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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,

bobby & family 2016

   For the past year my son, daughter in law, and two small grandsons have been on stateside assignment. For 9 of those months they lived in Scotland while my son worked on his masters. Not living in a 3rd world country, we have enjoyed the luxury of easy access to them via internet.

   At present they are living with us as they prepare to return to Africa. And once again I’m faced with the painful thought that they will be leaving soon. But something unexpected happened while they were home that complicated the  emotional strain of sending them off.

Rach & family

   My husband and I have four children and two of them live near us. We take a great deal of comfort in knowing two of our daughters are close by. That was until recently! In April we were hit with the news that one of those daughters would likely be moving an 11 hours’ drive away to San Antonio, Texas. (And they did just that on August 18th)

   Therefore, this summer has been one of extreme high’s and extreme lows. There was a constant flow of children and grandchildren in our house all summer. Three of those weeks were especially momentous: Nammy Camp for the 6 granddaughters, a family vacation in East Tennessee for all 20 of us, and Nammy Camp for the 4 grandsons. The month of August our son and his family has been spent here with my husband and I.  My life was filled to overflowing with memory after wonderful memory of times spent together.

   The quote from A Tale of Two Cities (post title), describes my emotional state over this past summer quite succinctly. And predictably with every low moment I was hit with a barrage of fiery darts.

   It would have been my undoing had it not been for God’s instruction which had prepared me to not only identify fiery dart thinking but how to extinguish such thoughts as well.  While the pain persists, I’m learning by His tender mercies, how to manage it. My life moves forward as God tenderly and lovingly leads me. 

One of the most helpful Truth Thoughts I have found is Psalm 34:17:

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How does God deliver me from my present troubles and rescue my crushed spirit?

If I cooperate with God, He will give me the desire that pleases Him (Philip. 2:13) He will remind me that He will fill the void when my children move away. (Philip. 4:19).

His presence will restore my crushed spirit. Every time I began to focus on my loss, He reminds me to direct my focus towards His presence and the love He has for me. (Psalm 16:11)

He reminds me that He will work all this out for my good (Rom 8:28). 

Okay, so I have a choice!

I can pick up my shield of faith and face down the enemy with these Truth Thoughts! 

Or I can continue to focus on my losses and grow more miserable with every day!

My choice is obvious!

 

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The benefits of a valley experience!

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   If you’ve noticed you haven’t heard from me in awhile, you would be correct. It seems I am, and have been for quite some time, in a valley. A valley that just stretches out before me with no exits or mountain tops in sight.

   Being the author of a book about negative thinking, I have a working knowledge of how to fight the negative thoughts (my constant companions in this valley). Therefore, I know that God’s Truth thoughts are the key to finding my way out. And for brief periods of time, those Truth thoughts lit up a possible exit. But alas, it was only short lived.

   At this point, I still find myself in the valley. And I don’t have much hope of  leaving this place any time soon. So, what should I do? 

   May I insert here that while I am living in the valley at the moment, it is NOT a dark valley. God’s Truth thoughts which I focus on prevent such darkness. It is not a valley without hope of finding a way out. While the negative thoughts of despair, discouragement, and thoughts of giving up do tempt me, they do not rule my thinking. They do not prevail! 

   Also, I find that in this valley, I am tempted with thoughts of self-condemnation. This judgmental attitude towards myself and others (especially those I have complaints against) keep my vision clouded. And yes, I am weary of the fight against feeling sad, disheartened, and discouraged.

So what’s the answer here?

   Giving into these fiery darts will only plant me permanently in this desolate valley. I DO NOT DESIRE THAT! Nor does God! 

   Here’s a thought! Why not just accept this valley time? I ask myself, “Why on earth would I do that?” To which I believe God gave me this reply:

Isaiah 48:17, This is what the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy one of Israel says, I am Yahweh your God, who teaches you for your benefit who leads you in the way you should go.

   If I cooperate with the LORD, and instead of asking Him to lift me out of this valley (because really, it’s unpleasant and I don’t like being here), then my time in this valley will produce benefits for me.

   So! I should quite spinning my wheels trying to escape this valley I’m stuck in! Instead, I should turn my energies towards cooperating with God in order to learn the lessons He has for me here. Keeping in mind that it is for my benefit.

To Which I reply!

“Okay, not the answer I was striving for! My flesh would much rather You would just lift me out of this valley. Make things easier, you know! But I recognize those fiery darts for what they are. There’s only one way out. That’s Your way, not my way!”

 

Some relief please!

   Does your life seem complicated at times?  Do you feel like you just don’t have God’s full attention? You pray for guidance but it seems God remains silent. Does the peace you earnestly seek for continue to elude you? You fast, but the answers and the peace do not come. And while you are still waiting for answers, you get punched in the gut with more problems! 

  Yet, you have the sense to know that answers won’t come from any other source. Therefore, you know you must persevere. So you keep on asking the LORD.  All the while wondering when the relief will come.

  In the meantime, fiery darts are messing with your resolve to seek the LORD. They plant doubt and confusing thoughts into your mind. With these fiery dart thoughts,  your seeking the LORD grows more complicated. For now you must sort through these dark thoughts to be able to hear from and be guided by God’s Truth thoughts. 

What do you do in these valley times? 

   Might I suggest that you attack the fiery dart thoughts (those thoughts of negativity, hopelessness, discouragement, doubt, fear, impatience, etc) as soon as they enter your mind. Replace them with Truth thoughts such as Isaiah 54:17, Jeremiah 29:11, Hebrews 11:1, John 14:27, James 1:2-4, Philippians 2:13, Isaiah 43:4. Words from God to encourage you, give you hope, and to lift you up.

  And we’ve all lived long enough to know that sometimes the answers won’t come quickly (which seems the rule not the exception). At times, we might find that we just have to wait for the answers that seem so long in coming. It is during such times that we must arm ourselves with verses that instruct us as we wait.

waiting on God

  It is good for us to remember, that these dark times have a purpose. (Romans 8:28) God will use these times for our benefit and His glory.  Therefore, focusing on the following word from God, will keep our heads above water. And though the answers still may not come for awhile, these words will give us the relief we need to keep on keeping on. 

 Isaiah 48:17, “This is what the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says:  I am Yahweh your God, who teaches you for your benefit, who leads you in the way you should go.

 

Questions for Parents!

   It troubles my heart as I observe Christian single individuals choosing a path (a path influenced by a world that has rejected Christ) but one they hope will led them to happiness, only to find disappointment and heartache, instead. I wonder, what were the fiery darts Satan used to manipulate these individuals? Perhaps this excerpt from my book, exposes some of Satan’s deception:

Reconsider the effect of the Adamic Curse. Society tells us that we need to search, that means by dating, for someone who will complete us, someone that will make us happy. If we buy into this thought, then Satan has no trouble fashioning a most deceptive fiery dart that will convince us that as individuals we are incomplete and we need the love of another person to make us whole. This fiery dart assumes we do not realize that it is the love of God that completes us and makes us whole, not a romantic relationship with someone of the opposite sex. FD, p. 55-56

   In my book I expose Satan’s intent when it come to planting thoughts into our mind that eventually leads to the heartache and disappointment to which many fall victim!

Scriptures are obvious in describing Satan’s plan in John 10:10a, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;…” (NIV) So what is it that the Enemy desires to steal, kill, and destroy? The answer is obvious – anything God has planned for us!

  I have observed a dramatic difference in the lives of Christian single individuals who have discovered that a relationship with Christ goes beyond salvation! They have discovered that a deep relationship with Christ is what makes them whole and complete (even if, and especially if, they come from homes that failed to teach them this Truth). For these individuals Christ has become the deepest desire of their hearts. I have noticed that when they experience disappointment, that disappointment doesn’t rule them or ruin them. Instead, they trust Christ with all their heart and resist the temptation to try and figure out what went wrong on their own. Because the deepest desire of their heart is Christ, they trust Him to direct their path and lead them forward in His strength. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Therefore, Parents, here are a couple of questions I want to pose to you.

Are you raising your children to desire Jesus above all else?

Is Jesus the deepest desire of your heart?

Problems?

Problems! We all encounter them.

   We can face them as individuals or as a group. Sometimes they loom so large we fear we will be overwhelmed by them. Then again, our perspective regarding how we approach problems can be so skewed by fiery dart thinking (negative thinking, remember) that we choose a downward path, oblivous to the upward path already laid out by God for our good. 

   Here’s God’s plan!

Problems are meant to work out for our benefit!

Romans 8:28, And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 

We are meant to rise above our problems; not sink under the weight of them!

 Romans 8:37, No, in all these things (problems) we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 

Problems are designed to supply what might be lacking in our spiritual makeup

James 1:2-3, Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverence. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anthing.

There’s more but this is enough to make my point!

   Typically, problems create more problems. Listen to anyone or group absorbed in a problem and what do you hear? One negative statement after another. It’s seems those involved have an opinion on what caused the problem and will rehearse their negative opinion with anyone who will listen.
   I have seen the progression fiery dart thinking sets in motion. When problems occur the temptation we succumb to is to set our eyes upon the problem and think of nothing else. The darkness produced by such negativity grows with the intention to completly obliterate the Light of God’s solutions.
   I know what that is like. I have been there. It’s a no win situation. Not until, that is, you turn your gaze and ear to Jesus and begin following His instructions.

It’s likely He will open your eyes to the fact that while He has good plans for you, Satan does not.

John 10:10, A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance.

He might even ask us this question: Whose plan are you cooperating with?

   If we are maintaining a negative perspective regarding the problems with which we are faced, the answer to this question is obvious.
   However, I do not believe that we intentionally choose to cooperate more with Satan’s plan than we do God’s. I do believe that we have been deceived with fiery dart thoughts that have blinded us to God’s plan. Which is why I write this post–to reveal Satan’s plan.
   Start speaking Truth to the problem–using the verses like the ones I have offered in this post. When a thought forms in your mind regarding the problem, ask yourself this question:

   Is it a fiery dart thought or a Truth thought?

Only proceed if your words will speak Truth. Then set back and watch the glory of God at work in your obedience and pour out more blessings that you can imagine. Malachi 3:10 backs this up.

 

Parent’s Alert: Fiery Darts of “The Stirring”

 

  When our children begin to experience this stirring, if we parents haven’t availed ourselves to the connection between it and God, then we become prime targets for Satan’s fiery darts. Therefore, for lack of knowledge, we will usher our children along a path that we never would have desired. We will  assume, right along with society, that our children are reaching the ‘dating age’ (and alarmingly, in our culture this happens earlier and earlier) when the search for ‘true love’ naturally begins.

Just what Satan has planned!

But wait, here’s what he is attempting to keep us (especially Christian parents) from realizing:

The Stirring – According to God

Remember in Part One, I said that Satan has a plan for our lives and that is to kill, steal, and destroy whatever it is that God has planned for us. Let’s go back to that “stirring” I mentioned earlier. Could it be that the stirring in our heart that initiates a search for true love is the Holy Spirit calling us to a love relationship with our Creator? I think so! Why else would Satan enforce a plan to do everything he could to make sure that we misunderstand what this stirring encompasses? FD, p. 54-55

   As parents, if we buy into this misconception of ‘the stirring’ then our focus regarding our children and dating will be completely out of balance. We will think how else are they going to find that one that God wants for them. For in the process, they will grow in their understanding of love and how to recognize the real thing, right?

Sounds logical, doesn’t it!

   Indeed, we do need to help our children learn how to recognize genuine love. But the place to start is in committing their lives to God then sitting at Jesus’s feet as He teaches them about the love He displayed for them. They then go from there putting into practice what they have learned from Jesus about genuine love, but first within the context of their own families; romantic love following much later.

If in those early years we set our focus on cooperating with God as He teaches us the true meaning of love, then our future attitudes and actions will reflect an appropriate definition of love because our textbook was God’s Word; in particular, verses like 1 Corinthians 13:1-7. . . We could do nothing better to prepare us to live life and love others, especially a future spouse successfully, by studying and applying the truths about love from the Book written by the Author of love!  FD, p. 55

   There’s much more on this subject in my book. If you are interested then check out the sidebar about how to order, Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice. (By the way, it would make a great Christmas gift!)

Breaking Free!

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I read of so much pain, depression, struggles with peace of mind, unhappiness, misplaced priorities, lack of purpose, following after the world, and the list goes on. But it all comes down to being in bondage to negative thinking.

There is a way to break free, my dear readers. The key to unlock this bondage is found through prayer and in God’s Word. My book, Fiery Darts: Satan’s Weapon of Choice, reveals the plan.