50 Shades and Sex Trafficking

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Today is my final post in the 50 Shades of Grey series. I never intended to write more than one post. When that post went viral, I received many questions that needed to be addressed. I realized how confused and in the dark people actually were on this subject.

Next week I resume my typical writings. Ones that I hope will encourage you in your daily walk and inspire you to draw closer to the Lord. Thank you for sticking around this week with me as I’ve felt so passionate for encouraging our sisters in Christ to stay away from what God knows wants to make them a slave.

Pornography creates an ever increasing appetite that can never be fully satisfied. Pornography is a trap, it’s a life of bondage, a slave to desires and lusts of the flesh. A book like 50 Shades of Grey is pornography, plain and simple. We use terms like erotica to make us feel better about what we are reading, but it is pornography. Men are visual, women are emotional and relational. Men ingest pornography through images, women ingest through a story that draws on their desire for intimate connection through emotions and relationships.

The mind is more powerful than we realize, and what we feed our minds drives our lives.

The following is taken from this article

“Psychologist Dr. Julia Slattery, author of Finding the Hero in Your Husband, says there are similarities between what happens to a woman when she reads a romance novel and what happens to a man when he views pornography.”

“There is a neurochemical element with men and visual porn, but an emotional element with women and these novels,” she writes.”

Webster’s defines pornography like this:

1
: the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement
2
: material (as books or a photograph) that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement
3
: the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction

In my first post, I mentioned the link between 50 Shades of Grey and sex trafficking. I want to explain further this line of thought.

Here are some fantastic resources if you want to really see how these 2 are linked.

The Connection Between Sex Trafficking and Pornography

Pornography – A Gateway to Human Trafficking

The Connections Between Pornography and Sex Trafficking

Connecting the dots between sex trafficking and pornography

The sex trafficking industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. Like all industries, demand drives it. Remember supply and demand from economics? Increase in demand creates a need to increase the supply to fulfill the demand.

When our culture supports pornography, we are sending a message that we support sex trafficking. We can’t hide away in our homes reading this genre and think it doesn’t affect anyone else. That is a lie. Girls and women are lured into the sex industry in shocking numbers every minute.

Reading or watching pornography (whether it’s classified as erotic romance fiction or more) places us as a participant in sex trafficking. If we consume drugs, we are a participant in the drug trafficking crisis. If we consume, we are part of the chain. It’s all linked.

If we are going to wear colors to bring awareness to sex trafficking, we need to hope we aren’t a part of the problem first.

The first step in fighting sex trafficking is to stop driving up the demand.

Additional posts in this series:

What the Bible Says About 50 Shades of Grey

Are We Being Judgmental? – 50 Shades of Grey

Does God Really Care if I Watch 50 Shades of Grey?

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Does God Really Care If I Watch 50 Shades of Grey?

doesgodcare

I never planned to write so much about 50 Shades of Grey. I thought I would write a post in order to point believers back to truth. Then I would move on to the happier topics, the less uncomfortable topics, I had planned to write on.

Writing on this topic has been one of the most uncomfortable things God has led me to do in a very long time. I so hoped He would let me off the hook, and I could quickly retreat to my comfortable writing zone.

When I posted What the Bible Says About 50 Shades of Grey, I realized why God had grieved my soul. More christians than I realized had bought into the lie that reading or watching something that took sexual immorality to new heights masquerading as a love story was not at all wrong.

At the bottom of this post, I will be linking articles and videos you might find helpful in understanding why this is such a big deal. Please don’t miss these links. They are all very enlightening in understanding this topic and what this means for our culture.

I don’t want you to simply hear my opinion or my thoughts in order to make your decision. I want you to go to scripture to find exactly what God has to say.

Here are some of the most common emails I received from women.

  1. It’s a work of fiction. It doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or real. If it displays acts which God detests and creates in us sins and temptations to sin, we are instructed to flee.
  2. It’s a beautiful love story and she saves him in the end. There are lots of beautiful love stories we can delight in. When it’s a love story hidden in the crevices of sexual immorality, we need to find another love story to delight in. Our enemy is crafty. He is out to destroy humanity – christian and non-christian. Pornography is a trap and women are pulled into its grip when it pulls at our emotions and desire for relationships. We need to find another love story to celebrate other than one filled with pain, torture, humiliation, and degradation of women.
  3. What I do in my own private life, God doesn’t care about. It doesn’t affect anyone else. Oh, but He does care. And what we do in our own private life greatly affects those around us. When we read about a love story that makes us believe our husband isn’t good enough, does that not affect him? When we read about a life of excitement that belittles the gift of our mundane moments, does that not affect others when I walk through life lacking joy because I’ve believed a lie? When I think I can handle watching something and not take it any further, then I run across the path of another who begins to pay me a little more attention than I feel my husband does. Seeds of lies have begun to sprout in my heart causing me to long for what’s not mine to long for, and I take a step away from my husband, whether emotionally or physically, does that not affect anyone else? Sin has domino effects. It never stops with us. It has arms that continue to reach, hurt, and ultimately destroy. Our private thought life matters greatly to God because what begins as innocent private thoughts rarely stops there. God sees what we don’t see, which is why He warns us throughout His entire Word to fight sin.
  4. God doesn’t have a problem with *bdsm* (Please don’t look it up. I will define it for you. Bondage, Domination, Sadism, Masochism.) I received this comment: “The topic of the book, BDSM is not against God. The bible says as women we should submit to our husbands, Yes?”Here is my exact reply from the comments section of my original post “The Bible in no way EVER affirms BDSM. Yes, it is VERY much the opposite of what God stands for. Bondage? No, He came to set the sinner free. Domination? No, He could dominate, but He offers us free will….we can choose Him or the world. Sadism? “the tendency to derive pleasure, especially sexual gratification, from inflicting pain, suffering, or humiliation on others.” Yeah, not our God. He is the God of love, healing, hope. Pretty sure He doesn’t encourage us to derive pleasure by inflicting pain on another.Masochism…same definition, so ditto. To know God is to know truth. To know God is to know love. Please don’t distort God’s word. Submit to our husbands has never meant to submit to being dominated, humiliated, and violated (even when it’s agreed upon). To know God is to know that God would never affirm these practices. To submit to one’s husband is to submit to his spiritual leadership. To get under his mission. That mission should always lead to Christ.
  5. If it helps my sex life, God wouldn’t have a problem with it. This is just our attempt to justify our sins. Have we no faith to believe if God wants us to liven up our sex lives, He can do it without us living in the fantasy part of our minds? God is much more creative than that! If that is what we are really after then it’s as easy as coming together with your husband and praying for it. Seeking God. God is the creator of sex between a husband and a wife. It’s a gift from Him to us. He gave it as pleasure, and He delights when we delight in our spouse.

Moving on from the comments, I want to look to scripture. Because here’s the problem I see. We receive the majority of our information online these days. We are forming our “truths” based on the words and opinions of others. But are we looking to truth to find truth? We have to know God’s Word.

50 Shades places sexual immorality on stage. Let’s define sexual immorality first because God has much to say on the subject.

Sexual immorality in the most basic definition is sexual acts performed not between married persons. However, Jesus goes on to define lust as sexual immorality. Therefore, even thinking of another or lusting after another that is not your husband or your wife is sexually immoral. The Bible is actually very detailed in defining immorality, but for the sake of what we are discussing, let’s keep it simple.

First we need to recognize the sin in front of us. What is wrong with 50 Shades? So much, but at the base, base, base level, it’s sexual immorality on steroids. If we don’t recognize sin when we see it, we walk blind with the world. We are called to be set apart from the world. We are to shine the light of Christ in a darkened world.

We are going to look at the sin of sexual immorality, why God cares what we look at, and how we can protect our eyes and hearts.

What is the issue?

Sexual immorality is sin. This is only a tiny sampling of scriptures.

Ephesians 5:1-4(NLT)

5 Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us[a] and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. 3 Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. 4 Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God.

Ephesians 5:5(NLT)

5 You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 (NLT)

3 God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin.

4 Then each of you will control his own body[a] and live in holiness and honor— 5 not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and his ways.

Galatians 5:19-21 (NLT)

19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

1 Peter 2:11 (NIV)

11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.

Colossians 3:5 (NLT)

5 So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NLT)

9 Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, 10 or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)

13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

Why is this an issue? Does God really care what we watch and see?

Luke 11:34-35 (NLT)

34 “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when it is bad, your body is filled with darkness. 35 Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness.

Philippians 4:8 (NLT)

8 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.

Romans 13:14 (ESV)

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

1 Peter 1:16 (ESV)

Since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

2 Corinthians 7:1 (ESV)

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

Colossians 3:1 (ESV)

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

Psalm 119:37 (NLT)

37 Turn my eyes from worthless things,
and give me life through your word.

Romans 12:2 (NLT)

2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

How do I follow God’s will?

Galatians 5:16 NLT

16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.

Philippians 4:13New Living Translation (NLT)

13 For I can do everything through Christ,[a] who gives me strength.

Psalm 119:9 (NIV)

How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word.

Psalm 51:10 NLT

Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.

Psalm 86:11 NLT

Teach me your ways, O Lord,
that I may live according to your truth!
Grant me purity of heart,
so that I may honor you.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NLT)

3 We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. 4 [a]We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. 5 We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

I love you dearly. My writings are written for christian women. I know where God has called me, and it is right here with you. This series I’ve written has brought readers that I didn’t write for. I love them too, but these words are meant for you. God has called me to serve you, to encourage you in your daily walk, to inspire you to live a life that shines His glory.

If you are my christian sister, and you have read these books or seen the movie, and your eyes have been opened and you now feel the shame of sin, please don’t stay in that place. God is rich in love and mercy. His arms never close to you. He rejoices when our eyes are opened to His truths and He longs to be the One to hold us closely.

Daniel 9:9

The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him;

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness

Acts 3:19

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.

Additional Resources:

Sermon on 50 Shades of Grey

Five myths about 50 Shades of Grey

10 Reasons Why You Should Stop Watching Porn

Truth About 50 Shades of Grey- Movie glamorizes sexual violence, domestic abuse.

To everyone who think 50 shades is all sorts of awesome – please stop and think

Posts in this series:

What the Bible Says About 50 Shades of Grey

Are We Being Judgmental? – 50 Shades of Grey

50 Shades and Sex Trafficking

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Are We Being Judgmental? – 50 Shades of Grey

judgmental

When I posted What The Bible Says About 50 Shades of Grey, I was stunned that it went viral. Before writing that post, I literally sobbed to my husband because I knew so many of my christian sisters were being blinded by the enemy.

A nerve struck deep with many people. I wrote that post for my christian sisters. I specifically wrote that post to address the Biblical position of this book/movie in the life of a christian. And honestly, I barely scratched the surface. The post was short and to the point, but it resonated with many of you, who quickly spread it.

As our culture moves away from God, we are losing our senses. We are losing our ability to think for ourselves. We are becoming tolerant and believing the lies that we aren’t open-minded or that we are judgmental if we disagree with what we see in culture.

Over the next couple of days, I want to address some of the most common questions or comments I received. Today, we are exploring the question of “Aren’t we being judgmental?”

2 Timothy 4:2-5 (NLT)

2 Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. 3 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will reject the truth and chase after myths. 5 But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary says this “4:1-5 People will turn away from the truth, they will grow weary of the plain gospel of Christ, they will be greedy of fables, and take pleasure in them. People do so when they will not endure that preaching which is searching, plain, and to the purpose. Those who love souls must be ever watchful, must venture and bear all the painful effects of their faithfulness, and take all opportunities of making known the pure gospel.”

I love souls and can’t sit silent on this issue. Not to mention I am raising boys, who I pray will respect and honor women.

My post was not a judgement. The intent was an encouragement to the ones who have not read or seen it, an encouragement to stand strong for truth and oppose peer pressure, and to correct/rebuke thoughts and positions on the subject in the life of the christian.

Friends, we have the Word of God, the living Word, to guide, teach, and correct us. We have been granted access to the power of God in our lives. And we have been given permission to ask for wisdom. When we aren’t seeking wisdom, we are susceptible to believing the lies around us.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 New Living Translation

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

 

We can’t stop going to God’s Word to test everything. That is where we find truth. We don’t believe it because a blogger said it. We don’t believe it because the media said it. We must test everything against scripture, especially when it is something as culturally shifting as erotica/porn becoming the new standard for book clubs and movie nights.

To navigate our culture we need wisdom, not worldly wisdom, but wisdom that only comes from God.

Proverbs 2:6 NIV

For the Lord gives wisdom. From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

James 1:5 NLT

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

Here’s what happens when we lack wisdom:

Proverbs 9:13-18 13

The woman named Folly is brash. She is ignorant and doesn’t know it. She sits in her doorway on the heights overlooking the city. She calls out to men going by who are minding their own business. “Come in with me,” she urges the simple. To those who lack good judgment, she says,  “Stolen water is refreshing; food eaten in secret tastes the best!” But little do they know that the dead are there. Her guests are in the depths of the grave.

Quest Study Bible notes 9:17 “The intrigue and danger of being found out can add to sexual temptation. Doing something considered out of bounds offers a thrill or heightened sense of excitement. The euphoria, however, is short-lived and soon gives way to shame, self-loathing and regret.”

Friends, we aren’t being judgmental. When we see something that is sin in the life of our sister or brother in Christ, and we expose the sin, it’s not judgement. It’s love. It’s loving them enough to take on abuse and ridicule for the sake of their souls.

We aren’t judging the person, we are judging the action and loving the person.

Stay tuned this week when we discuss “Does God really care what we read and watch?” and “What’s the link to sex trafficking.”

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What the Bible Says About 50 Shades Of Grey

50 Shades

God has called me into writing and speaking out of a deep love for women that He’s placed in my heart. It’s because I love you so much that I risk writing this post today. I pray you read this through the lens of love from which I write.

I ask one thing, that you read this to the end. I’ve kept it short to keep your attention.

We were created with hearts that desire a love story. We want a rescuer. We want a man to come and sweep us off our feet. We want a protector. We want to be understood. We want to be fully known and deeply loved. We want to be the center of his attention, the apple of his eye. We want him to pursue us, chase us hard. We want to be found when we hide.

We long for a love story, one bathed in passion and excitement.

50 Shades of Grey will promise to deliver a love story full of passion and excitement. It is not a love story. You want a love story? It’s in the Bible. It’s a story unimaginable. A love story no mind could fathom or create.

You want passion? It’s in the Bible, what kind of passion lays one’s life down for another?

You want excitement? It’s in the Bible. When you read the lengths He’s gone to for you, you can’t help but pant for more of him.

Want a story of power who will come and sweep us off our feet? He’s coming on a white horse for us. He’s come and he’s coming again. (Revelation 19:11-16)

God knows these desires, and He has fulfilled and waits to fulfill every longing of our hearts. The very hearts He created, the very lives He breathed life into.

We have an enemy who knows these desires quite well. This enemy sets out to deceive us and destroy us. He takes God’s truths and distorts them. He takes God-given desires and deforms them. He takes what was meant for good, turns it inside out, and uses it against us as a weapon that will lead to death. Death of marriages, families, lives. He is death. God is life.

2 Corinthians 11:14

But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

John 10:10

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

50 Shades of Grey is nothing but pornography. Erotica is a justified term for porn. A staggering number of christian women are falling victim to pornography. It’s a story of power and dominance, demeaning to women, full of dark and evil.

There are many gray areas in the Bible. And there are black and whites. 50 Shades of Grey is no gray area according to God. It is a black and white issue.

How do we, as christian women, make any decisions? We look to truth. We look to His Word. We seek wisdom. We pray for discernment.

Women, stand for truth and goodness. Stand for integrity and holiness. Stand for purity and righteousness.

Psalm 101:3 NIV

I will set before my eyes no vile thing. The deeds of faithless men I hate; they will not cling to me.

When we purchase this book, when we purchase a ticket to watch it, we are funding sex trafficking through the back door. The very evil that outrages us and causes us to stand and fight, we take part in when we give our money to pornography. Pornography funds and fuels little girls and women across the world to be sold for vile sex acts. Pornography funds the selling of bodies to fulfill the lustful desires of evil men.

If you want to fight sex trafficking, do not read, purchase, or watch 50 Shades of Grey.

I’m pleading with you today on behalf of innocent victims to fight against a culture that is opening the door to pornography and making way for more girls to be sold, abused, and oppressed.

Life is a fight. A constant fight. We prevail. We win in the end, my friends! Praise God, He is coming to put an end to the evil of this world. We will all stand before Him. I long to hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

Love your christian sisters enough to say no to 50 Shades of Grey. Don’t fall into peer pressure. Speak up when others speak as if this book is ok. It’s not. It’s the enemy’s tool to deceive us and steal the joy, excitement, and passion He has for us here and now.

Additional posts in this series:

Are We Being Judgmental? 50 Shades of Grey

Does God Really Care If I Watch 50 Shades of Grey?

50 Shades and Sex Trafficking

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Why We Need To Loosen Our Grip On Life

mtn

I spent the weekend on a mountain with Jesus. The Cove in Asheville to be exact with some lovely ladies from my church.

On the mountain with Jesus, the rubbing world becomes a touch softer. Time decelerates to allow our wandering eyes to find Him and focus with intense precision. The clock’s tick-tock becomes a soothing melody to replace life’s shrill and demanding rhythm. The cares of the world dissipate as we focus solely on Him.

I want to stay on the mountain with Jesus. Sometimes I forget that when I leave the mountain, He escorts me right back down that rocky terrain. I tend to leave God behind on that mountain. I go back into my little life and grip it with every ounce of strength I can muster.

After descending the mountain Sunday, it didn’t take long for my praising of Jesus to become grumbling and complaining. It only took an overflowing laundry basket, an unplanned menu, remembrance of forgotten tasks, looming difficult decisions, and a glance at the upcoming week to turn my eyes from the mountain top to the realities of my life.

Sometimes I compartmentalize my Jesus. You just stay up here on this mountain. I’ll come back again soon. Don’t worry, you know I come back often because I need you so much. I’ll go down and deal with life, then we will meet up here again. 

Ok, not literally, but if I’m honest with myself, my actions speak these sentiments loud and clear.

Our good friend, Moses, knows a few like me well. (Exodus 32)

He went up to meet on the mountain with God. 40 days he basked in the presence of the Father, receiving the very words from God that breathed true life into life, the commands that guide our entire existence. I imagine Moses wanted to camp on the mountain forever.

We were created to live in His Presence, doing life with Him. He’s never desired that we leave Him on the mountain and journey alone.

Moses came down that mountain to an impatient group of people. Tired of waiting on God to do what they wanted Him to do, they took life into their own hands and created their own little god. Guess smartphones aren’t the cause of our impatience after all.

Oh, don’t I do that? Don’t I take my to do list, my desire to have my husband meet all my expectations, my kids’ bad attitudes, my writing, my housekeeping, my friendships, my hopes, my anything I hold dear and get frustrated on waiting for God to be what I want Him to be for me. So I just make a little calf out of the dailies of my life. I do a little dance. And I get nothing back but more frustration, more impatience, more feelings of failure.

I leave my God on the mountain and pick up a little calf on the climb back to life. God never wanted me to leave him on that mountain. He wants to hold my hand, He wants to whisper truth over the voice of the enemy.

He wants my heart to sing His praise louder in the realities of my life than He does on the mountain with my girls.

I can’t do that when I leave Him on the mountain. I can’t take both God and my little gold calf. I must choose which to cling to and which to throw into the fire.

In theory it’s easy to choose. I choose God. In the moment by moment, many times, I pick up my little calf and stumble and grumble through my day. I think I’m holding onto God, but I’m not.

He’s always here to journey with me. He wants to swim through life’s swamp with me. He’s here for me to lay down my parenting heart’s desires at His feet. He wants to take the fears that I close my fist around and replace them with a faith that can move a mountain.

My grip must loosen. I grip the good of this life, I grip the fears of this life, I grip my desires of this life, I grip what I can’t control of this life. I grip it all. A tiny little calf I hold in the palm of my hand. I know I need to let my fingers relax and let those little gold calves of my life fall into the flames.

Freedom comes when we let it all go. We will have free arms to hold onto Him with. He is limitless. We are not. He has arms to hold the entire world at once. We have arms that can only hold a few things at a time. If we let go of everything we cling so tightly to, we can cling to Him, and He can hold everything we try so desperately to hold.

When we place ourself in His arms, whether on the mountain or in the realities of life, we are free.

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One Thing That Will Change Your Life – 5 Ways to Make It Happen

IMG_3174

Early in my parenting years, I came to understand that if I didn’t intentionally claim the time allotted to me, I would drift into a reactionary state of living. If I lived each day in a state of reaction, I would not parent the way I desired.

When my babies were babies, I made one small decision that has impacted me in ways that have altered the course of my days and my entire life. I decided that I wanted to wake before my kids. I wanted to shower and put myself together so I could be with them 100% when they were awake. I wanted to give them my all and felt if I didn’t have to think of myself in the mornings, things would go smoother.

For the most part they did. It helped me tremendously. However, it wasn’t the one thing that changed my life, rather it was the first step to the one thing that changed my life.

From the time I became a follower of Jesus, I began the discipline of a daily quiet time. When my boys were little, I felt all I could do was squeeze in the time around their schedules. I had to sneak times of quiet, hiding out from the kids. Much of my quiet time was far shorter than I preferred. I felt lucky to sneak in 5-10 minutes to spend alone with the Lord. I attended church, I was in a Bible study, I was in a small group. But time alone with the Lord was scarce.

My soul began to crave what it needed, what it was created to desire. Intimate time with God. Time carved out for just the two of us. A private date.

I made a decision to change how I spent those quiet moments in the morning. I had to adjust my schedule and my priorities. The tending of my soul is more important than anything I do all day long. When my soul finds rest in God alone, everything I encounter, everything I attempt, everything I dream, everything I serve finds its purpose and satisfaction.

The one small change I’ve made in 38 years that has impacted my life more than anything else is to wake when everyone still sleeps, tiptoe downstairs, and steal away with the lover of my soul.

Spending the quiet moments of my morning alone with God is a standing date. It’s not a habit. It’s not a chore. It’s not something placed on my to-do list. My time with God awakens my soul, stirs my heart, revives my spirit, refreshes my mind, and directs my steps. 

Before beginning my day alone and quiet, I failed to see the benefits. Years of sitting at His feet before anyone can need me has given me the ability to see Him and hear Him when many days I would be prone to missing Him in my moments.

Proverbs 31:15 “She gets up while it is still dark…..”

Does your soul need a little tender, loving care? He waits with open arms. He will never stand us up. He will never disappoint. He is faithful.

One thing every soul needs is time alone with God. Time with His Word. Time to praise Him, time to thank Him, time to confess, time to request.

Time. We all have the same amount. The less time we feel we have to sit quietly before Him, the more reason we have to hide away with Him.

5 Ways To Begin Quiet Time

1. Set your alarm– If you are not in the habit of waking before your family, an alarm will help you to take charge of your time before it takes charge of you. You determine the time to start your day, your day will not determine the time you have.

2. Start small – If you are just beginning to develop a quiet time, begin small and build. Start with 10 minutes. Over time you will find you crave more time with him. You will find it easier and easier to set aside longer stretches of time.

3. Set realistic expectations – Understand that you won’t do it perfectly everyday. Allow yourself grace.  Know that it won’t always happen, but don’t let it thwart your plan. Find time throughout the day, and try again the next day. If your children wake unexpectedly during your alone time, invite them in. Try not to become frustrated (like I have many times), but thank God that they are seeing modeled what it looks like to sneak away with Jesus. Invite them to join you with their own Bible. They can read or look at pictures quietly while you read your Bible, or you can read together. Have them join you in prayer, let them hear how you pour your heart out to Jesus before the day chips into your heart.

4. Have a plan- but be open to the leading of His Spirit. Determine the night before you will get up, have a devotion or bible reading plan you will use. I try not to become too rigid in what I read and study in the morning. Some days I read through Psalms and Proverbs, some days I work on my Bible study lesson, some days I simply pray and meditate on one scripture, some days I read a day of my daily Bible reading plan, some days I read from a devotion. I want to have a plan in place, but I don’t want that plan to become my master. I want to be open to God’s leading through His Word.

5. Set up a place- dedicated for your quiet time. I have a comfortable chair where I can be found every morning at 5:00am (I know that is way too early for most, the time doesn’t matter, just make it a priority). Have everything you will need nearby. I keep a Bible, journal, pen, prayer books, Bible study materials, concordance and Bible dictionary. Of course, I have a blanket and a cup of coffee as well.

Give into the craving of your soul. Spending time alone with God is not a luxurious thought, it is the one thing that will radically change your life.

 

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When Your Child Acts Unloveable, When No One Understands

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I peeked open his door and gazed at his peaceful slumber. I think he is beautiful when he sleeps. His body is in constant motion when awake, so I love to watch him at complete rest.

Then I did what I can only do with him, what would cause my other boys to wake in fight mode. With no warning at all, no gentle back rubs, no sweet good morning whispers, I rolled him fast on his back and dug my chin in hard into the soft of his back, laughing and tickling him with no mercy.

How one can go from the deepest slumber to the deepest of belly laughs, I will never understand. I stopped, and he said, “Again!” We hit the repeat button on this moment each morning. It’s the best way to assure a happy mood from Andrew.

Occasionally, he turns to what we call the “dark side”. It’s a turning of little Anakin Andrew. The good dwells there, but sin lurks and lures with fierce boldness. The good is in constant battle with the dark. It’s there for all of us. We all have a little Anakin in us. Kids just live with their guards down most of the time. We’ve learned to keep our masks on. We all know the good prevails. We must remember good wins in the end.

On my end I had done everything “right” according to all parenting books and best blogs. We had prepared what costume he would wear to school for spirit day. We had it laid out and prepared. We had discussed how the morning would go. I started the morning the way he likes. I gave him plenty of choices so he felt he maintained some control and wasn’t being bossed around. I did everything “they” say to do.

No matter how hard we try, sometimes our best intentions fail us. When a perfect parent day aligns with a perfect kid day, the stars shine bright, the birds sing joyous songs, all looks well in our world. We smile more. We laugh more. The world looks grand. We post it on Facebook. We see the good in the world around us.

There are days one of us brings our A game and the other doesn’t. We meet at the corner of I’m trying and Why Aren’t You. This is the intersection where collisions are common. In my home anyway. That is where I was this morning. Full on collision though I had followed all precautionary rules and road signs.

I heard no birds singing joyous songs. Nothing about this moment would make it on my Facebook page. It was too ugly, and I don’t want to be a whiner. Barking replaced laughing. Scowl replaced smile. The world looked grim, and a 6-year-old looked back at me with defiant eyes that said, “See if you can make me why don’t you.”

Sometimes God gives us what we need the most to need Him the most.

My heavy footsteps marched hard to the whisper, “Lord, help. Lord, help. Please, Lord, help. I can’t parent his personality well.”

A difficult child is a high calling. We must rise up to the challenge. We can’t wallow in defeat. We can’t focus on the difficult task. We must focus on the calling.

Love this child who acts unloveable, which means he needs love that much more. Show this child unconditional love when you feel like pulling back.

This is so hard for me to remember in the heat of battle. My first thoughts are always shameful. My first thoughts are usually the ones that I dare not admit. Therefore, I will confess all the more.

If I don’t take captive my thoughts, they will lead me to despair, self-pity, resentment, and bitterness. I will convince myself that no one understands the challenges I face, the difficult moments I battle. I will say under my breath, or to my poor husband who is forced to listen, “No one understands how hard this is! No one sees how hard I try to understand him and parent him well.”

This is the moment the Holy Spirit intercedes into my negative and sinful thoughts. Yes, there is someone who understands full well. The same one who created you. The same one who created him. The same one who matched you up for my purposes to bring glory to my name. Yes, someone understands.

This is the moment He reminds me that we all face difficult battles and that none of us completely understands the challenges that any of us face. Truly we don’t. But that is what He is there for. He is there to take my burdens and frustrations. He is there to listen to my venting. No one understands our lives fully, do they? But He does.

I release the world from the pressure of understanding me when I realize they don’t need to fully know me because there is One who does fully know me. And He loves me anyway. Despite knowing me full well, He loves me. A mask can’t hide me from Him. My naked heart is laid bare and vulnerable. And that very thought catches the breath in my throat.

In the most difficult moments with my strong-willed child, it’s my own sinful pride that battles hard inside me. It’s that part of me that wants things to be easier, wants things to look a certain way. The part that whispers through clenched teeth to God, “I’m doing everything I’m supposed to do, why isn’t this going the way I want it to?” It’s ugly. So very ugly.

There is no ugly, He can’t wipe clean. There are no words or emotions He can’t redeem.

It’s in the quiet that I understand this all. I rarely see this clearly in the moment. It’s when emotions settle down, when the world begins to resemble calm, when I step back. When I get out of God’s way, I’m able to see.

Filing out of our house, we scrambled late into the car. The trash needed to be moved to the curb, the dog needed to be put up, Zachary couldn’t find his glasses, Andrew forgot his coat. My jaw ached as it had not released its grip just yet.

“Mommy, mommy!” I kept right on moving. Rolling trash cans with Jacob, helping gather missing items. Andrew wouldn’t stop. “Mommy! Mommy! Look, fast!”

With less love in my voice than I care to admit, I snapped, “What Andrew?!?”

“Look, there!”

I looked up, and there it was. A spectacular sunrise. The thing about sunrises, they last but a moment. We must catch a glimpse of the moment and hold tight to the beauty. Faster than I could run to grab my phone, the sun had risen, and the stunning display was gone. I hold onto the beauty I know was there, is there, and will be there again.

Such is this life. Life as mommy. Life as a friend. Life as a wife. Life as a co-worker. Life as anything. The moments come, the moments go, the beauty seems to ebb and flow. It’s an illusion. The beauty is always here because He is always here. We just need eyes to see through the haze. For me it’s usually in hindsight. So I pray each time, Lord, help me see clearer right there in those hazy, crazy moments. Amen.

(Thank you to my sweet, friend, Angela, who let me use the sunrise photo she beautifully captured this morning.)

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