motherhood

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A House Divided

Published August 8, 2017 by Dawn

“I hate your house. I hate the music you’re always listening to and the way I feel when I’m there.”

He dissed my music … and my house. And the atmosphere in my home. I could have taken this personal. In fact, I might have except … well, I know it’s a spiritual thing and I am not letting the devil bait me.

I bet you want to know who said it. It hurts me to admit it, but it was my son. He hates my home. He attributes all his anger, depression and anxiety to the atmosphere of my home. That’s how I know it’s spiritual.

Ok, let’s talk for a moment very specifically about what he hates. He hates classical music. The soothing music that is scientifically proven to de-stress you. He hates it. Or, my worship music. The music that brings peace into the chaos of my life. He hates it. Why? Because Satan is trying to cause a war in him and the music I listen to is quite literally an instrument of peace!

He hates constant singing. That’s what I do. I sing … a lot. Like, all day, every day. I also laugh a lot. I also like to make him responsible for his own messes and hold him accountable for his actions and his words. He hates that. What teenager wouldn’t?

He hates it when I talk to him and my words end up being something straight out of the Bible, because the best of my wisdom comes from the Word of God. I speak to my kids in scripture form a lot. He hates that.

Do you know why this didn’t hurt me? Because I know who “he” is, and it isn’t my son. You see, Satan hates all of these things about my house. Right now, he’s managed to manipulate my teenage son into believing that everything that “he” hates about my house is making my son miserable. Perhaps it is. After all, my son is in the midst of a great battle to figure out who he is. He doesn’t know which side of the fence he’s on just yet. I’m praying for God to woo him one way, and the devil is masterfully persuading him in the opposite direction. I’m not surprised … we all have this war at some point in our lives. We all have to come into our own faith because someone else’s relationship with God won’t save us. It must be our own. So we all have a crisis of some sort, where our foundation is solidified; just us and the Lord.

I’m surprisingly calm, right? Ha! Listen, I’ve had my moments of crying out to God. This all started when my son was eleven, almost twelve. The turbulence in his heart and mind became really violent. He began struggling with depression and anger. I took it to God in panicked, ugly-crying sessions, begging him to save my son. He spoke something that was so true, though hardly comforting: “Every warrior was once a boy in training. There’s a time of preparation for the man of God, and mothers don’t get to choose when they are ready. Fathers do.”

Dear Lord.

That was the day I handed him over in my heart. I tried taking him back, but sadly, he’s not mine to coddle any more. He still runs to me like my son, leans into my hugs like he misses being a child and invents reasons to need me. But now he fights, which is something I never saw coming. He’s an untrained warrior learning how to wield a sword and sometimes, it teeters in my direction. He’s not my enemy. He never will be. I know who the enemy is. No, this emerging man of God is a warrior learning the battlefield for himself. War hurts, and so sometimes, he hurts too. Hurting people hurt people. My son doesn’t hate me. He hates the confusion. The angst. The constant struggle inside. I get it! I hate those things too.

I guess I just wanted to share this with you because, well, parenting is hard. Peopling is hard too. Sometimes, waking up in the morning is hard. You feel me? It helps to remember that “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers of darkness, and wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12).

Don’t take it personal, friend. At the end of the day, it’s not even about you. It’s about so much more than you. Pray for your loved ones. Give the hurt to Jesus and love them like you always have. They need your constant, unwavering love as a safe-haven in this war-torn world. Love is truly an oasis, even if they can’t always recognize it as such. One of the first things a warrior seeks out in battle is a safe place to duck into in case of an ambush. Let your love be that place.

Remember, friend, you are at war too. Only, “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty! For the pulling down of strongholds, the casting down of imaginations and everything that sets itself up against the wisdom and knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:4). As our loved ones train for their own battles, let us look past their faults and see their needs. God bless!

You Might Be a Bad Mom If …

Published June 16, 2017 by Dawn

I’m probably not a very good mom. Yesterday, my son reflected on himself while getting ready for bed and said to me, “I should probably stop lying. You would probably like me more.”

What was I to say to that? The truth is, his lying is a HUGE deal to me.

  • Number one: lies are bondage. If “you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:32)” then what good is a lie? It’s no good! How can you put people you love in bondage and for what purpose?
  • Number two: lies show a lack of respect and love. How can you love someone and lie to them at the same time? And when you lie to someone, you are basically saying, “I don’t care enough about you to be honest.” Or, you are saying, “I don’t think you are smart enough to figure out the truth, so…” I hate both of those things.
  • Number three: What would Jesus do? Well, he wouldn’t tell a lie …

I could go on. I hate lies. I’ve lived my life being lied to and deceived by people I loved and trusted, and I hate the brokenness and suspicion that resulted. So when my son said this to me, I did what came natural … being a good mom wasn’t it. A good mom might have started with, “Oh son … I love you no matter what, but –“

Instead, I said, “Son, that’s legit.”

I kid you not. The truth just popped off my tongue and hit my son right between the eyes. He looked at me incredulously and did a nervous chuckle. I then defied motherhood a second time and I swallowed every instinct to immediately apologize for it. Here’s the truth: the way he lies – the ease and surety that makes me uneasy because I’m afraid he believes himself – it does kinda hamper my affections. You know how it is, moms. You know you love your kids but sometimes, you don’t like  them. We all feel this way at some point, right?! So it was truth and I delivered it unapologetically.

He just shook his head, chuckling, and said, “Mom, I can’t believe you said that!”

I sat down on the edge of his bed and said, “Son, your lying really needs to stop.”

I’ve been thinking about this all day, praying about it, because naturally, I’m always nervous about how badly I’m screwing my kids up. I wasn’t looking to justify myself, just exploring my own lack of good parental etiquette. Instead of finding myself coming  up short, I recognized a little of my own Father in it. You see, God hits us with hard truths sometimes. He allows things to dawn on us and when we begin to sense the Holy Spirit directing change in our lives, God guides us to that change with a healthy dose of truth that He doesn’t apologize for. He doesn’t even cushion the impact. If the truth is going to set us free, it has to first illuminate the bondage and break it. Being broken is hard, but freedom … who can deny it’s preciousness? It turns out God doesn’t always function within the guidelines of “etiquette” as we understand it either. He is loving, but often blunt as well. The Lord chastises those He loves (Heb. 12:6). We live in a time where this sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s scriptural. God doesn’t always protect our feelings. He’s busy protecting our spirits and our eternities.

I think it’s important to remember that God still loves us in these moments. I love and adore my son to death. But his lying … I don’t love that at all. I could live without it and I know that this bad character trait will make his life a lot harder than life already is. I love my son so much. I don’t want to see him intensifying his own struggles by something the Holy Spirit can deal with. I want him to embrace this as an eye-opening opportunity to make a change for the better. God wants the same for His children. And the Bible calls Him a good, good Father. I guess I’m not so bad after all!

Praying for a Man

Published May 3, 2017 by Dawn

I hate confessions. It’s weird to let you into my soul. I’m not purposefully this open about things, but I feel like if God is speaking something to me, most of the time, it’s because He wants me to share it with others. So here goes …

A dear friend of mine invited me to a concert not too long ago. It wasn’t something I would have showed up to on my own because I’m not that cool. I like to sit at home and drink tea and avoid my phone … or any other form of communication with the outside world. I’m the kind of person who’s only an extrovert because I’m an introvert …

Anyway, I went to this concert and had a great time. It wasn’t just entertainment; it was worship. I love worship. I love getting lost in love for a while with my One and Only. And I love watching other people worship too. Music is one of my greatest passions and in a room full of people using their talents to worship my King is exactly where I want to be for eternity. Heaven, I can’t wait to meet you!

Ok, on to the confession: So, there was this guy … singing. On the stage. I had to close my eyes to keep from being distracted because 1.) he was gorgeous; 2.) no ring; 3.) his voice; 4.) his was lost in the worship.

I’m not saying everyone else on that stage was purely entertaining, because I don’t believe that at all. What I am saying is that this man was exuberantly worshipping. Without a ring on. Singing to my King. Gorgeously.

I kept my eyes closed most of the time so I would focus on the One I came to see. Not this guy, because before this concert, this guy did not even exist on my radar. I went home that night feeling very refreshed, released from some shackles and focused despite the distractions in my own head.

Imagine my surprise when, a few days later, God recalls this man to mind and tells me to pray for him. Here’s how that conversation went (relatively … I didn’t record it exactly):

(this guy comes to mind while I’m praying…)

Me: Ooooooo, I rebuke you, Satan!

Holy Spirit: Pray for him.

Me: … I probably shouldn’t be doing this. It’s not a good idea, Lord.

Him: It’s my Will. Pray for him.

Me: I know you mean well, but I can’t have this guy on my mind. I’m not strong enough for that. Can’t someone else?

Him: If you had a husband, you would pray for him all the time. Who prays for the single men in ministry?

Me: Their future wives. Come on, Lord, please! I can’t … I’m not strong enough to handle this.

Him: But you aren’t salacious. Pray without coveting. He’s your brother and his integrity is important.

Me: This isn’t fair.

Him: Be obedient.

So I started to pray for this man. I pray for him daily. I don’t even know him, but I guess I don’t have to. My mind revolves back to God’s question in the matter: Who prays for the single men in ministry? And while I know there are single women everywhere praying for a husband, how many of us are willing to spend our time just praying for our brothers in Christ? After all, many of them struggle with the same things we struggle with. Loneliness. Isolation. Temptation. Distractions. And the battle intensifies when we minister for the Lord.

So many of us despise the single life. So few of us are willing to let it be anything more than a waiting room before we’re ushered in to our “happily ever after.” But what if it can be more than that? I offer to you that it can. It can be a time of fulfillment in the presence of God. It can be a time of undistracted worship, and obedience, to His will. If we allow God, He can use us mightily even if no one else ever knows our names. We can be a face in a crowd at a concert, but the prayer warrior in the closet holding up the weary arms of our brothers and sisters in Christ. So to the one guy on stage without a ring … I’m praying for you, Brother.

What Kind of a Mother am I?

Published May 2, 2017 by Dawn

When my kids were little, they had such beautiful faith. Every ache, fever, whatever … they would come to me and plead, “Mom, can you pray over me?” They just knew that if we prayed, they would be healed. God was so gracious too. Most of the time – without medication – a simple prayer later, my kids were back to their normal selves. It really bolstered their faith, and they began to rely on my praying over them more and more.

There were times, of course, when praying wasn’t my number one priority. As sad as it is to admit, when my kids would come to me in the middle of the night and wake me out of a dead sleep with really bad knee pains or headaches, I remember pulling him or her into bed with me and cuddling a crying child, trying to schmooze him or her back to sleep. “Pray with me, Mom, please!” The pleading would fall on deaf ears. The humiliating truth is I just wanted to sleep. I was mostly exhausted from working 40 hours a week and going to school, and semi-taking care of a house/yard/two kids. My excuse, however seemingly valid at the time, kept me from performing my kids’ saving grace. They knew if I’d just pray, they would feel brand new. I thought that feeling was the result of sleep, so I slept on.

I was sitting on the couch this evening with my son laid across the couch beside me, his head in my lap. I was thinking about prayer and how powerful it is. How devastatingly underutilized it is … when this truth hit me: it’s all my fault.

Don’t try to console me. I need this truth. You see, it is my fault and I needed to hear this. I am not afraid of the truth. I like freedom. I like growing. The truth is vital to both. I said to myself, “This is all my fault. The depression my kids are battling. The ways Satan has manipulated my family. The way he’s winning most of the time. I just wanted to rest, but look at what’s happened! Instead of pressing in in prayer, I checked out in exhaustion and suddenly the battle is out of control!

“Pray with me, Mom.”

I’m broken. It’s all my fault. I shouldn’t have allowed this slumber to get the best of me. I shouldn’t have encouraged my kids to sleep too, when prayer has become such a necessity. What kind of a mother am I to leave my kids suffering in pain while I struggle to maintain my grasp on ease and comfort and rest? How can I, with the keys to the kingdom in my hands, leave things unlocked in my own home? How can I, having been given all power and authority, allow Satan to run rampant in our lives? What kind of a mother am I?

Don’t try to console me. I need this guilt and shame. I needed God look me square in the eye and speak this truth, and let me grapple with it because tonight, things changed. My son heard me weeping and awoke out of his slumber. “What’s wrong, Mom?

“I’m so sorry. I love you so much and I’m sorry for leaving you in your pain and not praying over you.” Then we cried and prayed together, like I should have done a long time ago. I should have awakened and prayed a long time ago.

I hesitated to write this because it’s painful and raw … and really embarrassing. But I wanted to share it because I wanted to encourage you: whatever it is, pray. Wake up and pray. Stop allowing Satan to lull you into complacency. That’s how he keeps us ineffectual. That’s how he keeps winning in our lives. Prayer is so powerful and he knows it. But so do you. “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

Don’t say to me, “But I’m not righteous.” There’s a prayer for that too! Get right before God, then get down to the nitty-gritty and take care of business in your life, and the lives of those you love. Sometimes, we can do nothing more than pray. Thankfully, prayer is the best way to make a difference. What kind of a mother am I? A praying one – enemy beware!

Made for War

Published March 28, 2017 by Dawn

Funny story: I was standing in line at the check-out yesterday at Wal-Mart. My kids were bickering and had been for the last two years of my life, and I look around at all these people with their cute little kids twirling around like they don’t have a care in the world. As I’m telling my kids to stop talking to one another for the millionth time, I inexplicably start laughing. “What’s so funny, MOM?”

She said it just like that, too. I just kept laughing. I didn’t tell her why, because she doesn’t share my sense of humor and wouldn’t have appreciated it, but here’s what was so funny: all of those people enjoying their little kids like they won’t one day be teenagers. I laughed until I cried. Or maybe I was laughing to keep from crying and it didn’t work. I don’t know.

But seriously …

I was lying in bed last night, rolling around trying to fall asleep. It’s my nightly song and dance that, frankly, I could live without. Finally, I turned to God and said, “You know, this is hard. This daily grind. This constant friction. There’s so much hurting my kids right now and I feel a lot of resentment and bitterness toward you and a lot of other people. I’m trying to lean in to you but at this point, it’s about as comfortable as hugging a porcupine. You could do so much in our lives right now, show yourself mighty on our behalves, heal our wounds and hold us – comfort us – in our troubles. But though we lift our cause to you over and over again, you keep us here in the fire.”

I fell asleep praying for peace in my home, peace in the hearts of my children and restoration and healing in our deep wounds.

I woke up this morning and made tea, like usual, except I made it for my son, who on top of everything else, has a severely sore throat (that almost made me bitter but he left it without drinking it, so I am having tea while I write). I put some eggs on to boil (easy breakfast) and sat down to read my Bible. I opened it where I left off yesterday, and just started reading from the top. Because God is faithful (but mysteriously patient in our pain), He started the conversation right away.

“If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?” (Jeremiah 12:5).

Just in case the meaning is vague here, let me make it clear: things are going to get rougher than this. How are we going to manage the larger battles, the fierce persecution and constant attacks of the enemy, it if we can’t handle life in relative comfort?

When things started heating up in life for my kids, I remember praying to the Lord and asking Him how He could stand to put my kids through the fire. He told me that every child of His is made into a warrior, and the training for war is fierce. In His mercy, God could shield us from every attack, but that’s not how muscles are made. Muscles are made through the constant tearing down and building back up of muscular tissue. If you never use your muscles, they disintegrate.  Warriors have big, strong muscles. Because God is no respecter of persons, He even trains our kiddos. He trusts them with The Holy Spirit. He trusts them to grow in faith. He trusts them to grow in their relationship with Him. In my own life, these precious things have grown through suffering. How can I expect anything different for my kids?

So, here we are being strengthened though, at the moment, it feels like all of Hell is on special assignment Code Name: Dawn’s House. We’re going through training to be warriors in anticipation of greater battles in days to come. And they are coming. Anyone who spends time in the Word knows that prophetically speaking, there’s nothing else left for God to fulfill before Jesus comes back for His bride. The next fulfillment of prophecy will be the breaking of scrolls and the outpouring of the wrath of God. At that time, the Bible says Satan will be unleashed for a time. Unrestrained. God is growing His people to handle the onslaught of Satanic activity against the church. Everything that comes our way is to prepare us to face our enemy as we have never had to before. Here in America, we have been blessed and sheltered from a mighty storm but we won’t be shielded forever. Rather, we are being trained to withstand a mighty tempest. We are being strengthened so that in times of great tribulation, we are as unmovable and unshakable as the rock we are founded on. These last few years have been hard, but I have seen exponential growth in my children. I just want to encourage you: don’t look at the storm anymore. Look at the Maker of the Wind. He can stop it’s blowing, or He can show you how to stand in it. He can shelter you or He can show you how to be as fierce as the storms you’re in. God is making a warrior out of you. Trust Him.

“So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good” (1 Peter 4:19).

 

 

God is For Us

Published March 16, 2017 by Dawn

My son got in trouble at school yesterday. It wasn’t the first time; in fact, it seems like he’s embarked on a steady stream in the wrong direction as of late because his decisions lately have been reckless. He knows what he should do, but he has begun responding to life out of his emotions instead of wisdom.

I usually know about it right away. He texts me and tells me what has happened, afraid that I will find out from someone else first. He owns up to his guilt and has finally stopped blaming it on everyone else. So there is that … maturity is taking place, even if it seems like things are increasingly negative. He also owns his punishments and doesn’t expect me to rush in and defend him despite his transgression. One of my requirements when he gets in trouble is that he writes an apology note to those involved that have to deal with him. He now does it without having to be prompted.

His text yesterday started like this, “I got into trouble again today. I’m such a bad kid.” He told me what happened and told me he already wrote his apology letters and gave them to everyone involved. When he got into my car after school, he asked me if I still liked him.

Let me make something clear here: I am for my son. He can mess up a million times and I am going to choose to focus on his growth and maturity. When his teachers bring their frustrations over his behaviors to me, I am not going to talk bad about my son with them. I am not going to fraternize over his mistakes with them. I am going to be hopeful and optimistic about my son, even if all they see is a downward spiral. I don’t see that. I see a battle. I see him losing ground. But I also see victories. I see a kid who now knows his weakness and strengths. I see a kid who wants to be a man in spite of a lack of firm examples. I see a kid who takes his prayer life seriously, and has begun to put it first in his life. I see a kid who is fighting against his present culture, even if right now he’s not fighting as hard at school as he is at home. He’s not a lost cause to me. He’s one of my only causes, and I am on his side. I have caught him in indiscretion and I choose daily to forgive, correct, rebuke and discipline with love. I’m not in denial, but I am not losing faith over him. I love him, and I am his biggest cheerleader. I am for my son.

God is for His too.

Not all are sons and daughters.

  • “Therefore, come out from among then and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. And I will be a father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor. 6:18).
  • “If you are not disciplined – and everyone undergoes discipline – then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all” (Heb. 12:8).
  • “You are all sons and daughter of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26).
  • “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Romans 8:14).

But when we accept Christ through faith, we are adopted and become sons and daughters of God, and for us, there is mercy. There is optimism and hope. There is forgiveness. He sees our sin and chooses to focus on our growth and our spiritual maturity instead. He will never agree with naysayers about who we are or where we are going in life. He knows us. He knows our imperfections, but he also knows our strengths. He is resolutely for us. We are His and He is our biggest cheerleader. He corrects, rebukes and disciplines in love. He takes care of business and He doesn’t allow us to excuse ourselves, but He doesn’t accept our indiscretions as final unless we choose that. God chooses to deal with us mercifully and with much grace. He won’t lose hope, even if we do. We can crawl into His lap at anytime and He will gently and faithfully remind us who we are and whose we are. This is the graciousness of a Father toward His children. God is for us. Hallelujah!

Unfathomable Love

Published March 6, 2017 by Dawn

“Do you love me?”

It’s probably the worst question I’ve ever been asked. It makes my skin crawl and I want to vomit every time he asks me this. I want to get as far away from him as I possibly can, crawl into a hole and fall asleep for a million years until I can forget that this ever came out of his mouth. Do you love me? His pleading eyes literally tear my heart into shreds.

How can he ask me this?

It started maybe a month ago. I’m not an emotionally vacant person, but I will admit that sometimes, I’m hard to read. It’s a defense mechanism and at this point, I don’t know how to turn it off. But here’s the thing: I am exuberantly emotional toward my children. They don’t have to question how I feel because I’m not defensive toward them. I’ve been stricken since their birth and I love them enormously. This question seems so ridiculously unnecessary that the first time he asked, I just laughed. Hysterically. Why the heck would he ever question my love for him?!

He was questioning it, though. Hard core.

My son has asked me many times over the past month if I love him. My response has run the gamut: at first, I was hysterical. Too funny, you crazy nut. Of course I love you! Then I was disturbed. Why do you keep asking me this? Of course I love you. Then I was serious. I love you, son. You’re one of the most important people in my life. Finally, I am so sad, I’m sick over it. How can you question my love for you? It’s consuming me. How can you not perceive it?

I didn’t want to write about this because my heart hurts over it and I’m letting you in to something I don’t even want to admit is happening right now. My baby boy is unsure about whether or not I love him even though I have expressed it in so many ways. There’s no mask. It can’t be mistaken. I love him so much and every time he asks me, it’s like he’s thrusting a dagger right into my heart. And the worst part is that he actually feels the need to ask at all. How does he not know?

I’ve been putting this blog off for a solid month. That’s why I haven’t been writing. I’m sorry, dear reader. I couldn’t bring myself to admit this to anyone else because it hurts so much. But I knew I had to eventually write about it because every time he asks me, I hear the Holy Spirit whisper, “He’s you, you know …”

Am I the only one? Am I the only child of God who looks to the Father in sincere disbelief and asks through tears, “Do you love me?” I’m incredulous, really, most of the time. How can it be?

On the wall in my room, I hung a canvas that I painted once, and I remember the look my mom gave me when she saw it. She had no idea what it meant … it was my heart cry. It was my first attempt at mixed media journaling and it says “U LUV me.” Not “I love you” or anything normal. Just a bewildered, “I can’t grasp the fact …” It’s unfathomable. He loves me. My King loves me.

When my son started asking this question, I couldn’t understand why he was so serious about it. But as the Holy Spirit began directing my thoughts heavenward, I realized that the pain I feel when my son asks me this in all seriousness is the same pain our Father feels when we doubt His love for us. After all, if we read our Word and are people of prayer, there’s no mistaking how He feels about us. But there’s a whisperer, in my child’s ear and my own, doing his best to convince us that we are unlovable. And even though God is exuberantly expressive about how He feels, we choose to believe the lie because deep inside of us are roots of insecurity that have a strangle hold on our hearts.  I’m not good enough, therefore I am not worthy of love.

Unworthy? “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). We didn’t earn His love. We were born into it. The moment He conceived us was the moment He loved us fiercely, and He displayed His passionate love for us by sending Jesus to rescue us from the enemy’s clutches. He demonstrated His love by His willingness to endure pain and suffering and death on our behalf. While we were still sinners. While we were far away from Him, separated by a chasm of sin, entangled in a sordid love affair with the devil and the world. God loved us then.

“Neither height nor depth, no anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38). We’re His. He loves us. When we accept Jesus and come into this love as a child of God, there’s nothing that can tear us away from His affections, or tear His affections away from us. We can walk away if we choose to, but that doesn’t cause God to stop loving us. And I am convinced that at the end of this life, when judgment must happen, it will be with tears of grief because many will choose to spend eternity separated from the love they’ve been chasing their whole lives and have rejected instead of embraced. I believe that moment will tear the heart of our Father to shreds. All this time He has looked at us and said, “Of course I love you.”

Trust me. He loves you. I know this because the love in me for my child is only a reflection of God’s love for His, and it’s consuming me. How much more passionately must God love us? Again … unfathomable.

How deep the Father’s love for us.
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To Make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory