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All posts for the month December, 2012

Are you Prepared?

Published December 31, 2012 by Dawn

It took less than a minute to put things in perspective: this would be a tough competition. Arrogantly, he had arrived thinking things would be the same as last year. He had wiped the floor with kids last year. But as he sized up the competition, his heart began to sink. He was in trouble. Less than  a minute on the mat confirmed that. The kid pinned him and since he knew it was coming, he let it happen. He didn’t fight against it, he flowed with it. Not surprisingly, he lost. It cut him deep and the next match was in his inner man: will he fight harder or quit? I watched helplessly as my son struggled with this question. It hurt just as much for me to watch him. I wanted him to get up and brush it off. I wanted him to reclaim his victory. I wanted him to atleast give it all he had. I knew there was much more skill and will to fight inside of him than I had seen come out of him in this competition. I wanted him to know that too, and to use it. I watched him for several minutes while he wrestled in his mind, then I went to him and said, “You are capable of more. Are you quitting or going back out there and giving it all you’ve got?” His decision was out of my hands. Of course, I could have made him get out on the mat whether he wanted to or not. But I could not make him wrestle. That had to come from him. He chose to give it all he had, and went in for his second match. He wrestled hard but found that the competition was tougher than he had imagined. He lost again. Last year’s champion started the season with two losses. That was more than he lost in the entire last season. His past victories did not serve him anything on the mat. This was new territory. Tougher battles. Stronger opponents. I had feared this would happen. He hadn’t taken practice seriously, and he had entered the gym like the gold was his by right. He hadn’t taken in to consideration that there would be others with the same ambition and drive, who put their all into securing it. He was so sure of himself but he found out soon enough that his half-hearted approach to practice would show up in the mat. He was exposed and humbled by it. Next time would be different.

I realized as I reflected on all of this that this is what my spiritual life is like more often than not. I go into battle arrogantly, seeing more spiritual strength in myself than what truly exists. I depend on my past victories to carry me through, and unsurprisingly find myself staring at the ceiling, laid out on my back and wondering what hit me. Did my enemy get stronger? Did he learn new tactics? Sometimes, I give all I’ve got and still lose the battle. Why? Probably because I didn’t take my training seriously.

I know I’m not the only one. Actually, I didn’t even see this in the spiritual sense until a good friend of mine described her last trip to Africa and how she had shown up completely unprepared in the spiritual sense, and suffered for the first few weeks because of it. The battle she had expected ended up being more intense and because she failed to prepare herself spiritually, she was a punching bag for the enemy. He descended on her in a furry the moment she stepped off the plane and he was relentless! She was laid out speechless, dazed from the impact of being thrown to the ground, hurt and confused. And then it hit her: the enemy was stronger and better prepared than last time. She instantly knew she needed to reclaim victory, but first, she had to throw herself into training.

What does training look like for the Christian warrior? First, it begins with preparing the body for battle. If our battle is in the unseen, our preparation is  spiritual. You cannot fight the spiritual wickedness around you in the flesh. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty…(2 Corinthians 10:4)” As a matter of fact, flesh is your first opponent. Flesh will wear you down before the enemy strikes. It’s a like a one-two punch, only your flesh is working for your enemy. I find that the only way to strip flesh of power is to bring it under submission. How do you do that? Most effectively, through fasting. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:27 (NIV), “No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” He goes on to say in Romans 8:13 that if we live according to the flesh, we will die. But if through the spirit we put flesh to death, we will live. Here in America, we tend to walk by the dictates of our flesh and society urges us on. As Christians, we should know better. The bible tells us that friendship with the world is against God’s standards for us. Society caters to our flesh. We eat more often than not for taste instead of nourishment. We lust with our eyes instead of loving with our hearts. If it feels good, we do it. If it doesn’t, we don’t. It doesn’t matter whether it is beneficial to us or not, if it satisfies our appetite, we are all for it.

I have to admit, I have a love-hate relationship with fasting. It is so uncomfortable! I hate the feeling of hunger and emptiness. But when I deny my flesh and endure physical hunger, I become much more aware of a spiritual hunger and since that’s the only food I am permitted, I eat the Word like nobody’s business. I may be weak in the flesh from hunger, but my spirit-man thrives in these times! The second part of training happens in this time, too. I get to wrestle with my Coach and He shows me all the right moves to defeat my enemy. He and I spend a lot of time together and He tells me all He knows of my opponent so that I am not shaken when I meet him on the mat. He may look bigger and stronger, but like I tell my son, “skill will beat him every time.” Every time! “For when I am weak, then I am strong! (2 Corinthians 12:10)” And my favorite, “If God is for us, who can be against us! (Romans 8:31)” During the match, if your coach is not at your mat, you cannot wrestle. The coaches are right there, guiding you through the moves that you need to make to beat your opponent. Our spiritual battles are just like that. God sends His Spirit alongside us, standing at our mats, to guide us through the battle. The Spirit knows the moves by heart. He knows every attack and counterattack the enemy has, and He knows how to defeat them. But again, your time in training will help you perfect your offensive and defensive strategies, because it takes both to win. You don’t want to go out there and do just enough to ward off the enemy. Well, at least I don’t. I want to win! I want the gold. I want to pin him in under a minute so that when I go home, I not only have a trophy, I have some major bragging rights. I want to send him home a coward. And when I see him on the mat again, I want to see him tremble when we go toe-to-toe!

I believe that we can have victory in Jesus every time! But I also believe that we will get out of practice what we put into it. If we treat our training time like social hour, we will not be prepared when we “go live.” If, however, we commit ourselves to training, build up our strength, wrestle with the pros and get to know the enemy’s tactics, we will be victorious every time we step onto the mat. And that’s what it takes to bring home the gold.

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For Better or For Worse

Published December 31, 2012 by Dawn

I don’t even know what started the latest tiff between us. It could have been the unpaid bills or the latest issue the kids were having. It could have been another miscommunication. I’m not sure. I just knew that things had grown cold between us. We hardly talked, rarely stayed long in the same room, and I was so angry with him that none of this really bothered me. Our relationship, once alight with passion had grown cold and lifeless. It still kinda hurt that he wasn’t talking to me. Well, really, I was incredibly lonely. But how could I tell him that when every time I looked at him, I felt pierced again. He had disappointed me again. It seemed like his protection was never enough, his provisions were never enough. When I needed him, he was distant. When I longed for his comfort, he withheld. I cast silent accusations at him every time he came near. “How could you?” In exasperation, I cried, “What kind of a husband are you?” He turned and lovingly looked at me, and said, “What kind of a wife are you?”

Ah, how things go between God and I. We have that kind of relationship. It’s real, and we are free to be honest with each other. I withhold nothing from Him and He lovingly returns affection in like kind. How could I expect anything else from Him but a startling reality check when my dramatic pity-party went unchecked for far too long? This morning at church, my only desire was to talk to Him. I wanted to feel Him again and to know that we were okay. I praised Him with all of my heart and soul, and as I stood there in His presence humbly offering my praise to Him, crying out for His companionship again, this is what He said to me. “What kind of a wife are you?” Not accusing me, not condemning me. Just asking that I analyze myself in light of the relationship we are in: what kind of a wife am I?

Demanding. Whiny. Nagging. Hateful. Selfish. Unreasonable. So conditional. Ouch! It’s true! I’m not a very good one. After all, I expect things to go my way, or else. When I accepted God as my Husband, I came to Him with a list of my expectations and because He’s God, I expected nothing less than everything He was capable of, which is everything. I expected Him to provide for all my needs (including the needs of my children). I expected His supernatural protection in the physical sense as well as in the spiritual sense. I expected His undivided attention to me and my needs. I never expected to hear Him say “No.” He’s my Husband, and I expected, out of a loving adoration for me, He would lavish goodness on me. Of course, I expected that His enemies would also become my enemies, but I never expected to be in any real danger of them. After all, my Husband is God! What I never expected was hardship. I never expected tears. I never expected to struggle with unmet needs. I never expected to wrestle with loneliness. I never expected to lie awake at night hurting over the unmet needs of my children. God was supposed to take care of all of that.

When I was confronted with reality – that I would not always have everything I wanted or even needed, that my kids would still grapple with things I couldn’t fix, that bills would be unpaid and life would still be scary sometimes – I stared accusingly at God. Why? What have I done that deserves this? Why can’t you love me enough to take care of us and all of our needs? I became hardened toward Him. “This is not what I envisioned my life would be like!” And do you know how He responded? “Will you love me even now?” Ugh! My heart was torn! “I want to, but I don’t know how! I’ve never loved someone unselfishly before!” In fact, I’ve never even seen it done. I have never known an unselfish love. It is not naturally within me. When I accepted God as my Husband, it was not “for better or for worse.” It was, embarrassingly, “for better or else!” I did not agree to become one in heart, body, and soul. I agreed to receive, but only to give when it benefited me in some way. I agreed to pain, but only if it paid off in the long-run. I agreed to be the object of affection and to return affection … when it was earned. Oh, what a horrible wife I am!

With all of my heart, I responded by asking Him, “Jesus, help me to become one with you, so that I may  love in that way. Not just you, but everyone. Regardless of what others think of me or do to me, help me to love unselfishly and unconditionally. I want to be the kind of person that loves without expecting anything in return. I want to love without distinctions, without prejudice, without exceptions. Mostly, I want to love God for better or for worse. I don’t want to turn a cold shoulder when things don’t go my way. I don’t want to agonize over things that I am incapable of fixing on my own. I don’t want to accuse Him of unfairness or hatred when He doesn’t answer my prayers the way I want Him to. No matter what my life looks like when I’m lying on my death bed, no matter what hardships I face or what riches I know, I want to be in this together with You, my Husband. For better or for worse.”

Ambushed and Taken Captive

Published December 29, 2012 by Dawn

Cold. Lonely. Frightened. Light and dark chase one another through timeless days. I’m not even sure where I am. Sleep is a sweet relief from my daytime nightmare of hunger, thirst and confusion. I’m stuck here … wherever this is. My vision is a blur, my hearing completely gone. I struggle through this seemingly endless agony to take hold of something that is true. What is true anymore?

I wrestle with this question until one truth illuminates in my mind: where I was before. I wrap my hands around the memory of me standing there, right outside the gate. I was standing right outside my Promised Land. I could see it. I was touching it. I was getting ready to enter in! And then, nothingness. Confusion. Darkness. Captivity. I don’t know exactly what happened in terms of events; I’m not sure what that moment looked like, but I had been ambushed. All forces of Hell had come against me in that moment and I had been taken. Stripped of my weapons, bound and tossed into a dark hole. The aching in my throat assures me that I have spent hours if not days screaming into or at this blackness surrounding me. Nothing. No one has heard me. How long can I last without nourishment? How long will I last without water? But if this is the only place I will live anymore, why does any of that even matter?

In terms of reality, this is all spiritual. A metaphor for where I have been, spiritually speaking. One moment, victoriously standing on the threshold of Promise. I was there! Looking at all that God had spoken into my heart and rejoicing over it. The next moment, struggling to know myself again. Struggling with light and darkness. Bound by confusion and emotional turmoil. Unable to drag myself out of it, I sat helpless and cried out to God, “Where are you? I’m thirsty! I’m famished! I need you!” Nothing. My spirit could sense the presence of Yahweh, but my spiritual eyes were dim and my hearing completely lost. “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?”

But with the memory, hope was aroused. Inner strength was aroused. Determination to be free again was aroused. I had been awakened! This enemy, I knew, could be defeated! With no weapons at my disposal and being weak from hunger and thirst, all I could do to combat the enemy was know Yahweh. Trust my God. Hunger for Him. I opened my Word with longing, listened for His voice with every part of myself, and tore myself out of the clutches of the enemy by seeking to know Him more. I reclaimed the truth in my mind and heart. I commanded the forces of Hell to loose those things that are mine. Once again, my enemy trembled. The power of God within me was again a force to be reckoned with at the peril of eternal damnation! And finally, I was free! Thank you, Yahweh, for victory in Jesus’ name!

Faith in the Unseen

Published December 27, 2012 by Dawn

It’s still all a blur in my  mind. There is no other way to explain my sitting here today but to say that Guardian Angels are real, and there were a few who deserve a metal for what they brought me and my family through yesterday.

We had just gotten on the highway for a long trip to the Endodontist. Yes, the Endodontist the day after Christmas. Roads were slick with ice because it snowed the night before, hit the salt-sprayed road and melted, then refroze because of the twenty-degree weather. Me, my mom and kids and my fabulous four-wheel-drive tracker were braving the ice to get to an appointment to finish up a root canal. The lucky patient: my son. Only Satan had other plans, and a few minutes down the highway, I was putting my phone away after confirming the appointment and looked up in time to see the van in front of me had slowed to a crawl next to the off-ramp and I was about to run right up their rear because there was no way I could slow to a stop on the ice. I freaked, and swerved to miss them, and then overcorrected because my mom screamed in the seat next to me. At that point, amazing peace descended on me as I calmly held the steering wheel and maneuvered it without even really knowing what I was doing. The Tracker slid sideways and we were staring straight ahead at the side of the van (we were sideways, they were straight). I had taken my foot off the gas, totally uncommitted to moving another inch, and I held the wheel and looked helplessly in front of me. We were sliding at the same speed sideways that the van was going, which probably was not that fast, but seemed like a million miles an hour at that moment. When the Tracker finally did move in a forward motion, it was to drive perpendicular to the back of the van, at which point I corrected our direction and slowed to a stop at the beginning of the off-ramp. The kids were crying in the back seat, my mom was not so speechless in the seat next to me and I was in awe that we had somehow survived the horrific ordeal. In reliving the tale, my mom said all she could hear in her mind was her husband’s words, “Short wheel-base, it’ll flip!” What she didn’t know was that I had read the visors many times and knew in the back of my mind that it should have. There’s no reason why it didn’t unless you consider our entourage in the unseen. I am a believer, definitely. First of all, because I am an awful driver. I don’t know what I’m doing most of the time in normal driving situations. Not only that, but I’m not calm and collected during stressful situations. Mostly, I’m spastic. If you then consider that somehow, this girl who cannot drive managed to pull it out of a sideways slide in four-wheel-drive when she normally has a hard time parking it right at the store in four-wheel drive, you must admit that there was definitely some angelic involvement going on. Thank you, God, for Guardian Angels! Mine deserve your highest honor for their heroics yesterday!

Prayer for the Lonely

Published December 25, 2012 by Dawn

I’ve been considering this topic for several days now. Well, ever since I heard that some guy jumped off the overpass the other night into on-coming traffic. This is supposed to be the season of bliss, and yet I can’t help but think about all the people who become desperate this time of year because they are overcome with loneliness. I’m not completely alone this time of year.  I have two beautiful children and family that I enjoy time with. Though my nights still feel lonely, I make it through because I know that I am blessed beyond measure. But what about all the people out there who, for one reason or another, spend the holidays alone? Many of them get so lost in their feelings, they resort to desperate measures to end the agony. This time of year keeps the ER and the Coroner very busy.

I know there are many out there who do not sympathize with people who attempt or successfully commit suicide. It’s hard to understand why someone would take their life, and most people think it’s the ultimate act of selfishness. It may be. I guess it just depends on which way you look at it. After all, the decision to cease living isn’t an easy one to make. It hurts to feel like you will always be alone and invisible. So badly that it seems like death would be a sweet relief. I know it’s hard to imagine that pain, I guess you would have had to experience it to know how these people feel. My heart goes out to every lonely person this holiday season.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Lord, you know the pain of loneliness. You know all about rejection and loneliness. There are people all over the world who will not make it through the Christmas season without your divine intervention in their lives. People are hurting and alone, and Father, I hurt for them. I hurt for every person who lies awake crying, agonizing over their emotional distress, spilling out their tears to an empty room. Lord, I pray that you in your mercy would send the lonely and lost your Comforter. Holy Spirit, wrap your arms around those who are hearing the voice of the enemy speaking suicidal thoughts into their ear. Silence the voice of Satan in Jesus’ name and release those who are bound by demons or surrounded by demonic activity. Loose your warring angels on their behalf and save them from the one who seeks to destroy them. I pray that you would reveal your self as the friend who sticks closer than a brother. I pray that you will fill them to the fullest with your love and peace, and may they be blessed to know your joy from this point on. Lord, may this be a time of restoration in the land for those who are desperate for Love. Reveal yourself to people as the source of their hearts’ desire. Pour out your love on us. Help those of us who know you to be your hands and feet that the world may know you through us and glorify you. Thank you for your goodness and thank you for loving us so well. In Jesus’ precious name, I offer this prayer. Amen.

 

A Heart of Gratitude

Published December 19, 2012 by Dawn

“Thank you for dinner, Mom. It was delicious!” I looked at that kid with total bewilderment. Whose kid is this? She looks like mine, but I’m not sure anymore. Maybe … maybe aliens are real, and my daughter has been abducted. This has happened before, you know. Last summer, my son thanked me after every meal for over a week, and I thought for sure he had been abducted by aliens. And sure enough, when they were (presumably) done with him, the thanks stopped and it was dinner as usual. I’m almost a believer …

But enough of that. Let me tell you what happened in my heart when she said that. My heart swelled to almost bursting and I was filled with love and adoration for this child. I responded, “I will feed you every day if you talk to me like that.” Then I added, “Well, never mind the fact that I feed you everyday anyway. Keep that up, because it feels good to hear.” In truth, I would have baked her a cake for that one, which is a big deal because it’s not junk day, and so no sweets in my house. But I would have done it. Her words were words of pure gratitude. She didn’t say it because she wanted anything, she was truly delighted with dinner. Dinner, which is something I provide everyday. It wasn’t anything spectacular; simple meat and potatoes. I didn’t do anything special to her meat or potatoes. I’m sure I probably prepared it less out of love than out of motherly responsibility, and I was rushing it to get to wrestling practice on time. But she didn’t know any of this. It didn’t matter to her. She was pleased in being fed and provided for. And she responded with a heart of thankfulness.

I wonder if God’s heart swells at our thankfulness? I wonder if He feels, in that moment of hearing our humble gratitude, that He would like to just lasso the moon and give it to us on a silver platter? I wonder if our thanks perpetuate our blessings? Do we receive more of His providence if we express sincere appreciation at what He has done or is doing in our lives? Do our thanks fulfill something in Him? Do our thanks reach a place in His heart that nothing else can, and draw out from Him the utmost of His riches? I believe they must, because God is a Father of Love. He delights in us, like I delight in my kids. How can He not respond to our thanks in such a way? His gifts are greater and His love is perfect. If mine is not, and I respond this way, surely He lavishes mightily on those who have a thankful heart. Oh, that God would create in me a thankful heart!

For Your Own Good

Published December 17, 2012 by Dawn

Last week, my ten-year-old daughter took a step toward maturity, and it was all my fault. I know because she told me … in several ways. The slamming door, the silent treatment, the accusing glare. She was hurt and I was “the worst mom in the world.” It all began on Monday, when she left her library books at home on library day …

“Get your things and get to the car. It’s time to go.” The car had been running for the prescribed five minutes, in order to shake off the night’s chill and get me to work without getting dysfunctional. I’m good to this car. Those in my past have taught me well. The kids are so familiar with these words. I tell them when the car is started to gather their things and make sure they have everything ready to go. Five minutes is enough time to pull your loose ends together when you are in intermediate school. So, really, they had been told twice to check their bags and make sure they had their things before we piled into the car. But, sure enough, as we were all getting buckled, my daughter dramatically sighs, “I left my library books in the house and it’s library day.” The most important day of the week: library day. Else what will she read? (This is where I roll my eyes … Four overflowing bookshelves in the house and a block between us and the public library, which we visit often, and she swears she will have nothing to read for a week!) Usually, I turn off the car, interrupting it’s cough-to-purr time, and run in to grab whatever has been left behind. This actually happens a lot. I was running right on time, which meant no wiggle room in my morning schedule for such nonsense, but I always give in to their pleas and rescue them when they forget things. True to my weakness, I turned off the car, stomped to the door and stopped. “I’m not doing this. I’m sorry, you will have to take your library books back tomorrow.” And then I calmly climbed back into the car, sure that I had acted in wisdom, and drove them to school as she ranted in the backseat. “You are the worst mom in the whole world! I can’t turn them in tomorrow. I only have today…” Thankfully, the drive to school is a short one. She yelled the whole way, climbed out in a huff and emphasized it with a slam of the door. It hurt. I cried all the way to work, knowing I did the right thing.

She came home that afternoon triumphant, two new books in tow. Her BFF had bailed her out, and she had won. But Tuesday brought it all back around. We spent fifteen minutes packing her lunch as I stole moments in the midst to fix my hair. There I was, the worst mom in the world, forgetting to put on my mascara so that she would not have to eat school food that day. Five minutes to go, car started, kids aware that they need to gather their things. “Now Ky, don’t forget your lunch (she was standing right next to it).” “Oh, I won’t, mom. I got it (hadn’t touched it yet)” Out the door, door locked, kids in the car and then … “Crap! I forgot my lunch!” I breathed deeply, reminded her that I had reminded her minutes before and then braced myself: “Can we go back in and get it?” I paused to consider the question and decided again to act in wisdom. “No, I’m sorry. You will have to eat school’s food today.” It was something she truly does not like, and I knew it, but again, I believed this was the right thing to do. I paid for my decision all the way to school … again.

Fast forward to last Thursday: new day, new bad lunch menu. We packed her lunch again, only this time, she picked it up right after she zipped it and carried it around while she gathered the rest of her things. That lunch box did not leave her hand once during the five-minute-warning. Not once. As we piled into the car, I smiled in silent triumph: Lesson learned! My daughter had learned to be responsible in this one thing, at least. I know, you are probably thinking, “One down, a million more to go.” But as the worst mom in the world, this felt good. I felt like I had improved her life, even though it came by denying her requests. Sure, it was painful in the process. I was not feeling smug about it. I was rejoicing at her victory!

In my bible study this morning, I came across some verses that convince me God works in the same way in our lives. I was reading in Jeremiah, and if you don’t know, he was a prophet during the reign of Jehoiakim, Josiah’s son. Josiah sought the Lord with all his heart and worked passionately to restore true worship to God in the land of Israel. You see, they had been worshipping idols since the days of Solomon. Josiah rose up to destroy the work of Satan in the Land. He made no apologies for doing the work of God. He also made no friends. Jehoiakim, his son, came after and destroyed his legacy. He was evil, and he led the people’s hearts astray in his wickedness. Like a dog returning to it’s vomit, Israel returned to idol worship, denying God the honor due his name. And as a loving father, God looked down and made a decision that hurt.

“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel:  ‘…I will acknowledge those who are carried away captive from Judah, whom I have sent out of this place for their own good, into the land of the Chaldeans*… But the nations that bring their necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him, I will let them remain in their own land,’ says the Lord, ‘and they shall till it and dwell in it. (Jeremiah 24:5, 27:11)’”

God knew that bringing the Israelites to their knees in desperation was the only way He could save them from the worldliness they were so inclined to follow after. I’ve read enough to know that God did not enjoy this process. It was painful for Him. He was pursuing them and they were rejecting Him. Not only that, they were putting themselves in a place where Satan had access to steal, kill and destroy them and their loved ones. God made a tough decision. But when it was all said and done, after seventy years in captivity, the Israelites turned their hearts back to God in desperate need and He delivered them back into their homeland.

And so it is with us. Sometimes, in order to get our attention, God allows things to happen in our lives that bring us to a point of desperation. Am I saying that every bad thing that happens is of His hands? No, absolutely not. Jeremiah 32:35 supports the fact that some things are outside the will of God and happen because evil is rampant:

“And they built the high places of Baal which are in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I did not command them, nor did it come into My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin (emphasis mine).”

But ultimately, God is in control, and He loves us enough to grow us in a way that will solidify our commitment to Him. Unwanted pregnancies, paralysis, diseases, neediness, isolation and solitude, prison. Sometimes, we have to suffer the consequences of our actions, even when they hurt, for the greater good in our lives. I don’t say this from a place of superiority. I make these statements in humility, from a place of desperation. I have been struggling with the consequences of my immaturity for ten years. But I am wiser for it. And I believe this: “For He works all things for the good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)” God is wiser than we are, and He does know what’s best for us. We cannot wish away the consequences of our sins. We cannot say that the bad things in our lives happen only because Satan hates us. There comes a point when we have to take responsibility for our actions and then cry out for mercy. We must pray for the strength to live during the learning process. It is not fair to God to accuse Him of being “the worst mom in the world” when things don’t go our way or turn out the way we think they should. But this one thing I do know. He is painting a beautiful picture that we cannot even envision, and when He is finished with it, it will look nothing like we expected. It will look much better!