More Than a Conqueror Mentality or Starting The Year as NOT a Failure

IMG_0987

You know how sometimes our children show us a lot about ourselves…usually the stuff we don’t want to see displayed for all the world to see.  My kids are really good at it.  I can be sure if there is something I don’t want repeated, it will get said.  If there is a behavior I don’t want passed on, it will be mastered.  If there is an attitude I’d prefer never to see, I’ll see it daily.

Lately I’ve been seeing a bit of my own off-the-mark mindset displayed by one of my children.  Two of my children are adopted, and my youngest daughter, when in trouble, will often say, “Why did you even adopt me?”

I have declared that a forbidden phrase in our family.  In fact, no one is allowed to say anything even resembling that phrase.

Afterwards, she will often say, “Mommy, I’m sorry I didn’t mean it.”

Her words come out easily and without thought a lot…just like her momma.  Many times she will ask me why she can’t control what she says.  We talk about it and pray about it…for both of us, because it is an issue for me too.

IMG_0983

But even more important than those words that can spew out so easily, is the heart of my daughter…and the heart of me.

It is easy, very easy, to forget who we are…to even think we are something that we are not.

Lately, I feel like there is a constant blaring from the devil’s megaphone into my already aching head and heart, “YOU ARE SUCH A FAILURE!  SHAM! FAKE!!”

This demanding, defeating, and despairing voice barrages me with lies.

Lies that I’m a huge, disappointing, utter and complete, painfully obvious, absolute failure.

And honestly, even as I write that it is shaking me with its force…hollering how dare I write that it is a lie.

It screams, “You know it is all true.  Admit it.”

And the listing begins…looong lists of every part of my life that has a mistake, misstep, misdeed, misspoken word, missed opportunity… misery.

My list goes on and on…I hate that list.

And doggone it, I know that it isn’t true.  I know that.  I just can’t seem to figure out how to alleviate the heaviness in my chest.

I’ve been pouring Scripture into my head and uttering prayers over and over again.  But I feel like there is something more I’m supposed to be doing.  That there is a reason for this place I’m in.

This funky, uncomfortable, rotten place.

I know that my issue is a heart issue.  I have the knowledge of who I am.  I know it.  I just don’t embrace it wholeheartedly, because my life doesn’t seem to testify to it like I want it to.

My heart and my life seem broken at times, but are they?  My heart has been broken, but it is healing.  My life might feel broken because it isn’t as I’d like it or as I’d imagined it.

I keep trying to get fixed by my own efforts and by the efforts of others.  No one is really able to do it for me.  Least of all myself.

I have sought strength from my own reserves…which are decidedly depleted and I’m afraid in many ways it has only made the problem worse.

I have sought rest and refuge in my own idea of what life should look like…you know organized home, well-behaved children, wonderful work, and effective ministry…oh, and sleep.  All of those things have been a lot of work with very little effect…mostly because none of them have happened.

A lot of effort. Not a lot of results.

I want to begin this year with the understanding and conviction that I am not a failure…or at least I want to be on the way to that understanding and conviction.

I fail sometimes, but I am not a failure.

One of my very favorite passages in scripture is Romans 8:31-39.  I know it is kind of long (and I’m the reader who often skips the scripture passages because I think I already know them so I’ll just get to the next part of the article or book or whatever), but please read it and peel back the layers of truth in these words.

What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?  Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?  It is God who justifies.  Who is to condemn?  Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.   Romans 8:31-39

I wanted to bold every word in that passage, but I chose the things I want to remember…the things I want to pour into my heart.

God is FOR ME.  (He is not against me at all.)

God justifies me.  (I do not need to justify myself.)

God doesn’t condemn me.  (And neither should I.)

Nothing can separate me from the love of Christ.  (Not even my own thoughts.)

I am more than a conqueror.   (Not a failure.)

That one always gets me.  MORE than a conqueror!?!  More than the winner?  Seriously?  How is that even possible?

It reminds me of when God rescued Israel from Egypt.  Not only where they able to leave, but God put it in the minds of the Egyptians to load them up with stuff.  They were given freedom and provisions.  More than conquerors.

How about us?  We not only get to spend eternity in heaven, but we get to know the Lord here.  We are blessed to have the fruit of the Spirit all the time now – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.  We not only have a God, but also a Savior, a Father, a Friend, a Comforter, a  Counselor, a Deliverer, a Great Shepherd, a Great Physician, a Mediator, a Messiah, a Refuge, a Shepherd of our Souls, a Shield, and a Teacher, among many other things.  More than conquerors.

When I think of the blessings of God, I can completely see the “more than a conqueror” mentality I want to have.

My first step…recognizing that I’m blessed.

IMG_0094

My home.  That is a more than a conqueror thing to be sure.  God could have given me any ole home, but He blessed me with one that is all I had hoped for and more.  Every single day I am in awe and thank Him for it.

Yesterday, I was blessed.  Completely and totally blessed by the best Christmas day ever!  Really….ever.

My sons set their alarms so their little sisters wouldn’t have to wait to open presents.  The funny thing was the boys ended up being the first ones up awake and woke all of us up.  We opened presents, and let me just say I rocked the gifts this year!  Everyone was so happy with their presents!  Then we played games, made gingerbread houses, took naps, played more games, ate dinner, played more games, and watched a movie.  Blessed!

I can’t tell you how many times I looked around at my smiling, happy children and felt a flood of blessing pour all over me.  Such a grateful heart.

And for a day, I didn’t feel like a failure at anything.  I didn’t feel like a mess.  I felt peaceful.

Why?

Because of my circumstances?  Maybe.

But I think it was more that for a day, I stepped outside of myself and the rush of my ridiculous life, and enjoyed being.

I didn’t worry about a single thing.  Just enjoyed my children.  Enjoyed the day.  Enjoyed Christmas.

The blessing of the gift of Christmas.

I was telling my children what an amazing thing it is that on Jesus’ birthday WE get to exchange presents!  How gracious is our God!

It is that “more than a conqueror” thing.  That thing that God does when He goes above and beyond to bless.

The week leading up to Christmas was tough in a ton of ways.  I found myself having more pity parties than any person should be allowed to have.  I was so busy feeling badly that I missed the blessings.

I was stuck in failure mode.

But today…today I have decided that I want the “more than a conqueror” mentality.  I want to live a life of victory.

I’m not a victim of my circumstances or my failures, I’m more than a conqueror.

That passage in Romans reminds me that NOTHING can separate me from the love of Christ – tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, hunger, death, life, angels, rulers, things now or things to come, powers, height, depth, nothing in all of creation…NOTHING can separate us.

He loves me. Period.

He is for me.

Regardless of how I think about myself, good or bad, God loves me.  Nothing I think about me changes that.

When my little girl asks me, “Why did you even adopt me?”  I have to say, “Because I was made to love you!”

And if I were to ask God, “Why did you even adopt me?”  He would say, “Because I made you to love!”

IMG_0082

He loved me from the beginning.  He will always love me…He has made me more than a conqueror because He loves me.

 

Advertisements

Anyone Else Feel Done?

Young woman lying back on a couch talking on a mobile phone

Today I feel done.

I am done.

Done with disrespect and disobedience and difficulties.

Done with trying to reason with teenagers.

Done with trying to reign in kindergarteners.

Done with trying to make decisions.

Done with trying to get organized.

Done with cleaning up the mess my ex-husband has made. 

Done with trying to understand how to parent all these children alone.

Done with trying to figure out how to do this life with any sense of grace, composure, or patience.

Done.

There are so many things to think about and do…I’m tired.  I just wish I could take a timeout and have a replacement come in for a bit of this game.  Being a single parent is hard.

I had to confront a child today on cell phone usage and school issues.  Golly, you would have thought that cell phone was her only source of oxygen. 

I wanted to work with her and help her develop a plan to exercise responsible use of her phone and her schoolwork.  Instead I was met with all those stereotypical teenage responses.  Those responses which make my head close to exploding.  

Until about 4 months ago, my daughter was not stereotypical…and then boys entered the picture, and cheerleading, and that blasted cell phone. 

I hate technology.

I want my children to be able to contact me while they are with their dad, but…ugh…I hate cell phones. 

Unfortunately it has become, to some of my children, a right not a privilege.  And what a colossal waste of time this “right” offers!

She is avoiding responsibilities and school work.  My sweet, sweet daughter has become a very entitled, insecure young woman.  She does not believe she is smart and therefore has no vision for what her life can become.  At 15 that is a bit disconcerting.  I know that her self-esteem and image issues have a lot to do with our family’s situation, but it doesn’t help me know how to deal with them.

I have had the most wonderful relationship with her for so long I’m floored by this new turn of events.  I know my dear daughter is in there somewhere…Lord, please help me reach her.

I do know that some of her behavior is ordinary teenage angst, but I want my daughter to be extraordinary.  I believe she is.

Everything I say to build her up she calls a “mom lie.”  She says it’s like a mom telling her daughter she’s pretty even when she isn’t.   Ugh.  That so isn’t true.  My daughter is smart, talented, and beautiful inside and out.  She just doesn’t see it or feel it. 

I’m broken-hearted for my darling daughter.  I cannot be her father as much as I try to…I’m a miserable failure at it.  I cannot give to her what her dad was designed to provide. 

But even as I write in my despairing state, God has laid it on my heart that He is the perfect Father for my daughter.  Oh that she knew that to her core.  She does not.  Her faith is wobbly at best and I’m afraid I’ve failed miserably there as well.  I felt certain my children would be firm in their faith because of God’s faithfulness throughout our challenges…unfortunately, I think some of my children still only see the challenges.

I’ve not pointed out His care and provision often enough.  I’ve been praising Him to everyone but my children.  Father, forgive me and may your grace pour over my children and all my parenting mistakes.

A friend reminded me the other day how important prayer is…how it’s vital that we pray with our children and allow them the privilege of seeing God answer.  I’m sitting her realizing that although at this point my daughter and I have made up, we have not prayed together.  How is that even possible that I didn’t pray with her?

I think I best stop typing and go pray with my daughter…to show her that my strength and hers is from the Lord…that He cares about all these big and little issues…and He will answer.  And I think I’ll also remind her of who she is in Christ…beloved, precious, God’s workmanship, more than a conqueror, able to do all things in Christ, forgiven and saved.  She cannot say that is a “mom lie.”  God said it!

Before I go, thank you so very much for listening…for allowing me to process my thoughts through my fingers, and come, as always, back to my Faithful Father and His love for me and my dear children.

Little Boxes…annoying little boxes

Recently it seems I have had to fill out a ridiculous number of forms that all require me to write down my status…single, married, divorced, widowed…  It’s amazing how much I want to deny my actual status.  Who would have thought I’d ever wish I could check any box but divorced?  Just being honest.  I feel as though I have a giant D plastered to my front, my back, my forehead and everywhere in between.  As a Christian, it’s particularly difficult to come to terms with this life status.  It is an epic failure.  I’m getting used to it…I guess.

In the past several weeks I’ve been to more medical/dental appointments than I thought possible. And at each one those blasted clip boards with those horrid forms are handed to me.  And each time I have to reaffirm that I am divorced.  And each time I want to add a posted note with the circumstances of my divorce.  “Divorced due to the adulterous actions of my husband…blah blah blah.”  But why?  It doesn’t really matter anymore.  I have forgiven him and I don’t want to malign him any more than his actions already have.  I have peace in my heart about what God is doing in my life. And yet, I cannot deny that it feels crummy being a divorcee.

No matter how many of us there are out there, it stills feels like a tragic life circumstance with a definite negative stigma attached.   But in all honesty, that crummy feeling is because I’m trying to find my identity in something that isn’t ultimately going to give me any peace or even a good perspective.  My relationship status – married, single, separated, divorced, widowed – none of those truly are who I am at the core.  Does that make sense?  It is a circumstance in my life not me at my most defining point.  Although even as I write that I know that there is more to it than that. There is a depth to marriage that makes it so much more than just my relationship status…maybe that’s why divorce feels so shattering.  As much as I want it simply to be a box I check or don’t check…it feels like so much more.  Married is how I have wanted to describe myself since I was a little girl. It was my most anticipated adjective.  I had it for a long while and then, in what felt like an instance, it was gone…my adjective was replaced with one I really don’t like much at all, but I have long ago accepted this new adjective to describe me…not happily or without a bit of fussing.

But today I have decided to focus on other things that I prefer much more.  I bet a bunch of them describe you too.  I made this list in preparation for a talk I did at a ladies’ retreat…it blessed me to be reminded of who I am in Christ…I pray it blesses you too.

Beloved Daughter of the King

Cherished Bride of Christ

Precious Child of God

A new creation

God’s workmanship

Free from condemnation

Forgiven

Not forsaken

Lavishly and Unconditionally Loved

Worth Far More than Sparrows

Never alone

Never separated from the Love of God

Blessed with every spiritual blessing

With reason to be joyful, prayerful, and thankful

Filled with the Holy Spirit and all His fruit

Afflicted in every way, but not crushed

Perplexed but not driven to despair

Persecuted but not forsaken

Struck down but not destroyed

Saved by grace

Reconciled to God

More than conquerors

Ambassadors

Free

Have grace

Have love

Have purpose

Have eternal hope

Each one of those descriptions speaks to my heart and mind…reminds me of who I am and Whose I am.  There is always hope.

Dearest, you are loved beyond measure. 

Nothing can change that fact.  

And certainly not a little box on a form.