Archives

I’m holding onto…

5 minutes of unedited writing on the topic: hold

Starts NOW:

I like to hold on to things.  If I’m not careful, I could become quite a pack rat. However right now I’m thinking more of the internal things I hold on to.  And if I were to take the time to think, I wonder how much of a pack rat I am. 

I like to hold on to what I feel will give me power.  Bitterness. Pride. Anger. Those are only a few of my areas.  Yup, MY areas. I’m gettin’ real over here. 

So what happens when I hold onto these – let’s just call it what it is – sins? What happens in my heart? What comes out of my mouth?  How do I see the world? What are my hands doing? 

Nothing postive, I’ll tell you that much. 

I’m not alone in holding onto these things.  We all do it to some degree, am I right?  Or am I puffing smoke?  (too much caffeine this morning I think) It’s frustrating to me when I give in to satan’s lies of power. What do I really want with power anyways? What am I going to do with it?  Nothing positive, that’s for sure. 

There is a reason God has the ultimate power.  It’s interesting to me that the same sinful desires of Adam and Eve are still so extremely relevant today.  In my own life.  And probably in other people’s lives as well. 

That 5 minutes flew by fast!  I feel like it’s messy but oh well.  Life is messy.  We are messy. That’s part of the fun, right?

Advertisements

Broken Bondage

Mr. Sexy

Mr. Sexy and I got married three years ago. As time moved forward, Mr. Sexy moved slower and complained more. I could see the pain when he went to pick up our baby girl. Life struggles were being written on his face as his under eyes darkened and tension rarely left him. This tension would, at times, spin out of control. We both made choices we now regret. 

After three years of marriage, he is a changed man. 

My new term for him is, “bouncy.”  He smiles more and laughs easier. He now sleeps through the night – although he still tends to snore. His thinking is clear and he can smell the flowers he brings home for me as well as the weird musty smell in our mini van. He picks me up without wincing in pain and will rub my back until I fall asleep. This is the man I married.  

His story starts now: 



I lay there breathing heavy in a cold sweat; my mind, lost in a terror tormenting my soul. While my eyes move rapidly I hear the taunts and laughter of others berating me with insults of how pathetic and worthless I am. I awake in a panic, fighting through the fog, trying to discover if that horror is just another dream, or are my secrets now exposed to the world.

For many years this has been my nightmare.

What were my secrets?

Lust, worthlessness, pride, judgement and lack of self-control.

I will never forget the first time I discovered lust. I will also never forget the iron grip it had on me since I was a teen.

I am not able to recall where the feelings of self-doubt and worthlessness began, but I could sit here for days recounting stories of how those controlled me.

Racing thoughts threw blessings by others back into their faces as pride mastered my thoughts. 

I can do anything. 
I don’t need any help. 
I hate you for helping me.

If you were in my range of vision, you were judged.

On a scale of 1 to 10, you are a 2 so I don’t trust you. 
If you would exercise more you wouldn’t be so fat and disgusting.
If only you took care of your body then I would listen to you.
I don’t care if you are a child of God, you are ugly so I don’t trust you.

On the other hand;

Wow, you are hot!
What do I have to do to get you to like me?
What do you want me to do? 
I will do anything for you because my preconceived judgement based on your outward appearances told me I can trust you.

Good or bad, I threw away all self control and put forth all my effort into anything and everything.

Eat, eat, and eat.
Play, play, and play.
Drink, drink and drink.
Work, work, and work.
Spend, spend and spend.
Sacrifice, sacrifice, and sacrifice.
Workout, workout, and workout.

To what end? It didn’t matter. No limits. No boundaries. No wisdom.

Each one of these secrets – let’s just call them what they are – sins, gave foothold in my life. Since before I can remember satan’s mercenaries began to destroy me.

For many years I allowed the whispers of his demons to persuade my decisions and actions. But that wasn’t enough for him. His mission was to kill and destroy me, not simply lead me down troubled paths.

I must give credit to the influence of my family and friends.  Even through my stupid life choices, they were the voice of God guiding me back on the right path. Because of this, the enemy had to get more drastic. The question was, if berating me daily wasn’t going to destroy me, then what would?

My body.

I was in sports growing up and I remember being coached to breathe in through my nose and out my mouth. As a young man, my nose was so “clogged” I could never do this without gasping for air. Instead, I fought through the discomfort and did the best I could.

When I joined the Navy in 2002, they were determined to figure out why I couldn’t breathe properly through my nose. Twelve years later the best they ever did was diagnose me with Chronic Sinusitis. I went through two surgeries and every ENT medication I could think of with no resolution.

So I decided to live with it.

It was my neck that was killing me.  No, it was my back. No, my hips. My hands. My ankles. Name a joint and it hurt. There were no triggers and no explanation. I went to specialists from Texas to California to Idaho to Washington. They all had the same response: *Shrug of shoulders.* I have given so much blood in lab tests that I am convinced they are cloning me! (OK not really). The pain at times would be so bad in my hands that the simple act of picking up my cell phone felt impossible.

Sleep.

More accurately, my lack of sleep. I was diagnosed with sleep apnea with no medical explanation behind it. On a good night, where I was absolutely exhausted, I would sleep for eight hours with only waking up five or six times. On a normal night I would sleep for six hours and wake up at least every hour – if not more. Some nights I would just give up and stare at the TV.  This had been going on for 15 years.  Coffee was my drug of choice.

Three years ago, my wife and I read the book Spiritual Warfare by Karl Payne. Everything changed. You can read about her experience in the post: Gear Up: We are in War. Recently Payne held a seminar at our home church; we almost didn’t go, but what I discovered was that there may be more to my physical pain than the medical world could explain.

I had consistently lost battles with satan and his mercenaries.  I had given them footholds into my life, allowing them to wreak havoc in trying to destroy me.

It was time to fight with my Father’s authority!

Weeks later I sat down in my pastor’s office and we began to talk.  I was an open book.  There was nothing to hide because there was nothing to fear.

As he began to lay down the ground rules, my heart started to race and thoughts of mockery flooded my mind. Pastor instructed me to read Bible verses, establishing God’s authority over satan. I had no idea what I was reading and assumed my mouth and voice were making the right sounds. The noises in my head flooded any chance of understanding the words on the page.

Pastor and I began to work through the process.  My mind quieted except when answering questions by our pastor directed to the tormentors. There was no imagination, no work on my part. I simply stated what I heard.

After cleaning house of all satan’s mercenaries, I asked the Holy Spirit to fill any voids.

I was overwhelmed with joy and peace.

I COULD BREATHE!

The joy was so pure, my eyes welled up with tears.

24 hours later I was still discovering little joys of life that I hadn’t had in more years than I can remember.

Today, I can still breathe clearly.

Today,  I have no joint pain.

Today, I smiled remembering the dreams I had last night.

I know the fight isn’t over.  I am developing tools to keep the ground I regained.

As a society we have become afraid to talk or even acknowledge the topic of spiritual warfare. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that not only is it real, but with The Father on our side, we have nothing to fear, but only to rejoice.
















Church: Is it bad or good?

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about Gossip.  I may have given the impression that church is a bad place to be.  This is not true and I hope that’s not the impression I left my readers with.

As a church-goer my entire life, I have enough faith to know that it’s not church that is the problem.  It’s the people.  The sinners.  People like me and you.  And me.  Depending on who you talk to, the story can shift on who was in the right and who was leaning toward the wrong.  I am already able to allow thoughts of forgiveness and letting go to roll through my mind regardless of who was right or wrong.  Maybe there was no right or wrong.  It was a judgement call.  And it sucked.

While my recent wounds heal I won’t be attending my home church when I visit. I still love my church family and I love my pastors.  But right now, my trust in what a church family is supposed to be is a bit broken.

Today we attended our local church for the first time in months (camping tends to take up a lot of summer weekends).  We left feeling tremendously blessed.  We attended Sunday School where I was able to be a little bit vulnerable in sharing how hard this co-parenting/marriage/parenting/care taking/Christian thing is.  And then later a friend gave me her number with the demand that I call so she can watch our kids while Mr. Sexy and I have a much needed date night.

It was a good day.

But even with the good stuff, I couldn’t help but wonder who was watching as I sat next to Marie and whispered in her ear.

Did I look angry? 
Did I look mean? 
Is Marie responding to me ok? 
Are we attracting attention? 
Who is watching?

All that fear is from Satan.  I know that.  But it’s still there nonetheless.

Mr. Sexy and I are continuing with our weekly family counseling.  We are also continuing to explore the spiritual elements which I talked about in my recent post: Gear up: We are in War.  There will be more on that subject later this week.

Gear Up: We are in war.

I BEGAN to lose trust in my dad at a young age.  While my heart yearned for things I didn’t understand, I instead received distance. Even today, a trust between father and daughter is broken.

Can the rift be mended?

Hopefully. One day. And only through the healing power of God.

Details surrounding the hurt I carry from my father are irrelevant at this point. I struggle to know how to share my story and I don’t do it perfectly, if well at all.  My intent is not to blaspheme my father’s name. Instead, I wish to share how God is working in my life.  It seems the relationship I have with my father is playing a significant role.

*With broken trust comes hurt. 

Hurt is typically followed closely by anger. 

Anger, when not dealt with properly, gives the devil an opportunity for footholds. 

THREE years ago I was introduced to the realities of spiritual warfare. Mr. Sexy and I had been married for three months. We were sitting in our pastor’s office for our post marital counseling (he does this with all couples he marries). With five minutes left to our session, something burst inside me.  I held nothing back. I displayed the hurt and anger through a rush of tears. I openly shared the mistakes I was making. I described how I felt on the brink of losing control of my life. I felt emotionally naked and exposed, my face red from crying, as my pastor listened and my brand new husband rubbed my back.

Pastor* new exactly what was going on.

“Now, I don’t want you to throw anything at me.  This is just a possibility.”  He paused. “But have you considered the possibility that this is demonic?”

Everything inside me quieted in that moment.  It felt scary to admit aloud, but speaking truth isn’t always easy.  The truth was that I felt an evil.  Using harsh words to cut others down had become the same as breathing to me.  Perverse thoughts poisoned my mind all the time.  And then there was the anger.  The anger which felt overwhelming most of the time pushed me to my breaking point.

After finally speaking the truths about the person I was becoming, a lifeline dropped and I wasn’t about to let it go.

Pastor sent me home with assignments to be completed before we met again.  First, I was to read a book, Spiritual Warfare by Dr. Karl Payne. The second was to study Galations 5:19-21, Mark 7:21-23 and Colossians 3:5-8. I was to spend time in these passages and make a list of the sins where the enemy may have footholds. For me, my list looked something like this: anger, hate, fear, lust, pride, selfishness.

Getting through all my homework wasn’t easy. Countless doubts were hurled in my direction. As I studied, I fought against the liars disguising themselves as my own thoughts.

This is absurd. 
Demons?  Yeah right!  This is silly.
There is no way you are going through with this.  It’s a little insane. 

The drive to my next appointment felt worse. My hands were warm and clammy. My stomach was topsy turvy. My fingers and toes were dancing. All I wanted to do was turn around. But Mr. Sexy wouldn’t have it. Instead, he spent the entire ride combating the doubts pouring from my lips.

The enemy was running scared.

We made it to Pastor’s office. We talked over my homework a bit. Then we got down to business.

Pretty quick after we got started with the ground rules, I realized I wasn’t able to see or hear clearly. My vision had been blurred, as if someone changed the lens focus. Pastor’s voice had become muffled.  It sounded like I was far away from him, behind a closed door or maybe underwater.

“Um, Pastor, I can’t really see or hear anything right now.”

Pastor firmly reminded the demons that I was in control of my body, not them. I was also under instruction to look into Pastor’s eyes and not let them sway again. It sounds strange, but it worked. I didn’t lose focus again.  In fact, as we moved on from the ground rules, I felt less and less afraid.

The entire process took about an hour. There was no yelling or screaming. It was more like a conversation. It was definitely the strangest conversation I had ever had. Here’s how it worked:

Pastor asked questions and I answered based on what I heard in my head. 

Does that sound loony?  I get that, believe me. But isn’t that what satan wants us to think?

Perhaps I made up answers.  Perhaps I made up this entire story. I can’t control where your mind goes with all this.  But you can do your own research and study and come up with your own conclusions.

Each demon we spoke to named themselves. I remember being embarrassed about the one who named himself, “Boobs.” And then another had an entirely normal name, “Alicia,” or something like that. Although they were bound by different names, they had one objective: to destroy and kill me by using my sins against me.

After we cleaned house, the vacated rooms (an analogy from Spiritual Warfare) needed to be refilled. I praised and thanked God for what He had done for me. I asked for His Spirit to fill up the empty spaces.   And it was over.

My spirit had been renewed. I went in to battle, and I won.

There would be more fights, however.  Satan would no doubt send more of his soldiers my way. I would need to fight daily to keep my rooms filled with the Holy Spirit.

But then – soon after this victory – something happened.

Then something else happened.

Then something else.

Something else.

Something…

Something else just kept happening. Sometimes it was huge, other times it seemed rather small. I have no idea when that first dart hit me and I let it stick.

I ONLY know that I’m now back where I was three years ago. The enemy has been much more stealthy this time around. However, I am also smarter than I was. I am confident in the authority that I have in Jesus Christ. Although it took me a while to figure out I have been losing the battle, I know that I still stand on solid ground. The enemy won’t be winning for much longer.

I opened this piece talking about a broken relationship.  I have blamed my dad for a lot of years for a lot of things.  I have carried hurt and resentment close to my heart.  The truth is that my dad isn’t the problem.  I am.

With broken trust comes hurt. 

Hurt is typically followed closely by anger. 

Anger, when not dealt with properly, gives the devil an opportunity for footholds. 

I am the one with the bitterness of an unforgiving heart.  I am the one who, once again, opened doors and invited the enemy to come and stay.

*This concept was learned from Counter Attack.

*His name is irrelevant.