hand to hand combat on the battlefield of the mind

We used to live about 40 minutes from a really cool interactive science museum. Budget cuts closed the doors but my kids loved going there and I regret not going more often. The displays were mostly the same—things designed to illustrate major-big scientific principles brought down to an appealing level of hands-on understanding for all ages.

Occasionally they’d host special exhibits and I recall the year there was a military science area with a variety of instruments and tools the military used to conduct “business”. This included the very cool, “PSYOPs” exhibit . It was fascinating to learn how battles could be fought— and won— without a drop of blood being shed.

Loudspeakers and leaflets containing carefully planned and planted words were used to psychologically suggest ideas to frighten, subdue or wear down the morale of the opposing forces, causing them to surrender and reducing the loss of life. Strikingly simple and yet utterly complex it’s a weapon that’s been used down through the ages— completely modern and yet as old as time.              Effective.

Hand to Hand Combat

It began in the Garden, you know. Those words spoken by the smooth-talking Devil-serpant “Did God really say…?” And it worked. The seeds of doubt were planted, the defining Word of God was twisted “just a hair” and the world came tumbling down. Fortunately, that’s not the end of the story. But it’s also wasn’t the end of the devil and his schemes—for now, on this side of heaven, we’re doing battle against them on some level every day.

Someone close to me recently commented on how they don’t watch the news or read from news sites anymore because it’s always so terrible. They’d rather not know. On the surface it sounds irresponsible but stepping back, I completely recognize how willing I’d be to block it all out if I could—if only for a moment. I get it.

There are days…and some hard-to-get-to-sleep nights when I’m nearly overwhelmed by those thoughts. My head hits the pillow… just seconds from sweet sleep and some reckless idea breaks through and all my “Mama Feels” come rushing to the surface. Suddenly, sleep becomes an impossibility as every frightening scenario and “what-if” begins to play itself out with no end in sight.

Transform my mind?!??  Heck, it’s times like these when I feel like I need to just “gut the sucker” and start over!   

The painfully near disease and dysfunction of the world looms large as the headlines scream and cleverly insinuate some “new and improved” twisted-up version of the same bloody Garden curse over and over again. 

Here’s this daily ridiculous “all you can eat buffet” of information-potential— half truths and full-blown lies— swirling in and out of every moment and instead of feeling more secure and informed on most days, personally, I’d  like to board up the windows and exit quietly.

It seems like a lost cause to even begin trying to make a difference.

His Light Shines

Believe that and our enemy “wins”.  No, not the war, but unless we engage in the battle, satan can win the moment. He can force us underground and snatch away our ability to care, invest or conceive of seizing hold of the answers left by Jesus Christ. If we listen only to the lies, or entertain the doubts and questions a little too long, we can feel helpless and hopeless along with the rest of the world.

It’s Satan’s version of “PSYOPs”….attempting to demoralize us and forget he’s a DEFEATED ENEMY….creating doubt, divisions and distractions causing us to fight against one another instead of finding common ways to work together with God.

I’m hosting a little bible study with a handful of girls on my street. This past week we talked about this sort of “stinkin’ thinkin” and shared about the sorts of things that can cause worry and fear.  I think they were actually relieved to discover they’re not the only ones… even I still struggle with “stinkin thinkin”.

Together, we talked about where to find help: our “Family Album”, our battle manual, the Bible. Randomly I popped it open and read aloud Psalm 119:73-82. The Psalmist records the many ways we are troubled and tormented by the “insolent”, falsehood and and fear… but God will be our comfort and help.

It was the very thing we’d been talking about.

The Limitations of God at Work

What I want them to know is the very thing I need to remember— this Word of God and time spent with Him talking and listening in prayer— is exactly what we need to fight this battle.  It sounds too simple— almost cliché and yet THIS is the most powerful weapon we have against every scheme of the enemy: prayer.

When the lies, the fears and the confusion starts to spin us out of control— we can stand on the Truth and engage in the battle with some powerful “hand to hand” combat.

Not that it’s easy work….
Not that it’s easy to remember…

The hands that took the nails and then rolled the stone away clearing the path for us to get back to God.

It’s hands holding on to the truth spelled out in the living, unchanging Word of God who really did promise He’d walk with us through every valley and on every mountaintop and be our Guide as we go.

Then it’s hands getting to work— helping in whatever way they can  holding on to the trembling hands of another giving comfort and walking the hard road— or sharing in the joyful work of serving shoulder to shoulder…faithfully doing whatever it is God has set before them.

Glowing light of God

It’s hands raised in worship…in surrender… in faith and trust.
Even for the things we don’t yet understand.
Even for the nights that seem so terribly dark and long.    Even… and especially… now.Lorretta signature

Linking with Jennifer at #TellHisStory

what a father’s love can look like

She was there before me.

He loved her—maybe more than he loved me at first— and I knew it. Not in the “classical” sense of love however, there was no denying  she owned and occupied a significant piece of real estate in his heart and I would have to learn how to deal with it.

What else could I do?

what a father's love can...

Even his mother understood this and the story is told how when they first met she asked, “David… what kind of girl is going to go around with you in that thing?” His response?

“One who can climb up in it!”

I was more than willing (ahem) and “she” was a 77 Jeep CJ-7, the love of my husband’s life.  Big ol’ tires and a bikini top, this vehicle was the stuff of his rough-and-tumble, adventure-seeking dreams come true! Honestly, I might have loved him just a little more for having her around.oil check jeep

I knew just enough about vehicles and mechanical things to pitch in where I could so I learned to care for her the way he did. I could do little maintenance things and once I changed her water pump. Yup…we were family.

Five months later to the day, he and I were married and she carried us off on our “exotic” treehouse honeymoon at the youth hostel in Brunswick, Georgia.

Just Married HostelJeep at hostel

Then came the Air Force because sometimes a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. With a mound of debt between us and no job offers in sight, it seemed like this was the best option for getting back on solid ground.  A month and a half after we said “I do”  we said “goodbye” sending him to Lackland, Texas for basic training.

For eight weeks, it was just me and the ol’ CJ-7 looking forward to tech school and the day we’d all be together again. Packed to the gills (with a cat and 4 kittens– don’t ask) I drove West to breath-taking Colorado for a short but glorious chapter in our lives.

From Colorado we were on to Illinois and finally able to explore what the stable, married life could be like. He worked at the base while I tried going back to school and working full time at a daycare center.Airman Stembridge

Truth be told, we had a lot of growing up to do but enjoyed life while learning what that meant. We found a church and began to deepen our understanding of God, ourselves and what a Godly marriage was supposed to be like. Money was tight and we argued over our poor decisions a lot occasionally. Some things meant walking through to the end but we were in it together.

I’m pretty sure we were both very involved in the planning of our first child or at least we thought this was a good idea whether we understood how to plan or not! I’m can’t lie— we were clueless. We only knew we had love to share and so…we did.

Medically, the military takes care of it’s own so affording the pregnancy was never a problem. However, even our combined salaries couldn’t do much to take down the mountain of debt incurred before we met— school loans,  poorly managed credit cards— two car payments all collided with daily living expenses. Now a baby was on the way and we knew— something would have to change.

I don’t remember the discussion. Even now I can’t imagine it was easy for him to place the ad to sell our Jeep. I get choked up just thinking about it… I mean he loved her. However,  he was now a husband ..about to be a father and  tough decisions needed to be made. It wasn’t an easy sell but eventually someone came along and we waved good-bye.

This should have been the end of the story. UGH! we were so naive. Because we mercifully floated the loan to another Airman trusting that with his steady job, he would make the payments to us and we’d pay the bank. That worked for a few months. Then nothing. He was discharged and went silent.

It took a long time to find him and when we finally went to get the Jeep… the damage was unimaginable. No way could we afford the towing fee. We had to leave her… and our hearts, behind. Oh… it was terrible. Now not only did we not have the Jeep…  we had no choice but to continue paying her off.

Ouch.
So.   much.   ouch
.

These words came:Baptism

This was 24-ish years ago.  I know there are things we should have-could have done, but it was too late for a do-over. We had to keep moving forward.  It was sad and we had regrets. He loved her, no doubt about it… but he loved us more.

daddy and chelsea babyThe “happily ever after” part of this story was born later that November. Now a new girl had won his heart.. one who would be the first to call him “Daddy” and one for whom he’d gladly sacrifice a Jeep…. and so much more. 

Oh.. I know he still thinks about those days and the time we spent running around in the CJ-7. I’ve caught him looking at other “girls” and getting a little hot with Jeep-envy from time to time!  Maybe someday.

The Three Kids

In the meantime, three of the best decisions we ever made will truly celebrate him as their father on Sunday and from what I can tell, there’s nothing in the world he would take to go back to or trade for the priceless position he holds in their lives.

Father Daughter Dance

Somebody wiser than me once said: “Most any man can become a father but it takes a real man to be a Daddy.”

That’s Him: my God-fearing man…husband of one and proud Daddy to three… the love of my life.Lorretta signature.