Friday, October 25, 2013

Armored up

Have you ever been coasting through life through smooth waters, and then suddenly something happens that sucks the wind right out of your sails?  Yeah, we've all been there.  And, here I go again.

It has taken a good month and a half to find our groove since the kids return to public school.  I am adjusting to this faster-paced lifestyle, and while we still have our moments of "hectic," the past couple of weeks have been filled with more peace and balance.  Life has been good.

I hate to be the pessimist, but after a decade of parenting, I know that the smooth waters don't always last.  At least not in this family.  There will always be waves and storms and moments that threaten to rock our boat and capsize it.  This won't change.  But what has changed is my ability to cope with it.  To quickly find my Anchor and Lifeboat that will shine Light and steer me to shore.  And instead of getting swallowed up in a wave of discouragement, I fight to stay afloat, knowing that those waves will come and go, and sometimes, we just have to ride them out.  In time, they always subside.

Never before have I prayed so fervently for the hearts of my children.  It's war time, and I am well-aware of my opponent and his schemes.  But, even still, there are times he sneaks up on me with added "oomph" in hopes to knock me down in defeat.  These finicky waters of life.  Some days we take a few strokes forward, and other days it feels like we are paddling upstream against a raging current.  It grows to be exhausting.  This waterlogged heart.

My youngens are 10, 8 and 4.  My job in training them up is not even close to being completed.  This parenting hike is an upward battle, and I'm not done with the climb.  An incident may push me a couple of steps back, but it doesn't mean the top of the mountain will never be reached.  Have you ever been there?  Don't lose heart, weary one.  This perseverance takes grit and muscle.  And sweat and tears.  This long obedience in the right direction is a tall, and sometimes arduous, climb.  There may be moments we feel like digging in our heels, or sliding right back down to the bottom defeated.  Afterall, descending takes a whole lot less effort.

But there are little hearts at stake here.  And they deserve a mama who won't give up.  One who will believe in them and their potential, despite their shortcomings and mistakes.  Who will love them through the "hard."  Who will fight for them, battling for their hearts as if their lives depended on it.  Because, eternally, they do.  So I keep pushing forward, with a heave and a ho, and a thousand million sighs and prayers.  Step by step.  One heavy foot in front of the other, looking for those breaks and plateaus.  Where the clouds part and you reach a place (even momentary) with beautiful, breathtaking view and perspective that drives you to forge further ahead.

So I do.  Like a soldier in battle.  Feet firm.  Armored up.  Unsure of what lies before me, but certain in the cause I fight.  I push aside those voices from the enemy.  Ya know, that bully in the back of the classroom.  The one who points at you and snickers...and when no one is looking, sneers at you quietly mouthing, "You lose. You'll never win. You might as well give up.  You're inadequate. Incompetent. A failure.  Haha...Told you so."

Give me sticks and stones, cuz this name-calling, these taunts and lies, they destruct like no other.  And they take longer to heal too.  So, what do you do when tempted to believe these things about yourself, your life, your circumstance?  You take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.  Don't let the enemy cloud and skew your perspective, your purpose, your worth, your identity. Who does God say you are?  What are His promises for you?  Listen to that voice of truth.  I promise there is life in it.  And you hide His Word in your heart.  That's ammo, my friend.  A holy sword.  It cuts through those lies and slices them right in half... So take that, ya big ol' bully.

And as I do just this, the waters recede and the quiet waters find me.  I catch my breath.  He wrings out the heaviness in my heart, and shines light and warmth back into my spirit.  It spreads across me like noonday sun.  And Peace covers.  I am ready to set sail again, strengthened by His grace.  That big ocean of it.  It quietly laps across me, watering all the right places.  Providing nourishment for me to continue to plant seeds into fragile, tender, imperfectly beautiful hearts.  And I am prepared to forge ahead.  Until that next wave appears on the horizon.

John 16:33
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Psalm 34:19
"The righteous man will have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all."

2 Corinthians 10:5
"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

Ephesians 6:10-18
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities,against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people."

Psalm 23
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul."

Quieted.  Restored.  Armored up.

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