Thursday, April 17, 2014

i am THAT parent...

[posting to the old blog site while the website is down and being worked on]

I think sometimes you're not entirely sure what kind of parent you'll be until you ARE that parent. Certainly, I knew from teaching both preschool and elementary school before I had kids the kind of parent I WOULDN'T be, but I often think it's not until you're right up on something that you realize what kind of parent you ARE.

Over the last few parenting seasons, I've realized that I'm THAT parent. You know the one. I'm the one parent whose kids aren't allowed to do what everyone else's kids can. I'm the one parent whose kids aren't seeing what everyone else's kids are seeing. I'm the parent whose kids aren't going where the other kids are going. I'm the parent who won't let them have the app that everyone's downloading, won't let them wear what everyone's wearing, won't let them respond the way everyone's responding...

For better or for worse, and unable to deny it any longer ... I'm that parent.

Just wondering though ... am I the only one?

Obviously with navigating the start of middle school, things are coming more front and center than ever before and the decisions have gone from, "Can I PLEEEEAAAASSSSEEEE have that toy? Everyone else has one" to "Can i PLEEEAAAAAASSSSEEEEE have a twitter account, have Instagram, get an iPhone, wear this, do that? Everyone else has/is/did."

Our favorite phrase around here is: "others may, you may not." And though it's quite effective at getting the point across, it's not as effective at conveying the heart behind it. In recent weeks, I've found myself saying that phrase more and more. I've actually started asking myself a whole host of questions due to the regularity with which I'm saying "No" and they're saying, "Yes ma'am. But can i ask why?"

Some questions I ask myself often:

"Am I just an old fogey?"

"Is this what being a sheltered prude is like?"

"Are my children going to sit on a panel one day to talk about how abusively strict their parents were?"

"Why am I uneasy in my spirit about letting them do what they're asking to do?"

"Am I saying no just for the sake of not following the crowd?"

"Am I just digging my heels in on their growing up & therefore being unreasonable?"

"What is really all the way at the bottom of why I'm parenting them this way?"

I really don't want to fall into "because I said so" territory in my answering of my children's questions. I'm discovering that i desire to develop a real, tangible process for teaching/instructing/nurturing/shaping my children with my responses to their questions.

The fact is, I know the answers to all of their questions AND the ones I'm asking of myself. The fact also is that at the end of it all, I care more about who my children are going to become than who they are right now. Them thinking I'm cool for a moment isn't as important to me as them feeling protected and valued in the long run. I don't want them to like me temporarily, I want them to love me long term because they see the value in what/how/why we did what we did. I'm also realizing the value in being their PARENT before being their FRIEND. As a wise woman said to me yesterday ... "they can have tons of other friends ... I'm their only mom." Because she's got grown children now, she added with a sweet little smile: "But my daughter is my best friend now. It's really nice."

Whether I dig my heels in to try and slow it or not, it's a new day at the Scott house. I've got a middle schooler who is just as sweet as she can be. But she's finding out that she's not gonna get to do what everyone else is doing. I'm trying to utilize my words, my communication, my teaching instincts to communicate why. I have some ideas about why we're beginning to struggle with this, for sure...

1. Adolescence. This has a whole host of biological flux attached to it without even the first hint of outside influence. Physical changes, emotional changes, chemical changes ... it is what it is.

2. Culture. A good percentage of this culture is pretty literally on the fast-track to hell in a hand basket and it's closer than ever. I know, I know ... all generations have had their issues, but no culture in history has ever been more accessible to a child or teenager than it is today. It can literally crawl into bed with them at night thanks to handheld devices no bigger than a bar of soap.

3. Pressure. The immense pressure to grow and mature is being felt younger and younger. When i was in 6th grade ... good grief. I can't fathom knowing or having access to some of the things that Maggie hears daily. Yet, the pressure to grow and mature faster has had no impact on the fact that God intended for growing and maturation to happen a certain way and in certain timing. The fact that it's being forced down their throats earlier doesn't change the fact that they're not mentally, relationally or emotionally equipped to appropriately steward what's being handed to them. [Case and point: ever seen a 3rd grade boy with a handheld gaming device draw a reasonable line of self-control in regard to playing time? Ever watched a 6th grade girl with constant exposure to media and music NOT begin trying to dress, speak & act in a way that strives to keep up with what she's seen?] We all struggle with pressure, sure. But as adults, we have supposedly been given time to develop the tools and maturity to combat those pressures. Supposedly.

4. Identity Theft. I am watching an identity crisis of epic proportions occurring amongst children and teenagers (not to mention adults). The enemy is effectively stealing their God-given identities and he's using culture, media and relationships with others also in the throes of identity crisis to do it. Girls, boys ... his aim is to steal, kill and destroy. And it's working. ALL of us are at risk of losing our God-given identities if we aren't on constant guard. How much more our children?

There are other issues facing us as christian parents, for sure. But those are the big ones that I'm noticing. I'm on a quest. A quest to tell my children more than just "others may, but you may not" and instead follow up that statement with effective and easy to remember principles they can hold forever and use in making their own decisions in the future. I'm on a quest to develop tools, alternatives and aids to use in navigating this land mine littered parenting landscape. A quest to undergird and arm my children with their own weapons to use in defense of their identities and shields of truth to hold up against those fiery darts flaming with lies from the enemy.

Am I the only one who is THAT parent?

Am I the only one concerned about where the culture tide is taking us?

Am I the only one who wishes for the 50's and Leave It To Beaver on occasion?

Am I the only one who considers selling it all and moving to a desert island to live off the land and insulate these sweet lives from anything that would come against them?

Am I the only one who wants to learn (and be able to teach my children) what it really looks like to be IN the world but not OF it while keeping a heart to REACH it?
As I was wondering "is it just me?" the other day, I ran across a post from Ann Voskamp to her daughter,  with the following quote:
There are two of you, really. The Short-Term You —- and the Long-Term You. The Now-You — and the Becoming You. The Immediate You. And the Ultimate You. And if I only loved the right now Immediate You —- and let The Immediate You come and go and do whatever she wanted, whatever made her feel all the good things, whatever made her happiest, I wouldn’t be loving the Ultimate You.
I was SO encouraged by this and in my desire to really dive into this quest. I am setting my face toward all that God is stirring in my heart toward equipping children/teens/parents in my sphere of influence to raise world-impacting kids. Toward raising ULTIMATES, not immediates.
So as Maggie climbs into my car after school and I have the "you're not going...and here's why" conversation I've been dreading, I'll be keeping the ULTIMATE Maggie in view. I always want their ultimates in view as I parent their immediates.

Am I the only one?

Friday, December 13, 2013

peace on earth? i'd settle for peace on me...

Christmas. The time of year when "peace on earth, goodwill to men" gets said and sung over and over again. Yet for some reason this is also the time of year when peace seems the hardest to least for me. Or maybe it's not so much this season, but more my awareness of my lack of peace that's so palpable this year.

I gotta say, as soon as I elected to talk about this out loud rather than struggling with it inside, I obtained even less peace in my world than before. It was as though everything and everyone was against me having peace. And that is partially true. Someone IS against me having peace...I just haven't been giving the appropriate amount of credit to him.

[Disclaimer: this isn't a short stroll through happy feel-good paths of fluff. If you find yourself saying "ugh...I can't read this, it's too long and I don't read," or "if it's not 140 characters or less, I don't have time for it." I'd like to encourage you that this may be the very thing you NEED to read. Take the 5 or 10 minutes and see what happens.]

Y'all. I'm a Christian for a living. Pretty much everything my husband and I do is ministry-related. You'd think we'd have this peace plan down to a science by's practically a requirement for professional Christianity. Unfortunately, it seems that God would like to acquaint me with just how much peace I don't have...and it's startling. Maybe you can relate... 

The last several months and maybe even a year or more have been palpably difficult for me in regard to peace. Oh sure, I've had hard, even excruciatingly difficult seasons of my life, but as I look back over the last year or so, I realize JUST how much inner angst I've come to regard as normal. I'm also aware of how many cultural anesthetics and coping mechanisms I use or have developed. I'm only recently comprehending that though it may be normal, it's not healthy, nor is it God's design for me.

The more that God began stirring in me as He mercifully instructed me, the less peace I found I had. If the circumstances of my life had not been so ridiculous that I couldn't deny that God was being purposeful in it, I would've thrown in the towel and just succumbed to it. All of it. The depression, anxiety, anger, fear - all of the things that I've become so acquainted with recently. Then, just in the nick of time, I heard a song...

A few years ago, Jeffrey and I recorded a Christmas record and had Maggie sing "Silent Night" on it and then recite Luke 2 at the end. Precious, right? I've heard it a thousand times, but this year, in this season, the words she spoke at the end cut me right open. Instead of "peace on earth, goodwill to men" to close it out, I'd chosen the translation for her that says, "and on earth, peace to men on whom His favor rests." I remember liking the wording at the time, but had no idea the catalyst it would be for my current journey.

This year, when I heard it, my response (with more sass than is probably appropriate when speaking with the Creator of the universe) was: "If your coming was to bring PEACE, then why don't I have any???" He is so kind, even when I'm so insufferable. He began walking me through it step by step. "You need to realize the two expressions of peace I bring." This was huge for me. "Two expressions?" Sometimes I'm a little slow. "Yes...positional peace and practical peace. You are secure in one, but being robbed of the other." And thus began an eye opening and heart reviving journey with Jesus.

You and I have an enemy. An actual enemy. His name is Satan...he's the father of lies, he wears disguises, he hides, he manipulates, he's cunning, he's done his homework, and he's ruthless. For those of us who are in Jesus, we have POSITIONAL PEACE through the finished work of Jesus on the cross. Our position is forever secure. Satan can't rob us of this position of peace. Once saved, always saved as the saying goes. God has NO more wrath for us as believers. He poured it all out on Jesus and that act brings us positional peace with God...secured forever...our future is sure. Jesus IS our peace. We have peace with God because His favor rests on us as his children.

Since Satan has no claim on our positional peace, you can be sure that his schemes involve robbing us of our PRACTICAL PEACE. After all, since he can't go after our salvation, he might as well attack our sanctification! Why? Because Christians (even professional ones) who are so caught up in themselves and their issues and their struggles and are hit and hemorrhaging from one or many of the fiery arrows of the devil are rendered ineffective for the kingdom! The enemy wants you and me ineffective. If he can keep us sitting and spinning in our own angst of soul, we won't have the insight, discernment or wherewithal to participate in the great story of redemption and restoration that God is writing around us. We'll be narcissists.

What are the enemy's fiery arrows? Well, besides disguising himself as the people in our lives at times - anybody got any relational angst they'd like to cop to? Shannon raises hand. Anybody's kids sometimes seem possessed by the actual devil? Shannon raises hand - he also fires arrows of emotional torment and we don't even recognize it as a scheme of the enemy until we're in so deep we need therapy and prescriptions to get out of it.

Because we know from scripture that our battle is not against flesh and blood, we can already know that the people in our lives aren't the ultimate enemy. They may look, talk, sound and behave like the enemy at times, but they are flesh and blood, so our battle isn't actually against them. Our battle is against forces of evil. Against Satan and his minions. The names of fiery arrows include, but are not limited to:

Fear, worry, anxiety, anger, cynicism, addiction, depression, performance, perfection, hurt, paranoia, regret, comparison, ingratitude, jealousy (fear of losing what belongs to you), coveting (wanting what isn't yours), envy (wanting what isn't yours and begrudging the person who has it), drive to achieve, laziness, greed, gluttony, pride (sense of pleasure from one's own achievements), arrogance (exaggerated sense of self-importance)... and those are just a few of the enemy's arrows.

These could have taken up residence in you as a result of any number of things:

Hurt, divorce, betrayal, singleness, body issues, children who've strayed, a change of season in your life, loss, death, illness, cancer, surgery, financial issues, abuse of any kind (verbal, physical, emotional), cheating, lying, relational dysfunction, job insecurity, death of a vision, hope deferred...

Whether it's happened to us or whether we've caused it, any one of these things can lead us to a famine of epic proportions in the practical peace storehouse.

Right now, I really need practical peace. My hunch is that many of you do, it's my prayer that articulating this journey of mine will encourage you...

I present to you, my journey with Jesus to:

:: Purposefully Possessing Practical Peace :: 
(it's fun because it's an alliteration...right? I think so.)

Step One: PRAY
Duh. Right? Well, you'd think so, but when was the last time you prayed and asked God to reveal the enemy's schemes in your heart and life? Are you even aware of the places he's fired at you and guided that arrow right through the chink in your armor? He doesn't fire where you're strong, he fires where you're weak. He guides that arrow right past the plated armor and into the fleshy, exposed part of you. Many times, we're so accustomed to living with, medicating, making excuses for or working around the arrow, we've forgotten that it's sin and isn't something we should be catering to. Sometimes we write it off as just the "way I am" or "the way God wired me" Hmmm...really? [Do not pray this prayer if you don't want God to show you.]

"God, where is the enemy firing in my life? What are the names on my arrows?"
If people's names flash into your mind, dig deeper. That person isn't your ultimate what is? What button are they pushing? Anger? Anxiety? Depression? Jealousy? Loose speech? Insensitivity? Pride? Sexual sin? He may show you several arrows. Dig in and trust Him.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me... Psalm 139:23-24

Once you know the names of the arrows the enemy is firing, name them out loud or dialogue in your journal. Satan thrives in secrecy. Agree with God out loud/in writing about that sin.

"God, I agree with you that _____________ is a sin and that it's an unfruitful work of darkness. I confess that I've taken part in this, that it's from the enemy and that it's robbing me of practical, soul-level peace and distracting me from Your work all around me."

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. Ephesians 5:11

Step Three: PROCLAIM
It doesn't do any good to recognize it and name it without also being willing to submit it to Christ, realizing that apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, we are powerless to lay down anything! But, when we recognize and embrace that we have access to the Holy Spirit's power (the same power that raised Christ from the dead) and that the name of JESUS is the name with that enables us the grace to submit it to Him.

"In the name of Jesus, I submit this sin of ____________ to you and ask you for the grace to put it to death in my life. I realize that I cannot do it on my own, but I believe that the power of the Holy Spirit at work inside me is sufficient!

I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 1:19-20

Step Four: POSSESS
Walk FORWARD with FREEDOM, believing that you do not have to drag yourself through life in your own strength bound up, bloodied and bruised from all your encounters with the fiery arrows of the devil. There is healing and restoration to be found in Jesus. Believe Him for it. Choose each day that you will take your thoughts captive in obedience to Christ. Walk confidently in who you ARE in Christ, not sheepishly in what you've been defeated by. Live from acceptance, not for it. Believe God for the things that have been secured for you in Christ. 

"God, I believe that I'm accepted, approved, chosen, favored and deeply loved by you. I do not have to let my feelings inform me. I choose to take my thoughts and feelings captive in obedience to you by preaching the truth of the gospel to myself. I'm walking forward by your grace today and letting the peace of Christ rule in my heart."

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Pray, Pronounce, Proclaim, Possess.

You may have to do it as often as I'm currently doing thousands of times a day...but each time I do it, I'm renewing my mind and I'm taking an active role in this battle for my peace rather than a passive one. Battles are waged around the world every day and every single one of them are fighting for freedom and ultimately, for peace. Wars are fought that peace may eventually reign. Will we ever have complete peace on this side of eternity? No. We are groaning for our eternal home. The whole earth groans! Will there ever be a day when we don't have to be intentional about taking our thoughts captive? No. Is it hard? Yes. So hard. Is it worth it? Yes. So worth it.

It's worth the eternal eyes. It's worth the ability to be others-focused. It's worth the resolving of the physical symptoms of fear, stress, anxiety, worry, anger, unforgiveness and the like. It's worth the actually restful sleep at night. It's worth the joy that doesn't make sense. It's worth the peace that passes understanding. It's worth being awake and aware of where God is working and where we can be involved. It's worth it. And every day, multiple times a day, it's worth asking:

What's ruling my heart right now? 
[Hint: something always is.] Colossians 3:15 says that it should be the peace of Christ that we're letting rule our hearts and along with that should be thankfulness. If the peace of Christ isn't ruling our hearts, something else is waiting to. Identify it...go through the process.

This is a journey, not a destination. I actually feel sorry for those closest to me who are probably like "oh my word, I hope she gets some practical peace...and FAST!" In fact, the minute I hit "post" on this, I'll have to start through those four steps...because the arrows will begin flying. Many of you may be so deeply entrenched in issues that you need to find a pastor or professional biblical counselor to walk you through it. There is no shame in that. I'm not going it alone either. No part of me is promoting this as "quick, four steps for success." But it's a practical path...a starting point...a plan of attack...and hopefully, it's hope.

I'm praying for all of us that our positional peace in Christ won't be the only place of peace in our hearts. It is definitely our ultimate place of peace, but in the meantime, taking our thoughts and heart/emotions captive and receiving grace to experience some practical peace might be one of the greatest Christmas gifts we receive this year.

Glory to God in the highest! And on earth, peace to those on whom His favor rests.




Wednesday, December 4, 2013

"i hope paul walker knew jesus" & other incriminating thoughts...

This is not an easy thing to write fact, it carries with it a measure of "ick." But, I'm home while Jeffrey's out for the evening, the kids are tucked in their beds and it's just me, the dogs, Christmas lights and my thoughts. And my thoughts are going a million miles an hour. I have tons of work to do but I haven't been able to shake something that I confessed out loud earlier today and it's been eating at me ever since. So, here goes...

Paul Walker died Saturday. If you've somehow not heard by now (or don't care) just bear with me for a few minutes.

Jeffrey and I spent a wonderful few days before Thanksgiving with my brother and sister-in-law and a friend up in the snowy mountains of West Virginia. When stuck in the snow in a river house, what is there to do? Play cards and watch movies of course! So we did that. We decided one afternoon that in preparation for The Fast and the Furious Seven, we probably needed to watch Fast Four, Five and Six. Back to back. It was awesome. As is often the case when we experience anything together, Sarah and I were soon calling each of the characters by their first name in normal they were our best friends (and we believed they were.) It was so fun and a great memory made. I felt certain that at some point we'd actually meet Vin Diesel and Paul Walker and walk right up and start a conversation with them...after all...we are BFFs. Then came my brother's group text to us on Saturday night. "Paul Walker just died in a car accident!" The replies were instantaneous. "NOOOOOOO!!!!" "Paaauuullllll!" "What? This is HORRIBLE!" And of course, it was.

Then came my next thought. "I hope Paul knew Jesus." Now, before you're like "oh my gosh, seriously??" Just hear me out. The thoughts that came after that were pretty incriminating and I believe they were probably from the Holy Spirit. " didn't care if he knew Jesus while you were being entertained by him for 6 hours straight. In fact, you haven't even thought about his eternal destination until now." It's true. I hadn't. Not that every movie and television show and People Magazine article and celebrity twitter comment needs to be followed with "I wonder if he/she knows Jesus...I should tell them about Him!" But, it does bring up an interesting quandary for those of us who call ourselves Christ-followers, or at least, for me specifically.

I am completely confident of where I'm going to be when I exit this life and in an instant have stepped into eternity. I'll be on my face at the feet of Jesus...that's where. Until then, seems I'm pretty content to eavesdrop on the lives of celebrities via the Us Weekly app on my phone, my People Magazine plane flight purchase or whatever may come across my twitter feed. In fact, often I'm shaking my head in a "tsk tsk" way at whatever ridiculous exploits have befallen the latest tween star or saying "yes, sweetie, seems she's gotten off track and begun making some very poor decisions" when my middle schooler asks why formerly bubble-gum, family-friendly females seem to have gone off the rails and are self-destructing before our very eyes (thanks to the 24-hour media availability.) I might as well say, "Those poor celebrities...I hope when the number of days God has ordained for them is up, that they know Jesus. Until then, I'll just enjoy their movie-making and music-creating. I'll buy the media hype surrounding their lives and read about their latest fashion disasters, botched cosmetic surgeries and ridiculous night club antics. I'll shake my head appropriately but I'll still eavesdrop on their worlds through social media and believe that with 140-characters of their own words every now and then, I know them. After all, I'm good 'cause I know where I'm spending eternity." Ick.

No, this blog isn't announcing my new ministry to evangelize all the celebrities in the world. I'm sure someone somewhere already believes that's their calling. God hasn't chosen to give me that particular sphere of influence. It should also be noted that neither I, nor anyone I know, can confirm where Paul Walker is spending eternity. We didn't actually know him. But, God has used my "I hope Paul knew Jesus" thought to convict me of the fact that I hope he knew Jesus because I liked what he did for me. I was entertained. I found him to be a valuable member of society because I liked what he had to offer.

I'm not proud of it, but not ONCE recently have I thought that about my cashier at Kroger or any of the people that live in my neighborhood. I haven't thought it about the sweet older gentleman who does the maintenance and HVAC repairs at our home. I haven't thought it about our landlord. I haven't thought it about the lady who delivers our mail or about the person who colors my hair. Not the chinese take-out lady (who has our entire order memorized), not the mexican restaurant waitress who shoots the breeze at our table every time we're there, not our favorite Long Horn server who remembers us, chats with us serves us when we're there having lunch meetings. I haven't thought about it because frankly, those people are just passing by me in this life...going about their business while I go about mine with my head buried in my phone most of the time and working at a church making my living telling kids about Jesus...ahem. Do you see the ridiculous irony?

I spend my days crafting creative ways to make the Gospel come alive for kids and yet the people I interact with outside of church regularly haven't ranked high enough to even make the "I hope they know" list. That's reprehensible. Why? Because just like Paul Walker, each of them have an ordained number of days. Their days have already been written in God's book. And their days are being spent in MY sphere of influence while I in turn spend my days knowing far too much worthless information about celebrities I'll never meet, much less know. Apparently I'm more comfortable just having people come to me each Sunday to hear about Jesus, rather than taking Jesus to them...where they are.

No, not by beating them over the head with the Gospel in order to feel better about my spirituality...but by developing relationships. By caring about them as people. By not looking for what they can do for me, but by realizing that they were fashioned and created by Him. By believing that availability and willingness are the first steps. By knowing that it's not ultimately up to me, but the Holy Spirit to draw them. By being awake to the people God has placed all around me that need the hope I've already grasped. By seeing past what they do for me to who they are.

I'm disgusted frankly. I'm bothered by the number of opportunities that I am increasingly aware that I'm squandering. I wonder how many people's days written in God's book have "meet and interact with Shannon" as part of them only to be swallowed up in another wasted opportunity. I don't only want to consider things in light of eternity when another celebrity dies. In my sphere of influence, I want to be thinking not only "I hope they know," but "God, how do you want to use ME to tell them?" I should mention that Louie challenged our staff in our meeting today with what God is doing in his heart on this very subject and he'll do a fine job of articulating that when he determines to, but ever since this afternoon, when I confessed my thought process, it has eaten me up and disconcerted me as I think about what any of us who know Jesus should hope for the people around us. After all, there's only actually ONE real celebrity. Only one Person worth knowing as much as we possibly can about and then telling others so that they can know too. There are a couple of people who sum it up much better than me:

“I believe that entertainment and amusements are the work of the Enemy to keep dying men from knowing they're dying; and to keep enemies of God from remembering that they're enemies.” A.W. Tozer

"Don’t wait for a feeling or love in order to share Christ with a stranger. You already love your heavenly Father, and you know that this stranger is created by Him, but separated from Him, so take those first steps in evangelism because you love God. It is not primarily out of compassion for humanity that we share our faith or pray for the lost; it is first of all, love for God.” John Piper 

“The hope that we have in Christ is so gloriously wonderful, why would we ever keep it to ourselves? When we refuse to communicate the Gospel there is nothing more cruel or selfish in all of humanity. Because we do believe that it is the only way-Christ is the only name-by which men and women can be saved. And to withhold that name and that news because it's difficult is on par with any other atrocious thing humanity has ever seen.” Britt Merrick

Writing it down, posting this, putting it out front rather than behind my full calendar of spiritual activities doesn't make me more accountable. Just more aware. More awake. I've always been fully accountable for what I'm doing with the days God's ordained for me and the people He's placed in them. Now it's time to actually GO, rather than wait for people to come. Maybe it's just me though. Some people are great at this. Me? I'm in ministry for a living and confess that I'm not great at it. But I want to be.

Who is in your sphere of influence?

Do they know Jesus?

Do you care?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

that time i was poisoned...

Sometimes the most ridiculous things occur in my life. When this happens, I quickly have two choices. 1) spin down into a spiral of "why is this happening?!?!" or  2) choose to believe that God's got something IN it FOR me. What do I base this assumption on? I base it on the irrefutable fact that He's the sovereign, intentional Ordainer of Days. Absolutely nothing that happens to you or me is random. All of it has the potential for teaching and shaping if we'll pull back to 40,000 feet and survey the landscape. So, with vulnerability, I'll say that I often choose option 1 and then later choose option 2. Today, I chose both…and also today…I was poisoned.

My kids have been sick since Friday. This is noteworthy because since we moved into this house in June, they've been relatively well. This week they've complained of headaches, aches, pains and so forth. It's been weird, but with no other symptoms, not overly concerning.

Today I went and taught chapel at their school while they stayed home. As soon as I walked in the door after chapel, I said to Jeffrey, "Something doesn't smell right." He said, "I thought that too but I called the guy and he said that it was the blah blah blah burning off the blah blah blah because of the new blah blah blah." (We just started using our heat about a week and a half ago and that's the only thing at our house that uses gas.) I didn't feel great about the answer that Jeffrey had gotten, but hey, I'm not an HVAC person so what do I know? I sat down to cuddle with my ailing kids and try to get some work done. Within 3 or 4 hours I had a headache and was having trouble concentrating. I was reading and feeling lightheaded and Jeffrey was beginning to have trouble focusing. Before long, he too had a headache and as if on cue, Jack yelled "ugh! I have a headache!" Immediately I had that feeling in my spirit that something was wrong.

Jeffrey called the gas company and told them all that I just told you. They said, "Please evacuate the house immediately." So we did. Kids, us, dog…all into the car. I kid you not, we were in the car for six hours. I could have gone to Panama City Beach or a host of other places in the time we spent evacuated in that car. "Why didn't you just go somewhere else?" Well, half of us were in pajamas and Jeffrey was busy standing over the gas man's shoulder trying to figure out what was happening. The man walked through the front door of our house and his "hazard" alarm went off immediately. He wasn't very forthcoming with the information initially, but we eventually were told…carbon monoxide.

As more research was done, he discovered that all of the exhaust vents that are related to our furnaces are faulty. How are they faulty? Well, once the gas comes in and is burned, the toxic fumes should be sent outside via the exhaust vents while the heat is sent through the air vents into the home. Our exhaust vents have lost their seals. Not only was heat coming into our home and keeping us toasty warm on these chilly nights, it was bringing with it carbon monoxide and other toxic fumes…right through the vents. It was literally poisoning us.

The kids were getting the worst of the impact because they were never leaving the house. Jeffrey and I were going to work, going to meetings, heading out to celebrate friends, driving back and forth to school, running errands, switching off staying with the kiddos…but poor Maggie, Jack and Ali were just sitting in it. The quick conclusion to this part of the story is: the house has aired out for 6 hours and received "all clear" signals on all three carbon monoxide alarms, the kids have bounced back remarkably after many hours of fresh air, the gas has been disconnected and will not be reconnected until everything is repaired and done properly (it isn't our issue as it was a problem before we ever came along and rented this house), and my parents loaned us space heaters so that we won't freeze while the heat gets worked on and returned to full functioning, non-poisonous, healthy, working order. Hooray!

Oh, but you knew there was more right?

The events of this day (and the six hours in the car) have left me with more than a little bit of time to consider the implications of this same kind of scenario for us as believers. I'll spell out a few of the epiphanies that I had today…because ALL of us, whether we realize it or not, have the potential to be poisoned.

Poison is: a substance that, when introduced into or absorbed by a living organism, causes death or injury, especially one that kills by rapid action even in a small quantity.

1. All poison isn't dressed as poison.
People, the enemy of our souls isn't going to resort to announcing his brand of poison by labeling it with a skull and cross bones (most of the time). Carbon Monoxide is odorless, colorless and tasteless. Sometimes the poison of our souls will be invisible, but sometimes, in order to get us to absorb it, he'll need to dress it up as something that doesn't seem harmful at all. “You'd be surprised what poison is often hidden in the most beautiful camouflage.” Evelyn Klebert

2. It's impossible to be poisoned by proxy.
Poison must be introduced into or absorbed by. You have to come in contact with poison in order to be poisoned. Whether you realize it or not, if you're experiencing symptoms of soul poisoning, then you've come into contact with poison at some point. Start doing the research. Start asking yourself why you react that way, fly off the handle like that, are relentlessly jealous of him/her, why he pushes all your buttons, why you're so cynical about them, why you've written her off, why sarcasm is way easier than vulnerability…these are some of the side effects of soul poisoning. At some point, you were in contact with poison and were inhaling its toxic fumes without realizing it. Whether it was introduced into your soul by someone else or absorbed willingly by you, the fact remains: it's there and it has to be dealt with.

3. Poison will hide in plain sight.
I was being poisoned in. my. house. I was going about my life, feeling freedom to move around my space, freedom to curl up there and be totally me, freedom not to dress up, freedom not to clean up, freedom not to look around me…freedom. I was warm, cozy and comfortable. But then, out of nowhere, BAM! I began to experience things IN my house that shouldn't be part OF my house. Little did I know that along with the heat and the comfort also came the poison. In fact, the poison went so far as to come through the exact. same. vent. The bad came right on in with the good. It was hiding in plain sight. Does something feel off in your soul or your world? Are there things IN your soul that shouldn't be part OF your soul? Is it possible there's some poison hiding right in front of you? Take the time to listen to that part of you that says, "Something isn't right." Then do the research. If I hadn't spoken up to Jeffrey when I did, I don't know or want to think about how our day would have escalated. We were all at risk already, but it took me speaking up to confirm what he was already feeling. Do you have someone to speak up to? They just may be feeling what you're feeling…

4. The seals are what save.
Burning natural gas gives off toxic fumes along with the heat. It's all part of the science of it. The seals around the exhaust vent are in place to make sure what's toxic goes OUT while what's good stays IN. We're all human. We all have toxins…sins. The seal that the Holy Spirit provides for us ensures that with proper accountability, diligence and guarding of our hearts, the toxins go out and the good stays in. When that still small voice is disregarded, when the system breaks down, when the accountability quiets…the toxins that should be going out, all too often come in and when they do, they poison us and those around us. Sometimes quickly, but sometimes very slowly. The faulty seals in this house aren't our fault…the seals had been eroding over years of neglect. But even though it wasn't our fault, we were the ones being poisoned. Can you relate? Is there an area of your life where you sense a gap in the seals? What would others say about the seals in your life? In any person, system, organization, team or family, the seals are what save. If toxins are coming in, there's a problem with the seals. Identify the gaps and get busy with the repairs.

5. The longer you stay, the sicker you'll be.
Funny thing about poison…the longer you're exposed, the sicker it makes you. My kids were sickest because they were exposed longest. Of my kids, Jack was sick first and worst, because he is weakest to begin with. But, no matter how strong or healthy you are, you aren't stronger than poison. Eventually…it will best you. Get out into the fresh air, get some perspective and get a plan for getting rid of it. Are you getting sicker? Do you think the poison you're allowing into your soul won't affect you? Think you're healthier than that? Stronger than that? Think again. You're no match for the enemy. But fortunately, greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world. (I John 4:4) Pray for discernment and perspective as you do an inventory of the health of your soul, your relationships and the situations you find yourself in. If there's sickness, there may be poison.

5. Get rid of the poison, not the house.
There was a moment today when I considered moving. Literally packing up after five months of living here and moving. "It's everywhere! It has infected all of us!" and that was in fact true. But, poison has an antidote. If caught in time, it doesn't have to destroy. Instead, it can BE destroyed. The antidote to carbon monoxide? Oxygen. Good old available everywhere oxygen. With every single inhale of oxygen, the levels of carbon monoxide in infected blood are reduced. Carbon monoxide is no match for oxygen. You too have the antidote for the poison you're facing in your life. Satan has been defeated and his poison is no match for the blood of Christ  and the grace which covers you. That blood of Jesus is sure fire destruction for the poison that may be robbing you. The whole house doesn't have to be thrown out, but the poison has to be dealt with so that the antidote of fresh oxygen can once again invade purely. Breathe in grace. Don't give up and throw it all out just because the poison got in. Let the Redeemer redeem.

And redeem He will. Because that's Who He is and what He does.

Rise up, be our help, And redeem us for the sake of Your lovingkindness. Psalm 44:26

Saturday, November 9, 2013

i. can't. do. this.

"Are you still obeying?" "What do you say?" "How should you have asked that differently?" "Can I help you with something?" "Do you think that's a wise choice?" "Are you kidding me right now?" "Have you lost your mind?" "What is happening right now?"

Questions. Every day, all day, I find myself asking my kids questions. The funny thing about the questions is that I'm not asking because I need the answers, I'm asking because I already know the answer, but am trying to get them to think about what they're doing and what the answer should be.

This morning, upon hearing them downstairs not doing anything remotely close to what I had asked them to do, I called "are you still obeying?" The best part is always the replies...  

Ali's reply (7 yrs old): "yeeeeessss" (drawn out JUST long enough to stop what she'd been doing and start what I'd asked her to do so that it isn't technically a lie...)

Jack's reply (8 yrs old): "we're about to!" (he's just happy with points for intent...)

Maggie's reply (11 years old): "no, but we will."  (honest. She knows she isn't obeying any longer and will get back to it.)

As I shook my head in that all-knowing "don't they know that I know everything?" way that I do, I was struck by the question I'd asked them... (in that all-knowing way that I ask...)

Are you still obeying?

It wasn't long before I was pondering that very question for myself. I know the things that God's asked me to obey in. In fact He's asked all of us who are believers to obey in a host of things. There are 10 commandments to consider, commands from James regarding the tongue, commands from Ephesians regarding husbands and wives, commands in the books of Timothy regarding church leaders and the list goes on.

Those are all commands that God has given us generally. I also know of things that God has asked of me specifically. His direction to me may be different than His direction to you. That's the beautiful thing about His grace and the freedom that is found within it.

Occasionally though, I can feel Him asking "are you still obeying?" Depending on the day and what's been asked of me, I can answer like any of my children.

"Yeeeeeeeesssss..." This response is usually reserved for those times that I've gotten off track a little. I've gotten distracted along the way. The thoughts I start allowing my mind to run away with, the kindness I should display but really don't feel like it, the times I should go out of my way for someone and act like Jesus, but instead would rather be selfish... "Are you still obeying?" The way I answer gives me JUST enough time to snap out of my selfishness and yield to the Holy Spirit instead. But, God isn't fooled by my response any more than I am when Ali responds that way to me. He wisely asks the question to nudge me back on track. He is relentlessly kind.

"I'm about to!" I feel like I respond this way to God once I've dug my heels in. I don't WANT to be tender-hearted to my husband right now. I don't WANT to consider others better than myself. I don't WANT to take care of everyone else! I. DON'T. WANT. TO. Then in the midst of my selfishness and narcissism comes that voice... "Are you still obeying?" Ridiculously, and as though God hasn't seen the whole pity party, I gather myself, put everything in order and answer that I'm JUST about to though I somehow get points for good intentions. God isn't fooled, but He does know my frailty and in the words of Psalm 103:14, He "remembers that we are dust." So, because of His great love for me, He asks the question He already knows the answer to...and He asks for my good. He is relentlessly wise.

"No, but I will." This one is hardest for me. There are times in my life when I know what I'm supposed to do. I know what He's asked. I know the answer. I'm just not doing it. I'm scared. I'm unsure. I'm confused. I'm bargaining. I'm hedging my bets. I'm waiting for a different answer. I'm talking myself down. I'm beating myself up. I'm wringing my hands. I'm searching. I'm fretting. I'm anxious. I'm running. I'm weary. I'm worn. I'm exhausted. Then it comes..."Are you still obeying?" No. I'm not. I'm not obeying. The problem with the "I will" part is that there are times when I feel like I CAN'T. I cannot obey. I don't have it in me. I want to. This isn't an issue of my motive. It's an issue of fear. It's an issue of faith. It's an issue of trust. It's an issue of doubt. Am I saying out loud that I don't trust God? Of course not! But my actions and my delayed obedience (which is disobedience) betray me. I might as well say "God, I don't trust that you know what's best for me and that by instructing me in this way, you're leading me to Your best. I'm afraid that you won't come through." He is relentlessly merciful.

Charles Spurgeon had this to say on the subject:
  • Do you doubt as to whether God will fulfill His promise? When not a sparrow falls to the ground without your Father, and the very hairs of your head are all numbered, will you mistrust and doubt Him? Perhaps your affliction will continue up until you dare to trust your God and then it shall end. There are so many who have been tested and in anguish until, at last, they have been driven in sheer desperation to exercise faith in God, and the moment of their faith has been the instant of their deliverance; they have seen whether God would keep His promise or not. Oh, I pray you doubt Him no longer! It is a sin; and not a little sin either, but in the highest degree criminal. It is base and inexcusable that we allow a doubt to sojourn within our heart. May we wage constant war against doubts of our God - enemies to our peace and His honor - and with an unstaggering faith believe that what He has promised He will also perform.
I want to obey. But will I? The truth is, I can't. Without the enabling grace of God, there's no hope. I'm too frail, too paralyzed. i. can't. do. this.

Glory to God that He's not asking "Are you still obeying?" while expecting me to do so in my own strength! He's not assuming that I can and He's not even assuming that I will! I believe He asks the question to remind me that I'm not obeying and then to gently remind me that apart from Him, I can't. I can't accomplish what He's asked of me, so He must accomplish it IN ME. I can't live how He asks me to live, so He must live IN ME. I can't be who He's asked me to be, so He must be that IN ME. I can't fulfill His purpose for me. So He must. I can't. So He must. I won't, but He will.

The key for me? Surrender. That's my part. The hands up, white-flag waving, exhausted, end of myself SURRENDER. And then I wail... "GOD, I CAN'T!!!!" And in his wise, merciful, all-knowing, grace-oozing way, He then replies...

"No, but I will." He will do it. He will enable my obedience. He will come through. He will give me the grace to act. He will give me the grace to walk. He will give me the grace to speak. He will give me the grace to obey. And at the end...there will be no doubt that He alone has done it.

May we wage constant war against doubts of our God - enemies to our peace and His honor - and with an unstaggering faith believe that what He has promised He will also perform.

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. Psalm 138:8

Friday, November 1, 2013

my hope...

People. If you do nothing else today...READ THIS. It's from my friend Karla Garrard ( It's beautifully authentic and comes in the midst of all the uncertainties and joys of adoption. But, this isn't just about adoption. It's about good old fashioned HOPE. And we can all use some of that. Read on.

My Hope. by Karla Garrard

Can man live on bread alone?  I know what the Bible says and I do agree that my very breath is dependent upon God Almighty.  I understand and KNOW that my soul is only alive when the word of God is coursing in and through my very being.  But…

Woman can survive on bread, cheese, chocolate, grape juice and the occasional salad.  How do I know this?  Because with no oven, a small sink for washing dishes, a cast iron skillet on a gas burner, and a small frig, we have eaten our weight in grilled cheese sandwiches.  I did make good choices with whole wheat bread and nice cheese…but goodness.  I may have cured my addiction to cheese because I am not sure I will ever want any after this.  (Just kidding!  That won’t last. Just like my Coca Cola issues.  I haven’t had one in over a month due to disliking international Coke, but I am sure I will have a McDonald’s Coke before I even set foot in my house!)  It’s funny, this human body and psyche.  God is such a genius, really.

I had some good news this morning about our process.  I was thrown a bone of ‘hope’ in the form of this question- “Would you be able to leave earlier if your papers were done and appointments finished?  Could you fly earlier?”

Well, um, let me think about it for 2 SECONDS…YES!  

And then I ran a few errands to buy some salad and bananas…yes, and cheese.  I went to the post office to mail postcards for a friend and then came back to the apartment, as we call it.  (We have been careful to make a distinction between this apartment and home.  We want the kids to know that we are not home yet.  And they understand.  I expect there will be more transitioning when we are really home.)  After feeding the kids lunch, coloring a few hundred pictures, and having a dance party/worship party, it was nap time/quiet time.  I sat down and began to dwell a bit on this morning’s proposal.

Lord, dare I hope?

Fear. Doubt.  Unbelief.  Anxiety.  Timidity.  The list can go on.  These foul pesky fellas begin to have a party in my mind, will and emotions.

Dare I hope?  And, what is my hope in, really? 

  • That I get home?
  • That pain would cease?  Sorrow be no more?
  • That I am reunited back with our family of 7?
  • That the current joy I share with my SA family not wane, as I have to leave them?
Or, over the course of my life or your life—
  • That I be removed from a painful circumstance?
  • That I get to go to the school of my choice?
  • That I be delivered from painful friendships?
  • That the mouth of the slanderer be silenced?
  • That all who talk behind my back get their due?
  • That I get married?  That I have kids?
  • That ‘friends’ not lie to my face?
  • That abuse stop and be thwarted?
Or, what about the things that we see as righteous—
  • Would you give me platforms to share my faith?
  • That my family be saved?
  • That a wayward son or daughter be found?
  • That healing take place in a loved one’s body?
  • That the church grow to thousands so that many hear the gospel?
  • That financial stability take place to empower more giving to missions?
  • That there be a way for local and global missions to consistently take place?
And on and on and on.

In all categories, I am challenged.  From the hardest/darkest/evil times to those ‘good things’ that reflect Jesus…is our hope in the successful outcome?  The deliverance of evil?  The healed, free, loved individual?

Or, is our hope to be in Christ and Christ alone…come what may?

I am so challenged today!  Dare I hope? Yes, I am taking the dare.  I am placing my hope…placing my trust…in the One called Faithful.  I am placing my eyes on Him, the Author and Finisher!!  I am setting my heart towards Him, no matter what the outcome.  I am hoping in Jesus.  Because when I hope in a certain outcome, I am always, ALWAYS disappointed.  But when I hope in Him, He always is my ‘more than enough’.  He is so good like that.

Dare I hope?  Dare YOU hope? 

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from Him.
Truly He is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
Psalm 62:5-6

Jesus, I look to You today.  Not your hands and what they can give me.  But Your face…I gaze at Your beauty and worship You.  It’s Your breath in my lungs, so I pour out my praise to You only.  Amen and amen.

Friday, October 25, 2013

satan is in the secrecy...

Lately I've been very aware of secrecy. Both in good ways...

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God. But the things that are made known belong to us and to our children forever, so we may obey all the words of this Law." Deuteronomy 29:29

"Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered." Proverbs 11:13

But also in bad ways...

“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell." Matthew 10: 26-28

You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. Psalm 90:8

Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their work in darkness and think, "Who sees us? Who will know?" You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay!... Can the pot say of the potter, "He knows nothing?"  Isaiah 29:15-16

I've found myself on both sides of secrecy lately. I've felt the palpable tugging of God to come into the secret place with do some repenting and dealing and hard work with His Spirit. I've also felt the weight of secrecy in areas of my soul where it should not be...and I believe the Enemy thrives there.

What is secrecy?
:  the condition of being hidden or concealed
:  the habit or practice of keeping secrets or maintaining privacy or concealment

Some characteristics of unhealthy secrecy:

Darkness: when carrying unhealthy secrecy in our lives, there is palatable darkness. By definition darkness is: the partial or total absence of light. When we are holding unhealthy secrecy, there is surely darkness in that area. We can't see clearly, we fumble and stumble around and we walk in uncertainty. If we stay here too long, we eventually give up looking for the light switch and instead just wait for our eyes to become accustomed to the dark. This isn't the healthy life in the secret place that God calls us to. It's a place for the Enemy to lurk undetected and hidden under the cover of darkness.

Paranoia: I realize about myself that when I'm carrying unhealthy secrecy, I begin to experience paranoia. Paranoia is: a mental condition characterized by delusions of persecution, unwarranted jealousy, or exaggerated self-importance, typically elaborated into an organized system. Sound familiar? "Why are people against me?" "Everyone is talking about me!" "God must have HUGE plans for me because I'm being relentlessly persecuted...I mean, I'm practically the apostle Paul!" Yeah, paranoia is a sure sign that the secrecy we're carrying is eroding our true identity as secure, approved and beloved children of the King. Instead, we either play the victim or over-estimate our importance. The Enemy will take either opportunity to drag us off course and get us lost in the woods of paranoia.

Posing: We're all familiar with posers. You know, that person that you can quickly say: "oh man, what a poser!" about? Well I'm pretty convinced that we as believers have become MASTERS of posing. Ours is just way more subtle. Posing is: to assume a particular attitude or position in order to be photographed, painted, or drawn. Does that hit close to home for anybody? I'm so aware that an unhealthy amount of secrecy has creeped in when I feel the pressure to pose. On social media, at church, at work, for the other moms at school, for my kids, my friends, even my husband. I begin to have a literal tug-of-war between what I think people need to see from me and what I'm really feeling. I'm carrying secrecy and the inauthentic result is a need to pose...after all, I gotta look good, right? And the Enemy LOVES to get me all caught up in how I appear to the world around me. After all, if I'm worried about them, I certainly won't have room to be worried about how I appear to Jesus.

Secrecy manifests itself in many forms:
  • sins we are aware of but have not taken the time before God to deal with. 
  • knowledge we become aware of and feel responsible to keep to ourselves. 
  • knowledge others give us and then make us responsible to keep to ourselves.  
  • circumstances or situations that occur and bring with them shame or embarrassment.  
  • long past wounds or wrongs that pop up from the past to taunt us.
The goal of the Enemy is stealing, killing and destroying. He wants us in darkness...isolated, alone, paranoid and posing. Satan is in the secrecy. There is much that scripture has to say about the virtues of controlling our tongues, not breaking confidences and retreating to the secret place with God. This isn't that.

Unhealthy secrecy creeps into our lives when someone puts something on us that isn't ours to carry. Terrible or painful situations that happen to us aren't meant to be kept in secret and darkness. They're burdens intended to be shared with trusted counsel and Godly friends or mentors that can help us navigate all that confusing darkness and be on the road to freedom.

Sins that we're delaying repentance from will only serve to heighten the posing that is characteristic of a person pretending to be someone they're not. Bringing our sins into the open before God and asking Him to cleanse and purify us sheds LIGHT in an otherwise dark, dank place. All darkness flees in the presence of light. Bring it into the open before Him!

Knowledge is a funny thing. In fact, some would say knowledge is power. The funny thing about knowledge is that once you know something, you can't un-know it. Be very careful about what you know. Be very protective of what people give you to know. Once you know it, it's very hard not to carry it. Once you're carrying it, it's very hard not to feel responsible for it. Once you feel responsible for it, it's very hard not to act on it. Suddenly, something that we once didn't know is something we feel the need to act on. Sometimes this is good...other times, it's very, very bad.

Recently, I'm painfully aware that I have to beware of saying "I probably shouldn't say this, but..." and I'm equally leery of "please don't tell anyone this..." These are both the first sign that I should take a beat before anything else comes out of my mouth. You and I should have a handful of safe, godly friends in similar as well as differing seasons of life who are peers and also older and wiser. These are the appropriate places for the wise counsel mentioned earlier. Beyond that, it's a dicey game to start playing "no one really knows this but..." and the Enemy has a field day in all the secrecy. Knowledge can be power, but in all the wrong ways...

Past wounds and wrongs that continue to crop up AFTER they've been dealt with before God are one of the Enemy's primary ways to accuse us. It's a ploy to have us retreat into secrecy and guilt by giving back ground that was already taken in victory. We have to stand in truth and reclaim the ground that's already been covered by the blood of Jesus. Satan is at work in the dark, the shame and the secrecy. Those are unfruitful works of darkness and they are no match for the light and freedom found in Christ. There is now therefore NO condemnation, so don't give the Enemy any dark places to move in and get comfortable.

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1

There is no freedom in unhealthy secrecy...let's pray and ask God to expose areas where we may be carrying what isn't ours to carry, revisiting what's already been taken or shouldering burdens intended to be shared with another sibling in Christ. Satan is in the unhealthy secrecy.

Jesus, however, is in the secret places of our souls and invites us to let Him have free reign there. Retreating into the secret place with Christ is a very safe and secure place indeed.

Let's choose the secret place of Christ over the unhealthy secrecy the Enemy would have us bound up in. There's much freedom to be found there.

"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty." Psalm 91:1