Armoured Up

Let Me Love Without Brakes With No Breaks

“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” Matthew 5:48 The Message

I came across this scripture this morning.  I giggled at the first half and then quickly sobered up and leaned in to grasp the admonishment contained in the last sentence.  As I did, I thought of my husband and kids…those closest to me.  The ones who get to see all of me, the real me…the ones who get the full monty…the good, the bad and yes, the ugly me.  I got so checked…and then I became so grateful.

Grateful that God so loves me that He checks, then redirects me.  It’s so easy to step out of our houses and enter the world wearing our “faith” face, our “everything is peachy in my world” face, our “I love everyone” face and then return home tired and dusty, remove the mask and take for granted the very blessings God has given us.  The family hand picked by the Master.

Lately I’ve noticed how rapidly my children have grown, how in a blink they have matured and how I am “seconds” away, it seems, to being an empty nester.  HOW DID THAT HAPPEN!!!!!????

I have questioned myself, doubted myself and cried out to God asking Him to slow down the process….let me squeeze every minute that I have left with my babies; let me have a few do-overs. Let them remember all the good and forget all those forgettable moments.  The ones reserved only for the ones I “love!!!”  :/

Let me not be so busy and overwhelmed that I miss connecting with my husband.

Let me not sweat the small stuff…those things that look large at the time, but with time fade to nothingness.  Let me love them deeply, lavishly, unashamedly.  Let me focus on each of them individually and not focus on what is wrong, but on everything that is so right.

Let me live generously and graciously toward them, Lord, the way you live toward me.  Let me be slow in anger and quick in forgiveness; let my words be uplifting, encouraging, healing; let me show them mercy and kindness; let my love not be conditional…let me love without brakes and with no breaks.

Just the way you love me.

Being a Mom is Tough

shoppingBeing a Mom is Tough!!!  Ha!!  Ain’t that the truth!!!  I am doing an online bible study and each week a topic is featured and an invitation extended for bloggers to blog and so here I am throwing my hat in, not so much to enlighten anyone — since we all know how tough, trying, treacherous, taxing, traumatizing parenting can be, (I’m pretty dramatic, I know) —  but I need some enlightening up in here!

I am mama to my only begotten son, Joshua, 15 (almost 16) and my girl Mariah, 14.  I have always anticipated each stage of development, bought the book and waited as they caught up to me.  I helicoptered  my way through the early years and had a few “special” moments along the way, but all in all nothing too traumatizing, I hope.

And so here we are smack dab in the middle of teenage years and OY!!!  I thought I was pretty well prepared and prayed up since my only begotten son has been a joy to parent…well, you know, he’s just like me (insert smirk and a back pat here) — but the problem I’m having is that my girl, bless her precious heart, is a little more of a challenge because…well, you know, she’s just like me (pre-Jesus) — help me Jesus!!  She’s a little more argumentative (she calls it debating); a little more headstrong (she says she’s an independent thinker) and a bit stubborn (um…me)!!  She took that turn in 6th grade and we’ve been riding this wave ever since — having some good days and some not so good days.

I recently shared with my goddaughter’s mom that in the process of parenting her daughter, she will be healed of some of her struggles.  This week the Lord, brought that conversation back to my remembrance and I embraced it.  I recognize that to be the case in my relationship with my daughter because the hotter it becomes, the more “my stuff” comes up and I am trying with every bit of my strength not to project.  Did I say OY!!!  After our last misunderstanding blow-up I heard myself say “I cannot wait for this ‘season’ to pass…I’d like to fast forward right through it.”  I immediately took it back because I realize that if I were to get my “wish” I would fast forward through some amazing times of growth and training with my girl and my only begotten son:)

So here’s what I will do instead….not in my strength, but in His:

I will not project “my stuff” on her as she “heals” me;

I will control less and trust Him more;

I will be quick to listen, slow to speak (a miracle in itself);

I will be open and expect to be stretched (some more)…(did she not absolutely stretch me to my limit during pregnancy?)

I will not take anything she says personally (Jesus take the wheel for real!!)

I will acknowledge that bad moments do not make a bad mom or a bad relationship!

I will remind myself that God chose me to parent my girl!

I am so looking forward to this bible study and all that I will glean from the other warrior mamas.  May we all be strengthened, empowered and encouraged knowing that we were called for such a time as this to influence a generation and may our legacy be a lasting one…one that bears fruit that remains.

“He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness (uprightness and right standing with Him – not for my earning it, but) for His name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3

Peace, Perfect Peace

peaceIt must be maturity…yeah, that’s what it is! The willingness to lay down your sword, give up your right to be heard…for your side to be known.

Deliverance….what a beautiful thing and you don’t fully realize its power until you are resting in it, feet firmly planted in it, soul at ease and free.

Being raised in a full house and being one of the youngest, I clamored for attention, fought for my right to be heard, was overdramatic and was super hurt when I was misunderstood. I carried that behavior with me through the years and was stung quite a bit as I was forced to take tests over and over (those stinky life tests, I mean). Ever wonder why you have to take tests over and over? It took me a minute to figure out that once I passed them, they passed, with the exception of an occasional refresher course followed by a quiz or two…or three!

My mind wandered this morning to the friend that got away.  Thank God for “friends” that get away…go away, move away, force a “walk-away.”  As I recalled the “situation” I marveled at how curiosity never got the best of me to reopen doors that should remain closed; I was astonished that I never felt the need to “tell my side” to those with whom my “friend” no doubt excoriated me.

Here’s the thing and it’s a big thing that I have pounded into my kiddies. Your reputation is all you have and it should be protected to the point that when other people hear stories and you are a principal character,  those who hear should know you well enough to know there must be more to the story. Those who hear and lean in and shake their heads and form opinions…well, they just don’t know you. There is no value in expending precious time and energy setting records straight when He who knows you best can set the record straight if He chooses to do so.

How am I benefitting? Peace, perfect peace – for some friends give, then take, then give some more, while others just take, then take, then take some more.

And so today I pray for those who are still learning lessons, being hurt and seeking peace.  That you would allow Him who loves you most, knows you best and has great plans for you, to heal, protect, sustain and strengthen you without you having to say a word.

“You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind, both its inclination and its character, is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You. So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock the Rock of Ages.” Isaiah 26:3-4 AMP

 

This Dude is on Fire!

From the next room I heard the ding of a text message as I was getting ready for church.  I made my way over thinking my daughter was IMG_7909 messaging me and instead received a message that blessed and encouraged me, brought tears and then did the same for my husband when I shared it with him.

It was a video of my brother at church, praying over the tithes and offering.  My brother, who just a few short years ago was running from God; my shy brother who would never have gotten up in front of a crowd..ever!!  That brother, my favorite one, who had distanced himself from me…time, distance and circumstances driving a wedge in our relationship.  That brother whom I had prayed for was now boldly praying in a public setting.

Really, God??!!  You are amazing.

As I watched and listened to my brother, I did so in awe at how much God had gotten a hold of him and transformed him; how much God loved him.  It encouraged me to continue praying for my other brothers and my nephews and nieces in the same way I had prayed for my on fire for the Lord brother.

Let me encourage those of you who are standing in the gap for your loved ones.  Do not grow weary when they reject you, misunderstand you, distance themselves from you.  Do not stop praying…do not stop believing.

God is faithful to His word!

“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:31

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2Peter 3:9

One Day is Today!

I heard a growl and a great commotion coming from my backyard this morning.  Thinking that there was an intruder back there, I ran to the door, imageonly to witness Mocha, my 50 pound Lab being cornered and bullied by Daisy, my Maltese.  I stood for several minutes watching as Mocha ran away, hid and cowered behind trees,  taking a few tentative steps, only to be pushed back as Daisy, all six pounds of her, charged towards her target.

It’s so obvious to everyone except for Mocha that she, with one swipe or a wag of her thick tail, can knock Daisy senseless….and still Mocha runs, hides and tip toes around her.  Daisy is running it!

And that, friends, is a picture of the believer who does not know the power of God in them.  Always running, hiding and cowering as the enemy lashes out and backs them in a corner, pounding away.

One day, Mocha will realize how strong she is, she’ll mature and won’t be so fearful.  She will exercise that power and the tables will at last be turned.

Is today that day for you?  Make today your “one day.”

“A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10-11

I’m Overwhelmed

images“I’M OVERWHELMED!!!!”  That was my mantra all summer.  You see, my husband had this grand idea earlier this year and the idea was birthed in April and delivered to our home in June.  Mocha, a busy, hungry, nippy, rowdy, disobedient chocolate lab puppy was added to the Britt mix and she was cute…

for two weeks…

and I soon found out that everyone’s promises to pitch in, to clean after, to feed, to play with, our newest family member was….um, not so true! So this family plan became my project and I soon became overwhelmed!!!

Fourth of July came and there were fireworks, but not the beautiful kind! I was hot and popping off all right.

By August, I was fit to be tied and by then it was clear that my next ministry would be a prison ministry if I didn’t get away.  I was overwhelmed and everyone, including the dogs felt it.

On the spur of the moment, I decided to use a friend’s buddy pass to go to Chicago to see my mom.  I could not wait to get out of dodge that morning in August.  I just about jumped out of the car as it was still rolling in order to get into the airport. I  thought it strange that the airport was so crowded that early and my worst fears were realized when I couldn’t get on the 6:00 a.m. flight…or the 6:30…or the 7…or the 8…or 9…the 10…the 11…the 12 or the 1.  (DON’T EVER USE A BUDDY PASS DURING THE SUMMER!!)

I met some amazing people there while I waited, like the Christian public school teacher with the wayward daughter with Asperger Syndrome and the son who had turned his life around, had joined the military and was coming home before being shipped off to Afghanistan – (I know she must have felt overwhelmed); and the off-duty flight attendant who explained why the airline workers were so angry all the time…no raises in 17 years (that can be overwhelming!!).  She was desperate to get on a flight to Chicago to see her mom, knowing that the chances were great that her mom wouldn’t remember her anymore (how overwhelmed must she have been); and the mom who had followed me to each gate after she wasn’t able to get on with her two small boys.

I found myself applauding for each person as they made their way onto a flight that I couldn’t get on.

As I limped away back home I realized that each woman I spoke to that day had much more to be overwhelmed about than I did.

My amazing husband surprised me the following day with a paid ticket to Chicago where I spent a glorious week loving on my mom and being catered to and coddled by my two greatest cheerleaders…my sisters.   The day before I returned to Los Angeles, my sister introduced me to some new music.  The title of one of the tracks caught my attention and I was about to gain a whole new perspective on the words “I’m Overwhelmed.”

…God is amazing.

Yes, indeed…I returned from my trip with a new perspective on what being overwhelmed really looks like.

I delight myself in You

Captivated by Your beauty

I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

God, I run into Your arms

Unashamed because of mercy

I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

Authority >Power

14_power-authorityWhich is greater…Authority or Power? A question I posed to my son this morning as he was sharing regarding the devotion he read last night. As we talked about the scripture which speaks about us doing greater works than Him, I showed my son Luke 10:19 – “Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” What came from my lips next was a gift. My son caught it and repeated it back to me so that I could write it down…”The enemy may have power, but you have been given the authority over his power. If you use your authority, then the enemy’s power cannot be used against you successfully!” I have given you authority…and nothing…(no thing, condition, circumstance, person) shall by any means hurt you!!

I thought of the soldier, strong and packing, fully capable of taking out his commander, but fully submitted and yielded to him, because of the authority which the commander stands in, or the officer directing traffic, his uniform causing traffic to obey him.

I’m encouraged today, knowing who I am and to Whom I belong. I’m standing in my authority, releasing His word and ducking every fiery dart the enemy may shoot my way. I’m not denying the power of the enemy…I’m simply resisting him and reminding him that I have been given authority over ALL of his power. Now shoo!

Watch, Record, Repeat

When our son was dedicated as a baby, one thing our Pastor said has really stuck with us as we raise our children.  As he held our son, he turned to my husband and said, “He’s gonna be just like you.”  Truer words were never spoken, for they are both watching every step and recording every word, every moment…

IMG00190-20100410-1609

Me and my girl circa 2010

Recently, my girl and I ended our full day of errands and busyness with a trip to Target.  My intent was to scoop up some paper products and hand soap.  There is no way I can get in and out of Target with my girl by my side so we lingered a bit, just about every stinkin’ aisle receiving a visit and we ended up with a cart load.  As we were loading up the truck, I noticed my hand soap wedged between the side of the cart and the seat where I had my purse.  Right away I knew I hadn’t paid for it and I was immediately reminded of my daddy and the times he would return change to the store clerk, or merchandise that hadn’t been paid for.  I was wiped and the thought of trudging back to the store and standing in line for a measly $2.99 was most irritating; however, there was no way I was going to allow a bottle of hand soap to haunt me and most importantly, I didn’t want to grieve the Lord.  I figured this would be a good lesson to teach my girl, who was watching and recording my reaction.  She was impressed by my honesty and as we stood in line asked me whether I was going to tell the clerk.  “No, “I replied….”you don’t have to trumpet your honesty or your good works.  The One whose opinion of you matters most knows and that’s good enough.”  As we walked back to the car, I shared Matthew 6:1 with her “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. “  Your announcement of your “goodness” is your reward, and it doesn’t match the reward we receive from the Lord.

Well, yesterday my son and I were driving and he was talking about the movie he and my daughter and their friends saw recently and he stopped midway to compliment his sister.  You see, as he saved the seats, she and her girlfriends went to the concession stand and returned with arms laden with treats, popcorn and drinks.  As she distributed the goods, she realized that she hadn’t paid for a box of candy and without skipping a beat, she returned to the concession stand to pay for it.

The best part of the story?  She never told me.

Yes, Pastor…our kids are watching and they will be just like us.  Thanks daddy!!

Better the Devil You Know…my Frienemy

Frienemy_Logo2BlackandRed_resized

Urban Dictionary: Frienemy

“A ‘toxic’ person who poses as a friend but subconsciously or consciously wishes you harm.”

Word Spy – Frienemy

 “A friend who acts like an enemy; a fair-weather or untrustworthy friend.”

I had a strange, almost familiar dream last night.  It involved a former co-worker and she was in hot pursuit of me.  She wanted to find out why I had been avoiding her.  She finally caught up with me at a metro station and I succeeded once again in avoiding her, only this time, I noticed she was hurting and  was needing me to comfort her.  She almost reached me….and then I woke up.  I thought about the dream as I was getting ready this morning and I remembered how the Lord has used dreams to get messages to me…some dreams pretty clear and specific, like the time He assured me that the child I was carrying was the one I had been praying for; other dreams have not  been as obvious, but have been symbolic in nature and most often the purpose or message has been revealed or played out.  While I haven’t been actively avoiding this girl, she’s someone I probably wouldn’t pull over to catch her up on the latest.  Knowing what I know, and having experienced her “specialness,” I will  not be surprised to hear when her season of reaping begins or heats up.

“Better the devil you know, than the one you don’t know.”  A little ditty one of my spiritual moms said, I’m sure.  This little ditty reveals my feelings about this girl.  I rather enjoyed her company in the beginning, but my eyes were wide open and my ears were on alert whenever I was around her.  I was familiar with her game. I had been observing her from a distance.  She was the type of person who would attempt to solicit all of your information and offer nothing in return….and everything you said could be and most often was used against you.  She was something else to behold in action:  sneaky and sly, hanging out in doorways and hiding in shadows to listen and watch.   I especially liked the part where she thought I was unaware of her shenanigans….I can play the dumb role really well.   I guess she would fall into the category of a “friend/enemy – a frienemy”).  She was super funny, quick and kinda helpful if you made her feel you really needed her or if by helping you, it made her look good or appear useful, but if you crossed her or slipped in any way, you were toast.  She was the boss’s sidekick and her job was to keep the boss happy…keep the boss laughing which worked for the rest of us (for the most part) because that kept the boss busy and us off of the radar (for the most part:)  She also kept the boss informed.  Her nose got a bit out of joint once she realized that the boss had taken a liking to me and then she turned up the heat against me big time, but I was ever watchful and super vigilant.  I purposed to stay in my lane, happily playing dumb, never taking the boss up on offers to hang out.  I knew that was her spot and I was so not interested in becoming the boss’s lap dog (sorry to be so blunt).  I was exhausted…you can hold your breath for so long, ya know.

That job ended abruptly without a farewell from her (or the boss for that matter).  At the end of the day, I discovered that these two (boss and sidekick) almost acted like a two headed monster, feeding off of one another, plotting and planning and cackling away at all of their conquests; portraying themselves as honorable but being anything but.  You really would have to see this show to believe it and I wonder….I wonder how many people these two have hurt, run off, brought down, lied to and about; I wonder if there’s any remorse for bad behavior; I wonder if they know how dysfunctional their union is; I wonder if they realize that their nonsense is not a secret.  I especially wonder if they even care.  How can they not care?  I’ve run into the boss and her sidekick together once since my departure at a gathering, and they made a show about greeting me and I went along with it…hated to make them feel as ridiculous as they looked as they chased me down.   I hadn’t given her much thought until she had a starring role in my dream last night.  I asked the Lord to remove any lingering ought I had against her, if any, and then I prayed for her.  As I write this I think that was the purpose of the dream…for me to pray for her since I’ve been on the inside and know the real deal.  Those on the periphery haven’t a clue and I doubt that the ones on the inside currently are praying for anyone, besides themselves…as they duck and dodge the boss and her sidekick.  Every dog has its day and if my dream is as prophetic as the ones in the past, her day is coming soon and for that I am truly sorry.

Let me encourage anyone who is reading this who has sustained any type of emotional injury at the hands of a “frienemy.”  I’m praying that you rise up and move forward, healed and whole and obedient when called to pray for and do good to those whom the enemy has used to hurt you.  Anticipate an opportunity to be a blessing to that one so that the same weapon formed against you which prospered can be turned around and returned to sender…the real enemy in the deal.

“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28

Invisible

New York City Tops Nation In Income InequalityNever have I felt more invisible than after I delivered my second child and spent an afternoon at the mall with my gorgeous girlfriend.  (Talk about self sabotage.) Here I am around 4 weeks post delivery with a nursing tent hanging around my neck to conceal the wet marks on my chest looking like bulls eyes, chasing my busy 22 month old, while keeping my newborn shushed….a red hot smoking mess I was.  Here’s the invisible part, because I’m sure everyone and their relatives witnessed my “hotness” as I was chasing my boy, trying not to make the evening news!!!

We walked into a store and my friend watched my kiddies as I shopped.  I was struck and rather hurt at the non responsiveness of the store clerk.  It’s always been super easy for me to strike up a conversation with anyone and if we talk long enough, there are sure to be some chuckles…not this time.  This chick looked right through me and was about business…until my gorge girlfriend appeared with her purchases.  She was completely engaged and helpful.  I noticed and I realized for the first time that my outside was the obstacle to her acquainting herself with my inside.  I thought of that incident this morning as I was exiting the grocery store in a rush since I had gone for milk and ended up shopping for the week.

I saw him before I heard him.  He looked tired and dry.  He had his hand out and no one noticed him.  He was invisible.  As I passed by he asked if I had some change and I told him I might.  He took a seat in the shade and didn’t even look to see whether I was returning.  He, no doubt familiar with rejection, had no expectation that I would return.  I did and I asked him what he would do with the money I had in my hand.  He never looked at my hand, but he did look into my eyes and told me his intentions.  I asked him if I could pray for him and he said yes and bowed his head.  I laid my hands on him and sensed him relax after a few seconds.  As I prayed and spoke the word over him, he rocked back and forth as if I was singing him a lullaby.  That touched me so!  He looked up when I said amen with such appreciation and as I pressed the money into his hands he said “thank you, please continue to pray for me.”  “I will,” I said.

I was once corrected by someone I looked up to as a person who was well versed in the word.  He told me I should never sow my seed in ground where there would be no return…and that included giving to those outside of the faith.  That always checked me and so the one time a down and out friend asked for money, I sat next to her and ministered the word to her before I blessed her financially.  Then I realized, Jesus never expected folks to clean up first  in order to receive forgiveness, healing, etc. so why should I?  They will know we are His disciples, not by our prayers, our gifts, our good works, but by our love.  Love does…it moves…it acts!  I have no idea what Mykel will do with the money I gave him and that is not for me to judge.  I simply asked him so that he could hear himself respond and I pray that, for his own good, he was telling the truth.

Today, it came back to me why I was allowed to experience that sadness on that day.  I was made to experience in a snapshot what many feel for a lifetime.  Would you stop…would you at least stop long enough to extend a hand, say a prayer, acknowledge someone’s existence?  I’m praying today for the invisible; that they experience a healing touch and that they come to the knowledge that He sees…He hears…He moves…and most times it’s through people!

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