A Short Story in which I Sing to Hollering Baby while Driving.

 

Why is it when you are put on the spot your brain just freezes?!!  For instance, I’m driving down the road and baby starts hollering in the car seat. What do you do?? You can’t plug your ears (because hello, you’re driving) and you can’t say “Here, want a twinkie?!”

My first instinct is to start singing children’s songs at the top of my lungs. Naturally “Jesus Loves Me” is the first one that comes to mind.

 

Silence from the backseat. Hey that worked brilliantly!

For 2 seconds…ok what’s next?  “Building up the Temple,” “Running Over,” and “Jesus Loves the Little Children” are my go-to’s so I repeat those for a while until I’m sick of them. I know at least a hundred children’s songs but can I think of any of them right now?! Nope.

This “Mommy brain” is for the birds. It’s too cluttered with doctor appointments and the To-Do-List, and thoughts like: “Did I pay that bill?” “Do I have my veil on?” and “Did I shower yesterday?”

 

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Ask any of my close friends and family and they will tell you I am lyrically challenged…so venturing out into songs I don’t know well lead to interesting results. Case in point, I now try to sing “Who Built the Ark?”

“Who built the ark? Noah, Noah, who built the ark, Father Noah built the ark! In come the animals, two by two, the bear and the giraffe and the hippo too.” So far, so good. “In come the animals three by three, the bugs and the birds and the… buzzing bees?!  In come the animals four by four, the bats and the…bears (said that already) and the…angry boar.”

 

Apparently I can only think of animals that start with “B.”  This is going nowhere fast.

I stop to think (Never stop to think!) and baby starts wailing again. Hey Christmas wasn’t too long ago, so I find myself trying “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and “Joy to the World.” Um…just no. Not feeling too festive here.

Oh joy my brain just pulled up a song from the archives! “Praise Him, Praise Him, all you little children…” Did you know there are like…27 verses to that song? Serve Him, work for Him, glorify Him, love Him, obey Him, play for Him…whatever action verb comes to mind will do!

At last we’re home–exhausted, hoarse, but happy. The baby is sleeping peacefully so we tiptoe inside…only for her to wake up!!  Oh well, I get her out of her car seat and snuggle her in my arms. She’s only 3 months old but before I know it she will be too big to be held. So for now I will hold her and think about how grateful and blessed I am to be mama to this gift from God!

 

*A few details were added to this real-life-happening! 🙂

 

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Why We Had A Hands-Off Courtship

Before the 20th century, courtship was only conducted in the family parlor under the watchful eye of a chaperone. It was customary for the courting couple to use a speaking tube in order to say anything privately to one another! Eventually courtship, which took place in a home setting, turned into what became called “dating”, taking place in public at dance halls, movie houses, restaurants, and often involved “parking”. It went from courting one partner with the intent of marriage to dating many different partners for a period of time before going “steady” and then getting married.

 

In the 21st century one could say that dating by the world’s standards means “hooking up” and living together. Why get married when you can enjoy the benefits for free? Somewhere along the way, courtship lost its original intention.

 

This blog post is not about courtship vs. dating. The world will never go back to ancient dating practices. That time is lost and done. Therefore, this post is for followers of Jesus Christ who seek to have Godly dating relationships. I do believe that the current state of courtship in our circles needs to have some changes made but that is a discussion for another time. The reason I share a brief history of courtship is to shed light on the old-fashioned practice we call “hands-off courtship”.

 

It amazes me how few people have heard of a “hands-off” dating relationship. People listen to my story with interest and then admit that is something they could never do. They don’t get it. I understand. In today’s world, by today’s standards, it IS laughable, ridiculous, and legalistic.

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Our Story

Yes, we were laughed at when Gene and I greeted each other by shaking hands. In this day and age, guys and girls hug each other when saying goodbye and hello. In my Calvary Bible School days we wouldn’t have dreamed of hugging the opposite sex. Now, it’s a common practice. So there’s that. Physical contact is definitely more casual and expected now.

 

I recently learned how some of my parent’s age and older played “Walk a Mile”  where the guys and girls walked together in pairs, holding hands. After a while they would switch and walk with someone else!  I’m not sure what the point was except to get to know each other a little differently?  I know most of them didn’t have a hands-off relationship. My parents didn’t. They didn’t have much physical contact, but I remember them telling me that they wouldn’t advise doing what they did. When Gene called to ask if he could date me and he asked for hands-off, they were very pleased and supportive.  I was willing to go along with it.  Which is surprising.

 

I am an avid reader and as a young girl I read everything I could get my hands on. Mom tried to protect me from reading too many romance novels, but I got carried away. I lived in a world of mushy-gushy love and fairy-tale romance. I dreamed of the day I would find my own romance!  So when my real-live prince came along, I didn’t expect to have a hands-off relationship, but because he was so strong on it, I agreed and decided to make the best of it.

 

There were times I dreamed of us holding hands as we went on walks, or when we prayed.  And as our love grew, I wanted to kiss him and hug him. It was hard. But not too hard. It wasn’t impossible at all, like many believe it to be. Because we were limited in physical contact, we developed a very fun, teasing, flirting relationship as a way to express our feelings for each other! There were lots of sweet looks, water fights, romantic cards and notes, and long phone conversations. Believe me, there are plenty of ways to show your love for each other without it being physical!

 

After we were engaged I was surprised to realize that I had been protecting a part of myself during our courtship. There was an “awakening” within my heart after we committed to spend our lives together. I tend to think I was protected physically; therefore we didn’t get too deep too soon in our emotional relationship. The physical and emotional are very intertwined and are hard to separate!  We began to give each other side hugs when saying goodbye and hello, but stuck to no other contact.

 

Then the big day arrived. Yes, you can see some stiffness in our wedding pictures, because we were new to contact! (We do wish we would’ve taken after pictures as well!) Yes, our first kiss was far from perfect (we still laugh about it) and it didn’t light sparks like in the movies. But, we sure caught on fast! And when we held hands and embraced…there was electricity!!  I had never experienced anything like it, and I will never forget how amazing it was to hold my husband’s hand!!!  I think I will remember the magic till I’m old and gray…We were over the moon to finally be able to be together the way we had been dreaming of…

 

Awakening Love

Three times Song of Solomon warns of not awakening love until it is time;

Song of Solomon 2:7, 3:5, and 8:4: “Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.”

In her blog called Lies Young Women Believe, Paula Hendrick Marsteller shares:

“What surprised me most was that this lovesick bride urgently warns her girlfriends over and over not to arouse or awaken love until it so desires (until it’s time). Why would she want them to be so careful when she had found such an incredible gift? I wondered.

Whatever the reason was, Song of Solomon 8:7 explains why she felt so strongly about this: “Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away.” And as the verse before it says, “It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.”

Can you imagine a blazing forest fire that several rivers worth of water cannot put out? That would be one intense inferno! See, this woman was experiencing the mind-blowing beauty of love and sex as God intended it. Within marriage its heat and intensity was welcomed, but this bride knew that if her friends didn’t wait for God’s gift of marriage, they would get severely burned.”

 

What’s wrong with holding hands, hugs, and sharing a few chaste kisses? We can handle it!  It won’t lead to anything. We have self-control.

 

I’m sure many of you do have admirable self-control and that you have gone into marriage with no regrets from your courtship–that is wonderful! But what about those who had previous dating relationships?? I am so grateful I do not have memories of physical contact with a man other than my husband. (It makes me wince to re-read that last sentence because even though it is stating the truth it sounds a bit “holier-than-thou”. My experience doesn’t make me better than anyone else!! I was blessed because it could have been so different.)

 

But to the ones who aren’t dating yet, let me tell you something the romance novels, movies, and your peers don’t: lots of physical contact leads to kissing, and kissing leads to much, much more. Kissing is always the beginning. And once you start, it’s very hard to stop. You are setting in motion a natural God-given gift that is only meant for married people!! It is awakening love before it is time.

 

    There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: 

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
   a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-5

 

I have read and heard testimonies of girls who felt pushed into physical contact by their boyfriends. It made them feel immensely guilty, but they didn’t know how to say no. They took those feelings of guilt into their marriage where it caused scars and hurts. I firmly believe that the guy must be responsible to set the hands-off plan in motion because we as women are wired to please. We can be strong on our position, but unless the guy respects us enough to not push, it doesn’t work. He must lead, and she will follow.

 

In today’s age we are surrounded by romantic novels and movies that encourage physical affection. We are surrounded by peers who are doing it. We don’t want to be made fun of. We don’t want to be different. We live in an age of self-gratification. Pleasing ourselves.

 

Doing what WE want to do.

 

Whatever happened to sacrifice, honor, and devotion? To chivalry? To respect for ourselves and our partner?  We need to put our loved ones ahead of ourselves–be unselfish. If we can’t do this in dating, how can we do this in marriage?

 

In Conclusion:

We were old-fashioned. And we would do it all over again. I pray that the young man who comes calling for our daughter someday will desire a hands-off relationship as well!

 

-I will not judge you if you didn’t have a hands-off dating relationship.

-I will not judge you if you choose not to have a hands-off dating relationship.

-It is not right or wrong. Black or white.

-I wanted to share our story for the people out there who would like to do this but don’t know how or if it’s even possible.

-I encourage you parents to seriously and prayerfully consider what you want to teach your children. You may not have struggled with the physical part of your dating, but maybe your children will. Think about their future and what you want for them!

-For those of you in a dating relationship or if you will be someday think about it this way: you have the REST OF YOUR LIFE to hold and kiss your spouse!!  Dating is but a short time in the wide span of your life.

-Guys: women will have incredible respect for you if you show your regard for her by your self-control and having a plan that you stick to!

-Live a life with no regrets!  As James Clear notes in The #1 Regret Of Dying Patients, far too many people spend their final stage of life regretting their youthful choices. “Live a good, honorable life which you can enjoy a second time when you are old.”  Of course, we need God to live an honorable life!

 

**Disclaimer: this doesn’t mean that we had the perfect dating relationship or have had the perfect marriage! We had and still have things to overcome–God is still at work in our lives!! For now we are diamonds in the rough. 

I would love to read your comments and testimonies on this! Please share!! 

Why I Cover

Disclaimer: Wearing a head-covering is a controversial subject in the Christian church today and the last thing I want to do is start an argument or point fingers. That is not the purpose of this post. I will not be translating from Greek words or diving into doctrine or theology. I will be sharing what I have learned about wearing a head-covering and why I choose to be covered.

 

To my friends and family who do not wear a head-covering: Please know I do not judge you, and I bless you in your walk with the Lord!! ♥  We are each on our own journey…

 

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True Stories

Recently, my sister-in-law, a missionary in Central America, told me about a village in Nicaragua called Jinotega, a place where witchcraft is heavily practiced. She told me how the Christian believers there have to be watchful and pray against curses placed on their livestock. But the really fascinating thing is what the witchcraft practioners say about the believers in that village: “We cannot touch those who wear a head-covering.”

I have heard many similar stories over the years!

•A certain woman could not find deliverance from demons as the people working with her prayed over her, until she covered her head. Then they fled!

•A young woman, recently saved, found freedom from oppression of an evil spirit after she began wearing a head-covering. (1)

•And then there are the stories told of the wicked men who share they could not abduct or harm a woman who wore a head-covering. Why?? I believe it’s because the evil spirits within them fear and respect what a veiled woman represents/ displays: submission to her head–man, and man’s submission to God.

“Satan and his cohorts hate the head-covering because of what it represents; it reminds them and puts them to shame because of their own rejection of God’s headship.” (1)

 

A Sign to the Angels

Wearing a head-covering isn’t a matter of salvation and it doesn’t magically make one’s life better. But I believe it IS a matter of protection and blessing, a testimony/sign to the spiritual realms, both good and bad.

Important as it may be, putting on a head-covering does not accomplish submission to the Lord Jesus, any more than being baptized or taking communion makes us Christians.  The veil or head-covering is just an outward sign {like water = baptism and bread & wine = communion} of the condition of the soul. It is the soul which was lost, and it is the soul that Jesus came to save.  Through head-covering, women, as a type of the church, visibly…show “to the angels” the submission of the church to Jesus Christ! (2)

That is why a woman ought to have a symbol of authority (power) on her head, because of the angels. 1 Corinthians 11:10

 

Prayer Warriors & Prophetesses

I believe that God has given us women a special role in His “army”. He has gifted us to be Prayer Warriors and Prophetesses. God has called us to fight the enemy through our prayers, (Eph. 6:12) and a woman who is inwardly as well as outwardly showing her submission to God’s headship order has a great amount of authority in her prayers and prophesies! (1 Cor.11:10)

“The faithful, veiled woman can exercise and unleash tremendous influence and power in heavenly places as she ministers in prayer and intercession before the Father. This groaning creation so badly needs the kind of church that such a sister represents, and the church likewise desperately needs such women as can truly minister in their God-ordained place of power.” (1)

 

How the Angels Worship

Something else that fascinates me is the fact that the angels cover their faces with their wings when worshipping the Lord. In Isaiah 6:2, the angels are depicted literally covering their faces in shamefacedness, showing humility as they worship our great God.  Which brings us to verse five of 1 Corinthians: And every woman praying or prophesying with her head unveiled puts to shame her head… If even the sinless angels are covered in worship, why shouldn’t we women, a representation of Christ’s bride, be covered??

 

If Anyone is Contentious

In 1 Corinthians 11:16, Paul states: But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God. Does Paul mean that the things he had just been saying about the head-covering are not important enough to contend about? Why would he have bothered mentioning it at all if this was the case? There are two possible explanations: either he is saying some will be contentious about these matters, but that we need to accept them as the teaching of the Lord, or that the churches of God did not have any such custom as that of women praying or prophesying without being covered. (3)

 

Are the Spirit Gifts for Today?

“We can’t have it both ways. If the Bible is really God’s Word, we can’t go picking through the verses of 1 Corinthians, accepting what we like, and rejecting what we don’t. If the gifts, (or communion–both mentioned in the following verses/chapters) are for today, so is the head-covering. If the head-covering is only for the 1st century, so are the gifts!!” (2)

 

A Challenge

“Remember that Satan’s primary weapon is deception. The minute you are willing to put yourself on the line for the truth of the Bible, its power will become abundantly evident to you. The enemy will come against you in all his lying force. During the whole Christian era, not one single martyr died for going along with the crowd. Obey the head-covering ordinance and you will stir up the forces of darkness that are attacking your church, and be up to your neck in a spiritual battle! If you still think that is a joke, just try it. If you really want to stand for Jesus, here’s your chance. But don’t think it will be easy. …You’ll get ridicule and verbal abuse, and you’ll find your friends deserting you. That is the way the Lord said it would be, (2 Tim. 3:12) and that’s how you’ll know you’re doing something right.” (Mat. 5:11) (2)

 

My Confession

I am ashamed to say that for many years I didn’t have complete submission in my heart to my husband or to the Lord. Even though I wore a head-covering I wasn’t living in full obedience to God, and this opened the door for sin and Satan to oppress me! So thankful for the Lord’s continued work of grace in my life–for never giving up on me but gently leading me back to Himself. There is HOPE and REDEMPTION available to all who ask!!

The principle of the head-covering must be lived inwardly first before it is effective outwardly! Neither can it be effective as a legalistic tradition that is blindly followed, allowing a religious “Pharisee” spirit to enter in. We must know why we wear a head-covering and live accordingly, never thinking we are better than those who do not do as we do. We are not seen righteous before the Lord because we wear a head-covering; the only righteousness we have is imputed by the Lord Jesus taking our place on the cross! (2 Cor. 5:21)

To sum it all up: My journey with the Lord is still a work in progress, but I am thankful for the way He has led me. I count it a privilege and a blessing to wear a head-covering!

 

 UPDATE: Several women have approached me with the concern that this post teaches women that they will be protected from all danger and demonic influence if they wear a head covering. I hope I have made it clear that is not the case when one is not living right before the Lord. The principle behind the head-covering means nothing to Satan when he sees there is sin in our lives, because sin gives him a legal right to oppress us. Not only that, we live in a fallen world–we WILL experience trials and tribulations–even IF we are living a life of full surrender to the Lord. The head-covering is not a magical piece of cloth; it is not our salvation; it is an outward sign of God’s headship order that Satan hates and the world scoffs at!

I simply wanted to share some of what God has shown me in this journey, (there is much more that could be said!) and to share the stories of those women who were specifically protected when they wore a head-covering.

Having said all that, please understand, I believe God also protects, loves, and blesses women–Christ followers–who don’t wear a head-covering. I don’t have all the answers; I only know that He has shown me what I am to do with 1 Corinthians 11 and I am obeying Him. 

 

Footnotes:

1-Let Her Be Veiled, Tom Shanks

2-Demons in the Church, E.H. Skolfield

3-Believer’s Bible Commentary

 

 

Pokémon Go, a Lack of Knowledge, and Unbroken Curses

Ever since Pokémon Go was released and I became aware of it, a heaviness developed in my spirit. Please understand, I write this not in condemnation, but as a warning that the Holy Spirit has placed upon my heart.

{What is Pokémon? Read this article.}

“According to Sensor Tower’s data, Pokémon Go has now been downloaded over 30 million times (a few days later it is 75 million) worldwide across iOS and Android. In doing so, it’s earned more than $35 million in net revenue. The game also sees ‘more daily average usage than the world’s most established apps in the process.’ ”

When something becomes extremely popular and addicting in a very short time, my  spiritual “antennas” go up. As a Christian, I am responsible to be vigilant; to watch and pray. This doesn’t mean “looking for a demon behind every bush.”  But it does mean asking the Holy Spirit if any game, music, movie, TV show, book, toy, or object is a doorway for the demonic realm.  Some people may call me legalistic, or flat-out ridiculous for taking this attitude in life. I call it being accountable for what influences I allow into my life– especially into my child’s life. And then there is the command in 1 Thessalonians 5:21: but test everything; hold fast to what is good.”

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

And no wonder, since Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 2 Corinthians 11:14

I reiterate Erica Dawson’s words: We don’t need to be afraid; we need to be aware.

Her blog post tells the true story of an ex-witchdoctor who recognized the different Pokémon characters as demons.

“Opening the book {Pokémon comics} at random, showing him a picture I asked. “What do you think of this?” He looked at it, and said, “Oh, I know this one.” He suddenly had my attention!

He went on, “Oh, this is a nasty little demon. It is always underfoot, bites, scratches, screeches and what not.” I looked at the page, and on the list of attributes, the book said, “bites, scratches, screeches, claws…” and I forget what else, but it was as if Bautista was reading the page, and he does not read or speak one word of English. He made a believer out of me.

I figured that the first one could have been just a lucky guess, so I flipped the page to another picture and asked him about that one. Again, he told me exactly what it’s attributes were. He did that over and over.

There were some he did not recognize, and he said, “There are so many demons, it is impossible for any one person to know them all.

{Read the full story here.}

Here is an excerpt from occult expert William J. Schnoebelen’s article about Pokémon before it became a mobile game:

“Remember, anytime you are dealing with serious addictive behavior…, you can assume a spirit of bondage (Rom. 8:15) is at work. The spirit of bondage is a powerful strongman that needs to be dealt with quickly and preemptively in the authority of Jesus. Its best “antidote” is the “Spirit of Adoption” (same verse) which speaks deep to our hearts and cries out “Abba Father.”

“I used to work with addictions every day in a secular counseling job, and I believe that part of the reason we are seeing so much addictive behavior in both kids and adults is that many of us have never tasted of that spiritual adoption. We feel like spiritual orphans!  In our children, this situation is not helped by single-parent families and by two-parent families who throw their children into daycare as quickly as they can. Many of these kids (just like their parents) have never known the Love of Abba Father. Because of their thirst for it, they are drinking out of hell’s cisterns with these demonic, addictive games.

Remember, just because your kids think they are innocently playing does not prevent the evil spirits from being deadly in earnest in exploiting their neediness and bringing bondage. If the devil (or his minions) can appear as an angel of light (2Cor. 11:14), he can certainly appear as a cute, warm fuzzy little cuddle-toy of a character. If you or your child are in involved in addictive and/or occult behavior you need to go before the Throne of YHWH and formally renounce it in the name of Yah’shua (Jesus) the Messiah and ask Him to forgive you for it. Then you need to destroy, ideally by fire, all the stuff that goes with the game. I realize that this might represent a considerable investment going “up in smoke,” but believe me – it is better to do that than to allow yourself or your child to become further ensnared by occult bondage. I know. I was stuck in it for 16 years!”

{Read the full post here.}

Watch this pastor share his warning. In short, he speaks about how he had to cast out demons from children who had become possessed when watching the Pokémon television show. This is not something to mess around with, dear people!!

But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, (1 Tim. 4:1).

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 4:12

It grieves me to know there are many who are deceived; who freak out at the way the world is filled with shootings and bombings and wars and outright wickedness, but fail to notice the sly way evil comes into their homes through doorways they unknowingly open to the enemy. 

Ok, that last paragraph really made me feel like a doomsday prophet. I don’t know if many of you readers will get the message I am trying to get across here.  No one wants to hear or read depressing and fearful messages.  But here’s the thing, this message may sound negative, but it’s not–it has brought me and my family incredible FREEDOM and HOPE!!

Some are like the seeds along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Mark 4:12

People, Satan doesn’t want us to know how to defeat him!!! He wants us to deny the spiritual realm and that fact that there is demonic influence all around us. He is the god of this world (for now) and God has allowed him to wreak havoc and destruction because sin came into the world; because He allowed and still allows mankind to make choices.

Satan uses countless strategies to get into our homes, leading us into bondage so we can’t serve the Lord effectively. But I thought Satan can’t touch Christians?? Wrong. If we give Satan room, he will move in. Christians cannot be demon-possessed, but they can allow spirits to come into their lives and control them.

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What Are Some of Satan’s Strategies and Doorways??  

{Most of the following information comes from Unbroken Curses by Daniel Yoder and Rebecca Brown –a book every Christian should read! I will be sharing several passages from their book.}

Do you come from a family history plagued by mental illness, suicides, alcoholism, physical illness, divorce, incest, or poverty? Do you deal with strongholds in your life such as uncontrolled anger, unbelief, lust, pornography, or homosexuality? Do you constantly struggle in your Christian walk but never prosper or grow spiritually?

“These discouraging situations may result from a number of factors, but a frequently overlooked reason is a curse on the person’s life or family that has never been broken…this is a much neglected area in Christian teaching today. (pg. 8)

 Three Types of Curses  

 A. Curses from God.

For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate me. Exodus 20:5

B. Curses from Satan and or/his servants with the legal right to curse.

When we disobey God, not only do we sin, but we also give Satan the legal right to assault us. We often don’t realize that we serve a God who is completely just. Not only is He just with us, He is just with Satan and his servants. If we give Satan the right to assail us, God won’t interfere. (p.23)

C. Curses from Satan and/or his servants without the legal right to curse. (p.17)

Purposes of Curses

 A. Curses sent by Satan and/or his servants are always for the purpose of causing injury, loss, destruction, and (often) death. Curses from Satan and or/his servants always involve demon spirits.  When a curse is placed, demon spirits are sent to a specific person or family for a specific purpose. The curse is the sending mechanism, and the demon spirits bring about the fulfillment of the curse.

B. Curses sent by God are for the purposes of gaining the person’s attention and causing him to turn from his evil ways, turn toward God, and purify his life. If the person does not respond to this, he will be destroyed and eventually put to death. (p. 17)

 

The Scriptures of the Old Testament are full of references to curses. The New Testament tells us that Jesus Christ came and died on the cross, conquering Satan, so that we can be set free from curses. (See Galatians 3:13) Jesus gave His servants the power in His name to break curses. Why then are Christians still so defeated and afflicted by curses? The answer is IGNORANCE. You can’t fight a battle you don’t see or don’t know exists. You cannot defeat an enemy when you don’t even know he is attacking you. God’s word says the following:  (pg.10) 

My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. Hosea 4:6 

Therefore my people have gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge; their honorable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst. Therefore Sheol has enlarged itself and opened its mouth beyond measure. Isaiah 5:13-14

For wisdom is a defense as money is a defense, but the excellence of knowledge is that wisdom gives life to those who have it. Ecclesiastes 7:12

Lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices. 2 Corinthians 2:11

Ignorance Isn’t Bliss

The Scriptures clearly state that God’s people will suffer and eventually be taken into captivity if they continue in ignorance and sin. This applies in the case of curses. Far too often, Christians do not realize curses have been placed on their lives. Thus, they cannot deal with them, but they wonder why they continually suffer afflictions as they do.

The most common argument we hear from people is: ‘I don’t believe God would hold me responsible for something I don’t know about. I don’t believe He would allow a curse to come into my life when I did not know I was doing something wrong.’

Dear brothers and sisters, we must warn you that God does hold you accountable for everything that is in His Word. He has given us ample information throughout the Bible. Everyone one of us has access to a Bible. Therefore, we are without excuse. (See these Scriptures: Leviticus 5:17, Isaiah 27:11, Jeremiah 6:19, Hosea 4:6). (p.11-12)

If you do not read and study God’s Word, then you are rejecting knowledge. The consequences of this sin are grave indeed. However, we serve a merciful God who is quick to forgive us when we repent, and we have the Holy Spirit who dwells in us to help us.

If we ask, the Holy Spirit will show us truth and bring to our minds those sins that we have forgotten so we can confess them and be cleansed from them. He will reveal to us any curses that are active in our lives–all we have to do is ask. (John 16:7-13) (p. 12-13)

Moses taught the children of Israel the difference between the holy and unholy. This knowledge enabled them to know what things would bring blessing and cursing into their lives.

See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil…I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live. (Deuteronomy 30:15, 19)

Clearly, whether our lives are successful and blessed, unsuccessful and cursed, depends upon our knowledge of the teachings of the Lord.

Do Not Touch

Several Scriptures warn all believers to avoid things that are unclean and to remain separate from them. (p.47)

Come out from among them and be separate,” says the Lord. “Do not touch what is unclean and I will receive you.” 2 Corinthians 6:17

And they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the unholy, and cause them to discern between the unclean and clean. Ezekiel 44:23

Nor shall you bring an abomination into your house, lest you be doomed to destruction like it. You shall utterly detest it and utterly abhor it, for it is an accursed thing. Deuteronomy 7:26

Abstain from all appearance of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:22

Do you own toys, books, objects, listen to music, or watch shows or movies that involve some form of magic or occultic symbolism? God says witchcraft is an abomination to Him. We don’t practice magic or approve of it, but by having it in our homes we give Satan a legal doorway into our lives. (See above: Deuteronomy 7:26.)

…those who practice magic arts …their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur… the second death. Revelation 21:8

Those who practice witchcraft (sorcery) will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:20-21). These practices are anti-God and are in rebellion against Him.

 

Let me tell you a personal story:

I have long wondered about the movie Frozen because of the “good magic” that is a big part of the story. Little girls (and big ones too!) are rabidly addicted to all things Frozen, including my own little girl. Like I mentioned earlier, whenever there is a spirit of addiction/bondage present, our spiritual antennas should go up.  Not only is there magic used in the movie, but the lyrics to the hit song “Let It Go”, sung by Elsa, the one who has magical powers, are very disturbing:

It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me I’m free! (paganism)
Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky (naturalism)
Let it go, let it go
You’ll never see me cry!
Here I stand
And here I’ll stay
Let the storm rage on!
My power flurries through the air into the ground (power and magnificence of self)                   My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I’m never going back,
The past is in the past!

For a number of weeks, sometimes almost every night, I heard footsteps running down the hall from Kerra’s bedroom. Whenever I jumped up to see if it was Kerra, she was fast asleep in her bed. I soon realized this was an evil spirit problem but didn’t know how to pray against it.

During this time, there were different strongholds (spirits) in my life that God was cleansing me of, and I was actively involved in breaking curses as He showed them to me. (A whole other story, but for now I will tell you that I cried out to God for YEARS for freedom from bondages in my life, but never found it until curses on my life were broken.) I was finding amazing deliverance (Praise the Lord!!) but was baffled as to why this spirit continued to plague me.

It wasn’t until I was talking with a good friend about Disney  {much of which is full of occultism and witchcraft} that it dawned on me: Kerra had the Frozen dolls, Elsa and Anna, in her room. I felt like the Holy Spirit was revealing the answer to the evil spirit problem. How should I approach my daughter and tell her she needed to give them up?  A few days later, the neighbor girl came over, bringing her Frozen dolls. Kerra went out to play, and I began to pray out loud, rebuking the spirit of addiction/bondage behind those dolls. A short time later, the girls came in, showing me that Elsa’s head had broken off. (!) I told them it wasn’t fixable and immediately Kerra piped up: “She can have my Elsa doll. I don’t need it!” I was flabbergasted. “Are you sure?” I asked. She was so sure she went to her room immediately, brought out her Elsa doll, and gave it to her friend. She hasn’t regreted her decision once. (I realize this was just passing the doll to another little girl. Believe me, we are praying for her and her family that they would come to know the Lord! The big thing to me was that Kerra was willing to give up something that was very important to her at one time.)

I rejoiced that day at how God worked immediately when that spirit was rebuked, and I realized something: it’s so freeing to just call out Satan through the power of the Lord and then step back and let Him work!! I couldn’t have done that without knowledge on Satan’s tactics. Oh and the footsteps in the hall? GONE!! Thank You Jesus.

 

We don’t need to be afraid of the enemy, but we do need to clothe ourselves with the Armor of God, (Ephesians 6:11-12) arm ourselves with knowledge and wisdom from Scripture, listen to the Holy Spirit, and test everything!!

Deliverance From Curses

Rebecca Brown, author and MD who has helped many, many people find freedom, talks about the steps to deliverance in her book Becoming a Vessel of Honor: I do not believe that demons can come into a person THROUGH JUST ANY SIN. I believe that happens with what I call “temple-defiling sins”. They fall into three categories: 

1. Inheritance

2. Any involvement in the occult

3. Sexual sins

Step 1: Define the doorways or temple-defiling sins.

Step 2: Repent and confess those sins asking God for forgiveness and cleansing.

Step 3: Command the demons that came in through “temple-defiling sins” to get out of you forever.

Step 4: Stop sinning! Saturate your life with God’s Word. (p.189-195)

 

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  James 4:7

 

Our Lord Jesus Christ is all-powerful, and He is in control. He overcame Satan and sin when He died on the cross and rose from the dead; because of Him we can have victory over evil!!  Someday Jesus will wage war on Satan and will win the battle forever!!

 

Let’s use our authority in Christ to kick Satan and his evil minions out, seal those doorways, and give evil NO place in our lives!!! God doesn’t want us to live a life of defeat and discouragement, but one of HOPE and redemption; with courage to possess the land as effective spiritual warriors in His kingdom!!

*And now if you have made it to the bottom of this rather lengthy blog post, (bless you!) I would love to hear from you! What are some things God has delivered you from or told you to remove from your home and your lives? Have you experienced the freedom that comes from obeying God? I’d love to hear your stories!!

Chapter One: Adoption Journey

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On June 20th, 2016, after a year of waiting to adopt, our lives were forever changed.  We heard the words, “You were chosen by a birth mom.” We were ecstatic and began to make plans. September 24th couldn’t come fast enough for us. We told all our friends and family and they rejoiced with us. We laid awake at night, dreaming of the future and praying for our birth mom and our son, who we called by name. I bought a pile of sweet little baby boy clothes and placed them into the baby chest. I giggled and cried with my best friend as we talked about raising baby boys together–a dream come true.

On July 6th, I sent our birth mom her first text, asking how she was doing. When she didn’t respond, I tried again the next day. A week went by and I left her a voice mail. When that didn’t work, and the agency worker said they hadn’t heard from her lately and that it wasn’t a good sign, I knew. I knew then in my heart that it was over. I wept a lot that day, crying out to Jesus on the birth mom’s behalf, pleading for her and the baby’s safety. I told the Lord that if this match failed, it was okay. I didn’t want to beg Him for this baby. Lord, let Your will be done.

On July 15th, I got a text from our agency worker saying it wasn’t good news. Gene and I looked at each other across the table, our hearts sinking. Five minutes later she called us and told us that the birth mom had switched to a local agency and had chosen another family. Is this a bad dream? Is this really happening? We sat at the table with Kerra and cried as we realized we would not be a family to this baby who we had already come to love so much in such a short time.

We are heartbroken, but not destroyed; devastated, but still have HOPE. Because the God we serve gives so much grace! We are thankful for several things: that we are being released from our contract with this agency and can go back to Faithful Adoption; we didn’t lose more than $1000, and last but definitely not least, that the match failed now and not later!

We are not giving up!! We are choosing to stay on this rollercoaster called “The Adoption Journey”. Hanging on tight–we are trusting the One Who is in control of this wild ride. We have already said “yes” to be presented in a new adoptive situation, and are prepared to say “yes” as many times as it takes…

Take the very hardest thing in your life – the place of difficulty, outward or inward, and expect God to triumph gloriously in that very spot. Just there He can bring your soul to blossom.”
-Lilias Trotter

Our hearts go out to those of you who are on painful Journeys. Who hear words no one ever wants to hear:

Your baby has no heartbeat.

You cannot get pregnant.

You have cancer.

Your loved one passed away.

…words that rip open our hearts, tear away hope, and sling grief.

 I cried out to God for help;
    I cried out to God to hear me.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
    at night I stretched out untiring hands,
    and I would not be comforted.

I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
    I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.[b]
You kept my eyes from closing;
    I was too troubled to speak.
I thought about the former days,
    the years of long ago;
I remembered my songs in the night.
    My heart mused and my spirit inquired:

“Will the Lord reject forever?
    Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
    Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
    Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”

10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
    the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
    and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”

13 Your ways, God, are holy.
    What god is as great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles;
    you display your power among the peoples.
15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
    the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.  {Psalm 77: 1-15}

When we, like David, remember Who God is, we can rest in Him. Oh sweet peace!!

And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. {Philippians 4:7}

He promises to draw near to the brokenhearted, to provide for those who grieve, to comfort all who mourn, to give beauty for ashes, oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. {Isaiah 61:1-3}

So here we are Lord, clinging to Your promises. We trust You. Because You are good.

Am I Willing?

Am I Willing?
Jim Caviezel’s Testimony is one of the most powerful testimonies I have ever heard. Not just because of who he is–an actor–but also because of the Holy Spirit-anointing on his words. He played Jesus in The Passion of Christ (which I haven’t actually seen, but it’s the highest selling R-rated movie ever made) and his story is absolutely incredible!! To begin with, Jim’s initials are JC and he played this role when he was 33. {What?!} Not only did he suffer from a painful dislocated shoulder and pneumonia while filming, causing him to go from 210 pounds to 168, he was also struck by lightning. When he was doing the crucifixion scene the doctor listening to his heart said he could die; Jim ended up having heart surgery after filming.

Throughout it all Jim told God he was willing to die for Him while filming this movie, and he spent much time praying and meditating in hopes that Jesus would seen, not him. He was warned that doing this movie would most likely ruin his reputation, but he was willing to give that up because He knew God was calling him to do something more important.

Around the 21 minute mark of the video (see highlighted link above) Jim begins preaching so passionately you will find yourself deeply moved–especially in the final minutes. He proclaims the power of God and the Gospel without apology, without compromise, and with deep passion. (I find it interesting that the pastor who interviewed him was not nearly as serious about this interview as Jim was!)

There are many (actors) who claim to be Christian but most times you will not find them speaking plainly about sin, taking up our cross for Christ and living a holy life; or proclaiming that it is good we are seeing our rights as Christians stripped away because “Freedom is not to do whatever we want, but what we ought…”

It struck me how Jim pointed out that many of us say, “Jesus died on the cross so I didn’t have to.” True. But then why did the apostles go on to suffer and die, some of them crucified also? {It goes without saying that none of them suffered the way Jesus did, with the weight of the entire world’s sin upon Him.} They took up their cross and denied themselves because they were willing to follow Jesus no matter the cost. Along with all the other martyrs who have given up their lives over the last two thousand years!

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26-27)

I used to think that “taking up my cross” involved dealing with the trials and temptations that came my way, because they definitely reveal one’s level of commitment to Christ. But recently a light bulb went off in my head: Jesus was talking about something deeper. “Carrying and following” are not passive verbs {i.e. lacking energy and will}, but action verbs They involve being intentional. The cross is a symbol of death, so we are actually called to put to death our own desires and plans, and commit ourselves to God’s will.

When Jesus spoke with the rich young ruler He asked him to give up all his possessions and riches. Why?  Because they were nearest and dearest to his heart.

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (Luke 9:24-25).

Carrying my cross may mean to give up or lose hopes, dreams, ambitions, health, possessions, or relationships. {OUCH.} To deny myself and my selfish desires. To get out of my comfort zone and let go of fears that are holding me back from fulfilling God’s plan for my life.

Am I willing to live intentionally rather than going on with my life the same way I have always done, expecting God to just show up? Am I willing to ask God how and when to fulfill His commands such as: go out and share the Gospel, care for the fatherless, the widow, and those in distress, love my neighbors…and then obey what He tells me to do? What is He laying upon my heart? I once heard from Focus on the Family that if we have thoughts like: “I wonder if we should adopt?” it may well be the still small voice of God speaking. Hmm..let’s take a leap of faith and see what God does!!

For years Gene and I were closed to the idea of adoption, resisting anyone who made that suggestion. We thought it was simply something we could not do. I’m ashamed to say we didn’t pray and ask God if we should consider it. We didn’t even go there. Unbeknown to us, there were others who were praying about this calling for us!

One Sunday, New Horizons Ministry shared at our church and I found myself fighting tears as we viewed pictures of little ones whose lives were completely different from my daughter’s. I pushed the thoughts and emotions aside and didn’t even say anything to Gene, thinking he would never be open to it. It wasn’t until we surrendered our dream of having more biological children that God began to change our hearts; in fact, He has wrecked our lives!! {In an awesome way!} What a journey it has been…and it all began with a life-changing conference called “Love After Marriage.”  God drew us together as He drew us to Himself…but that’s a story in itself for another time!

A few weeks later Gene and I watched the movie “The Big Lie” about a group of Sudanese refugee children. We went to bed and just cried. That night we began to dream about adoption and to earnestly seek His face. The months that followed were exhausting but exhilarating. Now over a year later and after being presented approximately 50-60 times to birth mothers, we feel some of that initial excitement fading.  Satan does his best to steal our joy, to make us question God’s calling on our life; he is the ultimate HOPE-stealer. To be honest, we have given up to a certain extent because it is easier than constantly having our hopes dashed. Waiting is so hard. But God is incredibly faithful. He will not let us go!!

Recently, in the very same week, God laid an intense restlessness on both Gene and I. Again we found ourselves weeping before the Lord. What would You have us do while we wait Lord? We are willing to wait on You, but is there more You want us to do? Are we to give up this dream of adoption? 

I still can’t believe what happened next: He placed a new dream in our hearts–fostering-to-adopt. We haven’t called DSS yet, but plan to soon. We are very excited!! Fostering was another thing we were never going to do…I gotta tell you, it looks very hard and scary and my flesh is screaming “NO! What are you doing?!” It’s all good to be saying I want to live intentionally and deny myself and all that but when it comes down to actually doing it…it looks very different.  The thing is, why do I run from the hard things when God is so good at meeting me through them?!  There is a quote I heard recently that describes what I am feeling so well:

“Uncertainty is everywhere. But I am living in the midst of the uncertainty and risk, amid things that can and do bring physical destruction, because I am running from things that can destroy my soul: complacency, comfort, and ignorance. I am much more terrified of living a comfortable life in a self-serving society and failing to follow Jesus than I am of any illness or tragedy. Jesus called His followers to be a lot of things, but I have yet to find where He warned us to be safe.” Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis

I do not share our story to bring glory to ourselves, but to God. He will “wreck” your life if you allow Him to do so, but you have to be willing to carry your cross and follow Him–no matter the cost!! Pray for us that we would be willing to wait on the Lord and that His good  work would continue in our lives! At this point we will continue working with Faithful Adoption Consultants until our contract runs out in October, and Lord willing pursue foster care as well. Who knows what the future may hold!? I’m thankful God knows. 🙂

The Empty Nursery

IMG_6690It’s National Infertility Week.

Thoughts, emotions, and numbers are swirling through my heart and head…I feel like the psalmist David who cried out to God and raged against his troubles at the beginning of his song, but by the time he reached the end, he praised God for what He had done and what He was going to do.

I don’t go into the nursery very often. Because it’s unbearably empty.

5 years on this infertility journey and it’s still hard to see pregnancy & birth announcements. Pictures of darling babies on my Facebook feed. Adorable baby outfits at the store. Sweet toothy grins from the baby looking at me from the next church pew.

1 year ago God called us to begin our adoption journey. It’s been 6 months since we started presenting to birth moms and  we have heard “no” over and over (around 44 times) just because we are Mennonite. It doesn’t seem fair. What if the nursery stays empty??

At times I find myself thinking all hope is gone. And then I remember…
God is in the business of redeeming stories, renewing hope, and revealing Himself more and more as we walk by faith. He has changed my heart and my husband’s heart through both of these journeys we are on–and we wouldn’t trade that for the world.
One of my favorite Biblical passages is from Habakkuk 3: 17-19:
Though the fig tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
    and no cattle in the stalls,
 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.

Abba Father, You are good. So good. I praise You for what you have done in my life and for what you are about to do.

I claim Your promises:

To never leave us nor forsake us.  (Deuteronomy 31:6)
To work all things together for our good. (Romans 8:28)
To give us a hope and future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
To renew our strength. (Isaiah 40:31)
To give us rest. (Matthew 11:28)
To establish all our plans. (Proverbs 16:3)
To sustain us and never let us be shaken. (Psalm 55:22)
To make our paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
To redeem us. (Isaiah 43: 1)
To help when we are tempted. (Hebrews 2:18)
To comfort us when we mourn. (Matthew 5:4)
To instruct us and teach us in the way we should go.(Psalm 32:8)
To give us the desires of our heart. (Psalm 37:4)
To deliver us from our troubles. (Psalm 34:19)
To answer us in our distress. (Psalm 120:1)
To be near to all that call upon You. (Psalm 145:18-19)
To keep us in perfect peace. (Isaiah 26:3)
To satisfy our needs. (Isaiah 58:11)
To make everything beautiful in Your time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
To bestow on us a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. (Isaiah 61:1-3)

Friends and loved ones on this painful journey of infertility, I am so sorry. It breaks my heart. I understand!  But this I know: if you resolve to tell God He is still good, I promise you He will take you places you’ve never been before!

“1 in 8 couples suffer with this disease of the reproductive system. And chances are you know someone who struggles with the heartache and the constant battle to be able to do what is supposed to be so natural and easy, which is grow their family. So please say a prayer for them tonight. Pray for peace to overwhelm their anxious minds…pray for hope to be restored to their hopeless situation…pray for healing to manifest in their bodies…pray for wisdom to know which direction to take…pray for faith to be strengthened…and pray for the five stages of grief to soon end as the desires of their hearts are finally fulfilled.” ~Waiting for Baby Bird