Christ Alone.

Life has been good lately.

I have faithfully been in the Word, with the Lord taking me to the exact Scriptures I need, even when I had no idea I did!  I have been encouraged and uplifted through the Psalms and full of praises for the Lord - all day long.  My love for His Word, and my dependency upon it, grows stronger every day.  It has been my life prayer: "Lord, give me an insatiable hunger for Your Word!"  And He is showing Himself faithful - as He always does.

My time with the young adult women has been refining, and wonderful, and pushing me to be faithful in my own walk so I can be prepared for them ... to pray, to answer questions, to comfort and encourage.  They are an absolute blessing to me!  Just being in their presence - with their energy and passion and excitement for life ~ it is rejuvenating to say the least!

After a very rough beginning to our year, Dennis and I are on the same page, working together, praying as a couple for wisdom with our children, enjoying our time together, and talking about everything under the sun.  As we approach our 20th year of marriage, we look back and see how very far the Lord has brought us through these years, and are both humbled by, and grateful for, His faithfulness to us.  

While we have hit a dark storm in homeschooling and the structure of The Eastman Academy this past month, the Lord is using it to show us where we need to change, delete, add, and overall rethink how we do things.  WHY we do things.  "Begin with the end in mind" is our family motto.  So right now we are applying this to homeschooling ... what are the goals we have for our children?  What do we want them to have accomplished the day we hand them their diplomas?  We have already walked through this in great detail, but we have not revisited it lately, and we both feel we have lost our focus, loosened our grip - and it is time to gain it all back.  It has been the hardest month of homeschooling ever in my eight years, but it has also produced the most growth, and shown me how much I need my husband to partner in this with me.  I can no longer do it on my own.  And praise the Lord - he is willing!  

I have actually been able to meet with a couple of friends, or enjoy long chats on the phone, (this is a rare thing in this season of life) and three of our families are coming into town for a visit this month.  Everyone in our family is healthy at the same time. (can it be so?!?)  And, well, life is good.

And satan is not pleased.  He hates it when my mind is steadfast and focused on the Lord.  He hates when I am in the Word preparing to share with young women.  He hates it when I am patient and attentive to my family and their needs.  He hates when I praise God, serve others, pray for my enemies, and fight my flesh.  When the enemy is not happy, he ATTACKS.

And his arrows have been flying at my back with great rapidity and force these past two days.

Every hour that passed made my burden feel greater.  My thoughts of praise turned to apathy.  I felt neglected and abandoned.  Frustrated.  Out of control.  Weak.  Sad.  Overwhelmed.  And I could not find the root of it all so I could rip it out and destroy it.

Until ... a friend responded to an e-mail I had sent to check in on her and asked me how I was doing.  I was going to ignore it.  Actually, I did ignore it for an entire day.  But when I finally hit 'reply' and started typing, the words flowed, the emotion showed itself, and the root of the problem was exposed.

I was leaning on my own understanding.

My confidence was strengthened while studying the Word for bible study.  My confidence was strengthened as I met with different women and was able to encourage them.  My marriage was strong.  My children want to be with me.  My friends were eager to have time with me.  I felt strong - confident - in control.  In myself, rather than in Christ.

So instead of relying on the Lord for every ounce of wisdom, seeking His strength for every trial, and remembering that I am have absolutely nothing to offer on my own merit - because every good thing is from above, I was doing exactly what He says NOT to do.

Trust the Lord with all your heart, and lean NOT on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5,6

Confidence in MYSELF?  Are you kidding?!?!  I don't care if I read my Bible 22 times a day, pray for four hours, faithfully disciple my children every day, serve my husband with passion and joy, minister to 12 women each afternoon, and live at peace with everyone I know.  I am never, ever EVER to boast in my own strength.  I am a sinner.  I am going to battle with my flesh until the day the Lord calls me to glory.  I will fail.  Say the wrong thing.  Miss opportunities.  Offend.  Hurt.  Misunderstand.  I will never have the right to claim my own wisdom or strength as the source of anything I do.

And if I am foolish enough to THINK I am so wise, intelligent, or insightful, I will be in sin because the Lord states clearly in his Word that He hates arrogance and pride.  
"God OPPOSES the proud, and gives grace to the humble." James 4:6
"When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." Proverbs 11:2  
"A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor."  Proverbs 29:23  
"The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished." Proverbs 16:5

I was acknowledging the Lord ... as the Creator, the omnipotent One, faithful, steadfast and immovable, forgiving, wise, powerful, patient ... but where I failed?  I was not acknowledging Him as the SOURCE of everything I have and - everything I do.  Whether it is holding my tongue when my children do something foolish, or offering the needed word in the life of another ... nothing worthy of His praise is done because of me, or through me.  It is only because of the Holy Spirit dwelling in me that I am able to accomplish anything worthy of His praise.

Confidence is a good thing.  God gave us intelligence and allows us to use it to serve others in a plethora of ways.  But the enemy can very quickly, and usually very quietly, turn confidence into arrogance and pride, letting us rejoice in our own strength, rather than boasting in the Lord's.

The mystery has been solved!  The despondency of my heart and mind was the Lord at work within me ... pulling me out of my self-confidence ... reminding me that I need to rely on Him for every thought, action, and word, regardless of how capable I may feel ... because HE is the one who began a good work in me, and HE is the one who will continue that work until I am complete. And this completion will not happen until the day I see Him face to face.

So for now?  And every day I have breath ... I must trust solely in my God.  My confidence must be in Him.  As one of my favorite songs says, "In every victory, let it be said of me, my source of strength, my source of hope, is CHRIST ALONE."

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