There is a precious and good work being done as we raise children and be help-mates to our spouses. And, if there is something that the Devil attacks on a regular basis, it is our hearts and homes. It feels like there is little we can do to protect our family from the evil of the world, sometimes, even the evil in our own heads.
Our Christian world is under attack and the intensity of the war increases each day.
This is my challenge to you: Each morning, for a week, I want you to concentrate on prayerfully clothing yourself in the armor of God.
Belt of Truth: God’s truths will negate the lies that attack your heart and head.
Breastplate of Righteousness: Carry out your day with the power of righteous living. When temptations knock, we are protected as God strengthens us to do what is right.
Sandals of Peace: Purposefully choose peace as you interact with family, friends, and strangers. We can choose not to pick fights or finish them. We can choose to cultivate goodwill with and between others.
Shield of Faith: Faith in God’s love, goodness, and power will “extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.” So when the devil tries to make you feel unloved, unappreciated, overworked, or misplaced we can thwart those attacks by our belief in the care and promises of our awesome God.
Helmet of Salvation: Rejoice as you place this helmet on your head. You are God’s chosen one, His child. Your helmet not only protects, it also marks you as one of His own. And the Enemy must respect to Whom you belong.
Sword of the Spirit: Let the power of God’s word, both in the Bible, and spoken through the Holy Spirit, be what you use to fight back in today’s battle. This means you need to invest time in both studying the Bible and praying with God.
Living in this world is never going to be easy, but it can be full of victory claimed daily as we put on the Armor of God. Let it strengthen and guide You as you fight for the good works done in your home and heart today.
I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.
Have you experienced a way in which the armor of God powerfully protected your family or marriage?
I was putting on makeup when I looked over and saw Micaela doing a downward facing dog in the hallway and giggling at herself. I chuckled and turned back to the mirror. When I did, the smile on my face revealed the fine wrinkles around my eyes, mouth, and forehead.
I swallowed. I’m getting older and it is visible. For a moment I didn’t like it. I started to fret over the years I have wasted not investing in anti-wrinkle cream and the days I did chores without sunscreen. Disturbed, I continued to put on makeup, but all I saw in the mirror were the beginning lines around my face.
It occurred to me, though, that, Lord willing, I might have several decades still in this body of mine. The wrinkles are going to deepen and lengthen. Other signs of aging will claim their positions. I am not going to stay young. And, God designed us this way. God gives good and perfect things. I truly need to find a better way of looking at these signs of aging. I will not allow the natural course of getting older to steal my peace or alter my confidence.
Perhaps I need to simply accept them as the blessings they are. When I thought about it, I realized that wrinkles are blessings in two big ways.
Wrinkles show that I have lived. I love it that God gave us blatant signs of having made it through a good chunk of living. The lines on my face tell others that I have experience and most-likely the wisdom to go with it. I’ve weathered storms, stood in the sun, and faced the music. It isn’t until we have lived through some of life that we have a lot of personal experience to help others through their own trials. The lines on our face tell others that we have something to share.
Wrinkles show that I have engaged emotionally with life. From frowns to smiles to scowls to chuckles, facial expression go along with keeping those wall down around my heart so that I can love and let others in. If we were to go around not reacting to things in any emotional way, we wouldn’t get many wrinkles. But the movement of laughing and crying countless times will definitely leave their mark. There is nothing more beautiful than a living soul who has let their heart be deeply and often touched by others.
In the end, when considering our wrinkles, we could always ask ourselves a tried and true question, “What would Jesus do?” What would Jesus do about His wrinkles? Would he buy expensive creams or try and hide his face? No. Jesus was the Son of God who did His fair share of living here on Earth. He wept, smiled, and was angry from time to time. Looking into a mirror, if He had spotted growing wrinkles around his eyes, mouth, and forehead, I bet He would have shrugged and thanked His Heavenly Father for each blessed moment under the sun.
Even to your old age and gray hairs
What about you? As you age, have you found a peaceful frame of mind to accept changes as God’s blessings?
The bus pulled up and my heart flipped. I laughed at myself. Adela has been in school for months now, but her arrival still feels exciting and joyful each day. Her pigtails danced in the brisk fall wind as she ran to the front door.
She bolted into my arms with one great big hug, her mouth already spewing out her chatter about the day. I tightened my hug and thanked God for her happiness.
The next hour was filled with activity. The girls fought because Micaela wanted to play and Adela wanted to eat her snack. Adela groaned and complained as we started homework. There were tears when I made Adela erase some of her work and a tantrum from Micaela when I had to take away a toy too loud for her sister to concentrate.
By the time I started dinner I was already exhausted, but my heart was full. There is nothing easy about this mothering-job, but it is seriously the best thing ever. Every day I get to devote my life to my family. I don’t have to struggle with many other demands of the world. I get to 24/7 bring my mind, body, and emotions to work for the people that hold the most real-estate in my heart.
I am thankful for this attitude. I haven’t always felt this way. There have definitely been seasons when I would have loved to take the girls to a daycare and be able to wear a different hat. There are days when I have deeply envied mothers who got to work part-time or even full-time and get out of the house regularly. However, God never lets me settle into pity parties. He constantly reminds me of my blessings, that I get to be this person for my girls and my husband. Most of all, God reminds me that I get to be this person, do this job, for my own heart.
I am so blessed to be proud and thankful for how I spend each and every day.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Do you look back on your day, fulfilling God’s calling for you, and feel His blessings?
Micaela’s braces were getting tight again. The physical therapist told me I couldn’t wait any longer, we needed to make a trip into Albuquerque. I groaned and inwardly protested. With one hand I reached down and touched Micaela red raw heel. God, why do we have to do this? Can’t you miraculously fix her AFOs? Heal her feet and ankles? Release us from this need?
Suddenly my mind filled with the chairs of the waiting room at the Carrie Tingly Orthodics Clinic. I thought of the tired and worried faces that waited there and my heart hurt.
That still small voice called, My work is there.
If you are an introvert, like me, you can probably understand. I have a hard time leaving home. I love the comfort and control I have right there in my own house. I love my friends and family. I appreciate fresh produce from the supermarket. I don’t mind doing a little people-watching or window shopping.
I would rather be at home.
A couple months ago I started praying the Jabez Prayer. One of the things I daily ask God for is to increase His territory and influence through me. After I started praying for this, I felt my soul struggle against my heart’s wish to keep myself and family all locked up and comfortable.
I’ve always felt blessed to be an introvert. Because I don’t need to hang out with others, I spend a lot of time in prayer, study, and personal growth. But, like all things, we can over-do it. The hearts God wants to touch are often in grocery stores, doctor offices, and at the tables in other people’s homes.
So what is an introvert to do if we have dedicated our life to God’s work? We are to go. We are to leave and listen.
I did and God gave me something in return—the constant filling of His love for others.
Micaela’s life has definitely got me out of the house often these past three years. I think I have always known that God has used my little girl to touch other people’s lives, but I have never thought to accept every new specialist, appointment, and therapy as God’s opportunity to work through me as well. It excites me, now. I hate it that Micaela’s journey has involved so many trials, but my heart now often leaps with excitement when I load her up into the truck. I wonder how I will see God’s work unfold that day.
I am 32 years old and a little sad that I am just now embracing this aspect of my walk with God. If you are introverted too, ask God to fill you with the love and strength to bring His light into the world. I am learning that this sacrifice of our own personal space and control brings back countless blessings for ourselves and others.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Introverted or extroverted, do you find there are strengths and weaknesses to your personality that affect how God works through you?
The thermometer I ordered off amazon makes a frantic beeping noise when it reads a fever. The alarm starts a rhythm in my heart and in my mind I hear the wicked ringing of the alert that goes off in the movie Aliens. We are under attack!
My thoughts always go into over-drive. What medicine should I give? When should I go to the doctor? Will there be another seizure this time?
It is awful. But it is teaching me to put my life in God’s hands.
It seems this is the struggle a great many of us have: learning to surrender our illusion of control and rest in God’s provision.
I know I would be insane, depressed, or addicted to something if I did not learn to give God the heavy burden of raising my girls. I love them so much and I fear that I will mess something up. Their lives are too precious to be raised by a mere human such as I.
Every night, I kiss Adela and Micaela on the forehead and pray. I ask God to protect them and to hold them in His great love. I tell God that I give them to Him, their lives and their futures. Only then am I able to shut off the light in their room and close the door with peace.
We should pray this prayer all the time. We must try not to spin the wheels of worry but acknowledge that when we have done all we can, that God is still Master of it all.
The other night, I got to share this with Adela. She asked me about the smoke alarms in the house and I had to explain that they were there in case we had a fire. Adela immediately became terrified and asked a dozen questions. It was right before bedtime and with large brown eyes she asked if I could sleep with her that night and if her Papa could become a fireman to save us. I chuckled but realized that all my reassurances had done little to ease her fear. I smiled and suggested we simply ask God to protect us. So we prayed together. Afterwards, Adela let out a big sigh and snuggled into her blanket. She was asleep in minutes.
I wonder if she felt God’s peace as I did.
Someday I truly hope I walk unfailing in this peace, resting in God’s goodness. It is my idea of perfect bliss.
Life is going to attack us and the only true shelter will be found in the Prince of Peace.
The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.
Have you learned to give you biggest fear or greatest worry up to God?
Adela was making Halloween plans by the first of September. She wanted to be a monster. Not a cute fluffy monster or a funny monster. No, she wanted to be a nasty, ugly, scary monster.
I took comfort in the fact that she is five and Halloween was still a couple months away. I hoped she would change her mind.
I honestly don’t know what to do about Halloween. Growing up, I loved this holiday. I simply loved getting to dress up as something out of the ordinary. The candy and the suspense of the day was a bonus. However, today, as a mom, I wonder what is the best way to “do” Halloween?
According to history.com, Halloween is a combination of Celtic and Roman tradition. The holiday gets its name because All Saints Day is November 1st and it used to be called "All Hallows Day" making the 31st "All Hallows Eve" hence the name Halloween.
Honestly, my soul doesn’t think much of a day where we honor the belief that ghosts and spirits have yearly come on a single night to wreck havoc. But, the day was also meant to celebrate harvest and community.
A couple weeks ago, Adela settled on being a ghost. I wasn’t thrilled. I still don’t know how to handle this. I know this is just one little event in a lifetime of raising a child not to conform to the ways of those around us. As I question the holiday, I am more aware than ever of all the ways I have learned to not blink an eye at everything that we take for granted as "normal" in our society.
I sigh as my heart and mind argue back and forth. There are no perfect answers here, but I can do some things to make the most out of this day:
I can do those things with a cheerful heart.
May you all have a happy All Hallows Eve! And, if you have any thoughts or opinions on this, I would love to hear them in the comments or in a message. :)
You make known to me the path of life;
What are some uplifting family traditions you hold for this holiday?
I gripped the steering wheel. My stomach felt full of angry worms and my foot itched to slam on the brakes.
What was I doing? I should never have accepted her help. It is too big of a burden for her. Something will go wrong, and it will be my fault.
Every mile forward meant I was farther from control of my girls. My mind filled with the possibilities of Micaela having a seizure or falling off a tall object. My heart worried that Adela hadn’t got much love and attention from me that week while she was at school.
But what could I do? Turn around? What would my poor mother-in-law say if I showed up and guiltily try to convince her I had made a mistake? She had been so pleased to have her granddaughters for the weekend. She loves them so much.
My eyebrows pushed together. She loves them so much. I thought of the ice cream she had stashed in the freezer, all the tall kitchen chairs she had locked in the back bedroom, so Micaela wouldn’t climb, and the toys she had carefully arranged and stored that sat waiting for the girls.
Like a little piece of hurt was chipped away, a single thought melted my heart.
They are her girls, too.
It has been hard since the last seizure Micaela had. I have tightened my vigilant efforts to keep Micaela safe. Plus, with school in session for both the girls, I worry about providing them with all the support they need at home. However, when my loving Mother-in-law offered to take the girls for the weekend my tired mind immediately said, “Yes.”
They are her girls, too.
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our responsibilities as a parent that we start to build walls around our children, protecting and controlling until we can no longer let anyone else in. I hadn’t realized I had been building that wall until that moment on the lonely ranch road leaving the girls behind.
My eyes filled with tears. I thanked God for the woman who with deep love and intuition would be caring for my children. I thanked God for her strength and caring. I asked God to bless the weekend for them and for me. I asked Him to move my heart to accept the blessings He brings into my life, especially when they seem to threaten my control.
They are her girls, too. How wonderful that I get to share this journey with her, with all my family, with my church, my community, my friends.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
It is hard to let others share in our responsibilities, but such a huge blessing as well. Out of fear, have you ever found yourself refusing to let others help you?
If disciplining your children is one of the most frustrating and heartbreaking aspects of parenting, you are not alone. I've been right there with you countless times feeling lost and completely unsure of myself. We will continue to be beaten by our disappointment in both ourselves and our children until we learn to parent like God.
Even as I typed out those words I shook my head. It seems like such an unrealistic and lofty thing to to shoot for, to parent like the Lord of Lords.
But with God, all things are possible.
Through out the Bible God, our Good Father, is active parenting His children. Studying Him I realized that we can take a lot of second-guessing out of correcting our kids if we follow these simple steps.
1. Make sure you have met needs of your child before starting in on “teaching a lesson.” This is difficult for me to remember. Just the other day, Adela acted poorly at Sunday school and during the following service. A sweet friend asked what we had done before coming to the church and I realized that I had rushed around, ignored every request of Adela to spend some time with her, and had paid little attention to how much she ate and drank.
We have to make sure our children are cared for before we can ask them to learn. Remember the story of Elijah when he ran in fear out to the dessert and decided to die? (1 Kings 19:1-18) As a parent I would have been very frustrated and even angry at my child for not trusting me and for wallowing in fear and self-pity. God, however, tended to Elijah’s needs making sure he was fed and well-rested before gently and firmly setting Elijah back on the path God had set for him.
2. Clearly state consequences. As an adult, I know I’m not going to make a good choice if I don’t have all the information at hand. Your kids need that too. They need to know and understand that there are consequences for their actions if they are going to make good choices. It helps when the consequence fits the action. Micaela recently had the horrible habit of throwing all her food on the floor if she was upset or bored. As soon as I would see it start, I would take her plate away. After a few days, Micaela stopped doing this if she was hungry and wanted to eat.
God filled Moses with knowledge to write an entire book of the Bible about different rules and the consequences for their actions. He has also filled His sons and daughters today with His spirit, guiding and teaching us in His way and will. He leaves little room for uncertainty if we are truly committed to walking with Him.
3. Follow through with a gentle & firm hand. Adela knew immediately that she had crossed the line. I hated to do it, but I had warned her that if she continued to yell and whine about TV, she would have to go upstairs to her room to cool down. I was so frustrated and it took God-given patience to take her hand gently and lead her up the stairs. As parents, we must remember we are not responsible for the our child’s choices. They made them. We love them and want them to grow and mature, therefore, we must follow through with consequences. Adela’s consequence of going to her room made sense. Nobody wants to be around someone who is screaming and whining. Out in the real world, people will naturally put you in “time-out” by avoiding your company.
Throughout the Bible, God never made empty threats. He is a God of promises.
4. Make sure that Love is always stronger than anger. When you have reached your “Wits end” you can easily be filled with righteous anger, frustration, exhaustion, etc. However, it is love that will help you discipline with a nurturing and peaceful heart. Sometimes we get in situations where it is not humanly possible to parent with a attitude of love. Thankfully, God is close at hand, more than willing to fill us with His love and understanding. It is then that we are able to show our children an example of self-control and gentleness we discipline our children.
Not all moments in parenting are happy ones, but I will pick the harder road so that I know I am raising up strong, kind, and responsible children. I am so thankful, that even during those difficult moments of correcting our little ones, we can be filled with God’s peace, understanding, and love.
Let all that you do be done in love.
What are some guidelines you remember when you are having to correct or redirect your child’s behavior?
I remember Adela’s first week of school. It was like dejavu. She came home after a full day of school and opened up a folder full of homework. I remembered those days. It was school that made me develop the habit of waiting.
Perhaps you were like me too. School was like a long-term job that would get you somewhere else. I lived for the day I would have more control over my life. I waited for things and life to change.
A habit of waiting is a dangerous, toxic, thing. You see, there is always going to be something about the season of life we are in that makes us feel like we living in wait for tomorrow. We wait for a time where we have more job security, my financial stability, more free time, children who are more mature or independent, more friends…the list goes on and on and on.
I stared at Adela’s homework folder and struggled. It took me a long time to realize how important it was to break the habit of waiting and start drawing on the joy and blessing of the moment. How can I help Adela realized this a couple decades sooner than I did?
Adela finished her snack and asked me if she could go play. I shook my head.
“First, we are going to do your homework.”
That first week was hard. However, by the second week Adela had accepted the rhythm of the school day. She didn’t always want to do the school work, but we both enjoyed sharing what she was doing at school. And, as we settled into the third week I realized that Adela was doing something that I had always found difficult to do: she was finding joy in the moment.
If we can learn to do this, we can get through life with a beautiful attitude and cultivate a deep relationship with God. Finding joy in every moment fuels our faith in the deep and endless love of our Heavenly Father.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Have you ever found yourself stuck in a habit of waiting?
“Mama. Can I have a quarter?”
We were headed to albuqueruqe with a couple hours still left on the road. I shrugged, “Sure, you may have a quarter. What do you want to buy with it?”
Adela’s voice rose in frustration. “No. Not a quarter—a quarter!”
I let out a breath. Obviously we weren’t talking about the same thing. “Okay.” I raised an eyebrow in the rearview mirror. “What are you going to do with the quarter.”
Adela sighed. “I’m going to eat it. I’m going to eat it just like the pigs.”
I laughed. “You mean like your piggy bank? Like the piggy bank at your abuelos house?”
Adela’s voice rose louder yet. “No! Its not funny! I want a quarter. Not like the dinero. Like un Rincon where the mice are.”
We went back and forth like this for a long time. Adela’s language is so much better, but when she can’t say that key word right, we both end up very frustrated. Our “quarter” conversation ended with me telling her we needed to stop talking about "quarters" it for a while.
A couple weeks later, Jovani brought home a brown bag full of fresh ears of corn. Adela squealed in glee and asked, “Oh, Mama, can we eat quarters like a pig?” She demonstrated with her hands, a big smile on her face.
Everything clicked into place. "Quarter" sounds similar to "corncob" and "corner". Rincon in Spanish means corner. We have two kids’ books where the pigs are eating corn on the cob.
I chuckled and grabbed up that goofy girl in a hug.
Miscommunication causes so much hurt in the world. From Adela’s little frustration to generational rifts in families, when people are unable or unwilling to express what is going on the misunderstanding results in pain.
Goodness, I did it just the other day. I was horribly grumpy, especially towards my husband. I didn’t quite understand the mood myself, but I let him know that I was “So tired of all of this.”
You can guess, things were a little off between us, that night. After I spent some quiet time in prayer, I realized that I had short-changed myself on quiet time and rest time for over a week while I tried to meet various demands. And then, because I have an amazing spouse who almost always saves me, I turned to him to fix something I didn’t quite know was wrong.
Sometimes, when our thoughts and emotions are twisting into negativity and anger, our words stopping making sense and simply are hurtful.
And, on the flip side of that, we need to ask God to help us listen to people with our hearts and spirit and not just our heads. People, especially hurting people, are not often wise in the words they use. That is when it is so important that God fills us with His mercy and love.
Like Adela and her "pigs eating quarters" phrase we might not always understand the people around us, but that should never change the way we love them.
A soft answer turns away wrath,
Have you ever been in a situation when all your words came out wrong and someone was hurt?
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