How much is Satan and how much is me? As time has gone on, I’ve found myself wondering how much of my emotions have been affected by Satan, and how much was my own sense of insecurity and doubt. Then that takes me down a road of thinking, how much does Satan really have to say to get my mind to take off on a tangent. I think when we find out the answer to this question we will be surprised.
I don’t feel like every bad thing comes from Satan. I don’t think he is lurking behind that flat tire you got on your way to work or that sickness your kiddo brought home from school. I think that there is a large human component to some of the bad things that happen in our lives. I think there are many time we make situations harder on ourselves because of our mindset.
On the other side of that, I also believe that Satan has been around humans a loooong time. I believe that he knows people very very well. I think he understands how we use our vices and knows how to play the odds to influence people.
When I go through spiritually hard times, I begin to notice that I when I feel guilty about displeasing God, I tend to avoid my bible. I think you can equate it to wanting to avoid a person when you know you’ve upset them. I believe, unfortunately, this is human nature. Most of us don’t like conflict. But I think the sin comes because when we avoid the bible, we aren’t meditating on the word and being purposeful in our lives. And it just leads to a cycle where a month has passed, or a year, or many years, and we find ourselves asking what happened.
But while I do believe we play a big role in our own wrongdoings, I think that often times, the devil needs only to whisper a few key ideas in our ears. And we take off with those whispers.
Which leads me to believe that Paul told us to take every thought captive for this very reason. Because when we are out of the word, all of those voices running around in our thoughts start to sound the same. And we just don’t discern thing in our lives as well. At least I know this to be true in my own life.
Going through these struggles is tough, but I really believe that after we are through it, we see why we need to focus and meditate on the word. Which is really just STUDYING the bible. Knowing it in your heart. Because if we know the things God wants us to know, we can use those words and promises to fight the temptation to avoid him when we feel like we’ve displeased him.
I want to wish you luck if you’re going through this. Regardless if we’ve put it on ourselves or not. Jesus didn’t die for only those people who fall into Satan’s temptations, but also for those of us who mess everything up ourselves. It’s ok. I love you and so does he, and you will get through. He works for our good because we have chosen to love and serve him. He does not forget that.
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Isn’t that a hard thing to do? I say that all the time. Mostly because I’m a bit of a control freak. But also because I can occasionally doubt God is working for my good. Not intentionally, but that’s pretty much what is happening when you take control out of his hands, right? You don’t think he is doing good for you, or noticing your struggles, so you try to do good for yourself. You think you can do it a little better, or a little faster, or make a little more money if you do it this way. Maybe he’s just a little too busy right now. Maybe his focus is on something more important than your situation, so while you’re waiting on your answer, you go ahead and move onwards and upwards. We all do this, whether consciously or not. In our thinking, we often times acquaint ourselves with that old saying, time is money. So we take this belief as truth. It trumps over God’s patience and promises.
Now I’m not saying that everytime we step out of God’s will, it results in a terrible catastrophe. But I am saying that when we wait on God, God provides. And you know what I’ve found? Usually, if I would have waited and not rushed into something, I could have gotten a better deal out of it.
Our goal in this life is to live in a way that we put God first. And when I first heard this, I was like, uh no. Thanks, but I’ve got too much going on. I can’t even think about that. I can’t take the time to read that bible, I don’t understand it. I need someone to tell me what they think about it. It takes too much time to sit down and pray. I can do it tomorrow.
Have you ever heard these excuses before? Have you said these things to yourself to justify why you just can’t? I have. And things were ok. I survived. I worked and we lived. But life never really got great. I was tired, I was always worrying, always anxious, stressed, yelling at my kids because I was too tired and worn out to deal with appropriate discipline. Isn’t it shameful to read that? It’s shameful for me to admit it. Because even though we were doing ok on the outside, inside, I felt like everything was too much. I couldn’t keep up with work, life, and family.
I had to do something different. I needed a change in my life. Bad. Right about the time I was going through this, is when that movie came out. War Room. And man oh man. Let me just say wow. I didn’t realize. I just didn’t know what God could do for us. For me. For my sense of direction. If you’ve never seen this movie, you need to watch it.
I didn’t really know how to apply what I saw at first. The following morning I figured I’d start out by trying to pray. I gave myself 20 minutes. I woke up before the kids and sat in my closet. And my closet is FULL of clothes. It isn’t that nice, neat closet like the woman had in the movie, lol. It’s a tiny small closet crammed full of things. I sat on a tote full of scrapbooking supplies because it was more comfortable than the many shoes, hangers, and old toys scattered across the floor.
At first I just kind of sat there. Not really knowing what to say. Which was actually kind of nice because I’d been going full steam ahead for so long, I hadn’t realize how long it had been since I’ve heard peace and quiet, or since I’ve just been still.
Slowly, thoughts started coming to my mind. The ones that didn’t have anything to do with God I let go. But when a thought about God came up, I really tried to focus on it and hang on to it. And I started to wonder about God. What is he really like? Does he honestly even like us, we are all so bad sometimes. How can I do what he wants from me? What does he want from me? And I came to the realization that I did not have any of those answers. And that made me really sad. I mean, I was a Christian. I believed in Jesus and I wanted to go to heaven. I wasn’t a terrible person, there were many other people who did things far worse than me, so I should be good, right. How wrong my thinking was.
It really bothered me I didn’t know what God wanted from me. I reflected on my thoughts all day after my prayer attempt that morning. I finally realized the importance of reading that bible. The one that sometimes gives me a headache. The very same one I made all those excuses for not reading. But I knew in my heart that is what God wanted. He wants us to know him like he knows every fiber and being in us. He wants a true relationship, and those are not one sided.
This is what prompted me to start actually reading. And to be honest. It probably took a couple weeks of picking it up, reading some, and putting it back down, going to youtube to see what I could find preached on whatever I was trying to read to figure out what it was trying to say. But I stayed persistent and I didn’t give up. And then, while I was reading, it started to click. I realized that it was applicable to my life. I could see why, if people internalized this, it changed them. And I’ve been reading ever since.
I don’t think you could ever read the complete bible one time and get everything you need to know from it. I think it depends on Gods influence on you at the time you’re reading it. I’ve read the same passage several times, and depending on what I was going through, I had gotten different convictions out of it that helped me through my circumstances. I think it was made to keep coming back to time and time again. Like a life manual. And I think God intended it to be this way.
I just want to take the time, right now, to encourage you. Wherever you are on your faith journey, keep going. Don’t give up, no matter your circumstances. Put control back in Gods hands. How do you do that ? Read your bible. Start to know God and read about his promises to you. Believe these promises and believe in Jesus. Believe in his ultimate sacrifice for you. Just. Don’t. Stop. Sometimes as Christians, we can be stagnant for a little while, or even backslide, but don’t let that deter you from coming back to HIM. God is so patient. He is giving us this time to choose to come back to him. Know this. I pray for all of you out there reading this. I hope it helps.
Daily bread. Living water. What does that even mean? Does it mean food? Does it mean praying every day and going about our lives? It meant these things to me for a long time. Keep in mind I’m not convicting anyone. I’m telling you the ways I’ve been convicted in my life. Ways that I’ve felt pulled to a change in how I approach the word. And many, many ways I’ve failed.
Do you want to know what happens when I step out of the word? What happens when I don’t fill up on my Jesus for the day….yes that is a real thing. I need to hear from Him every day, to refocus my heart and help make my decisions throughout my day. I haven’t read much in the last few days, which inspired this post.
Last week, I reacquainted with a cousin I hadn’t seen in years due to our parents hating strongly disliking each other. It was awesome. We were both so happy to see each other and hang out. I had been running back and forth to VBS in the evenings and hadn’t had a lot of time to clean up, so I’d left some things for the next morning, and the next morning, and the next morning. So I ran myself out of time because I had so much to do before we left the house to go to these VBS’s. Well on the last day I started to second guess my reacquaintance with her. She was talking about our grandma, and had mentioned that she had bought her kids several pieces of clothing. In my mind, I interpreted this as, she got me something and not you. This is my effect from not staying in the word.
I suffer from overthinking. Tremendous overthinking. The kind of overthinking that ruins my relationships and keeps me from going and visiting family because in my mind, I assume I already know what they are thinking and saying about me behind my back. (my family does this often, they like to say bad things about each other, I’m sure i’m not the only one)
The only time I can really deal with this is when I stop trying to predict what other people are doing or not doing. The only way I can do this is when I have a close relationship with Jesus. Why? Because my relationship with him matters more to me than anything on this earth. He calls me to love my neighbor. My very difficult neighbor, my neighbor who sometimes criticizes me without my being present and I find out about it through the family grapevine. Despite this, He tells me that it is to my glory to overlook an offense, and that he will deal with any paybacks that need dealt out. Guess what, if I didn’t read that, and meditate over it day and night (when I needed to stop feeling negative towards someone who hurt me) I would probably stop talking to everyone in my family, and many people in my small town. But can you imagine if everyone did that to each other? No one would talk. No one would be there to comfort you.
God’s wisdom is far greater than we can ever imagine, and in staying in the word, I can live in that spirit. I can make choices that perhaps the only one who knows I struggle is my father in heaven, and that’s ok. because he promises me he sees it. He promises me that he will always be there for me and I will never be alone. He promises me he will be the one to seek justice. I’m on this earth to love my neighbor, not to take vengeance. I was created to do Gods good works, and that’s what I need to do while I’m here.
Aren’t animals beautiful? I mean, don’t get me wrong, they can be a pain sometimes. We’ve got 3 goats who are escape artists and one dog that upsets the neighbor because he chases away the pretty wild deer, and don’t get me started on the chickens. There’s some days I don’t even know how they’ve survived this long! They can be so….what’s the right word…..NOT SMART about their survival. But all in all, I’m happy to say that we have these animals in our lives. They’ve brought so much joy and responsibility to us.
I think it helps you to care not only for yourself and your family, but to recognize that there are others who depend on you. Today it’s the animals who depend on you. For water, feed, shelter, and even love. But next week it could be the aunt who needs help getting to her doctor appointment, or the cousin who’s wife just passed away. I think caring for animals increase our awareness for helping others.
I’m planning on breeding the goats this January….hopefully. Or as close to January as I can get. In the fall I’m going to send off a blood test on my does to make sure they are disease free. And yes, that is because we are planning on drinking milk from our beautiful does. And making yogurt and cheese….and maybe even some yummy ice cream!!
There are so many things we can be thankful for with our animals. Our eggs, milk, playfulness, companionship, education, accountability, science….(I’m hoping to learn how to do fecal counts for our goats once we get a good microscope). I can see the happiness they bring my children. We can work through sickness and death, so they have a good understanding of why we need to take good care of our animals, and not just go through the motions. And how to be good to them in times when death is unavoidable. We’ve had 2 chickens pass, one was sick for 2 days and we took care of her until she died. I think it’s important for the kids to learn these things. That although death is unavoidable sometimes, there are ways we can help cope with it, and show kindness to those going through it.
I hope to increase the variety of animals on our little farm, and even delve in to processing our own meat animals. I think we’ve gotten pretty far away from our food. And I think the very act of butchering and processing our animals that we’ve taken care of, brings us closer to that sense of appreciation. That sense that we gave our animal a great life and it provided food for us. That we aren’t so distanced from our food that we think of our chicken as a headless white lump in plastic packing in the fridge section. I hope to be able to grow from these experiences with our animals, and I hope for my children to do the same.
As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. …
I woke up this morning, had my coffee and my bible out on the front porch with me, and my great big teddy bear Samson lounging at my side, when I heard the kids come outside.
Now I knew they hadn’t even come close to finishing their morning chores. And I knew in that moment, I had to make a choice. I could get mad and yell, or I could choose to take the moment, just then, and be kind. See what they wanted and why they hadn’t started on their chores. And I’m glad that this morning, I made the right choice. Benjibear had come out to tell me he loved me. In my past, I ashamedly admit that I would have reacted negatively to the kids not doing what I asked them to. Because I was tired, because I let other things lead my life, because my focus was not on God, but on everything around me. I would have taken that moment to yell at them, not to hear what they wanted to tell me, but to yell and say, “I told you three times already to get this done, get in there and do it.” And then missed the opportunity for my oldest to have a moment of connection with me.
We hear all the time how much our kids love us. So from the outside, this may seem trivial. It may seem like he was only coming to tell me he loved me because he was trying to get out of his chores. But do I truly believe that? No. I believe in his mind, he thought he needed to come tell me right then that he loved me, and that is what I want to foster in my children. Love. Confidence that he could come and tell me he love me without Mom getting mad at him. Joy that he could share his love with me.
Kids are so beautiful. They are so adaptable to their surroundings. They are true survivors. We’ve all had our moments of disappointment in ourselves as parents. We’ve all done those things that we are not proud of and wish we hadn’t done or said. And I think it goes back to the bible, as in all things. See, what God wanted from his people to begin with, was an obedient loving people. Not people who disobeyed and tried to make up for it. He wanted our hearts. But he will take our repentance. And I think these little moments shape us. Those moments that we get mad and yell shape us. And those moments that we realize we shouldn’t have done what we did shape us, and those moments we choose to STOP and think before we react to our children shape us. For me, it’s been such a long journey. And I have a long way to go. But that’s ok. Because I know that he will finish this great work he started in me. He will give me a clean heart.
But it also made me realize, how much a Mom is like a manager. You can’t get mad and yell at your staff when they don’t listen or misunderstand. Well….I guess you can, and I’m sure some do, but they also loose alot of people that way. I don’t want to lose my kids. I want their hearts. And I have to manage them in a way that directs their paths while building them up instead of tearing them down. This morning, I really looked at being a mother like having a full time managing position. Because we are managing our families. Oftentimes as mothers, we are the ones guiding our children’s behavior. Father’s too. And we want to do so in a way that is encouraging. And I think we have to look past our initial negative knee-jerk reactions at our kids not listening, and instead take a step back. Try to imagine where they are coming from, just like you’d treat someone working for you, just like you’d treat a neighbor in Christ. You wouldn’t yell at a stranger for not doing what you asked them to do, why yell at your kids? And this is something that has truly helped me to stop yelling. Because I did alot of it. I’m not saying that temptation isn’t there, lurking at the corner. But I’m saying that instead, I’m choosing to encourage my children. Stay positive when they don’t listen, because they are not small adults, they are children. They don’t yet have the brain capacity to think like me. And that’s ok.
John 13:34-35New International Version (NIV)
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Ever since the loss of my Grandparents in 2000, holidays haven’t been the same. I’ve had the unfortunate experience of seeing what happens when all that is holding siblings together is their parents. And once that tie is broken, so are the relationships that were hanging on by a thread. I feel this is a common occurrence and although many times, people don’t realize it at the beginning, they begin to see how much of an impact mom and dad had on their kinship with their brothers and sisters once they’ve passed.
It seems personality types have so much to do with these struggles. Narcissism, envy, wrongdoings, lies, comparing children (even to adulthood), just struggles most adults don’t want to partake in becomes evident during this time we have together. But it brings up that question, that question that doesn’t get spoken until you’ve already let the negativity bring you down. That question that doesn’t pop up in your mind at first. The question of….where is my focus?
See, holidays aren’t about touting yourself, your new job, your prodigy child, pointing out insufficiency’s of others. Holidays are about enjoying the time you have with each other and doing good for others. Treating others as you would treat yourself. Maybe one day we can reach the point where we do these types of good all year. But holidays are a wonderful start to this. They are a chance to right wrongs, be the bigger person, show love and kindness, even if that means letting someone else proclaim their opinion louder than your own. Because your focus, your own focus, isn’t on yourself and how you want others to view you at these gatherings. Your focus on on God. And in leaving your focus on God, you can let all the other things go, because they don’t matter. There is so much in this world that man thinks is the key to success, but I believe the only true success, is your relationship with God. Because that relationship affects so many other relationships in your life. Its the difference between forgiveness and hate. Envy and happiness. The narrow path and the wide path.
If you’re a believer and you trust in God, you can often times see where others are hurting, and that in doing the behaviors they do (that annoy you) you can see their personal struggles. The best thing you can do for yourself and for your family is to pray. Pray for your struggle with your feelings towards them and pray for their own struggles.
If you aren’t a believer and want to be close to God, the best advice I have to offer is to pray, read, and internalize the bible. Start small and work your way up. Start with the 10 commandments. These have always been so important to God that we see them over and over, with Jesus actually digging deeper into them in Matthew. Come to God with a heart of repentance. Be sorry for the sin in your life and ask for change. Keep asking. You will find him when you seek him with all your heart and for many people, it doesn’t happen overnight. I have been on my own journey with the lord since 2014. I’m not perfect, nor will I ever be. I hope and pray that in sharing my own personal struggles, someone reading can gain some benefit and not feel alone. I’ve prayed a lot this holiday season and I will continue to do so. I probably annoy people as much as I am annoyed by their narcissism. I believe the true seal of doing a good job in life, is having other people talk highly of you. Unfortunately with social media the way it is, brandishing your own accomplishments over and over again is becoming the societal norm. So having it flow into your family is not a surprise. But I’m here to tell you there are still people out there who don’t believe in doing life this way and are trying to do life differently. And on that note, I’m off to work on getting the mote out of my own eye, so eventually, I can help others with the stick in theirs.