Deep Thoughts

Not Simply Brides, but Waking Warriors

As I pour out these thoughts that I felt led to share with two beautiful brides-to-be at our church bridal shower this past week, it may quickly become evident that I am surrounded by testosterone. Being mom to 10 & 12 year old boys and being the only girl in the house, my analogies tend to create a great visual for the male species who are wild at heart, but, fear not, I prayed over these words and God is faithful to translate in a language our hearts understand… and an added bonus is that when shared with our manly half, these truths should be fairly simple for them to compute. Those that know my story of nearly losing all that I cherish by blindly embracing my own selfishness can understand the battle cry from my heart to young couples to fiercely protect their marriage relationship from day one.

Brides, as you enter into this sacred covenant with the man you love, not only are you becoming wives, you are becoming guardians. Not only guardians, but, for when the inevitable battles arise, you are becoming warriors. This beautiful promise is fragile on its own; it is to be guarded like the rarest of treasures as you & your partner build a stronghold using the bricks of your relationships with Christ and each other to protect it.  The definition of stronghold is a place that has been fortified so as to protect it against attack. Marriage is often painted as the “Happily Ever After”… and while God has created it to be our most fulfilling and intimate earthly relationship, it is critical to understand that we MUST prepare ourselves, as a couple, to battle for it because the attacks will come.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” – Ephesians 6:12

Before us is a battle that we cannot hope to bring to victory on our own strength. We must unite as one and put on the full armour of God as outlined in Ephesians 6. The Father of Lies would love nothing more than to destroy the relationship between a man and his bride, a relationship that is used to represent Christ and his church. This representation alone speaks to the sacredness of marriage.

Three areas of our marriage fortress that can be easily penetrated by the enemy if left unguarded are our words, our time and our hearts.

Guard your Words:

We’ve likely all heard children on the playground defending themselves against teasing verbal attacks with a sing-song chorus “sticks & stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”.   If we could remove the sting of words, I believe there would be world peace! The simple truth is that words can be the most powerful weapons of mass destruction on the planet! I have had nuclear bombs leave my mouth witnessed the devastation at ground zero that can take years to clean up. When speaking with your prince charming, keep in mind that words can wound deeply and it can be so easy to throw out little knives in defense to pierce the heart flesh when we feel wronged or hurt by this man chosen to be our earthly protector. By our own strength, it can be hard to repurpose that weapon into a building block to uplift and strengthen, and, in those times I need to cry out like David in Psalm 141:3 – Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. At times, I’d even prefer that the Lord throw a security system on that door and not give me the pass code.  A wise warrior knows their weaknesses and draws strength from the Master.

Guard your time: 

Time. The ultimate resource. It can be pretty overwhelming to consider how we will use this precious resource when faced with these 2 facts;

1) time is limited. No restart button, no growing it on trees, no mining it from deep underground pockets. You have only what you have.

2) You have no idea how much you have

It’s like we’re given one bottle of sparkling fine time. The glasses we pour our time into are the ones that get filled. There’s a simple truth.

You are the one hosting your life’s glitzy garden party (see… I have a girly side) and it’s not the fancy waiter deciding who gets the time. All the guests that you’ve invited in are parched and eager for a taste or gulp of your precious time and you are the one topping up glasses… or leaving them empty. Kind of makes you want to pour that bottle wisely since you can’t be sure which will be the last drop. There are aggressive guests that beg and plead, but are the least deserving, and, perhaps you even regret inviting them… social media, TV, impulse shopping, junk food, toxic relationships… yet we often find ourselves standing there pouring mindlessly. As a result, the glasses of some honored guests begin to go empty… relationships, health, our own soul… the thirst becomes withering. So choose wisely and then pour generously.

It may sound simple now as you so look forward to pouring ample time into the awaiting glass of your new husband, your co-warrior, but be diligent in continually giving him the first of your time, as routine settles in and life elbows its way to the front of line. Set aside undistracted, electronics-free time daily to reconnect, consider this as part of your disciplined training… a warrior is always training because battle doesn’t announce itself with time to prepare.  The enemy thrives on surprise attacks when we are at our weakest. Not only should you set side time to reconnect with each other, but take time to train together under the tutelage of the Master.  It is beyond my comprehension how often weak areas in our marriage have been pointed out during mine and Scott’s devotional times.  The Holy Spirit is always faithful to nudge us in the right direction if we are willing to humbly sit together and be taught.

Guard Your Heart: 

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. – Proverbs 4:23 

I have to say it again because it really is that crucial to victory. Above all else, guard your heart, for EVERYTHING you do flows from it. The innermost chamber of our heart… this is the war room (not to be confused with the movie, though I can’t wait to see it!). The place where strategic decisions are made, where battles are planned… the commands for tactics that come out of this room will make or break the war. Our core values reside in this vault. Be on guard for the Trojan horse that tries to enter under any number of guises; entertainment, friendship, advice.  The things I allow to enter this chamber directly impact my thoughts, my emotions, and my actions. A warrior wife can even be fooled into questioning whether her hubby is actually her opponent… or even a double agent?!

I happen to be a film lover, so I’ll use this as one teensy example of reasons to guard one’s heart. Consider the ocean of romantic, tender, swoon worthy plots out there… the princes, the heroes, the knights…all saving their damsels in distress, reciting heart-melting poetry, brushing loose tendrils of hair behind their lover’s ear. If left unguarded, this is a weak spot in our princess hearts where the enemy can niggle in and slyly, deceitfully point out ways that our man can never compare. Or on the flip side, and more of an area where I struggle since I’m not into girly movies, the action films with the strong independent women in combat, doing super cool flips and kicks… If left unguarded, my prideful heart gets the notion that it can win this war alone. I don’t need my husband to help me, I can make this the best marriage ever… on my own?! Oh, I could write a book on reasons to guard our hearts.

We are to guard our hearts against any relationships that dares to vie for the position our husband holds.  Genesis 2:24 says “a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh”… One flesh.  The moment we are joined in that covenant before God, our marriage relationship becomes the single most important earthly relationship we have… above our friends, above our family, even, dare I say it, above our future children. I am a serious family girl and it would be ever so easy for me to consider my parents’ or siblings’ opinions, plans, and the like over my own husband. But, we leave our parents, as close knit as that connection might be, and we must cleave to our man… we are one. We fight together as warriors to remain that way.

Guard your heart. Our hearts are fickle… Jeremiah 17:9 goes so far as to say “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” We cannot trust our hearts and, therefore, we dare not let ourselves be in charge of that war room.  Give that position to the Ultimate General. We, as His warriors, will fight for our marriages, for our families, to protect that sacred covenant.

Our words, our time, our heart. We have to battle in prayer to keep these vulnerable areas from being susceptible to the enemy’s attack. Prayer is our most effective weapon. It is a valuable training strategy for building up strength in times of joy and then the most powerful battle strategy during tumultuous times, times where hope is all but lost… when there is absolutely nothing to be done by our own strength. Pray. Pray individually and pray together. You may have seen those little cross stitch pictures with vibrant thread spelling out “a couple that prays together, stays together”. This is truth. Be Prayer Warriors!

The most dangerous action take to take can be to take no action at all. This is relevant to the veteran couples as much as those standing on the doorstep of their wedding day. As you prepare in anticipation for this precious union in the coming days and weeks, keep in mind that behind the stunning gown and gorgeous shoes is not simply a beautiful bride, but a waking warrior. Etch that title on your heart as you vow to battle to protect that promise until death do you part.

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Imagine Her Last Dance …

Fated… no, some would say cursed… to deep slumber after only a brief reprieve of lush vivacious life and warmth, she feels that familiar subtle chill begin to breathe upon her neck. Preparation must begin for a last brilliant gala before being tucked beneath a heavy blanket of shimmering white.
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Gold, ruby, bronze… she dons a splendid array of color atop her slowly fading emerald. Slipped into her hair are sunshine yellow petals bejeweled with fresh glistening raindrops.

 

 
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Adorned with dangling fuchsia as though complementing the softest earlobes, her beauty is beyond compare.

 

 

 

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While the ambiance of this event is near ceremonious with its  dignified grace, a formality such as footwear would only serve to diminish the natural elegance found in her simplicity.

 

 

 

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There is no need for a red carpet to be rolled out as the ballroom floor is instead glittered with evanescent memories of laughter floating on a summer breeze, of scents from late night bonfires, of sweet kisses stolen beneath a starlit canopy.

 

 

 

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Her mesmerizing dance ends far too quickly as a curtain of crisp, cool air draws the celebration to a close…  her stunning attire slips to the ground, slowly each bright color fades, the warmth of life now stored in the hearts of her admirers as she lies down awaiting her solemn sleep.

 

 

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She closes her eyes.

She is at peace.

She is Autumn.

Not Your Regular Fashion Show

One can come to think themselves quite adept at hiding dirty black spots that mar the appearance of their character. Layers of lies strategically placed with cunning, or shame, to ensure none of these ugly spots peek out. Cloaked safely beneath the thick robes and skirts of deceit, the tar-like blackness slowly spreads and oozes onto clean virtue, smothering it in the sticky mess.

Over time, as the blackness grows, each layer becomes heavier with all the muck it absorbs. The filthy spots begin to seep through, a little here… a little there. Quick, cover it! Throw on another pair of lies! The fear that one’s family and friends discover them drowning in a self-made pit of tar, flailing clumsily in ridiculously weighty costume, grows to be consuming. Exhaustion takes hold.

There are but two options that emerge. Add more layers in vain attempt to conceal the darkness beneath, eventually drowning in deception, or, step out of the robes and reveal the oozing mess so that it can be washed away. Though simple it may sound, the stripping of this gory gown can prove painful. Shame and guilt threaten to grip the messy ensemble in place.

It becomes a courageous feat to trust that the one washing away the ugliness will not turn away in disgust. But, with a warm cloth of unconditional love, all the thick grime and each spot that blemishes the soul is tenderly wiped away and light fresh attire is presented. The feeling becomes like that of floating in comparison to the mountain range worth of tar being carried before.

The battle does not end there. Black spots threaten to stick all the time. As humans, we misstep and tend to trip in the mud on occasion. Be diligent in letting that grime be washed away. Be open. The discouraging part is that after the exhausting toil of hiding and covering up, and then the agony of revealing all the ugliness and asking for forgiveness, it is now in this burden-free walk, in an effort of cleanliness without cloaks and robes, that others smudge black spots on you. Spots that mimic what at one time would have been an accurate representation of the character blemishing filth, now, though false, are served as fodder for the herds starving for gossip. Smearing the untruths further and further as the herd clambers about for any speck on which to feed.

Pushed around in this ravenous fray, it is easy to forget that the old muck is gone and washed away. Like phantom pains from an amputated limb, this slop being thrown summons feelings from the past. A past that has been severed from this new walk, forgiven and forgotten by the one hurt most. If all is forgiven, who am I to dwell in the stirred-up memory of suffocation in a dark lonely void? With a humble heart, I must simply brush the mud being slung off my new gown of grace. Grace gowns are made with Teflon.

The truth will set you free and, if the care instructions are closely followed, that gown will remain unstained for life.

Dancing Queen

Fond moments fill my tattered cerebral memory box labelled “the lifetime before my very own high heels and mascara”. I dust off an old favorite from deep inside, clearing a vision of my mama cranking Abba as we danced like superstars around the living room of our old house trailer. An 80’s brownish, or greenish, shaggy type carpet became our makeshift stage on this warm Texas afternoon.

My mom danced.
My little 7-year-old heart leapt.

(I’m certain time is rather skewed in this particular memory box since I seem to be aged 7 years in every recollection.)

I gaze up at her, golden blonde hair glistening in the sunlight that clamors through the window to join us as we brought the rhythms to life. I don’t recall if we were alone, but in my mind, this scene belongs entirely to us. In a chapter of our story that was not always abounding in joy, these moments fell on my heart like a fresh spring rain quenching the desperate thirst of winter weary foliage.
Her laughter … Oh, how I drank it in.

In that instant, we were silly and I loved her for it. Nothing shackled us while those happy notes flowed through our hair, brushing our ears to ward away all worries for that brief time. Twirling and swaying, her slender frame spoke the words the music intended to convey.
An angel in acid wash jeans.
These rare candid moments ignited in me a lifelong love of dance.

Fast forward a billion years and 20 lifetimes to last night, my boy cranks some 80’s metal in the car to liven up our long journey home. Grey leather seats set a new stage, air band of awesomeness ensues. My wicked cool drum skills on the steering wheel complementing his deftly moving fingers on invisible guitar strings. He lip syncs the lyrics as I belt them with passion, no holds barred.

All the while my brain observes, permanently sketching that golden hair, sparkling eyes… The laughter … The silly that I love him for. For a boy that has admitted embarrassment by his own mama’s dancing around the living room, we still move in sync to our own type of waltz.

Though my G may not find these moments as cherished as I, each air band session with my son is as rare and splendid to my soul as those afternoon dance parties with my mom.

Today I will tuck both those memories, though eons apart, side by side in a new box labelled “coolest moms ever – the musical”

Don’t Mind the Mess

Daunting is the task of effectively expressing a budding idea that’s dying to burst forth. I’m not just talking any idea, but one from my brain in particular. Carefully mixing the perfect combination of letters together by trial and error to form a palatable concoction. One that can be digested easily by the average joe … Or at least those with a craving for the less serious side of life. As the chemist in this equation, I recommend you safely wash down whatever concoction I throw together with a tall glass of soothing milk.

Hmmm…on second thought, a potent wine could act as a viable agent in lubricating the mind’s message cables, assisting in a clearer translation coming through.

Here’s the mole hill which I am tasked to scale the face of. My brain is a hoarder. Yep, just like those people that have religiously kept every single edition of their local newspaper for the past 50 years… Including the coupons, cuz …. You just never know, right?! Minute details of the most mundane trivia, every last shred of fact or fiction I’ve absorbed amongst it. Pictures! Pictures of everything I’ve ever seen! (those are getting awfully faded I must admit)

While all this hoarded information could potentially make me a super genius, I’ve tragically failed to adopt an efficient and logical filing system. In all honesty, Mr. Dewey Decimal would roll over in his grave. Overstuffed tattered boxes, teetering paper piles, a sweet memory of a first grade teacher stuck to the back of an old job interview.

You know when your mom would walk into a room and say “It looks like a tornado ripped through here!”. Well, that ravaged room has the precise organization of an operating room in comparison to my chaos. 33 years of accumulated disaster is the heap I rummage through during an exam! How I ever find anything in here is an enigma. Though, now that I ponder it, superpower springs to mind.

Aside from a shrink ray to fit me for the job of climbing inside my own head and sorting tidbits one by one, writing seems to, at the very least, provide a makeshift organizational solution for a fraction of the new incoming intel. Perhaps not yet a Pinterest-worthy solution, but hey, baby steps.

Now that we’ve given the extent of clutter a nod, inviting innocent bystanders to sip from the concoction cup takes on a far more terrifying form. Actually sharing what I write is much like taking a perfect stranger by the hand and leading them into the great halls of this crammed illogical brain. For safety purposes, average joe access must be permitted to the hallways only.The dime tour won’t get you into the vault of chaos, and, unfortunately for me, having company in here means I’ve agreed to venture in, brave the clutter and dig something decent out of there with which to entertain my guests. Where is that hard hat??

It may be in my best interest to fine print my welcome mat with “caveat lector” …

Latin for “I will not be held responsible for the level of ludicrous you peg me at based on what you read”

So come on in!

The Real Birthday

The churning cogs in my son’s mind are clearly powered by his heart, it gets me every time.

Two more sleeps until his birthday, plans well underway for a bowling party with four super cool school friends that afternoon. Each day this week has been rung in with the announcement of the current countdown to B-day, this morning was no different except for it’s tag-along “huh?” moment. His eyes, inquisitive, look up at me… “Mom, when is my real birthday? Is it before or after?”
Huh?..Slightly confused at the question since I know he knows the party is on his actual birth date, I do a little research before I answer .. “Do you mean the time that you were born?”

“No, mom, my real birthday?!… when is it?”

Now I am officially lost, not that this is uncommon in any hour preceding 7 am (ok, let’s be honest, 10 am),… but again I ask “ like you mean the actual time?? You were born at 10:45 am.”

“Mom, I mean my real birthday, with the family. When is it?”

Warm fuzzy “aaaawwww” love washes over me with the dawning realization of the meaning behind this serious inquiry. His “real birthday”, a true celebration, what holds value above all else in his heart… time with family. While he’s excited about hanging out with good friends, his real birthday is a party surrounded by aunties, uncles, cousins, grandparents, all that can come … the more, the merrier… his new year can only truly begin with this.

You know, kid… I think you’re gonna make it just fine in the big world.

Put a Sock in it

Little worse exists than the weekend’s end. That guttural “Mommy, I don’t wanna go to school tomorrow” groan … Only now my mommy lives 300 miles away (which would not spare me from a non-sympathetic “quit your whining” … good parenting doesn’t adhere to the boundaries of time and space) and my “school” now has way longer hours and, gosh darnit, no recess! So I wearily crawl into bed, much later than a sane responsible grown-up would due to a recent discovery of Merlin on Netflix, and pray for miraculously rejuvenating rest before my enemy called Morning sounds it’s battle cry at 6:00am.

But then, on rare occasion such as last night, my own brain decides to add salt to the wound of the weekend’s end by ensuring that sleep eludes me. It fires out nonsensical thoughts and questions like an incessantly chattering 3 year old.

What am I gonna wear to work?
I shouldn’t have had 3 … ok, 4 cinnamon buns.
Who is Merlin’s dad?
Gotta study for Tuesday’s quiz… tomorrow.
…. and on it goes (I obviously left out my really deep thoughts and earth shattering ideas for security reasons)

I lay there trapped inside my mind’s word tornado, the “me” standing in the middle of the chaos, reaching out to grasp onto the tail of at least one random thought as it flies past… Maybe if I can control just one of these runaways, it will calm the storm, since it seems that mentally repeating “please sleep, please sleep” has turned out to be a really weak offensive tactic.

As I ponder new strategies to quiet my oppressor, a side scene begins to take shape… in the little thought bubble above my head lies a snorer, the ultimate sleep thief, played by my brain. Drool crusted mouth falls open, emitting a rhythmic grating, like a dirtbike on the pillow next to you … kickstart, braaaaaaaap… kill switch… kickstart, braaaaaaaap… kill switch. Bloodshot eyes twitching, teeth grinding, the victim, played by a sleep-deprived me, plots a silencing. Quite handily, from the nearby drawer of my imagination, I pull out a super smelly sock and a roll of duct tape… oh, how inviting that open mouth looks now…mwwahahaha! With ninja-like agility, the sock is introduced to the dried out cave of Brain’s mouth as I guarantee the sock’s extended stay by generously applying the duct tape… not in strips.. no,no.. one continuous mummification of the entire head. Ha! Chew on that, Brain!!

Aaaaah…Sleep in heavenly peace.

editor’s note: in light of a freak oxygen deprivation accident, please forgive the author’s scatterbrainedness