Are You Experiencing a Spiritual Attack?

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Trapped in a barn stall I couldn’t see it, but I felt it’s hot breath on my skin. It snarled and loomed over me. I spun around feeling for the door to escape, but there was none. I flailed my arms to push it away from me but felt air as it darted out of the way reappearing behind me.  I woke up screaming.

That same morning around 5 am, I found my husband, Jay, sitting on the sofa, staring into his coffee cup. He’d asked why I was up so early, and when I told him, his eyes widened.

He’d had the same dream, only in his version he was in a small garage.

Days later, a misunderstanding arose at my husband’s employment, gossip and backbiting ensued, and Jay experienced so much fear over our financial future and doubt in what God had told him to do, it landed him on the kitchen floor dry heaving in the middle of the night. There he surrendered his financial future to his Heavenly Father. Afterwards, he resigned from his position, and God quickly paved the path for him to open his own business. For what Satan uses to kill us, God uses to resurrect us.

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I’d lost my sister the year before, and we’d used much of our savings to build a farmhouse, after a season of prayer and confirmation it was what God wanted. As soon as the farmhouse sat completely furnished the enemy struck. Many times, the enemy attacks after an act of obedience, especially if it is one that makes you step out of your comfort zone. So, I knew in the middle of our adversity it was more than a physical attack.

This was spiritual.

What I didn’t realize at the time was God allowed it to strengthen our faith in His provision.

There are ways to recognize when you are in the middle of spiritual warfare. The following are signs or symptoms you may be under a spiritual attack.

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  1. Indecisive Behavior:

Like the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz who can’t seem to make up his mind on which direction to go, this could be you. You pray but can’t seem to hear the Father on a major decision you’re making for your life. You’re told conflicting advice by your friends and loved ones which only makes you more confused. If you find yourself in this dilemma, recognize the enemy is the creator of confusion. He loves to muddy the waters.

“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” I Corinthians 14:33 (English Standard Version.)

If you can’t make a clear-cut, God-guided decision then do nothing. “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalms 46:10a. (ESV)

In our culture, indecision or waiting is looked upon as a weakness, but God is clear He calls us at times to be still. Don’t snatch the reins or run ahead; but allow God time to reveal an answer. It’s in the waiting faith germinates.

 

  1. Fear and Anxiety:

If you feel chronic fear or anxiety you could be experiencing a spiritual attack. The enemy uses fear to stop us from moving forward. When I set out to design the farmhouse, I wanted a quaint little place, but Jay knew God wanted us to build a larger home. I became riddled with fear and anxiety over spending our cash in building what I began calling the “ark.” Jay insisted God told him to build a house that future generations could use as a safe haven in case of a financial collapse. I set out praying for confirmation and peace. One Sunday after our house’s foundation had been laid, I went to church while Jay stayed behind with our sick daughter. I prayed in the pew that if it wasn’t God’s will for the ark to be built He would cause something to happen to stop it.  Pastor Chuck Carter at First Baptist Windermere took the podium, opened his Bible, and read, “By faith Noah being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household.” Hebrews 11:7 ESV. God spoke directly into my fear and anxiety and gave me the peace of mind to move forward.

I underlined that verse and wrote in my Bible “Farmhouse confirmation.” God has a word to calm any fear and settle any anxiety. Don’t know where to start? You can find many of the calming verses right in the middle of your Bible in the book of Psalms. Just let it fall open.

We may never see our farmhouse used for the reason it was built, but we have seen it used for His purposes in the interim as a place to minister to others.

 

  1. Loss:

Are you in a season of loss? Loss of health, a death of a loved one, depleted finances, a straying spouse, loss of peace in your home, loss of hope. All of these and more could be indicative of a spiritual attack. If you find yourself in a season of loss as I have, cling to God’s promises.

“He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalms 147:3 (ESV)

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)

 

  1. Insecurity:

If you’re experiencing a painful season of feeling inadequate in your appearance, talents, skill set, employment, or relationships, you could be listening to the enemy. Satan loves to make us feel as if we don’t belong, we don’t have what it takes, or we don’t look like we should because that will keep us from progressing in whatever God has called us to do. While God amplifies our potential, Satan magnifies our deficit. Tune out the enemy by keeping your mind and heart focused on the Father. Abide in Him.  “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forevermore, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” Isaiah 26: 3- 4 (ESV)

 

  1. Guilt:

The enemy uses our past to enslave us. Do you find yourself constantly digging up past mistakes and wallowing in them? This is another way the enemy stops us from living the life of freedom God intended. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gently and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)

If you find yourself rehashing past mistakes that you’ve already asked forgiveness for, you’re not believing what Christ did on the cross was enough. I have a friend who rebelled for a period of time when she asked God for forgiveness for all she’d done, she stated immediately she felt light and freedom from the heavy burdens she’d been carrying. Upon her return to church, some in the church felt she didn’t look guilty enough, but she refused to walk with a hung head. God forgave her. She stood firm on His promises.

If our sin hurts someone else we need to ask forgiveness from all the persons affected by our mistakes, but the enemy will use others who were not affected to peel back the scabs of old wounds. Stand firm in the promise of His forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9 (ESV)

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These are just some of the signs the enemy is meddling in your life. As with all things, an attack has to first slip through the fingers of God to reach us. If you are experiencing one, remember God has allowed it. There are many reasons God uses spiritual warfare in our lives some are to strengthen us, shape our Christ-like character, help us learn to rely on Him, build our discernment between good and evil, and learn how to overcome the enemy. Remember, without facing an opponent we will never fully utilize God’s power within us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Half-Naked and Picking Weeds

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When I was a little girl we had this huge garden running alongside our house on Mockingbird Lane. Mornings and evenings when the heat was bearable we’d pull the weeds and collect our bounty in baskets. I can still feel the prickle of the cucumber stems and smell the pungent scent from plucking the tomato off the vine.

            My sister, Tricia and I labored in our underwear. The sun-browned our bodies to the color of mahogany and we’d moon Granny our bright white bottoms because she’d laugh so hard tears spilled out of her eyes. We didn’t have air conditioning in our home until I was almost a teenager. Daddy clutched the coins and feared a high electric bill. In case you’re unaware, summers in the Tidewater area of Virginia can get extremely hot and sticky.

            We didn’t have a microwave either. Momma feared her children would glow in the dark from the radiation. She was a purist when it came to feeding her brood. Most of our food was homemade for she didn’t like preservatives. While Tricia and I raided our cousin’s house for the Pop Tarts. No amount of begging in the grocery aisle would make my Momma cave.

            “That’s junk!” she’d said. “Do you want your poop to turn green? I’ll bake you a banana bread instead.”

            Momma was a firm believer in the color brown, brown eggs, brown bread, brown cereal, brown poop. She was obsessed with us having a good BM (Bowel Movement) every day. This obsession peaked in her wheat germ phase. As I sat guarding my mashed potatoes like a dog over a bone, and hoping Daddy would hurry up… for all things good and decent in this world… and say the blessed blessing so I could get in a few bites before she came around with that jar of brown granules…splat! It was too late, my potatoes were healthy-matized brown.

            “There! Now you’ll get a good cleaning out,” she’d said.

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            I can still picture Momma clad in a halter top and shorts standing by the hot stove. Her dark hair piled on top of her head, while her brown skin glistened from perspiration, cooking up dinner or canning the cucumbers. Without air conditioning, summer meal preparation was a true labor of love. It probably explains why Momma’s lost the joy of cooking today.

  I suppose my nostalgia stems from just returning from taking care of Momma after her surgery. Time has a way of turning the table. I was the one standing by the stove cooking the meals albeit in a nice cool kitchen.

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             I haven’t written in a while because I’ve gone through an extended season of illness. I had Influenza B, then strep invaded our home, after that a dear friend named Vanessa who’s been battling brain cancer took a turn for the worse, followed by my trip to Virginia to take care of my parents.

            Meanwhile these last two months, I’ve felt half-naked in the scorching heat picking through weeds while they keep popping up through the soil of my garden.

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            Speaking of gardens, we’ve entered the garden season at the farm. The land is plowed and planted. The families on the farm are pitching in, to weed and harvest. We are then going to learn to can the produce in an assembly-line fashion. I’m surprised I’m excited about this, and yes, for all those dirty minds out there, I wear clothes when I garden now. (Farm friends you can thank me later…Ha!) Our last attempt at gardening, we ended up with vegetables rotting on the vine, that eventually sank into the earth and fertilized the soil.

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            Lately, I’ve thought about times we feel like that, the times we feel God out of reach or not answering our prayers, the times we think He’s neglected us, left us drooping on the vine. If only we could peer into the future and see our rotten times just may be the fertilizer in someone else’s life, would we be more willing to allow ourselves to be bruised… to feel neglected? 

            I imagine Vanessa feels that way as she lies in her hospital bed suffering from seizures. There were times my sister Tricia felt as if God left her dangling on the vine during her battle with breast cancer, but her rotten part revived the heart soils of those around her.

 

            The older I get the more thankful I am for the rotten times. I hated my sister’s suffering, but it was through it my husband strengthened in his walk with God. It was through it, we all strengthened our faiths in a God who’s sovereign and holy. My sweet Tricia passed away in the winter of 2014.

            When vegetables rot on the vine, they not only fertilize the soil, but their seeds fall into the earth as well. After the vegetables have been long forgotten, a new shoot springs up from the earth. Lately, I’ve witnessed one of Tricia’s seeds in the green faith of Vanessa.

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( To be continued…)

If Chestnut Trees Could Talk Week 2:

Don’t you love it when God speaks to you through nature? I don’t recommend putting nature above the Word, but He does reveal great wisdom through His creation. Last week, we started to hear from the Chestnut Tree, if you missed it, you can find it in the previous blog post. This week we will continue to listen to the wisdom this tree speaks…

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Life Lesson 2:  You must prune the little sprouts at the bottom of the tree in order for its energy to be used in growing fruit at the top.

The Chestnut Tree wants us to know that as followers of Christ our energy should be used in creating fruit, not wasted on the sprouts. Have you ever heard the expression “If Satan can’t tempt you to sin, he’ll make you busy.”? He would love for you to waste your talents on meaningless busyness. This is a constant battle in my own life. I get opportunities thrown at me from every direction as I’m sure you all experience. If you spend all your energy on too little of too much, you will be throwing your pearls to swine. We must remember to prayerfully seek God’s will of where He wants our talents and time to go so we can grow fruit that points towards heaven.

Currently, I am wife to Jay, mother to three teenage boys, and a three -year old daughter. I am writing a memoir, keeping up with a blog, and on the writing team for She Leads Daily. I lead a women’s Bible study, keep up with a pet-filled home, and on weekends you will find me working on a painting or heading to the farm. It’s a full life…an abundant life…a blessed life.

How do I get it all done? First be clear, I’m a work in progress, but God has given me three time-management tools that I utilize. The first is to start your day with a quiet time. I awaken before Bella, grab my coffee and spend time reading the Bible and praying. This has become so important in my life. My mind is sharper and I’m more focused on the “have to” list.  I don’t look at this as a check-off item, but the time I savor with the Savior. It is a treat to start the day in peace and spend time listening when your days are full.

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The second time management tool is to pray before committing to any opportunities that come your way. Recently, She Leads Daily underwent new ownership. Throughout the holidays, I leaned toward ending my writing job with them once the new editor took over. I prayed about it, knowing my decision was to be rendered by Sunday. I worried if I spent time writing for SLD, that would be time away from my blog and book. I also feared running out of inspiration and creativity.

Saturday morning, I attended a women’s conference at my church and the speaker, Christi Haag said several things that resonated with me. First, she said to extend grace, “always pour out grace.” The new editor for SLD needed grace in the form of a writing team. The speaker also challenged us to “do things afraid.” If you do things afraid, your stepping out of your comfort zone and God will strengthen your faith. I needed to trust God would work alongside me and see to it I didn’t run out of time or inspiration. The last thing was, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 New English Standard. By putting God first in my daily routine as I was already doing, time, productivity, and inspiration will follow.

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The last time management tool is to get out your cutting shears and cut away at time-wasters — any activity that lacks eternal value. Take notice of what activities in your life are time-wasters. I want to be clear we all need activities that relax, refresh and we enjoy, that is not what I am referring to. I’m describing the afternoon we stop our work to check out Pinterest for just a few minutes, which leads to insecurity about our wardrobe, leading to an online shopping spree including price comparisons, then…awe what’s that?  I see there’s a picture hanging on the wall behind the model, I have to have it, search for it, I know it’s somewhere, I knew I’d find it! Oh, but Jay will kill me if I spend that much on a painting…I could probably paint that, but I don’t have time to paint it…go to eBay and find it used…hours later no luck. Instead of cooking dinner for the family, I’m standing in the line at Michaels buying the canvas, that lands in the closet for a rainy day project.  See what I mean? Waste. As you can see I speak from experience. I found myself frustrated and anxiety-ridden when deadlines popped up. I locked myself in my office feeling blocked when God shined a light on how much time I wasted surfing the internet over silly non-eternal stuff. Don’t waste your life. Get out those shears and cut away those little branches so you can utilize your energy on something that will produce a more satisfying fruit with eternal value.

What about you? Is there anything you need to clip away from your life in order to release your energy toward something eternal?

Next week, we’ll examine what happens when you stake a Chestnut Tree too tight. See you by the Chestnut.

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