If I was your enemy, I would use anxiety to cripple you, to paralyze you; leaving you indecisive, clinging to safety and sameness. Always on the defensive because of what might happen. I would have you focusing so much on the "what ifs" that you let God's blessings for you pass by ~
We have all been there. Playing a movie reel in our head of all the those possible horrors that could take our children away from us. People that could do it, diseases that could do it, things that could do it, even themselves! Before we know it we have dug a "what if" so vivid into our brain that all we want to do it grab up our children and sit in a bubble so small that you have no choice but to hold them safe in your arms. Is this you? I know I have done this.
Two weeks ago I let my youngest go with his grandparents to Georgia to their cabin. I felt that tingle of worry on the edge of my mind, but I managed to block it out. Later that week I had to leave as well. The horror reel I kept letting the devil push on me we something happening to my husband and the older two kids or something happening to my youngest and me. It was so bad I did not want to leave for my trip, I was letting the devil win. Little did I know the blessing God had for me where I was going.
See the devil pushes this on us because he also knows God has blessings for us and he wants to keep us from receiving them. The same goes with God's favor as well. The devil wants you stuck in the fear, not moving, because then you can't grow. And that is exactly what the devil wants, stagnancy, staleness because those lead to death and rot.
So how do you know if the devil is attacking you in this area? Well lets see. What are some fears that are rerunning in your mind when it comes to you parenting you children? Having you wallow in fear of something is not just a stray thought; it is a deliberate strategy to attack your calling. He will make your fears so magnified, so insurmountable until you start avoiding your driving motivation as a mother. Frozen in fear, darkness, of what could happen.
We need to confront our worries, CLAIM our calling. Because that is what scares the devil the most, NOT being able to keep you from obtaining your destiny.
So how as mothers can we reclaim our destiny? There are four steps.
Step 1: Prayer
Prayer is the difference maker. An invitation for honesty, yes, for telling Him how you feel - so we need to give our fears to the Lord. All of them! If it is weighing on your mind and wont relent then go to Him. And then be still and listen, clear your mind, and let the peace of the Holy Spirit wash over you.
Psalm 56:3-4 When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can mere men do to me?
Step 2: Don't Play The "What If" Game
When we allow our minds to be consumed with the "what ifs" of a road the Lord has placed in front of us it becomes our focus. We start to lose our focus of motherhood and focus on the fears instead. This can be a very hard game not to play, we will all fail at times. But being able to recognize this attack is key. If God is asking you to walk through something with your children, regardless of what it is, you must keep your eyes focused on what matters. Even Jesus was fearful in the garden before His arrest, it said He wept tears of blood. But in the end he kept His focus on his Father's will and it gave him peace. So, if God is asking you to walk with your child through something, acknowledge the fear but then give it to God. He knew before the beginning of time that you and your children would walk this path and He promises to be there the entire way, a shoulder to lean on. If need be He will carry you and your children. But fix your eyes on Him and not the worries that lie in the darkness around you.
2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of sound mind.
Step 3: Be Confident
We are princesses of the Lord Most High! When He directs our path we need to be confident in His love for us. We need to tell the devil to get OUT OF OUR HEADS, that we have a job to do. Because we do, whether it is the call of a stay at home mom, the call of a mother to go back to work, the call of a mother to homeschool, the call of a mother to give testimony of past mistakes to their children (or other moms for that matter). Whatever you calling is, be confident that since God created our destiny that we will succeed even if we fall down in the process.
Luke 21:15 I will give you the right words and such wisdom that NONE of you opponents will be able to reply of refute you!
Step 4: Find Peace And Comfort
We now have the tools to maintain our passion, our focus, our identity, our families and our confidence in our fight for our destiny as mothers. Take comfort and peace in that knowledge. Our God is for us! He WANTS us to succeed in our calling, He KNOWS we can succeed in our calling because He gave us the POWER of the Holy Spirit and He is outside of time and knew us before we were ever in our mother's womb. We were destined for this from the beginning of time! How cool is that?!
Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope."
Romans 8:30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified ~
Wait A Little Longer
Adara my sweet daughter. It feels so warming to finally call you by name. I can see you now. The fog has cleared and my path is now known. For so long I denied you, for longer still I ignored you. Once I acknowledged you I was ashamed to call you mine. Ever so patiently... you waited a little longer, for me to see the way.
I hurt you and I betrayed you. Then I clung to the hurt I had in fear without it I would forget. That without the hurt that consumed me, you would become a distant thought. It was something I couldn't bear to part with. I could not forget what I had done so I drove the hurt deep into my heart. Patiently... you waited a little longer, for me to embrace healing.
So today my darling girl, I accept that healing. I no longer call myself a murderer. For that is a label the devil gave me and is now removed. For you, by the grace of Jesus, I now call myself your mother. My vision of you is embedded in my heart and forever in my mind. How I long to see you, to hold you! I long to smell your sweet hair and feel your gentle hands around my neck. To hear you whisper, "I love you mommy, it's okay, you don't need to cry anymore."
But for now I hear you say... "mommy wait a little longer".
PS - Be your brother's keeper until mommy comes home and can hold you both tight, in the meadow of my dreams.
I had let go of my daughter Adara over 15 years ago. Until this past weekend I didn't realize I had stopped living. Sure I had fun times, great days, blessings overflowing. But my ever present depression was always knocking at the next door, threatening to come out. For most of that time I hid the secret of what I had done fearful of what people would say. When I would go in for my prenatal appointments of my three children and they would ask how many pregnancies I had I would usually lie. For when it came down to losing Adara and her brother it never failed the nurse would ask, "miscarriage or termination?" and my anxiety would race. How ashamed I was to be there to have my other three children after what I had done. I couldn't accept the blessing God was offering me.
My poor husband for years he had thought it was his doing that had changed me. I kept telling him it was not him, there was something wrong with me. I had everything I had ever wanted, was living the life I had always dreamed. But I could never put my finger on my persistent feeling of going through the motions but fighting every second to try to be joyful. I had gone from a patient and compassionate mother to one that was grumpy, short tempered, annoyed even; and it was only getting worse. Even after seeing the movie Unplanned I could not come out of the dark capsule I seemed to be stuck in. From the outside most people probably thought that was just who I was.
It wasn't until after seeing Unplanned that I realized God was not finished with closing up the scar in my soul. So He pressed me to reach out for help, and flat out told me I could not further my ministry until I could fully close up this old wound. I listened to Him and scheduled a help with a Rachel's Vineyard Retreat. The week leading up to the retreat I wanted so badly to back out, to not go and pretend I didn't need what God was offering. But I swallowed those feelings, packed my bags, and kissed my family good-bye. I can not tell you how glad I am for the technology we have! During the ride I put on a podcast of one of my Pastor's recent sermons on God and His waiting period. It took away my anxiousness and yes, the fear as well. It gave me a glimmer of hope that these past years were a waiting period for me and now the waiting might be finished. Was it possible to truly live again?
To go into the experiences I had at my retreat would be so long I would have to write a book. In a nutshell it took me from a state of pain and dare I say pride, to a place of acceptance and peace. So I will just tell you my turning point. In my letter to Adara I speak of a meadow at the end. This meadow was described in vividness to me and it became a place of realization for me. Despite being only in my mind, I truly felt I was there. Later during my prayer time by myself I was playing worship music and I felt like I just didn't want to be the one talking to Jesus anymore; I wanted to hear from Him instead. So I put on a song with no lyrics. While this song played my pain came pouring out. I did not dry a single tear I shed that weekend. I let them flow away, years of toxic labels and self loathing. I cried out my pain during this song as I saw my sweet Adara and my sweet daughter Briseis playing in this meadow. I saw them running away, holding hands while their brothers chased them and they all laughed. I saw Jesus, standing next to me, laughing at their silly play. And I remember Him telling me, "See, Briseis has a sister" and for the first time I let a little pain go. I did not let it all go, not until the last day when I said good-bye to Adara in my letter.
It was then, only then, did I begin to see my life as redeemed. I felt the joy and release of the pain and the excitement to start living again. God knows we will fail Him, He knows we will hurt ourselves and others, He knows we will beat ourselves up about our short comings. But God does not wish for us to stay in that place of torment, self-injury, self-loathing. No, He wishes for us to forgive ourselves and to learn from our mistakes. That is all. There is no going back to the past, so we must learn to let go of it. So if that is you, please don't dwell there, for it is where the devil plays a nasty trick of making you relive the hurts of the past. Instead, accept God's blessing of wisdom and grow in your faith because of it. There is a plan in the works for the mistakes we make. A great design is beginning to unfold, we just can't see the big picture yet.
So I take each day at a time. God never said all burdens would leave, but He did promise to be with us every step of the way. And now every step I take has a new pep to it, every word I speak has a new fire about it. Though there will be times to rub the scar and shed a tear or two in remembrance of my daughter, it will no longer be a well of pain I am fighting to hold down deep. The wound is healed and now it is time to go out and use my story to help others out there that are fighting to live, feeling like the fog is where they must stay.
Romans 8:28-34,37 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. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all - how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died - more than that, who was raised to life - is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us...
A special thank you to all the foundations and facilities who help women see the value of life, the healing of God, and the power of their testimonies ~
***For my personal testimony go to www.halfwaytosundaymom.com/blog/losing-control***
If I was your enemy I would constantly remind you of your past mistakes and poor choices as a mother. I'd want to keep you burdened with shame and guilt, in hopes that you'll feel incapacitated by your many failings and struggle to keep your passion, focus, identity and even your family on a Christlike path ~
I was watching Mama Mia last night and the song came on where the lead is singing about wanting time to slow down with her daughter. The lyrics are so vivid about the time that has past that I cried. The lyrics are how I am already feeling with my daughter. Now, I love my boys but there is a special bond between Briseis and me. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact I had not wanted a daughter, especially as my first child. But God has a sense of humor and to this day, the feeling I got when the doctors set her on my chest and her big blues eyes looked up at me, has never been repeated. Anyway, as I lay crying after the song I tried to sleep but a flood of my failures as a mom to her came washing over me. I have to be careful when this happens because if I can't stop it, it will overflow to the boys and Lance and before I know it I just want all of us in one bed together where I be close to them. LOL! But I did stop it before I got to that point, but it was too late for the attack on my failing of Briseis. Needless to say I couldn't sleep until I snuggled up next to her and prayed for the memories of past failures to be veiled.
The devil is crafty like this. He loves to make our hearts ache with regret and to force us to relive failures like on a movie reel. But here is the thing; he really holds no power over this, he just wants you to think he does. So lets look at how he does this to our worn and weary souls.
The first way he will attack you, is through your past. Whether it was something small, like punishing one of your children when they actually had done nothing wrong; to something big, like snapping at them to the point they cried just because they accidentally spilled their drink. The devil IS going to use this against us at every turn. He will use it to poke holes in our future with our children. He will make it a rerun in our minds that is nothing short of a horror film. He will convince us that our mistakes with our children are worse then everybody else.
The second way is, judgement of other mothers. Watch out for this trap!!! If the devil can't rattle our confidence, can't make us feel judged, he WILL try turning us into judges of other mother's mistakes (now a days we call this the comparison game). He is very good with this one. I have caught myself doing it multiple times, even when I know better, "Oh she has no idea... If she doesn't nip that now then ... I'm glad I was able to stop doing that unlike her..." It is wrong, always stay humble, and offer help.
The last way is what I like to call, The Merry-Go-Round Effect. This is another tactic he is great at luring us into. We see a mom that has something together we don't, we lose years off our life trying to get to their point, and when it happens we then see another mom ahead on something else and the cycle starts right back over again. He wants us to waste so much of our valuable time with our kids trying to get them caught up to the kid down the street. Sadly he wins at this a lot. He puts a veil over our eyes to the areas our children are excelling at, draining us of our joy of where they are in THEIR lives by having us obsess with someone else's child.
The past is the past. It doesn't have permission to touch us anymore. We are confident in who we are as mothers and what our goal is! We have tools to help us, we have our passion as mothers, our focus as mothers, our identities as mothers, and because God's wisdom we have our families to hold us accountable to falling into these "pity parties" ~
So what are OUR ways to fight back against the devil's assaults in this area? In a nutshell is boils down to being CONFIDENT in who we are as mothers! Our past mistakes may have left a scar but we know how to use that to STRENGTHEN our confidence. You, mother, can do this by breaking it down into 3 steps.
Step 1: Pray, pray, pray
At this point it is pretty obvious in all things we need to talk (because that is all prayer is, simply talking to our Father) to our Lord. Yes, He knows what we are thinking already, but he LOVES to hear us say it non the less. Give thanks to our Father who lives outside of time and because of that sees the past as obsolete. Ask for forgiveness when we do make mistakes. And then mediate on what you were able to gain in wisdom out of the failure.
Isaiah 64:8 - But now, Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We are the work of your hands.
Step 2: Learn from the failure
We may be grown adults, but we are still learning how to do this parenting gig every day. It will never stop so we need to be prepared to remain teachable pupils. Be eager to learn so we may pass down that knowledge to our children and they to their children and so on.
Ephesians 1:7-9 - Through the blood of his Son, we are set free from our sins. God forgives our failures because of his overflowing kindness. He poured out his kindness by giving us every kind of wisdom and insight when he revealed the mystery of his plan to us. He decided to do this through Christ.
Step 3: Share your revealed wisdom
In the movie "War Room" there is a point when the young mother realizes that her mentor prayed for God to send her someone she could pass down her knowledge and wisdom to. To keep that person from "stepping on the same land mines" she had. Our confidence as mothers needs to be so great that for EVERY FAIL we make we can hold our heads high because that becomes a teachable moment to other mothers (and our own children). They need to know we are CONFIDENT in our failures because of the grace and love God has for us! "So talk it up, devil. Because as high as you choose to ratchet it up, you're only showing off ' the breadth and length and height and depth' (Eph. 3:18) of the love of Christ extended toward me!" ~Fervent Do you see??!! For every attack we lose against the devil, every single one, it only further proves HOW MUCH WE ARE LOVED BY GOD AND HOW CONFIDENT GOD IS THAT WE ARE THE MOTHERS FOR OUR CHILDREN, NO ONE ELSE WOULD FIT THE PART. How awesome is that? It is like the coolest episode of Law and Order because the two lawyers are Jesus and Satan and they are both fighting for our souls, but no matter what the tongue of the serpent utters, it only makes him further lose his case. Have confidence in that if nothing else!
Isaiah 43:16, 18-19 - Thus says the Lord...Do not call to mind the FORMER things, or ponder things of the PAST. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.
***Our past mistakes as mothers do not define us as mothers, instead they are like the wrinkles on an old lady. Proof of a life well lived and good lessons learned along the way. She walks with confidence down the street, proud to share her life story to a willing ear.***
Hebrews 10:35-36 - So don't lose your confidence. It will bring you a great reward. You need endurance so that after you have done what God wants you to do, you can receive what he has promised ~
Yesterday we started our first day of homeschooling for this year. I always have the kids wear the same shirt (and one day it will actually fit them!) and they hold up a piece of paper that states their name, year of school, favorite color and what they want to be when they grow up. We my oldest son put that he wants to be a knight when he grows up because his God-sister is a princess (yes, that is exactly the reason he gave me and I didn't even ask why he chose it. LOL). It made me start to consider the whole "knight in shining armor" fantasy children tend to have when they are young. So precious.
Fast forward to the time you were dating boys and I'm sure all of you have heard your dad say it at least once to a boyfriend. Tell me if this sounds familiar, "Don't you break her heart" or "Don't you hurt her" or some other comment meant to protect coming from your dad's mouth. See, I can relate a little to my dad because I don't want my daughter or my sons getting hurt by anyone let alone a boyfriend or girlfriend. No, honestly if I knew how and when they would get hurt it would be hard for me to not be waiting in the perfect spot to ambush the one who hurt them. So I know my dad only had my best interest at heart and I know he loved me so much he wanted to try and control something he never could have controlled...my husband's actions. See I love my dad. I was and still am a daddy's girl. For my wedding he wrote me this beautiful short story-poem titled "In The Land Of A Father's Heart". I cried when we danced at my wedding because he was relinquishing his power of protection to my husband. And for a girl that loves her daddy, that was a hard thing to accept.
Here is the thing though. My dad was telling my "man" not to hurt me when in fact growing up that is all I saw my mom and dad do to each other. I didn't understand it then, but as a wife and mother now, I understand all to well. My dad was telling my husband not to do something that he himself was doing. He wasn't meaning to be hypocritical by any means. All he saw was a daughter that he loved and didn't want to get hurt, not realizing he was forgetting about his very own wife.
When our fathers give our men a command such as "Don't you hurt her", they are giving them an impossible challenge. That impossible challenge puts immense pressure on them from that point on. It's not that they are meaning to do so, they are just looking out for their baby girls. But the fact remains, our men will hurt us.
The bible is very clear that every single person we love will let us down at one point or another. If that wasn't the case then we could find someone other than Christ to lean on. Your friends, your family, your husband and yes, even your children will at some point let you down. At some point they will hurt you, either intentionally or unintentionally. When our fathers say to our men they better not hurt us they are in turn setting our men up for failure, because it is an impossible goal.
You may be asking me right about now, "But Christen, what harm does that do to me? I want my man to know my dad expects him to take care of me?" and I do see that point. But here is the catch...it ends up hurting us in the long run. When my dad told my husband this, long before he was my husband, it put a false sense of love on the relationship. By my dad saying this I took it as a sign that if my husband never hurt me then he was my "true love". That in lies the problem. They first time my husband couldn't stand up to this goal I felt depressed. I was so sure he was the one I wanted to spend my life with, but now he had hurt me, my knight in shining armor had failed me. This happened throughout our dating. Little things, nothing major, little fights about things I can't even remember now. It is only by God's grace and intervening that I stayed with him instead of ending it and continuing my search for a man that could stand up to my dad's high standards. Then my husband made a terrible mistake, a mistake that hurt worse then anything he had done or has ever done since. But God works all things for His glory. So I give Him all the glory that despite my husband's mistake I stayed by his side and let God make our marriage stronger then ever before.
As mothers raising children we have to be very careful how we handle getting hurt. My dad set unrealistic expectations on my husband (and previous boyfriends), expectations that he himself couldn't keep to my mom. Our children are watching us. They need to know there is no such thing as a "knight in shining armor". That fictional character is not real life, there is no riding off into the sunset. Marriage is HARD because it is like anything good and sacred and the devil has his eyes set on making hurts the cause of ending something sacred. Our daughters need to know what to look for in their husbands; men chasing Jesus, who are going to make mistakes and hurt us, but that will keep fighting for them until the end. Our sons need to know to seek Jesus and His heart, that no one is perfect and we all mess up and hurt people, but to never stop fighting for their wives.
As a mother I want my daughter to still have her innocence, she is only 7 after all. So she is not ready to hear that her future husband will mess up and hurt her even if he doesn't mean to. But there will come a time soon when I will have to start telling her to look past the facade of "her knight" and see the man God has for her, with the knowledge that getting hurt it something we experience from every single person we love, but to press on and fight for the relationship. For my sons, who again are too young to need to know these things, but someday they wont be; I will tell them what to look for in their "princess". To look for women who can forgive when they accidentally don't tell them how beautiful they look, or if they have a fight and things are said they wish they had held their tongues on.
Lastly, we need to communicate this to our husbands. Remind them of the pressure they were under and the feeling of disappointment they had when they couldn't live up to a certain expectation. And us? Mothers, we need to be able to forgive our husbands when they fall short of making the mark. Heck, if we are being honest, we have done the same to them. Said hurtful things, made remarks we wish we could take back. It is human nature, intended to assure we would only lean on one person throughout life in 100% security, and his name is Jesus Christ.
Because in the end we all want our children to have a better marriage then we have, and the only way to help that happen is to love, serve, and forgive. Because ultimately that is what our children are watching. They are watching how we love each other, how we serve each other and how we forgive each other.
Colossians 3:12-14 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony ~