The Small Role We Play

I remember little Elementary School plays.

 

I was never out to be the lead. I was comfortable accepting a supporting role or a walk-on/non-speaking role. 

 

But, I believe a lot of us clamored a bit for that spotlight. Maybe you were one of those that did above and beyond to stand out for the lead roles. 

 

The night of the performance, emotions are high. Parents and grandparents fill the room, cameras in hand, whispering to other parents what parts their children have in the production. Each exchanging several adjectives describing their child and how they’ve spent weeks preparing for this night.  

 

Lights dim.

 

Spotlight ready.  

 

Curtain goes up.  

 

Music begins.  

 

And so begins several scenes. The actors, the stage hands, the background, all collide in a dance that represents weeks of preparation and careful planning.  

 

I was reading Revelation this morning.

 

Talk about a book filled to overflowing with dramatic scenes and characters. This book takes the Oscar for Best Picture, for sure. 

 

There’s this heavenly scene in chapters 4 and 5 that pierced my heart through.  

 

John is transported to Heaven, in the Spirit. 

 

He begins describing the scene. First, he’s instantly taken with the “someone” on the throne.  

 

This being had the appearance of “jasper and carnelian” (vs.3), which is the color of red, for those of you who aren’t aware.  

IMG_7512.JPG

 

The jasper represents Gods holiness and carnelian, His wrath.  

 

A rainbow surrounded the throne and had the appearance of an emerald. We all know that emeralds are green, but I bet you didn’t know that they represent Gods grace and mercy. It’s a promise and it’s never-ending. 

 

He describes these creatures filled with eyes, the sights and sounds that are coming from the throne, and the never-ending song of the creatures:

”Holy, holy, holy

Lord God, the Almighty

who was, and is, and is to come.” 

 

Day and night they sing. And day and night they cast their crowns before His throne. Never bored. Never weary from this loop of adoration.  

IMG_7513.JPG

 

Here’s the part where we come in. 

 

There’s a scroll in God’s hand, sealed with seven seals. An angel loudly shouts for someone to open the scroll. But, no one, both in Heaven and on earth was worthy to do so. 

 

John begins to weep uncontrollably because no one is found worthy to do this task. 

 

Then, the Lamb of God is found standing in the midst of the throne. The climax of the scene. Every moment prior has led up to this.  

He takes the scroll out of God’s hand.  

IMG_7518.JPG

 

The four eye-filled creatures and the twenty-four elders begin bowing down in worship to the Lamb.  

 

“Each one of them had both a harp and golden bowls (plural) filled with incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”  (5:8) 

 

And there we are. 

 

Thats our part in this breathtaking scene.  

 

IMG_7514.PNG

Just a little puff of smoke. So insignificant. Held in these spectacular bowls of pure gold, we are the puffs of air rising to the throne of God.  

 

Do you understand how incredible, and yet, extremely humbling this is? 

 

Here the God of Creation is surrounded by glory. Sounded by songs and light and perfection and beauty and indescribable things. And while He’s being praised, night and day, day and night, without ceasing, here we are: little puffs of smoke coming from the bowls of the creatures who sing beautiful songs of holiness to Him without ceasing.  

 

And yet, YET, He includes our prayers, our words, in this scene of glory and worship.  

 

He loves to hear from those who follow Him so much, that He includes our words in the ultimate worship scene of Heaven.  

 

And the fact that He’s never too “overwhelmed” by all this action to not take it all in. The singing, the prayers, the setting...it would all be too much for us human folk.  

 

Yikes. I get to “going to implode” status if two kids are talking at once, music is playing in the background, and I’m trying to send my husband a text message. I nearly scream from the overload.

 

But, not our God. Our God is immeasurably perfect and sustaining and beyond our full understanding, that a scene like this is just a regular day to Him. It’s His Home. It’s why we need to remember how big He is and how nothing we are.  

 

IMG_7515.JPG

So. I ask you now; how do you plan to add yourself to that scene today?  

 

How long has it been since you talked to your Creator? Because, He clearly loves to listen to you. It’s part of His continuous worship service. 

 

And how can you humble yourself today? Remember, you’re just this little supporting role. A speck of air. A poof of smoke. Not dazzling. Not glorious by any stretch. Yet, this amazing God we serve sees our speaking to Him as important enough to put our names in His playbill. 

 

Meditate on this today.  

 

And maybe, you can just join the beings in that throne room and sing the words that they never stop singing:  

“Holy, holy, holy

is the Lord God Almighty

who was, and is, and is to come.” 

 

Amen.  

IMG_7517.JPG

Looking Beyond Young Motherhood

I’ll be 35 this October. 

Still young. But, not really. Because ever since I had my last baby, nearly 3 1/2 years ago, I’ve felt like an 80 year old. 

But thats not what prompted me to write this blog post.

What prompted me was when I considered other women my age and how I’m the “weird one”.

There are women all around me that are just “starting out”. Women that waited until their thirties to tie the knot and rock the cradle.

And, the fact that by the time their oldest child is ready for their ABC’s and 123’s, my oldest will be graduating high school.

I see first and second baby announcements coming from women in their mid-thirties, like me. 

 Our second baby. And the days of toddlers climbing on everything and feeling “big enough”.  

Our second baby. And the days of toddlers climbing on everything and feeling “big enough”.  

 

I see blog posts of forty year olds with just toddlers and such dark circles under their eyes, you’d thought they’d been in an MMA fight.  

 

Its surreal to think back at my early days of motherhood.  

 

Twelve years ago, on March 2nd, I recall taking my first pregnancy test ever and seeing two HOT pink lines. Those lines were blinding as they nearly popped thru the testing window.  

 

Pregnant.  

 

Completely overjoyed.  

 

Had no earthly clue what being a mother meant. 

 My oldest. The days when it was just he and I (a very pregnant me) and there was room enough to ride his trike indoors.  

My oldest. The days when it was just he and I (a very pregnant me) and there was room enough to ride his trike indoors.  

I thought it similar to the job I did everyday. Taking care of other children, other women had birthed. The mad, intense love I had for these children was unlike anything I could describe for someone not related to me.

I was so off on that love thing, by the way. The second I heard my son gasp for air, the love I thought I had for children seemed like a joke compared to this love I had for my own son.

The years just continued on with a miscarriage nine months after my sons birth, then, six months later, another pregnancy: his little brother. 

The pregnancies and nursing years kept multiplying. I had 10 straight years of no breaks. None at all.

And those years all blurred on.

I always recall, on my outings with the “hands full” of children, those commenters of “You don’t look old enough to have (3,4, or 5) kids.”

 Our five. Over three years ago. All so little.  

Our five. Over three years ago. All so little.  

This happened for my entire early motherhood years. 

 

While my peers were out solidifying careers and dating around, I was in the thick of chasing four, five and under. 

 

I never considered myself deprived.  

 

In fact, I somewhat pitied the ones my age that just lived to please themselves. Sure, their instagrams looked cool, and I would lie if I didn’t say I wasn’t a tad envious of their “freedom”. 

 

Here I was, sacrificing. And sacrificing hard, at that. 

 

Every second, of every day, some little face needed me.  

 

At age 29, I was homeschooling a kindergartener, chasing his very active little brother, keeping little sister out of the dishwasher while I loaded it, and nursing a colicky baby sister all night long. 

 

 The days of being a 29 year old. Filled with the joys of four children, five and under.  

The days of being a 29 year old. Filled with the joys of four children, five and under.  

And the years rolled on. Faster and faster. 

 

And when I consider that this year I’ll be celebrating thirteen years of marriage and 12 years of motherhood, when other 35 year olds are just beginning, I wonder: “Have I really missed out?” 

 

If you’re reading this and share a similar story as mine, “Do you feel as though you’ve ‘missed out’?”  

 

I have to answer emphatically, “No....”

 Our youngest baby reminds me that, as the fifth baby, all you need is wipes, dipes, and love. 

Our youngest baby reminds me that, as the fifth baby, all you need is wipes, dipes, and love. 

 

”...not at all.” 

 

I may be a grandmother in my forties (maybe). I may still look fresh out of college some days, but I would never ever regret beginning my family as a young, young graduated-college-in-the-nick-of-time-twenty-two-year-old. 

 

 College. So incredibly fun, my heart could only handle three years of it. Because I got married. And completed my undergrad just a mere eight weeks before my first was born.  

College. So incredibly fun, my heart could only handle three years of it. Because I got married. And completed my undergrad just a mere eight weeks before my first was born.  

Because, God has taught me so much in the past twelve/thirteen years. More than I could’ve ever hoped to have learned from a bunch of little people. 

 

 My thumb-sucker, middle child. A time when juggling three, was truly juggling.  

My thumb-sucker, middle child. A time when juggling three, was truly juggling.  

And as my focus shifts from keeping little hands and feet safe to mentoring and molding young men and women, I will always cherish the days when both I and my children were young and naive.  

 

The days of baby gates and all-nighters that were just a seemless transition from the late nights in my college dorm room. When 2am was just a number, and we didn’t feel the consequences.  

 

As I push and struggle to gain what was drained from me all of those sweet years, I am reminded that motherhood is just a small extension of the love of Christ. That sacrificial, gut-wrenching, ultra-intense/doesn’t-make-sense kind of love.

 

Motherhood is a gift no matter what age you choose to embrace it. But, I’d like to think that those “weird ones” of us that got that  several year headstart; we’re that much better because of it. 💗

 

 Our fourth. And a time when I was invincible. Or so I thought. Motherhood was adorable and so squishy.  

Our fourth. And a time when I was invincible. Or so I thought. Motherhood was adorable and so squishy.  

Of Demons and Daniel.

“I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. “-Jesus, Revelation 2:12-13

 

If there is a throne, there’s also a kingdom. 

 

 

IMG_6894.JPG

I bet you’re like I was (before last Thursday). 

 

You don’t give much thought to Demons or the Kingdom of That Most Evil One, Satan. 

 

I didn’t either.  

 

In fact, I was so well distracted that I barely had time to really give God what He wanted from me. 

 

I believe there’s a natural sort of solution to solving the issue I presented above. The easiest way to get your spiritual butt in gear towards a deeper relationship with God, is to study our Enemy. 

 

Yes. I’m telling you to read up on Satan and His current, and very vast Kingdom.  

IMG_6895.JPG

2 Corinthians 2:11 ESV

So that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.

 

Ephesians 6:12 ESV

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.

 

2 Corinthians 11:3 ESV 

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

 Powerful. Stealthy. Quiet. Patient. Camouflaged. Deadly. Yet, rendered helpless at just one five letter word:  Jesus.  

Powerful. Stealthy. Quiet. Patient. Camouflaged. Deadly. Yet, rendered helpless at just one five letter word: Jesus. 

The truth is, we need to study our Enemy.   

 

No great army of men goes into an impending battle without strategy; without studying; without purpose.  

 

All distractions are removed.  

 

Gear is carefully placed on the body.

 

Supplies and ammo are stocked. 

 

The drills and practices are recalled over and over again.

 

And most of the time, a battle begins with an air of confidence, on both sides, as the final exam is given.  

 

Can you imagine our U.S. Army going into battle and being caught off guard every single time? Casualties everywhere. Territory gained. Lives hanging in the balance. 

 

Look up! Fight!  

 

 

 

IMG_6896.JPG

 

Yet, this is what Christ-followers do all.the.time. 

 

We are more distracted than ever before. 

 

Satan and His minions are loving it. Our defenses are down. We have “no time” to dedicate to battle-readiness, and the gods of busyness and self-absorption rule and reign. 

 

 

1 Peter 5:8 ESV

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

 

Last Thursday, I was face-first with a few demons of my own. 

 

While Believers in Christ cannot be inhabited by Demons, don’t think for a second that we cannot be tormented and made into a rather comfy nest of sorts by these evil ones.  

 

I had two.  

 

One was named Bitterness. 

 

The other, Fear.  (Anxiety, Worry, Panic,etc)

 

As I literally gorged myself, for days, on all things about my Enemy, I began to feel terrified. More terrified than I have ever been in my life. 

 

ATTENTION:This is NOT a drill!

 

Satan and His Kingdom are wrecking true havoc on our brothers and sisters in Christ. And we need to be vocal about how to suit up and defeat this already defeated foe. 

 

IMG_6876.JPG

 

Step 1: Why did Jesus have to come? 

 

No, really.  

 

Think about why.  

 

Not only so we could become friends with God. But so that Satan and the stain of sin, itself, could be fully eradicated. So we could be free. So we could choose to live life without chains. 

 

I have this feeling that most Believers feel like the Gospel no longer applies to them.  

 

That this Gospel is just something we memorize to share with those we witness to. Right?  

 

Dead wrong. 

 

The Gospel is, I believe, more for the Believers, (than those who don’t). 

 

IMG_6877.JPG

You see, if we, as Believers, walk around, feeling defeated, addicted to mood-altering drugs, and chalking up our social media “friendships” as actively being a part of the body of Christ, who are we kidding?! 

 

How is that attractive?! Would you do a double-take for a person who lives without hope?! Those hopeless Christians. The great mystery of the universe. 

 

Most of us are neck-deep in unconfessed sin, grasping for pills or that drink, before we fall on our knees.  

 

We’ve forgotten that sin still exists because we go to churches that have completely omitted that word from their vocabulary. 

 

We’ve put ourselves in this sort of hypothetical “safe zone” just because we’ve been washed clean by the blood of the Lamb.  

 

Nobody mentions Satan anymore because, well, that’s just weird and makes people uncomfortable. And yet, we take no issue with indulging ourselves with the pleasures this world offers.

 

Maybe if I squint really hard, I can see the difference between us and them. Maybe.  

 

Maybe not-so-much. 

 

 

Sure, you may not be overtly sinning. 

 

You may stay away from gambling, sexual immorality, and gossip.

 

In fact, you may be immersed in ministry, somewhere, (somehow), and you really don’t have time for anything else.  

 

But, you see, Satan has deceived even you.  

 

For he knows that when a society, as blessed as ours, becomes used to a pattern of constant indulgence; self-control becomes nearly impossible.

 

He also knows constant distractions mean his job gets wayyyyy easier. 

 

So, why are you making it so easy for him to do his job?  

 

Sure, Jesus defeated him on the cross, but he’s still very much in power. He didn’t render him helpless on the cross, just hopeless. The helpless part comes later on.  

 

Until then... 

 

 

IMG_6897.JPG

Ask God to reveal to you specific sins you’ve been struggling with. Tell Him, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you, to put those sins on the forefront of your mind.

IMG_6874.JPG

Next, admit that, indeed, you are struggling with those sins. Don’t hide. What’s the point? God sees all.

Repent.

You may be saved by grace, through your faith, but that doesn’t mean we stop asking for forgiveness from God. 

Humble yourselves. Confess and repent.

Then, call Satan out on his ways. Tell him you know what he’s been up to and you have every intention of duking it out right then and there.

IMG_6878.JPG

This is the fun part: say the names of those sins/those demons out loud. Couple those words with “In the Name of Jesus, leave me!” and watch them scurry along leaving you free and warm from the Holy Spirits love.

 

But don’t even think about retreating just yet.  

 

This battle is ongoing and it won’t end until we see His face. 

 

So stay vigilant, friends. 

 

Ask God what you can give up for Him.  

 

Like Daniel, we too, can find freedom in sacrificing those daily distractions in exchange for a life full of victory. 

 

God delivered Daniel many times from the clutches of death, because He knew Daniel meant business with Him. He was about as unshakable as they come. Trusted far above most. And revered forever as one of the greatest bible “heroes” in history.  

 

It takes a man like Daniel to show us that a “take-no-crap-don’t-back-down-God’s-got-this” attitude is what saves us from our own self-destruction.

 

It also, boldly shows the world that “In Christ, we can truly do and face all things”. 

 

So let God try you.  

 

Strip down to nakedness.

 

Allow Him to expose where you’ve gotten it all wrong. Then, put on the armor of God. Praying every single piece over your body.

Ready.

Steady. 

Because the battle is going on right now. And Satan has studied you like a college final.  

 

Don’t let him ace this thing. Be ready. Send him running. Tail between legs and all.  

 

Back to the drawing board.  

 

Because he will keep coming back. And, with Christ, and some overnighters, you can meet him at the gate. Ready. 

IMG_6845.JPG

“But He knows the way that I take and when He has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” -Job 23:10

 

#yearofdenial2018