What JoJo Siwa taught me about Spiritual Warfare 

I had never heard the name JoJo Siwa before, until our unplanned, last minute, Descendants 2 premiere party. The girls were watching YouTube videos on the TV and this new song came on. Immediately, all the girls went crazy.  They began to sing and jump up and down. I listened, unsure I was going to like it but then fell in love. 

The song is called “Boomerang” and it all about standing up to the ones that want to get you down. You can watch it here

Yesterday was plain awful. I was under attack and my usual tactics of shaking it off were rendering useless. This one was a full force, smack ya in the face and unable to move kinda attack. The enemy was hitting me hard with lies and frankly I was listening to them. Unworthy, unwanted, forgotten, loser, failure, and the big one…that we don’t deserve Gods blessings! LIES!!!!! All lies! But yesterday I believed every single one of them. It’s sad. I was so exhausted by the end of the day that I ended up going to bed at 7:30pm (it’s a good thing because my youngest decided to act like a newborn last night 🙄 😉)

My soul was heavy as I laid in bed but instead of focusing on the lies I began shooting up prayers of thanksgiving. Many times we are blinded by the lies and we forget to see the blessings that are right in front of us. I feel asleep praying, eyes exhausted from crying,  but my soul was lifted. 

This morning as I check the modern day newspaper (aka: facebook) my eyes were drawn to this post by In Him Ministries;

“One thing I’ve learned is that whenever life seems extra difficult, whenever it seems like the intensity has been turned up, that’s a sure sign that you are close to your victory. Whenever negative thoughts are bombarding your mind, or you’re tempted to get discouraged, that’s not the time to give up! That’s not the time to back down. That’s the time to dig your heels in. That’s the time to press on with a new attitude because you are closer than you think to your victory.
It seems like sometimes we find ourselves in Satan’s cross hair, we are under direct spiritual attack. Let me encourage you to keep fighting, keep running when you find yourself there! Satan is a very strategic enemy but in studying God’s Word we can begin to understand the timing and strategy behind these attacks. 
One of the prime times for Satan to attack is immediately before a great blessing. Satan knows he can’t stop your blessing but he won’t stop trying to spoil its arrival for you.

When he attacks you, his goal is to distract you from the course that God has placed you on. He wants to discourage you, take your eyes off of God, off your victory. With this understanding it becomes easier to see Satan for what he is, the great deceiver. 
Instead of getting discouraged, I encourage you to begin to declare, “I’ve come too far to stop now! I’ve been through too much to turn back now” Tell Satan to go to hell!
Don’t allow the enemy to steal from you any longer! Instead, press on toward your finish line because you’ve come too far to give up now. Remember, God Almighty is with you, and He is leading and guiding you down the path of victory in every area of your life! ”

Such good words and so encouraging!! Then later that morning my oldest had my phone and I heard Boomerang playing. 

“I don’t really care about what they say, Imma come back like a boomerang”

“Won’t let the haters get their way…”

“Try trying to make me stop, but Imma climbing to the top”

“Just look at how far I’ve gone.”

“Try to throw us off track but we know how to come back”

These words that were directed to bullies everywhere became my anthem when the enemy attacks. We are going to have really bad days but it’s all about how we react to those bad days. Are we going to give up or are we going to get back up and keep climbing to the top?  Are we going to let the lies set in and take root or are we going to come back with truth? If the enemy is pressing in hard we need to understand that he has no authority over us and our destiny.  God already has that planned out. He has gone before us and made a way. Just like when a kid learns his bullies weaknesses, the bully loses his power over the kid and he begins to understand the power with-in himself. We have the power to control these spiritual attacks. Stand firm and Declare Gods promises over your life and begin thanking God for the many blessings that surround you. That is when the atmosphere will shift and your soul will become lighter. 

Go find your anthem and sing it from the rooftops. Because I’ve got some news for ya, WE win in the end!! 

Advertisements

Snow Falling at Midnight

The clock struck 12 midnight as my foot landed in the freshly fallen snow. The cold powder tinkled my ankles as I walked down the quiet Main Street. What once was full of busy shoppers with places to be is now a blanket of untouched pureness and twinkling lined streets. The shops were locked up tight and the windows were dark. There was a stillness in the air that made the huge snowflakes fall at such a slow rate it was as if they were suspended in the air. I could detect the delicate differences between each flake and they shimmered in the glow of the kerosene lamps. My eyes began to focus on a light further down the road. A cool breeze gently touched my back as I moved forward slowly.  My eyes began to focus on the blurry blob surrounding the light and as I drew closer I relized I had reached a forest full of mature willow trees.  Their long branches were covered in a thin layer of ice and they almost reached the ground. I could hear the sweet music coming from the branches touching each other but there was no breeze to make them move. They moved with such elegance and I wondered they they were dancing for me. I moved forward into the woods gently touched the branches as I passed. Within minutes I finally reached the light source. It was in the center clearing of a group of five trees. I noticed there were no other foot prints around but mine. I squinted as the light grew brighter. It was suspended in the air with nothing holding it into place. The light grew bigger slightly and then shot up into the air. It burst into a million firefies and they swarmed above my head in unison. I was amazed as I saw them start to create words.

Beautiful 

Worthy

Lovely

Desired

Loved

Chosen

Forgiven 

Then the fireflies paused and danced excitedly as if they knew He was near. Soft footsteps came up behind me and my whole body began to buzz. It started in my feet and moved up through to my head as He reached out and grabbed my hand. My body grew limp and wanted to fall but the strength in his hand lifted me up. He grabbed my face with his other hand and tilted it up to look into his beautiful eyes. They were a color not discribed here on this earth and my eyes began to water as I couldn’t take my focus off his beautiful face. So much love poured out of his eyes and into mine. He said, “my child this one is my favorite.”  And as His eyes looked back up into the sky mine followed and the fireflies began to form an image. It was a picture of a baby. Looking closer I realized it was me. Then the images changed again, quickly but one image after another of me growing up. Then He squeezed my hand as if he was saying “watch this!” It was an image of me as an older woman. I began to cry. Then he put his arm around my back and said, “daughter, I have loved you the same from the moment you were born to your very last day here on earth. You are so precious to me and nothing you do can change my love for you. Every day you strive to do more and be more and you feel as if you are not enough. You feel as if you are failing. Oh my child that is far from the truth. I’m so pleased with you. Fall into me and find peace in my embrace. You are more than enough and I love you more than you know.” 

I let out a sigh and my whole body relaxed into His. A breeze circled around my body and up through the air. As I opened my eyes I saw the fireflies disappear in to the stars. Even though I could not see Him anymore His presence was near. 

(Photo by pixabay.com)

“God, can I get a little help here?”

A movie that is popular in our “house” right now is the new Disney movie, Moana. It seems to be on repeat and I honestly don’t mind one bit because it is THAT good. If you haven’t seen it I’m going to be referencing the movie so you may want to stop what you are doing and go watch it! Then, come right back here and read the rest of this blog because God spoke some good stuff to me through this movie. Go ahead, I’ll wait….

Welcome back! Wasn’t that good? There is one scene in the movie that moved me because I related to what was going on with Moana at the time. It was the scene where Moana is struggling on her boat trying to find Maui. She was trying to follow the stars shaped liked a hook, knowing it would lead her to her destination.  She was so exhausted from her journey she feel asleep and her boat drifted into the other direction.  The sea woke her up and when she tried desperately to realign her boat it capsized and she fell into the water. Exhausted and fearful, she cried out to the ocean, “can I get a little help here?” Immediately, a storm comes and she is tossed around in the ocean. Waves come crashing over her, one right after the other, until she lands on a deserted island covered in sand. Helpless, she looks over at her boat submerged into the sand and cries out again. She was confused as to why the ocean brought her there and in her frustration she tries to kick the ocean, unsuccessfully of course.

As most of you know we are currently in a storm of our own and I’m sure you are inyour very  own storm as well.  The severity of the storm doesn’t matter. It’s still a storm and it can still cause pain and damage no matter the size. Recently, there have been times when I have cried out to God just as Moana did, “where are you?” “Can I have some help please?”  When I thought I was only hearing the crickets, He spoke to me through a movie.

 (Side note) Never underestimate the way God speaks to you. It comes in all different shapes and sizes. Just be open and listen. 

(Now back to your regular program) 

When God has you on a journey sometimes it takes a storm to get you to your destination. Moana thought the sea had abandoned her, but in reality it took her to exactly where she was called. What we have to understand is that when God is moving in your life the ground beneath you will shake from His greatness and the atmosphere around you will tremble because the enemy is doing everything he can to try and stop it. I think many of us think that if we are doing Gods work it should be easy, but if your on Gods path it’s not going to be a cake walk people. Gods people are wearing His shoes and with every step you take you are sending shockwaves down to the depths of Hell, waking up the enemy and getting him fired up. But know this, the enemy will fail and God’s glory will always prevail. Always. 

If you are in the deep thick of it and waves are crashing over you, hold on tight to your boat my friend. Know He is there, He is with you and you will get through this. Keep pushing through, sending those shockwaves deep down beneath you, letting the enemy know who is in charge here! God! You are clothed in his mighty armor so stand firm and grounded! 

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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. 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. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Eph. 6:11-1

“Through You we will push back our adversaries, through Your name we will trample down those who rise up against us.” 

“This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chron. 20:15

How to have Joy through the Wait 

Her tiny fingers hit each piano key with such intensity and passion, unable to gracefully move from one key to the other with out lifting her hand. Blue painters tape destiguished each key from the other to aid in the learning process.  Her eyes followed the notes intently on the page trying to hit the right note. When the wrong note was pressed her fingers would flex and a large sigh would exhale from her lips. A larger more experienced hand curled around the keys upscale from those tiny fingers. Setting the example of how to hit each note with the correct finger. The tiny fingers stretched to reach each note and out of frustration she would stop trying to play correctly and start playing the easy way, with one finger. The teacher urged her to keep practicing the proper finger technique until she perfected that section, but the child only wanted to learn the other sections and quickly move forward.  The larger more experienced hands stopped and placed their hand over the students to stop them from continuing. The teacher looked into the child’s eyes and explained, “playing with one finger may seem easy now, but we must learn proper techniques so that you will be able to play correctly and effectively when the pieces get harder. If you move forward without learning what you need to now, you will eventually have to go back and relearn, causing this to take much longer than expected. It is better to take your time now and perfect the section you are in.”

“God loves the process.” I have heard this phase so many times in the last few years from family and friends. I would immediately want to roll my eyes but would stop myself because deep down I knew the truth. God not only loves the process but he also loves when we are filled with joy through the process. 

That is so much easier said then done but if we try remember the story from above it will help us understand the meaning of the wait. Most of us have something we are waiting for or a promise that we are holding onto. We want to reach that promise or destination as fast as we can. What we need to try and remember is there is a purpose for your wait. God is trying to teach us some valuable lessons that will help us down the road. He doesn’t want us to get to our destination unprepared and ultimately fail because we did not have the right tools to succeed. 

Moses led the Jews out of Egypt toward this promise land. God led them through a 40 year time of testing. If God took them to the promise land before they were ready they would not have had the tools or the faith to achieve Gods plan once they arrived. (Joshua 1-24)

We ultimately want the easy road, the quick fix and a fast microwave meal. God wants us to savor the moment, slow down and learn as much as He has for us so we may achieve the final and greater goal. The moment you are in may be hard and full of mourning, financial troubles or you may be in constant survival mode. It’s hard and I’m with you on all accounts. I want to get out of this moment as soon as possible, but I also want to learn everything He has for me as well. I want to be able to use this and have it not be wasted. When we know there is truth being taught through our waiting we can choose to have joy trump our anxiety. Let us stop, breathe, inhale His truth and exhale His love that he has for us and others. 

Hold on my friend. His promises are true, He always keeps them and He is with you every step of the way. 

  

Raspberry Jam and Refining my Soul

Recently, my family and I visited an apple orchard close to our home called HoneyHill Orchard, in hopes of picking some scrumptious apples.  My girls love apples so much that I need to always have one on hand.  And I frequently find half eaten one’s randomly lying around the house with tiny bite marks in it from my youngest daughter, who doesn’t like the skin but insist on still eating the apple like her big sister.  Upon our arrival to the farm we quickly learned that we were 4 days to early for the apple picking season. In our attempt to be spontaneous we forgot to check the schedule. So we picked raspberries instead.  My family isn’t too fond of raspberries but will eat them on occasion.  I find the store bought fruit rather tart and shy away from eating them all together.  Since we were there I decided to live in the moment and let my family pick as many as they wanted for the experience.  My middle child ate more off the bush than she put in the bucket, but this momma wasn’t complaining.  It just meant I didn’t have to feed her lunch!  Just kidding of course!

  

  
My youngest got involved too! “Let’s Taco about how cute he is!”   
 

We picked about a 1lb of raspberries and then headed home.  I knew that we would not be able to eat the whole pound so I began researching jam recipes.  I found this Old Fashion Raspberry Jam Recipe and decided to try it.  Thinking it was a somewhat easy process I talked myself into making my very first raspberry jam.  I ran to the store for some mason jars and then began the process while my youngest was napping.  

  

I rinsed the berries and added them to a stainless steal pot.  

   

 I began mashing them until they were in a liquid form.  (Confession:  I used my daughters ikea utensil for the job since I didn’t have an adult size version 🙂 It ended up working out perfect.) 

  
 
Then, I added the warm sugar to the mix and then started the sterilization of the jars.  (note: I forgot this process and would probably work better if done ahead of time)I learned a couple things during this process of making jam.  

  1. I didn’t have proper canning tools but I made it work this time.  Next time I will be a little more prepared and maybe attempt this at night when all the kids are asleep.  
  2. God was showing an amazing refining process that looks messy at first but comes out so sweet in the end.  

This past year God has been and still is working on refining my soul.  Pulling out the bad things inside of me such as rejection & comparison of others, needs vs. wants and my will over His,  just to name a few.  There are so many more but I won’t go into that now!  Youre welcome.  But what that looks like sometimes is a hot mess with lots of tears, the ugly kind.  To begin to pull these things out we have to ask God to reveal these things within us and then let God change us. Hopefully when He’s done something far sweeter will be present.  I would love to get into each of these awesome qualities of myself but for now I want to just focus on the process because that is where I am now.  God loves the process.  Don’t be afraid of the process.  It may take a long time and it could look really messy from worldly standards, but to God it is beautiful.  Embrace the mess, embrace the hurt and go there.  God wants to bring us somewhere more fruitful and nourishing so that we may be fully ready to be used for his glory.  When we have impurities attached to our soul it is hard for it to be used properly.

 

The raspberries were picked with dirty hands and contained lots of bugs, in that state they were not going to get used or eaten by my family.  But a little journey into an unknown messy process turned into the sweetest jam we ever tasted and we will be able enjoy it all year.  

  

   

 

Missing our Target

The young boy grabs his jacket off the hook and runs after his dad into the crisp morning air.  The sun is just peaking over the pine trees casting glimmers of light onto the dew in the grass. His rain boots squeak as they follow a much larger & aged pair of work boots. The sound of the rustling leaves in the trees above his head tells him winter is right around the corner. And on this day this boy’s father is going to teach him to hunt for their food. The boy watches his fathers every move as he pulls out the bow and arrow from his bag. He sees the target and quickly runs to set it up a few steps in front of them. When the boy returns the father gives him a lesson on handling the bow and arrow, pulling the string back close to your mouth and holding your breath for steadiness, aiming at the target, waiting for the right moment and then releasing the string from your fingertips. The father steps back and watches the boy take over the weapon. He stays quiet as he attempts to follow the instructions. The boy struggles a bit with positioning but fires anyway and the arrow lands 2 feet in front of the boy. Frustrated but determined the boy picks up another arrow and fires again with the same results. Each arrow coming a little closer to the target but not meeting it. Eventually, the boy caves and ask for help from his father. He nods and the boy releases his grip and allows his father to come behind him and guide him in each move.  The fathers hands wrap around his sons and he bends down to his level. As they set the bow to aim at the target they both pull back on the string and with an exhale they both release the arrow together. The arrow not only reaches the targets distance but it exceeds it, going over target into the woods far off in front them. The son turns to his father questioning him, upset that he didn’t hit his target once again. The fathers lips curl up on one side as the boy complains, as if his actions were somewhat cute and humerus. With a small chuckle the father sent his son into the woods to look for the over shot arrow. Head lowered and tear filled eyes the boy set out for the woods, watching the ground as his rain boots dodged sticks, leaves and uneven grounds. About to give up the boys head lifts as he sees the overshot arrow. His mouth dropped in shock, the back part of his hand wipes away a falling tear and he sighs as his hands fall to his side and his knees hit the ground. He looks up into the heights of the pines and his little lips curl with the same exact smile. “Thank you” leaves his mouth and he turns back to see his father standing right behind him. “Did you see what happen father?” and the father responds to his boy as he knelt down next to him and laid his hand on his shoulder, ” I know. I saw the deer in the distance as we were practicing. When you let go of control and allowed me to help you, I helped position the weapon to hit prize, not the target.”

The boy and his father knelt down together, arms around each other, in amazement of what just happened. His father looked down at the boy and quietly said, “I’m proud of you son. You’ve done a great job today.”

………
Just like the son in this story we set our eyes on the targets we set up for ourselves.  We go about life thinking we have control and making decisions on our own. When we miss those targets we get upset and question God. He wants us to see that sometimes missing the target gets us the prize, His plan and will for our life. His plan is better than our plans, we just have to let go and have faith that where God leads us is somewhere far greater than we can imagine or plan for ourselves.

Allow God to come in and guide you today. Allow him to lead your steps and bring glory to his kingdom. Whatever that may be, know that missing the target we set for ourselves may be failure to this world but it isn’t failure from Gods viewpoint. It is setting us up for Gods ultimate plan, a far greater plan than any man of this world could create.   Our only task is to believe that God knows what He is doing and stop trying to figure out his plan and purpose for our life. We need to only trust that He will align us with a much bigger target than our own.
23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

(Col 3:23-24)

13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

(Phil 3:13-14)

Better than diamonds

On Mother’s Day I wrote a post that eventually was deleted by my own mistake. At first I was upset, but ultimately I’ve always taken the approach of Gods perfect timing with my writing. I never push a post, they must flow from the mouth of God through my fingertips to your eyes. When a post accidentally gets deleted,  I wait for Gods timing in rewriting it. Now is the time!

It was the morning of Mother’s Day and I walked up the stairs like any other day. Half awake and needing coffee as soon as possible. I honestly forgot the importance of the day until my 6 year old came screeching around the corner, telling me to go back to bed. She had a special suprise awaiting in the kitchen and she didn’t want me to ruin it. So, half asleep and pushing through my coffee hang over, I headed back to bed. I sat patiently waiting for this big suprise. With in minutes she enters the room holding a chess board that was doubling as a serving tray. Laid out across the tray was a glorious cup of black coffee, a plate full of an assortment of fruits and a slice of lemon loaf. Next to the plate sat a very subtle yellow plastic Easter egg on top of a handmade card.

Her toothless grin stretched across her face as she awaited the appropriate affirmation. I thanked her for this very thoughtful gift and then proceeded to ask her the importance of the Easter egg. I couldn’t quite figure that one out. She jumped with excitement and announced that my gift was inside. I was rather curious now so I bypassed the cup of black gold to see what precious gift awaited for me inside this tiny plastic egg. I open it with caution and out dropped a small delicate necklace.

The modest chain was a bronze color, a color you only get with age. I instantly knew this necklace must have been well loved before it fell into my hands. The pendant hanging from the chain wasn’t a precious jewel or a diamond, it was something far better. It was a small vintage Mickey Mouse that hung proudly. “Do you love it?” She asked. “Absolutely” I cried with pure love in my eyes.

This child stood before me and watched intently as I put the chain around my neck. Her hands held tightly together in front of her mouth as she awaited for me to reveal what it looked like. As my hands fell she held onto her mouth so the joy wouldn’t pour out. Dropping her hands she said, “it’s beautiful. You really like it?” “I love it” I told her as I gave her a hug and kiss. She immediately skipped out of the room so she could finish her morning cartoons.

As I sat there in silence, sipping on my coffee, I couldn’t shake what God wanted to speak to me in this tender moment. He helped me understand the similarity of receiving this gift and how He sees His children. You see, my daughter didn’t have to give me diamonds or even a gift that day but what she gave me was something far greater, her heart. She poured her whole self into this gift and that is why I loved it so much.

Many times we can come before God with a religious heart. We come with a check list. We feel the need to do certain things and complete certain tasks for him to love us. If we serve more in church, if we give more, if we spend more time reading bible, or if we just play the part we will be loved and accepted by God.

Or other times we don’t come before God at all because we feel like we have nothing to give. Our tank is empty and we feel inadequate. We feel incapable of being loved because we are broken, bronzed with aged, or considered unwanted by the church. We fall away and never approach His glorious throne.

What God showed me that morning was it wasn’t about what we brought to the table, it’s only and always about our heart. My daughter gave me her whole heart that day. She didn’t give it to me out of guilt or with hold the present because she felt it wasn’t good enough, she showed up and gave everything she had. God wants our hearts wholy and solely for himself. How are we approaching him? Are we coming to Him at all?  What condition is our heart in? What are our intentions? We need not do anything but seek him and we will find his love ready and willing to embrace us.

He wants us to come before Him with all that we have, our brokenness and our treasures, and lay them at His feet. We are the most precious gift He could ever receive, we are better than diamonds.

proverbs 3:15