The War Against Our Minds

One of my favorite places to be is sitting on the porch with a cup of coffee. I would rather retreat there than to clean the house or tackle the laundry that is always calling my name. That’s where I was this morning, along with Dr. Stanley’s In Touch Devotional Magazine. As Christians, we need to devote a portion of our day toward reading God’s word, praying and meditating on how He is speaking to us through the passages we read. I know this, yet time and time again I let other things fill my mind and day; gardening, yard work, pool, kids’ summer work packet, etc. I think about my boys and all the things satan uses to corrupt their young minds. We have to be so careful of what they watch on T.V., music they listen to, the various forms of technology – iPod’s, internet, etc. I still remind the boys of the song they were taught in Sunday School, “Oh Be Careful Little Eyes What You See…” and try my best to explain what that song means for us as Christians. As adults, the war against our minds is still there.

Honestly, today was the first day I picked up my devotional magazine. I totally missed the month of June! So, I’m starting again with the month of July. I’m only 1 day behind! One of the articles, “Taking Thoughts Captive” spoke to me this morning. Our minds are a gift from God. Just as we teach our children to “be careful…what you see/hear/do/go…”, as adults, we too must be careful. I needed the reminder today of Philippians 4:8 ~ Whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”

The wise king Jehoshaphat went into battle, led only by praise singers. 2 Chronicles 20:20-24 states, “So they rose early in the morning and went out into the Wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper. And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: Praise the Lord, For His mercy endures forever. Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another. So when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped.” The reflect and explore question from the In Touch Magazine says, “Why does praising God dilute and defeat tricks against the mind?” From my experience, when I’m down or have had a bad day, turning on Christian music lifts me up, takes my focus off my problems and back onto the Lord. Please feel free to add your comment. I would love to read your responses to this question.

A Simple Prayer From the Heart of a Child

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on my blog but, as a wise friend reminded me, God will lead me when I need to post something.  It’s always like that with God.  His way, His timing, His plan.  And it’s always for my good! 

Last night, as I tucked my youngest into bed, I knelt beside him as he said his nighttime prayer.  It went something like this.

“Dear Heavenly Father, (Yes!  This is how my almost 8 year old starts his prayers now.)  Thank you for this day.  Please help me to have lots of dreams of Grandma Wade because I miss her.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

Awe.  I love to listen to the heart of my children through their prayers.  His prayer reminded how simple it is to go before the Lord and talk to him from my heart.  Believing with simple, child-like faith that my Heavenly Father is listening.  My youngest son still wants me to be in his room as we either pray together or he leads his own prayer.  My oldest son is at that stage where he doesn’t always want to pray out loud, so I am learning to respect that as his private conversation with God.  I certainly need to be more consistent with our nighttime routine, because it is such an important part of our day.  This is the time when we read from the bible, talk about it because they usually have questions, and pray together.  There are many things I want my boys to know and learn, but a big one is to learn how important prayer is in their lives.  Last night I almost didn’t go upstairs, but I felt a need to.  Thank goodness I listened to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, because I would have missed out on hearing my sons heart.  I would have also missed the lesson God wanted to remind me of.  That no request is too small to take to Him in prayer.  He wants us to “cast all our cares upon Him”.  Matthew 21:21-22 says, “So Jesus answered and said to them, Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, Be removed and be cast into the sea, it will be done.  And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”  In Matthew 6:10, “Your Kingdom come.  Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  I can remember my mom talking about prayer and how she always brought her requests to God, but also prayed “not her will but God’s will be done.”  Having been taught to pray for God’s will to be done in my life by my mom, this is something I want to share and pass on to my boys.

My mom passed away in 2009 from lung cancer, and although I know she is in heaven having a great time, there is still a void in my heart and life from her absence here, just as my children feel the same void.  This verse is a good reminder to me of how Christians should view death and mourning.  I Thessalonians 4:13, “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.” 

Obeying God’s call, no matter how small!

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The quote in this picture sums up my reason behind creating this blog site. I felt God speaking to my heart about sharing his truth and how he has and is working in my life. I certainly do not have a “way with words”. Some authors can write amazing sentences that vividly paints a picture in my mind! I often have beautiful conversations going on in my mind as I am making connections with verses and how God is showing me to apply it. However, by the time the words come out of my mouth, it more resembles children hurrying out of the building during a fire drill! Everyone is trying to get out at the same time, therefore my words get jumbled and it doesn’t sound quite as eloquent as it did in my mind. During one of these times, as I’m trying to share insights with my husband and it comes out wrong, he gives me this strange look as if I’m speaking another language. Or other times, as I’m having a hard time finding the right words I want to say, and end up rambling, he says “Land the plane, woman!”. Thank goodness I can laugh at myself!

Anytime I feel God leading me towards some new venture, I have an internal debate taking place. I’m not good enough. Other people can write so much better than me. What if no one reads my posts and I’m speaking to myself? LOL, you get the idea. The Pastor’s sermon yesterday was titled, “What’s in Your Hand?”. In Exodus 4:1-4 it states, “then Moses answered and said, But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, The Lord has not appeared to you. So the Lord said to him, What is that in your hand? He said, A rod. And He said, Cast it on the ground. So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. then the Lord said to Moses, Reach out your hand and take it by the tail (and he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand).” I can certainly relate to Moses in these verses. I wouldn’t want to reach out and pick up a snake, no more than I want to do anything that causes me to step out of my comfort zone. But as I’ve learned (and am still learning), if God calls me to do something then He will also be with me and provide all that I need to do His perfect will. My bible provides notes to some of the verses and it explains these in this way, “A shepherd’s rod was commonly a three to six foot wooden staff with a curved hook at the top. The shepherd used it for walking, guiding his sheep, killing snakes, and many other tasks. Still, it was just a stick. But God used the simple shepherd’s rod Moses carried as a sign to teach him an important lesson. God sometimes takes joy in using ordinary things for extraordinary purposes. What are the ordinary things in your life – your voice, a pen, a hammer, a broom, a musical intrument? While it is easy to assume God can use only special skills, you must not hinder his use of the everyday contributions you can make. Little did Moses imagine the power his simple rod would wield when it became the rod of God.” So, I am but a simple stick, but when I allow God to work in and through me, I can be so much more! Little is much when God is in it.

Stressed-Less Living

I have just begun my first online Bible Study using the book “Stressed-Less Living: Finding God’s Peace in Your Chaotic World” by Tracie Miles. I have read through Chapter 1 several times and each time something different pops out at me or God is helping me to see things in a clearer light. The first phrase I have highlighted in this book is “my eyes were opened”. That’s exactly how I’ve been feeling; like God has opened my eyes, or removed the blinders from my eyes to see things about myself that I didn’t really like. However, I am so glad that He did. In Dr. Stanley’s In Touch Devotional for Friday, he said “if we want to see the Lord use us, we must allow Him to get rid of the “chaff” that prevents us from reaching our maximum potential.” I don’t know about you, but I want to reach my maximum potential and not stand in God’s way of what He wants me to do in my life. I want to live the abundant life that God has planned for me. That will not happen if I do not turn over every part of my life to be under His control. Another sentence that I highlighted reminded me of my indecisiveness at times. “I felt like a wayward stick in the middle of the ocean, tossed in tumultuous waves that were constantly crashing in from every direction.” When I can’t make up my mind or I go back and forth about a decision, like a ping-pong ball, it’s usually because I have not taken it to the Lord. I’m glad for God’s patience with me and He surely knows what I need to go through in order to lead me to a path of greater understanding, a stronger faith and dependence upon Him alone.

One of Those Days!

Ugh!  I know EVERY parent has had one of THOSE days.  Where peace and harmony is replaced with whining and arguing.  When all you desire are a few quiet, uninterrupted moments to rest or get your thoughts together. Since Spring break, I’ve been trying to get myself back into the daily habit of spending time with the Lord.  However, missing a few days of reading my bible and praying consistently certainly showed in how I responded to my boys as testy situations arose.  I was less patient, more grumpy, the opposite of everything I wanted to be.  You think I would have learned by now that to be ready for anything, you first must be filled with the one who will sustain and strengthen you. How can I go from a week of bliss where everything goes smoothly in the home to a day that’s stressful? Well, for me that was due to trying to live that day in my own strength; “I can do it myself!” NOT! “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” ~ Philippians 4:13. Do I always remember and practice this? No, but God is not finished with me yet. I am still a work in progress. When I make parental mistakes, lose my temper, etc., I try to apologize to the boys so that they also learn the importance of saying “I’m sorry”. It is also a great teachable moment where I can remind them that we will all make mistakes. That’s why we needed a Savior!

Listen and Obey

This can be a hard thing to do for some of us.  You know, the strong-willed and stubborn type.  That’s me.  I have to learn the hard way sometimes.  I can see some of this in both of my sons, but then again maybe it is just our sinful nature.  I find myself telling my boys to “listen and obey” the first time a lot.  It is in those moments that the Lord speaks to my heart and reminds me of myself.  How many times does God have to tell me what He wants me to do before I finally listen and obey?  There’s usually this struggle between what I think and what He knows is truly best for me.  How many chances does He give me?  Just one?  I am thankful for God’s grace, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, patience and love as He is trying to mold and shape me into a strong Christian woman.  It will only be through His help that I muttle through and try to do the same for my boys; raising them up to be strong men of God!

Seeing a Challenge as a Blessing

There will always be challenges in parenting, and I have surely made my share of mistakes along the way. One of our challenges is having a child with ADHD. This was a tough diagnosis to hear. No parent wants to hear that something is wrong with their child. My main problem though was my attitude and how I viewed this diagnosis. Once I took my eyes off of the “label” and looked at this through God’s eyes, He helped me to see that there was nothing “wrong” with my son. I can remember praying and asking God to help me see my child through His eyes. God makes no mistakes. He created this child in His image, just as He has created us all. He has tons of energy and a big, loving heart. What I love most is the way he gets so excited over little things. His eyes light up and he has a huge smile. He loves to help others, ride the tractor with his Daddy and will talk to anyone who will listen. And if you listen to him long enough, you can bet he will talk to you about trains! One of my favorite sayings of his is, “God made me to love trains Mommy.” He says this when I tell him he’s making his train whistles too loud.

He currently takes a low dose of medication to help him focus and get his classwork done in school. This was another tough bump in the road. Making the decision to use medication and finding the right one that worked for him without losing his personality.

I love my children and I can not imagine my life without them. Even when I’m tired and seem to be running low on patience. I wish I could say I always have it together and that I always have a good attitude, but I don’t. Some days are better than others, but if I spend quiet time with the Lord and my bible, God gives the strength I need.