Category Archives: Deception

Too Whatever: Overcoming the Sticky Green Lies

Last year,  I did a post called “Too Whatever.” Upon a reader’s request, I’m writing it again, with a little spin, a little more backstory, a little more dimension. I pray it blesses you. God loves your “Too Whatevers.”

When I turned forty, I had a strong and wonderful moment of empowerment.

Finally.

Old enough to command respect. Old enough not to care what people think. Old enough to bust out and do whatever I want.

It was a fleeting moment.

A sudden fear of being obsolete and out of touch came over me as I studied my hair in the mirror, and the half-inch of showing roots looked whiter than ever. And all that empowerment? Fled away, its whimpering and ancient gray tail tucked between its legs.

I shared this aging angst with my friend, the lovely Chana Keefer.

She understood. She laughed. And she told me that she had the same fear about her modeling career–when she was sixteen.

Sixteen.

At the time, fifteen-year-old Brooke Shields had hit it big, and Chana was one year older. She was, she decided, over the hill, past her prime, antiquated, passé. She hadn’t done enough in her field. She was doomed to fail at life.

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At sixteen.

Chana, of course, went on to do all kinds of amazing things, modeling, acting, writing, living.

And this conversation was an eye-opener for me.

Chana heard the same lies, at a young age, at sixteen years old, that were trying to take me out at forty.

Too old.

The same lies.

As I talked to Chana, the Holy Spirit showed me a dark figure holding handfuls of green slime, like really wet neon green bubble gum. He was waiting for someone to walk by so he could throw it at them and cover them with the nasty goo.

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And I heard the Holy Spirit say this: The enemy has nothing new. He has no creativity or orderly strategy, even though it seems like he does at times. He just stands there and throws the same lies at all of you.

It’s up to you what sticks.

It showed me the truth. The same lies come against all of us, no matter who we are or what we are dealing with.

Too old. Too young. Too late. Too shy. Too inexperienced.

Too…whatever.

We all hear the same doubts and battle the same insecurities.

It’s up to us what sticks.

I shared this story with a friend in the music industry. She said, “YES!! When I was in my twenties and thirties and I went to auditions, I was always afraid of being told I was too young for the part. I thought when I turned 40, that feeling would go away! And it did, but it was immediately replaced with a new one. Too seasoned. I started hearing people say the company told them they were ‘too seasoned’ for a part. Overnight, my fear went from being ‘too young,’ to being ‘too seasoned.”

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Whatever we put our faith in that isn’t God will let us down. We will just trade one lie for another, over and over, until we realize we have to stand on the miraculous power of the truth of God for our lives and nothing else.

His word for us??

OVERCOMERS.

We are OVERCOMERS.

You are an overcomer. An Overcomer of the Too Whatevers.

All the enemy has is lies. That’s all he has. He can’t create, he can only pervert what God has made with lies.

When you approach your destiny, he flings those sticky green lies at you, harder than ever.

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Don’t believe the lies that say, “you can’t,” whatever they are.

In that moment of 40-year-old empowerment, I started my blog. I started appearing on media. I started doing video and ministering online.

Not long after, when the doubts came, I went to the Lord.

“Father. I am too late. I waited too long. I’m too old.”

And I swear to you, He laughed.

I heard Him laugh for what felt like a very long time.

It made me laugh.

And then I heard Him say this: I love too old.

And before my eyes, I saw Abraham and Sarah, Moses, Daniel, Anna, and Caleb.

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They were all “too old” when God did some of the most amazing things in their lives.

“I love too old.”

“Ok then,” I said. “You love too old. Well. Let’s see what you can do with this.”

Truth is, you might be older or younger than the average success story. You might have held on to a vision for years. You might have too much on your plate to see your way to living your dreams or reaching your goals.

But God loves our “Too Whatevers.” He loves showing up in the gap, like He did for Gideon and his tiny army and bringing them to victory.

When I said, “Too old,” God did not try to talk me out of it. He said, “Oh, that? No problem. I love it.”

I felt that He was laughing because He much prefers to show His strength in us than let us lean on our own. When we feel weak, He is strong in us.

I could tell you that you haven’t missed the boat. And ultimately, I believe it is true. God wants to use you. He wants to help you. There is plenty of time. There’s always a place for the thing you carry because it’s never been done by you, in your own unique way.

But even if you did miss the boat, get this–

IT. DOES. NOT. MATTER.

I’m laughing typing this.

Even if you did miss it, your Daddy in Heaven loves a missed boat. He loves too old! He loves when we are late to the party! He loves TOO…WHATEVER!!!

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I love thinking of Caleb, armored up and raring to go. I imagine that he must have felt it too, at least one or two times, that he had missed the boat. It makes me wonder if he was determined not to miss it again, if God used some of that pent up energy from the past to give Caleb a greater measure of courage, if Caleb felt closer to death than the others because of his age, and rather than letting it weaken him, he wanted to go out with a bang in the promised land. It seems that God used the very thing that could hold Caleb back to make him the fiercest warrior of the day.

Never give up. Never, never, never, never, never give up. You have destiny inside you. You carry purpose and a plan. You carry the future. Don’t quit. If you have a commission on your life, He will help you achieve it. Don’t leave a vision because it sat too long, unless He tells you to leave it. He loves missed boats, late-to-the-party guests. He loves your “Too Whatevers.”

***

Father, I thank You that You are the God of Second Chances! And Third! And Fourth! And A Million!!! Thank You that nothing is impossible for You! Even our weaknesses and stumblings–especially our weaknesses and stumblings. You show Yourself strong in our weaknesses. You love our TOO WHATEVERS!

Thank You that we can’t miss the boat in You if we really want to catch it. God, we lay it all at Your feet. Our doubts. Our insecurities. Our struggles. Time. Energy. Inspiration. Skill level. Experience. Team. Whatever we feel is lacking, we give it to You.

We give you permission. Take what we have to give, however we feel about it, and DO SOMETHING AWESOME WITH IT!

We rebuke the lies of the enemy that would come in and shut us down and shut us up! We rebuke the sticky green goo that tries to attach itself to us! It cannot touch us, it cannot stick–because we stand on the word of TRUTH! We are OVERCOMERS IN CHRIST! We stand in expectation, that You will take our “Too Whatevers” and turn them in to SOLID GOLD. In Jesus’ name, amen!

Four Faces of Poverty and One Way to Overcome Them All

Poverty is a life-stealer, a joy-stealer, a dream-stealer.

A thief.

And like many thieves, a poverty mindset is a master of disguise.

A poverty spirit can wear many faces and speak with many voices.

There is no doubt that things happen in life that are beyond our control, and this post is by no means a dismissal of hardships. I have experienced poverty circumstances at different times in my life. I know how hard it can be, but I have also overcome a lot of the mindsets and the circumstances, so I also know it can be done! There is hope. The battle is in our minds. These are a few tips to help you recognize the enemy and win the battle.

Hopeless Identity

The most common expression of poverty that I hear says things like, “That will never work. I’ll never have that. I don’t even want those things. That life is not for me. Life is a struggle. The odds are stacked against me. I was born in this situation, and I’ll die in it. Everyone I know is like me. There’s no way out. I’m poor. It’s who I am.”

This face wears poverty as identity. Usually people who think this way have a mindset that has been passed down to them through generations. This face is marked by hopelessness. The oppression is so great, there is not even a concept of dreaming.

Entitled Resentment

One expression says, “Not only am I stuck with this life, but if I can’t have something better, no one else should have it either!  It’s not fair! I got some bad breaks, so everyone else should have to exist on my level. In fact, those people who have more than me? They should give me some of what they have. They owe me.”

This face wears poverty as resentment, and it is marked by entitlement. The saddest thing about resentment is that it keeps this person from connecting with people who do know how to succeed, people who also had some bad breaks, but overcame them. Resentful, entitled poverty will isolate these people in a cycle of group-think with others who have the same mindset and, therefore, affirm their unhelpful attitudes. This cycle will prevent them from learning other thought patterns that lead to success–and, then, lead them to helping others.

Defeated Heaviness

Another expression will admit that it wants success, but feels too beaten down to go after it. This one says things like, “I’d love to go after my dreams, but I don’t know how. I’m too old/young/uneducated/inexperienced/etc. I just can’t do it.”

This face wears poverty as total defeat and  is marked by a heaviness, an inertia, a lack of movement toward personal goals.

Self-Sabotaging Perfectionism

And the last expression is not always easily identified as a poverty mindset, because it looks different from the outside. This expression will admit that it wants success and will work hard to get it. However, it will self-sabotage all along the way. A person with this expression of poverty will throw tantrums with loved ones. Nothing is ever good enough for them, and they will reject opportunities, gifts, and offers of help because these offers don’t live up to their “standards.”

This expression wears poverty as perfectionism and is marked by an appearance of success, or of seeking success, that is thwarted by self-sabotage. Perfectionism is just another kind of poverty. It will keep a person from ever accepting themselves or any good thing that comes their way.

One Way to Overcome Them All

The way to conquer these feelings, or any spirit, is to cut them off where they started, at the root.

Humans are three-part beings, body, soul, and spirit, so the root has to be dealt with in every area.

For the body, take care of yourself. It’s your temple. It’s God’s temple. You will not feel like you are living the abundant life eating chips on the couch. Well. Not for long, anyway. Proclaim over yourself that any expression of poverty in your body is cut off at the root and allowed no longer, in the name of Jesus! Ask God to replace any poverty in your body with life and life abundant!

For the soul, think abundant thoughts! All behavior comes out of your thoughts. To change a life, change the thoughts. Write down upgraded thoughts, especially from scripture, and post them all over your house, car, and workplace. Proclaim over yourself that any expression of poverty in your soul is cut off at the root and allowed no longer, in the name of Jesus! Ask God to replace any poverty in your soul with life and life abundant!

For the spirit, take hold of your true identity! You are made in the image of God. Every good thing that He is, it exists inside of you! Proclaim over yourself that you are His beautiful creation, and any expression of poverty in your spirit is cut off at the root and allowed no longer, in the name of Jesus! Ask God to replace any poverty in your spirit with life and life abundant!

And for all three:  Ask God to show you the deeper things He has for you. When I started writing this post, I prayed and asked God what He wanted in the solution, and I heard Seneca Schurbon’s name. You may be familiar with Seneca’s groundbreaking work with flower essences. I shared the idea for this post with her and asked for her suggestions.

You can learn more about flower essences at her blog here. Seneca sees people integrating and healing body, soul, and spirit by using her products, and she has an essence called Prosper that she suggested for anyone wanting to try something a little out of the box. Everything Seneca does is done prayerfully and based on years of research and testimonies from clients. The Prosper essence “addresses poverty mentality, scarcity, and lack.” You can try a free sample of this essence and others by following the link; just click and type in Prosper, or browse the site for other possibilities.

If flower essences aren’t for you, ask God to show you what He has for you to do. He is limitless. His ways are high and delightful and creative. He wants to bless you and surprise you with a tailored personal touch on your life.

We all deal with poverty feelings from time to time. When thought patterns try to  come in that don’t line up with your best life, stop them at the onset.

***

Would love to hear from readers who have overcome a poverty mindset or something similar.

What worked for you? What would you suggest for others fighting this battle?

Please share in the comments!

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Jer29:11

Leah the Weak: An Unexpected Story of Christmas.

December is a story time of year.

Mostly about a baby, a star, and those who came to see the prophecies of history fulfilled.

But recently, I read a story, not about three wise men, but about three people in a love triangle.  Jacob, Leah, and Rachel.

You may know the story, but here’s a recap:  Jacob, the son of Isaac, grandson of Abraham, sets out on a long camel ride to find a wife.  He also happens to be outrunning the murderous rage of his brother, Esau, after stealing Esau’s inheritance.

“Jacob” is a word for “deceiver” in Hebrew.  So far, Jacob is living up to his name.

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When he arrives at his kinsman’s home, Jacob agrees to work for the man.  He sees the man’s younger daughter, Rachel, and immediately falls in love and wants to marry her.  He has also seen Rachel’s older sister, Leah, and, for whatever reason, he is not interested.

The girls’ father, Laban, agrees to allow Jacob to marry Rachel if he will work for him for seven years.  So Jacob does, and seven years pass.  The wedding day arrives.

But–and this is where it gets tricky–on the wedding night and unbeknownst to Jacob, Laban somehow substitutes Leah in Rachel’s place as the bride.

Jacob discovers the switch in the morning when the sun comes up.

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After pondering this one for some years, I have decided  it does not pay to ask many questions here.  There are only sordid and potentially embarrassing answers for everyone involved.   I’m planning to ask God to explain how this is all completely edifying when I get to Heaven.  Leaving it at that for now.

But, the point is, Laban deceived Jacob.

Jacob goes to Laban, understandably angry, and says “What is this you have done to me?  Why have you deceived me?”

Laban says to Jacob, like it all makes perfect sense, “Oh.  It’s not our custom to marry the younger daughter first, so I gave you Leah.  Wait a week, and you can marry Rachel, too, if you will work for me another seven years.”

So, without feeling like he has much choice, Jacob agrees.

For years I heard this story taught as a morality tale of sowing deception and reaping deception.

Jacob deceived Esau and stole his birthright–scandalous!  How dare he!  And so, he got what he deserved when Laban deceived him with Leah for a bride, instead of the woman he loved.

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Leah, the weak-eyed, unmarriageable, older daughter.  Leah, given as some kind of cosmic punishment to Jacob the Deceiver.

I’ve always felt a kind of camaraderie with Leah.  Whatever “weak-eyed” means in scripture, some scholars have suggested that she was cross eyed with poor vision.

I was a cross eyed kid.

I have worn glasses since I was four, and I had two surgeries as a child to correct my eyes.  But over the years, if I forgot a contact, or if I’m very tired, one eye might drift a little at times.  I don’t know if anyone else notices, but I do.

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I remember being at a family reunion and seeing an older cousin with the same crossed eyes.  She was tall and slender, very fashionably dressed in a tailored  yellow top and a green pencil skirt.  Her hair was thick and dark and wavy, and she wore spectacular red cateye glasses with little jewels on the frames.

But her standout feature was, unfortunately, those extreme crossed eyes.

It’s so hard to know where to look when someone has an eye off, how to know which eye is looking at you. And your own eyes dart back and forth, trying to find the active eye, like a Poe novel come to life.

I can say that, because I am sometimes that girl with the wandering eye.  And, for the record, I can tell you, just pick one.  They are both working fine, most likely.

Just pick one.

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Anyway.

I’ve always kind of felt for Leah, this weak-eyed woman.  Handed around like property, an unloved wife, accused as a man-stealer for the rest of time.

In the story, God brings sons from Leah and Rachel.  He uses this strange setup to fulfill the prophecies over Abraham, that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars.  From these women come twelve sons, the twelve tribes of Israel.

And these sons, the majority of them come, not from Rachel, but from Leah.  At that time, children were considered proof that a wife was a good one, that she was pleasing to God Himself.

The sons were a vindication.

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Reading this story today, I went back with the same old perspective. Jacob the deceiver meets his match in his sneaky old uncle, Laban,  and gets stuck with this unbeautiful, unlovable bride.

For a minute I wondered if Laban had had faith that God would provide a husband for Leah, could she have married someone who loved her?  And Rachel and Jacob, could they have had their fairy tale?

And then, I was arrested by this thought.

No.

God did it.

As wacky and sad as it seems for one minute, God did it just like that.

It hit me.  If Jacob got two wives for his “punishment,” that’s a strange punishment indeed, especially for that time. Leah was no punishment.

Leah was Jacob’s double blessing.

Leah was abundance.

Jacob comes out of this deal with two wives instead of one.  In the context of the time, God Is blessing Jacob in spite of his failure, not punishing him for it.  Aside from the inherent blessing of companionship, wives were a sign of wealth.  And a source of sons.  The more wives, the more sons.  And more sons and more wives meant increased standing in the community.

Jacob did not get what he “deserved,” some kind of Bride-from-Hell-Smackdown from On High.  No.

Jacob got mercy.  He got grace.  He got a heavy portion, pressed down and running over.  He got abundance for his sin, rather than devastation.

That’s more like the God I know.

And Leah had more retribution than just bringing forth many sons.  Leah was not born to bring punishment.  She was not born for another man or lineage.  She was born for this one.  She was born to fulfill a prophecy and give birth to nations.  And to a saviour.

You may remember this part of the story, too.  Leah’s fourth son was called “I will praise the Lord,” or “Judah.”

And Judah.

Judah, through many generations, brings forth Jesus Christ.

And Rachel has her sons, too.  Both women were exactly where they needed to be.  The great Joseph comes from Rachel, a man who saved Israel in Egypt, a man who foreshadows the coming of his even  greater cousin, Jesus.

Jesus, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.

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Leah the Weak, through God’s grace, becomes Leah the Lioness.

The mother of a lion.

The mother of The Lion.

God loves to use the weak to bring forth strength.

There are many women like this in the lineage of Christ. Tamar, the seductress.  Bathsheba, the exhibitionist.   Rahab, the prostitute.

Women despised by their culture.  But redeemed and honored by time and by scripture.

Sometimes we do not always see our vindication, our reparations.  We don’t always get to see the full fruit of our labors.

But these things are coming.  Our sacrifice is not wasted.  Our efforts are not in vain.  Our pain and tears and weakness do not go unseen.  And they do not go unredeemed.

Leah, Rachel, Jacob, Laban.  Small figures in an epic tale.  A huge plan that spans millennia to bring love to all mankind in the form of one tiny child.

One little lion.  In a manger.  Leah’s son, and Rahab’s, and Bathsheba’s, and Tamar’s.

And Mary’s.

And God’s.

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The unspeakable beauty of a God who takes a thing that the world calls weak and ugly to bring forth the greatest miracle.

The beauty of a God who might even sometimes ask us to endure some embarrassment or inconvenience–after all, what is a lazy eye in the scheme of things?

He might sometimes ask us to lay down our pride and our ease for something greater.  For the ones that come after.

Leah was willing.

Jesus Christ was willing.

And I am thankful.

Thankful for eyes to see this Christmas.

Thankful for His coming and His sacrifice and His strength in our weakness, in my weakness.  So thankful.

***

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  2Cor12:9

Too Whatever: Gray Hair, Doubts, and Insecurities.

When I turned forty, I had a strong and wonderful moment of empowerment.

Finally.  Old enough to command respect.  Old enough not to care what people think.  Old enough to bust out and do whatever I want.

I’ll admit.  It was a fleeting moment.

A sudden fear of being obsolete and out of touch came upon me as  I studied my hair in the mirror, and the half-inch of showing roots looked whiter than ever.   Hard-won identity fled, its ancient, gray tail between its legs.

I have serious wrinkles now.  That the kids gave me.  I used to point at my forehead when they were acting crazy and tell them, “See this?  See these wrinkles?  YOU ARE GIVING THEM TO ME!”

I gave the last sixteen years to raising kids.  I’m still doing it.  And I love it.  But all this time, I’ve been telling myself, “When they are older, then.  Then I can do my thing.”

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I once heard Oprah say, “You can have it all.  You just can’t have it all at the same time.”

The woman who doesn’t have children.  Telling me not to worry about putting off my career.

Mercy.

I shared this aging angst with my friend, the lovely Chana Keefer.  She is the best selling author of several books on Amazon. You can find her here.

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She understood.  She laughed.  She told me that she had the same  fear about her modeling career–when she was sixteen.

Sixteen.

At the time, fifteen-year-old Brooke Shields had hit it big, and Chana was one year older.  She was, therefore, over the hill, past her prime, antiquated, passé.  She hadn’t done enough in her field.  She was doomed to fail.

At sixteen.

Chana, of course, went on to do all kinds of amazing things, modeling, acting,  writing, living.

And this conversation was an eye-opener for me.

Chana heard the same lies, at a young age, at sixteen years old, that were trying to take me out at forty.

Too old. 

The same lies.

It showed me the truth.  That the same lies come against all of us, no matter who we are or what we are dealing with.

Too old, too young, too fat, too thin, too inexperienced, too seasoned, too…whatever.

We all hear the same doubts and battle the same insecurities.

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It’s up to us what sticks.

I don’t really collect anything, but if I did, it would be those stories of people who defy expectations and beat the odds.  Fairy tales.  Bible stories.  Sports movies.  I love ’em.  Can’t get enough.

Mike Rowe is fast becoming a Paul Harvey for our time.  He is a great storyteller, and I’m including a story from him today.  Listen now or save for later.  You’ll be glad you did.  “Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow,” about America’s first female self-made millionaire, Sarah Breedlove.   Link here.  (Doesn’t start till minute 6:00, so fast forward past the commercials if you need to.)

You can also read about Sarah Breedlove here at Wikipedia.

If Sarah can do it, I can do it.  And you can do it.  Beat the odds.  Have it all, whatever that looks like for you.

Don’t believe the lies that say, “you can’t,” whatever they are.

And.

Never give up.  Never, never, never, never, never give up.

***

Cheering you on, Fearless Wanderers! 

Never Shaken: Thoughts on The Media and the Dallas Shooting Tragedy.

For one second last night,  I was afraid to walk through my neighborhood.

My husband wanted to take me to dinner.  There are several restaurants close by, so when we go, we usually walk.

But for one second, I felt glowing white.

Like a ring on a bullseye.  Shoot here.

When I recognized the way my mind was wandering, I was so mad.  Mad at the situation.  Mad at myself.

Bullies make me mad.

There are many bullies in this world, but, today, I think the biggest bully is the media.

I’m not even convinced the young man in Dallas shot those officers.  “I want to kill white people?”  It just seems too convenient.

Whether he did or didn’t, I guess the point is that I don’t believe even half the news I hear.  I don’t know anyone who does.

And yet, it just rolls on and on.   And we keep watching.

And we know we are being manipulated.  And we keep watching.

We absolutely need to deal with issues at the roots.  Especially as the church.  Every voice needs to be heard, and there is no doubt that there is work to be done.

But the endless irresponsible newsreels are not helping.  They are bullying us into a corner.

I was encouraged to hear of a report on NPR that most people interviewed are sick of the sensationalism and ready to turn it off.  They just haven’t turned it off, not quite yet.

The headlines always seem to disintegrate.  From simple facts to screaming emotion.  Anything for ratings.  Anything to keep the audience reaching for one more view.

In the Dallas headlines, today, I see words like “division, fear, and terror.”

It is a tragic thing.  The victims deserve our honor and our grief.

But division?  Fear?  Terror?

That’s not news.  That’s bad prophecy.

Honor and grief and even outrage are part of this process.  But, division, fear, and terror–these are my choice.

Not to diminish the pain in Dallas in any way, but tragedy happens every day all over the world.  Why should the media dictate to me what my emotion is supposed to be today?

I will not let the media tell me that I should be anxious and worried today.  I will not let the media tell me that my world view should be different today, and then change again tomorrow, based on the ever-shifting sand of ratings.

I don’t allow anything to tell me that I should be anxious and worried on any day.  Why give the media special power or authority over my emotion and my state of mind?

Unity and love.  Deep solutions.  Conversations.  Voices heard.  Changes made.  These will not happen in the climate that the unchecked media will create.

I did walk to dinner with my husband last night.  “If  I die, I die,” I thought and put on my lipstick and marched out the door.

And strolled through crowds of beautiful people.  Every possible expression of Divine Creativity.  Every imaginable shade of skin, every impossible color of hair.  And we smiled at each other and said hello.  And we ate together.  We broke bread together.

I could have stayed home.  I could have changed my plans.  I could have missed a great night enjoying the people around me.

As a friend of mine says, there really is only one race.  The Human Race.  Breaking bread together.

***

I pray we can get the facts we need and filter them through the eyes of love.  I pray we know when to turn off the news and ask The One Who Made Us what He has to say about it all.

I pray we do not let ourselves be bullied, by media or any other thing.

I pray we are filled with the courage that passion can bring, passion for something bigger than our own personal safety or desires.  And do what it takes to see real change.  I pray for miracles.  We are catalysts for miracles.  I pray we focus on love and are willing to look inside ourselves and do the hard work that has to be done. 

Surely the righteous will never be shaken;
    they will be remembered forever.
They will have no fear of bad news;
    their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.  Psalm 112:6-7

Keeping Your Castle: How to Fight Fear.

The following story is similar to the last post but not the same.  Spot the differences?

The egg cracks, and a forked tongue flicks into the night air.  Fragments of the shell, thick and dark, fall into the soil below.  A tiny serpent oozes out of the broken mess, one long and writhing body, two heads.

In a room high above the nest, a woman sleeps.  The walls of the castle keep are too smooth for the serpent’s slick belly, but the vining ivy proves a perfect pathway to her window–or it would, had it not been cut so close.

The double-headed snake slithers its way along the vines and pauses near the window sill.  The smell of life is strong here.  It makes its way a little higher on the vine and then drops, aiming its body at the window ledge.   It nearly falls to the ground far below, but it twists at the last minute and scoots along the edge of the grated screen.

Finding no easy way inside, the serpent stops to warm itself on the rock wall still full of heat from the day’s sun.  Perhaps it has come far enough.  But its instinct is strong, and it pushes along the screen again.  Finding no holes, it presses hard, and the wooden frame comes away from the wall, just enough for the little beast to creep in.  

It makes its way down the heavy curtain and across the floor, but it is weary now from so much effort.  The serpent stops on the floor near the bed and falls asleep,

The woman also sleeps, soundly, having pulled on her helmet before laying her head on the pillow.  This is not her habit, but tonight, a chilly wind blows and bears an ill will.  She holds her sword in her hand.  Intruders would find this maiden hard to handle.

The queen’s guard makes a silent pass through the bedroom, checking to see that all is well.  He approaches the window to check the screen, and as he passes the foot of the bed, his bootheel connects with the serpent’s tiny heads.  It dies without waking, without ever knowing it has lost.

Lady the Fearless sleeps on, dreaming of victories.

***

The castle “keep” was the ultimate fortified tower.  Tall and thick and surrounded by a stone wall, equipped with weapons and designed for fighting, the keep gave the advantage to the defenders inside.

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These towers were made with the understanding of attack, to “keep” the vulnerable ones safe, the ultimate refuge.

In the last post, I gave you a story about a maiden in a tower that was not a keep.

There were several elements to last week’s tale:  a neglected castle yard, a tower covered in overgrown ivy, a wide open window, an unguarded bedroom, a vulnerable maiden, and a lying little snake.

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In  that post, I promised to share some of my strategies for slapping fear out of my head, for creating a different kind of story.  Here they are:

I try to keep fear from ever getting in.

I believe that I have nothing to fear, that God loves me like crazy and works all things together for my good.  This is not always a natural thought, so I  get it in my mind as often as I can, reading scripture and listening to teachers like Joyce Meyer or Lisa Bevere or Graham Cooke.

I’m aware of how I tolerate dark entertainment or heavy conversations, etc.  Sometimes, my tolerance is high.  Other times, I need to walk away.  Regardless of tolerance level, when negative things come in through the news, movies, conversations, or elsewhere, I make time to recharge.

I’m a pray-er.  Is that a word?  I don’t know, but I am one.  The minute I sense anything weird, I say a quick prayer.  Usually something like “Jesus help.”  Sometimes, that’s all I’ve got.

Fear can grab us physically before we know it.  Once in a while, just to check, I do a quick scan of my body.  How’s my breathing?  Deep breaths calm the body and mind.  How tense are my shoulders?  I consciously relax.

I meditate on scriptures, in my head or whispering if I have to, out loud if I can.  I’m working on making a printable for you guys with paraphrases of these verses.  When I figure out Dropbox, I’ll get it to you.

My friends help me think in a way that brings peace.  I surround myself with an atmosphere of peace and guard my territory in any way I can.  I have many friends from different walks of life, but the ones I spend the most time with encourage me in peace and strength.

Last, I rest.  I take care of myself, mind, body and spirit.  A worn out body drags behind and drains mental and emotional energy.

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These are my strategies for keeping fear out, for keeping my castle.  I’m not totally fearless every minute of every day, but I’m so much better than I used to be.

What strategy most resonates with you?  What would you add?  Love your ideas–see you in the comments!

 

Deception. The Adversary Hatches.

The egg cracks, and a forked tongue flicks into the night air.  Fragments of the shell, thick and dark, fall into the moldy soil below.  A tiny serpent, grotesque and deformed, oozes out of the broken mess, one long and writhing body, two heads.

In a room high above the nest, a woman sleeps.  The castle walls are too smooth for the serpent’s slick belly, but the vining ivy proves a perfect pathway to her window.  The double-headed snake slithers its way along the vines and over the window sill, down the heavy curtain, across the floor, and up into the bed beneath the coverlet at her feet.  It pauses a moment, basking in the warmth of legs covered in filmy white silk.

The brains of the tiny snake, vague and primitive, see thoughts in images, and something like firelight plays through its consciousness.  The tongues flicker, and it continues on, following the warmth of her body, leaving the covering of her sheets, and,  finding her head covered in shining curls, it slithers into her ear.  She stirs, but sleep is sweet.

It more thinks the lies than speaks them, and the woman hears its thoughts louder than her own dreams. And, so deep it goes, hiding itself inside her head, that she believes its thoughts are her own.

Each head sends a different message, one of fear and one of pride, and it feasts on the confusion it breeds. The woman holds her head in her hands and cries tears of indecision.  

Her soul opens to Deception.  The little beast settles in, and without waking, she gives it a home.

***

Every good story needs a terrible villain.  Lady the Fearless?  She battles lies.  Fear and pride.  Dream stealers.  They come in when we believe deceptions about who we are, when we dozily accept any thought that wanders through our minds.  Too bad the sleeping maiden left that window wide open.  Too bad she doesn’t put up much of a fight.

If she would jerk herself awake and slap that little two-headed snake, it would fly across the room and crack its tiny skulls.  And the maiden?  She would find herself that much closer to Lady the Fearless.

So many things in this story could be different.  What if someone were on snake patrol, getting the eggs before they could ever hatch?  What if the castle had a more conscientious gardener?

The window could be guarded.  There could be snake traps in the bedroom.  The little maiden could jump up, throwing back the blankets, kicking like a ninja!   She could protect her ears before she slept, some barrier the lying creature could never breach.

What lies do you need to slap, right across the room today?  What barriers could you put in place against lies?  What fears are trying to take you down, infiltrate your thinking, and steal your dreams with thoughts of failure and risk?  What prideful nonsense is invading?

Every healthy person I know deals with lies and fear and pride; it’s an ongoing matter of what we accept and how proactive we are, how often we go on snake patrol, take inventory.  How sleepy are we when lies try to creep in?   Because they are sneaky, and we do love our slumber.

We have got to get control of ourselves, for heavens sake, and give the little beasties a slap.

I’ll share some of my strategies for slapping fear out of my head in the next post, but would you share some of yours in the comments?  What does courage look like for you in those moments of choice, those moments when you could choose to believe a lie or step out on truth?