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“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”
Shield defined: As a noun, it’s a protective covering. As a verb, it means to hold back a thought or feeling about something.
God has been persistently reminding me to be quiet, to use less words. He has given me this verse to meditate on that last few days.
“A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered.”
Paraphrased–A truly wise woman uses few words; a woman with understanding is even-tempered.
Women use a lot of words throughout their day. I would admit that if there were a range, I would probably be at the upper end of the curve. In kindergarten my report card said, “Alissa likes to talk”.
Ha! How perceptive of that teacher! I guess I’ve always felt if one word was good, then more words must be better. It’s only been recently that I am finally listening to the Lord’s wisdom in regards to my words.
2 Things God Is Teaching Me About My Words:
1. I must choose my words carefully. James 1:19 says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” Wisdom says ‘use less words’, speak slowly, be intentional.
2. I must not live in reaction to the words of others. This is where learning self control is imperative. Self control is such a broad, important fruit of the spirit. It means we are concerned with managing our own heart, not interested in controlling others. Because truthfully, that is impossible. But it IS possible to control ourselves. Self control gives us the ability to respond to situations as opposed to reacting to them.
I am a shield.
I am beginning to think of the shield of faith in Eph 6. A shield is a protective covering and the shield of faith protects us against the flaming arrows of the evil one.
We may or may not realize Satan attacks us daily. We read about it, we may even believe it, but as I read Ephesians this weekend, a new image came to mind.
Imagine walking about your day, in your home, at work, playing with your children, all the while being shot at with fiery darts. Most of us don’t even realize the destructive potential these arrows have upon our lives. Satan is freely shooting at us. And we have forgotten we have the greatest protection in our faith. It is our shield. Our faith in Jesus Christ helps us to stand firm, to resist and protect ourselves from the Enemy’s attacks.
But we fail to use it.
Instead, we give in to his lies.
Flaming arrows or fiery darts can be anything Satan uses to hurt us: anger, discouragement, jealousy, discontentment, unforgiveness, bitternessfear or any type of reaction in our sinful nature.
In relation to our words, the Lord showed me that Satan can use the words of others as flaming arrows to hurt me and my relationships. Especially in my closest relationships. Satan has NO interest in building my life, my marriage or my family. His goal is to destroy anything good, anything having to do with Jesus Christ.
He will do everything to make the truth of the gospel void in my life.
Words may leave my husband’s mouth with kindness and good intention. But somewhere between his mouth and my ears, something happens–they are set on fire by Satan himself, so by the time they reach me they are in fact flaming arrows intended by Satan to stir up strife. Instead, I perceive his words to be accusatory, hurtful or spiteful.
But no, Satan isn’t done yet. He set the flaming arrow into my heart, which in turn causes me to react. We react in many ways, our body language, eye rolling, walking away, but primarily, we react with our words.
Our words then, in turn, become flaming arrows shot in the direction from which they came. This isn’t just in our marriages, it’s with our children, our parents, our friends and neighbors. Thus, He has succeeded. A war has begun and we didn’t even realize it.
Satan is in the business of destroying. If we don’t use our words wisely, he will use them for his gain.
I, then, have a choice.
I am a shield.
I can put up my shield of faith to block these flaming arrows and choose not to react, not to let them hit me deep in my heart and soul. With my shield of faith, they will bounce off of me, leaving me unscathed, uninjured. Because once I’m hurt or injured, it’s so much easier then to hurt others.
My faith in Jesus Christ protects me. His covering over my life keeps me pure and righteous, and holy. Not because of anything I have done, but because of who He is. It’s a trust and complete resting in knowing that He is our shield. We need to do nothing but trust in Him.
I love how shield is defined as a verb: to hold back a thought or feeling about something.
I am a shield means to NOT react, to hold back.
So the next time you have this sudden urge to shoot a fiery dart at someone else’s words, remember…I AM A SHIELD.
Let the Enemy’s intentions to hurt you bounce off. Be self controlled through the Spirit of God and choose not to react.
Words can be powerful. But nothing matches the Power of Jesus Christ.
How would truly living this way, God’s way, transform your relationships?
I would love to hear from you. Let’s encourage one another!
Motherhood is a full time job. We all know this. It’s 24/7. 365 days a year. We don’t even get a “sick day”. We are the mama. We wear many hats, and wash, clean and organize every one of them. We have numerous responsibilities and countless sacrifices. My job description is similar to most of yours. The exact situations will vary, but raising children is cross generational. I love how MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) puts it:
We are raising the world together.
Every mother has an enormous impact on the future generation. Our children will be tomorrow’s life-changers. At least, that is certainly how I want to see my children–world changers. I want my children to live so differently that the world pauses and takes notice. Envisioning our children’s future is awesome and scary at the same time. And so very important.
We live today what we plan for tomorrow.
But, honestly, today I was just plain selfish, and irritated and tired. Period. I didn’t see my sweet cherubs as life changers, I saw them as little turkeys who were just plain driving me to need a long bath (that I would take if we weren’t in stage 5 drought restrictions). And yes, as a mom of 3 preschoolers, I have many days like this. I have many great days as well, but too often I find myself sitting in a place of complaint and frustration and self pity. That place that says, “This is really hard. And I’m failing at this. And I need to change their behaviors. And I can’t ever get ahead of their mess.” Yes, those days. Please tell me you have them, too.
It’s on these days, in these moments, however, that God-if I choose to listen-can speak most dearly to my heart. It’s days like today when His love surrounds me and redirects my focus back to Him. In the midst of my selfishness, my discontent and my crummy attitude, he extends His grace to me. He reminds me that being a mother is my job, my first priority. For me, it’s a beautiful life I longed for and chose with excitement and ambition. But somewhere along the way, I can lose my focus. I get caught up in me instead of God. Instead of my children, my husband, my family. I have been praying Romans 12:2,
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
This is my life verse for Living Differently. But specifically this morning, I focused on the -renewing of your mind-part. I will share with you how God renewed my mind on a late afternoon walk with my children.
10 Questions To Renew Your Mind As A Mother
1. Do I see my children’s ages as a season to get through or as a time to be treasured?
2. Am I dealing with my preschoolers behaviors or am I loving them?
3. Do I yell and roll my eyes in frustration or do I smile with joy?
4. Are my children an interference or a blessing?
5. Am I angry and resentful or am I grateful and content?
6. Are they in my way or my way of life?
7. Are they distracting my focus or are they my focus?
8. Are they irritating or inspiring?
9. Do I discourage their “why’s” or do I encourage their questions of life?
10. Do I look forward to them sleeping or enjoy them while they’re awake?
Yes, it’s truth to admit that our lives as mothers will continually be an ongoing struggle between these varying attitudes. But as I spoke all of these into my phone on my walk, I felt the sharp pang of conviction. This, my friends, is the work of the Holy Spirit. My attitude needs renewing. My heart needs transforming – far more than my children’s normal childish behaviors. I am thankful for a God who reaches deep into my heart and painfully reveals who I am, but loves me enough not to leave me there.
If I want to live differently as a mom, I need to start thinking differently in my mind.
As a mom, how have YOU struggled between these differing attitudes?
Oh, it’s good to be back!
Where have I been, you may ask?
Well, I’m not really sure, honestly. Busy. Unfortunately. Too busy.
But, I’ve missed you. I’ve missed this. I’ve missed writing. Just sharing my thoughts. I’ve missed pursuing God’s calling on my life. I’ve missed sharing what God is teaching me, what He is changing within my heart. I’ve been too busy. Too busy to write, but even worse, too busy to listen.
I’ve been busy being a mommy. A wife. Playing, cooking, teaching, leading, organizing, preparing, cleaning. You know…mommy stuff. Important stuff.
But, busyness is just an excuse for not seeking the One thing that should be most important.
I’ve come to this place just recently where God has been whispering to my heart:
Turn your focus to Me
My perspectives are changing.
I have been striving, self-focused, trying so hard to be “better”, more organized…dare I say to be the “prefect” mom.
Does she exist? No. Never.
But in my mind she haunts me. The harder I try and then “fail”, she reminds me that I’m not enough, I’m not “her”, I’m not ever going to keep my house organized, I don’t laugh enough or play enough with my children, I don’t serve enough. I fall short in her eyes. Always. She brings out my ugly, my comparing tendencies, my heartache and insecurities. She reminds me of who I am not.
So, I keep striving. Keep trying harder. Until now, recently, I have heard it within my soul, that longing that there is more than this, that I am missing something.
God is whispering to my heart.
Do I hear Him? Am I pausing long enough to recognize his voice. He’s beckoning me to be still and know Him. Love Him. Trust Him. Believe Him. Rest in Him.
Just Stop Striving
My life is consumed with so many moments that don’t matter. Yes, managing life is necessary, but should never be consuming. No…life is about God, loving God, loving my family, loving His people-those all important relationships in my life.
The more I have struggled to find organization, peace, to “get it together”, the more my life has spun out of control.
I have been looking for peace. When all the while, I have Peace living within me. Whispering my name. Waiting for me to respond, to believe.
Too consumed with myself and my lists, I’ve missed it. And in truth I know life isn’t about me. But, unfortunately, my life speaks differently. It’s about God. It’s about filling my exhausted, weary soul with His spirit, his breath of life.
I’m sitting outside right now listening to those ever present night-time noises, gazing at a magnificent, glowing, serene full moon.
These are the words a weary soul longs to hear, to experience, to believe in.
I am so small. God is so BIG! So…well, everything.
I am not.
Lord, help me to see my place in your story, your kingdom, your plans. Forgive me for making my plans and then trying to include you, rather than trusting in You to create the plan for my life. Let me seek you. Always. I will find ways to go around you. Sadly. To busy myself…again. Please remind me of who You are Lord…again and again.
Busyness sucks the life out of me.
Say No to the Unnecessary
Say Yes to God
And to those things that fill my soul with joy and bring a smile to my face…
- Being with my children
- Connecting with my husband
- Investing in my family
- Building friendships
- Encouraging women
- Reading God’s word
- Reading books that I love
- Writing words that inspire
- Listening to relaxing music
Seek what your soul has been desiring my dear friend.
He is there. Waiting to embrace you and fill your weary hearts with an overflowing love. But you will have to pause long enough to hear his gentle whisper.
He is there. Close your eyes. Breath deeply. Rest. Your mind, your body, your soul.
Don’t miss this moment. Don’t replace it with an insignificant one.
Do you feel it? The deep inner whisper inviting you to Rest…to slow down?
What is your soul longing for?
Don’t miss it. Especially this season. Especially now. Especially today.
Have courage to REST, to breathe, to say NO, to just “be”, to simplify, to say yes to those things that are important.
Today, I am seeking REST. Please say you will too! Let us leave a legacy that brings peace to others’ weary souls.
Lord, let us mamas make every effort to enter the REST you have called us to. Give us wisdom and guidance, perspective and truth. Help us this Christmas Season to be UN-busy. To stop and smile. To look at our children with wonderment and adoration. Help us to model kindness and generosity to our children. Isn’t that more important than the presents, the shopping, the cultural Christmas norms? To build their character, OUR character? Help us to be intentional with our lives-every minute of every day. Let us not waste what we have been given. May we seek YOU and to glorify you in all we say and do. And let us NEVER forget the Son you sent for us to save us from ourselves. To give us grace and mercy where we need it most and to give us everlasting life with YOU. Thank you just doesn’t seem enough. But, may our humble hearts serve you this season with a heart of joy and gratitude. Amen.
Hebrews 4:11 “Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.”
Please share how you are seeking REST in your lives today!
God has great plans for his life! And has been intimately involved in his life since he was conceived.
But I’m sad to say, we missed his 1st birthday.
We weren’t there for his birth.
But rest assured, this child has been prayed for immensely! He is loved, he is wanted. HE was chosen.
We may not have experienced every day of Gavin’s first 14 months of life, but we are here now. We are here today and will be here for his tomorrows!
This morning I took Gavin to a camp at our local Nature center. After we dropped him off, Abba, Cruz and I strolled through the Children’s Garden there. We were walking along and Abba started veering off. I told her, “You have to stay on the path, honey.” She questioned, as most 3 year olds do, “Why?” “Because there are dangers off the path”, I replied. “Why?” “Because they marked out the path before us so that we would be safe and enjoy our journey through the garden.” (more…)
Three years ago God blessed us with an amazing gift. Our sweet, beautiful, precious daughter.
On June 24, 2011 at 5:04 pm, Annabella Jane Perez was born into this world.
But she was born in our hearts, oh so much earlier than that! You see, we had prayed for Annabella years prior to her arrival. We longed for a baby and after several years of agonizing procedures, devastating news, failed adoptions and much waiting, God answered our prayers. The wait was hard. We were ready to be parents. I was so very ready to be a mommy. Ready to hold MY sweet baby, ready to love the child God would give us. The waiting was so hard. It seemed the Lord was not listening, that maybe he hadn’t heard our prayers. Everyone told us it would be worth the wait.
And it was. So very much worth the wait!!
Have you ever thought about how YOU want to be remembered? Have you ever thought of your life with the END in mind, first?
I’m sitting in Starbucks, creating my life plan for 2014. I started listing my priorities for this current year and was inspired to think about how I want to be remembered. I’ve heard others talk about writing their obituaries. To me, writing my obituary is not inspiring. It’s depressing. But thinking about “How I Want To Be Remembered”, now that is inspiring.
As I started writing, I started dreaming of and envisioning my future. I started really thinking about what people will say about me someday…maybe when I’m gone, or maybe when I’m seasoned and gray sitting and reflecting on the one life God had given me. Who was Alissa Perez? Writing about who I want to become, most assuredly helps me to create who I want to be today.
This is who I hope to become…
how I hope to be remembered…
and who I will intentionally strive for being today.
Alissa Perez loved her family and friends, and her love for her God was contagious. Her faith in God was evident in how she lived her life. She taught others to seek first God’s kingdom and her time with God was sacred. She was a devoted wife and her husband was blessed by her all the days of his life. She loved, served and respected him in all he did. Her children adored her and felt calm and peaceful in her presence. She devoted her life to training her children well. She taught them a love of reading, to fear, love and trust God, to respect themselves and others and a genuine love of learning. She showed her children the importance of serving others. She lived selflessly, caring for the needs of other above her own. She had the best smile. And people felt welcome in her presence. Her strong character was apparent to all: integrity, gentleness, compassion, patience and kindness. She cared about others and their circumstances. Her parents always received her heartfelt respect and honor. She invested in her relationships with her friends and family.
She never seemed rushed or in a hurry. Commitment was important in her relationships. She was devoted to prayer and passionately loved to share the message of Jesus with others. The Bible was her book of wisdom, instruction, guidance and truth. She exuded joy-even in difficult circumstances. Thankfulness was in her heart and on her lips. She tried to live simply in a world of abundance. She stuck to her budget and did not desire excess. She was fun to be around and brought humor and grace into her home. She loved to travel and teach her children about the world She listened to jazz and classical music and loved exposing her children to the fine arts. She was quick to listen and slow to speak. When she spoke, she chose words that brought life. She responded with gentleness and grace, not anger and condemnation. She sought God’s wisdom above her own or the opinions of others. She sought order, not chaos but lived a life of freedom and spontaneity. She chose what was better and turned away from that which deterred her from a full life in Christ.
She was confident in who God created her to be and was thankful for the gifts she had been given. She used her talents to the best of her ability in serving the body of Christ. She was not envious but found joy in the blessings of others. She focused on pleasing God, not pleasing man. She loved unconditionally. She lived purposefully. She chose freedom in Christ over fear from the Enemy. She passed on an inheritance of strong faith and character to her children. They will forever be reminded of her love by the intentional memories she created. She was authentic and real. She chose to live for today and hope in tomorrow, rather than regret her yesterdays.
She lived a life full of faith, hope and love.
And above all else she chose LOVE.
How do YOU want to be remembered?
As I begin to pursue intentional living, I am reminded that I am not only responsible for my own life. As the mother of three sweet, precious children, I am responsible for helping mold their character and their lives. What a huge responsibility! So, I started thinking about two questions that I need to answer. First, what strengths do I possess that I want to pass on to my children? And, second, what weaknesses do I struggle with that I would NOT want my children to inherit or learn from me? Whether I realize it or not, I am passing these traits on to my children. So here is my list and my intentional plan to either promote my strengths or change my weaknesses in order to help myself and my children become all that God intends.
- My strengths…
- Faith in Jesus….I will continue to build my relationship with Jesus. Daily. I will make reading God’s word a priority and I will let them see me reading and praying as much as possible.
- Love of reading…I will read to them daily and have books out around the house for them to access easily. I will stop what I’m doing (as much as possible) to read to them when they approach me with a book.
- Integrity…I will continue to make truth be of utmost importance.
- Love of learning…I will look for and provide them with many opportunities to learn. I will engage their curiosity and their natural enthusiasm for life.
- Mercy/compassion…I will show them compassion at all times and model that for them with others. I will love them unconditionally and empathize with their feelings.
- Optimism…I will look for and find the good in people in all circumstances. I will be thankful and content in all situations.
- Love being outside…I will take them to explore nature as much as possible and show them the beauty of God’s creation.
- Love to travel…We will travel with them to as many new places as possible, near and far, while we have the opportunity.
- Good listener…I will really listen to my children as much as possible. I especially will look at them and get to their level when they speak to me.
- Good encourager…I will encourage them in all things. I will build them up with life-giving words. I will speak truth and encourage them to trust God.
- My weaknesses…
- Fear…I will trust God in all things, at all times. I will teach them that with God, we need never to be afraid.
- Worry…I will work on praying instead of wrestling with worry. I will grow in my prayer life, remembering to pray at all times.
- People pleaser…I will remember that the only person I need to please is God alone. He is my judge and my Lord.
- Disorganization…I will simplify as much as possible. I will work on following through with my tasks. God is a God of order, not chaos.
- Too serious sometimes…I will remember to laugh at myself and life. Stop and enjoy today and smile as much as possible.
- Stubborn/prideful..I will acknowledge God’s sovereignty and power in my life. Knowing how BIG God is, reminds me how small I am. Pray for humbleness.
- Judgmental…I will give the grace that I have been so freely given. I will daily remind myself where I have been delivered from. Praise Jesus!
Oh, Lord, this is who I want to become. This is who I want my children to become. Lord, in my own power and strength, I will never be able to master any of this. But it is through your grace and mercy that I have the opportunity to grow in these areas. It is because of your power and generosity that you allow me and my children to grow to become people of strong character. This is my prayer and my greatest desire…to become more like You. Thank you for loving me enough to want this for me too. Amen.
“Don’t just Be…Become, ” were the words I said to my husband about a month ago. We were discussing some dreams and desires we had for ourselves and that sentence just flew out of my mouth. I paused and then I said it again, this time I listened to what I was saying. I don’t just want to “BE”….I want to “BECOME”. To “BE’ means to exist, to be alive. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with existing or being alive. I’m quite thankful for both. But, it sounds so stagnant. I questioned myself…is that ALL we were meant for? I think not. Rather, to “BECOME” means to undergo a change or development! That was it. That was a turning point. Since then, I started taking a look at where I am and where I want to be. I realized several things; first that I am amazingly blessed! We have a beautiful healthy family and being a stay at home mom is what I’ve always dreamed of. I have a devoted, involved and loving husband who inspires me and encourages me in everything, I have a wonderful family and a fabulous group of friends. The second is that I’m a habitual “non-follow-througher”, an “I can’t-er”. I find myself wishing and hoping and wanting and too often, not accomplishing, doing or following through. I’ve set New Year’s Resolutions and failed at following through with them. I think of so many home ideas, activities or memories I want to create for my family but instead find myself saying…”I wish I could…” or “I would love to be able to…” “why can’t I…” or “I wish I would have”. Too often I find myself feeling disappointed and discouraged.
I’m ready to BECOME the woman God wants me to be! Am I the wife, mom, daughter, sister, or friend that I am supposed to be, that I should be? Am I living my life with intention and purpose? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to miss out on this beautiful life God has given me TODAY. I want to be intentional, to live life on purpose, to be disciplined. I’m exhausted from waking each day without a plan and purpose. This is my journey. My journey to follow through, to finish what I start, to be intentional with my days, and to pursue life change through God’s word! I want to be a real life do-er! And my journey begins right now, right here, this moment! The best part is that I don’t pursue this intentional life alone. God is with me every step of this journey. He is my biggest encourager, guide and inspiration. And I am so thankful He also uses people to encourage us on our journey as well. Your life is entirely different from my own, but ladies, we are on the same team! We were created to encourage each other, to live life in relationship and to build each other up! I’m ready to make some purposeful changes in my life. Let’s do this together! Let’s impact our lives, our families, our world, one small finished task at a time. Are you ready? Let us pursue an intentional life….together!