The Armor of God: Part 2

“Put” enduo: to clothe or be clothed with (in the sense of sinking into a garment)
“on the full armor” panoplia: complete armor; taken from two words which mean every” and weapon” a set of offensive and defensive armor (weapon), i.e.: everything needed to wage successful warfare; figuratively speaking in this contest it’s the full resources the Lords gives to the believer so they can successfully wage spiritual warfare. In this way they do not fight for victory, rather from his victory.
“of God” theos: the Creator and owner of all things
“so” pros: advantageous for; moving toward a goal or destination
“that you will be able” dunamai: I am powerful; am able; I can, have the power; able (enabled by God), empowered
“to stand firm” histeme: to make stand, to stand; one who in the midst of the fight holds his ground/position against the foe
“against” pros: advantageous for, toward a place
“the schemes” methodeia: craft, deciet, scheming, craftiness; Root of the English word method; properly, a predictable (pre-set) method used in organized evil doing (well-crafted trickery); methodia comes from methodos, a way of searching after something, an inquiry; a method; to employ craft”
“of the Devil” diabolos: slanderous, accusing falsely; often used as a proper noun, The Slanderer, The Deciever; unjustly criticizing to hurt and condemn to sever a relationship; literally someone who makes charges that bring down (destroy); Satan is used by God in this plan as a wind up toy, playing out his evil nature.
Last week we saw much about strength, and that it’s not really our own strength, but rather it’s the Lord’s strength that we draw upon. We’re able to draw from and channel His strength through the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. When we discipline ourselves to seek the Lord through His Word great things begin to happen a Shield of Faith forms, a Breastplate of Righteousness protects, God’s truth forms a belt around your waist that will secure you and hold you fast on His path, and as we walk His path our feet carry the Gospel of Peace, which brings the Helmet of Salvation, and prayer. 
I’m so excited to dive into each piece in detail but until then we have to keep setting up the scene for this magnificent set of armor. It’s like any story, the scene must be set in order to fully appreciate the climactic portion. If you walked into a movie that had already been playing for 45 minutes you might eventually figure out who’s who and what’s what but you’re missing the why. 
This word put” in Greek, is the idea of clothing oneself, or sinking into a garment. A couple of pictures come to mind when I think of sinking into something. The first goes along quite nicely with this description because after a long day of work, when I get home, I want to get into my comfy clothes. I’m sinking into relaxation, comfort and freedom I hold my comfy clothes in high regard. But it’s just not simply putting on some clothes. Along with sinking into these wonderful, old sweats comes a nice cup of tea or coffee, a good book or tv show, or even sitting down with a dear friend. It’s as if the point here is to fully immerse yourself in the strength of the Lord; it’s a way of life, not just a singular action. It’s a whole heart, whole body, whole life commitment.
The concept of wholly submitting or sinking into the Lord is the second image that comes to mind. When you hear the word sinking, without the context to clothing, what picture comes to mind? Allow time for people to answer. Quicksand and water come to my mind. And what’s happening when something is sinking, or has fully sunk? Allow time to answer. It’s fully engulfed, consumed, disappeared, immersed, overwhelmed, humbled. Think about those synonyms in relation to what Christ would us do with our lives.
I’m not sure about you, but there is no place I would rather be than fully and completely submerged in the presence of God. To the point where I disappear and all that’s left is God’s light. 
I used to think that putting on the Armor of God was like putting on clothes in the morning. But what do we do with our clothes at the end of the day? We take them off. At the end of the day is when I most need the Armor of God! I can no more remove my head and expect to keep living physically, then I can remove my salvation and expect to keep living spiritually. It’s the same for every other piece of the armor. They are life sustaining articles in our walk of faith.
Look at the verse again. It says we put on, sink into, become one with the full, whole, complete Armor of God.
As I mentioned last week, in the first part of our study, the word used here for full armor” is panoplia. Meaning it has every offensive and defensive weapon to wage complete and successful warfare against your enemy. God doesn’t send us into battle without all that we need, that would be against His character. He didn’t equip us with faulty equipment to go out and fight against the schemes of the Devil. So this idea that our back is not protected is rubbish. God loves you too much to leave you exposed and weak. He always gives us every resource we need to prevail in every form of spiritual warfare, we just don’t always choose to use them. One commentator said this, To put on the armour of God”…is declared to be to put on the Lord Jesus Christ” [Romans 13:14]. Hence its completeness corresponds to the divine perfection of His true humanity.”
If you’d turn to Romans 13:12 with me. Here we see we are to put on the armor of light. Enduo, to sink into a garment. But the word for armor here is different. This is not referencing a set, this is talking about the weapons, instruments, and fighting tools. Walking in God’s Light is just a part of our faith, there’s so much more to it. I got to thinking, What are the other weapons we have?’ In the movies House of Flying Daggers, there is a scene where two of the main characters are fighting (let’s be honest, the whole movie is the art of fighting), but in this particular scene they are at a training arena. Lining the walls are racks and shelves of different weapons and tools to use in their kung fu/karate/etc. That’s how I imagine it is for us. We need to learn how to discern which weapon to use at the proper time. Here’s a short list of what I found: 
  1. 2 Corinthians 10:4 Divine power to demolish strongholds
  2. 2 Corinthians 6:7 Weapons of righteousness
  3. Romans 13:12 Armor of Light
  4. Romans 6:13 We offer our lives as an instrument of Righteousness
  5. Isaiah 58:6 Fasting is a way to freedom
  6. Just about any Proverbs gives advice on a righteous life
The commentator Eillicot wrote this, We are to grow up unto Him in all things” (Ephesians 4:15), to put on His image in all the harmony o f”truth” and righteousness,” of peace” and faith,”  to receive and use His salvation” and wield the spiritual energy of His Word.”” Do you know, we are so blessed to have the full Scripture at our fingertips. We get to discover the intricacies of God’s Word and see how it all relates and ties together. Some people are so skeptical about the validity of the Bible, even those who claim to be born again Followers of Christ. As I research God more and more, as I learn about Him and give my heart to His teachings I am continually amazed by His majesty.
As we move through this verse we come to the why.’ …So that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” I am so grateful that it’s not our own power we are using to stand against the enemy of our souls. Because I’m sure we have all been in a place where we have battled and fought, and waged war in our own strength. It’s exhausting, impossible, overwhelming, chaotic. However, when we are choosing to stand firm in the Lord we are completely ready to battle; we’re fighting from HIS victory, instead of fighting for victory.
Let’s unpack this idea of the devil scheming against us; let’s shed some Light on his darkness. Ephesians 5:13 says that everything exposed by light becomes visible” and if we can see our enemy clearly, we can fight all the more effectively. James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” To me, learning to clothe ourselves in His armor, stand in His strength, wield His weapons, and fight His enemy is an exercise of submission. 
According to BibleHub.com this word scheme, methodeia, means craft or craftiness, deceit; it’s the root for our English word method; properly, it’s a predictable (pre-set) method used in organized evil-doing (well-crafted trickery); methodeia comes from methodos, a way of searching after something, an inquiry…” Excuse me a moment while I digest all of this… 
Our enemy is skillfully, tactfully, thoughtfully, and predictably examining our lives, inquiring of our lives, so that he can take us down.
Satan knows he looses in the end. In the meantime, he is going to work endlessly to keep souls from entering into the Kingdom of God, and to keep Jesus’ followers from knowing the truth. Oh the enemy would love nothing more than to keep you in a state of atrophy: a state of degeneration, decline or decrease from disuse. If you don’t exercise your faith through the spiritual disciplines then your faith will become so weak from disuse, you’ll fade away. That is the opposite of what God calls for our lives; we are to be a city on a hill (Matthew 5:14). We must use every resource that God gave us in order to fight with Him against our enemy. 
In order to fight with God, we must be submissive to His battle plan. We have to lay down our pride, ego, selfishness, any darkness that resides in us, in order to fully cooperate with His will. You have to figure out for yourself what might be hindering you from fully submitting to Him. I’m encouraging you to take some time listening to God about what you need to lay at His feet. Pray and read the Scripture, seek wise counsel, pray and read Scripture some more, confess and repent, then live in freedom. 

Are You Restricting or Are You Harnessing True Self-Control?

Self-control. How many of you just cringed at the sight of that word? Did memories of overeating, binging, overspending, exploding emotions, or some other sinful act come to mind? I wonder how self-control got such a bad reputation? It is a fruit of the Spirit after all (Galatians 5:22-23). I think too often we misuse the word and confuse the definition of self-control with the definition of restricting. I’m on a new mission to put self-control back into the positive light.
Since it’s a fruit of the Spirit, we all have the ability to use it. Therefore, we all have the ability to be in control of our selves. It takes imperfect progress and practice, but it can be done. If I can teach my 5 year old to take a deep breath, talk to God, and then calmly express her feelings, emotions, or thoughts, then by golly, so can you!(No more of this not taking responsibility for your actions nonsense).
Did I mention I’m also learning as I teach my daughter? For me it’s been a difficult discipline to exercise and train. One of my life dominating sins is selfishness. It’s one of those generational sins, ya know… I have too long given over to my flesh’s desire and believed the lie that I don’t have self-control. It was life changing, the realization that self-control is a fruit of the Spirit and as a follower of Christ I have the fruit of the Spirit; then, it’s simply up to me to harness that power. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that in every aspect of our lives we require self-control. It’s not just in our diets or attitudes, which are my main focuses. How about your spending habits, what you watch on tv, how much time you spend with your family verses your hobbies, or learning the balance of work and family?
Remember how I said I’m on a mission to change the view of self-control? Here’s my theory: we have believed Satan’s lie that self-control is restricting some sort of pleasure from our lives, and it’s going to be a miserable road ahead. Here’s the truth: when you exhibit self-control you are aligning your heart with God’s will, ie being submissive, and there is great joy in being submissive to the Lord. 
Self-control isn’t just restricting, or holding yourself back from doing something. Let’s take a look at someone who is trying to make healthy food choices. If you’re thinking to yourself over and over again,I can’t have it. I can’t have it. I can’t have it.” What happens? All you think about is that you want it. Instead of viewing self-control as giving something up, let’s decide that self-control is feeding your body nourishing foods. Change your focus. Switch your thought process. Well Fed Women is a podcast that helps women change their mindset about food, body image and self love. It has been life altering for me!
What other areas of your life are you struggling to contain your flesh? I recently found out that when I am not in the Scripture, I am an awful human being. It is necessary for me to sink into the Armor of God every day if I want to control my flesh. I have to harness self-control when I feel like yelling at my husband, I have to harness self-control when I really want to watch the next season of Gray’s Anatomy but have been convicted of what I can and can’t watch. 
I haven been talking with my friend Sheri about self-control this past week and we want to know:  Why is it easy to exercise self-control in some areas of our lives but so difficult in others? What is it about our hearts that hold on so tightly to that one thing we know we need to let go? Why is it such a daily battle to say no to that bread roll, but it’s simple to say no to that show? And what is it in one persons heart to change their behavior or sinful actions, but another who struggles with the same thing falls from great heights?
As I think about the ease with which some choices come and the difficult strain it is to make others, I am reminded that those easy decisions weren’t always easy. When I was in the midst of my alcoholism and battling the desire daily, it wasn’t easy. But because I have used the strength of Holy Spirit to help me through those bleak days, I can now, with more ease, say,No, thanks!” orGet behind me Satan, and deal with the glory of my God who is my rear guard!” It took time, energy, prayer, tears, relapses, and self-control to get to the point I am at now. I have not arrived though. There are still plenty of other areas that my self-control is lacking…like Thanksgiving morning when I have 4 savory rolls and 1 cinnamon roll before lunch. Had I been tapping into the strength and power of the fruit of the Spirit I could have passed on 4 out of 5 of those rolls. I may have also been able to have 1 piece of pumpkin pie instead of 2. 
I want you to ponder self-control, especially as we approach the season of overspending, overcommitting, and overeating. Self-control is not about what we can control, and it’s not about what we can say no to.It’s is about being submissive to God, and saying yes to Him first.

An Attitude of Gratitude

Sheri Hollinger

Thanksgiving! What a great word to reflect on as we enter into the holiday season and head towards Christmas! Festive fun and joyous times, right? Or maybe not so much? I would like to address gratitude as we enter into the holidays. This season of hope and love can be shadowed by overwhelming emotions. Whether it’s triggered by facing loss, by the added financial stress, by our own (sometimes unrealistic) expectations, or even a byproduct of dreary gray weather, depressive emotions can lurk over any of us. I am referring to a seasonal depression. And that’s where the word “thanksgiving” comes in. Dare I challenge you to pour out gratitude where you don’t feel like it?!

Maybe this time of year feels lonely? Thank God for a kind cashier, a smile from a stranger, a text message from a friend, a note of encouragement… but you say none of that has happened? Well then I say be that person! Be kind, smile at others, drop a message to someone, give a card, etc… BE what you want to receive.

Maybe you’re dealing with illness or an injury? Thank God for medical care, as needed. Or for natural supplements that seem to offer relief. Or for a kind nurse or friend who shows compassion. If you’re not dealing with this personally, who can you reach out to that is?

Maybe you have difficult in-laws or estranged family? Be kind anyways. Yes, really. Thank God that you get to choose to be the better person. Even if it is by way of just saying nothing. You know, that old mom rule “if you ain’t got nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.

Maybe you are facing loss of a loved one. Whether recent or seasoned long ago, the heart has a void. Fill it. Be thankful for having had them in your life, share the memories, eat their favorite meal, do their favorite activities. By letting it all be a part of your holidays you are letting them be present anyway. Don’t hesitate to share the legacy of love they had in your heart.

Maybe the weather has you blue? Thank God for changing seasons and that this will eventually pass. In the meantime, choose joy anyways! Breathe fresh air, exercise, love on others, smile at strangers… be the blessing that others need. In turn, you will be refreshed as well.

Maybe its finances. Thank God the gift of giving has no limit. Be bountiful in creativity. Something simple yet thoughtful is far more valuable than expensive gifts without a meaningful purpose. Let’s face it! We don’t need more things, but more kindness. Offer a skill as a gift. Cook a meal, draw a picture, give cookies, offer free childcare, write a prayer out for them, create a poem, etc… anything done in Love IS the Gift.

Maybe it’s just pressure. Feeling torn between others expectation and your own desires for the holidays. Sometimes the pressure is our own perfectionism. Thank God that Jesus is the only perfect one.

Does it kind of feel like Thanksgiving is intentionally before Christmas as a way to prepare our hearts? Let us remember what is important; love and thankfulness, as it seems that gratitude turns what we have into enough!!

Thank you, Jesus!


Gratitude in the Season

Are you getting prepared for thanksgiving?

Are you one of those amazingly gifted people who take this feast head on, whipping out popular dishes with ease? Maybe your gift is a single special dish you eagerly are willing to share? And there’s me (am I alone in this?) who will jump to offer the simplest of things; olives, nuts, Hawaiian rolls, etc. AND I will humbly appreciate others talent of cooking skills and hospitality. On the flip side, I will eagerly set tables and do clean up, and I will do it well!!

Isn’t that what gratitude is? Recognizing others strengths in areas and to humbly appreciate it, while presenting our own skills as an offering of thankfulness? Personally, I find this true in many areas of life! Thanksgiving Day is merely an example. This is true in marriage, friendships, in our churches, and even our jobs. None of it runs smoothly without appreciating other people’s role in those areas of your life!

Let us be thankful of those around us. Let’s look around with gratitude for who God put in our lives, even if it’s as simple as a kind cashier or a stranger holding a door open for us!!

AND most importantly,

“whatever you do in word or deed, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

Colossians 3:17


Introducing…Sheri Hollinger!

I am so excited to announce that my dear friend Sheri will be teaming up with The Healthy Follower! Sheri and I have been led by the Lord to begin a ministry for women of faith. We have decided that The Healthy Follower will be the platform from which we will eventually launch our program The Holy 40. Stay tuned for a bonus blog post on the program!

You can also keep your eyes out for Sheri’s testimony post. If you don’t want to miss a thing, join our email list to receive our blog posts right to your inbox. We would love for you to join us on our journey as we reach out to women following after Christ.

There is so much happening in our lives right now as we begin the process of forming this ministry. We can’t contain our joy as we see how God is working and moving.

I am beyond honored to be walking this journey so closely with such a wonderful, supportive woman. Welcome Sheri! I can’t wait to get started on all of God’s plans.

Hollinger


A Letter to the Church

Dear Church,

You claim to be a follower of Christ, you claim to be born again. You praise God on Sunday mornings and by the afternoon you partake in debauchery, idolatry, drunkenness, filthy talking, crude joking. Don’t you see, like a wildfire’s smoke choking out life you are choking out the Holy Spirit?

You say you have faith, but where are your works? You cannot have faith without works. Are we such a consumer nation that we are treating God like a vending machine? We deposit an hour or two of our time each week to feel good, and forget that a healthy lifestyle is indicative of a healthy heart?

Stand up Church! Stand up in worship of your Creator. Stand up with courage and wisdom. Do not sit in the cupboard like a stale cracker any longer. Stand up and LOVE! Stand up and serve. Stand up for UNITY! Do not remain sitting on the sidelines, for you have nothing to fear, as Christ has already won the war. He defeated death – the fear and pain are gone – because He lives!

This is a call to action. A petition to turn from your sin. I see those that claim to be Christ followers around me…it breaks my heart for the sin some are living in. Do not be complacent in your faith any longer. Submit your heart to God and move!

God created marriage to be an example of His unconditional love for us, and what a relationship with Him can look like. But what have we done in the Church? We have allowed sin to enter in, we have allowed Satan to trick our hearts, he has gotten a foothold and destroyed lives, stolen the gift of marriage, killed hearts. Do not be weighted down by your sin any longer! Repent! Turn to God who is the Master Physician. The Lord breaks our chains of sin, He is greater than the Master of Lies! Do not be deceived any more! Turn from your wicked ways.

The Lord’s kindness leads us to repentance. Allow His grace and mercy and correction to lead you to a place of submission and ultimate forgiveness. Turn your back on your sin and turn your face to the One who has already defeated sin. Then your light shall break out like the dawn, and your healing will spring up speedily, your righteousness will go before you; the glory of God will be your rear guard.

Clothe yourself in His armor that you may be able to say you did everything to stand firm in the evil day. Look to the ways of Heaven, for the time on Earth is short; don’t waste any opportunity. Join in the heritage of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the heritage that Jesus Himself fulfilled. The heritage that is free to any who choose. And should we not be showing all how glorious that heritage is?

Jesus is calling. How are you going to respond dear brothers and sisters?


Wonderful Gluten Free Zucchini Bread

What are you doing the day before vacation? Packing, laundry, cleaning, washing cars…the list goes on and on.
With a sensitive gut I have learned and choose to take my own food just about everywhere I go. Vacation to the in-laws is no exception.

This morning, as my husband slept soundly in bed until 12 pm, I was baking my brains out.

Honestly, I had a bit of apprehension because baking gluten free can be a challenge, even when you follow a recipe to the 'T'. And that list is also endless on what potentially went wrong: were the ingredients not room temperature enough, did I forget the binder, was my homemade flour blend ratios off? Oh the possibilities!

The apprehension quickly faded as I began planning. I knew I needed to make banana bread, those bananas were about to take a turn for the worse; I had acquired a large zucchini from a dear friend the night before, so that would go into a bread, and granola was initially on the agenda.

'How do I make them gluten free now? Which flours should I use?' I have a plethora in my pantry: sorghum, rice, quinoa, oat…

I decided to consult a recipe book from several years back, when my husband and I were first married. Gluten free and vegan recipes. Phew! That was an interesting diet for sure, but I'll save that for another blog.

Banana bread was fairly simple, I've made plenty o' those in my day. The zucchini recipe, though; I'd never made that. Actually, that's not true. I attempted it once during those GF vegan days, and it was a disaster. Never having the courage to try again, until today. Needless to say, I needed to know what a conventional recipe looked like. Thank you, Pinterest.
I ended up simply adapting the recipe. Switching out basics: recipe called for oil, I used butter, recipe called for applesauce, I juiced an apple and used the pulp (which is what I did with the zucchini too; yummy juice actually), recipe called for sugar, I used honey. Blah, blah, blah. You can see my recipe below.

Here is where the tides changed in my baking agenda. As I had said before, granola was on the list, but I just wasn't feeling it. So I recruited ANA's 4 year old opinion. Granola or bread? "More bread!"
The next bread was the orange, cranberry, nutmeg bread. I squealed when I saw it the oven after about 40 minutes. No one would have ever guessed it was gluten free. SERIOUSLY! I kept playing in my mind what Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood from The Great British Baking Show would be saying. Mary would compliment, "I can smell the orange wafting up as Paul cuts the bread. It smells wonderful!" Paul would comment, "You can see the cranberries are evenly distributed throughout…*taste*…That's amazing! Well done! I would have never thought it was gluten free!" Then he would extend his hand for a hand shake!

Sigh…

Finally, the blueberry bread. Thank you, again, Pinterest. The first recipe I came across was chalk full of berries, 2 cups worth! Oddly enough, this is the only blueberry bread/muffin recipe I have ever come across that said frozen blueberries were just as acceptable as fresh berries. Yessss!

Another success! It felt SO good to knock out 4 amazing gluten free breads. And 3 of them with no sugar! I did end up using coconut sugar in the blueberry bread to experiment with the creaming method. Which worked well.

(I'm a little sad to say I did not take any photos to prove how delicious these breads looked. But alas! this is after all, the real world, not the movies).

GLUTEN FREE ZUCCHINI BREAD

Prep time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 40-60 minutes, depending on your oven, loaf size(s), and amount of zucchini
Yield: 1 or 2 loaves

INGREDIENTS

  • Butter for preparing baking pan
  • 2 1/2 cups of rice flour (I have a mix of brown and white rice flour)*
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour*
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2-4 cups zucchini, grated or juiced (I used the pulp from juiced zucchini)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cups applesauce, or pulp from one juiced apple
  • 1/2 cup butter, unsalted*
  • 4 tbls honey
  • 4 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup nuts, walnuts or pecans, optional

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter baking pan. I used a 9" x 5" inch loaf pan. You could do 2 smaller loaves as well.
  2. Juice or grate zucchini, and apple if juicing. Save the juice for later. I added sparkling water to it for extra umph.
  3. "Cream" butter and honey together. Add eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. Add applesauce or apple pulp and vanilla, mix. *You can omit the salt and instead use salted butter.
  4. Here's where you can do the quick method, like I do, or the not as quick way. Either add remaining dry ingredients one at a time, incorporating as you go. Or mix all dry ingredients together in a separate bowl then slowly add to wet mixture. I used a stand mixer and began adding baking soda and powder, salt, cinnamon and flours in. *If you would like to make this bread grain free, try using almond flour in place of rice and coconut flour in place of quinoa.
  5. Once batter is well mixed, use a spatula to gently fold in zucchini, and nuts if using.
  6. Pour batter into pan(s).
  7. Bake on 350 degrees F for 40-60 minutes. Until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Or until you see it pulling away from the sides of the pan. I believe this first batch baked about 50 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling down.
  9. Enjoy!

You can add cream cheese, butter or honey butter, or enjoy with no topping at all. My loaf rose nicely, and it came out very moist, earthy and delicious.

Stay tuned for the other bread recipes I mentioned.


An Ode to Single Mother’s

What can I say except that I do not understand. What can I do except encourage and support you with my words, and for those close to me, with my actions. If there are any single daddy’s out there reading this, I’m sure this applies to you in some or all degrees also.

Not too long ago I had a glimpse, albeit very brief, and nothing truly comparable, into what it’s like to be a single mother. My husband (M), daughter (A) and I live with my husband’s grandmother (GG), to care for her. She’s always at home. But one week in the not so distant past she went to visit her daughter (my mother-in-law). Shocking, I know. When you’re 86 and have no desire to do anything outside your home, this is a big deal. That same week my husband had to work out of town. This sort of freedom I have never known. My daughter is 4 1/2 at this point, and I have NEVER had to do life alone with her.

All you mama’s out there who do this all the time are probably not understanding or grasping this concept at all. Which is fine, I don’t blame you. But when there is an extra set of hands, as little as they might do, they do a lot. GG is often cooking dinner and doing the dishes. She helps by playing with A. So there are some things that I often don’t even have to think about. They are of no concern for me.

So that week I mentioned, I was all alone with A. Just Mama and A. It. Was. WONDERFUL! But I began to wonder about all the women who do this ALL of the time, sometimes with no support of the child(ren)’s father. I was flooded with so many emotions. My heart ached for you! My heart rejoiced for you! So much work to do, so little time, and with little to no help. Praise be to God our Father if you have beautiful friends and family who help!

2 Thessalonians 3:13 (Andrea’s Translation) “But as for you, sweet Sister, do not grow weary of doing good.”

Galatians 6:9 (NASB) Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

You, sweet Sister, single mama, are doing greatness. You are providing for your child(ren). So do not loose heart, do not become discouraged. Do not let the enemy come in to kill your joy, steal your heart, or destroy your drive. With Christ as your groom, you can do all things.

With all the lovingkindness,
Andrea A.

Dear Father in heaven, I pray that You would encourage all the single parents out there. Give them hope, strength, courage and joy in the midst of every situation. May they lean into You for all things, and count it a blessing when someone steps up to help them. If they do not have support from friends and family I pray mightily that You would intervene and allow a helping, kind hand to come into their lives. May it be.


Consistency vs. Perfection

Perfection. A nasty word. And oh, how I’ve fallen prey to the lie of perfection.

One of my dearest friends will say that ‘perfect’ is a bad word; if someone in the house responds to the question, “How was your day?” with the word ‘perfect’, everyone knows it was an awful day.

As a woman, a wife, and a mother, society demands perfection from me. I need to have this certain body type in order to be beautiful, I need to be gracious and submissive, and keep a perfectly clean house all the time in order to be a Biblical wife (Proverbs 31 anyone?), and I need to do all the crafts, read all the books, teach all the things, and not mess my child up too much in order to be the perfect mom.

There are a couple of HUGE problems with this type of thinking:

  1. Society does not rule me, God does. He tells me through His word who I am, not society. I am a daughter of the King (Revelation 19:16, Romans 8:16-17). I am enough just the way He made me (Genesis 1:31a). I am a good and helpful mate for my husband, because God made me for him (Proverbs 18:22, Proverbs 19:14, James 1:17). I am the best mother to my daughter, because God hand picked me to bring her up in the way she should go.
  2. No one is perfect except for Jesus. No, not you, and not me. So why do we as women constantly put this pressure on ourselves to be “perfect”? This idea of being perfect at anything is absurd. What feelings well up inside you when you hear the word ‘perfection’? I used to cringe, feel guilt, shame, and disappointment. Why, though? I shouldn’t have. I should have been thinking of the wonderful Savior who is perfect. Satan would have you and me believe we should be perfect in all our roles all of the time, because then he has a foothold to defeat us, and eventually we can become ineffective for God’s kingdom if we allow that defeat to overtake us. Trust me, I have lived the past several years held captive by this idea of perfection.

So then, Sister’s, what do we do about this lie? We demolish it. 1 Corinthians 10:5 says we must “destroy speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” The only way to destroy, demolish, and tear down a lie is with the truth. God’s word is truth; be in the word. Talk with God. Confess that you have sinned against Him by trying to be perfect; it’s not your job, it’s His job! Share your heart with your Friend. Let Him come in and help you tear down the lies that plaster your heart and mind.

The next step in demolishing the lie of perfection is to be consistent. You are going to have to consistently, and sometimes constantly, attack and defend against this lie. So put on your Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18), pray all of the time (1 Thessalonians 5:17, James 5:13, 16), write scripture on your heart, post it in your house (Deuteronomy 11:18, 20, Proverbs 7:1-3). Use these tactics to battle the nag of perfection. Consistency is not perfection. You’re going to mess up, you’re going to cave to the lie, you’re going to forget to pray or read your scripture. And some days you’re going to all the things but you’re just not going to “feel it.” Be encouraged in doing good for in due time you will reap good. Sister, God does not want your perfection (because you don’t have any), He wants your heart. Give it all you’ve got my Sister and feel the warm, joyous reward He has waiting for you. Freedom! Freedom from the captive lies of perfection.

I do not have it all figured out, but I have begun a journey of taking my thoughts captive before the Lord, laying them down, handing them over, and replacing them with God’s truth. It has been a process! Long. Arduous. Painful. With many slides, and self-made detours. But it has also been so freeing, so wonderful, and so empowering as God has been faithful to complete the good work He placed on my heart to begin (Philippians 1:6). And when I think about how far this new found freedom is going to reach I am so humbled. I’m not even thinking about the few women who might read this blog post, I’m thinking about the affect I am having on my daughter, and how that could affect her children and many generations to come. Oh, thank You, Lord!

Let your soul rest in the Lord, because you know that He is good. And give it a rest: let God be perfect, just learn to be who He made you to be.

Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that You would mightily use the women reading this to teach herself and her children, her grandchildren, her spiritual children that You alone are perfect. Lord, if anyone today is held by the captive lies of perfection I ask that You would begin to loosen those chains, that you break them free. Send an earthquake like You did for Paul and Silas’ physical chains to break the chains my Sister has. Replace it with Your truth, and meet her needs when she is feeling weary. In the Name above all names I ask these things; may it be so!


Straight from the Word of God: What Women Really Need

When you examine your life and you really think about that one thing you want, that one thing you need, what would it be? Is it that job, or that house? Is it to have a marriage like them? Would it be to have kids that acted like her kids? Let me tell you, all of these have crossed my mind, and settled into my heart at one time or another. But really at the core of all these things there is one thing in common: a lack of worth, acceptance and a lack of true love. As women, isn’t that what we want, what we need? In our deepest longings, in our heart of hearts we are screaming, begging for someone to tell us, “You matter to me. You are so worthy of all my love, and freely I give to you, unconditionally, all that I am. I love you!

The apostle Paul nails it on the head in his letters to the Ephesians (5:25), and Colossians (3:19). He knows: women need love. We as women, as young girls, are so impressionable. And right now I want to encourage you to seek God as your one true love. It’s not going to be easy, because there are a lot of chains you’ll have to break free from. But if you can accomplish one thing in life, I pray it’s finding Jesus as your source of love, worth and acceptance. Because from that freedom, and from that life you will be able to run the race in such a way that you may obtain the prize (Romans 9:24).

In the book of John, Jesus says this, “For the thief has come to kill, and steal, and destroy” and how does he do this? With society. With the ideas that this is how you’re supposed to look, that you have to be super-mom, or super-wife all on your own, that you need to be happy, and that all the things will make you happy. But then Jesus says, “I have come that they,” (they being those who have chosen Jesus to be their Savior, those who have said, ‘I am sorry Jesus for my sins. I know YOU died on the cross to save me. Please come into my life and change me!’) “may have life.” Note that He doesn’t say happiness, but LIFE, “and have it to the full.” I truly believe that there should be an exclamation point after this statement, I think John might have gotten that wrong. Jesus gives a full life!


In an attempt to find that fullness, to find that worth, to find that love we as women so desperately crave we tend to search in all the wrong places. That most common way (I speak from experience) is men. It’s often easy to find that appreciation and worth from your boyfriend or husband. But what happens when they behave in a way that is unkind, or hurtful in some way to you, whether intentional or not? You no longer feel loved. And, you know, as well as I do, that they are not perfect. [But let’s be honest, we do the same thing to them].

Where else have you sought for love in all the wrong places? Drugs, alcohol, disordered eating, disordered health conscious choices, clothes, makeup, worldly wisdom and knowledge. Been there, done that. NONE OF IT FILLS THAT HOLY HOLE! Only God can give you the love you truly need! While the Beatles may have gotten the lyrics right when they sang, “All you need is love…” they certainly had no idea that the love they were singing about was God’s perfect love.

I’m not saying that I have this all figured out, I still struggle with finding my love in my husband; I struggle with finding my worth in my daughter; I struggle with finding my acceptance in my friends. But all these people will let you down. Only God will love you wholly, unconditionally, and in all the ways you can’t even imagine.