How did we get into April? I am loving the lilacs, lawn mower sounds, and general themes of new life and beginnings. If nothing else happens in April, I was giddy to be over March. That was a tough month full of adversity and challenges.
What made things extra hard was that they were not my challenges. Both our kids were facing things that left them hurting and asking God why. I’ve faced prayer times that I thought were difficult, but seeing their pain nearly broke me.
One night we grieved and prayed together. We asked God tough questions and requested wisdom, discernment, and direction.
Not everything has changed, but here are three things God whispered to my heart to prepare for and to apply to the challenges.
- Close the current door with grace. We had an opportunity that we knew wasn’t working. It was time to leave, but feelings were raw and the true defeated one was trying to leave us in a quake of anxiety and depression. It would be easy and tempting to walk away angry and bitter. God’s whisper was to close the door with grace. More than that, the same manner we close one door is the exact way we open the next. We definitely wanted to act wisely.
- Use your voice. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but “praying in your head” doesn’t have the power that praying out loud does. I don’t think God is looking for us to stand in the middle of a park and start talking in King James Bible translation, but when we use our voice and pray, heaven moves and hell quakes. I’ve seen it. As I prayed with the kids, that phrase kept coming back. They needed to push back fears and bring down heaven’s promises to earth with declaration. That takes a voice, and in their hard times, I believe God is developing a powerful voice to speak on His behalf.
- Hands off. They are toddler rules, but I need to hear them. It is my personality to run way ahead of God, turn around, and ask Him how I’m doing. I call it living, “Sarah, Plan B,” and it is not a lifestyle you want to emulate. Sarah ended up with an “Ishmael” of a problem. I hate seeing the kids hurt, but I’ve been around long enough in faith to know that what’s happening is a refining fire. He’s taking everything that isn’t going to work in serving Him and melting it away through affliction. What’s left is pure Him. In their hard times I’m seeing a new level of faith from them. They are pressing in, going to Him and not giving up. I can’t orchestrate that or manipulate it. I’m not going to lie, being an observer of the process was one of the hardest things I’ve come up against as a parent.
I believe with this season and God’s whispers, the kids will look back and credit the time as a spiritual marker—a time they mark as when God changed everything.
Have you gone through a searing time of adversity where God whispered to you?
FINDING FREEDOM THROUGH SURRENDER-A 30 Day Devotional features the characters and issues from ENTRUSTED, ENTANGLED, and ENGAGED to encourage you as you let go of fear, loss, change, regret and dreams. I also share my own stories where I was broken and in need of surrender. If you’ve read my contemporary romance series, you’ll be familiar with the characters and inspired. If you’re new to my writing, the devotionals will introduce you to characters and situations you can relate to. Purchase HERE.
Yesterday I shared over at Christians Read that years ago I struggled with what I knew was a call on my life. It’s not only come to pass, it’s more specific.
I gave advice on how to avoid taking over and failing because we are not equipped.
What I didn’t say is how hard I’m struggling.
Early on I was so guilty of trying to save everyone. It never worked because that isn’t my job, and my health took a hit. A friend said, “Keep it up and it will kill you.” I have to hand the burdens over to Jesus. He fights for me. For the women I pray for. Not only does it have to be enough, it IS enough.
This year, even with that wisdom, I have been overcome with how unequipped I am. I battle guilt. I want to have the answers, the resources, the magic wand when they reach out to me. But the call isn’t any of those things. I’m only to pray and say as I feel I’m supposed to.
And guess what?
The silence is deafening.
He doesn’t want me to do a lot of talking right now.
In its wake, come the taunts. It’s not God’s voice and it isn’t mine. It’s the true defeated one, the one with so limited resources that he’s trying to convince me I’m the defeated one.
And it is a battle, my friends.
Surrendering not to the defeat but the taunts is draining. I’m a girl that wants to know why, and often with this prayer thing comes two things I hate and grieve, and deal with often. Loneliness and rejection.
Those things have been so intense this year I’ve thrown myself on the ground and just cried it out. I’ve realized there is power in tears, those are prayers that transcend language and I’ve got to get it out.
But it takes a lot out of me.
And once it subsides, I want to process it. Is it something I’m going through for my own life, something within our family? Because this has been a year I feel like those are critical prayers where my voice is the only one. Is it for those I’m standing in the gap for? Because never before have I had so many women coming at once with heartbreaking needs that hurt to hear. I hate hearing women are hurting. I see so much potential and most of these situations are strong women believing maybe not today, but someday they won’t just survive, but thrive. If I have to go through the valley for them, I’d do it. But not knowing the why I am having these times is hard.
Trust me, there is a lot of good stuff going on. We pressed in hard for our son to find steady employment and gradate from high school. The Lord gave us a picture of what his life looks like to Him and it is happening. It’s a beautiful thing. Our daughter is enjoying a good stretch of health after a rough spring. I’m finally okay with my husband’s job change and working from home. There are two books out with my name on the front that God is using to speak to women. Those are amazing praises.
But I’m the one that vowed to talk about surrender and make sure before I challenge anyone else, I’m doing it first. To be authentic even if no one else wants to hear it, or understand. So here I am. Maybe I’m waving in your imagination. Maybe I’m collapsed on a rug with a mouth full of chocolate and tears. Whatever you see, I’m all in.
And by faith, I have to believe that’s got the gates of hell shaking.
Don’t forget! Write Integrity is releasing chapters of Unlikely Merger. Here is Chapter Six plus other posts from the authors.
Saturday, June 13
Write Integrity Press: Unlikely Merger Chapter Six
Marji Laine: Yummy!
Carole Towriss: Talon’s Home Madison Alabama
Hey, Defeated One,
Yeah, I know you hate that name. That’s why during my special time with My daughter, Julie, I told her that’s your name. And that you hate it. And that I gave you that name. Because I want My Kids to know the truth.
You’ve been done for a long time.
And it won’t be long before the whole world knows how defeated you are.
But for now you have limited access, but I call the shots.
And one of the things I’ve done is tell my daughters, Julie for one, is that you are the true defeated one who is trying to pass that truth onto them instead. I let you try because when they realize they are not defeated, it’s a great time. For them.
For My Kingdom that keeps growing.
You’ve been after my daughters and you’re getting desperate.
You love when people choose bitter over better.
When they refuse to forgive.
When they feel lost and empty and turn to things. Toxic things and people.
When people, even churches, especially churches, twist My Words.
And you love competition.
Families should be for each other.
Women should lift each other up but out of insecurity, you relish when they tear each other down.
But here’s the thing.
I know you have a target on Julie’s back. Remember? You had to ask my permission.
You’ve messed with her head.
Put situations in her path meant for her destruction.
When she’s been physically alone you’ve sent your worst agents to question where I was. If she mattered. If I cared. In that loneliness she has battled rejection, fear and fury. All because I said it was okay.
It’s not okay.
But I allowed it because I can see what you can’t.
I’m going to promote that girl to the next level.
I’m preparing her for things greater than she can imagine.
But you have a little hint, don’t you?
Because you’re that desperate.
You know she’s willing to do whatever I ask.
Her heart beats for Me.
And she’s going to take this season and grow from it.
Tell others about My faithfulness.
And make sure everyone who will listen know you are the defeated one.
Your access to her stops now because I said so.
Release every plan, person, word, curse, thought, agent from hell, idea you have against her and send all your destruction back with you never to rise up and go after her again. You will not be able to speak or move without my say so. Nor can anyone willing to listen to you be able to target her or her family. You and your minions get your hands off her writing, her ministry, her plans to give Me glory.
I’m going to prosper that girl. Her family. Friends. Church. Ministry. Writing. Home.
And it starts now.
When our daughter was in an infant she was diagnosed with airway restrictive disease or something like that. It was asthma, but she was too young to be diagnosed with it was the gist of it.
But breathing was hard for her without assistance.
As she’s aged, she’s needed the nebulizer less and less. In fact, I’m not even sure where I unpacked it. But with the recent weather changes she’s had trouble catching her breath after exerting herself. After communicating with the doctor we decided to get an inhaler for prevention.
I looked at it and realized I can relate a lot to that inhaler, silly as it sounds.
I’ve been exerting myself harder than I thought spiritually. This first half of the year has felt like an uphill climb in ways as we walked through what we knew was planned, and through what wasn’t.
My times in the Word were on the low side but my need increased.
After a few spiritual skirmishes and direction we know is from the Lord, I’m not just tired.
I’m spiritually gasping for air.
I’ve been journaling and that’s helped, but I decided to find a Bible study that would meet my current needs. I have trouble finding friends who can commit to a Bible study and finish with me. I have trouble attending local ones because I can get a bit crazy about sounds and personal space.
So, I joined Women’s Bible Cafe on Facebook, the Anonymous Bible Study. The book is by Cindi Wood and there are several times throughout the week to join the groups. I decided during the day when the kids are in school so I can focus. I am loving the book. It is like a spring rain on a dry plant. I can’t soak in enough. To be a nameless face just encouraging others and receiving His Word, it is restoring me from critical to stable. To continue on the road to thriving, I know I need more things like this.
The study has been my inhaler and I thank God in His wisdom He showed me what used to work before wasn’t enough in this season. I’ve been depleted on a lot of levels and now I’m having intimate time with the Lord, revelation from Him, connection with others and accountability.
What’s your spiritual state right now? Are you in need of an inhaler?
Yesterday I explained that Chosen Books, a division of Baker Publishing, sometimes sends me an e-mail asking if I’d like to review their books. Today, I review Kris Vallotton’s Spirit Wars.
Right away you can guess this isn’t light reading, and that it deals with things some might define as charismatic interest. I get that, and I’m okay with that. I know Kris Vallotton is a name that brings immediate reaction, and when I’m called on the carpet about reading books like this, I respond that I follow Kris or Bill Johnson or whoever as much as I follow Beth Moore. Meaning, I read their books. I might not agree with everything, but I don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. I use the Bible as my guide and take what I can use from those books, and leave out the rest. Simply put, I follow Jesus Christ, not man.
That said, I was intrigued to read Spirit Wars. Although I know it’s easy to find spiritual warfare even in burned toast, I am a prayer warrior who can testify I have gone up against things that were not of God, and I called on Christ’s authority and prayed against forces I know were the real deal in spiritual warfare.
Spirit Wars is a book where I learned a little, underlined a bit, and agreed with some of the principles and experiences he shares. However, the author seems conflicted. He admits a severe burn out and what it took to get out of that pit. He confesses to taking medication and seems apologetic to even admit it. He talks about Joshua and Nehemiah, but a lot of the book is his own story, which I don’t feel he’s very comfortable in talking about–almost as if there is more for him to deal with, and he’s not there yet.
There are some doctrinal issues that I can’t get on board with, and like I said, I won’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, but I can’t say I agreed with every single thing in the book. I did not.
My opinion is he needed to write either a personal experience kind of book, or a how-to using Joshua and Nehemiah as his guide. Using both didn’t work for me, and it is a shame, because I have enjoyed his other books.
If you’re looking for a comprehensive look at spiritual warfare, I recommend Chuck Pierce’s Time to Defeat the Devil. That’s a book that is dog eared and underlined so much the ink bleeds through the pages. Spirit Wars? Only a few underlines, no dog-eared pages.
Worth reading, but not as the top book on the subject.
You know the battle is raging–but are you fighting the right enemy?
Just as enemies fought Joshua in the Promised Land, and Nehemiah faced opposition as he rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, our enemy will fight us as we approach the spiritual terrain God has promised us. Most Christians retreat at the first sign of conflict because they fail to recognize the true nature of the battle. But you can prevail in freedom and joy.
Sharing his deeply personal story of demonic bondage, torment and ultimate deliverance, pastor and bestselling author Kris Vallotton turns the idea of spiritual warfare as we know it on its head. He reveals the diabolical lies and strategies of the enemy–attacks and traps so subtle and deceptive that we may find our souls and hearts imprisoned without even knowing it.
No more! Now you can win the invisible battle against sin and the enemy. Victory is within your grasp. Will you take hold?
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.