In deep prayer one evening, I prayed with the burden of the world heavy on my heart. I wept for people I knew and even people I didn't know. As I prayed I thought about God's special calling on my life and how I have not moved forward in my particular calling like I knew I needed to. I began to wonder why as I prayed for these people, who always give me deep anguish inside when I think of their souls... I wondered why I loved these people so much that everytime I prayed it was always them I was praying for, never even thinking to pray for myself...why, when I read the Bible it's always for them, never for what I can get out the Word for myself.
Then it hit me like a ton a bricks and I began to sob, "God, I don't love MYSELF!" I repeated this a few times, "I don't love myself God! I don't know why, help me to love myself so that I can love others God!" Of course I loved others, but I can't be fully effective on my calling or winning souls when I don't even love my own soul enough to save it. That is a bold statement, I know. But it is so true for so many of us. It is so easy to want to "save the world" and send everyone to heaven. Anyone who has any kind of burden for souls knows the feeling. It is so easy to get excited when someone we know says they're coming to church with us Sunday morning or we see them at an altar giving their hearts to God. It is so easy to answer their endless questions & biblical debates on scripture, and so easy to point out the steps to salvation to them when we're trying to win their soul over to God. It's so easy to come before God for them in prayer and failing to even make sure our own hearts are clean. It's so easy to go through those motions.
When it sank in that I didn't love myself, I meditated for a moment and just waited on God to speak. I felt a tug on my heart that said, just pick up your Bible and open it. I opened to Deut 20 and read the verses (below.) As I read I thought about the time I spent and the things I learned in the military. I pictured the chaplains giving us all a "pep talk" and then our leading officers coming in to "be real" with us before we walk onto the perspective battle field, as I read this scenerio below.
The priest encourages the Israelites to not be afraid because God is with them and will fight for them. But even after the priest said, GOD IS WITH THEM and GOD IS GOING TO FIGHT FOR THEM, the officers still stood up and said, "whoa... hang on a minute though..." They said if ANY man has a home he's not dedicated back home, a vinyard he's planted and not eaten from, or a woman he's engaged to and not married, to GO HOME and do those things lest they die in battle and another man get to do those things for them. Lastly, they said, who is fearful and weak hearted out there? If you are afraid and weak hearted, go home now so that you don't make your fellow brothers in arms afraid and weak hearted.
I understood this concept well, knowing that when troop morale is low, in any individual troop member, it can affect the entire flight/platoon, and low troop morale can affect the entire mission! God was with them, as he is with us, but without our FAITH in Him, we will discourage ourselves and lose a battle before it's even begun. These officers knew that if any of those men went to battle without their personal affairs in order, the troop was better off fighting without them. Distracted, fearful and weak hearted men would have just brought the entire platoon down in the battle. Likewise, if we don't have our own spiritual homes in order, we can't fight a battle either.
If we don't love ourselves enough to feed our own souls or pray for our own souls, then we can't be full effective in a battle. It's not enough to let the preacher feed us. It's not enough to let ourselves be carried on the prayers of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. It's not enough to love others and get out there and witness. We have to love our own souls enough to save them first, while also being willing to lose our own soul to the cross. I realized that I don't love myself at all if I don't maintain my own soul.
I could witness to a world of people, and still lose my own soul. I can't claim to love people like God loves them if I don't even love my own soul enough to save it, feed it, nourish it, and contiously keep my own heart in sync with God's. I knew that God didn't want me to go forward yet in my calling because he wanted my soul to be saved to. Yes, he would be with me and he would save the souls I fought for in battle... but God doesn't want us losing our own souls too. He doesn't want us affecting the morale of our wingmen either. We have to all be strong hearted as a unit in battle.
We are the body of Christ, one BIG moving giant in a battle, and every limb needs to be completely effective and stable & strong in a battle. That takes every member "eating all their veggies" before stepping out onto the battle field.
Don't forget to love yourself enough to save your own soul too. Until you can effectively win your own soul, how you can win others?
"When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the LORD thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
2And it shall be, when ye are come nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people,
3And shall say unto them, Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them;
4For the LORD your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.
5And the officers shall speak unto the people, saying, What man is there that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it? let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man dedicate it.
6And what man is he that hath planted a vineyard, and hath not yet eaten of it? let him also go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man eat of it.
7And what man is there that hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her? let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man take her.
8And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren's heart faint as well as his heart."
Photo © Tara Cameron
I heard you gently tapping on my cheek early this morn'
Who tis' this calling so early?
Like the slugs outside my porch, I slowly made my way to the drapes
I began to shut them
But then I wiped my tired eyes and tilted my face up towards yours
Oh, good morning my love
Awakened by a kiss
You are always such a romantic...but why so early dear?
Your kiss is warm and gentle
You play soft melodies as you strum your birds
You send a gentle breeze that soothes my aching body and tired mind
You wrap a soft blanket of love around me...how could I be ill at you?
What's that you say?
Of course my love, you may have this dance
I'll pace back and forth to the rhythm of your heart as I feel it beating against my ear
Accept this offering of praise as I raise my hands towards you
Let's speak in your heavenly tongue so even the devil doesn't know what we share
I know, I know... yes I'm crying...
I know you're saving every tear
I'd only share this part of my heart with you though, dear
Ah... my love, there's a deep ache I feel inside
Could you go and give some of your soothing kisses to these people that I love?
They need you so... I can't kiss them like you can
Please let me intercede if they don't want your kiss just yet
And yes... me too, I know
I forget... me too... I do need you so
Deep anguish is buried inside
Only your precious light can turn those roots into a beautiful flower
Shower me in your light... shower me with more
Let your worker bees spread around your pollen
Because I couldn't keep this just for myself
It's too radiant. It's too magnificant.
It's too glorious not to share
I don't deserve your kisses
Who could ever love me like you do?
No one... no, not no one could kiss me like you do
You wake up so early dear...
But every morning spent bathing in your kisses
is worth every early morning
It's worth it....
... when you're getting kisses from the Son
There's nothing like the peace of God when you're a mother of six!
Last night I babysat two babies, 2 & under. And for the past few days, I've also been taking care of a 5 month old baby to help out his Mom.
And if that doesn't paint a picture for you, pencil in my 1 year old twins, and also my 5, 7,8, and 10 year old. (Though, on this particular evening the 7 & 8 year old were spending the night elsewhere.) I still had 7 kids, even with two of them gone.
In the midst of the chaos, my husband said, "I don't know how you do this." I knew he was referring to chaos. In this particular scenerio, two 5 month old babies crying, two twins running around who need a "dwink" & want mommy to hold them (with one baby already on my chest in a moby wrap & another in my arms,) a 5 year old who's still hungry & whining, an adorable two year old who only speaks "monkey" and I can't figure out a thing he needs... (heehee, really!)... etc, etc.
And I thought to myself, "What chaos?"
That was the defining moment I realized that I'd been given a very divine gift of true peace from God.
Is there such a thing? And why do some people seem to have this gift & others don't?
First of all, let's see what the Word says about peace. Scripture is a very important tool to apply to our lives. It's not something you should skim over or just ignore all together. The Word is a manual for living our lives. It's important to always read the instructions before attempting to put it together yourself! (To name just a few scriptures on peace:)
Psalms 29:11 says, "The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace."
"Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them."
"And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever."
"And all thy children [shall be] taught of the LORD; and great [shall be] the peace of thy children."
"And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm."
"For to be carnally minded [is] death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life and peace. "
"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things [are] honest, whatsoever things [are] just, whatsoever things [are] pure, whatsoever things [are] lovely, whatsoever things [are] of good report; if [there be] any virtue, and if [there be] any praise, think on these things.
Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you."
And this one really brings it home:
"And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace."
My WHAT has made me WHOLE?! FAITH makes us WHOLE, and when we are WHOLE.... there is... PEACE.
Why do some people have this gift of peace? Because they have true faith, which makes them whole. To have true faith, one must WALK in that faith, everyday. True faith isn't a building you go visit every Sunday.
True faith is waking up every morning with Jesus on your mind...waking up and talking to him.
True faith lives in holiness according to His Word, and studies His Word so that it can imprint itself on the heart.
True faith desires to and sets themselves a part from the carnal world.
True faith believes in the power of prayer, intercession, and carries a burden for other souls.
True faith stumbles, but gets up, dusts themselves off, and keeps marching on.
This faith makes a person whole. If you're not whole in your life reasses your faith. When you've found what you're lacking in faith, DIVE right into it and never look back! When you're whole inside and out, the divine peace of God can't help but consume your life.
Maybe you do walk in faith & find yourself needing some peace. So you're still wondering why you are experiencing this lack of peace. I have two things to say about it: Tell the devil to shut up! And go back to His Word and hold him to it! He's a man of His Word! So pray the Word and scriptures of peace into your life today!
When my home is full of chaos... crying babies, arguing siblings, tattling, whining... LIFE, it does not consume me.
I have a peace inside me that says, "Deal with one issue at a time. Stay calm. Prioritize (Feed crying babies first, etc.) Praise them continually. Correct them with love. Pick your battles. Use your inside voice. Don't forget to breathe!"
That peace makes every bit of chaotic, rambunctious craziness in my life the most beautiful gifts in life, to me. I can look at the chaos and smile. I can look at it and say, "Wow. Life sure is beautiful. He sure has blessed me!"
I'm not perfect. There's no question about that. But I get up everyday and try. I get up everyday and march on. And God gives me peace.
I'm not just a housewife or a Mom. I'm a T.I. training soldiers! And when it gets dark outside, when my little soldiers are sound asleep in their beds, and the tick tock sound of the clock is deafening... I talk to God.
I also spend time chasing my dreams and thinking about my goals, needs, and desires. I find that they are always "What ever you want me to do Lord, here I am" kind of goals. But they're mine. Because my desire and passion is to serve Him. I serve Him by also serving others.
I do my best to follow the path He guides me down, and I never forget to stop and watch the butterflies. Because those butterflies are His little sprinkles of peace upon my soul. I absorb every drop. And I march on... in peace. Amen.
Some have hurt my heart and made me cry.
Words, and even silence can devastate a soul sometimes.
Still, I stand.
Endless nights in prayer, endless weeping, humbling myself before God and those who do me wrong, and often, not even understanding why...
Still, I stand.
Hurricanes blow my way. The devil and his demons taunt my soul and try to whisper in my ears...
Still, I stand.
Those spirits try to attack my marriage, my children, all those I dearly love... in desperate attempts to knock me down.
Still, I stand.
Sometimes I get weary and discouraged as I walk this path to righteousness. Sometimes I feel like I can't make it anymore and that I was never meant to win this race. Take back your thoughts devil.
Because still, I will stand.
Sometimes I feel unworthy and insignficant. Take back your thoughts devil.
Because still, I will stand.
And there are times I feel like I can't ever do anything right, that I'm so clumsy on this spiritual road. Take back your thoughts devil.
Because... I will stand.
Oh, you think you'll overcome my spirit with doubt? You can have back your doubt... I'll stand.
And do you really think sending guilt and condemnation from my past this way, will break me? Keep your nonsense! I've been forgiven! Regrets are for idle saints.
When you're stumbling on your own walk and thinking of taking that other road my brothers and sisters...think of me, and know, I stand. Think of me and know, you too, can stand. Find your salvation again in knowing that His soldiers can stand, because they're covered in His blood!
And when my Maker has called me home, honor my written wishes, and don't hold a funeral for me. Have a singing, shouting, and dancing worship service in His honor, because you've been given your freedom!
Celebrate my homecoming the way you'd celebrate any soldiers! Wear colors of freedom, and forget any garments in black...
And when someone stands behind a pulpit to give a word in my memory...
...just simply say, "She stood."
Isaiah 6:8 "Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me."
I pray this word to my own life... what ever your will Lord, humbly, obediently, here I am.
I believe that when I pray, God hears me!
I believe that when I pray, His spirit moves & an annointing falls on who ever my prayers are for.
I believe that when I pray, I have the authority of the Holy Spirit... And with that authority, comes great power! It has the power to move mountains. It has the power to bind demons and shake all of hell into submission!
I believe that my prayers never go unanswered. I believe that when I pray, my prayer is already answered before I even asked. There is no such thing as unanswered prayers! They just aren't always answered the way we thought they'd be. But I do believe, that GOD answers them according to HIS will and according to what is best for us & those we pray for. And sometimes, it's not God, but it's US & free will choosing not to accept His gifts.
I do believe, that ALL THINGS work towards the good for those who believe in HIM. I do believe then, that every prayer is heard and every prayer is answered towards the good in my life! I fully trust in and believe that no matter what, GOD is in control when I pray!
I believe in the POWER of prayer. I have seen it's power work in my life and those around me. I have learned that prayer is more than just a few words uttered from our mouths. We're talking to a KING, King over all things and earth... ! Can we even fathom that?! Can we fathom the power in our prayers?!
I believe and pray, that anyone who reads this will feel His spirit right now and SEE the power of prayer in their own lives as they believe and pray, in Jesus name. Let it be so!
"I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears." Psalm 34:4
This morning I hugged my oldest son. I told him how proud I was of him & how proud I was of the fine young man he's becoming. I told him I'm happy to have him for a son.
And you know what? There was no awkward silence after that. There was nothing uncomfortable about it at all. He just hugged me back & started making me laugh with his silly sense of humor.
I couldn't have said those things to him a week ago! That may sound sad to some people, who are used to these daily kinds of interactions. But my fears & anxiety have kept me from being able to express those kinds of thoughts verbally my whole life. My fears & anxiety have kept me from being able to show affection to my children once they're not babies or toddlers anymore. It's not that I haven't hugged & kissed them... but they've always had to come to me & make the first move. And then I hug or kiss them back. But it was always awkward for me when I did.
It wasn't uncomfortable this morning! And I made the first move! Hugs have always been a difficult thing for me. People (adults) who know me well know that I don't like being hugged. But I've never told my children that & I've never denied anyone a hug who comes & hugs me. I can hug now! And I feel okay about it!
And then I looked at Hailey... her denim skirt down to her ankles with embroided flowers on it, her cowgirl boots, her blue girl scout shirt, and the piggy tail braids I put in her hair. I thought, wow, what a beautiful little modest girl. And then I told her how beautiful & modest she looked. And I told her how proud I was of her for being a modest young lady. And nothing weird happened! She just smiled with her biggest smile, blue eyes wide, and carried on talking...
And then I told Josiah how sweet he was behaving this morning, and what a good helper he was being...
And I thought to myself, WoW! He's a prayer answering God! Only He knows how much I have prayed to be delivered from the fears that keep me from showing my affection & verbal praises to my children! I had just prayed about it again yesterday morning, and then I read Psalm 34. And when I saw verse 4, I thought, THANK YOU JESUS! Thank you for that Word and confirmation that you're a deliverer from my fears! I just KNEW right then that my prayers had been answered.
And I woke up this morning just thinking of all the wonderful things I wanted to say to my kids. As I watched them get ready for school, only positive thoughts of praise kept coming to my mind. I know that was GOD! Because before, I never knew what to say in order to praise them. I always had the desire, but the words would never come to my mind unless I was writing them out. Fear always puts a block on my mouth. But it is gone today! He has delivered me from my fear!
And I was encouraged & uplifted by the entire 34th chapter of Psalms. I now know that He delivers the righteous, He keeps them, even through tough times. He shines his face upon them and He hears their cries & answers! He's a good God, all the time! And all the time he's good!
There is POWER in the Word of God! Read it, live it, believe it, and be delivered!
Be blessed in Jesus name!
Psalm 34 (KJV)
1I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.
3O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.
4I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
5They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.
6This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
7The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.
8O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
9O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.
10The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.
11Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?
13Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.
14Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
15The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.
16The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
17The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.
18The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
19Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.
20He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.
21Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate.
22The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.
Why do you sit there staring?
Are you angry at God?
Does his presence no longer move you?
Or is there bitterness cradling your soul instead?
I don't know your heart... I can't know...
I don't know your pain... I don't want to know...
But I feel deep anguish inside when I pray for you
All I can hope is that my prayers will carry you until you can walk again
And hope that my anguish for you is sufficient until you choose to feel again
And hope that God will accept my sacrifice in place of yours... just til' you make it through...
My mind goes back to my dreams.
God talks to me often there.
I saw you in your lowest despair, oh, but what could I do?
You were gone before I could stop you, and I'd never felt so helpless.
....And then, what could I do?
Awaken from my nightmare...
... awake and intercede... until your nightmare is over.
God will see you through.