If I was your enemy, I'd use every opportunity to bring old wounds to mind, as well as the people, events, and circumstances that caused them. I'd try to ensure that your heart was hardened with anger and bitterness. Shackled through unforgiveness, because then I could use your heart to corrupt your children. I could make them see that the God their parents talk about is not strong enough to keep their hearts obedient. That in the end, unforgiveness is the ultimate satisfaction to a wound ~
It is so good to be back! I certainly needed the week off to regroup, but I am so glad to be back at it, doing something I love, writing! So, this opening was a big pill to swallow. Forgiveness or a bitter heart, two very different roads to take with two very different outcomes. About four and a half years ago we moved in with my husbands parents. Prior to moving in I had had ups and downs with them, but for the most part we had a good relationship. Well, it is so true what they say about moving in with your spouse's parents. It didn't take long for the arrows to go flying. I never dreamed things could get as bad as they did. Despite my husband standing up for me the entire time, we moved out with our relationship with them severed. I can honestly say that I hated my mother in law at that point. The bitterness in my heart (whether justified by her actions or not) had gotten so strong it was painful. I am ashamed to say that I wished she would die.
It took a few months of prayer and fasting before I was able to truly forgive her. I don't mean I said I forgave her and went on my way. I mean a Holy Spirit intervention, eye opening, heart melting, forgiveness and it felt so WONDERFUL! I said before that my relationship with them was good, well it went from good to great. God turned a bad situation for good, for His glory.
The devil does not want this to happen. He wants us to hold onto our bitter hearts, he wants the hate to fester, the walls to be made stronger and thicker around us. He wants us to use validation for our unforgiveness. The devil wants us to stay on that high horse of righteousness. To stay in the mind set of, "They wronged me", and this is a sly tactic that twists the heart, knots it up, cuts off the blood flow. Validation ultimately will kill the heart. He will use our mind against us. Once the devil has BEGUN the work of killing our heart he then begins to attack our mind. We try to pray but it seems as if the prayers are hollow and dull. We start to feel like praying is just a "going through the motions" routine instead of actually communicating with a friend. And then he will let the seeds of anger and bitterness that are there fester and grow. Once the devil has control of our heart and mind things spiral out of control. We become easily offended to everything, even to our Father. This is because we feel like he isn't hearing, let alone answering our prayers. Whoever tries to help soften our heart we will take offense to as well. The devil will yell into our ears, "They don't know what happened, they don’t know how I feel, they don't understand how wrong it was, they need to mind their own business, they are trying to make me out to look like the one that needs to forgive!" Any of these sound familiar?
When we choose to forgive someone, we're not wiping their actions away as if the bad things never happened, giving people a free pass from the HARM they've caused. Instead we're just sparing ourselves the burden of working two extra jobs - being judge and jury for how justice is meted out in this situation. Give it to the One who knows what he is doing. Someone who is waiting to talk with us. Every single person in these pictures has hurt me, wounded me, and I had to forgive them for my sake not theirs. And I do mean everyone, even my children... even myself. And each time I have done so I have felt the sweet release of it all and I have been filled with peace and calm afterwards, at times even a "Holy Spirit High" as my pastor likes to call it. But it is no easy battle to win, like all good things of God usually are. How we fight back: His forgiveness, my friend… is freedom. His forgiveness. His forgiveness of us makes our forgiveness possible towards others! So lets break it down into steps.
Step 1: HONEST Prayer
Do what? When we go to Him with our request He can see our deepest, darkest, intentions. The kinds that have us praying one thing, yet deep down we aren't committed to the prayer. We had lived with my in-laws for almost 2 years. Things between us got so bad that to salvage any part of the relationship we moved into my parent's house for the last couple of months. My mother in law did things that I wanted justice for. When I would pray, deep down I did not want to forgive her. Then one day I prayed honestly to God. Spilled the darkest spots of my heart. Told Him I didn't want to forgive her, that I wanted her to pay for what she had done, that I hated her and despised her. Yeah, I held nothing back, gave my knotted heart to Him. Day by day, knot by knot asking Him to undo it.
Palm 34:18-19 - The Lord is near to those whose hearts are HUMBLE. He saves those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person has many troubles, but the Lord rescues him from all of them.
Step 2: Accept Resistance
This is not some easy quick cure resurrection. We are restarting a dead heart. It is going to hurt. We are going to resist the freedom. We are going to fight the peace God is offering us. But… since we were honest with our prayers we have done the work of giving the knots out of heart over to the one who can do all things; God is going to start our heart again with the blood of Jesus. It will seem impossible that the feelings we feel could ever part from us. But they will! I promise they will. I remember I was in church with my pastor preaching on forgiveness to those we love. I remember talking to God right there saying "Well what if you don't love them? What if you hate them?" As clear as a bell God answered, "Because you are to love all my creations. Hate is of the devil." And before my eyes flashed a newborn baby girl, it was a picture I had once seen of my mother in law. That innocent baby was who I am called to love. That was it, I forgave her right then and there! It felt so blissful, so peaceful, so joyous. Like a stone going through a glass window and shattering it. I WAS FREE!!!
Psalm 103:12 - As far as the east is from the west - that is how far he has removed our rebellious acts from himself
John 13:34-35 - I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other in the same way that I have loved you. Everyone will KNOW that YOU are my disciples because of your love for each other
Step 3: Enjoy Freedom
Forgive, not because it is ever easy but because our enemy gets exactly what he wants from us otherwise. He wants us cold hearted, because it allows him to start spreading out to our husbands and to our children with corrupted seeds. When we chose to forgive we are plating the most POWERFUL seed we can into our children. Our savior died so OUR SINS may be forgiven. We have no right to deny others forgiveness and in being obedient to this our Father will open the flood gates of heaven for us! I am at total peace now because of my forgiveness to my mother in law. We certainly do not have the same relationship we had prior to moving in with them. But ultimately I think that is for the best. She certainly has things she needs to work on, but now that my heart is alive again I can pray for her and for her heart as well. It has improved my marriage with my husband because he has watched my struggle from beginning to end. My children will one day know the story when they are old enough but for now I can guide them in forgiveness as one that has done the forgiving. I am no longer a hypocrite to my children, I am living proof.
Romans 6:6-7 We know that the person we used to be was crucified with him to put an END to sin IN OUR BODIES. Because of this we are no longer slaves to sin. The person who has died has been freed from sin
If any of this is speaking to you. If you are feeling like your heart is hardened and you want it set free again. Those feeling to be removed, then I am praying for you sweet momma, but you must also set aside your pride. Step down from your high place in that cold heart of yours before it plants seeds into your children that you don't want planted. Step down and let the Holy Spirit take His rightful place there and watch the shell of bitterness crack and fall away. Know that you are loved mom! You are so loved, I love you, your family loves you, and your God loves you. He loves you so much He wants to take away the hurt so surrender it to Him and find your freedom.
John 8:32, 8:36 - You will KNOW the truth, and the truth will set you free. So if the Son sets you free, you will be absolutely free ~
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If I were your enemy, I'd make everything seem urgent, as if it's all yours to handle. I'd bog down your calendar with so many expectations you couldn't tell the difference between what's truly important and what's not. Guilty for ever saying no to your children, trying to keep everything under control, when really you're just being controlled by it all (including at times, your children as well). If I could keep you busy enough, you'd be too overwhelmed to even realize how much work YOU ARE SAVING ME FROM DOING! ~
I am not going to lie. I don't feel like writing today. I know each and every one of you have been there. Doing something you don't want to do but know (or at least feel) like it is an absolute necessary. Now, I am lucky for the fact that I love writing, but even that still has me wondering if I should take this week off from it....
But since I have started I am going to continue and if for some reason there is not a new post next week, you will know why. I simply needed to rest my writer's mind. Until then, though, lets get started with this week's strategy. Did the opening war strategy hit you in your gut? Did you recognize it as if I were talking directly to you? If so I pray this week's post gives you hope and a new strategy of your own. If I had to guess, it would be every single mom out there has a hard time fighting off the attacks of "busyness". Our motherly nature to nurture our young is overwhelming. Even in most animals the case is still the same. Never to have time to rest, always needing to provide; whether food, shelter, entertainment and the list goes on and on. So how does the devil get us to put our times of rest aside?
First, he will lay on the pressure... that's it! The one and only form of attack. Pressure to do for our children what they might be able to do for themselves or even to pressure to accept that they learn that their daily lives being full of joy depends on mommy having some down time. There are sub categories to the pressure for sure. Because as we all know it's not only our children that are pressuring us, but a whole assembly line of them. Pressures from our husbands, our bills, our family members, our friends, our priorities, our self image, our future, our homes, and on and on and on it goes. So to make it easier lets break the pressure into three subcategories.
One, is the pressure to be the perfect parent. This is the strongest one in most of our lives currently, and I stress currently. Our children adore us, love us unconditionally when they are young. But their constant demands for attention, affection, knowledge and even discipline can drain us as mothers. We literally can play with them on the floor for an hour, get up to go to the bathroom for two minutes and they are attacking us at the door like it has been a week since we acknowledged them! Some days it seems like a losing battle with the "more, more, more" demands they give us. And the devil has no problem playing on our nature. He will make us feel beyond guilty, like horrible mothers if we tell them to go away while we are in the bathroom. Thoughts enter our mind like, "I'm selfish, I'm hardhearted" OR "they wont always want to bother me when I am in the bathroom." You know what? GOOD!!! There is a point, no matter how brief when we need to let our children know they can't have 100% of mommy's time.
Next, is the pressure to be the perfect person to everyone else. This goes for our husbands, parents, siblings, friends, bosses, even church family. Every time we choose yes to something it cost us. Whether it be energy, time, happiness (note that I didn't say joy), money, or devotion. It doesn't matter, everything in this life has a price. When we feel the guilt of the word "yes" play on our hearts, we are accepting the cost, whatever it may be, willingly. My father is a great example of this. He has a horrible time saying "no" to anyone. It can get so bad that he has to cancel or in some cases even lie as to why something didn't work out. The devil uses this pressure tactic on him so much that it not only drains him, but hurts people around him. It cost him honor to his word, relationships, and most importantly, rest. When we can not put our priorities in order, and one of those has to be rest, we become slaves to our lives instead of our lives working for US.
Last, the pressure to do it all. Okay fellow mommies, let's be honest. Do you...pay the bills, clean the house, take out the trash, make the important phone calls, primarily raise the children, help your husband, do the laundry, do the dishes, make the plans, do the grocery shopping, and insert anything else you like? If you said no to even some of these go home and give your husband a big kiss and say thank you and pat yourself on the back for have the self control do let him. We are under SO MUCH pressure to do it all!!! It NEVER in the Bible anywhere says we are to do it all by ourselves. Mankind has needed help in everything from the beginning of time. Even Adam couldn't do it by himself so God gave him Eve to work together, to share in everything. And don't think for one second Eve could have done it without Adam. Why do you think the devil was so sly in making sure to tempt Eve? Had the devil tempted both of them together the outcome could have been very different. Accountability can count for everything. But because we do live in this fallen world we feel our busyness can be turned into a badge of honor. It is why we are so rarely satisfied with where we are or what we have, always fearing we won't be enough. Well guess what? We are being bullied by a liar. Intimidated by the enemy's cruel application of pressure against us. But not anymore!
Okay, so lets learn how to fight back. The first step is actually going to be different then all the others. Remember that the outline for my series came from the book "Fervent" as well as the quotes (for the most part, I did tweek them to target us mothers specifically). But this change is because these steps are involved, detailed, and invasive. They will make you really look into your life, not only the lit up places but also the dark places.
Step 1: Take Inventory
We need to take inventory of the pressures in our lives. We can do this by simply checking our schedule for patterns where we are being enslaved to things that are not truly critical or as indispensable as they seem. This could be too may activities for the kids throughout the week as one example. If we are so pressured to give our kids these activities but then sit there and are short tempered and irritable on those days what messages are we sending our children? We need to check our motivations as to why we are saying yes to so many things. Check to make sure the places or people who overloaded our time are not working their way into a status of idolatry. Check to make sure we aren't trying to keep up with the Jones'. The devil had no problem enslaving us to GOOD things, in fact he prefers it because it is harder for us to recognize. So don't let the pressures of life become idols. Here's how we know if we are in danger of that:
1. The pressure to preform, for example, often means we've made an idol of our reputation.
2. The pressure to maintain a ridiculously jam-packed schedule becomes an idol of self-reliance.
3. The pressure to maintain an impressive standard of living becomes the idol of achievement.
4. The pressure to take on everything in which our children show even the slightest interest becomes our children being the idol!
***ANYTHING CAN BECOME AN IDOL, GOOD OR BAD, JUSTIFIED OR NOT, GOOD INTENTIONS OR NOT***
Psalm 119:36-37 Direct my heart toward your written instructions rather than getting rich in underhanded ways. Turn me eyes away from worthless things. Give me a new life in your ways.
Step 2: Pray
Now that we know where our reasons for lack of time to rest are coming from it is time to turn to our Father. We must ask of Him to lay upon us real discernment because some of these determinations can be subtle and hard to spot. A free woman (whether a wife, daughter or mother) possesses the God-given ability to know when He is truly asking her to do something - as well as the God-given ability to know when He is NOT. But it requires fervent prayer to give us this power.
Matthew 6:33 Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.
Step 3: Applying It
We can now discern when we need to work and when we need to rest. We can now begin to give obedience to our Father by resting so that he can further mold us into the mothers He called us to be. A free one. A rested one. A contented one. The devil may get the best of us sometimes, but he will still walk away with some new, deep battle scars to remember who he is messing with. But that can not happen unless we actively start resting. Mark it in our calendars. Tell people when they ask for something, "I would love to, but I have a meeting I have to go to." because we do! We have a meeting with God where all he wants is for us to rest by his side. It can be something as simple as a nap. Seek out the rest, learn to crave it. Teach our children to want it. This week I have implemented a new thing with our children. I have already implemented quiet time with our children, but they don't always like it. So now I tell them the quiet time is so they can talk to God and it's quiet enough for them to hear Him. They can still play in their rooms but it gives them a new sense of how to talk to God and how they can hear Him better.
James 1:25 However, the person who continues to study God's perfect laws that make people free and who remain committed to them will be blessed. People like that don't merely listen and forget; they actually do what God's law says.
Alright, I know this was a very long one. But it was so important and I needed to get it to you. Two more to go and we will conclude this series!
Psalm 23: 1-3 The Lord is my shepherd. I am never in need. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside peaceful waters. He RESTORES my soul ~
*** URGENT/ATTENTION: DUE TO WEEBLY'S NEW ALGORITHM CHANGES I NO LONGER CAN SEE VIEWS UNLESS THE PERSON HAS COOKIES TURNED ON. I AM ALSO NOT SEEING COMMENTS EITHER. UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE, SO I CAN CATER TO MY READERS, PLEASE CLICK ON ONE OF THE BELOW PLATFORMS AND LEAVE YOUR FEEDBACK THERE. LET ME KNOW HOW YOU LIKED THE POST, IF IT WAS TOO LONG OR TOO SHORT, WHATEVER IT IS. I AM RELYING ON YOU, AS MY READER, TO LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU ARE WANTING TO READ SINCE I CAN NOT LONGER SEE IT FOR MYSELF. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT! ***
Gruesome imagery isn't it? If your a mom, heck if you are human, you have probably had to deal with your share of parasites in life. Those creepy, crawly creatures that make you squirm in your seat. I love blogging, but I must admit there are times when God's sense of humor I do not find funny. Two weeks ago I found a parasite on my daughter. I was mortified that my precious baby girl could have something so... well we will just leave this part blank. LOL. I could have acted in many different ways to this discovery, but I remained calm, rolled up my sleeves and with my husband we took care of the unwanted creatures.
The devil has his own set of parasites he sends our way, but unlike the animal parasites, he has disguised his parasites as something so tempting to the eye we can't resist. There are three very important things to remember when it comes to the devil. One, he has sharp precision. The devil is not some half baked, want to be, fighter. He is ruthless, smart, and unrelenting. When he attacks us, it is not a random arrow pointed at a random part of us. No! It is a deadly arrow aimed straight at our hearts, minds and souls. The mere definition of precision is the quality, condition, or fact of being EXACT and ACCURATE. So he is strategizing to "hit you where it hurts". Second, he loves personalization. As we discussed in attacks against your family regarding our children; the devil knows both our strengths and weaknesses. He is going to personalize these parasites to us specifically. He will make us think that slithering, vile, repulsive parasite is the shiniest, most desirable bit of unclaimed satisfaction we've ever seen. And without a battle plan we will justify embracing the parasite with excuses like, "I've been so stressed with the kids", "I deserve this after what kind of day the kids put me through", "It doesn't hurt the kids if I do it", "They need to learn mommy needs to indulge sometimes". Any of those sounding familiar? Lastly, the devil has perfect persistence. Yeah, this one is a kick to the gut. This one means that even if you can beat him 1 time, 5 times, 10 times IT WONT MATTER! He is going to keep coming after us time and time again, never ceasing, always looking for the in; changing the appearance of the parasite to trick us into embracing it again. He will wait for the right time - the moment when we are most weakened and susceptible to attack. Days when the kids have been fighting, days when there seems to be more vomit stains on the floor then actual clean floor, days when we try and try to see the silver lining in our children's constant demands but grow weary. He will be there waiting to be welcomed in.
Parasites weaken our prayers which in turns weakens our power! The energy given by the Holy Spirit and our prayers to access and generate is cut off, choked out, bottlenecked. We are leaking our power and it will drain from us so that we don't stand a fighting chance. The parasite will start off seeming "normal", with the lie that nobody is getting hurt if we only embrace the parasite from time to time. And then when the damage is done we can't expect to cry out to God with our wrong when we don't do anything to change the environment in which the parasite lurks.
Prayers that have power come from a person in pursuit of righteous living. Purity leads us to fervent prayer, and fervent prayer leads us to purity. Make our victories as mothers become an everyday occurrence, the norm rather than the exception.
The pictures above list just a few things that God wants us to use for good, but if we are not wearing our armor, then the devil will corrupt and turn into personal parasites. God WANTS us full of power and confident as mothers. He wants us free to bless and encourage our children. He wants us to become such powerful warriors for our children and Him, that to the devil we look like sticks of dynamite. We want him so terrified of us that when we put our FIRST foot on the ground in the morning he is running to the pit of hell. So how can we do this?
Step 1: Prayer
When we pray in this area we must leave everything at the feet of Jesus. It's not like we can hide it from Him anyway, but it shows humble obedience when we specifically and individually name our parasites. Unmasking them, bringing them into the light which they HATE! Personally for me, my two biggest ones CURRENTLY are poor eating and compulsive buying. Though a few months ago I would have to say social media was on the list (and I'm sure without a careful eye, it could creep in again).
2 Peter: 2:9 - The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation
Step 2: Read the Word
In order for us to actively fight off parasites that are masked as pleasure we need to read the Bible to decode how to see the temptations the devil sets specifically for us. We need to truly be the stick of dynamite that inside is filled with the Word so that when he tries to mess with us we can fire a blast of our Father's own words right back at him! If prayer is our lifeline, then the Bible is our ammo. Don't be afraid or offended by it. Our Father loved us so much that He gave us a physical, tangible gift to guide us in battle. Light your tongue on fire with those words and let it blow up in the devil's face.
1 Corinthians 10:13 - No temptation has over taken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to ENDURE IT!
Step 3: Fellowship
This war was never meant to be fought by ourselves. It takes us, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. But there is one key tool that we must take advantage of and that is fellowship. Fellowship is more then just a friendship. Fellowship is a friendly association, ESPECIALLY with people who SHARE one's interest. A synonym for fellowship is support. These people should believe in Jesus and our Father. These people are people who we can be transparent with, even about our deepest and darkest secrets. the reason for this is ACCOUNTABILITY! When we have true fellowship, in a world where Satan is usually a lot louder then the whisper of our Father is, it allows us to have someone to hold us accountable when we want to indulge with our parasites. They are our sisters and brothers in Christ. Warriors just like us. They want what is best for us just as God does. Whether it is in a small group, a church, a mommy group, etc. If they know when we are putting our parasites before our children it will in turn makes us stronger to resist because we know they will call us out on it.
Hebrews 10:24-25 - We must also consider how to encourage each other to show love and to do good things. We should not stop gathering together with other believers, as some of you are doing. Instead, we must continue to encourage each other even more as we see the day of the Lord coming.
Step 4: Change The Environment
Almost finished, promise! We know that devil is matriculate in his strategies. We also know that he is patient in waiting for the right moment to strike. So, to mess up his plans and throw him off his game we must be willing to change the environment in which the parasite hides. Back in November of last year, I was drinking way to much. I was using the excuse of my kids to do it. Alcohol had become a parasite for me. So I changed the environment. I stopped buying alcohol and my husband supported me by doing the same. This parasite is no longer welcome in my body and if temptation arises I remove myself from its presence. In strategizing our obedience as diligently as the enemy is strategizing those temptations, we have to be willing to make the sacrifices to keep them out of our home. The flesh is magnetically drawn toward the allure of temptation. So we can NOT simply try to disguise it until we "think" it's a good time to indulge. We need to eliminate it from our daily lives. Gulp! What will happen if we don't? Well we know there will be consequences, and that the consequences are never minimal. The waves of our choices will ripple outward from our hearts, minds and souls to our bodies...and then pass on to our children (Num. 14:18, Exodus 20:5, Deu. 5:9). Our children are watching us, as mothers it is our duty and obligation to protect them, even from ourselves. So tell them your weaknesses, let them help you stay accountable, and watch your bond with your children grow stronger!
Romans 6:12-14 - Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. FOR SIN SHALL NOT BE MASTER OVER YOU, FOR YOU ARE NOT UNDER LAW BUT UNDER GRACE.
***This doesn't mean you'll never fall into temptation again. Even Paul speaks of this in Romans 7:15 when he says, "I do not understand, I am doing the very thing I hate. I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out." But take great comfort in knowing that when God saved us, it was with the understanding that He'd be providing us "sanctification by the Spirit" all along the way; from the inside out, His purity and holiness changing your heart until it comes through as purity and holiness in ACTION (2 Thess. 2:13, Fervent)
Galatians 5:16 - Walk by the Spirit, and you WILL NOT carry out the desire of the flesh ~