Sweet Smell of Rain

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My oldest daughter just started taking Bible studies at school with a few of her classmates. On our way  to school one rainy morning, we were discussing what she was learning and why. She shared a few verses and we talked about why it’s so important to know the Word of God. This led to a conversation about how God and the devil both speak to us and how it takes scriptural knowledge to be able to tell the difference. If we don’t know and cherish God’s Word in our hearts, we will very likely listen and live by the lies satan persistently and repetitively speaks to us. We need to know God’s truth to distinguish His voice.

As we were discussing this, my youngest daughter pipes in with “Mommy, Jesus is like the rain on our windshield and satan is like the wipers trying to wipe it away.” Brilliant! She’s four years old and gets it clear as a bell. I was so blessed by her words. She recognizes that Satan’s big plan is to wipe Jesus and His love for us off the map of our minds and hearts. Truly out of the mouths of babes. Oh, to have the faith and understanding of a loving, receptive, trusting child.

Satan can “wipe” as much as he wants, as fast as he wants, but he can’t stop the Rain. He wipes by telling us we’re not loved enough or good enough. He wipes with condemnation and guilt. He wipes by convincing us that what we did was unforgiveable or that we’ll never get it right, so what’s the use in trying? He wipes by distracting and enticing us to look elsewhere for comfort and popularity. He wipes by validating our revenge on those who have hurt us. He wipes by getting us to compare and compete with each causing jealousy and mayhem. He wipes.

Jesus rains. He rains down love and speaks to us through His Word. His Word is always there like a beacon in the fog. Look, listen, and feel. If we don’t read and learn, we won’t know who we’re hearing. In my personal experience, the devil speaks louder, so it’s taken a lot of prayer and seeking to hear God’s voice. So, I pray to hear Him. I read to hear Him. I strain to hear Him. He’s all I want to hear.

Leaning on Jesus for our past, present, future is the only way to get it “right”. Only through Him and by Him can we get “right” with our Father in Heaven. As much chaos and pain as Satan causes in our lives by trying to “wipe” Him away, Jesus’s love overcomes. He loves us and the devil hates it, therefore he wipes…..incessantly. It’s all he can do.

So, let him “wipe”. Let him discourage. Let him confuse and berate. Jesus brings clarity, love, peace, victory.

Let’s consider the blessing that rain is to us and how badly we need it when our ground is parched. Let’s consider the oceans and lakes we enjoy the sites and experiences of so much. Let’s consider the sweet smell of rain on a hot summer day. Let’s consider the powerlessness we feel when our plans are rained out or made better because of it. Rain comes when the rains come. There’s nothing we can say or do to predict when it will come or how long it will stay. No amount of disappointment will change the rain. Let us also consider a childlike faith and innocence when it rains and dance in it like children do. Thank you, Lord, for the rain. You do truly reign.

I say: “You keep wiping Satan, all that will accomplish is very tired arms on your part, because you can’t stop the Rain (Love of Jesus for me).”

Because….

 I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)

 

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Beautifully Guarded


guard your heart

Having our hearts properly guarded doesn’t keep others out, it keeps God’s great love for us in and first. It protects us from pain and reminds us Whose we are.

I used to be stepped on daily. I realize now that I allowed it. I didn’t know my worth. I didn’t know that my opinions and preferences mattered. I really thoughts others’ opinions and preferences mattered more than mine. And that if I voiced my own, I’d be considered rude or demanding. My desire to please other people led me to a place of silent suffering and constant pain. It led me into a marriage with a domineering and dominating man. A man who looked for a woman to please him by leaving him alone, letting him live his life separately, and letting him have his way. I internalized that pain and thought it was because I must not be enjoyable to spend life with. In my head, that must have been true, or he would have been there….with me, with us, enjoying life together.

My heart was not guarded whatsoever with the truth that God desires for us. I lived unaware of who I am to Him and that He died for me personally. That, no matter what happens, He loves me. That I am worth loving and fighting for. Not perfect, by any means, but loveable and precious just as I am and was.

I’ve learned that there is a difference between walls and boundaries. Walls are understandable after trauma and formed out of fear to protect ourselves. Walls aren’t bad, they are normal, but can be broken down with consistency and genuine love. Once the heart feels ready to love again, boundaries promote a love that feels comfortable and provide opportunities for both parties to trust again. Boundaries and healthy. They protect and help love blossom without blocking.

Just like there is a difference in walls and boundaries, there is also a difference between a closed off heart and a guarded heart. Closed off is also understandable after trauma and shut down for fear of pain and letting someone in again. Closed off comes from the fear of speaking up for yourself or maybe not knowing who you are or what you want or need out of the relationship at all. Closed off is having no interest in getting to truly know anyone else because you feel better off alone. If that’s the truth, then so be it. But, if it’s because of fear or indifference, it’s closed off. We’ve all been there too.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

This verse used to confuse me because I thought it meant to shut out, but I see now that it means to shut in. Let the love of God into your heart and shut the door tight. Keep it there and love yourself and others with it. You are a precious child of God. We can remain open, yet very much guarded. We need to properly guard ourselves from coworkers, friends, parents, our children, and even our spouses. Because, guess what? Words hurt. Loss hurts. Conflicts hurt. Separation hurts. A guarded heart loves others, loves themselves as a child of God, listens, forgives, promotes and accepts change, and lives aware of the fact that God loves them more than anyone else ever has, does, or will. Guard your heart so that in the wake of extremely painful consequences, the love of God will comfort you more than anyone or anything else ever can.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 (ESV)

To me, this means He doesn’t want us closed off to others. He wants us open to love them, but to not forget ourselves or Him in the process. Lean on the Lord and be you. Be you because you were created different than anyone else for a reason. Be you because the ones God has for you love you for who you are. God put you here to be you and love others through Him. Not to “love” others by constantly pleasing them, always telling them what they want to hear, or giving them exactly what they want exactly when they want it. Give them you, soaked in Jesus. That’s the best you, you can be.

People change, lives change, circumstances change. He does not. He will not. He is our Rock. Guard your heart with that beautiful truth.

 

 

 

Twisted

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Don’t get it twisted. Each one of us are here because of sexual intercourse. As much as we may not like thinking about our parents in that way, it’s the truth. God designed each of us (the apples of His eyes, the ones He died for) to develop and be brought into this world through the act of sex. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalms 139:13 (NIV)

We forget that it is a Godly design, a gift. Not only for procreation, but for pleasure. God is not a prude, sex was His idea.

The enemy twists our sexuality in different ways. One way is to make us think it’s okay whenever we feel like it with whomever also happens to feel like it at the time. Two consenting adults with a physical need that needs quenched. This cheapens it. It may feel good in the moment, but that is not His design. We really do give a part of ourselves away each and every time. The more you give it away, the less it will mean to you. And, that’s just sad. Sex is not just a natural act, there is much more to it. Why else would infidelity hurt so much? Why else do we withhold when we are upset or hurt? Sex matters. You matter.

Another way it gets twisted is we think we need to have sex in order to feel loved or show love. This can definitely help in marriage, but outside marriage, we run the risk of falling for someone who’s just dating us for physical pleasure with no intention of permanency. This one’s very tricky, because we think we need to have sex in order for love to grow. We wonder if a man can really fall in love, or if we can, without it. When you’re used to it as part of a relationship, it’s very difficult to imagine one without it. You wonder how on earth a bond can develop and grow without this aspect, but God can and will send someone who agrees with this viewpoint if you have it. Pray for that.

As far as what’s okay and what’s not, communication and peace are key. Talk about it. Yes, it’s a hard conversation to have. But, if you have this conviction, ignoring or denying it will not lead to peace. Share what you’re comfortable with and what you’re not. This should be respected by both parties. It either works for them or it doesn’t. This is why it’s so helpful to date someone with similar convictions so you don’t always have to be the “strong one”. It’s already agreed upon. Set your boundaries and follow your peace. If you mess up, talk about it and regroup. Pray some more and show yourself and each other grace.

Another way the enemy twists our sexuality is with shame. He wants us to think that we’ve messed up too many times, are used goods, and/or our desires are bad. Nope, like I said, we are the apple of His eyes. “Whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye.” Zechariah 2:8b (GW) The (NLT) version says “Anyone who harms you harms my most precious possession.”

He made us sexual human beings. Our sexual desires are not from the enemy, they are from God. He made us to desire it and enjoy it….at the right time, with the person we love and who loves us, for a lifetime. I wouldn’t want my daughters to think their desires are wrong or shameful. They need to be addressed and brought to the light as normal, healthy, and God given. It tends to get watered down too much or used as a personal shame sledge hammer in our minds by the enemy. He wants us to stay twisted, suffer, and question in silence. I share because I’ve been personally twisted.

Let’s iron it out and bring it to the light. God is good. The enemy is not. Sex is good. The enemy is not. God loves us. The enemy does not. Don’t let complacency or condemnation keep you twisted.

How Will You Know??

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When the relationship feels comfortable. When there is peace. When I feel confirmation from the Holy Spirit that I can believe the words that come out of his mouth. I have been sweet talked and pursued before, but this time it will be different.

We’ll have similar beliefs. Similar passions for honoring and seeking God in our present and our futures. He’ll understand my pain because he will have lived through his own. He’ll be tender and understanding. He’ll love my smile, understand my tears, and appreciate my heart. He’ll look for hobbies we can enjoy together. He’ll want to know and love my kids.

He’ll be intentional, but not pushy. He’ll encourage me to follow my peace and convictions. We’ll study and worship together.

He’ll be clear about his plans and want me in them. He’ll be generous with his time, money, and attention. He’ll be a giver.

He’ll have nothing to hide from me. We’ll both be open books. We’ll share our struggles and lessons learned. Our friendship will be our foundation. Oh, how sweet that will be.

I’ve shared before that I’m not a fan of dating. It’s so hard, especially with kids watching. But, this relationship? I’ll be a fan. And, it will be fun.

I trust that God is leading and, if it ends, I will still know that He is leading and be proud of the courage it takes to put my true self out there…

 

 

Braving dark corners

Greatness! It takes tremendous courage to identify and deal with those dark corners.

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When was the last time you peered into the dark corners of your life?

Taken one step further, when is the last time you peered and did something about what you saw instead of quickly looking away?

Despite having put the task off for ages, that is how I spent my afternoon.

You can erase the image of me on a therapist’s couch, replaying childhood memories.

I spent my afternoon with a shop vac.

In a lot of dark corners.

In case you are not familiar with my lack of Bob Villa-esque prowess, let me assure you I am no handywoman.

I’m also a bit of the stereotypical gal—not crazy about spiders, tools, beef jerky.

So the shop vac and dark corner bit was not my idea of a fun-filled afternoon.

I have decided, however, that dark corners are only scary when they are not peered into and dealt…

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