Once again, life has tossed you the same ole results, the same ole heartache, and the same ole valley. Throwing in the towel and retreating to a deserted island is growing more appealing as the minutes tick by. You are done. You are empty of any ambition or want to continue.
How does one go on when everything inside feels depleted and empty?
When I recently stumbled into an "I'm empty" moment, the Spirit reminded me of Elijah.
Nestled between the extraordinary stories of Elijah's fiery mountaintop experience (1 Kings 18) and his heavenly chariot ride (2 Kings 2), is the aching depiction of a man in the pit of despair. He had given life his all, only to find himself on the queen's most wanted list, dead or alive.
What does Elijah, who had just experienced the awesome power of God, do when hunted by a deranged woman? Flee!
Three days later, Elijah, exhausted physically and emotionally, sought refuge in a cave carved into the side of Mount Horeb. He had nothing else to give.
He was empty.
God in all His kindness visited Elijah in that barren place. After He listened to Elijah’s “woe is me” story, He filled Elijah's cup with a plan and a purpose.
Then the LORD told him,
“Go back the same way you came and travel to the wilderness of Damascus.
When you arrive there, anoint Hazael to be king of Aram.
Then anoint Jehu grandson of Nimshii to be king of Israel,
and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from the town of Abel-meholah
to replace you as my prophet.
1 Kings 19:15-16
Running on empty caused Elijah to forget why he was on this earth. God reminded him:
1. You are part of My plan. "Go back to what I called you to do."
2. You have a purpose. "Do what you’ve been doing for Me."
I love that!
When you are empty and don't know what to do, keep doing what you've already been doing for God.
I recently had a situation that pushed my rejection button. It was all perceived of course, but I was physically tired, obviously spiritually thirsty, and the perceived slight drained all my rational thinking. I was ready to throw in the towel on all I was involved in.
I grasped that my thought pattern was crazy, but I was like a car whose gas light had been on for the last 20 miles. I was running on empty and in the danger zone. Crazy, irrational thoughts railed against all I knew to be true.
A few hours later, I finally got over myself (sigh) and cried out to God. After I lamented over my situation and questioned what in the world was I to do, He gently whispered, "Keep doing what you already are doing."
One step forward. Keep on being obedient even when you desire to give up because you are empty. Just take the next step forward.
A great acronym to recall during these empty moments is H.A.L.T.
When you are
H - hungry,
A - angry,
L - lonely,
T - tired,
In other words, don't do anything rash! Because during our empty seasons, we lose focus and forget why we are here. We make stupid decisions. We shift into survival mode, perhaps even rev it up to revenge mode. These actions alienate us and drive us further into the dark valley.
Jesus Girl, when we're empty, we must HALT and run to the only One who can fill us, Jesus.
When Elijah lost any gumption to move forward, God reminded Him He had a plan and a purpose for him. Revitalized, Elijah returned to what he’d been designated to do: anoint kings and prophets. He was obedient and, therefore, finished well. (2 Kings 2)
That’s what we’re called to do. While we probably won’t be invited to anoint future kings or prophets, we are charged to love and serve.
Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another,
because love covers a multitude of sins.
Be hospitable to one another without complaint.
As each one has received a special gift,
employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God;
whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies
--in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.
To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 4:8-11
Love the unlovable.
Speak life to the lifeless.
Encourage the downtrodden.
Be the hands and feet of Jesus to all you meet.
Love and serve. Why? So that in everything God may be glorified.
When you're empty and don't know what to do, just keep doing what you've been doing for Christ.
Whatever you do, work heartily (willingly),
as for the Lord and not for men,
knowing that from the Lord
you will receive the inheritance as your reward.
You are serving the Lord Christ.
Dear one, the world and even our own flesh will mock our self-denial, this dying to self and living for Christ. However, if we aspire to be filled so we can truly live, we must HALT and run to the only one who can fill us, Jesus.
How about you, my friend? Are you feeling empty and depleted of all motivation to keep moving forward? Cry out to Jesus! He will fill your cup and gently guide you on the path of life. (Matthew 7:7) He loves you and has a plan and a purpose for you. Trust Him. I'm praying for you. <3
For more encouragement, read "What If You're Exactly Where You're Supposed to Be?".
Tammy Valdivia - Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, lively laughter, deep talks, and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
Follow us on Facebook here.
Life doesn't look like you envisioned it. You keep thinking if only I had a different job, or a different spouse, or a different child, or a different ___________.
Right now, the proverbial grass on the other side of the fence looks to be your favorite shade of green.
But what if?
What if the job doesn’t improve, the spouse doesn’t change, the kid doesn’t wise up, the ______________ doesn’t change? Then what? Do we live in neutral or in a “woe is me” state or give up?
God didn’t create us and put us in this period of time, in this location, in this situation for us to give up! As Christ-followers, we have the power of the living God inside of us!
Romans 8:37 reminds us that we are MORE than conquerors through Christ. But in reality, many of us are living as the conquered. We’re continuously striving, grumbling, complaining, and are down-right grouchy.
Goodness. We need to shake this Eeyore mentality of woe is me... my life is so wretched... my situation is so hard...etc. etc. etc. Wake up, O Sleeper! This life isn't about me, nor is it about you. It's about God and His glory.
That hard place you are all grumbly about? It is during these difficult times that God shows Himself faithful in our lives and that His promises and His word are true! He's inviting you to get up! Throw off the shroud of winter! Allow spring to bloom in your soul!
You know Philippians 4:13, “I can do ALL things through Him who gives me strength.” Have you glanced back two verses? Check it out?
“…for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. “ Philippians 4:11
Content. Wow! Paul learned to be content in whatever situation.
Content in this context means independent of external circumstances. No matter what situation presented itself, Paul was at peace. He unwaveringly believed whatever hard condition - beatings, imprisonment, ship-wrecked, etc. - was before him; it was God’s will for him to make the most of it.
That, my friend, allowed him to boast, “I can do ALL things through Him who gives me strength.”
That’s the secret, dear one. Contentment. Peace. Right where you are, whether in a stressful job, or a loveless marriage, or a terrible parenting situation, or _____________. Like Paul, we must learn -- get in the habit of -- to be content.
I wish I could take your hand into mine, look into your eyes, and speak this to your soul, "You, dear one, were made for hard things. Because of Jesus, your life should exceed the normal humdrum existence."
"Bloom, Jesus Girl!"
Bloom in that hard spot! Let God's resurrection power soften the soil of your precious heart with hope and joy and peace!"
When the marriage is hard, press into God's promises.
When the job is frustrating, press into His life-giving Word.
When the parenting is hair-pulling, press into His peace and long-suffering.
When the _____________ is tough, press into Jesus.
Press in. Learn to be content. Like Paul, unwaveringly believe that whatever hard situation is before you; it is God’s will for you to make the most of it.
How do we bloom in those hard places?
Our hearts have to pray repeatedly, "Your will, not mine, Lord. Your will, not mine. Change my heart to beat like Yours. Help my hands and feet do what it takes to thrive in this season."
Our minds need to fix on life-giving advice found in the Scriptures such as:
Marriage - Ephesians 4:32, 1 Peter 3:1-4, 1 Corinthians 7:16, Ephesians 5:22, 31-33,
Parenting - Ephesians 4:32, Ephesians 6:4, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Malachi 4:6
Job - Colossians 3:23, 1 Corinthians 10:31, Ephesians 6:6, Titus 2:10-11
People - Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:12-17, Galatians 6:1, 1 Peter 3:9
Situation - Psalm 56:3, Proverbs 3:5-6, Romans 15:13, Exodus 14:14
Dear one, I don't know your hard situation. But if God hasn't closed the door, you are probably exactly where you are supposed to be. May you learn to be content so that you can thrive! I'm cheering you on as you press in and bloom in the midst of this hard situation. <3
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials,
for we know that they help us develop endurance.
And endurance develops strength of character,
and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.
And this hope will not lead to disappointment.
For we know how dearly God loves us,
because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
Tammy Valdivia - Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Confidante. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, deep talks, lively laughter, and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
Follow us on Facebook here.
This post resonated in so many precious hearts, that we designed a t-shirt to remind us to bloom! It's such a great reminder when we look in the mirror and see the words "Jesus Girl" looking back at us that we're emboldened to push thru the hard things in Christ's strength!
Look at the cuteness not only for you but for the next generation of Jesus Girls, too!
You can find them here.
Six Ways to Diffuse Depression
The Glad Game. Have you ever heard of it? It took place in a cranky aunt's home located in a town of hard-hearted people. Seems almost impossible, doesn't it? But a very determined little orphan girl wasn't deterred. She introduced the game to any who would listen by saying, "No matter how bleak the situation, you can always find something to be glad about."
Everyone, from the town recluse to the orphan's aunt, was eventually affected by "The Glad Game." All because of one little orphan named Pollyanna. "The Glad Game" changed the fictitious town, yet more importantly, it changed the author, Eleanor H. Porter, who penned the story. She was quoted, “Oh yes, my relationship with Pollyanna is personal. She got me thru my childhood.”
When the dark blanket of depression descends, a Pollyanna approach to life is the farthest thing from our mind. But should it be? Should we find something positive even in the bleakest of circumstances?
Like we discussed in part 1, bouts of depression can swoop down upon us unaware! But we who suffer from depression are not without hope! We don’t always have to resort to the pill bottle or the counselor’s couch to see the light of day. While there are benefits to those, we can choose to play Pollyanna’s “The Glad Game” but rename it as “The Thankfulness Game.”
My friend, it is healthy and good to be actively engaged In overcoming depression.
Thankfulness. What's so powerful about being thankful? Dr. Daniel Amen, a clinical psychiatrist, scanned a woman’s brain two times, first when she was thankful, then when she was fearful. For the first scan, she dwelt on everything for which she was thankful. For the second scan, she meditated on all her fears of things which could go wrong.
The difference between the thankful brain and the non-thankful brain scans was stunning.
Her thankful brain lit up the areas of motor skill and thought coordination. This result makes sense. When we’re thankful, it adds a spring to our step and infuses hope into any situation and gives us the drive to push thru the hard things in life.
Proverbs 17:22 declares: "A joyful heart is good medicine!"
Her non-thankful brain showed a decrease in the areas of motor skill and thought coordination. Think about it, when we are fearful or down, our thoughts and actions become jumbled as if we’re walking through sludge. We're stunted from thriving.
Like Proverbs 17:22 warns: "A broken spirit dries up the bones."
Science proves the Bible!
Dr. Amen's brain scans prove Proverbs 17:22! Positive thoughts/thankful thoughts release endorphins - happy chemicals - which are stronger than morphine! "Being grateful for the wonderful things in your life literally helps you. . . “ (Dr. Daniel G. Amen, Making a Good Brain Great, p. 151) Read more about this in part one.
My friend, this is good news! Thankfulness can help heal a bout of depression!
Here are 6 ways we can play “The Thankfulness Game”?
1. Three things
When I'm in "the pit of despair," I make myself think of three things I'm thankful for. Why? Thankfulness is good medicine. I might be in my car or in my bed with the covers pulled over my head. No matter where I am, I can always mentally choose thankful thoughts of glee to sweep away the dark thoughts of "woe is me."
2. Thankfulness Journal
I have notebooks here, there, and everywhere to remind me to write thankful thoughts. It's not only fun, it’s life-giving to look back over the lists and see the faithful hand of God. Research shows the benefit of keeping a running list of thankful things:
“10 weeks later…participants in the gratitude group felt better about their lives as a whole and were a full 25 percent happier than the hassled group.” (Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. Huffington Post)
3. Thankfulness Pinterest Board
Growing up, the sweet lady across the street kept a scrapbook full of her favorite pictures and quotes. I used to spend hours during the dark days of winter looking thru them next to a crackling fire with a warm mug of cocoa at my side.
Pinterest is a modern day version of her scrapbook. Start a thankfulness board on Pinterest and pin thankfulness thoughts and verses which inspire you. Simply type in "thankfulness quotes" or "Thankful verses" in your search engine search bar and then click images. Pin one or two a day. Check it regularly.
4. Thankfulness Screensavers
Speaking of thankfulness quotes or verses images, save a pretty one as your screensaver. Each time you pick up your phone or power on your computer, it will remind you to be thankful.
5. Thankfulness Sharing
Social media has enough negativity. There are others out there who need the thankfulness treasures you are unearthing. Like a flower girl casting pedals, share a thankfulness quote or verse on your social media page regularly.
6. Thankfulness Accountability Partner
I have a couple of precious friends I make (yes, I have learned I need to bully my flesh.) myself tell when I'm under a cloud of depression. They know when I tell them I am down-hearted, they are to point me to what is true and good and beautiful. They even sometimes make me tell them three things I'm thankful for and check in during the day to be sure I'm not wallowing in my pit of despair.
Life is hard. Dark days descend without notice. But God is good. He's given us a remedy for depression: a thankful heart. A cheerful heart. A glad heart. Pollyanna was right, “there is something about everything that you can be glad about, if you keep hunting long enough to find it.”
"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.
Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."
How about you, my friend? What are some tricks of the trade you use to help fight the dark thoughts? Perhaps you're in the throes of a dark period. I'm sorry. That's hard. Let me know as I'd love to pray with you. But also, I challenge you to pick one of the 6 remedies listed above and faithfully implement them into your day. You can do this! I'm cheering you on!
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, lively laughter, deep talks and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
I love to read. It is my escape to adventure and relaxation. Recently, I received an audio book subscription and find it truly luxurious to let someone else read to me! What indulgence!
Don’t you find your “me time” precious and maybe a little harder to come by than you would like? I do. When I think I’m going to have time to snuggle up and read (or listen to) a good book, there’s a little dance going on inside me. I like to think about what kind of drink I will put on the coaster beside me and what fuzzy socks I will wear. Will I push back the curtain and let in a flood of sunshine to light the page, or will it be a dark and stormy night when my bed and lamp or firelight are more in order?
If it sounds to you like I fantasize about my alone-time, you could not be more right! You may not be an avid reader but what do you love to do to wind down? If you had an unexpected afternoon off to spend however you wanted to, what would you do? Spa day? Shopping? Baking Day? Run in the park?
Hey, wait… are you fantasizing about your alone time!?
Let’s face it, leisure time is not filling up most of our calendars. Those moments when we can relax and recharge are a limited commodity and therefore valuable to us. That’s why when a few years ago a sweet saint gently challenged me to change how I use that leisure time, I balked at first.
Here’s the story…
As early as my teen years, the classic “who dunnit” genre captured my fancy. I particularly enjoyed the work of the British sleuth writer, Agatha Christie. I loved her ability to bring to life the human personalities in her books. She was also the master of nailing the surprise ending where all the puzzle pieces fall into place so neatly and yet you are shocked and dismayed that you never suspected the perpetrator for a second! I had read many of her works, but always looked forward to the next book, so I asked my mother-in-law who was running a used book business to keep her eyes open for any of the titles I hadn’t read.
Ladies, I highly recommend finding a man to marry whose mother loves you like a daughter. What a blessing! My mother-in-law spent the next couple of years combing her inventory and other sources and eventually acquired for me EVERY work ever written by my favorite author. I knew that the acquisition of these sometimes rare books was a labor of love, and my heart was warmed by her effort on my behalf. One day when my collection was nearly complete she was handing me a rare copy of one of Agatha Christie’s romantic novels, and she casually remarked that she had found it enriching to start reading only Christian and “uplifting” material in her leisure time.
Read only Christian and uplifting material… In my leisure time… My “me time.”
If you have been a believer long, you may already anticipate how I was feeling. Now my precious mother-in-law had not even SUGGESTED that this was something I should do. But I was feeling uncomfortable. Why? Because my flesh did not want to submit my leisure reading to God, and I immediately knew that was the crux of the issue. I did not want to entrust what I held as my own, private, valuable, treasure to God to change it however He wanted. Ugh.
So I dithered around and made excuses mentally and basically pouted for a while. I don’t remember having a particular moment when I surrendered this fight against God, but the Holy Spirit, ever so gracious, helped me to come around.
Now, I joyfully confess that my absolutely favorite genre is Biblical Fiction, a subset of Christian Fiction in which the author takes a text of the Bible and imagines personalities and details to bring the story to life. For example, I’m currently reading a series about King Hezekiah. Passages about him can be found in the Bible in 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles and Isaiah. Lynn Austin has used a vast amount of research and inspiration to make this hero of the Bible into someone who lives and breathes in my imagination. In the current chapter, the walled city of Jerusalem is surrounded by the Assyrian Army.
The general of King Hezekiah’s army has been captured, tortured and hung on a stake to taunt King Hezekiah who stands on the city wall and weeps to see one of his dearest friends tortured. But Hezekiah refuses to surrender. Why? Because within Jerusalem’s wall is God’s Holy Temple and he chooses to die rather than let pagan soldiers defile the house of God. Things are very tense and King Hezekiah is waiting to hear back from Isaiah what the Lord says about what they should do. And let me tell you, I.AM.DYING to go to the Bible and read the end of the story!!!
Some of these authors do a wonderful job of researching historical details. I can learn so much about the context of the stories God included in His Word for us to read! The sleuthing I do nowadays is to listen to a book and then go find and read the Biblical text from which the skeleton of the plot is taken and enjoy how closely the author can weave the way she imagines those people to have been to the actual Word of God.
The best authors can also write their stories to carefully illustrate God’s truth that we should glean from His Word. I’ve noticed that as I hear these stories, I remember the Bible characters better. I rejoice when they make the right choices. I grieve when they stray from God’s will. I laugh and I cry and I praise God. Seriously, I actually caught myself starting to pray for one of the characters the other day before I realized that she lived thousands of years ago and is already home with the Father!
So. My dear mother-in-law was right. Submitting my leisure time to God has been enriching. If anything, it is even more precious to me than it was before, because it brings me real joy by drawing my heart closer to His. Isn’t that just God’s way? He will ask you for things, beloved. Things that you may not want to hand over. His way is always better. More joyful. Deeper.
If you want to get your feet wet in Biblical fiction, may I recommend One of Janette Oke’s more recent works, which she co-wrote with T.Davis Bunn? These books bring to vivid life stories of the early church just after the life of Christ.
Acts of Faith series
· The Centurion's Wife, 2009
· The Hidden Flame, January 2010
· The Damascus Way, 2011
Some of my favorite Christian Fiction Authors are:
Jamie Langston Turner for modern day stories of everyday (but inspiring) faith.
Jan Karon for stories that will make you laugh and cry in a peaceful small-town setting.
Francine Rivers for gripping stories (Biblical or straight fiction) that illustrate God’s truth.
Some of my favorite Biblical Fiction Authors are:
Lynn Austin who does a broad cross section of Biblical, Historical and straight fiction that all speak to God’s faithfulness.
Jannette Oke who does both Biblical and Christian fiction with a flair for holy romance.
T.Davis Bunn who is a prolific writer of all kinds of works from the Christian worldview.
I believe on Saturday our blog hosts will reveal some of their favorite Christian authors. I can’t wait to see their list!
Andrea Harper grew up in Longview, Texas and earned degrees from Southern Nazarene University and University of Texas Health Science Center before she was transplanted to Tennessee as she pursued a medical career in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is a partner at the Woman’s Clinic, PA in Jackson, TN. With her husband Scott and daughter Darcy, she attends Cornerstone Community Church in Jackson. In her free time, when not reading, she likes to cook with her daughter, do paper piece quilting, and travel.
This booklet is filled with God’s Words of peace for His children. They do not promise us a perfect life without pain, but they do promise that Our Heavenly Father will walk us through each situation, each day, each step, each second of our lives. He dwelt among them in those days, and for those of us who have chosen to believe in Jesus and follow Him in these days, He dwells inside of us. Put this booklet beside your bed, in your purse, or somewhere you can grab it when doubt, fear or worry tries to creep into your heart. There is blank space to add more Fear Not verses as you come across them!
2 Timothy 1:7
For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in e very situation, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise- In God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?
I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord you God will be with you wherever you go.”
Be strong and courageous. Bo not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
If God is for us, who can be against us?
I called on your name, Lord, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea: “Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.” You came near when I called you, and you said, “Do not fear.”
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. All the nations surrounded me, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down. They surrounded me on every side, but in the name of the Lord I cut them down. They swarmed around me like bees, but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns; in the name of the Lord I cut them down. I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation.
Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from His holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on ever side. Arise, Lord! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked. From the Lord comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.
They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear;
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most-High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come and see what the Lord has done, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.
“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. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most-High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely, he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
“Be strong and courageous…The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.
“Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of your by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat? Or What shall we drink? Or What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things!
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“I am done babying him,” she exclaimed! "Whoa! What?" was my shocked response. You see, my friend had just been sharing about a time sensitive matter pressing on her and her mate. As the deadline approached, her man had called and texted throughout the day asking her different questions regarding the location of places and materials. She could feel her resentment growing with each of his requests for help. She concluded her narrative by stating that she was done babying him…he was a grown man…he had a smartphone and could find this information himself. Hmmph!
As she was fuming, I started thinking: How does a bride go from wanting to do everything for her groom to:
- despising his asking for help?
- considering his requests a burden?
- reducing him to a little boy in her mind?
My answer: It’s the slow fade, my friend, the mundane of everyday life dulling the glow of “happily ever after.”
In the thick of the day in and day out of everyday married life, "for better or for worse" fades into the background as annoyance, impatience, and complacency push to the forefront. Yet, our husband asking us for help is exactly the role we signed up for when we said, "I do." Look at Genesis 2:18,
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”
The word helper means "to aid or help or succor." Wait. What? Succor? What in the world does succor mean? It means: “assistance and support in times of hardship and distress.”
To be our man’s succor during hardship and distress is much like a three-legged race. Depending on how athletic you are, walking together successfully is quite the challenge. There can be much stumble tripping, perhaps falling in a heap of laughter with the finish line oh so far away. But choosing to throw our arm around the other person’s shoulder and finding a walking rhythm to move forward productively is a step in the right direction to winning. A team effort!
And I think this is the key: to be our man’s succor victoriously, we need to adopt the mindset that we’re on the same team! Just like I’d help my 3-legged race partner up if they’d fallen or throw my arm around them so we could walk in sync, it’s the same for marriage. If my man is in need of my help, as his helpmate or succor, it benefits me and us if I joyfully give him the aid he needs to thrive!
To thrive at being our man's succor is choosing to live out the beauty of Proverbs 31:10-12:
"Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies.
Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life."
When I'm my man's succor, he can trust me... I greatly enrich his life... I bring him good, not harm... ALL the days of my life. That, my friend, is winning! Replacing the "me" attitude with a "we" attitude is the best way to win at marriage.
This post has caused me to take a hard look at myself. How often do I default to a "me" attitude instead of choosing a "we" attitude in my own marriage? Does my man trust me? Do I greatly enrich his life? Do I bring him good and not harm? These are good questions to check the barometer of my heart toward my man and adjust as needed.
We humans are drawn to the strong and despise the weak. But our husbands are just like us, fallen creatures in need of a Savior, in need of mercy, in need of a succor. By faith, I will choose to throw my arm around my handsome 3-legged partner and be his succor for the glory of God and for the win at this thing called marriage.
"Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you MUST clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience." Colossians 3:12
I'd love to hear from you! What do you think of this idea of being your man's succor? How do you push thru wanting to give up and press in for the win? Maybe you feel done. I'm sorry. That's a hard place. We can't change our spouses, only ourselves. Therefore, ask the Lord to show you what areas of Genesis 2:18 and Proverbs 31:10-12 He would like you to work on. Then do it for His glory and blessing. My friend, He blesses our obedience even in our hard places. I'm cheering you on!
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Confidante. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, deep talks, lively laughter, and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
The Armor of God Series - Part Two
She paused in my driveway as she was turning to leave and hesitantly added, “Could you please pray for my marriage? My husband finally went to church with us and we fought all the way home. The kids heard it. It was terrible. I wish he had never come.”
My heart broke for my friend. She has been praying for years that her husband would attend church with her and the children. And, now that he had, regret overwhelmed her. Her face dropped and the pain, so finely etched on her face, was unmistakable. She continued telling me about the events that unfolded and the words that were flung as soon as the car door had shut. While she was recounting the details, I zeroed in on one particular statement, “I wish he had never come," and that’s where I saw him. I saw the wily, crafty devil himself all over this. His fingerprints were obvious.
I stopped my friend, and, with a boldness that only comes from the Holy Spirit, I told her that the enemy had gotten to her. I reminded her that YES! She does want her husband to come to church. This has been her heart’s cry for years! The enemy lost the long fought battle on that Sunday morning when her husband walked through the church doors, sat on the pew, and listened to the Word of God preached. And, the enemy was MAD about it! He furiously started launching his fiery arrows the moment they stepped out of that protected, sacred space. Being unprepared, the ambush attack was more than my friend could stand. The arrows hit their mark. Its effect was explosive.
After calling it out, I urged her to rebuke what she had said. Then, I encouraged her to go home and tell her husband how much she appreciated him coming to church. If nothing else, her children saw their daddy in church! Glory!!
How did I know this was the work of the enemy? 2 Corinthians 2:11 tells us, “For we are not unaware of his schemes.” The Bible is full of his schemes. I could fill up an entire series of blog posts on all the ways the devil attacked believers throughout the Bible. But, instead, let’s go back to where we started last week in 1 Peter 5:8 when Peter tells us the devil is “like a roaring lion.” This four-word phrase clues us in on how the devil operates. By studying the hunting practices of the lion, as we did in part one, we learn vital information about the devil’s scheming behaviors. Going further, the phrase, “like a lion,” is used in other places throughout the Bible and gives us additional insights:
Stalking, hiding, dragging away, mauling, breaking...this is the type of predatory behavior we can expect from the devil as he goes about carrying out his sinister plans. He attacks with a bow loaded with lies and then swoops in for the kill.
And so, that’s how it goes. Time after time. Battle after battle. We grow so weary from fighting the devil that, like my friend, we often times do not even see that it’s him who is behind enemy lines. We think it’s the flesh and blood to our left or to our right. That’s his well-crafted intention. As he masquerades, cleverly fitting into our surroundings by disguising himself, he fools us into believing that we’re battling ANYONE OR ANYTHING but him. However, the Word of God is clear: the devil, Satan, is the one behind it all.
In Ephesians 6:10-24, we learn about the spiritual weaponry that is at our disposal for facing this sly, menacing trickster. But, unlike the ill-fitting armor that Saul lent to David, this armor is custom-fitted for each individual believer and assures us victory in each and every battle. The Scripture passage begins:
Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Ephesians 6:11
What are we to stand against?
Answer: the wiles of the devil.
Greek expert, author, and missionary pastor, Rick Renner, explains the wiles of the devil:
The word “wiles” is taken from the word methodos. It is a compound of the words meta and odos. The word meta is a preposition that means with. The word odos is the word for a road. When the words meta and odos are compounded into one word, as in Ephesians 6:11, it literally means with a road. When you connect this to the devil as Paul does, it means that the devil is like a traveler who travels on a road. He is headed in one direction and has one destination.
To further support this, we read in Job 2:2 where Satan told God that he had come from “roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” And, 1 Peter 5:8 says “the devil prowls around.” Scripture makes it clear in these passages that the devil is on the move here on earth. He is a traveler, full of fury Revelation 12:12, and the clock is ticking on how long he will remain on the loose. Therefore, he’s not wasting any time. He has to arrive at his destination to destroy as much as he possibly can, as quickly as he can.
So, the question is, where is he going?
In 2 Corinthians 11:3, Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth:
“But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray.”
It wasn’t the believers’ physical safety that terrified Paul. It wasn’t their provisional needs not being met that kept him awake at night. Both of these things were understandably very real concerns during the perilous times of the early Church. However, neither one of these things ranked #1 on Paul’s fear list. Rather, it was the believers’ minds being led astray by the serpent’s (the devil’s) cunning that he was most afraid of.
Why their minds?
Because that’s where the devil operates.
Our mind is his destination and mental health is his game. It is where the battle takes place. He’s heading towards our minds each and every time he's on the prowl. Like an air traffic controller, if the devil can breach the tower and enter the control room of our minds, he can begin to direct our lives. He begins to wreak havoc one thought at a time. He did it to Eve. He does it to me, too.
The wiles of the devil, which is the word we derive the English word “method” from, are well-calculated, well-coordinated, and well-executed tricks. The devil has a unique method of operation for each one of us that is designed to inflict as much harm as possible. These methods are based on the observations, the 24/7 surveillance, that he and his pride of fallen angels conduct on our daily lives.
Like a lion intimately knows his prey before he strikes, the devil intimately knows us, too. He knows our weaknesses, our habits, and our vulnerabilities. He takes full advantage of them and considers the easiest access point. The easiest door to get to me may be different than the door to get to you. But, you can trust that no matter how much our access points vary, the devil knows them well. He has done his homework; it is thorough and complete. His files on us go back throughout our lifetimes and he doesn’t hesitate to use any past pain, fear, rejection, sin, or doubt to pry his way in, leveraging them for maximum impact.
Being a calculating masquerader, the devil is artfully subtle and knows exactly how, when, and where to attack our minds. He can do this with an avalanche of lies or a tiny but malignant half-truth...whichever he thinks will be most effective. The attack is as precise as a mathematical equation. He attacks through our emotions (a prime spot for women), pride (a big one for men), fears, self-worth…you name it. Anywhere he has discovered he can easily get to us, he will. It is all designed to take our eyes off of God and put them on ourselves.
With eyes diverted and focus directed inward, our minds become the perfect soil for the five D’s – discouragement, depression, discontentment, distrust, and deception – to take root. And, each supporting thought thereafter is the water that helps these deadly seeds grow.
No matter how he does it, every single attack is intended to do three things: kill, steal, and destroy John 10:10:
Kill our hope.
Steal our peace.
Destroy our lives.
For me, I experience this hour upon hour, every single day:
He attempts to steal my focus as a writer and Bible teacher by whispering cleverly crafted lies of inadequacy into my ear, sowing confusion into my mind, and laying the deadly trap of comparison. When he steals my focus, I quickly become discouraged.
He attempts to kill my joy as a mother by creating unrealistic fears over my children’s safety and well-being, making me believe that my children are a burden, and reminding me daily how exhausting parenting is. When he kills my joy, I quickly become depressed.
He attempts to destroy my marriage by pitting me against my man during minor disagreements, pulling strings of discord, and, sometimes, on the darkest days, like my friend, convincing me that life would be better without him. When he tries to destroy my marriage, I quickly become discontent and deceived.
It is all so subtle, so sneaky. Like a lion tip-toeing through the thick bush, I don’t easily recognize him. I don’t hear a roar, I don’t hear his footsteps. He attacks with claws extended and teeth exposed from seemingly out-of-the-blue. I’m caught off guard and rocked from my stance. Confusion sets in. My emotions are like a tidal wave threatening to sweep me away. My mind is sent reeling in a thousand different directions. And, for the moment, he’s got me.
Yet, listed three times in the description of the Armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-24 and again in Peter’s exhortation to us in 1 Peter 5:8, we are told to stand firm. With so much mental chaos swirling around on the inside and flaming arrows coming at us on the outside, how do we do that? How can we possibly be immovable during such an onslaught? How do we dig in and resist?
The answer to these questions will come next Wednesday. Until then, find great peace in knowing that there is, indeed, an answer.
PRAYER REQUEST: I have been given permission by my friend to share her story. Her exact reply to me was, “ Go for it and let God use it for His good. 'You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives'” Genesis 50:20. That’s my girl! May you be encouraged by her story and learn from it. And, would you please join me in praying the Lord continues to woo her husband to church?
Read The Armor of God - Part One here.
Read The Armor of God - Part Three here.
First, I am a child of God. And, like a child, I am always learning and growing. The more I know Him, the more I love Him. Second, I am a wife to a good man. Missions is his thing while teaching women to love God’s Word is mine. Third, I am a mama to three plus a sweet cockapoo who thinks he’s #4. My children are my ongoing sanctification. Fourth, I am a passionate advocate of all things healthy & natural, an even 50/50 split of introvert/extrovert, and a dreamer/designer. Old friends call me Becky, newer ones call me Rebecca, and the most intimate ones call me Beck. You can just call me friend.
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I don’t know about you, but I often find my mind wandering into enemy territory. Just to list a few examples:
I’m sure you have your own list of nasty places you can “lose your mind” to if you aren’t careful. Maybe you struggle with sexually sinful thoughts. Or maybe thoughts of bitterness or unforgiveness plague you. It could be things so bad that you would never tell another person, or seemingly innocent day dreams that really don’t seem to matter.
2 Corinthians 10:5b tells us to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. Since I am a practical kind of girl, I need examples. I need steps to take. So, in case you are like me, below are a few tips for taking your thoughts captive.
1. Start by identifying the culprit who lured your mind to that nasty place in the beginning. Satan does not have control of your mind, but he can whisper lies and suggest thought paths that will lead you to destruction. He is our enemy!
John 8:44 Jesus is speaking about Satan “for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
John 10:10: The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy.
Matthew 4:1-11: Satan even tempted Jesus.
Ephesians 6:12: We are at battle!
2. Call Satan out in Jesus name. It has power! Throughout the New Testament, we see demons being cast out in the name of Jesus. Sick people being healed in the name of Jesus! The dead being raised to life, in the name of Jesus! But, unlike God, Satan is not “All Knowing”. Satan cannot hear your thoughts. So you'll need to tell him out loud, that you are a Child of God, saved in Jesus' name, covered in Jesus' blood, and that he has no control over you or your mind! Quote scripture at him and tell him to flee!
Mark 5:2-13: Check out how demons respond when they see Jesus.
Luke 10:17-20: Read about the power in Jesus name.
3. Immediately, in that moment, pray! Ask God to help you focus your thoughts on things that are pleasing to Him. Pray scripture over your mind.
Matthew 6:13: The Lord’s Prayer
2 Thessalonians 3:3: Protection from the evil one.
1 Corinthians 10:13: The Lord will always give you a way out.
Philippians 4:7: Peace for your mind.
4. Decide what you’re going to turn your thoughts to. Don’t just leave it up to whatever the next thing is that comes to your mind because we all know where that will lead. Tell yourself, “I am going to think about_________.” The Bible gives us a very clear list of what kinds of things we are supposed to be thinking about. Philippians 4:8 says:
"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things!”
I could be thinking about how upset I am with my husband because he came home late from work, and now dinner is cold, and he hasn’t even taken out the trash today, (which everyone knows is his job). He didn’t ask me about my day when he came in, and on and on, and further and further I get into giving my mind over to sinfully bashing my husband.
Or, instead, when I sense that resentment or bitterness rising, I could choose to focus my mind on why I am thankful for him. I can list some of his good qualities and traits in my mind that will help redirect my thoughts to pure and lovely things about him, which are both in the list that the Lord provides us.
Here are some ideas to help you prepare BEFORE you lose your mind again. Because let’s all be real...its going to happen. Satan will be back and we must be ready for battle!
Don’t allow your mind to be lost to the enemy anymore! Make an action plan and fight back!
Audra and her husband Jordan are called to ministry and he is the senior pastor at their church. They have two beautiful children who bring them tons of joy, lots of laughs, and on occasion new grey hair. She is a former teacher who still loves to teach, enjoys cooking and baking, and has a passion to lead other women to know Jesus and live out their faith in Him.