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What I learned from the “fat girl” {How to Set Up Banners}

the_fat_girl

 

 

the_fat_girl

 

 

It was junior high.  I was “brace face” and she was “the fat girl.”

She was a year older than me, and quite pretty with her bold red curls, except no one allowed her an identity beyond her weight.

Certain things can mark us for life. And we can wear unfair labels for years.

I wonder if she went home every day in tears at the way she was treated. But she came to school and smiled again and did it all over.

Again and again.

And in seventh grade I learned defeat can be like that, coming down torrential day after day.

Perhaps defeat comes in many flavors but when it comes the Exodus 17 way? Well that’s just vicious. You know, when the Amalekites came up behind the traveling Israelites in the wilderness on their way to the promised land? Those slaves-turned-free were just minding their own business. The Amalekites had no bone to pick. Yet they showed no mercy. They attacked the weak, the young, the ones who were already struggling and lagging.

They attacked from behind.

We have an enemy who attacks us at our weak places. He doesn’t come head on, he slithers up from behind and gets us where we struggle the most. And he laughs while doing it.

The fat girl’s name was Pam and I liked her. When she came back for tenth grade, she was different. She wasn’t fat. She was a striking red headed beauty. I would have been intimidated to talk to her, except I knew she was kindhearted.

“Pam, what happened? How did you change so drastically? Your appearance is amazing! What in the world did you do?”

She smiled, beamed really. “Over the summer break, I decided I didn’t want to live like that anymore.”

“I prayed to Jesus and asked Him to help me. Then I got up in the morning~ every morning~ and went for a walk. Each day I prayed and asked Him for help and walked out my front doors and He helped me!”

I should have learned it from her then, but I didn’t, that Christ is our victory. That Christ is the only victory. That there is no hope apart from Him but that with Him, there is all the hope in the world.

Scholars say that in the Bible, “Amalekite ” refers to our flesh, the old self that clings and trips us up and weighs us down time after time. It attacks us from behind, it devours us when we’re weak and it sabatoges all our plans for living in the Promised Land. We talk much about being the intercessory Moses and keeping our hands up in the air, but we need also remember our Victory.

Yahweh God said, “Write this as a memorial in a book, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” And it says it right there in that memorial record that HE Himself wages war against Amalek from generation to generation.

He’s waging it in mine.

He’s waging it in my children’s.

He is waging war against our Amalek, against enemies that sneak in unsuspecting and bring us low and in His name, we can have victory.

 

“And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, “The LORD is my Banner (Victory).”

It’s something Pam learned in between ninth and tenth grade. She learned the LORD was her victory and every day she flew the banner of the victorious and under the safety of that banner, she opened her front door and stepped out and walked.

The girl walked.

The first day she walked around the block, huffing and puffing. The next day she did it again. By the end of the week, she could walk a block and a half; by the end of the summer, she was walking several miles.

Pam, she taught me some things.

Today, I raise the Banner and step out into the fray. The Banner flaps victorious overhead.

“We will sing for joy over Your victory, and in the Name of our God we will set up our banners.”
Psalm 20:5

 

Personal Note: If you’ve ever been called “the fat girl,” even if only by yourself, please know that you are not defined by your label. You are defined by your Savior. Part of being victorious is letting Him define you. Joining hearts and praying for our labels to come off today, friend.

An Open Letter to Jose Molina

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Jose,

Not all Americans are like those you encountered at the town hall meeting last Thursday.

Not all Republicans are.

And although you may find it difficult to believe, given your current and likely future experience, not all lawmakers are either.

I need to tell you something. I need to tell you I’m sorry that you were treated so. I’m sorry that you, an 11 year old child, was denied compassion and left defenseless in a crowd of adults who should know better.

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that self-serving people would callously use you and your situation to whoop up support for their own cause. I’m sorry that when you reached out for help, you were patronized and mocked and discarded like yesterday’s newspaper.

You need to know that there’s a nation of people looking at what happened in that town hall meeting and we’re saying to ourselves, “What a bunch of morons.”

We are astounded at the ignorance.

But to you, they aren’t just morons who carry on in ignorance and without shame. They are people who could have cared. They are people who could have seen a scared, vulnerable person needing at the very least, compassion. To you, they are lawmakers, power holders, adults with an agenda.

And their agenda didn’t include assuaging fear, being a voice for the voiceless, giving a cup of cold water, or standing in the gap for the disadvantaged.

For this, I’m sorry.

Twenty years from now, Miss Jose, you will be the one sitting in the position of power. You’ll be the one making decisions and you’ll be the adult with an agenda. You’ll have the opportunity to put people in their place and try to right the wrong done to you.

Right here, right now is where your agenda starts to be shaped.

Bitterness, anger, retaliation, and hatred will be at your disposal and you’ll be tempted to use them. But I pray you rise above these ignoble motivations.  Despite the fact that you were shown no mercy on August 15, 2013, I pray you know the truth deep in your bones: Mercy triumphs over judgement.

It’s the only way you’ll be triumphant, you know.

The only way to overcome darkness is with light; and the only way to overcome evil is with good.

Mercy is what triumphs over judgement.

This is what I pray for you, that in spite of everything, you will be a mercy-giver.

There’s another agenda you need to know about. While people in that meeting were deciding that compassion is N/A and self-exaltation is the way to greatness, God had an agenda. Indeed, God has a plan for your life. And while I can’t tell you what it will look like exactly or why certain things happen, I can whisper a message about His agenda and hope one day you’ll find it:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

 

Take it up like a life raft, my girl. Wear it around you body, mind, and soul. Let it keep you afloat when judgement bears down and you don’t know how to go on, when you are overlooked and marginalized and marked “unimportant.”

Wear it in your dark hours because no matter anyone else’s agenda, God has a plan too, and His is bigger.

Wear it because mercy WILL triumph…and you will triumph with it.

All our love,

AJ

 

Moving Beyond

overcomer

 

 

**Please scroll down to the bottom of this post for a must-see video.**

She prayed that she’d reflect God’s glory, that she’d be the aroma of Christ in every place.

That with every spoken word she’d minister grace.

And in every place she’d leave behind footprints… His.

But she didn’t expect the breaking. The darkness. The wondering. The pain.

 

my grace

 

Then she reads and remembers. That

 

“He who would glorify his God must set his account upon meeting with many trials. No man can be illustrious before the Lord unless his conflicts be many.

If then, yours be a much-tried path, rejoice in it, because you will the better show forth the all-sufficient grace of God. As for His failing you, never dream of it-hate the thought. The God who has been sufficient until now, should be trusted to the end.”

Charles Spurgeon

 

And she knows: If power is perfected in weakness, then you can do more than just survive. You can boast in weakness and distress and infirmities.

And if it’s the impoverished desperate who see the Kingdom, then it’s okay to bare the naked soul. If the hungry are filled, the mourners find comfort, the persecuted rejoice, then it really is okay to live upside down and against the grain.

And if today finds you in the battle… not in the fun-and-games of life, but the battle… then you can rightly say you’re an overcomer.

Because players win. But warriors overcome.

 

 

overcomer

 

The title “more than overcomer” was granted us before the battle even started for it’s been decreed that   “no weapon formed against you will ever prosper.” Being an overcomer is our inheritance from the Lord.

We can not only survive; we can take possession.

So today as she enters the battle, she’ll wear her title with faith, wear her wounds without fear. She’s an overcomer.

 

Are you looking for a meaningful gift for a battle-weary one?

Amy has hand crafted this wrap bracelet based on Numbers 13:30. She can customize your word and she gift wraps each purchase with love and prayers! Use code LOVE316 at checkout to receive a 15% discount. 

Visit Amy’s shop here to view the collection of scripture bracelets so far. A new one will be introduced each month.

overcomer2

Still don’t believe you can do this? Watch the video and be encouraged that You CAN! {Be sure to watch to the end :) }

 

The Coin

 

 

It was eighteen years ago that she gave us the coin.

That was before she accused Dad of running around with a young woman at church. Nearly split the church wide open. Dad came home with a shot gun and the counselor had to intervene and they’ve been seperated ever since.

But eighteen years ago was before all of that happened. Before tongues wagged and hearts broke and tears fell and things were never the same.

We were sitting at the supper table after church, Jackson and I. And Mom, she handed us a Canadian Maple.

“You’ll face hard times together,” she said. “Here’s something for you to put away for a rainy day, for when you just don’t have anything else.”

She slipped us the coin and we tucked it away and for eighteen years of marriage, while we traveled the world over and back again, that coin stayed in the attic, tucked away in its plastic sheath.

Until recently.

Jackson took it out.

He opened the safe where important documents are kept and he slipped the coin out and he looked at it.

“We need groceries,” he said.

I knew what the words cost him. I knew the pain of a hardworking man not able to fund a trip to the grocery store. But I also know something else about him… that walking the path of the Lord’s will is more important to him than anything else.

“The Lord’s going to take care of us,” Jackson continued. “He always has.”

He looked at me as he fingered the coin. The clock ticked and the fridge hummed and four little bodies lay tucked in their beds, oblivious to the choices of their parents.

It’d be a shame to just spend this.” He said it thoughtful. Slow. The processing of a man intent on what’s best for his family.

I thought of the growing grocery list: bananas, bread, jelly, toilet paper, trash bags. I thought of the empty cupboards and the empty bank account and I knew they would stay empty.

I want to invest it,” he says it slow, sure, sacred- like; an act of worship.

 

“What do you think about us selling this and giving the money to feed the Nuba people in Sudan?”

I choke back the tears and say YES! What better way to invest than in another person?

We get down on our knees and pray. “Thank You, Jesus,” I pray. “Thank You we get to be part of this, part of ministering to Your body. Thank You for the chance to give our best.”

The next day, Jackson goes to sell the coin. He returns home with $1500 cash, 15 crisp hundred dollar bills.

My man, he knows how to invest.

 

That Sunday we slip the bills into an envelope and write “Sudan” on it and we listen to the guest speaker, a Sudanese pastor.

“We take trip to Sudan,” he tells us. “We buy grain and take it into the Nuba mountains. My people are starving. They are hiding in caves and are being bombed every day. Life is hard. I cannot forsake them.”

And on this side of the world, brothers and sisters, an entire association of churches, pledge to help. We send two men with our Sudanese brother into the mountains of Sudan.

The mission is dangerous. Sudan is in turmoil and these men are entering the war zone.

The team gets stuck in Cairo. It takes days, then weeks, for the money transfer to go through. The rains are forecasted to begin any day in Sudan and when that happens, they will not be able to travel.

The team encounters one difficulty after another…they get sick, they can’t locate drivers who are bold enough to trek into the war zone, the money still won’t go through…

The team contacts us and asks everyone to fast.

We all feel the spiritual warfare of this mission. We know we battle not flesh and blood.

The call to fast goes out and we stop eating. At dinner time, the kids ask why I’m not having meal with them and I explain about the Nuba people and the need for God to provide a way. Jackson is working late…but fasting. Friends text to let each other know we are in this together.

All over our little town, we call on the Lord, asking Him to move His mighty hand. We pray for our brothers and sisters hiding in the Nuba mountains.

The Lord hears.

I get the message on a Monday morning:

“Team Nuba were able to get up the mountain, get the grain/oil/supplies to the people, and even pick up 500 refugees on the way back and safely transport them to a camp near the border.

Said they haven’t had sleep in 70 hours but they were in very good spirits. Their plan is to get rested up today and start the journey home tomorrow.
PLEASE DO NOT STOP PRAYING NOW!”

 

I fall to my knees and thank God. I ican see those faces, the mommas. The babies. All the blank stares.

But this time, I see the smiles.

It is such a sacred thing to be a part of, there is such a deep intimacy with the Lord. It is an hour before I can even call Jackson with the news.

All day, I break out in random song. When I pick oldest up from school, I excitedly tell him the news and we hoot and holler in the car.

 My Nuba sister is hiding in a cave somehwere with her children. But tonight, she will have food to give them. Tonight, she knows that the world hasn’t forsaken them, her brothers and sisters living in houses with heaping plates…well, she knows we care.

Tonight, she knows that her God delivers.

Jackson eats with us tonight, and he breaks the bread:

“Share with God’s people who are in need.

Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me…

Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for Me.

And if anyone gives a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.

So do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

 

Jackson and I just look at each other.

We both feel it, the pleasure of God.

And as we eat our simple meal, we enter into our inheritance.

And I’m so full, I’m just about to pop.

Come back tomorrow, Thursday, June 21, for an update on the Sudan mission!

 

Invest means “to use, give, or devote (time, talent, etc.), as for a purpose or to achieve a profitable return.”

Sometimes when you need something the most is when you *need* to give it away.

We can spend a life or we can invest one.

“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:7-8

 

Linking up with Ann today

When you need some victory in your day

It was junior high.  I was “brace face” and she was “the fat girl.”

She was a year older than me, and quite pretty with her bold red curls, except no one allowed her an identity beyond her weight.

And I learned certain things can mark us for life.

I know she had to go home every day in tears, the way she was treated. But she came to school and smiled again and did it all over.

Again and again.

And I learned defeat can be like that, beating us down day after day.

Again and again.

I wonder if defeat most often comes the Exodus 17 way? When the Amalekites came up behind the traveling Israelites in the wilderness on their way to the promised land? They were just minding their own business. Oh, those Amalekites were vicious. They had no compassion, showed no mercy. They attacked the weak, the young, the ones who were struggling and lagging.

We have an enemy who attacks us at our weak places. He doesn’t come head on, he slithers up from behind and gets us where we struggle the most.

Again and again.

The fat girl’s name was Pam and I liked her. When she came back for tenth grade, she was different. She wasn’t fat. She was a striking red headed beauty. I would have been intimidated to talk to her, except I knew she was kindhearted.

“Pam, what happened? How did you change so drastically? Your appearance is amazing! What in the world did you do?”

She smiled, beamed really. “Over the summer break, I decided I didn’t want to live like that anymore.”

“I prayed to Jesus and asked Him to help me. Then I got up in the morning~ every morning~ and went for a walk. Each day I prayed and asked Him for help and walked out my front doors and He helped me!”

I should have learned it fro her then, but I didn’t, that Christ is our victory. That Christ is the only victory. That there is no hope apart from Him but that with Him, there is all the hope in the world.

Scholars say that in the Bible, “Amalekite ” refers to our flesh, that old self that trips us up and weighs us down time after time. It attacks us from behind, it devours us when we’re weak and it sabatoges all our plans for living in the Promised Land. We talk much about being Moses and keeping our hands up in the air, but do we focus in on the real part of import?

The part where Yahweh God said, “Write this as a memorial in a book, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” And it says it right there in that memorial record that HE Himself wages war against Amalek from generation to generation.

He’s waging it in mine.

He’s waging it in my children’s.

He is waging war against our Amalek, against enemies that sneak in unsuspecting and bring us low and in His name, we can have victory.

“And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, “The LORD is my Banner (Victory).”

It’s something Pam learned in between ninth and tenth grade. She learned the LORD was her victory and every day she flew the banner of the victorious and under the safety of that banner, she opened her door and stepped out and walked. The girl walked.

The first day she walked around the block, huffing and puffing. The next day she did it again. By the end of the week, she could walk a block and a half; by the end of the summer, she was walking several miles.

Pam, she taught me some things. Even now, I recall her words and I learn at her feet.

I learn to raise the Banner and step out into the fray. The Banner flaps victorious overhead.

“We will sing for joy over Your victory, and in the Name of our God we will set up our banners.” Psalm 20:5

 

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*Repost from the archives

Lessons from the Year of Conquest

“Mom, why did Gideon not want to trust God?” Sunshine girl asks while I’m trying to get the printer installed and working.

“Well, because he was scared,” I tell her.

“But why was he scared? Is it because he thought he was going to have to fight all those people in the army down there?” 

She pauses then she says is straight out:  ”But really all he had to do was blow his horn.”

I turn to stare at this little girl. Yes, that’s it exactly. We think we have to be the Victorious One when all we really have to do is blow the horn, raise the banner, call on our God and step out in faith.

The battle never did belong to us.

How we fall prey to our own fear. The secret is knowing that victory is ours…but it isn’t up to us.

Victory is a gift, granted us by the Victor.

And didn’t pastor just preach this on Sunday? That our greatest and last enemy is death and even that will be defeated? And Jesus, He lets Jairus experience the death of his daughter so that He could show us all what to think about this great enemy of ours.

Past the weeping, the wailing, the hopelessness and unbelief…Jesus enters the room and shuts it all out and He speaks tender words of endearment: “Little lamb, get up!”

And pastor says that term would be like us saying to a daughter, “Sweetie pie” or “Honey”… and how Jesus didn’t say strong words like “Come forth!” but soft ones, like He was waking her up.

“Sweetie pie, wake up. It’s time for breakfast.”

This is how our Savior faces down death.       Glory be.

What a mighty King we have, what an awesome God we serve, what a glorious Savior we’ve been given! HE is our victory.

Yet there are the moments before the conquest, before the victory, before the resurrection. These moments have to be lived, and how?

The same way Jesus urged Jairus to live his “in between” moments: “Do not fear any longer. Only believe.”

For the just shall live by faith.

It has always been this way, the call to faith.

The invitation has been given to turn our eyes away from the current reality, away from ourselves, and focus on the Word breathed out. Let Him hold our confidence.

There comes a time when He tells us to set aside our fear and take hold of faith. Because He goes before us to the battle ground and needs only say to the enemy there, “Sweetie pie, it’s over. Let’s go eat now.”

Our job is always, only, to simply trust that He’ll do what He said and that He is who He says He is.

This, the Year of Conquest, has taught me Victory comes through trust.

And trust goes out and blows some horns.

So Sweetie Pie, get up. We’ve got some horns to blow and besides, breakfast is ready.

Q4U: What is your greatest enemy right now?

What does God say about it? (Hint: You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength!)

How can you step out in faith and blow a horn?

 

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Arabah’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

 

I had to reprimand Little Bit first off. That is never good and it went sour right away and she resisted and told stories and then flat out rebelled.

She got sent to my room, which made us late and I had to drop the school child off while still wearing my sleeping top (thank goodness for jackets) and the two younger children broke the drawer on the armoire while Little Bit and I were doing business.

The house was a wreck, I wasn’t dressed, Little Bit was at odds with me and the day had just flat out started poorly.

I ended up getting what I wanted from Little Bit.. She submitted. I am the mommy.

But as I looked into her hard eyes, I know that I didn’t score a victory.

Why do I keep forgetting that my goal is not to win a battle? My goal is to win the war, the war for my child’s heart and soul.

I’m a bigger fool than she is. I’ve screwed this all up.

We get back from dropping child at school and I get down on the floor amidst the scattered puzzles and jumping frogs and Bingo markers and broken drawer with cobwebs on the back. I call Little Bit to me and look into her eyes.

“Little Bit,” I tell her. “I’m the mom and God made me in charge. It is not okay for you to resist and rebel against me. Mommy has to teach you that you cannot do that…but I don’t know that I did the right thing, baby. Mommy isn’t always sure how to teach you what is right. Let’s pray to Jesus, okay?”

I take her in my arms, knowing her rigid body means she is still resisting. We pray.

“Lord Jesus, please help us. Please help mommy to be a good mommy. Please help mommy love Little Bit and know how to teach her what is right. Please give mommy wisdom.”

Mommy is crying, now…and I’m shocked when I feel little sobs against my shoulder.

Little Bit is crying too.

“Jesus, You are Savior and Redeemer. Please redeem the rest of this day for us.” I speak the words and a flash of lightening cracks through my heart.

It illuminates my darkness.

I wipe Little Bit’s eyes. “Let’s have a good day,” I tell her as she softens in my arms.

I return to that flash, that illumination, that powerful word shot through the heart when I called on Him as Savior.

“Today is the day of salvation.”

Oh yes, but it’s true! As long as it is still called today, it is the day of salvation. There is indeed redemption. This day can be salvaged.

If only I can hold on to that!

Like Alexander going to sleep with gum in his mouth and waking up with gum in his hair, and getting his jacket wet, and on and on, so it seems when one bad thing happens, it spawns other bad things.

The day starts off rough…so I’m short with the children, impatient with everyone, critical of friends, insecure about my choices, and it never stops.

It really is a vicious cycle, a trap meant to claim my whole day, bit by bit.

But this, the word of truth. Today is the day of salvation.

I can just stop right here. I can draw a line. There is a Redeemer and He can literally save the day.

No matter how horrible it has been, how terrible my choices, no matter how out of control life has become…our Savior can salvage it. He has given today a name: salvation.

When the tempation comes to cave to the mess, the noise, the chaos, the bad choices, the insecurity,  I have a weapon. I take it up and I speak it out loud and I know that it is true.

The day is saved. I need not wait for tomorrow.

Now if I can just find Alexander to let him know…

Pssst…Do you know this secret?

What if… from now on, for the rest of your life, every time you sin, God says you are not under the law but under grace? No matter how many times it takes, no matter how old you are when you finally figure it out, no matter what the mistakes have been.

What if… God has already predetermined to forgive you. Period.

What if… you really are not in bondage to sin and self?

What if the gospel is really true and Christ really has paid it all and we really are totally and completely free?

We have permission to get back up.
We have permission to live holy.
We have permission to honor God with our bodies.

The gospel is true and we have permission. (See Romans 6)

{I needed to preach it to myself today. Maybe you do too?}

To those afflicted in mind or emotion

They say still waters run deep and I’ve always been deep and still. But sometimes words bubble up, don’t know where to go, crash around inside.

So I get up and bang a few out here in this space.

My aunt, she lost her mind. Emotional weakness has always been part of my family, that and the mental. The older I get, the closer to me it seems to come…and I’ve wondered if I’ll be plumb swept away in the torrent.

And yet.

I’ve pondered long on great men and women of the faith, men like Charles Spurgeon and Martin Luther, women like Mother Teresa. Those who deeply struggled internally, fiercely fought depression, grasped at faith with phantom claws.

And I’ve come to a conclusion or two.

We understand and even extend special graces to those with physical, relational, or health-related afflictions. We assume they have learned hard lessons and we grant them our time and attention. We believe that God uses affliction and surely their lives must be a mural on which He is painting a sacred story.

So we listen. We honor. We watch in awe. We learn.

But when it comes to emotional or mental affliction, we recoil.

It’s part of our American mind-set: if you are “spiritual,” then you will be “happy in Jesus.”

If you aren’t happy in Jesus, going through your days on spiritual cloud 9, then you are not spiritually mature and you have not found the secret to living the Christian life.

There is a lot in the Scriptures that talk about the mind, no doubt. Such as instruction to live transformed by renewing it; and we are kept in perfect wholeness by fixing it on God.

However, nowhere in scripture is there implication that keeping the mind stayed on Christ is simple or quick. Or painless for that matter. Neither does the Bible say that our adversary will quietly allow us to take mental and emotional territory from him without any sort of onslaught!

The truth is that when you have learned and lived by poor habits in thinking and have been ruled by your feelings, conquering that spiritual battle is all out war and there is nothing easy or convenient about it.

This I know.

I am absolutely loving reading through David’s life in my One Year Chronological Bible), because it intersperses the Psalms he wrote at the place in his life scholars best guess he wrote them.

In this way, with a simple read-through, you see him fighting Goliath…then singing a psalm….running from Saul…then fighting for faith in composing a psalm…hiding out from enemies…then pouring his heart out to God in song.

It sort of sounds like a man mentally and emotionally afflicted.

Why did God allow, even ordain, David to live so many years running from Saul, moving from cave to cave, no safe place to settle down? He was God’s elect! He was God’s anointed! He was royalty.

God’s chosen, living the nomadic life of the outcast.

Why? Because affliction of all sorts are meant to train us in the same thing:

“And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.” I Sam. 23:16

“David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered…But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.” I Sam. 30:6

And to the two women who labored hard alongside Paul but who struggled relationally, Paul told the body to “help these women!” How? By coming alongside of them and showing them how to “rejoice in the Lord always.” (Phil. 4:1-4)

Paul himself gives this testimony: “For we do not want you to be ignorant of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life;
“Indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead.” (II Cor. 1:8-9)

It is clear to me that our mental and emotional afflictions can serve the purposes of God just as much as other types of afflictions, and they all boil down to one aim: finding our strength, hope, very life itself in nothing but Christ.

Are you afflicted today? Don’t add condemnation to your affliction! Accept your affliction as the tool of God to bring you to a place where He is the sole object of your trust.

Instead of fighting against the affliction, Practice strengthening yourself in the character of God (which is another fight of sorts, but don’t lose heart! You are now fighting with purpose.)

Then rejoice! For this is the place of great strength, the place
where you walk in Christ on your high places. (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

The Path of Life (with Chart)

Computer crashed this weekend, so not able to do much online until I’m back up. However, A reader asked me to expand on my testimony, the one included in the Core Lies book. I include it here for anyone else it may benefit?

One day I realized that if I was to overcome the past and become the new me in practice, I had to get intentional.

God had shown me that the root of my issue was core lies. This is true of each one of us because a lie is the only tool the enemy has…but how to identify them and where to begin? I had no idea where to start, except with the junk that was coming out- my emotions and how I was feeling. All the turmoil and the expressions of anger, grief, fear, panic, etc were actually outflows of beliefs. And obviously, those beliefs were lies because they were not expressions of peace, joy, love, patience, gentleness, kindness, self control, and the other Spirit fruits.

It took some time and hard work, but I began reflecting upon my emotional outflows. I began to identify why I would lash out (even if just internally, like someone cut me off in traffic I would feel angry. I asked myself why? Why is that such a big deal? The answer is that I felt my security threatened. I felt my safety and worth wasn’t valued by another.)

So I really got serious about deciphering my emotions and what they were telling me. Surprisingly enough (or not), they were telling me what I believed, and I was believing a whole slew of lies! About God and His nature, my worth, my abilities, my needs, etc.

I was off to a great start. Identifying the source of negative outflows was a huge accomplishment, but God and I weren’t done yet. I was going to have to start stemming the flow of gunk and tap into a different source, the River of life.

That always means war.

The enemy strikes hard and when it comes time to fight, who can win without a weapon?

“Now no blacksmith could be found in all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears. So it came about on the day of battle that neither sword nor spear was found in the hands of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan…” I Samuel 13:19,22

Yet surely God has given us weapons of warfare, weapons for the tearing down of strongholds, even those inherited from the forefathers. The word of truth is our weapon! After identifying source lies, I was in a position to begin preparing very specific and thus very effective weapons.

This step was and is crucial to victory.

So I found some scriptures that applied very directly to my source lies, words of truth that counteracted the poison. However, I kept being defeated. I kept finding myself responding in anger or withdrawing from relationship or giving in to panic and fear.

I was at a stalemate. What to do?

I realized that the moment I became aware of negative internal emotions was the moment I needed to do battle…but that was not when I was strong. I was weak at the very moment I needed to be strongest! The best way to prepare for these times was to give myself a “cheat sheet.”

At the moment of battle, I was weak and confused and left floundering. But I wasn’t accepting that as final!

I sat down and wrote out a game plan, a cheat sheet, a strategy for victory for when the battle was on. I included a little pep talk for why this was so important, a reminder as to why it was worth the fight. My cheat sheet was called “The Path of Life.”

It was clear that I would have to machete my way through, but finally I had the tools to do it. God was working in me both to will and to work.

So when I became aware of one of my internal emotions, say a gnawing, irrational fear, I would immediately go to my chart, look up and name the lie I was up against, declare war, and would begin reciting the truth. I would thank God for the truths that counteracted the lie and praise Him for His good character.

I still do this, though thankfully, my cheat sheet came down many months ago from my cork board where I kept it. None of us will ever outgrow spiritual warfare and combating lies. But we will grow in our ability to discern them and defeat them quickly.

“The mature…because of practice, have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” Hebrews 5:14

Practice. It’s the key word.

Sometimes we give in to laziness because practice is hard work. It just seems easier to go with the flow and hope for the best. But once you understand the death and destruction your thoughts and inner beliefs are causing, you find the motivation to start practicing!

I am including my “cheat sheet” here for anyone who is interested. Your issues, lies, emotions, etc will be different, but this may provide you with an idea for making your own. If you do make your own, will you email me a copy? I would love to learn from you and perhaps I can share here with others?

God bless you, sisters (and brothers?) I am praying today for you who read these words to be strengthened and encouraged in your faith walk…

Path of Life Chart (Cheat Sheet)

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