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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Comparison Trap

Do you ever find yourself staring at another woman,
wishing you had what SHE has??
Just recently I saw a woman who was 20 wks pregnant with her 3rd child and you couldn't even tell she was pregnant. She was tiny EVERYWHERE but in her perfectly round belly - that was hidden under the cutest NON pregnancy blouse, I might add. Immediately I found myself saying "Lord, that is just NOT fair! "  Feeling a bit down, I was comparing myself to her in my ill -fitted post-pregnancy clothes, struggling to lose the last 20 lbs of my 50 lb pregnancy gain - 7 months later.   

I heard God ping right back to my heart - "yes it is" and quickly reminded me that we all have areas of struggle. She may not have my struggle in weight, but NO life is perfect. And HELLO?? How about the AMAZING gift He JUST gave me - my baby boy?!!! How quickly our eyes can turn < from the blessing-to the longing > of the next thing. (a thought saved for another blog :)

Comparison. It's a tricky thing. We can use it to challenge and better ourselves, or it can be used to cripple us into a place of striving to be something we were never meant to be.  We, especially women, can find ANY area to compare ourselves to ie: weight, hair, style, house, cooking, craftiness, organization - you name it, we compare. We escape into the world of Pinterest hoping to attain to a level of excellence in any area we are feeling particularly low in.We rate ourselves as women, mothers and wives against the lives we "see" on facebook and blogs.

Comparison in and of itself is not bad. The verb actually means: ~To examine in order to note the similarities or differences of~  
It can be a good thing if we use it to better ourselves, examining differences of areas that need growth. I love to be around other women who are healthy eaters and work out because it inspires me to reach for a greater level of excellence in those areas of my life.
 However, comparison can quickly turn into jealousy/coveting if we are not careful. 
The Bible actually says we are not to covet "anything that belongs to our neighbor"

Think of Rachel and Leah in the Bible (Genesis 30). Rachel was jealous of her sister Leah because Leah was able to bare Jacob many sons. What Rachel needed to see was that though Leah was blessed with children, she was not blessed with love. Rachel had the love of her husband that Leah did not have. Can you imagine what Leah's Facebook page would have looked like? Many sons all around her, big smiles, making memories; but what you wouldn't see was her broken heart that could never gain the love of her husband. 

Do you ever find yourself feeling down because you feel you don't measure up? When we find others that seem to have it "all together", ask them how they got there! You may find out their house is perfectly clean because they hire someone to clean it; or that they get up at 5am to get their work out in; or the perfect picture they captured of their children is actually photo shopped - not showing the sink full of dishes and the chaos of the day.

"Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies." Philipians 4:8

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Praying For Our Children

Being a new mommy brings many happy and fulfilling moments. Amazing, thankful moments when your heart is so swollen it could burst and all you can get out is a whisper humbly saying-" thank You Jesus for this precious life. "

There are other times when you feel so inadequate and wonder how in the world you could have been chosen and entrusted with such a  beautiful creation. What a HUGE responsibility; the raising and nurturing of a CHILD. (I mean I kill EVERY plant that passes by my "black thumb". No matter how hard I try, what fertilizer or soil I use - and now I'm nurturing a child?!) However, I am reminded that I have GREATER resources to rely on - 
The RICHEST soil: the Word of God
The STRONGEST fertilizer: Prayer 
The PUREST water: Jesus

Psalm 127:4 says that children are like arrows in the hand of a warrior - I believe that this is saying that our children have the potential to be history makers and world changers - we can "point them" in a direction to fly, to soar and to hit the target of their destiny right in the bulls eye. 
WE are the warrior. WE fight for our children. 

HOW do we fight for our children? PRAYER. This is our GREATEST weapon! 

For example we can pray and ask for wisdom USING SCRIPTURE as we make choices and decisions for our children daily. James 1:5 says If ANY man(woman) lacks wisdom, he is to ask of God who gives it LIBERALLY. 

There are so many things that I am confronted with already- choices, choices choices!  To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? Feed him RICE cereal first? (arsenic??) or start with OATMEAL? Give him solids at 4 or 6 months??? So many questions and EACH topic is SO important to their growth and development! Thank God for the Holy Spirit who "will guide us into ALL truth ..." John 16:13 So I ask the Lord for the wisdom and insight to know what is best for my son in EVERY situation. 

I want to list some topics for you to pray over your child along with a scripture reference. These are scriptures and topics my husband and I pray over our son and continue to!  I pray this will be of help to you as you strengthen your arms for war! Remember who we are warring with - the enemy knows how important our children are to the Kingdom of God. But God has not left us helpless~He has given us everything we need to raise compassionate, courageous, strong, Spirit-lead men and women of God! This next generation will do greater things than we will do!!! 

*some scriptures reworded to pray personally.
  • Protection: Psalm 91:11 He will give His angles charge over you to KEEP you in ALL your ways (actually ALL of Psalm 91 )
  • Health: Proverbs 3:7,8 Fear the lord and depart from evil. It will be HEALTH to your flesh and strength to your bones. Isaiah 53:5 But He was wounded and bruised for our <sins>; and by His stripes <on His back> we are Healed. 
  • Peace: Phillipians 4:7 that the peace of God would guard his heart and mind!
  • Future Spouse: Genesis 24:14 the one YOU have appointed for my child
  • Call of God/Destiny: 2 Timothy 1:3-7 I thank God... without ceasing- I remember you in my prayers night and day...calling to remembrance the genuine faith that is IN you , which was first in your grandmother(s) and your Momma (and Daddy) and I am persuaded is in you also. So I pray that the gift of God which is in you would be stirred up! For God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind!


Friday, April 27, 2012

A Piece of My Story...

So much has happened in my life the last few months. It's time to write about God's faithfulness to me in this season. I pray you find hope in a piece of my story.
 "Whether we like it or not, life has a lot of drama and pain. But God is writing a great story. Are we going to let Him? Are we going to trust Him?" - Beth Moore

In August 2010 I found out I was pregnant after our first time "trying". My husband and I were ecstatic! We had just celebrated our second year anniversary and we were ready to start our family. Unfortunately around week 9, I miscarried. 
It was one of the hardest things I've ever been through. The feeling of loss enveloped me as I felt completely abandoned by God. I couldn't understand why He would allow that to happen. Aside from the physical pain of my body losing a baby, the internal feeling of loss was sometimes overwhelming.

I spent the next 16 months trying to make some sense of this. God, in His faithfulness, walked so closely with me teaching me many things along the  way. Many of these priceless lessons are documented in my past blogs.

We continued to "try" for another baby. We went to a fertility doctor during this time and tried numerous things, at some point I was at the doctors office every other day for them to take blood and check my levels. If you've ever been through any fertility treatments, you know how taxing this can be on your heart AND your wallet! 
I've heard that this can also be tough on a marriage, but I'm so thankful for the Godly man I married. His strength and covering helped my fluctuating hormones and emotions!! As we pulled in closer, we prayed together and fought discouragement with scripture. Month after month we refused to give up hope. 

Our next step was supposed to be IVF, however we had to take a month off because I developed a cyst from a previous treatment. I was a little frustrated, feeling like it was just another set back. However, we were scheduled to start IVF the day after Christmas... about 6 weeks away.
Well that month off is when IT happened! No medicineno doctor, no schedule. It was God's timing. When HE wanted it to happen.

I am now 5 months pregnant with a little boy!!! We are full of joy at the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord!!

Everyone has a story, and God has different ways of bringing us to the place where He needs us to be for His glory- and this is a piece of my story. 

It's so exciting to be in this new chapter now. Thankfully we are always learning and growing, so there will be more lessons and more opportunities to grow in my faith walk as a Mommy. With these lessons will come more blogs!! 

God is constantly speaking to us... are you listening? Think about what He has been speaking to your heart. What is the lesson you are learning at this point in your story? Find a way to document it and build your alter of remembrance! Even a piece of your story could encourage someone else to hold on tighter to God's promise concerning them!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I will NOT bow....

Recently I've been struck profoundly by the story of Shadrach Meshach and AbedNego found in Daniel chapter 3. This is a famous Sunday School story I have heard my whole life.
Let me RECAP:
Three young Hebrew men were serving in King Nebuchadnezzars kingdom as high ranking officials. King Neb (for short) created a HUGE statue that he wanted everyone to bow down to whenever they heard the special music playing. If the people did NOT bow, they would be thrown into a fiery furnace. Scary stuff.
As we know the 3 Hebrews worshiped God and refused to bow to the golden statue. When King Neb heard this he was furious and told the guards to make the furnace 3x's hotter! Really scary stuff.
Here's the part that has gripped my heart... Shadrach Meshach and AbedNego responded saying:
"O Neb, we have no reason to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace and He will deliver us from your hand O King." (that's the part we all shout "YEAH, GREAT faith!")

but wait ... they continue...
"BUT IF NOT, let it be known to you O King, that we do not serve your gods...."
There it is.
This is what a true heart of submission and trust looks like.

I love their ENORMOUS faith. However, it's really easy to skip over this crucial part of their faith. They KNEW God was able. They were also not shaken by what God's decision would be.

This is not about giving up on our dreams. No, it's about a heart that is submitted to His timing and His way. I KNOW God is able to create life in me. But, WHEN He does it is up to HIM. When we get a promise from God, we hold on to it. Sometimes it doesn't come in the time frame we are expecting it to come in. Sometimes it doesn't even look like what we thought it would look like. What is important however, is that we do not BOW.

Every month that I get a negative pregnancy test, I have a   "But If NOT" moment. What is my response to a situation that seems like God did not come through again? I want to bow... to the gods of  despair, depression, fear etc.
After seeing this so clearly and recognizing what I was doing- it had to STOP!   I WILL NOT BOW any longer. God will come through and He will do ALL that He has promised.

Whatever it may be in your life, choose today not to bow to what you see; circumstances that would cause you to doubt the hand of God in your life. Choose to believe that He is working even when we don't see Him. Choose to believe, like Shadrach, Meshack and AbedNego, with hearts submitted to HIS plan, God will deliver us from the fiery furnace. God did deliver them AND He will deliver you too!

Luke 1:45
"And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord! "

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Faith like... a Roller Coaster??

There are many examples in the Bible of men and women who have believed God for -and received seemingly impossible things. When I want to read about someone with extraordinary faith, I of course think of Abraham first.

Romans 4:18-22
 In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken...yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.

In the process of faith, believing God for various things He has promised, I sometimes get on what I call the "Roller Coaster Of Faith". It goes something like this:

I start out strong in what the Lord has said, having all my scriptures to stand on. I am confident and sure! Then the waiting gets long...still standing.... and the waiting gets longER . At this point there is still no evidence of a promise fulfilled... My faith is now wavering and I am wandering in the wilderness of UN-belief.
                                                       WHERE is the evidence of MY faith ?

Wanting desperately to take control and figure out a way I can make it happen on my own, I am exhausted in my own fruitless efforts, and I am reminded again that I am NOT in control. So, I swing myself back to the place where my hope and faith are on the Lord and His promises - reminding myself of His faithfulness.  

Have you ever experienced this type of roller coaster? Well, you are not alone... so did ABRAHAM! 

Yes, it says he did not waver in unbelief, but it also says he grew in faith. He had to start somewhere. Let's recall Genesis 16, where Abraham grew tired of waiting on God to bring his heir. He took Sarah's maid Hagar and created his first born son Ishmael. He actually made quite a mess of things and could have been lost in despair. Instead he GREW in faith, being able to see God's promise come to pass in his life!

I just love that it was not his mess that was recorded in the New Testament. It was his faith. I believe God sees beyond our weakness and celebrates our strengths turning them to victories.

The point is, if you've gone through the ups and downs of faith like me, DON'T despair. GROW in faith. We have the potential to believe God as Abraham did and experience God's faithfulness in fulfilling His promises. 
Be determined to head back up the hill to the mountain top and ask God to give you vision, to see things like HE does! 

I love this song from Jesus Culture that prays this very prayer - "God I look to You, You're where my help comes from. Give me vision, to see things like you do... "

Friday, September 30, 2011

His Love Endures ~

For the past couple of weeks, this song of God's love for me has been playing over and over in my heart and has given me great comfort. 
{"His love endures... FOREVER His love endures,... forever His love endures,... forever and ever!"}

So many sad things have happened this week to friends of mine or friends of friends. My heart has been so heavy, and broken for so many; praying for God's comfort, His mercy, His power in miracles and His love to surround. I don't understand His ways, but I know even in the darkest night - His love endures forever.
When I've gotten frustrated at His way, when I've questioned Him and His decisions, even in the midst of my pain .... He still loves me. Forever.

{"We have found our hope, we have found our peace, we have found our rest, in the One who loves"}

We have learned this fundamental truth in Sunday School- Jesus Loves Us. Why then, are we at times in such deficit?  Why do we question His love when life hurts and does not make sense?
"Don't be afraid. Dear Zion, don't despair. Your God is present among you, a strong Warrior there to save you... He'll calm you with His love and delight you with His songs." Zephaniah 3:16

Let's remind ourselves today to live in that pure child-like faith.
I pray this often over myself, and today I pray this for you as well.

"That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—  to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."  Ephesians 3:17-20

Friday, September 9, 2011

Building My Altar

Every step along this journey of hope, every lesson I've learned, I have had to stop to build my altar and lay down -again and again- those things that I let become greater than my trust in the Lord. ie: my fear (over and over), my pride, my control, my lack of patience, and the greatest: my dreams.
Where did I build my altar? Here. This blog.

I do not write this blog because I have such great depth of knowledge and wisdom and feel I should share it with everyone out there in cyberspace. I write this blog because I need a place of remembrance.  That is what an altar is: a place of remembrance. It may not be made of bricks and stone, but it is a marked spot that I can go back to and remember all that I have learned. David many times would write "a psalm to bring to remembrance" (Ps.38and 70)

Before I began blogging, I was learning hard lessons each month as I faced each new challenge to my faith. However, in the next month or so, I would be struggling with something and realizing "this is the same thing I learned LAST month, just from a different angle!" I was learning and then forgetting. So I began to write down little titles for myself to help me remember what I've learned. You may remember some of them, as some have become blog posts. "Prisoner of Hope", "Use Your Fighting Words" etc.
Hopefully my altar has been an encouragement to you too along the way!!

In the Old Testament, there are many examples of people to whom the Lord had spoken; to mark this moment and REMEMBER all that the Lord had said, they would build an altar.

"Then the LORD said to him, 'Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die.' So Gideon built an altar there to the LORD, and called it The-LORD-Is-Peace." Judges 6:23,24

 I have built my altar and have called it PRISONER OF HOPE!