Seasons and Children

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Seasons of Motherhood

You have a newborn baby you love to hold and let them sleep in your lap. It’s such a sweet time!

And then around eight weeks, you are at the end of yourself. You are so exhausted, you’re like, “Where’s my help? Someone let me sleep through the night!” “Hold the baby, rock the baby.” “Bring me food.” It’s time for some help.

I remember meeting my husband at the door. We had really small children. I just was saying like, “Thank God you’re home from work! I’m running.” And here he thinks, “Oh no. I’m dreading going home because my wife is going to meet me at the door with all these kids. I have to go from work to work, and somehow she gets from work to rest.”

Then there is the toddler season that is like, “Oh, you’re so adorable and annoying at the same time!” You can’t go to the bathroom without them sitting on their potty at the same time you are. You can’t go to the bathroom without them knocking, asking questions, pushing stuff under the door, trying to show you things. They want to be where you are.

Then, of course, at four or five years old, they are old enough to ask you zillions and zillions of questions. Whenever you get on the phone, they constantly talk to you, “Oh mom! I need this. I need that. I need this. I need! I need! I need!” They are right in the middle of your business, and when you get off the phone, then they want to go play. You get back on the phone, and then boom. It’s like an alarm. They’re right back at it. You getting on the phone when your kids are awake—it is not going to happen.

There’s that season when you need your baby to nap. You need your child to nap. It’s like, “You cannot fall asleep in the car. Do not fall asleep! I’m going to roll the window down!” So you yell, “What? Stop! Stop! Wake up! Wake up!” Roll the window down. Throw some soft stuff at them. Pop them in the head with some French fries. “Come on! Wake up! Stay awake!” And they fall asleep right when you pull in the driveway. It’s like, “Is it too hot to leave them in the car? Is it too cold to leave them in the car? Okay, I’m going to leave them in the car. They have to finish their nap today because I need my peace and quiet. It is necessary. I need the nap.” And there’s the time where you pad their baby gates, pillows everywhere. You tell them to stay in this room, and you get your face planted into the couch, exhausted and worn out.

Then there are school days, school work and homework, busyness and activities. You spend a good majority of your season driving them from place to place—activities, play dates, and meeting in the mall when they are little. When they are older, you drop them off at a friend’s house, and then their friends are dropped off at your house. You’re cleaning up popcorn on the floor, vacuuming behind them, and saying, “Clean up. Please clean up your stuff. Clean up your own little mess.”

Then they get old enough to start wanting to meet at, say, a coffee shop or some place in the middle. “Can I be dropped off early so I can have this social time? What about youth group? How early can you drop me off? I want to be there early.” You start getting a little bit less and less of their time. They are having sleepovers, spending the night, and wanting to be around their friends.

Before you know it, you are riding with them, and they are driving. They are driving everywhere. They want to be in the car with you. They don’t miss an opportunity. The year before, they’re like, “Ah, I’ll just stay at home. You go ahead and take everyone.” Now, they want the experience, to practice to drive. So they are with you hours and hours of the day. They go everywhere with you to drop off every kid. They want to drive. They want to be with you.

You have all these great car times, and you are intimately bonding. Your hearts are connecting. But they are actually beginning the disengagement process, the weaning process. They are riding with you for a purpose. It is so they don’t have to ride with you anymore. They are memorizing roads and getting ready to get off on their own.

Right before they get ready to leave you, they basically amp up their time with you. It’s in the car. It’s sweet; it’s intimate. It’s this really awesome time with them, and then all of a sudden, it’s just cut off. It’s gone. They are driving now. It’s like, “Hey, I don’t have to leave. Mom doesn’t have to ride with you.” “Oh, you’re going to go pick up your friend and do what? What time will you be back?” That weaning process begins. And it’s hard.

It’s crazy how with children our hearts are on our sleeves. You think the days when they are little and you are not sleeping or the days when they are exhausting, eating Cheerios and dropping chocolate milk on the floor, are long. They are long days, but they are fleeting years. I remember my neighbor, she said, “Don’t wish it away. Enjoy every moment. It’s gonna go by so fast you’re not even gonna know. It’s just going to be gone before you know it.”

I can’t believe I’m about to have a senior in high school and about to have a girl graduate who wants to move away and has plans, desires, and hopes. I can’t believe I’m here. After all of those exhausting years and the days of saying, “No problem,” when she spilled milk four times, I can’t imagine how much I have invested in my kids and how much I have loved and enjoyed every moment, and now I have to let them go. I have to let them grow up. I have to let them pursue their dreams. I have to let them start their own family.

I am on my knees, praying, “God, protect them when I am not here. God, direct their steps. God, bring them home. Give them the desire to come and visit me. Don’t let me be that parent who throws guilt trips on their kids and makes them come out of obligation. But bring them to me because they have a heart’s desire to see me and to know me.”

Man, after all those awesome years of having them in your lap, reading to you, the years of snuggling, and the days they would cuddle and kiss your lips, get slobber all over you, and hug you with their little noses rubbing against your neck—it’s so quick before those days are gone. They’re big and all grown up. They fly out of the nest. They don’t truly need you that much anymore. All you are left with is being an influence when they ask and when they need it. You are just left with, “How much impact did I make, and did I do it right?” You just have to let them go, let them fly or sink.

Father, I thank You for these beautiful blessings You have allowed me to raise. I pray, Father, they would soar because they choose You and ride on Your wings, in Jesus’ name, amen.

One Tool to Get into Your Child’s Head

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Pillow talk.

Did you know that our children’s minds review their day’s events every night? Every night in their beds, they review and contemplate everything that happened that day. Now, you have one of two options as a parent: you can stay up late as your child is processing and talk to him or her, or you can choose a tool called pillow talk.

Pillow talk is a journal passed between the parent and the child. At night, when children are processing the day, they can open up their journals and write down the greatest thing that happened to them, what part of the day was most disappointing, and that sort of thing. Children remember the good, but they also have regrets at the end of the day that they process at night—regrets about poor performance on a test or disappointing behavior or the way they treated someone. They also consider their wounds.

Actually, your children can end up monopolizing your time until the wee hours of the morning if you let them. I have many friends who stay up all night long with their children because that’s when their hearts are most vulnerable and open.

It sounds great in theory, but if you work or homeschool and need to be productive during the day, you cannot function properly without sleep. If you’re married, your husband may want some of your time, too. I believe if you stay up all night, every night, with your kids and make yourself available to them at every beck and call, two things happen: one, you lose intimate time with your spouse; and two, your kids don’t learn to process for themselves and communicate in a healthy way at an appropriate time. Plus, if you’re OCD, you need the time when your children are in bed to reorganize and cleanup for your own sanity the next day.

Rest is an important part of healing, but I also don’t want to miss out on my time with my kiddos. I don’t want to miss out on their sweet, vulnerable hearts at the time when they’re processing. So what do you do? Do you clean and sleep or have late-night talks with your kids?

I personally cannot live without sleep. I’m exhausted by the end of the day. I’m ready for everyone to go to bed. I want to be horizontal. I don’t need to close my eyes, but I need to be horizontal. I found a tool that lets me into my children’s hearts and allows me to sleep: pillow talk. It’s a journal for the kids and me, and it’s a fun game.

I write a note to my child. I write what’s on my heart. I may write about something I’m disappointed about or an apology for some way I behaved towards her. I write about my life, being vulnerable and transparent. It may not even have to do with my child. Then I write some questions, such as, “Is there anything that has been bothering you lately? Is there an area in which I can encourage you more or an area where you’re feeling discouraged?” The answers don’t have to be long; they are meant to help us have useful, quality conversations the next day when we’re awake and alert.

I slip this under my child’s pillow for her to read at night. It gives her something productive to think on and helps steer her thoughts. I may even put in a positive message of encouragement, a Bible verse, or a picture. Sometimes I draw pictures. I’m a horrible artist, but I draw pictures for my children’s entertainment. We sneak the journal beneath each other’s pillows and see if we can get in there without getting caught. It’s a lot of fun.

When it’s under my pillow, I read it and am able to see inside my children’s hearts. The next day, I pull them aside and make sure I have some one-on-one time to discuss what I read. It’s an open door to have healthy conversations with them at a time when we’re all rested.

Medicine verses Miracles

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When you have a headache, it’s easy to run to a bottle of Advil. When you have a sore throat, it’s easy to take a throat lozenge. When you are sick, it’s easy to run to a doctor.

 

But you know what, if you start practicing the use of the name of Jesus when you have a headache, it’s easy to get rid of the headache by speaking to your head and saying, “Headache, I command you to leave in the name of Jesus.” It begins to become easier to speak to your body until your sore throat goes in the name of Jesus. It begins to be easier to tell your body, “Hey, cramps—I know you may have come when you have come, but I am under a new covenant and I command you to leave in the name of Jesus.” I don’t have to live any longer at the beck and call of my body as it cries out and tells me how it feels and what medicine it needs. I command my body and speak to it and tell it what to do because it is my slave. I am no longer a slave to it, but it is my slave.

 

In medicine, who gets the glory? In miracles, it’s clear who gets the glory. It’s not you. It’s not your power. It’s the power of the name of Jesus Christ, which is above every name and has been delegated for you to use.

 

It doesn’t cost anything. You don’t keep it on the shelf in stock and then breathe easy because you are covered. You don’t have to risk someone opening it and getting into it and getting poisoned. You don’t have to run and see a doctor to get a prescription for it. You don’t have to risk becoming addicted to it. You get to take it everywhere. The name of Jesus doesn’t take up any space on your trips. The name of Jesus can be called upon anywhere you go, with anyone.

 

You can use His name, but it is like a muscle. It has to be practiced and used in the little situations so you can use it in the big situations. These big things seem scarier, but the name of Jesus works alike on the small and the big.

 

For some reason, in the mind, sickness becomes a huge mountain rather than a molehill. The name of Jesus, the blood that was shed 2,000 years ago, paid for sicknesses and diseases that weren’t even discovered yet. His blood cleanses all things from the beginning to the end, from the past into the future.

 
When you know that you know Him, when you are 100 percent sure of who He is and that He left you His name and delegated it for you to use to bring glory to Himself so people would know Him, then you will use it. You will catch yourself before you reach for a bottle of medicine. You will say, “Wait a second, there is something else I can look for first: a miracle. I can speak to this ache or sickness in the name of Jesus so that God gets the glory—not man and not medicine, with no bottle, no money, no brand name—only Jesus.”

 

I encourage you to pray and ask God about the difference between medicine and miracles. I pray that He will flood the eyes of your heart so you will know for yourself what you have in Him. I pray that you know you are a co-heir. An heir doesn’t receive based on performance but based on relationship. You have received an inheritance of the name of Jesus, which is above every name (Ephesians 1:17–21). That is the full measure; it lives in you, and you can access it at any time.

 

His name is stronger than any medicine, any heart shocker, and any chemotherapy. It is above every name. There is nothing on this earth that is above the name and the power of Jesus Christ.

 

Father, just open our eyes and show us who You are more deeply and intimately. Help us get rid of lies we believe, facts we have heard, naysayers who surround us, and the chains of our own understanding so that we can simply step into Your power and You will receive the glory. In Jesus’ name.

Faith

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How many times have you prayed and begged for God to move but you see nothing?
I have. I begged God to heal my mom. I begged for more faith. I begged for anything!
“Father, please, please, please, please, please increase my faith.” (Like the more times I said “please,” the more likely He was to do it.) “I will do anything if You will just give it to me. Let’s go. Send me. Okay, I am waiting…”
I’m not the only one who has begged for more faith. The disciples did this, too:

“The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’” (Luke 17:5 NIV).

Look at Jesus’ response:

He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” (Luke 17:6 NIV)

 

He was saying that you do not need more faith. The tiniest amount of faith is more than enough for you to speak to a mountain and it will move (see Matthew 17:20). You have all the faith you need. If we can truly understand this, it changes everything!
We don’t need more faith. We need our faith to be pure and not tainted or diluted by the hurts, bitterness, and unforgiveness we can have in our hearts. Many times when you fail to see the thing you are hoping for come to pass, a little bit of doubt creeps in and dilutes your ability to believe God.

 

You don’t need more faith! Clean up your broken heart so you can trust fully in Jesus and the Word of God!

 

How?

 

Jesus said, “But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21 NIV). (Also see Mark 9:29.) Many people pray and fast to get God to move, but prayer and fasting are meant to get your heart to move into alignment with God’s heart and help you to weed out the old hurt, unbelief, and bitterness.

Let’s study this and talk about it. It’s a big subject.

 

Love,

Sheri

 

 

Tool Highlight: Check out these healing scriptures at http://www.ikanministries.com/healing.html

Love

I was twenty-four years old before I heard of agape. It was a time of trial in my life. I was driving in the car with a coworker when he started explaining to me the differences among three types of love: erosphilia, and agape.

 

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I had been in church, on and off, for most of my nearly twenty-five years, yet I had never heard of agape. My coworker described agape as unconditional love. It is always there for you no matter how righteous or wicked you are. You cannot do anything to lessen it or increase it; it is the same, steady love day in and day out. This type of love does not keep track of your sins. It does not stifle you or imprison you. It is the kind of love that fills you and frees you. It is the kind of love that changes you.

 

I had spent the last fourteen years deprived of love. I had sought love in every corner. I had pursued passionate love, romantic love, and friendship. I had searched high and low for a love that would make me feel valuable. I yearned for love. I simply wanted to be worthy of someone’s love.

 

You can only be rejected so many times before you start to believe you deserve it. At that time of my life, I felt alone and unlovable. Then my coworker guided me to the truth of unconditional love. I did not fully comprehend the significance of this concept at the time, but I have since come to understand that I am loved. When I felt rejected and worthless, those feelings were not my true identity. In truth, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14 NIV). God Himself “created my inmost being”; He “knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13 NIV). God set me apart before I was born as one who was and is and always will be loved—by Him.

 

The church needs to wake up and stop constantly fixating on everyone’s flaws. We cannot afford to forget who God is and what He did out of His abundant love for every single one of us. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8 NIV). We did not and cannot deserve His sacrifice and love for us, yet they are ours to receive. How dare the church allow another child to endure a life of desperately searching for love because no one shared with her the blessing of God’s free gift!

 

Jesus Christ issued His disciples this command: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34–35 NIV). Will you rise to the challenge and share agape with someone every day this year? In one year, 365 days, I challenge you to convey this message of unconditional love to the people God brings into your life. Tell someone, “You are loved. It is part of your identity. It is etched into your being, and it can never be removed. It is in your very fingerprints—every indelible line testifies that you are loved.”

Dreaded Teenage Rebellion

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Teens. Teens. Teens.
With all girls, you wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve heard people say, “Oh, I feel sorry for you. Just you wait until the dreaded teenage years.”

I always respond under my breath, “I rebuke that in Jesus’ name.”

I seriously never believed I would go through some of this teenage junk. 
I know. I know what you are thinking. 
 
Are you stupid? 
Hello, naive mother, every teen talks back and rebels. 
Thanks for that. 🙂
No, I am not stupid. I just refuse to believe that every teen has to go through it. I believe there is a better way, and I am trying to learn it.
 
Key word: TRYING! 
This is how it went in one instance (and most every other day in the sweet year of 2014).
Me: 

“Did you go through the blah blah blah [you know that’s what she heard] like I asked you to?”

She: 

“No.”

She continues doing the same thing. 
No movement toward the thing she was asked to do. 
Music volume increases.



My head voice:

Really?

Big eyes.
Foot tapping.

Hello! Wake up! See the body language?

Me:

“Ahem.”

 Crickets.

 
Mom’s plotting thoughts:

Hmmm … what’s the consequence for this delayed obedience?
No more iPod for the next 10 years! 
I guess that’s not a natural consequence. Get real. 
You can do this, mom!
Well, that’s it. I’m going to have to swat her.

Okay, deep breath …

Wait, I know! I will pray.
I have not because I ask not, right?

Father, whhyyyy [whiny voice]? What is wrong with her? 
How do I get back to her heart?

Sigh. This isn’t helping. The music is too loud to pray. 
Why is she ignoring me and my request?
 


Don’t forget to breathe out, Sheri. 
 
Okay … 

 just walk away. 
 


Oh nelly, the music stopped. 


 
What does this mean?


 
Oh, wait … wait! 

Hallelujah! She’s back. 

Whew. 
 
She:
“Oh hey, 

Mom, I was just taking a short break because I completed three math lessons. That was exhausting.”
 

 

 

Humiliated Mom:
Really?
“Oh, great! Good job. I knew you were a wise time manager.”
What is wrong with me? Shut it.
Help! I am an idiot.
Have you ever been an idiot like me?
Maybe the dreaded teen years aren’t all the teenager’s fault. Maybe it’s partially our fault (along with uncontrollable hormones, appetites, and growing pains) 
for not transitioning our role from commander to coach.
Parents need to transition gradually from controlling our children (“You’d better or else!”) and requiring immediate obedience to waiting on the teen’s will to catch up to our request. We have to let go a little at a time, or we will find ourselves quickly losing ground and all of the influence we have with them. That’s when it’s just too late. 
I am in the influence stage.
All I have now is influence.

Every day that I choose to voice my frustrated words or body language is a day that reduces my influence.
  





Oh Father, teach me to remain silent. 
Help me to understand that I am not her army commander any longer. I have the privilege of coaching, mentoring, and influencing. Help me to embrace this incredible new season.
In love,
Sheri
P.S. I wrote this in the middle of this battle yesterday.
P.P.S. I am still growing and learning. You too?

Help Me with My Unbelief

How do you defeat doubt? I believe faith is on one side and doubt is on the other. Doubt creeps in when we start to think, “Hey, I prayed this prayer, and it didn’t work. God didn’t answer. He didn’t come through for me. I asked Him to do this, but it didn’t happen. Is His word really true or not?” We start looking around and trying to solve this problem. We wonder, “Why didn’t this work? Why didn’t God come through on this promise? If He didn’t come through on this one, then maybe it’s not true at all in any case.” We start to question and doubt the fullness of the truth in the word of God.

On February 6, 2006, I lost my mother to a 31-month battle with cancer. At the time, I believed Jesus died for healing. I believed God was the healer. I knew He was, and I knew He gave me the faith to believe it. Still, I wasn’t quite there yet. I wasn’t completely convinced. I still had doubt because I had never seen anybody live it out. I’d never seen anybody living that way. I hadn’t even heard anyone teaching it before 2003. Actually, before 2003, I didn’t even have a clue that God is as good as He is. Trying to learn all of that quickly in a microwave was very difficult for me because I couldn’t get over the hump that God was mad at me and that He sometimes takes loved ones. “Sometimes He needs them more than we do,” people told me. Those things I heard in the past caused me to have doubt.

How do you overcome doubt? How do you defeat doubt so your faith can fully flourish? The only way I know how to do that is to keep inputting the word of God into your heart and your mind to renew your mind fully. Your mind has to be renewed. You have to take all of those old sayings that people have spoken into your ear and overcome them with the truth. The only way to do that is to hear the word of God again and again and again until it becomes more alive and true in you and to you than anything else anyone has ever said to you. Faith comes by hearing the word of God.

Take a look at Matthew 17:21 and Mark 9:29. It’s the same message in two different gospels. If you really look at these portions of Scripture and read them in context, you find that the disciples were trying to perform a miracle. They were trying to cast out a demon, but it wouldn’t go. It would not obey them. It wouldn’t leave. The people were probably saying things like, “Why can’t your disciples do this? You can do it, Jesus. Why can’t they? What is going on?” Jesus basically told His disciples, “Really? You’ve followed Me all this time. You’ve seen Me do it. You know I have given you the authority. You’ve walked it out. I have given you the great commission. You know this is what you’re called to do, but you’re not doing it. Your faith is so tiny. Your faith is so little.”

Jesus said, “However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21 NKJV). I have heard many Christians interpret that verse to mean that the only way the demon would flee, that the miracle could happen, was if the disciples stopped to pray and fast. Yet, that’s not what Jesus did. Jesus didn’t stop to pray and fast. He rebuked it, and it left. He said, “Get out,” and it was gone. Boom. It obeyed. So what was Jesus really talking about?

He was talking about your weak faith. How do you defeat doubt? You pray and fast. When you’re not overcoming by God’s word and living the truth of His word, when doubts are defeating you moment by moment and your imagination is spinning out of control in a negative pattern, fast and pray. Many people think fasting and praying moves God and makes Him do what you’ve asked Him to do, like, “Oh, I’m so proud of her. She fasted and prayed. Look how great she is. I’m going to go ahead and answer her prayer and remove this demon.” No, no, no, no, no. No. That is not what happens.

The process of fasting and prayer moves you and me. It moves us. It moves our hearts into alignment with God’s. It moves the doubt we have. It moves the reliance on our flesh and on our self. It moves our efforts out of the way so God’s efforts can flow freely through us. It puts down our carnal nature and picks up the Spirit of God. If you’re fasting and praying or doing the right things or walking around the building seven times to try to get God to move on your behalf, that does not move God. It moves you.

Defeat doubt by picking up God’s word and reading it until you fall madly, deeply in love with Him. God’s word will become more true than how your body feels, than what’s on the TV, than what your friends say to you or what somebody speaks over you. Fast and pray regularly to keep your flesh, your carnal nature, your meatheadedness out of the way of your being freely in God’s presence.

Jesus Is

If you think God allowed something in your life, then you won’t be able to resist it. The Bible says, in James 4:7, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (NIV).
If you think God allowed sickness or poverty to come against you to teach you something, then, first of all, you are probably under condemnation, feeling guilty about something you did and thinking you deserve it.
Jesus Christ paid the entire price on the cross. He paid for it all. He provided everything we needed through the cross. Let me tell you this: He didn’t stay there. He was resurrected and lifted up to the right hand of the Father, where He deposited His Holy Spirit into us, and we were then lifted up to the right hand of the Father. We are positioned near the King. We are to reign in this life as kings.
But if you continue to think God is punishing you because He is mad at you and is trying to teach you a lesson through sickness, then you will not resist it. You will receive it. You will hold fast to it. You will change the way you do life. You will make accommodations for this new sickness when it’s actually from the devil.
A lot of people say, “You know, God allowed this to happen in my life.” I would say you allowed it. You didn’t resist the enemy. You passively sat by, being tossed to and fro in a wave of the sea, because you weren’t really sure: “Is this from God or not from God? I don’t want it. I don’t want my child to have it. I hate it. I am doing everything I can medically to get rid of it.” Yet, you think God allowed it in your life to help you. If you are right about that, yet you seek medical attention, then you are in complete and total rebellion, searching for a way out of what God gave you.
We can’t pray, asking and begging God to change His mind after He has given us something. The reason why we see miracles is because He is not the author of it. 
Every time sickness is referred to in the Bible, it is either a curse of the law—but Jesus Christ became cursed for us, so we’re no longer under the curses in Deuteronomy 28—or it is referred to as captivity, as in Job 42. God said, “I will release Job from his captivity” (see Job 42:10 KJV). We all know from being sick that sickness is captivity to your bed. You are unable to move to work or to do anything.
Seek God with all of your heart. Keep a pure heart before Him. Seek first His kingdom, and everything will be added to you (Matthew 6:33). He is a God who wants you to prosper, who sent His Son so you could live in this life. He sent His Holy Spirit, who has the same power that raised Christ from the dead. 

In Luke 10:19, Jesus said He gave us all the power and authority. It is the authority we need over the enemy to prevail so no harm can come near us from the enemy. We have the authority of God to use to speak to the devil and say, “Get away from me. Get out of here. I am not submitting. I am not going into captivity because where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. There is freedom. I am keeping my freedom. You are not knocking me out.”
But instead, we are so unsure. Our foundation is so rocky. “Did God give this to me or not? Is He using it for my good? I’m not sure. You know, it’s confusing. This stuff is coming at me like darts from every direction. Is this good? Is this for my good? Am I being punished? I did something to deserve this. Maybe God sent it to me.” 

Those are lies. You are leaning on your own understanding rather than standing on the Word of God. In Isaiah 54:9, God said, “So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again” (NIV). Never! He is not angry. He is not a mad God. He is a good Father. “Every good and perfect gift comes from Him (James 1:17 NIV). Stop labeling what is evil as “good.” Stop it. It needs to stop, in Jesus’ name.

Wrestle with Assurance

I gave my life to Christ when I was ten years old. I was in a Baptist church, and they talked about hell and scared me to death. I did not want to burn in flames, so I thought I would buy my insurance policy and get out. I raised my hand and went down, and nothing changed.
My life was still the same. Nothing changed at all about who I was. No one taught me how to know the Lord and have intimacy with Him. I continued on the same path I was on. I kept going to church. That is what I thought knowing God was all about. I thought it was all about going to church every week, paying your tithe and serving, going to Sunday school classes, and reading your Bible—if you could understand it. 

For me, I couldn’t understand it. I wanted to read the Bible. I read it, and I was like, “What are these words? I can’t even pronounce them.” I wasn’t that great of a reader. I probably should have been in a reading class for slow readers. I didn’t want to be labeled with a disability, although I felt like I had one. I couldn’t read the Bible. I couldn’t pronounce half the names that were in it. So I continued in my life and called myself a “Christian,” but I was like I was before. Nothing had changed.
Now, the Bible says when you become a Christian, you become a new creation. I wasn’t a new creation. Was I saved or not saved? I didn’t know. I had a lot of confidence that I wasn’t going to hell. It wasn’t until later in life when I read John 17:3 that my eyes were opened. It says eternity—in my opinion, heaven—is truly knowing God. It doesn’t say eternity is a place called heaven where you will go some day after you die. Eternal life is knowing God. 

What an eye-opening moment it was. Oh my gosh! This whole time, I thought being a Christian was about going to a destination upon death. But actually, being a Christian is about a destination in your heart that begins the moment you receive Jesus as your Savior. It’s a door opening to knowing God, and knowing God brings you life. Unbelievable. I had no idea. I kind of felt betrayed, honestly, by my church and all my teachers. Like, “How did I not know this? How did I live all these years completely clueless?”

So then I started to clue in that my life was a wreck. I had broken relationships. I’d basically broken every commandment in the Bible. I was like, “I’m supposed to be a Christian, but yet, you know, I don’t even get this. I’ve done everything wrong. What in the world?” So I made a decision. “Okay, God. I don’t know what I am supposed to do to be Your child, but I do know I have to stop breaking Your commandments. I have to stop going in the opposite direction of You. I actually have to pursue You and try to find You.” I tried. Jeremiah 29:13 says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (NIV). I started seeking God. I changed everything. I stopped going out. I stopped drinking. I stopped partying. I stopped sleeping around. I stopped everything. I started seeking God.
Unbelievably, I found Him. I started to realize He had been there all along. He was a God who would basically partner with me and be with me. He would help me shut my mouth when I needed to. He would help me do the right thing. He would be my helper and my friend.
Yet, even still, I went to church. I sought God. I started tearing through my Bible, reading the Word and asking tons of questions because I didn’t understand. See, I didn’t feel qualified to know the answers. I thought, “These people who are pastors, they went to school. They are qualified. They know the answers. They are the ones. If I could just get them to help me make sure I know God, then I will feel better about it. If I can just have that assurance.”
I found myself. I knew I was pursuing God at this point. I thought I was a Christian, but I still had this little percentage of doubt. Do you have a little percentage of doubt? That little percentage of doubt agonized me. Is this truly the right way? Is this the way?
I would take my teacher—she was a pastor and had all these young people in there— and I would ask her question after question after question. I came to realize that I can never get my assurance about being in Christ from another human being. It is impossible. They don’t know me. They don’t know my heart.

But I wanted it. I wrestled with having assurance that I was truly a Christ follower. I sought so hard. I sought man. I looked for man’s opinion. I asked pastors, “How do you know? How are you sure?” I asked the questions over and over. I drove my class insane. They were so mad at me that it ended up creating a feud. I kept asking, and I kept pursuing. It was like, “I have to know!” I have to know God has forgiven me for my past, for breaking all of His commandments.
But you know, no one ever taught me the law was for sinners, for before you received grace. Once you have received grace, you are not under the law. You are under grace. Christ became the cursed for you. God is not mad at you. I had never heard that message. I couldn’t forgive myself. I wasn’t walking in grace. I was still walking under the law. I never felt the fullness of forgiveness, so I wrestled with assurance.

Have you wrestled with being sure? Are you sure? How do you know? How can you be sure? We are going to continue this tomorrow on this blog.

Freedom Can Be Dangerous

I was under a strict eating plan for six months, reforming my habits and creating new ways to eat. I continued on that strict plan for an additional two months until my husband came along after me and finished his program. We did awesomely. We truly changed the way we live, the way we eat, the way we look, and the way we feel. Our entire marriage has been reignited because we are so much more unified than we were before. We were already more unified than any other couple I know before we started. It’s truly been unbelievable.
However, we have freedom now. Since July 17, 2015, we have been free from our accountability—free from someone looking over our shoulder, checking our stats and what we are eating. Honestly, we haven’t truly motivated each other in the right direction in keeping our food tight. It has been a bit hard because your body actually doesn’t want to eat healthy food. It wants to have sugar. Once you have reintroduced sugar into your diet, your body craves it. It wants it. It kicks and screams for it. Your flesh wants to reignite and turn back on.
What I have learned is that fat cells have memory, just like your muscle has memory. Your fat cells are looking for the opportunity to be fed and re-inflated. If you don’t understand that, you will give them fuel that will increase the fat percentage in your body that you worked so hard to get rid of.
Honestly, that’s where I am today. I have eaten so badly this specific weekend. I have just torn up hamburgers, sugar, and icing. We were celebrating a family birthday, and I ate everything in sight. I feel so horrible. My stomach hurts. My body has stiff joints. I’m inflamed. I can feel the inflammation in my body.
There is one line that comes to mind: Freedom is the best thing ever, but freedom is dangerous. While freedom is a giant privilege, it’s also a gigantic responsibility. When we set our kids free from our home and they are no longer under our control and watchful eye, the boundaries they have are set by themselves.
Freedom can be a dangerous weapon unless you put it under your own boundaries and self-control, unless you surrender your freedom to the one who died to set you free. I have learned that for me, freedom isn’t free. It’s not easy. It’s dangerous. It’s so tough.
I wonder if you are like me—exploiting your freedom in some way and you need to surrender to God and let Him get you back in control of those things you have exploited and lost control of. If you do, just click “Like” below, write a comment, or email me directly if you know me. I want to pray for you by your first name—I want to pray for you. I am praying for myself. I know if I struggle, you struggle. Would you let me lift you up to the Father?