worked hard at being perfect, but in the quiet of the night, the voices in my head seemed to get louder. “No one will like you.” “You are boring.” “You will never fit in.”

Sadly the very next year, I started junior high, and the cycle repeated – a new school across town, kids that could reject me, and a new set of fears to deal with. These thoughts devalued myself until one day I believed the negativity. “I’m a hag.” “I’ll never be popular.” So many lies filled the pages of my diary. I began to feel tortured inside.

My way of dealing with the lies in high school was to prove them wrong. I was driven to be the best in everything – newspaper, drill team and honors classes. No matter what I did, I excelled at it. I fought to silence my mind, trying to convince myself of my worth, but I felt the only way anyone would notice me, like me, and/or love me was if I exceeded expectations in every area of my life.

Sadly college was more of the same. No matter what I did, I’d hear the nagging voice devaluing me even though I was a sorority officer and yearbook editor, making good grades and sustaining great friendships.

My third year in college, I experienced love at first sight. We began dating, and I twisted myself into knots to be exactly what I thought he wanted me to be. I was frustrated because I was becoming someone I didn’t like as I devalued myself – crossing many boundaries I didn’t really want to. Eventually, my heart was broken when this man cheated on me. Rejected and heartbroken, I shut down emotionally. While I was cool on the outside, I was a raging mess on the inside.

The worse the thoughts got, the more driven I became. I graduated and began a job working for a magazine. I twisted my stomach in knots, stressing over the pressure to write that perfect feature. Not only that… I excelled at graphic design even though I had no formal training.

I quickly rose in my career, but despite the success, I only saw what I lacked. I defined myself by my job title but wasn’t satisfied until I was promoted. The pressure I put on myself to exceed expectations led me to have stomach problems and insomnia.

My personal life was worse. I had no concept of value, which set me up for heartache and pain as I tried to be someone I wasn’t. My self-esteem and confidence dove to an all-time low as the next man I loved told me I was fat, alienated me from his friends and often took his bad moods out on me. The more I tried to please him, the more I got hurt. This was a toxic relationship – a cocktail of mental and physical abuse.

For several years I endured the highs and lows of this affair. It tragically ended when he slammed his head into my car windshield, but you’d think I was the one cracked as I was destroyed. I should have been happy to see him gone, but I believed no one would ever love me.

My shattered heart and desolated self-image could not handle another trauma. But sadly, I was date raped by the very next guy who came into my life. I was in such bad shape that I actually thought this was my fault as I had put myself in a bad situation that I should have known better.

Shame consumed me. I was plummeting into a deep depression – trapped in a cycle of people pleasing and performance anxiety as well as unhealthy attempts to meet the expectations of another. I was making co-dependent decisions based on my need to be needed, to be validated and feel worthy. But all I was getting out of it was destroyed.

Eventually, I spent time in counseling and found a measure of healing. My life would ebb and flow between the peace that came with being alone and the chaos that came with dating someone that was no good for me.

It would be another 15 years before I would summon the strength and courage to silence the accuser for good when I began to sit in a Bible church pew instead of sitting in another’s expectations of me and began to let God’s Word permeate through my heart and soul.

I meditated on the reality that I was saved by God’s grace and not on the basis of works. Romans 11:6 began to open the door to freedom as I realized the truth –God loves, accepts and values me… just the way I am.

My Heavenly Father desires a relationship with me and has great plans for me based on His heart and His view of me. I could not be perfect enough or good enough to ever deserve such a gift.

This was revelation! My value was no longer dependent upon other people’s opinions. My worth would no longer be defined by men or by job title. What I thought about myself was not based on how skinny I was, how long my hair was or by the expensive purses I carried.

Worthy by definition means having merit, or value; good and deserving of respect, praise, or attention; having enough good qualities to be considered important and/or useful.

It’s sad all the years I was tormented. The more I strived for anyone to define me as worthy the worse my life got. Sadly I failed to realize God’s Word had plenty to say about my worth.

Once I knew that His view of me was the only one that mattered, I began to flourish and grow comfortable in my own skin.

I was made in the image of God who said I was more precious than silver and gold. God wrote about the days of my life before I was born. God chose me as His child before the foundations of the earth were formed to serve an important purpose in His Kingdom.

Coming into this reality changed my life in profound ways as some health issues and high blood pressure disappeared. My marriage improved as I stopped the co-dependency and the need to be “right”.

I discovered a piece of wisdom that has transformed my life: while it is okay to pursue excellence, any drivenness or perfectionism bread out fears, low self-worth and other negative reasons should instantly be recognized and dealt with.

 

Are you looking for love in all the wrong places?
Just like I did, there are many determining their self-worth based on what other people say. This results in us developing unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drivenness, perfectionism and people pleasing.

Here are signs you might be struggling in this area:

  • You believe if you excel at home, at work or in life, others will accept and love you. This belief causes self-doubt and frustration when expectations are not met.
  • You are careful not to hurt someone’s feelings and place everyone’s feelings above yours.
  • You tend to look around and compare yourself to others. You can be super critical of yourself and typically believe you are less than, not good enough or will never measure up.
  • You have a difficult time opening up, being vulnerable and sharing your feelings with others due to an intense fear of perceived failure and rejection.
  • The word no is not in your vocabulary, and as a result, you resent and harbor bitterness when others say no or you engage in things you didn’t want to.
  • You have a lot of one-sided relationships and can tend to feel used.
  • While extremely critical of yourself and others, you often take criticism poorly by getting offended, defensive and angry.
  • You often feel like nothing you do is good enough, feeling continually dissatisfied, depressed and stressed.

 

You can be set free!
Healing begins when you can recognize these destructive patterns in your life and begin to allow God’s truth to replace the lie that you are not valuable enough to be loved. When you can accept God’s love based on grace and let go of the destructive “works” mentality, God can begin to heal the tender places in your heart.

Accept the truth that your value and worth were determined by God when He sacrificed His Son. It was this price (Jesus on the cross) that makes you worthy. In fact, it’s this ultimate price that makes you (and me) priceless.

When you know your worth through the eyes of the One who loves you completely, no one in the natural or the spiritual can make you feel unworthy.

Unfortunately, the enemy will continue to chip away at your value. When you begin to hear the negative whispers again, speak the truth of Galatians 2:20 out loud.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

If you are ready to silence the accuser by tuning into the loving whisper of God, simply repeat this prayer. After, be encouraged to dive into the Bible and ask God to highlight verses that define you!

 

Pray loudly:
Father God, I thank you that you are the Lord of All. I thank you that you gave me my identity. Daddy, I only care about hearing all that you say I am. I ask you would silence the negative, condemning voice in my mind and change my frequency to hear your voice clearly. Father, I desire to seek approval from only you… not from my friends or family. Keep my eyes focused on your plan for my life. Help trigger me to stop when I begin to fall into my old patterns of drivenness and perfectionism. I ask Father for you to forgive me for engaging in codependent behaviors that have been destructive in my life. Father, I thank you that you sacrificed your Son. Thank you for showing me just how valuable I am. I thank you for healing my heart, my soul and my spirit as I come into more of your loving truth. Father, I declare – You are my source… the only One I need. My life is yours to have your will. May my life bring you honor and glory, in the mighty name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

Questions to pray and ponder:

  1. What do you think about yourself – honestly? Would these thoughts line up with God’s view of you?
  2. Are you able to discern when Satan is invading your thought life trying to convince you that you are not worth?
  3. Do you struggle with perfectionism and drivenness? What are some ways you can stop this destructive pattern?
  4. What are three Bible verses confirming your value that you can declare loudly every day?

 Never Alone!

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Has there ever been a time in your life where you felt alone, abandoned or simply forsaken? Has anyone ever let you down you thought you may never recover? Have you ever trusted in someone so much yet the person couldn’t live up to your expectations? Have you ever been so devastated by someone’s selfish actions?

I have experienced all of the above during a painful time in my life. I had just given birth to my fourth child…a precious baby girl. My life was turned inside out and backwards when my husband; the person I thought would be there for me and for our family would leave the state for another woman. Not only that, but he would take my car fifty miles away and leave it at the airport while stealing the last few dollars I literally had out of my wallet.

The pain in the pit of my stomach was more than I could stand. This was devastating. Alone and feeling desperate, I couldn’t process what was happening. I had just given birth to this man’s child. How in the world does a person leave another during such a vulnerable time? Where were the compassion, the love and the sense of duty to stick through the good and bad times?

The painful memories still haunt me. I didn’t have enough diapers for my baby girl. I recall thinking “what in this world am I going to do?” This was truly one of the lowest points in my entire life. He wasn’t a good man and had many times hoped I’d be free of him, but the way this unfolded was just tragic.

Before I was left abandoned, this man verbally attacked me. Over and over he devalued me, telling me no one would ever want me. He degraded me, and I was convinced I was not someone worthy of anyone else. I was no good. The messages of not being enough and I would be alone forever echoed throughout my mind on constant repeat.

So now he’s gone, and instead of feeling relieved, I’m wondering if I would now be alone the rest of my life. Would I now be one of those spinster cat women you see on TV? I was blessed with four beautiful children, but I couldn’t help but wonder if we’d be known as the five musketeers from now on. So many questions ran through my mind, and the enemy was right there throwing so much chaos at me I didn’t know which way to turn.

I had felt abandoned and isolated as we had just moved out to the country. I was now away from the city and in a town of 600 people and cow pastures everywhere. I felt like I was on a Green Acres episode, and my name was Lisa. “New York is where I’d rather stay, I get allergic smelling hay.”

Ironically the town we moved to was called Godly. Hmmm… maybe this wasn’t a coincidence in my life. But at the time, all I knew is I had no husband, and I had no idea where God was.

Jesus tells us to call upon Him in Psalm 91:15. The promise is God will not only answer us, He will free and honor us! However, I cried out and could not hear or feel His presence. His Word instructs us to call on Him, yet all I heard was deafening silence. This only confirmed the ugly lies my husband spoke over me as I now believed I wasn’t worth of God’s love either.

But it would not be long before I would have an encounter that would show me the truth that nothing can separate us from God’s love. After husband left and I cried out to God, He showed up in a powerful way. His healing restoration started working in my life when a co-worker called and heard the loss in my voice. I guess it was too difficult for me to hide the feelings of devastation and betrayal. I didn’t have to hash out my feeling as this co-worker simply asked me if there was anything he could do to help.

I didn’t want to ask for anything, but my newborn baby girl only had a few diapers left and wouldn’t make it through the night. Reluctantly I asked if he would mind bringing me a couple of diapers. He came quickly with a big box and just comforted me. No expectations… just kindness.

Isn’t that just like the Lord? In Psalm 34:18 it says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” God was right there, and He sent me someone to comfort me and freely provide the compassion and resources I desperately needed.

This experience taught me several key lessons:

  • God is always listening
  • He will always answer our prayers, even when we don’t think He is
  • He is always for us
  • I am His daughter, the daughter of the King
  • I am loved by God

People are all human although some don’t always act in the most humane ways. We will make mistakes. Some will fail us, disappoint us and hurt us. There is only one who will never abandon, and that is Jesus Christ. In fact Hebrews 13:5 tells us that Christ said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” We are never alone.

And to make sure I knew I’d never be alone, God brought the co-worker to my door. That man, who showed me such sincere kindness, ultimately became my husband. And we have been happily married now for 16 years. I was never left to be the cat woman, and I was never left alone to single parent my four kids. I was given the desire of my heart.

John, my spouse, is the most kindhearted, compassionate, loving, responsible man that calls my children his own. He even adopted them and gave them his name… a reflection of how God adopts us when we accept Jesus Christ as our personal savior.

Even in my darkest moments, when I thought I was rejected and abandoned… I was never alone. The truth was then and is now simple: my God is always with me, and He is also always with you.

You might be going through a devastating experience right now, I can tell you from experience that our God is there with you in the midst. You might not be able to see Him, but let me assure you, He is there.

Even if you feel far from Him, He is there. Believe the scripture and believe me when I say, He will never leave you or forsake you. You can count on God when everything else might be chaos. Don’t listen to the chatter of the enemy, but instead listen for God’s still small voice and be comforted in His presence.

Courageous one, if it is time for you to receive God’s love, assured that He will never leave you or forsake you to strengthen you, simply repeat the prayer below, have faith in God’s truth and trust that God’s word will never condemn or harm you in anyway.

Father God, I thank you that you are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I recognize that I have come into agreement with the lie, I take responsibility for believing that ______________ (fill in the blank). When I believed the lie, I felt _______________ (fill in the blank). I repent for entertaining negative thoughts and renounce the lie. Father God, I ask you to replace the lie with your truth. I thank you for your forgiveness and for your unfailing love. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I break any agreements I made with the enemy and ask for a fresh revelation of my identity in Christ. Amen!

Questions to pray and ponder:

  1. Can you remember and describe a time in your life when you tried to hear God’s voice but couldn’t hear Him? What is one verse you can find that could help you in the future so that you never feel alone again?
  2. What are some lies about God that you might be believing that could be causing distance between you and the Father? What verses of the Bible could replace the lies with God’s truth?
  3. How can you usher in the presence of God to hear his voice clearly? Challenge yourself to ask God a question, sit quietly and wait for Him to answer. Make this a regular practice and watch Him draw near to you as you pursue Him.
  4. Do you know in your heart that God is a perfect Father? If you are not sure, reflect on His goodness and recall times He has shown you He is always with you.

It’s All His Fault

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“There’s no hope for my marriage, he’s never going to change.”

I’ve uttered that sentence a thousand times believing one massive lie… If he would change our marriage would be better, and I would be happy.

See I was a type A, want-what-I-want woman, who married at 35. I had many years of living alone to get set in my ways. Simple things like how he folded the hand towels drove me crazy. Why couldn’t he just do it the way I like it?

The man I dated was romantic, catered to me and cared about what I wanted. He swept me off my feet, and I fell deeply in love. But once married, things quickly changed.

A month into our marriage, Scott sunk into a depression and became a man I didn’t recognize. His wounds and dysfunctional coping patterns reared up, and the selfless man I dated was now a stranger – self-centered, withdrawn and cruel.

We started therapy, and life got better for a while. But several miscarriages, fertility issues and added pressure took our marriage from bad to worse.

Miserable, I felt abandoned. Scott declared regularly, “I don’t care about you.” I was certain he didn’t love me. I adored the man I dated but didn’t care for the stranger sleeping beside me. Deep down I knew my marriage was a mistake.

Many lies filtered through my mind. “I’d be better off alone.” “He’s never going to meet my needs.” These caused me to stop seeing the man God created Scott to be. I zeroed in on ways he didn’t measure up. All I saw was how he let me down. It was all his fault.

As a result I grew volatile. In righteous anger I’d sucker punch him verbally. I tore him to shreds with cruel words, but believed I was not the problem. He needed to change – not me!

In 2009, I sternly announced, “I want a separation.” I couldn’t take another second of Scott’s issues and his unwillingness to change. I had a growing baby in my belly and was convinced we’d be better off without Scott.

At the same time a friend raved about the book Love and Respect. I read it and implemented the principles the author suggested.

For months, I affirmed Scott. I never raised my voice. I sought forgiveness for what he said I did wrong. I truly gave this 100% effort, but Scott was blind to my effort. I wasn’t safe. He didn’t trust me. He held grudges and disconnected even though I was doing my best to connect.

As a result, anger turned to rage. Respect went out with the trash, and I flew off the handle. I wanted him to suffer the way I was suffering. I was belligerent and full of malice. I hated him.

In therapy, a counselor steered me in the wrong direction. “Get over your judgment about divorce and stop seeing marriage as a covenant,” she explained. “Scott broke the marriage contract, and you have every reason to leave.”

She said, “God would not want you to be this unhappy.” And with that, I planned my exit strategy, but God had other plans.

Tensions were thick, and we walked around on eggshells. I was miserable, but when I prayed asking if I could leave, I’d hear, “not yet.” That obviously made me mad. He wasn’t fixing my marriage!

There was no intimacy. We talked of superficial things like “what’s for dinner?”

The disconnection kept things peaceful, but also kept us broken. We no longer hugged or kissed, and I swore the lack of intimacy was his fault. Our marriage would ebb and flow between disconnected peace and world war. We were both battered, but neither had the strength to leave.

But shortly after our fifth anniversary, Scott changed. He confessed admitting he didn’t care the first years of our marriage, but now he did. He’d attempt to hold my hand, and I’d pull away. I deemed him a liar, and knew we’d never make it our sixth anniversary, so why bother?

However, with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26), and six became seven. Seven became eight. We had serious problems, but Scott was trying

In 2013, God got a hold of me after I was consumed by unloving spirits. I hated my life and my marriage… filled with bitterness and accusation. I only saw what was wrong when God commanded, “I want you to affirm your husband 10 times a day.”

My first thought was “never gonna happen!” Convinced he didn’t love me – I wasn’t willing to put myself out there, but God armed me with strength and power (2 Sam. 22:33). I obeyed.

I struggled to think of two positives. “Thank you for going to work and paying bills.” But slowly, the effort paid off, and my perspective shifted. He’s funny, smart and witty. He’s an incredible dad. Kind. Sensitive. He’s a servant. He desired me to be happy.

The problem was my critical nature, need to have my way and anger were out of control. I felt I had a right to be mad and wore the victim hat proudly, until one day I took a good look in the mirror and realized:

• I was angry with myself – not Scott or God.
• I didn’t hate Scott. I hated myself.
• I needed help.
• I had to change. I realized for the first time – it wasn’t all his fault.

In 2014, I walked into Son Rise Church and Ministries, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ came alive in my life. I focused on ridding the matriarchal spirit and dealing with my junk through repentance and deliverance. Strongholds were replaced with truth. My happiness no longer depended on what Scott did or didn’t do. The major revelation was God is my helper, and Lord Jehovah sustains my soul (Psalm 54:4), not Scott.

I fixed my eyes on God and nothing else. I separated myself from sin and laid the worst parts of myself before Jesus Christ. I took responsibility for what I had done in the marriage. I began to take my thought captive. I sought forgiveness and let the Holy Spirit fill my wounded soul.

My life looked like Psalm 37:40 – the LORD shall help me, and deliver me: He shall deliver me from the wicked, and save me, because I trust in him.

I did trust God, and in May 2015, I experienced a radical encounter while attending healing training. As I felt horrible chest pain I heard, “I’ve fixed your heart. It’s no longer broken.” The pain faded into an unspeakable joy and peace I had never known before. I was touched by God and radically changed.

I forgave Scott, God and myself. I left the past behind and desired to start fresh. I knew I only had control over how I reacted to my spouse. I could pray for him but had no power change him. But even more I ditched all expectations of change, as they were the result of assumptions, judgments and accusations that were nothing more than sin.

The truth was simple: I can’t depend on Scott to meet my needs because that job belonged to God. I can be happy in my circumstances no matter what Scott brought to the table.

I gave Scott space to adjust to his new wife. This wasn’t an easy process. My past behaviors were thrown in my face, as I had not been forgiven. He wasn’t buying that I had been radically transformed. But as days turned to weeks, weeks turned into months, it became clear I was different.

Peace washed through our home for the first time. While I’m not perfect and can fall into old patterns, I quickly recognize what’s happening and shift my behavior. I changed and as a result, my marriage improved.

No matter what Scott was or wasn’t doing, I refused to make a laundry list of shortcomings. I refused to engage when he picked a fight, and I prayed my marriage would continue to improve.

And God was faithful as Scott realized he needed help and started his own ministry. I was now safe, and Scott the room to focus on him. I stopped trying to be the priest of the home and allowed him to rise. I submitted.

Together we are on guard for the spirit of offense. We think before reacting out of our emotions. We give each other the benefit of doubt. We talk, laugh and enjoy life more. What’s disappeared? All outbursts and the need to punish were gone. We became partners – we were finally becoming one flesh (Genesis 2:24).

Six months after my miraculous encounter I heard myself say three words I thought I’d never say again, “I love you.” And the thing is… I meant it.

What a testimony to God – we happily celebrated our 10th anniversary back in April. I never thought we’d make it, but with God all things are possible.

In Genesis 12:1 we learn God, who desires to lead us by the Holy Spirit, would like to lead us in to many things… one of them being a happy covenant relationship with our spouse.

I hate the fact that the enemy convinces Christians that divorce is the only option. We have a marriage crisis in our country because too many believe the enemy’s lies instead of adhering to God’s truth.

Marriage is a divine snapshot of the relationship between Christ and his Bride, the Church. As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one,” (Mark 10:7-8).

I feel like we finally ditched the contract mentality and understood for the first time the marriage covenant is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.

My marriage is a testimony to the power of the Word of God being applied. Scott is learning to lay down his life in sacrificial love and protection. And I am learning to shed the type A personality – willing to submit to his leadership. I also have seen the fruit that comes from building up a man rather than tearing him down with critical words and unrealistic expectations.

Today I love Scott for the man he is and the man God made him to be. I no longer long for the man that courted me but enjoy the one that walks through the door at night. Divorce is no longer a word in my vocabulary.

A friend, we have known for years, recently came to the house. As we were leaving, I said “Bye babe” to Scott. Stunned she exclaimed, “That’s the first time I’ve heard you speak endearingly to him and about him. You were always so cold in the past.”

And with that, God whispered, “Good job, faithful servant. I’m proud of you.” Now I look in the mirror and like whom I see and that fills my heart with so much joy.

Prayer:
If you are struggling in your marriage, I urge you to pray this out loud:

Father God, I thank you that you have only good things planned for my marriage. I pray all of Satan’s strongholds will be broken, and my marriage will be saved. Help me Father speak life and not death over my spouse. I pray for restoration and not separation. I pray you draw us to connect and not withdraw. Father, I thank you for reminding me to fix my eyes on you and not on my current circumstances. I thank Jesus Christ for restoring the blessing of Abraham in our lives, and I am grateful this blessing included covenant relationships. Father please help both of us have faith that this blessing is a gift… ready to receive right now I pray the accuser be silenced, all expectations town down, and all bitterness disappears now in might name of Jesus. Renew my love and help me to see all the amazing qualities my spouse has. I lift up my marriage so it can flourish and not flounder in Jesus’ name. Amen and Amen.

Questions to ponder:
1.
Are you harboring resentment, bitterness and refuse to forgive your spouse? If so, repent and ask the Holy Spirit help you in this area.

2. What negativity is the enemy speaking over your marriage? Are you convinced things would improve if your spouse changed? If so, get with God and let him lead you into the truth.

3. What areas of weakness do you need to work on that could help improve your marriage?

4. Are speaking life or death into your marriage? Your words matter! Start praising your partner and speaking life into your marriage by focusing on the good instead of the bad.

Additional resources:
For further information on the Matriarchal and Patriarchal Passive/Control profiles, visit http://sonrisechurchandministries.sermon.net/main/main/8360324 and listen to the great teaching by Pastor John Aldridge of Son Rise Church and Ministries.

You Are Truly Beautiful!

Shirley Temple c.1935

When I was six years old, we moved to Berlin, Germany, to where my dad, who was in the Airforce, was stationed. We were a long way from all that I held dear and called home – my friends, family, familiar surroundings and the comforts of American life.

Not long after settling in, my mom took me to get a haircut. I was so excited to have a new style ­– a short Pixie cut. It looked really pretty on the beautiful model in the picture we saw, and I just knew it would look that good on me.

After the blow dry, I whirled around the chair. My new look was revealed. What I saw staring back at me in the mirror was definitely not the model. I instantly burst into tears. I was devastated and cried out “I look like a boy.”

Gone were my beautiful blonde curly locks, and that initial reaction played over and over in my mind. “I look like a boy.” Instantly I began to believe I looked ugly. After all, I had gone from Shirley Temple to Jerry Mathers on Leave it to Beaver in the blink of an eye. This was a traumatic event for this six-year-old beauty, and as a result, the door was opened to the enemy.

The lie went from bad to worse – from looking ugly to being ugly. Soon the lies became “I am ugly.” This one lie haunted me throughout most of my life. When I came into agreement that I was not pretty, my heart was wounded. The scars from that day would impact my life for decades.

The truth was then and is not still the truth – I wasn’t ugly at all. I had been marked and labeled by the father of lies, and I unknowingly created a core image of myself that was in direct opposition to the Word of God. I believed I wasn’t beautiful.

What I didn’t understand at that young age was in God’s eyes we are all beautiful. We are all stunning pieces of artwork designed masterfully by the Creator of the Universe. In fact, it says in Psalm 139:14 that you and I are uniquely and wonderfully made.

Psalm 139:13-16 of the Message translation so eloquently says:

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something… Before I’d even lived one day.

God’s Word says we are marvelously made! It’s really hard to wrap our minds around this concept, but isn’t it amazing that He stood in “awe” as He made each one of us? To be blown away by His creations means He must think we are His works of art – beautiful masterpieces.

Ephesians 2 confirms this for it is it written in verse 10, “For we are God’s masterpiece.”

A masterpiece by definition is a person’s greatest piece of work and anything done with masterly skill. So the Lord’s created piece of work is each one of us. How amazing is that?

I’ve often heard the phrase, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” This means each of us has our own opinion about beauty. But wouldn’t it be great if our only measure of beauty came solely from the One who created it?

In Ecclesiastes 3:11 we learn God made every thing beautiful in His time. But what exactly does the word beautiful mean? It is defined as possessing qualities that give great pleasure or satisfaction. To see, hear, think about that which delights the senses or mind. Excellent of it’s kind; wonderful; very pleasing or satisfying.

Sadly it would take half my life before I realized the whisper of negativity in my mind was from the enemy. I had been listening to a liar and degrading my self worth – all while grieving the One who loved me most.

Earlier this year, I experienced a pivotal moment that tore down a major stronghold in my life. It was as if God spoke to me exactly like was spoken in Song of Solomon. “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away, for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone.” (2:10-11)

One morning I was looking in the mirror putting on make-up and styling my hair. My daughter Heather had placed several sticky notes on the glass with some of God’s truths. One of them said, “You are beautiful.”

As I finished reading the last word a negative thought ran through my mind. “Remember that time when you didn’t put any make up on and didn’t style your hair very well? Did you feel beautiful that day?”

I suddenly had a sinking feeling in my stomach. That was not my thought, but rather it was a lying spirit. Was I going to continue on believing as that little six-year-old child did, or would I finally stand up and silence the accuser once and for all?

I stared at that paper and felt like God wanted me to arise! I finally allowed the truth to sink into my heart. I am God’s beautiful masterpiece. In an instant, I was free to accept my true identity. I am beautiful.

Do you recognize any areas in your life where the enemy speaks death? If so, what is the lie you have come into agreement with? What Bible verse could silence the negativity by replacing truth with the lie?

If it is time for you to arise, simply repeat the prayer below, have faith in God’s truth and know God’s Word will never condemn or harm you in any way.

Father God, I thank you that you the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I recognize that I have come into agreement with a lie. I take responsibility for believing that ___________________ (fill in the blank). When I believed the lie, I felt _________________ (fill in the blank). I repent for entertaining negative thoughts and renounce the lie. Father God, I ask you to replace the lie with your truth. I thank you for your forgiveness and for your unfailing love. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I break any agreements I made with the enemy and ask for a fresh revelation of my identity in Christ. Amen.

Questions to pray and ponder:

1. Where are your vulnerable places that you have felt pounded by the enemy?

2. What lies are you listening to from the enemy that steals your peace and joy?

3. What can you do to replace and cover those lies with God’s truth and love when the enemy comes at you?

He Loves Me. He Loves Me Not. He Loves Me!

he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not-source

Never was there a princess so loved in the world! The day I was born it was as if you could hear the angels singing and rejoicing with my family! I was like royalty or from Hollywood the way everyone fussed over me with so much love.

Grandpa Keeney especially hung on my every word; he thought I was the cutest little girl ever. I recall him telling me, “You would say, “calk grandpa” when you wanted to take a walk or refer to my movie star sunglasses as ‘sasses’.” I was lavished with attention, and I liked it.

I was 12 years old when my parents divorced, and it was very traumatic. I was the oldest, and maybe because I had my parents all to myself, this hit me the hardest of all. As a result I started acting out behaviorally. I went from feeling like a princess to hearing the crickets in the darkness.

We went for a visit to my Grandparent’s home. One day I was called downstairs into Grandpa’s dimly lit office. My sister had made some long distance phone calls, and Grandpa thought I did it. I can still recall the accusations and harsh words. His voice was cold and stern. Scared, I told Grandpa I didn’t do it, but he didn’t believe me. I was crushed. Where was my doting Grandpa? The one that recited every sentence I spoke and made me feel so special. I didn’t know this man.

I was devastated for I was innocent! I proclaimed my innocence again, this time asking him to question others. He questioned my sister, “Suzie, honey did you make those phone calls?” She responded, “No Grandpa.” What? Were my ears deceiving me?

I was in disbelief. I wondered where was my grace? I was stunned at how sweet he was to her and how, he was so harshly accusing me.

To top it all off, my sister wasn’t telling the truth. Like all kids, I’m sure she was scared to come clean. And with the lie, Grandpa proceeds to have the same conversation with my sister Lisa who also denied making the calls. In the end, I was found guilty even though I was innocent, and a piece of my heart broke.

The truth regarding who made the phone calls came out, but the damage to me was done. I believed the lie Grandpa didn’t love me. I was unworthy of love due to my acting out. These lies would scar me and impact me for years to come.

Maybe a month later we journeyed on to Grandma Roberts’s house. I wasn’t sure what to expect during this visit, but God knew what I needed. My Grandma restored my tired soul and refreshed me.

She greeted us with warmth and displayed love, honor, dignity and respect. She respected the stage I was at in life – she even let me shave me legs for the first time, and I felt like I was inducted in to the hall of womanhood.

On the way to Grandmother’s house I was riddled in fear and reluctant to trust. My Grandpa’s harsh accusation and judgment had wounded my soul; my heart had been penetrated by the fiery darts of the enemy, and I wasn’t sure anyone would love me now.

Years later I reflected on those summer trips and how very different they were. First I learned how it felt to be wrongly accused and convicted because of preconceived perceptions. Then my Grandmother showed me a snippet of how God showers us with grace even when we don’t deserve it. “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-5

I can imagine that God’s amazing love is so much greater than how it was when I was a baby. Lamentations 3:22-25 clearly spells it out:

“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him.”

It’s just so sweet the way God used my Grandmother to help undo some of the damage done by my Grandpa. I was so grieved, yet the Lord brought me some redemption even when I didn’t deserve it. I didn’t do anything wrong at Grandpa’s, but remember I told you that I had been acting out. I felt shame for the way I had been acting. Did I deserve to be treated poorly? God says no, but I believed the lie that yes… I deserved punishment.

I should have been given the benefit of doubt. I should have been innocent until proven guilty. But I was deceived into believing I was loved based on condition and feeling. I longed to feel wholly loved and accepted for who I was.

As a result, I searched for unconditional love for years. I believed I wasn’t good enough, therefore love was always based on how I acted, whether I said the right things, wore the right clothes or behaved the way people wanted me to. I had to be perfect in someone’s eyes and meet all of their needs in order to be loved by them. This sadly set up a lot of co-dependent, unhealthy relationships.

I went through massive trauma and suffered though divorce because I was so wounded.

Freedom came when I realized the truth was I didn’t need the love of any person or man. What I had been longing for was God’s love. It was freeing to learn that He alone satisfies the desire of my heart. It says in, Psalm 21:2 “You have granted him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips.” It’s God’s desire for us to love Him, and Him to love us.

Many of us struggle in our walk with God because we view Him as having the same traits as an authority figure. I was caught in a web of lies the enemy spun from my relationship with my Grandpa. I believed God could only love me conditionally just like Grandpa did. It was an easy lie to believe since it was Grandpa introduced me to God. He was a pastor – wouldn’t he be like God?

Do you believe God is distant? Do you see Him as a punisher? Cold? Distant? If you believe anything contrary to what the Bible teaches, it’s time that stronghold be broken! The truth is the God of the universe does not offer conditions to the love He has toward each one of us. He loves us more than we can ever comprehend.

In 1 John 4:8, the author proclaims, “God is love.” He chose us. He loves everything about us. His word says He created us with awe, thought about us and made each one of us unique and wonderful.

The truth is I am loved, and it is not based on condition. God loves me in my weakness and worst moments. And He loves you like that too!

Pressing into God’s love taught me that my identity was not associated with others perceptions of me. Only God’s opinion matters, and He says I am the apple of His eye.

I also discovered I really am a princess. I am His princess! I have been adopted into royalty. The good news is when you accept the love of God by way of His Son Jesus Christ you can be adopted into His vast royal Kingdom too.

Beloved one, are you sick of believing you don’t matter, don’t measure up and will never be worthy of love? It’s time to silence the accuser once and for all. To receive God’s love, simply repeat the prayer below, have faith and believe His Word will never condemn or harm you.

Father God, I thank you that your love is unfailing and not based on conditions. I recognize I have come into agreement with a lie that I am not worthy of love. I take responsibility for believing ______________ (fill in the blank). When I believed the lie, I felt _______________ (fill in the blank). I repent for entertaining negative thoughts and renounce the lie in the might name of Jesus. Father God, I ask you to replace the lie with your truth. I thank you for your forgiveness and for your unfailing love. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I break any agreements I made with the enemy and ask for a fresh revelation of my identity in Christ. I thank you and give you all praise. Amen!

A next step:
If you are ready to feel the love of God in a deeper way, put some worship music on, start praising and worshiping God with all of your heart. God always shows up when we worship Him. When we praise God it is a labor of love that honors God, and honor begets honor. Spending time in a position of praise allows the Lord to fill you with His unfailing love until you are overflowing. If you are struggling, ask God to show any lies you believe about Him and sit quietly and listen for Him to respond. Clear your mind and just focus on quieting your mind from all the usual chatter. Allow yourself to be filled with His all consuming love, and I promise you’ll be glad you did. His presence will change your life.

Questions to pray and ponder:

  1. What is the condition of your relationship with God?
  2. In what ways have you experienced God’s love?
  3. How can you strengthen your faith and be assured of God’s love?

My Timeline to the Truth – Christians Will Face Hard Times

tough-times-ahead1

It was a pleasant surprise. After suffering two miscarriages and then battling infertility, I found out I was expecting.

2007. The year I looked forward to with anticipation. But the excitement would fade into sadness by March 2008 as I lost twins – one in the first trimester, the other in the second. I went through the first few stages of grief but got stuck in anger. I was furious with God and blamed Him for killing my babies. I screamed and placed unreal expectations on my husband to the point our marriage suffered. My controlling nature kicked into overdrive, and I refused to stop and grieve.

2008. The year I went from fertile to sterile. As summer faded into the colors of fall, I lost another child. I developed an infection that destroyed my tubes, and they needed to be removed. It was like a bullet piercing my chest when the doctor said, “You are now sterile and will never have a natural child.”

An ugly voice began to rattle around in my head. It was a quiet murmur – only loud in my mind. “God’s to blame.” “You are not worthy to be a mom.” “It is your fault you lost all the children because of your bad past.” “Your husband is going to leave you for a younger woman.”

I stewed on these and other lies until I believed them. Over time I grew bitter and felt all kinds of shame. I was overflowing with envy and swimming in a planet of regret for all of the bad choices I made in my past.

I hated life and everyone who had a child or who was pregnant as well as the Lord and myself. Honestly, I don’t think nothing could have been worse unless I lost my lift, but many times I thought dying would be easier than living in this hell.

2008. The year I came to the end of me. I had no idea how to manage this wilderness season. Charting my own path was leading me to lowly places. I needed a way out of my pain, and began searching for someone… anyone that would help. I had no idea the one who would reach down and pull me out of my pit would be Jesus Christ.

I handed over the reigns and surrendered my life to Him. I was saved. Accepting Jesus was the best decision I made, but it also gave the enemy an opportunity to trap me into another lie. “Now that I am a Christian, my life will be perfect.”

I was convinced the “prosperity gospel” was true! After all, 2Peter 2:9 said the Lord knew how to rescue the godly from trials. I knew for sure I was godly… I sat in a pew on Sunday, waved my hands in the air at worship and began to pray (which was giving God a laundry list of all the things I wanted Him to do for me).

Looking back now, I know my decision to follow Jesus was based on the lie that everything would be great. After being saved, surely He would fix all my problems. I was convinced He would make my life perfect.

2009. The year I learned Satan is a liar and finally accepted my life would never be perfect. It wasn’t long before the truth knocked me off my pedestal, and it dawned on me I was anything but godly. When I opened my eyes and looked at Christians around me, I realized that they weren’t perfect either. After all, everyone had problems. Some were battling cancer. Many had divorces under their belts. No one could escape having a little drama in life, and I was not going to be the exception.

It makes me angry that Satan has convinced the world that to be a Christian means we can’t have blemishes. The world looks at our mistakes mockingly and judges us based on our weaknesses.

His Word gently guided me to the truth. I am a God-loving, Jesus freak who has issues. I am not perfect. My life will always have ups and downs, highs and lows. I will face trials in triumph and in defeat. I will be tempted, and I will sin.

Through Romans 8:28 God taught me all things work together for good when I love my Father and works toward His purpose in my life. I occurred to me every time the enemy attacks me and I fall, God redeems it by drawing me closer to Him. He teaches me many lessons that take me to a better place spiritually.

2009. The year I harnessed the power of scripture. I had been given a prophetic word – I would have a natural child. And even when my reality told me a different truth, I chose to declare Luke 1:45 loudly and sternly. “Blessed is she who believes what is spoken will be accomplished.”

I believed, and I did indeed receive. I held my precious baby girl and thanked God for His promises are true.

2010. The year I knew I would never stay in a bad place. This year was rough. I was suffering from postpartum depression and hanging by a thread for most of the year. I also suffered a miscarriage and dealt with a very sick baby. But God was faithful and helped me get through.

1 Peter 5:10 is such a comforting verse because it taught me that even in my worst moments God would be there for me. “But the God of all grace, who has called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you.”

I learned through the next several years that while I will stumble through the wilderness from time to time, God will always equip me with what I need to come through.

2011. Two miscarriages while my daughter battled with a deadly abscess and endured her first surgery. I had also had major neck surgery that kept me flat on my back for nearly three weeks.

2012. Daughter faced another surgery after nine months of strep.

2013. My amazing Aunt died. I battled for eight months through painful tendonitis in my right foot and ankle.

2014. Left ankle tendon shredded and resulted in major surgery that kept me from walking for nearly six months.

Clearly, Satan’s done his best to keep me wandering in the wilderness. But the good news is God takes everything… the good, the bad and the ugly and fashions it for good. I’ve learned how to use my worst moments to testify to the goodness and glory of God. The more transparent I am the more I can help others battle through their traumas.

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”  (Revelation 12:11)

It was in my worst years… my worst moments… I found my true voice. It wasn’t the one rattling around in my mind. It was the voice speaking from my heart.

2015. The year I put Satan on notice, sought repentance and deliverance and saw major healing in my life.

I stepped into ministry as associate pastor at Son Rise Church and Ministries. I understand so much more than I did back in 2008. While my life will never be perfect, the closer I get to Jesus the more I get to experience the perfect love of my Father. And that’s perfect to me!

 

Questions to pray and ponder:

Are you struggling in your walk with Christ because life has not turned out the way you thought? Maybe it’s time to repent for placing God in a box and surrender all of your expectations over to Him.

What is your testimony and how can you share it with others to bring glory to God?

Who do you blame when things are going wrong in your life? If it is God, maybe it’s time to stop accusing and start trusting.