We’re creatures of habit, change is hard, and our minds are powerful. These three thoughts influence us negatively when old haunts taunt.
Being indwelled by God’s Holy Spirit lifts us beyond our temptations. An intimate connection with God offers fellowship with One who’s in control. It allows us strength from One who’s almighty. Living through the Spirit frees us from the weight of our guilt and shame.
Creature of Habit
What can we do when old familiar haunts of days past taunt until they become our focus again? Though perhaps not seen outwardly, their presence is felt. This was conduct of a life thought to be traded in for robes of white. The creature of habit, whispering lies of comfort, no matter the cost, rises up once more.
Change is Hard
A great weight was lifted when you gave God your life. You sensed the difference. The freedom was amazing. The joy He brought was immeasurable. Now, you sit thinking of such change. Was it real? How could it have been if temptation has risen so strongly once more? Ultimately, you admit in defeat that change is hard.
Our Minds Are Powerful
When old haunts rise, thinking consumes. It morphs to disbelief in the truth of who we are as children of God. Frustration overwhelms, and soon we find ourselves giving in to the old nature. After all, our minds are powerful. The more we think on something, the more controlling it becomes.
Haunts that taunt hold tight. Don’t let them get a grip!
What influences you? You may feel that the old haunts taunt you and lead you to fail, returning you to old ways you’d turned from when God became your focus, but you’re wrong. It’s not really the old haunts that are to blame, it’s what you do with them.
You’re Worth It!
Stop thinking about them! Be aware. The more you think on them, the more power they have. Turn your thinking instead to God. Whenever temptation rises, consciously turn your thoughts to God. Talk to Him, aloud if you must. Put on music that honors Him and sing along. Read something that points to Him. Whatever it takes for you to focus on God instead, do it. Taking the time to refocus is worth it! You are worth it! God is the answer. He is what will break the spell when old haunts taunt!
Is friendship essential to the soul? Essential, as a word, indicates something that is vital, fundamental, a lifeblood, or a necessity. Does this describe what a friend is or should be to us? I dare say we put too much value in creation and things of this earth, including people such as our friends.
When we value someone to the degree that they are a necessity or a crucial need in our lives, we’ve placed them higher than they should be. With a demand so strong, we risk hindering both our life and that of those we cling so tightly to.
What is the purpose of friendship, what part do we play as a friend, and what is our friend’s role in our life? Are we able to heal them when they’re hurting? Can we protect them when tragedy strikes? Do we keep guard when enemies threaten? Are we peacemakers when life overwhelms? Strength, wisdom, peace, hope, and encouragement are all sought from friends or expected of us by others. However, all of these are not, or should not be, our functions in life.
We’ll be sorely disappointed if we cling to another person and expect them to fulfill a role for us they’re not meant to. They cannot meet all of our needs. By letting our unfulfilled expectations be known, expectations that cannot fully be achieved by anyone, we impose the impression of failure on our friends, inflicting disappointment on them.
When we try to be the best friend, offering advice, giving guidance, and trying to be what we think others would want of us, we fall short, struggle to keep up the façade, and find ourselves stressed out and anxious. We can’t possibly be all to all or even all to one other person. It’s exhausting and leads to unhappiness in ourselves and our friendships.
Imagine if we treated friendships as freedom, allowing someone a safe place to simply be. We should listen without judgement or offering opinion. God’s whisper of direction can then be heard by our friend. We should treat friendships as an extension of ourselves by being present to uplift and pray with one another in times of rejoicing or struggle. Where two or more are gathered together praising the Lord a sacred space is created.
Friendships, true and unconditional in nature, I believe, are blessings from God, rather than essential to the soul. They offer dimension to our lives. They enrich the basics of living. Friends bring a layer to our humanity that feeds our personalities, challenges our comfort zones, and should keep us focused on God.
Don’t let friendships become exhausting.
God, however, is the One who is essential to our soul. He is our Creator, and He formed us with a need for a deep intimate connection with Him. We feel best, perform best, are healthiest in mind and soul when we live life as one with Him. It is God who should be our confidante, comforter, protector, and the source of our strength. These qualities of His are supernatural and become very powerful in the lives of His children.
As a friend, be there to encourage your friend to keep God, first and foremost, at their center no matter how difficult the circumstances. Be there to allow a safe place to vent. Not so that you can advise, but to let them hear their own voice and sense God’s response. We should rejoice together as God gives direction and praise God together as He comforts and imparts His peace during times of difficulty.
When we are that kind of friend, we grow in our own relationship with God. By directing others to the One who is essential to the soul, we are being fed as well. Our soul is filled to overflowing, and our friends benefit by that which overflows from our being, that is God. So, are friends essential to the soul? No, but a good friend will direct you to Him who is. Though we all want to be of value to someone, it takes a strong person to step aside and let God have that rightful place. He is essential to your soul.
“Thanks for your advice, but I’ll do just fine learning from my own mistakes.” If I didn’t say them out loud, those words were screaming in my head. My mother had shared another story from her past meant to enlighten and encourage me to skip the same mistakes she’d made. She was parenting, but much like most teenagers, I was quite brilliant. I didn’t need direction from anyone else, especially my mother.
Well, here I am thirty-ish years later in the same situation with my own children. “I really think you’ll notice the difference if you eat better,” I’d said. Instantly the eye-roll and irritation emanating from my young adult daughter was felt, if not seen. It’s much the same response I get from all my children when I offer advice from the many life-lessons I’ve learned. I shrug and pray for the patience to be quiet…now and the next time I want to offer my thoughts. Which reminds me of the serenity prayer I quoted in my video message: Sons and Daughters of the King, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.”
Can we change those we love? Should we try to change them? How much energy, worry, and control should we exert on the decisions of those we care for? Over the course of my child-rearing years, I’ve learned that we, as parents, aren’t really in control. I’ve realized that we can’t fulfill any promise to keep our children safe from harm. It’s clear that many influences occur in our children’s lives that either we’re unaware of or painfully wish had never happened.
During my early parenting years, God spoke to my heart. He was present, offering peace and easing my mind. His strength gave aid to my defeated soul. He offered wisdom and direction, clarifying my role in my children’s lives. You see, God is the only One who is in control. He is the Creator, and these children are His. He does allow bad things to happen. We (you and I) grow, learn, and change largely based on the struggles we face and endure. Our children are no different. If He has intentions that my children experience things I strive for them to avoid, He has His reasons. His will never fails.
Struggling to control a child’s direction and filling with anxiety when they don’t listen wastes energy, causes faith to falter, and fills us with stress. Looking at life’s circumstances through a belief in God and His will, even for our children, allows us freedom. We gain the ability to let go and entrust them to Him.
That doesn’t mean that we stop parenting. However, remaining constantly in communication with God, seeking His wisdom, and trusting His will allows two things to happen: 1) We are comforted when things don’t go the way we’d hoped, and 2) Our children see us in peace during moments where chaos is expected or present. It is a quiet visual of relationship for others to witness, rather than ranting that these difficult times or bad choices are not what we or God would want. When we keep our eyes on God, we step out of being a factor in or source of the chaos itself and become a vessel of peace.
We can relate to our children. After all, we often sense God’s direction in our lives and respond much like an adolescent to a parent, “I’ll do just fine, Lord, learning from my own mistakes.” As you know, life would be so much easier if we’d heed God’s advice. Let me encourage you to come close to God and grow in that relationship. His direction may, at times, be difficult, but the beauty of what He is creating is worth it, and the peace He imparts on the journey gives us strength to endure.
Watch what God can do in your child’s life. When we co-parent with Him, we experience peace in the midst of chaos. Witness the difference that peace in your own parenting can make for those in your life. Though some things take time to change, you can be sure that when you entrust your children to Him, He’ll do a great job. Be a quiet but powerful force of faith in your child’s corner. They will benefit!
God had me travel today past the very spot that inspired my children’s book Raindrops and Snowflakes. I remember the wonderment I’d had that every drop of water had a purpose and that each one landed where it did intentionally at God’s command. As I looked today, every individual snowflake adhered to many more on the banks of the river were soon to melt, join the flow, and journey elsewhere.
Such is life for us. It often finds us settled, but change happens, sending us in new directions. No matter how much we grasp at controlling the circumstances in our lives, we have purpose and place beyond what we can see today.
As the story unfolds, Rayden Raindrop wonders why. Why are we all so similar to each other and yet have such powerful differences? Why do some not remain here? Why does change happen? We have so much to question God about in this life, but the greatest choice is to trust Him, knowing that His will is of the utmost importance. We can’t understand what the bigger picture is beyond our scope of view, but God knows all. Trust Him.
Newly released copy of Raindrops and Snowflakes 2/22/16.
There is a blessing found there, in letting go of question and control, it’s peace. Allowing freedom of God’s will in your heart also opens your eyes. Until you choose to relinquish your grip, you only see through a limited view. Getting close to Christ, entrusting your life to Him, opens your eyes Spiritually and you’ll then be able to see the blessings that are all around you, blessing that He’s orchestrated and intended to benefit you.
Happy second year anniversary, Raindrops and Snowflakes! May your story bless others.
The words “Christian parenting” may conjure thoughts of coddling and protecting. They may imply high expectations or an image of goodness, but I’m suggesting another view. God allows us to go through experiences that shape and mold us. We’re exposed to circumstances that ignite passion, leading some to make a difference for others. God shines through us in dark places that difficult times have brought us to. Our children, entrusted to God, will also endure difficulties for which we can’t and sometimes shouldn’t protect them from.
March 3rd was the anniversary of a piece of work I’d never expected to create. My first children’s book Little Birch Finds Peace came by way of a challenge. During an event, my husband said he’d like to see a new novel and a children’s book available within a year. I hadn’t been interested in writing children’s books, but I sat down and wrote this story. It was based on a real set of trees and was a message to me from God of struggle, growth, and trust. I’d wanted to imbed this within a novel some time. But since it’s publication, it’s proven to be a powerful message for both children and adults alike.
Painting by Hannah Forcier
God allows us to endure trials and times of hurt. We learn many lessons through them. Though we often live with the reminders of our past sufferings, beautiful things can be seen that wouldn’t have been experienced otherwise. When we grow in relationship with Christ, we grow to trust God and His will for our lives. It’s in that trust that we eventually can see the good that God has intended.
How can we patiently watch, though, as our children are being led through tough experiences? Little Birch was one such child, of a sapling sort, whose mother had to wait many years before seeing the blessings God planned. However, her faith never faltered. At least it didn’t waver enough to cause her to intervene. The story, ultimately, is a reflection of parenting. Not just ours but God’s as well. Our children are not our own. They are His.
After many years of weight, trauma, and hurt laid upon the life of Little Birch, God brought about beautiful days. He exposed purpose to him. The peace Little Birch found wasn’t due to a happy moment but was a direct result of finally trusting God. That same trust was something his mother already knew. By remaining separate, she was able to let God do His work in her little one. Ultimately, it brought Him to a deep sense of peace, hope, joy, and love. This is something we want for our own children, isn’t it?
There are times that we’re meant to intervene in our children’s lives. However, I believe it’s not as frequently or as obvious as we think. Christian parenting is by faith. We recognize that only God knows when we’re to step in and alter the course of events for our kids. We need to remain focused on Him, seeking His wisdom and direction. I pray that you diligently seek His will, step out on faith, and allow Him room to parent your children. Keep in mind that only He knows your child’s tomorrow, and that tomorrow may involve some powerful experiences today.
Enjoy the book release party through the talented eyes of my illustrator/daughter, Hannah.