I must admit to you that I am not much of a history buff. Ok, that very well may be the understatement of the century. I
often slept through never cared much for that class. English was fun for me, because it often involved writing and talking, two things I loved to do especially the latter. Math was fun because my brain worked well with Math and it gave me something to have in common with my Dad when I visited there every other weekend. But, history, not so much. Whether it is World History, Texas History and U.S. history, it doesn’t really matter. I am an equal opportunity un-enthusiast. And while I’m at it, I pretty much lump geography, government, economics, and all of that other like-minded stuff into that same “not-so-much-my-favorite” category.
Throughout school I was in all honors classes. It is just what I did. I was, however, the very laziest A and B student you could ever meet. I did the absolute least amount of work that required the absolute least amount of effort that I possibly could, in order to get a 79.6 (which would round up to an 80) and I wouldn’t get grounded. My social calendar and precious phone time was far more important that my educational work ethic.
And, while this applies to all subjects, it was especially true for all of the subjects listed above. I made it through the classes, but mostly by the skin of my teeth partnered with my added charm to persuade my teacher’s for extra credit by the heap full. I once thought it would be funny
as a wise and “fully grown” adult to take the citizenship test that people must take to join our fine country. Let’s just say I’d be stuck in some other country for life had I not actually been born here. Thanks, Mom and Dad!
But, to go back to my schooling years…I got to my senior year of high school,
seniors ’97 are da bome! Sorry, inside joke I’ll explain someday I had pretty much had it with this history stuff. I begged and pleaded with my parents to allow me to take regulars history instead of AP Government and Economics. I mean, let’s face it, I wasn’t going to be running for office or pursuing a career in map-making. And, after all, I could name the president of the United States and count my allowance money pretty well, so I was good. After annoying them to no end politely asking them to hear me out “You guys don’t ever listen to me, ever!” they allowed me to, for the first time in my high school career, take a core subject class that wasn’t honors. Wahooo, party time! And it was. All the “cool kids” that I’d never really had any classes with were in my new World Geography class, i.e. “Advanced Map Coloring” taught by one of the “lesser academically motivated” football coaches. I was golden.
Don’t worry, friend, as is the case in most of these kind of stories, all of this slacking off eventually caught up with me; and then some. My lack of educational motivation, poor work ethic, and
completely non-existent lazy study habits caught up with me by my very first semester of college. It didn’t help that that was the very same semester I met and quickly fell in love with my now husband, Ryan. Man, I was ga-ga for him from day one. But, this was also when I discovered the great college epiphany #1. I didn’t actually have to go to class. “No, seriously,” I told my best friend who attended a very small Christian college, “They don’t even take roll! This is greatness!!”
Until mid-terms. Then, great college epiphany #2 quickly followed; if you don’t actually go to class, you don’t really learn much about that class. What is that called, the law of proximity maybe? Who knows?
I bet they taught that in AP Government. I received, on my very first college “report card” three C’s and one D. That’s right, a D. That is a college-fancy way to say you failed, don’t get credit, and you basically paid us a bunch of money for nothing. Lovely. As if that wasn’t bad enough, friend, the D was in Speech. I don’t know how long you have known me, or if you even do know me, but if you have read any of my incredibly long blogs before, you should know that I’m not exactly one of those kind of people who lack for words. Ever.
almost sold me into slavery were less than pleased. In fact, although I have tried to block the memory out, I vaguely remember by 6’4” father picking me up slightly off the floor by my shirt and saying “Three C’s and a D!?! And the D is in what??…SPEECH!?!? You have been talking since you were two years old and you haven’t shut up since, how the heck or something like that did you get a D in speech?” He proceeded to inform me that his hard-earned money would not be paying for me to go to college and just have fun. If I didn’t bring my grades up to A’s and B’s, where they belong, by the next semester, then not only would he no longer pay for my college, but I would also pay him back, with interest, for the money he’d wasted so far.
Friend, I believed him. My Dad wasn’t really known for messing around.
I saw the proverbial light that Christmas break. I went back to school that next semester and worked my stinkin’ tail off. I learned how to take good notes. I studied harder than I ever had before
not a difficult task to do. I even went to class. Congratu-stinkin-lations. Over the next four-and-a-half years, I received straight A’s, maybe two or three B’s and one C (in some history class, no doubt). I went from academic probation to graduating Magna Cum Laude with a 3.9 average. I had changed.
Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I feel inclined to tell you that I still do not necessarily like history. I must admit that as a grown-up, I have had
like maybe three times where my T.V. has gotten stuck on the History Channel and I’ve found myself intrigued by the stories of people behind the scenes. The relationships, the family ties, and the heroism that the narrator on the show describes, makes it sound so fascinating. Sometimes, it grabs me. I wish I had had a teacher like that in school that made learning about history so fun! But, alas, I didn’t, not sure how much that would have changed me and so I am now left to being the idiot woman who can’t list the names of the Axis vs. Allies countries at all. I honestly don’t know which side we were even on. I’m thinking Allies though. Or at least I hope so, it sounds much friendlier. Which is obviously very important in a war and all.
I don’t know details about the Civil war.
I cannot recite for you a single line from the Declaration of Independence.
Wait, is that We the People of the United States of America one? Shoot, I’m gonna have to look that up.
I can’t label but about 10 of the states in our country on a map. Not the world, our country. Sigh.
I can’t say, exactly, why we got involved in World wars I or II.
But, friend, I just want to be clear, that doesn’t mean I don’t know anything about history or war. I know what I’ve been through; my history. And I have been in battle, time and time again. Unfortunately, I know it very well.
Whether you know it or not, friend, you and I absolutely have an enemy. “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
And we are absolutely battling through a war right now.
“But I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.” (Romans 7:23)
“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.” (1 Peter 2:11)
You may not feel like “sin” wages war against you much. Well, that must be nice friend, but I can’t say the same thing. I deal with some serious stuff, like worry (yes, that is a sin!) pride, envy, having a judgmental heart…the list goes on
and on and on and on, but hopefully that’s enough of my list to show you that this is for real. During certain times in my life, it seems these some of these different sins flare up and are more difficult to fight against than others are. Can you relate? Do you ever feel like you are constantly up against it? Like the world, and everything in it is just working against you to make your once blessed life, miserable. Trouble at work. Deep hurt within your family. Medical crisis. Financial crisis. Depression. Anxiety. Name it. You can almost hear the canons blasting before you even get out of bed each morning. Friend, welcome to my world.
I have been battling medical drama for going on four years now. I am only 32 years old, so that is an eighth of my life.
Math nerd alert. Math nerd alert. And with the medical roller coaster I have been whipping around on for so long now, I have developed a very un-healthy sense of fear and dread.
Am I going to die young?
What are the doctors missing?
Am I ever really going to be well again?
The fear and worry seems to subside during healthier seasons, but quickly shoot themselves back into the forefront when medical drama creeps back in. Can you relate to this at all? Do you have something in your own personal life that rears its ugly head when you are already feeling down and out? Friend, that is the enemy and his relentless attacks. Talk about kickin’ you when you’re down. That’s his specialty. He knows our weaknesses, our vulnerabilities, our fears and our insecurities. He knows what buttons to push and the exact moment to push them. But, friend, please listen to me – I know God is allowing this for a heavenly reason. I fully believe He is working out my “faith muscles”
I should look like a bodybuilder after all this working out! in order to truly grow a sold-out heart to Him. A heart that truly trusts Him. A heart that believes the promises of Truth in His Word. A heart that desires His will above my own. That last one gets me sometimes. I like my will. I’m attached to it. But, I gotta let it go.
But, friend, it ain’t easy. Just last night…as I lay there staring at the checkerboard ceilings of yet another
stinkin’ hospital…the enemy was raring to go and throw sinful, worrisome thoughts in my head.
See, I told you weren’t going to get well.
I bet the doctors don’t catch this one in time.
Your kids sure are going to miss their Mom.
I bet Ryan’s next wife is skinny, cute, and fun at parties!
I know, I’m a mess!
You may be sitting there thinking “I had no idea she was this bad.” I hope you aren’t thinking that. My exaggerated and unhealthy desire for everyone to like me is scared of that. But, friend, I gotta keep it real. It is only then, that I can truly be open and point to God and all He’s done and continues to do. You also may be thinking that I should have it together by now. I’ve been through this enough that surely I should be able to handle this better. You are right. But, God has brought me light years further than I was just a few short years ago. That’s totally His work, not mine.
I read a quote last week when I was researching for the blog “Walking Funny” and I think it is worth mentioning again here. David Guzik said “Many of us think that real Christian maturity is when we come to a place where we are somewhat “independent” of God. The idea is that we have our act so together that we don’t need to rely of God so much day to day, moment to moment. This isn’t Christian maturity at all. God deliberately engineered debilitating circumstances into Paul’s life so he would be in constant, total dependence on God’s grace and God’s strength. Many harbor a longing for the day when the Christian life will become “easy.” We hope for a time when the major struggles with sin are behind us, and now we go on to bigger and better things without much of a struggle. That day is an illusion. If the apostle Paul himself constantly experienced weakness, who are we to think that we will surpass him?”
Amen to that!
So, what should we do? How can you and I defeat this enemy of ours that is always out to get us? How do we deal with our sins each time they surface? Friend, we can be prepared for battle.
“Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:11-17
Two times in that short group of verses, Paul tells us to put on the FULL armor of God. I always assume that if God tells us something more than once in Scripture it is because He knows our dumb selves and knows occasionally
ok, almost always we need a good reminding. (Which reminds me, that the Bible says “Fear not, or do not fear” 365 times – that’s right, one for every day of the year!) And, while you could spend weeks and weeks studying just these short amount of verses above, (which I encourage you to do!) I will try to briefly describe some of the highlights I cling to.
This armor is purposeful. Each piece is used to protect and defend the person being attacked. Please note that this doesn’t say we need this armor if the enemy attacks, it tells us to be ready, he will attack!
The belt is mentioned as truth. My dear sweet friend spoke at a women’s dinner years ago, for an hour all about how just this one piece of armor is so vital. Belts hold everything else up! Your belt doesn’t work, your pants will fall. You will be vulnerable. So, be aware of truth and pull that tightly around you! Don’t be led by your feelings, other’s opinions (I’m talking to myself there!) – all of this is un-truth. Stick to what God tells you!
The breastplate of righteousness is protecting one of the most vital organs of your body – your heart. Self-righteousness will not get you there. The world’s version of “right-ness” won’t get you there. Your heart will only become more wounded, more jaded, more hardened.
The shoes of peace. Let’s be honest, we women love a good pair of shoes. Well, friend, I assure you these peace shoes are far better and more valuable than any with a red sole. In the heat of battle, there are few things of God that are more precious than that of having His peace. My life verse
reminds us of just that. The Amplified Bible puts my life verse this way, “Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippains 4:6-7) Oh how I desire to be content with my earthly lot! I also love that the original Greek word for “guard” is phroureo, which means “to guard, protect by a military guard, either to prevent hostile invasion, or to keep the inhabitants of a besieged city from flight” LOVE THAT! God’s peace guards us from outside attacks and from our inside selves fleeing from Him. Thank you, Lord!
We must hold up the shield of faith. Once again, not to be ready if the enemy slings one arrow, but when he fires away all the flaming arrows he loves to shoot. Our faith is what shields us from his ultimate attack, which is the hope he has for us to spend eternity with him in hell. Get your shields of faith up, friend. I know they may be heavy sometimes, but they are crucial to our defense.
The helmet of salvation also guards the other major vital organ; our brain. I believe this applies to our thoughts too. The truth of our salvation guards our wandering mind. As my pastor says, “None of us are getting out of this thing alive.” The truth of our salvation binds and protects our thoughts from going astray and losing focus as to why we are here.
Lastly, I have a question for you, friend…did you notice the only offensive weapon mentioned?? All these so far have been for the purpose of defending ourselves. Did you notice? Or maybe you’ve heard this before. I remember the first time I was told this, it changed my perspective on this battle completely. The only offensive weapon mentioned is the sword of the spirit, or the Word of God. I’m going to go out a limb here and assume you haven’t ever fought with a sword. Me neither. But, I’ve seen Braveheart and that’s a pretty intense type of fighting. Modern warfare has come up with many sophisticated weaponry to protect the fighters from having to get close to their enemy. Bows and arrows, guns, canons, grenades, and nowadays, even computerized missiles that can be programmed to wipe out your enemy half way around the world. But, this weapon, our weapon, while fierce, is meant for hand to hand combat. Quoting His Truth in Scripture, memorizing it, singing about it in praise songs, writing it on paper and posting it around your house – all of these swipes with The Sword do serious damage to our enemy. James 4:7 tells us that if we “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Period.
War isn’t pretty. I was watching a show on the history channel lately
I can count on one finger the number of times I’ve ever said that and it talked about the devastation that the Civil War had on the South. The land, the buildings, the morale, all of it were devastated and destroyed. I can relate to that. I have sustained quite a few battle wounds over the years from this war I’ve been in.
Having to stop nursing two of my three children before I was ready because of hospitalization and the affects it had on my body.
Being told I shouldn’t have any more children because of all the trauma my body’s been through.
My husband’s stress level skyrocketing because of him having to be Mom and Dad for months at a time, year after year.
The guilt that come so easily from feeling I’ve “caused” this burden to my friends and family.
Tens of thousands upon tens of thousands of dollars spent on medical bills coming from an already pinched one-income salary.
My baby girl realizing mommy can’t pick her up and hold her, so she just stopped putting her arms up for me altogether.
My sons being nervous about their anyone’s health, even when minor, after seeing mama’s go up and down.
Seeing my once active and athletic body gain a great amount of weight and lose a great amount of strength…and the body image issues that come along with that.
My children coming to terms that Mommy “can’t” and “shouldn’t” do so many fun things and so therefore we, as a family miss out.
Missing my oldest’s birthday because I was in the hospital again.
Losing friendships with people I really care about, because honestly I think it’s just too hard to be good friends with the always-sick girl.
My friend, these wounds hurt. They left scars. Some bigger than others, but scars all the same. But, I can tell you with full honesty that they have grown my faith in ways that never could have been accomplished otherwise. I count myself blessed, like James encourages us in his book. In fact, he can barely get past greeting his pals in verse one, before he reminds us to (James 1:2-4) “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Not lacking anything. Amen to that.
If you’re a reader (which I am generally not but have slowly but surely gotten closer to becoming one), I strongly recommend that you check out Joyce Meyer’s book, “Battlefield of the Mind”. It is truly chock-full of Scripture you can stand firmly upon. She talks all about so many different battles we fight, simply with our thoughts. And of course, as I heard quoted just last week in the sermon at church, “Thought is the father of deed.”
My dear friend, as difficult as it was for me to share so openly about my sins
and they are many! I feel blessed that you stuck with me. I feel honored that you read what He says through me. I feel thankful that He continues to trust me with his message. I’m just holding on for dear life here, trying not to screw the whole thing up.
So, let’s make sure that armor is on. We can do this. And even when it seems like we can’t do this; He can. “For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37)
By the way, I
feel pressured and reluctant want to share what I looked up about “We the people of the United States”. It is the first part of the United States Constitution, not the Declaration of Independence. Aren’t they the same thing? NO. They are not the same. I totally wish I knew that. The Declaration of Independence broke our nation’s tie with Great Britain. It was a declaration of our Independence. The Constitution was the document that followed. It set our rule of government and how our nation would function. Yes, that’s a direct quote from the internet. Dangit, it’s official. I’m an idiot. And now you all fully know it. Please still love me.