RE:FOCUS – The Armored Home

 

>RE:FOCUS - Clear the Mechanism

I wrote this a few years ago and realized this morning that it is an extension of last Monday’s post, so it’s time to share again. This is an area in which I (and I’m sure we all) need to revisit often. Satan is attacking our marriages and families HARD! Let’s keep each other accountable to protect the very gift that God has given each one of us.

—————-

Armored cars amaze me. How they make those vehicles to withstand bullets, explosions, accidents, etc. is beyond my realm of understanding. These specialized cars serve a purpose… to protect what’s inside.

Our homes need to be built with specialized armor, as well, to protect the marriages inside. We live in a fallen, stressful world. Kids, money struggles, out-of-whack priorities, stress, and so many other day-to-day things distract us from ensuring that our Ephesians 6 armor is in place in our homes. But when we put that armor in place, it will change us. It will change our marriages. It will change our children. It will change our lives.

So how can we establish this armor in our homes? Here are some practical tools for protection:

  • Pray “without ceasing” for your marriage.
  • Choose your words to each other carefully. Words hurt and can cause permanent damage.
  • Date nights are a must, but so is “couch time” everyday. Carving out some time for each other everyday, just to talk, is imperative for a protected marriage… an armored home.
  • Ask each other regularly, “What can I do to be a better wife/husband?” This opens up communication and gives more opportunities to meet each other’s needs.
  • Keep your private thought life pure and positive. Don’t let impure, negative thoughts stay in your mind. Have scriptures ready to fight attacks on your mind… and cut out ANYTHING that is affecting you in a destructive way.
  • Avoid close male-female friendships. They are dangerous. When you have a close friendship with someone of the opposite sex, you are allowing someone else to fill a role that only your husband should fill.
  • Most importantly, remind yourself that it’s not about you. Marriage is about self-sacrifice and give-and-take.

Marriage is hard. But when we do it God’s way, we realize that it is a gift like no other. The fact that God chose a life companion for each of us is such a blessing. And by taking measures everyday to protect our homes with armor, we can experience marriages full of joy… God’s deep kind of joy.

Challenge for this week: Start putting your armor in place. Communicate with your husband. Honor him. Protect him. Be selfless. Pray for him and memorize scripture about being a Godly wife. Be careful with your thought life and your words. I believe you will see a big difference in your most important earthly relationship.

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” – Ephesians 6:12-13

Prayer: Dear Jesus, please make me the woman, wife, and mother you want me to be. I ask You to guide me to establish permanent armor in our home, so that nothing can destroy it. Your word gives us all the tools we need. Thank you for that. Father, I pray that my marriage will become the companionship that you created it to be… that we will keep You first in everything and that we will love each other the way you have called us to.

———————————-

Thanks for stopping by! If you would like to subscribe to Grow Where You’re Planted and receive these posts in your email, you can do that here: Grow Where You’re Planted Updates.

RE:FOCUS – Just Call Me Clarkette

>RE:FOCUS - Clear the Mechanism

I am the light person in the family. It’s always Mommy’s job to “hurry up” and get the lights on the tree so the rest of the family can jump in and decorate it. Just call me Clarkette Griswold.

Well… last night turned into not an easy, calm stringing of the lights… but instead a wrestling match between the bulbs and me! It was just one of those whatever-can-go-wrong-will-go-wrong type situations. First, as I walked around the tree stringing up the lights, somehow the plug got caught under the stand and twisted. Okay, back up and un-string. Let’s start again. Then it happened AGAIN! Seriously, I don’t think this has ever happened before. So after the screaming and falling on the floor trying to get the tangles undone, finally the lights were on the tree! Yay! Time to plug them in!

So here’s where it got really interesting. The star at the top lit up, but not one of the 400 or so bulbs on the tree came on. But wait. I KNOW I TESTED THESE THINGS! From there, you know what I had to do. I checked each bulb, twisted some in tighter, tested other outlets, and finally got to a point where HALF of each of the two strands were lit. This is still a mystery to me. 🙂

Now, if you were on Facebook last night, you probably saw my post about this craziness. But, as always, our lives on Facebook don’t tell the whole story. We paint ourselves to look pretty and perfect on social media. So you didn’t see the yelling I did, or the many times I threw the lights down and kicked them. You didn’t see how angry and frustrated I got with my precious kids who were just waiting patiently for me to finish the lights… the tears from my daughter who didn’t understand why I yelled.

So many times, we let our emotions control our reactions. Instead of putting on the armor of God and trusting Him to give us strength and patience, we allow our flesh to rule. That was me last night. So this morning, our RE:FOCUS time is on this passage from Ephesians. As we start this week, let’s put on the full armor of God and let His weapons destroy the fleshly emotions that so often take over our hearts and minds…

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. – Ephesians 6:10-18

And when we truly let these truths sink in and take control of our lives, we find God’s peace.

Have a great, Christ-centered week!

———————————-

Thanks for stopping by! If you would like to subscribe to Grow Where You’re Planted and receive these posts in your email, you can do that here: Grow Where You’re Planted Updates.

RE:FOCUS – Clear the Mechanism

>RE:FOCUS - Clear the Mechanism

Several years ago, we did an every-Monday blog series called RE:FOCUS that only lasted for about 5 weeks. I must have gotten sidetracked with something else, regrettably. So guess what? It’s time to start up again. As I grow older, I’m realizing more and more that going to church and having a regular quiet time are not the ONLY things that we need to be conscious of doing. Important, yes. But there is more. Life hits hard on Monday morning. When we hit the pavement, it’s essential that we have our focus correctly centered on Christ… and that we keep it there.

Focus is a hard concept to master. One of my favorite expressions is “clear the mechanism.”  I love baseball and I love movies, so when the two of them meet, it is pretty incredible!  In For Love of the Game, Kevin Costner is a pitcher who has the ability and discipline to get to a place where everything around him is completely blocked out.  Anytime the voices, people, criticism, noise, or even OUTSIDE thoughts get in the way, he reminds himself to “clear the mechanism.”  In this movie, you even see visually how he truly gets to a place of complete tunnel vision. Check out the short scene:

 

In our lives, there are so many distractions.  Our jobs can be difficult and stressful.  Relationships with co-workers, friends, neighbors, family, etc. can be hard.  Even “good” things in our lives can distract us from the true main thing… Our spouses & kids can distract us.  Housework can distract us.  “Church” can even distract us.  TV, facebook, internet, sports, music…. Must I go on?  Anything tangible in our lives can take the place of the One who should be our true focus.  Anything can become an idol.

My challenge to you and to me this week is to “clear the mechanism.”  Really take time every day to spend with God.  Not out of habit… or guilt… or as a chore.  Spend some real time developing the relationship between you and your Creator.  God is so good and He wants a relationship with us.  Not a relationship that is built from “what we have been taught all of our lives,” but a real, growing, thriving relationship with 2-way communication.  And remember, you don’t have to do all of the talking.  In your human relationships, if you do all of the talking, do you ever really get to know the other person?  Get to know Him.  Let Him talk to you.  And when those distractions come…. clear the mechanism.

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.  For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. – Colossians 3:2-3

———————————-

Thanks for stopping by! If you would like to subscribe to Grow Where You’re Planted and receive these posts in your email, you can do that here: Grow Where You’re Planted Updates.

Rediscovering Who I Am

You know the moment. You suddenly feel the world crumbling in on you and you feel completely alone. What do you do in that moment? Who hears from you?

God has surrounded me with amazing friends and family who are there when I need them. But those wonderful people all too often become a crutch for me. A place to lean. Friends I can see. I can hear. I can touch. This causes me to often turn to them, not to God.

The past few years have been a tough period for my family… filled with transition, pain, and working through thick strongholds that have felt smothering at times. In some of these times, I have felt completely alone. Many of the friends who so eagerly surrounded us before “seemed” to be non-existent.

In this darkness, I’ve pushed away the very tools God has given me to express worship. I’ve left my guitar in its case, even with music being the gift that draws me to Him like no other. I’ve been inconsistent with running, the world where my head gets clear and I can focus on His strength in me. And my fingers have not been striking the keys on this macbook like they have in the past. The writing has been put on the back burner… the very thing that allows me to process life.

I’ve been so distracted trying to fill the ache. Chasing after things that are just distracting me from the true calling in my life. The one I’ve known for a long time. Just feeling these words come off of my fingers and seeing them on the page makes my heart beat faster and makes me desire to feel alive in His presence again.

But God. Two of my favorite words in the Bible.

But God was trying to teach me something through the strange pain and loneliness. No matter how many times I’ve been told to “turn to Him, not others,” I needed to EXPERIENCE the feeling of having no one to turn to when I was hurting.

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. – Psalm 62:1-2

God has been wanting me to stop looking out, and instead to look up. For once, to realize that when it feels no one else is here… HE. IS. So this morning I get it. This morning I accept. This morning I open my hands and my heart and ask Him to fill me with love and trust in Him ALONE.

With open hands & heart, silently hoping in Him… this is where I rediscover who I am.

So although we have a long way to go, I believe things are looking up because we’re looking up. I’m diving into God’s word, truly seeking to learn more about Him, and to learn more about who He wants me to be. And remember the ways I mentioned that I express worship? Music, running, and writing? They will not be kept on the back burner anymore. This girl has finally realized that turning to God is not just the “only thing left to do”…. it is the BEST thing to do.

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. – James 4:8

————————–

Thanks for stopping by! If you would like to subscribe to Grow Where You’re Planted and receive these posts in your email, you can do that here: Grow Where You’re Planted Updates.

Mommy Peace

It’s been a rebuilding year in our household. The year of going back to the foundation of our home and family, and to make sure we were all on the right track… together.

After working outside of the home and pouring my life into other people more than I poured into my family, I came home and we decided to homeschool. With children ages 9, 6, and 3, this was quite the undertaking for someone who has always spent most of her daytime hours AWAY from the house.

I could write an entire book about what all we learned throughout the year, but one lesson stands out more than the others. It’s more of an observation made, really. My observation is that the massive army of us who are called “Mom” seem to be at war with each other. Seriously. It gets ugly sometimes….

Read the full article by clicking here to be redirected to VoiceBoks, where I am guest posting today: Mommy Peace. Then come back here and let me know your thoughts. 🙂

Thanks for stopping by! If you would like to subscribe to Grow Where You’re Planted and receive these posts in your email, you can do that here: Grow Where You’re Planted Updates.

Untangled by Carey Scott – A Book Review

I knew I wanted to review Untangled because I think the world of my friend, Carey Scott. I also knew that insecurity has been a constant struggle throughout my life. What I didn’t know was how much Carey’s words would resonate with my own experiences… and touch my heart! I’m so thankful for the transparency in this girl. Thankful that she allowed God to get into the innermost parts and open up a vulnerability that we ALL needed to see… and one that is so seldom shared.

Scott_Untangled_wSpine.inddAbout the Book: 

Untangled unpacks the struggle women have with feeling like who we are and what we do is good enough. We’re bombarded with daily reminders that we just don’t measure up. And unfortunately, we’re listening.

We might feel insignificant as a wife or ineffective as a mom. We might feel worthless because we don’t fit the world’s definition of beauty or battle feelings of rejection because of other women. We may gauge our value based on our income or how well we cook and clean.

Or honestly, it could be a million other things.

The truth is, there’s no shortage of not-good-enough messages tangling our lives every day. And unless we understand what they’re doing to us and ask God to unknot the insecurities that are choking our sense of worth, we will never have a healthy self-esteem.

This book is my story—my journey—to find the good in me, and to learn how to silence the voices that have called me I’m worthless. Chances are it’s your story too. Insecurity is a thread that knits us together as women.

But there is hope.

The God who created us on purpose is relentless in pursuit of our healing. And He is the only One who can heal our black and blue hearts from the tangles that have bruised it. When we ask Him to heal us, He will.

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:17-18)

Do you want to be untangled from the insecurities that have knotted up your self-worth? Are you tired of feeling like you just don’t have what it takes? Do you want to find joy in life and contentment with yourself?

It’s time, friend.

Untangled is an honest discussion about the things that make us feel worthless. It’s not another self-help book. It doesn’t offer to fix you. And it isn’t full of empty promises. Instead it will challenge you to take a truthful look at your life, revealing the source of your own not-good-enough messages and making a case for why Jesus is the only One who can silence them.

Told with humor, vulnerability, and encouragement, this book will connect with the heart of every women.

18835864485_8786009508_mAbout the Author:

Carey Scott is an author, speaker, and certified Bible life coach who challenges women to be real – not perfect – even when real is messy. She speaks to women’s groups and writes an online devotional designed to help women be who God created them to be. She lives in Colorado with her husband and their two children.

Keep up with Carey at careyscotttalks.com, on Facebook (careyscotttalks) or by following her on Twitter (@careyscotttalks).

My Review:

From the time I started reading Untangled, it was like I was sitting across the table at Starbucks talking with a dear friend. Carey speaks my language for sure, and it seemed like we were kindred spirits in so many ways. She is REAL in this book… something I believe we all need a LOT more of. If we’re honest, we all are insecure about something… and Carey helps us to realize that we are definitely not alone.

Through chapters of talking about real-life struggles, and offering us what God says about those struggles, she helps us all learn how to break free of our personal tangles. If it’s something that happened in childhood, an insecurity about our physical bodies, our abilities, etc… Carey leads us on a journey to allow God to untangle our messy lives and our messy hearts.

I’m so thankful for Carey, for her heart, and for her vulnerable story on paper. This is a book for every woman to read. It’s not a typical self-help book… you’ll feel like you’re hearing from one of your closest friends!! Seriously, go buy it today and see how God uses it in your life!

Also, make sure you check out untangledwomen.com to find out your specific tangle(s) and to learn more about how to become untangled!

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Untangled: Let God Loosen the Knots of Insecurity in Your Life from Revell in exchange for an honest review on my blog. This review expresses my own personal opinions.

Thanks for stopping by! If you would like to subscribe to Grow Where You’re Planted and receive these posts in your email, you can do that here: Grow Where You’re Planted Updates.

A Friend In Me: Book Review

A Friend In Me: How to Be a Safe Haven for Other Women introduces us to the issues that prevent Christian women from building strong inter-generational friendships. It presents a case for why it’s important for us, as women, to get past our differences and join together for the cause of Christ.

A-Friend-in-Me-001-252x378

About the Book: 

Young women long for relational connection with women further ahead of them on the journey. Yet, without realizing it, many of us tend to distance ourselves from those in younger generations.

Can we really have close relationships with women who have different thoughts on church, different experiences with family, and different ways of talking about God? Where do we start?

In A Friend in Me, Pam Lau shows you how to be a safe place for the younger women in your life. She offers five patterns women need to internalize and practice for initiating relationships and talking about issues such as faith, forgiveness, sexuality, and vocation. Most significantly, she reminds you that there doesn’t need to be a divide between generations of women. Together, we can have a global impact—and experience a deeper faith than we’ve ever known.

About the Author:slideONE3

Pamela Havey Lau is the author of A Friend in Me, Soul Strength and numerous articles for such publications as Christian Scholar’s Review and Christianity Today. A graduate of Liberty University and Colorado State University, she has taught writing at George Fox University and speaks around the country at conferences and retreats.

After her three daughters were born, Lau began teaching writing at private day schools until 2010 when she started her own business, Real Life Real Image, where she writes, edits and speaks. Lau is married to Dr. Brad Lau, a college administrator. The two make their home near Portland, Oregon, with their three daughters. 

Keep up with Pamela Havey Lau at www.pamelalau.com, on Facebook (pamela.h.lau) or by following her on Twitter(@pamelahaveylau).

My Review:

It is obvious that Pamela has a passion for bringing older women and younger women together in relationship. A Friend In Me addresses and tackles many of the issues that stand in the way of strong Christlike relationships within multiple generations. Basically, the older generations feel that they can’t relate with the younger, and vice versa. However, if we can get past this and take the time to LEARN about each other, we can do a lot to further the kingdom. If the older generations can REMEMBER what it was like to be young, they can offer a lot of experience and help to the younger women. This is a great read for anyone who is involved in women’s ministry… it’s a call for us to have a different, Christ-centered, newer mindset for reaching younger women for Christ. It’s a book that teaches us that ministry is about relationship, not our events.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of A Friend In Me: How to Be a Save Haven for Other Women from Litfuse in exchange for an honest review on my blog. This review expresses my own personal opinions.

Join the Flock! LitFuse Publicity Group blogger
Thanks for stopping by! If you would like to subscribe to Grow Where You’re Planted and receive these posts in your email, you can do that here: Grow Where You’re Planted Updates.

Lest They Tear Me Apart…

As I sit in our sunroom listening to the birds’ melodies and the light breezes, I am amazed to still be here alone… and still. It’s 8:45 on a Sunday morning and the kids are still sleeping. No way I’m waking them up yet. An hour is still to spare.

Time like this is rare for me. In fact, it’s been a while since I’ve let words come off my fingers from the overflow of my heart as opposed to a review-type blog post. What is different today? I put on my tennis shoes and went for a run with a friend. The early morning workout actually happened. I didn’t hit snooze 20 times (only 3). 😉 Then I came home to my Bible open on the sunroom table. So it goes… when I get up and put my running shoes on, this happens next…

IMG_3315When the discipline happens in one area, it spills into all other areas of my life. But on the flip side, when I allow other stuff to cloud my vision, I am a chaotic and twirly mess.

Psalm 7:1-2 says “O Lord my God, in you do I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and deliver me, lest like a lion they tear my soul apart, rending it in pieces, with none to deliver.”

As I read these words today, the word “pursuers” grabbed my attention. Pursuers don’t have to be people. They can be bad habits, evil thoughts, bitterness, laziness, lust, pride… so many others. These pursuing time-stealers that come straight from the chief pursuer himself.

When I stay in bed in the morning instead of getting up to workout and spend time with God, I’m letting my pursuers “tear my soul apart” as the Psalmist so eloquently calls it out. When I flip on the TV instead of spending quality time with my husband and kids, I’m allowing my pursuers to overtake my heart. When I scroll Facebook mindlessly for hours, I’m letting worthless things fill my mind.

When I continually do these things and my lifestyle becomes one of complacency, my soul becomes broken into shattered pieces.

It’s hard. I know. We want to live a life of holiness… We honestly don’t want our souls torn apart, do we? Yet somehow we often give in to the easy way. We let those pursuing people/places/things in our lives distract us from the discipline of the call… and in doing so, we miss His call.

May we pray every single day… “God, SHOW me what/who my pursuers are. SAVE me from them and DELIVER me.” It’s a daily prayer, for sure. Our pursuers try to overtake us every second.

The only way to keep our souls intact is to stay planted in God’s grip.

————————–
Thanks for stopping by! If you would like to subscribe to Grow Where You’re Planted and receive these posts in your email, you can do that here: Grow Where You’re Planted Updates.