Enough is Enough

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I know the answer to all of my problems.

I know that the answer is Christ.

I know Jesus is the answer to my impatience.

I know Jesus is the answer to my anxiety.

I know Jesus is the answer to my love of gossip.

I know Jesus is the answer to my toddler’s attitude.

sunset-174276_1920I have shared these thoughts with friends of mine, and I have had a few reply, “It’s not that easy.”

Oh yes. It is.

It is that easy.

Jesus is the answer to the skyrocketing suicide rate in this country.

Jesus is the answer to the dangerous drug use among our teenagers.

Jesus is the answer to the gender dysphoria that so many suffer.

Jesus is the answer. Period.

Since God has blessed me with a faith that believes these statements without hesitation, I wonder then why I hesitate to develop my relationship with Him.

I wonder why I press snooze instead of getting up to read my Bible.

I wonder why I ask a friend to help me, long before I get on my knees.

I wonder why I trust my plan, my ideas, and my desires more than His.

I wonder why I turn on Netflix to find my peace after a long day with my children instead of spending time in the presence of a Savior who heals and restores all things.

Of course I know why I do or don’t do these things. I’m a lot like Paul when he says in Romans 7:15, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

Amen, Paul! I hear you loud and clear!tree-736875_1280

You see, I love the world more than Christ. And sure, I could just chalk it up to the idea that I’m only human, but that excuse just shouldn’t be enough for me.

Enough is enough.

I want everything the Bible has promised me.

I want peace. I want unwavering strength. I want freedom. I want every single one of my prayers answered because every single one of my desires aligns with the King of the Universe.

I want to throw away the things of this world, those things that lie to me and promise peace, and I want to grab hold of an everlasting, all-powerful, indescribable love and devotion for the One who made me.

This is the only answer for me, for you, for any of us.

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All I Want

As I rush out the door, I don’t even notice the scowl that has formed harshly on my face. My diaper bag hangs haphazardly over my shoulder and my two boys are more interested in the ant hill by the car than actually getting into the car. Once again, the house I leave behind is in absolute chaos.

20180716_143811The day has not gone exactly as planned. My husband is late. Again. The lunch dishes are still piled in the sink, even though lunch was over hours ago; the living room looks like I run a daycare of fifty children; and my bed is still unmade: the knowledge of this is reason enough to crawl back into it and try again tomorrow.

The really shocking part about this particular day is that all I wanted when I woke up this morning was to get my house clean. That’s it. That’s the only real plan I had. Now, rushing out the door for the third time, I am painfully aware that I have failed, and I am fuming.

With my kids finally strapped in the back, I cry out to God as I head down the street, “God, all I wanted today was to get my house clean. Is that too much to ask? That’s all I wanted.”

20180622_140112As soon as these words are out, I remember the last moment I spoke like this. It was the night before and they were directed at my husband. As I stood in front of my closet, frustration building, I was trying desperately to find something to wear at a church picnic. Being eight months pregnant in the heat of the summer doesn’t exactly make a girl feel glamorous.

“All I want is to feel human again. I want to wear something that will make me feel more human and less whale. That’s all I want,” I whined to my husband.

Now, as I hit every red light and shuffle through these frustrations, I am completely overlooking what is happening in my backseat. Hair ruffled by the open windows, oblivious to their mom’s bad mood, my boys are wildly singing along to a country song: my son calls it “jamming.” If you have never witnessed two toddlers “jam”, it can melt away a bad mood quicker than a bowl of ice cream.

In that small, seemingly unimportant moment, God let me see my unmanageable day through His eyes instead of my own. His grace seamlessly found its way into my hardened perspective, and with that, I hear Him whisper, “My child, you have all you ever wanted.”

I have no clothes that make me look good this summer because I have been wildly blessed by the Father to carry another one of His children.20180702_164129

My husband often misjudges when he will get home because he is busy blessing others with the business God led us to start, a business that has been an answer to many of our prayers.

My house is never clean because I have two boys whose zest for life has renewed my own.

Stopping at yet another red light, barely able to think because my oldest has asked me to crank up the radio for a third time, I smile at all this chaos. For because of the Lord’s guidance, this maddening life is all I ever wanted.

The World is Cold

I cannot grasp the chaos that struck a Texas church earlier this week. The news tightened around my throat like a vice as I stared at the headline. The words, “God, not again,” slipped out. While I sat in a sanctuary with my family worshiping my Father, exhausted and frustrated because of my post-daylight-savings-time toddler, another group of believers was facing its worst nightmare. Evil walked into the body of Christ’s most sacred place and got a three-pointer in the game between good and evil.tree-2898647_1920

Every American, Christian or not, asks why. Perhaps, God allowed this evil to happen because this country is experiencing His punishment and wrath for how we’ve ignored Him. But when I think of the innocent believers who were left helpless inside that church, it occurs to me that perhaps committed followers of Christ were simply caught in the crossfire of lies and hatred.

Unfortunately, in today’s culture we are forced to raise our children in a world where active shooters are ever-present. I mentioned to my husband that perhaps he should start carrying in church. Bringing a gun to church? Surely this is not the world my children live in. Surely there’s been some mistake. Surely God will not allow this.

In a world where chaos reigns and God is rejected, only one thing is sure. Surely the Lord will prevail. Amen! For this recurrent chaos may temporarily destroy our sense of security, but it cannot destroy our eternal rest. We cannot help but rejoice that those precious lives taken too soon and so violently are residing with the Savior of the world right now. They have no memory of their deaths or the hatred that took them, for all they can see is Jesus Christ. What a glorious sight that must be!

candles-2628473_1920Amid persistent violence, helpless, lost, fearful people are turning to God with repentant hearts. Even while Christians are being massacred, He can and will further His kingdom. Even the fiercest unbeliever cannot help but seek out comfort and will eventually recognize that God is the only one who can remove this fear. For those who seek Him, find Him. So, as Christians are dying on the floor of the world God created, this fear plays a role in the birth of a new Christian. This is certainly something to celebrate!

Beauty in a Fallen Leaf

I have seen death’s merciless determination three times in my life. The first was when it 20171013_133140chased after my best friend’s mom, then it went after my Grandma, and finally it took my first child, whose face I never saw.

Death appeared to have won all three times, but I know, as a follower of Christ, that this is not the case.

God says He has conquered all death, and surely this must be true for death was left utterly immobilized when faced with the Savior of the world (2 Timothy 1:10).

We clearly see in the Bible that Jesus did not fear death, and was even able to reverse it in the case of Lazarus. However encouraging this reality is, death still has a powerful sting for those of us left behind. It is a great comfort to know that our loved ones are spending eternity in a painless and perfect Heaven, but we are left to face unbearable pain after they are gone.

20171013_132941Unfortunately, this earthly life is full of innumerable painful experiences, even when death is not involved.

However, if we were to see past our grief I think we would find something quite pristine in our pain. For as I sit here on this breezy October afternoon and gaze out my window to find the trees wrapped in the most vivid and electrifying colors, I am reminded that God creates beauty out of the most brutal of circumstances because, you see, these stunning leaves are, in fact, in the throes of death.

This is when I hear God whisper, “You see, my child, some of My most striking work is found in the midst of pain.”

Whether it is death or an ache less permanent, I rely upon God’s promise that He works for my good (Romans 8:28). Because He leaves me completely in awe of the death of a leaf, I know He sends even more beauty to surround me amid any turmoil.

So take James’ advice, rejoice in your trials and watch God transform your hurt into something spectacular (James 1:2).

Choose Peace

When it comes to the safety of my children, there are two dangers that I’m a bit of a freak about: choking and drowning. My two-year old gets so tired of me telling him to chew his food completely and sit down when he eats and take smaller bites that I’m probably going to give him a complex. I didn’t realize water made me nervous, until this summer. Every time my son has his face in the water, blowing bubbles, my heart stops beating until he is breathing air again.

These are the things that I admit without hesitation, I tend towards the freaky, psycho mom inside of me.

However, I am so laid back when it comes to my son’s daredevil antics, I will probably find him on top of our roof one day, and do nothing more than say, “Be careful.”

So, there you have it: drowning and choking are my biggest concerns. Despite the fact that my son moves toward danger like the sun to the horizon. I’ve caught him in midair more times than I care to admit. If we get through the day without a serious head bump, I fear we have offset the universe. He runs toward heavy machinery like it’s his best friend coming home from war, and my husband’s power tools have (in my son’s mind) morphed into his toys, no matter how many times his parents remind him they are indeed not toys. He also prefers hanging out with strangers over his loving and safe parents.20170720_161725

Speaking of having a complex…I’m getting anxious just thinking about it…

From sun up to sun down, I work tirelessly to keep my hoodlum safe, but most of the time I catch him doing something dangerous and mutter, “Well, I didn’t see that coming.”

I’m not overly involved with social media. I probably spend a total of 20 minutes a day cruising my newsfeed. I also have made it a point to avoid the news, and yes, I have no idea what is going on and I’m pretty proud of it. Since the media decided to make President Trump the devil, I’ve decided to live a life of bliss: in other words, a news-free life. I feel like Russia is sorta an important news story right now? I could be wrong.

However, with the limited influence I allow media to have in my life, in the past week, I have seen the following warnings to parents: Wal-Mart jelly shoes contain disturbing amounts of lead, Johnson & Johnson soap contains formaldehyde, dry drowning should be a concern to all parents, fidget spinners are a choking hazard, and baby cheese puffs need more warning labels to combat choking.

20170719_181000Really? This world needs more warnings labels? Is that for real?…

Wow. We have a problem. I never venture into an article on social media that claims to have a warning for parents—in fact, my motto is DO NOT CLICK–so these topics are simply those that I could not avoid. If I was actually searching for warnings, I could probably get you a list of about 100 in two days.

I’ve written about this before and talk about it with numerous parents, but it’s important. The media does not help, but clearly parents are responding to these kinds of stories, which are often not even 100% factual. These stories get shared repeatedly on social media, and the TODAY Show, with Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie, has an entire segment devoted to revealing the hidden dangers of this world.

It’s disgusting, and we feed on it like a people with no hope.

I strive for peace in my journey of motherhood nearly every day. I fight for it. I pray for it. And for the most part, God has granted me a peace that allows me to understand and accept that I am not able, in my own power, to keep my children safe. We cannot and should not be expected to anticipate every danger. This world is dangerous and our children are fragile, but going through life like the world is literally out to get our children is no way to live.IMG_20170712_160310_516

Those who pass along unnecessary warnings and rules for parents seem to have forgotten that God grants us wisdom and instincts as mothers and fathers. We are born to nurture and raise up children, and it is our decision and only our decision what is and what is not safe. If we succumb to the fear that so easily entraps parents, we will learn that nothing is safe, and we will have no choice but to lead a very sad life indeed, and so will our children.

This is not how God calls us to live. God knows how much we love our children, and we can let them rest in His hands; He is a trustworthy Father to us all.

There is a disease amongst parents today: fear, and the fear of losing a child can quickly gain enough momentum to rip any parent from the Lord. Satan sees this constant circle of fear wearing on parents, and he will not fail to take advantage of it. He will use it to teach us that we must rely upon ourselves, instead of our trusted Father, to protect our children. This is a lie. You could anticipate every danger from New York to California and still be blindsided by something you did not see.

20170712_154828It should not be a secret why anxiety and depression are such powerful forces in our society today. I don’t see optimism and hope take a front seat to negativity and fear very often. But today, and every day, I wake up and choose peace. Some days I fail miserably and catch myself worrying for my sons’ futures, their health, their safety, but then I rely upon my heavenly Father to pull me back toward Him, for he is peace personified.

I belong to Him. My husband belongs to Him. My children belong to Him.

“In peace I lie down to sleep, for in you, O Lord, I dwell in safety.” ~Psalm 4:8

Indifference and the Holy Bible

I think the only reasonable explanation is that I simply have not been paying attention. Since I was a teenager, I have tried to consistently read my Bible, and since I was a teenager, I have failed after a few short weeks of relative success. My husband has opened my eyes to the innumerable advantages of knowing one’s Bible; he knows the Bible so well, it tends to annoy me more than anything else. My husband seems to have a verse in his arsenal for every complaint I have, which results in a much less satisfying venting session.

Don’t get me wrong: there have been plenty of times in my life where I have relied upon the Bible as it is supposed to be used, a weapon against the enemy and a teaching tool for every situation I could possibly encounter. However, probably even more frequently than loving the Bible, I have simply been indifferent to it, either picking it up out of obligation or leaving it to collect dust on my nightstand. As if a Bible’s purpose is to only catch one’s eye as they roll over to switch off the lamp for the evening, like it was nothing more than an inanimate knick-knack.20160405_092719

Inanimate? The Bible? That’s the biggest piece of nonsense any of us are going to face today. The Bible, according to (yep you guessed it) the Bible, is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). Hear that with me one more time: The Bible is GOD-BREATHED. Period. Need I say more? It is more alive than me or you, because it has always been and it will always be. In the 2000 years since we heard God’s word come out of the mouth of the Savior, much has changed. Heck, everything has changed, but the word has not; God’s promises have not; the life within God’s words has not.

I have diligently sought a personal relationship with Jesus Christ all my life. I have been on a mountaintop following a valley and I have been in the valley following a mountaintop. Jesus has been so close I could almost touch Him, and so far that I was fairly certain He never existed in the first place. Paul says in Romans 10:17, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” In order to have faith in Jesus Christ, I must hear and apply His word to my life. I must treat it like it is more important than my lunch, because it is. And anyone who knows me will testify without hesitation, my lunch is of pivotal importance to my sanity and my humanness.

cropped-images.jpgIn John 4, Jesus tells His disciples, when they are concerned He has not eaten, that his food comes from doing His Father’s will. He goes on to urge His followers (that’s us!) not to hesitate to harvest more believers, to evangelize the world. Where do we find the strength, as well as the ammunition, to bring more people to Christ? The Bible! We are to devour God’s words because they are life. We cannot walk a Christian life without them.

In recent weeks, I have finally begun to treat the Bible like my very life depends upon it, and something amazing has happened: my very life has started to depend upon it. I read each word carefully, always aware that God is love and God cannot break promises. Therefore, everything He promises me through His word is a guarantee. I just need to accept it without hesitation.

In 2 Timothy 1:7 God tells me that “I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of sound mind.” This is an irrefutable truth, and I will approach each day with a fresh and powerful mind.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9 God tells Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” This is an irrefutable truth, and I will not only accept my weaknesses, but delight in them.

In John 1:5 God says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” This is an irrefutable truth, and I will never fear the night.

In Philippians 4:8 it is said, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” This is an irrefutable truth, and I will reject all thoughts that are not from God, every thought that is not worthy of praise.bible

You see, Christians, if we approach each day as if all His words are true, we will have no choice but to feast on them—through memorization and meditation—each and every day. This will be required for us to sustain any sort of purpose, any sort of direction.

The Bible will become an essential appendage, and we will begin to wonder how we ever treated it like it was optional. So, let’s open the Bible, and let God’s truths wash over us and fill us up, so we will never again be thirsty.

His words are life. Without them, there is no life at all.

A Spiritual War

The old saying goes like this, “God is bigger than your fear.”

People might say this to a loved-one when all seems lost, when there is much to be afraid of. It is meant to offer some comfort, some explanation for the fear that is sweeping away the lost.

Here is how I live: God is not bigger than my fear.

Yep, I just said that.

Am I ashamed of it?

No. God already knows this is where I am. He has already forgiven me, and He is helping me find my way out of that surprisingly disturbing statement.

Alas, this is what I believe.

God is not bigger than my fear.

I believe that any Christian who suffers from anxiety, whispers this same thing in the deepest, darkest part of his or her heart.clouds-194840_1280

When your mind is sick, and it is your mind that controls you, it is difficult to imagine God’s healing and restoration could possibly occur in such a dark place.

A person with anxiety faces a constant battle of the thoughts. It is logic versus feeling.

I know God can get be through this, but I don’t feel like He will.

I know God can free me from my anxiety, but I feel like He wants me to suffer.

I know much of what the Lord says in the Bible, but perhaps it just doesn’t pertain to this level of anxiety, this all-consuming panic that eats away my belief in Him, one unanswered prayer at a time.

prayer-888757_1280I can’t even tell you how many times I have prayed for the Lord’s peace, how many times I have begged Him in the dead of night to just reach down, and pull me out of the muck and mire that is my fears. He could do it in a heartbeat, yet, I always fall asleep exhausted from fear, not resting in peace.

My husband reminds me often that God is peace, but I remind him often that I have never felt this peace, that perhaps it just isn’t for me. A peace that surpasses all understanding? Foreign concept. Nonsense. Not in real life. Not in my life.

For those that may not be familiar with me or my blog, let me get one thing straight. The Lord is my Savior and I live for Him each day. He has saved me, revitalized me, restored me, and shown me His faithfulness in innumerable and inexplicable ways. However, there is one area I feel as though He has never touched–my fear. One fear. One fear that is the rock with which my anxiety is built upon. It is this fear that Satan has pinpointed and decided to use to finally take me down.

God is not bigger than this fear. My life has proven this to be fact time and time and time again.

When a taste of this fear, perhaps closer to a phobia, enters my mind, it feeds on every negative thought inside me so quickly I cannot even recall a Bible verse. It figuratively brings me to my knees in a matter of seconds. No logical thought exists and a wall immediately goes up between me and my oh so faithful Father. Satan begins whispering lies into my ear, and the Lord’s truth is drowned out by a panic that I am quite literally drowning in. It chokes me. I cannot breathe. I freeze, and I wait for it to consume me completely. This is the only choice I have.lifebelt-664292_1280

I know I am not alone. Anxiety is quite common these days, perhaps this is why I could not help but write this blog post. I can think of many acquaintances and friends that have trouble seeing the Lord through their sickened minds. Well, believe it or not, I have some very good news to share.

You see, I have been in the fight of my life for some time now. I have been getting along perfectly okay with my anxiety for most of my life. Occasionally, it shows me its ugly side and controls me like its puppet, but I tend to regain composure as soon as the circumstance rights itself. Recently, it showed me its ugly side—a very ugly side indeed, and since then, I have not been able to find my way back to normalcy. It has continually picked at me each day for months, and throughout these months, I have been fighting with my God—arguing with Him, ignoring Him, and trying to give up on Him.

However, God in His immense love and unfathomable wisdom chased me down. While I was fighting against Him, He was fighting for me. He has slowly opened my heart to the idea that perhaps it is Satan I should be fighting, that there is an unseen spiritual battle going on right inside my home, inside my head, and Jesus is simply the only weapon I have to fight these demons.

You see, I’m quite flattered that Satan is trying so hard to tear me from the Creator of the Universe. He certainly fears my faith….as he should. Even in my darkest battle with this unending, excruciating, controlling fear—my faith has never truly left me. I have tried to walk away from it and go out on my own, but I have always known that I will go back to it. I simply don’t know how to function without Jesus, and I am painfully aware of my infinite need for a Savior, even when I am furious with Him, even when He seems absent.

As I write this today, I am still fighting for my life, but I am part of God’s army now. He is my dwelling place. God has finally, after years of torturous avoidance and constant setbacks, shown me how to fight off my fear, Satan’s handiwork. I will not stop fighting as I have seen, if only for a moment, the power of Jesus Christ, even amidst my strongest delusions.

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Don’t get me wrong. I have a very long way to go. It is about retraining my mind—a mind that has been irrationally afraid for most of my life. I must let God’s Word conquer my fear, not once, but every day of my life. I now have tools to locate God’s peace amidst a hurricane of panic and negativity.

I never thought I would be able to say this. I never thought I would actually be able to smile, take a deep breath, and whisper, “My God is way bigger than this fear, because my God has already defeated Satan.” Jesus defeated Satan, and He gave His followers the power to do the same thing, to put Satan under our feet and carry on in His peace—a peace that we cannot possibly understand, but a peace that God desires all of us to feel.

I have returned to the safety of my Father’s embrace, to the wings that protect me from the arrows that fly by day and the terrors of the night (Psalm 91). God is working a miracle, a miracle I gave up on long ago.