Even if the Healing Doesn’t Come…

This week I was driving home from my oncologist’s office and heard a song that reached out and grabbed me. You will understand why in a little bit. I have once again been trying to figure out how and why I seem so accepting of my situation. I have a lot of doubts running through my mind. Are people going to think I’m not grateful for their prayers? Do people think that I don’t actually have/had cancer? Do others think I’m faking? Do I not care about my own health? Do those around me get the impression that I don’t need them or want their help? I can ask all of those questions because I have asked them of myself. I am not a worrier by nature. I mean there times that I am concerned about how something is going to turn out. There are times that I feel like I have to step in to act on something so it goes “the right way”. But, for the most part, I do not sit around all day and dream up things to worry about. I know people who do that and it makes no sense to me. But my own reaction in this process is puzzling to me as well.

I heard this song by Kutless on K-Love coming home this week. It moved me and made me truly consider how this cancer scare could end up. While I’m confident that this time I’m going to be ok I cannot speak for the next time around or the time after that or the time after that. Who knows how many times I will be in this fight for my life. I’m speaking honestly here. This is a topic that is on my mind a lot. I believe any cancer patient will tell you it is forefront of their mind as well. If they say they haven’t thought about it then they are lying or living in denial. The words of this song spoke directly to my thoughts. Here is the you tube video of the song with the words to follow. I will have more to say after you watch it. The title is Even If.

Sometimes all we have to hold on to
Is what we know is true of who You are
So when the heartache hits like a hurricane
That could never change who You are
And we trust in who You are

Even if the healing doesn’t come
And life falls apart
And dreams are still undone
You are God You are good
Forever faithful One
Even if the healing
Even if the healing doesn’t come

Lord we know your ways are not our ways
So we set our faith in who You are
Even though You reign high above us
You tenderly love us
We know Your heart
And we rest in who You are

You’re still the Great and Mighty One
We trust You always
You’re working all things for our good
We’ll sing your praise

You are God and we will bless You
As the Good and Faithful One
You are God and we will bless You
Even if the healing doesn’t come
Even if the healing doesn’t come

So I believe the answer to my question of whether I am taking this fight seriously lies within the words of this song. II Chronicles 20:15 says “For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” I have completely laid this battle at the feet of Jesus. God is walking with me. I have given it to Him. When my life was falling apart I prayed and asked God to take it all because I couldn’t fight it alone. He is good, faithful and true. His shoulders are strong enough to carry the burden of my cancer and my treatments. I could never carry them alone and can’t imagine ever trying to. The day my primary care doctor found “something” in my abdomen and sent me immediately to have an ultrasound I remember praying as I laid on that bed. I prayed that whatever was going to happen would be a simple fix but that if it wasn’t that the Lord would carry me through it. That was a good 48 hours before I heard the words “you have an ovarian tumor.” He is Good and Faithful. He picked me up and has been carrying me ever since.

 

So, am I taking this seriously? Of course I am! But am I worried about it? There are parts that concern me but for the most part I can say no I’m not. Am I ok if the healing doesn’t come? That’s a harder question to answer. But I have faith in my redeemer. He watches over me and carries me along the path. He hides me in the shelter of His wings (Ps. 61:4). Whatever His will is my future I will learn to accept. By the time that comes I honestly say the Lord will have done enough work in me and my family’s lives that I can say I would have the faith I need in Him to say Yes I would be ok. If He is walking with me now then when life is falling apart and the hurricane hits He will be strong enough to carry us through then. But until that time I will tuck myself safely into his feathers and settle in right here where I am.

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Live In The Joy Of The Moment

As I write this week’s 3 in 30 entry I am sitting outside at my patio table enjoying the light breeze, the perfect sun, the happy birds and the peacefulness in my spirit. I’m just not convinced it gets better. The least of my concerns right now is the laundry waiting for me upstairs, how to make money or getting dressed to go out to meet someone. Those were my goals for this month. I don’t know if that is really what I should be writing in a 3 in 30 update post. But that’s what I’m feeling.

I think it’s perfectly fine to lay life and responsibilities aside every now and then and just enjoy the perfect moments you come up on occassionally. As women there appears to be something on our plate 24/7.  We could never sleep and we still wouldn’t get it all done. So every now and then I embrace that and encourage myself to just soak in the moment. We don’t give ourselves permission to do much of that. Why is that? I know if I press on and worry more about the task then I discover that I miss the joy in the moment. That’s not what God intended for us.

The laundry is still gonna be there, the dishes aren’t going anywhere, the kids schoolwork doesn’t have to be done right this second… so what’s the rush? And even if you work outside the home in an office setting your paperwork will still be there in 10 minutes if you step outside to listen to the birds sing. Think how much happier you will be in your spirit if you accept the little blessings God sends us along the way. He created all of nature…he set the number of hours in the day…he created the children/family/friends that you love…overlooking all of that CAN’T possibly make Him happy. I picture him (cause I’m a visual learner) standing in front of us saying “WAIT! Do you hear those birds singing? Isn’t that beautiful? I created them and their song to speak peace to your spirit. PLEASE stop long enough to hear them.”

So don’t be discouraged if you didn’t live up to your expectations you put on yourself for this week. If you heard one chirp of a bird or tilted your head to the sky and felt the sun on your face then you have accomplished something great. You have accepted God’s gift into your heart. And you didn’t even know THAT was on your list, did you?

A Double Door Prize Up For Grabs Today

Today’s Ultimate Blog Party Door Prize is a twin pack of devotional books. In The Garden With God and Sunset With God. A daily quiet time with the Lord is so very important in our Christian lives. We need to talk to Him by prayer every day. And we need to listen to Him every day as well. One of the ways that He speaks to us is through the reading of His word. But another way we can hear from him is through the reading of other books such as devotional books – such as these two. He blesses some people with the gift of writing in such a way that their words reach out and touch us in such a real way that it’s almost as if we believe the words were written specifically for us. I don’t know if you have ever read a book and a particular part just jumped right off the page and nearly smacked you in the face. You may have even felt as if that particular section was written JUST for you. This happens to me a lot. Those are ways the Lord speaks to us.

Just thinking about the Lord “speaking” to us may seem foreign to some of you because when we think of someone speaking to us our mind immediately goes to an audible word spoken from one person to another. However, God doesn’t have to work like that. He can choose so many other means to get a message to us. Devotional books are one of those ways. I have books on my shelves that the Lord has used to answer questions, given me advice, brought me a blessing or even answered a prayer. You just never know where a message of the Lord is going to come from.

Each of these books are full of easy to read and short words from God. They may just hold the answer to some of your questions, problems or prayers. I wish I had a set to give to everyone. However, I only have this one set.

Today’s requirements to qualify will be a little different than those of the past few days. Remember, each comment you leave is another chance to win.

*Leave me a comment telling me when the Lord has “spoken” to you about something.

*Leave me a comment telling me about a time the Lord has used a certain BOOK to “speak” to you other than the Bible.

*Leave me a comment telling me about the author that God has most used to bless you in some way.

*Leave me a comment telling me where I can find you on the internet – Twitter, Blog, 365Project, Facebook – wherever.

*Retweet or Facebook this giveaway – leaving me a comment telling me you have done so with a link to where I can see it. (worth 3 entries)

If you do ALL of those then you will have 7 (SEVEN) chances to win!!!!!

In turn I will pray for each person who leaves a comment today. I will pray that the Lord will reveal himself to you and speak to your spirit in some way today. I trust that the Lord will place these books into the right hands of the one who needs them most.

The contest will run until 9:00 p.m. CST tonight. Any prizes won this week will be mailed next Monday April 11th so I only have to make one trip to the post office.

Happy Tuesday!!

Death Is Temporary

Have you ever really thought about how your family is shrinking a little more each year?  Since December I have lost an aunt (one of my mom’s sisters), another aunt (the wife of one of my mom’s brothers) and an uncle (one of my mom’s brothers) – IN THREE MONTHS!!! My mom is one of what was nine siblings. There are now three of them left.

I am an only child. So, I don’t exactly know the pain of losing a sibling. Both of my parents are still alive. So, I don’t know the pain of losing a parent. My husband is still hanging around. So I don’t know the pain of losing a spouse. I do, however, know the pain of losing a child through miscarriage. My other two children are still here – making my life full of joy every day (ok, MOST days). So, I don’t know the pain of losing a living child. I have lost all of my grandparents. I know that pain. I just can’t imagine the grief associated with the death of any of the people I just mentioned though.

Death is a natural part of life. There is a beginning and there is an earthly end. Those left behind carry the emotional break that comes with being left behind for the remainder of their time here whether that be one day or 80 years. While there is the pain of separation from the one we love for those of us who are Christians we have the promise and the hope of seeing our loved one again one day in Heaven. When I saw my uncle the last time Friday night I kissed him and told him to hug my baby Joshua who I did not get to meet.

Last week I watched a friend my age bury her perfectly healthy mountain bike riding 48 year old husband. He was one of the healthiest people I know. Yet Sunday night March 20th he had a massive heart attack and died. We are not promised tomorrow. We are not promised the next minute. We certainly have no idea when it will be our day to pass from this life to the next. What we are promised is that, if we are a Christian, when we breath our last breath of oxygen on this earth we will immediately see Jesus. II Corinthians 5:8 tells us that we can be confident that when we are absent from our body we will be present with the Lord.

One of my favorite verses of the Bible is found in I Corinthians 15. Verse 54 says that death is destroyed and victory over it is complete. I love verse 55 – “Oh death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” Death is a victory for us Christians. It’s painful for us left behind. But it is a time of victory for the Christian because they wake up in glorious Heaven with the Savior. God makes reference in Revelation 7:9 to a “great multitude” standing before the throne. They are the Christians who have died and gone on before us. I will see my loved ones and friends in that crowd. You know how it is when you get separated from your friend or family member in a big crowd of people. You look around anxiously to lay eyes on them and know that they were there but just out of your sight? I think that’s kind of how it is now for those of us who have lost loved ones to death. We are separated from them but we know where they are. They are out of our eye sight for now but one day we will see them again. They are standing, clothed in white, before the throne of God worshiping him. One day I will lay my eyes on them again and we will be reunited.

Death is only temporary. It merely ushers us into a different “life”. It becomes our eternal destination. That gives me great hope that one day I will see my loved one again in Heaven if they are a Christian. Not only will I see Jesus with my eyes but I will once again lay eyes on those who have gone before me. What an amazing hope and promise!

 

Hope In The Midst Of Depression – Part Three

Hope in the Midst of Depression 

Part 3

Mary Southerland

Today’s truth

Philippians 4:8 (NIVB) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

Friend to Friend

Mary Winkler – a pastor’s wife — was accused of murdering her husband. Watching her arrest on television, my emotions stumbled over each other as anger warred with compassion, confusion with condemnation and justice with mercy. Then it happened. Mary Winkler raised her face slightly, long enough for me to gaze into hauntingly familiar eyes, eyes filled with emptiness and darkness. While I can neither condone nor even understand the actions of Mary Winkler, I can understand the road that brought her to the dark place where she felt her only option was to commit such a heinous crime. The pit of clinical depression is a place of devastation — the playground of Satan and the forces of hell. In 1995, I found myself sitting at the bottom of a dark pit, desperate for God, pleading for deliverance. After several years of painful emotional work, fierce spiritual warfare and complete brokenness, I finally stepped into the light. God gave me life-changing truths in the darkness that revolutionized my life in the light. One of the most important truths is that we can change the way we live by taking steps to change the way we think.

Step one: Recognize the power of thoughts.

Proverbs 23:7 “For as he thinks within himself, so he is” (NASB).

Step two: Know God’s standard for our thought life.

·         First standard: true thoughts

·         Second standard: noble thoughts

·         Third standard: right thoughts
Fourth standard: pure thoughts
“Pure” literally means that which is “wholesome, not mixed with moral impurity, innocent and morally undefiled”. It is a worship word, the picture of a sacrifice without blemish, fault or weakness. In other words, our thought life should be a sacrifice acceptable to God and fit to be brought into His presence as part of our worship to Him.
Have you ever watched an icicle as it is formed? A few years ago, we joined our best friends, Michelle and Jay Johnson, for a winter vacation in Vermont where a heavy snowstorm had arrived just ahead of us, dumping several inches of snow. Everything was covered in a rolling, soft blanket of white. Icicles hung like fragile crystal ornaments from tree limbs and rooftops. One morning, I decided to be lazy and sat, curled up in front of a crackling fire, gazing out at the beautiful postcard scene before me. I watched the softly falling rain gradually turn to long strands of ice. The icicles formed one drop at a time until they were a foot long or more. An interesting process unfolded before me. If the water was clean and pure, the icicle was formed clear, sparkling like a finely cut diamond in the sun. If the water was unclean and impure, the icicle looked muddy and its beauty was spoiled!

Our lives are formed…one thought at a time…one attitude at a time. The purity of our thoughts determines the purity of our lives. Darkness feeds on impure thoughts. The battle plan against depression must include a direct assault on impure thoughts. David, in Psalm 101:33, issues this challenge: “I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar.” Notice the word “refuse”. We can refuse dark thoughts. We can choose against negative attitudes. This standard needs to be the ongoing commitment of our thought life! To keep this commitment, to control our thoughts requires us to control all outside influences.

·         Movies

·         Books

·         Television

·         Music

·         Relationships

·         Conversations

Our prayer should be like David’s in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a new, clean heart, O God, filled with clean thoughts and right desires” (The Message).

A clean mind will produce right desires. Right desires will produce right habits! And right habits produce a life of power and joy, a life that is pleasing to God…a life that is right and lived out in the light of His power and purpose for each one of us! The old adage is true: “Sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny!” A powerful weapon against the darkness is a pure thought life. Think about it!

Let’s pray

Father, it is so easy to let impurity creep into my thought life each day. I battle my own mind that tends to think thoughts I know dishonor You. I can only imagine what those choices do to Your heart. Many times, it is hard to take a stand for purity and godly discipline. But I want to! Please give me the strength and power to become a woman of integrity with a pure thought life.

In Jesus’ name

Amen
Now it’s Your Turn
Consider the statement that your thought life “should be a sacrifice acceptable to God and fit to be brought into His presence as part of your worship to Him”. Have you ever considered your thought life to be part of your worship?
What one change can you make this week that will purify your thoughts?

Memorize Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a new, clean heart, O God, filled with clean thoughts and right desires” (The Message). Make this verse the prayer of your heart this week.

At the end of each day, look for changes God made in your life because of your commitment to a pure thought life.

Hope in the Midst of Depression – Part Two

This is Part 2 of the Hope in the Midst of Depression series.

Hope in the Midst of Depression 

Part 2

Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

Philippians 4:8 (NIVB) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

Friend to Friend

Let’s review yesterday’s devotion. Mary Winkler – a pastor’s wife — was accused of murdering her husband. My emotions stumbled over each other as anger warred with compassion, confusion with condemnation and justice with mercy. Then it happened. Mary Winkler raised her face slightly, long enough for me to gaze into hauntingly familiar eyes, eyes filled with emptiness and darkness. While I can neither condone nor fully understand the actions of Mary Winkler, I can understand the road that brought her to the dark place where she felt her only option was to commit a heinous crime. The pit of clinical depression is a place of devastation — the playground of Satan and the forces of hell. In 1995, I found myself sitting at the bottom of that same dark pit, desperate for God, pleading for deliverance. After a lot of painful emotional work, fierce spiritual warfare and complete brokenness, I finally stepped into the light. I learned many truths while sitting at the bottom of that pit, but one of the most important treasures God gave me in the darkness has revolutionized my life in the light. We can change the way we live by changing the way we think.

Step one:
Recognize the power of thoughts.

Proverbs 23:7 says it this way: “For as he thinks within himself, so he is” (NASB).

Step two:
Know God’s standard for our thought life.

·         First standard: true thoughts
·         Second standard: noble thoughts

Third standard:
right thoughts

“Right” literally means “conformity to God’s standards” and comes from the same root word as “righteous”. Our world majors in gray standards, running from those things that are black and white, trying to rationalize away truth! Right thinking is neither gray nor borderline. It does not ride a spiritual fence but willingly conforms to God’s standards. We must make a choice about the control of our thought life. If we do not choose the power of God to control our mind, we will become double-minded and unstable. James warns us with these words: James 1: 8 (NIV) “He is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.” The New Living Translation says it this way: “They can’t make up their minds. They waver back and forth in everything they do.” E. Stanley Jones states that “if you don’t make up your mind, then your unmade mind will unmake you.”

When an immigrant comes to America, before he can become a citizen, he must renounce all of his commitments and allegiance to his former homeland and pledge one hundred percent allegiance to America. Then, and only then, will he be granted American citizenship. While we have come to Christ and are citizens of heaven, our thought life still smells of hell…our old homeland!

We allow our minds to drift. We do not take charge of our thinking processes. We are undisciplined mentally. Undisciplined thinking will always flows to our greatest weaknesses. The human mind will always set itself on something! We just have to decide what the setting will be. A mind filled with wrong thinking becomes fertile soil for temptations of all kind.

A woman was married to a miser who never wanted her to spend any money. One day she told him she was going window-shopping! He said, “Look, but don’t buy!” A few hours later, she came home with a new dress! “What is this?” her husband asked. She explained, “Well, I saw this dress and thought I’d just try it on for fun. When I did the devil said, “It sure looks good on you!” Her husband said, “Right then you should have told him, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” “I did,” she answered. “But when he got behind me he said, “Honey, it looks even better from the back!”

We laugh about temptation! We have become flippant about sin. We need to understand that the goal of the enemy is the total destruction of our lives! James 1: 14-15 tells us “Temptation comes from the lure of our own evil desires. These evil desires lead to evil actions, and evil actions lead to death.” Satan wants us to stay in the pit. Darkness is his specialty. He delights in peering over the edge of the pit, mocking and taunting us, admiring his handiwork. The battle against him and against depression is first waged in the mind. Many times our thought life is an open invitation to the enemy! We need to renounce those old ways of thinking. We need to choose against wrong thinking and actively pursue right thoughts. When we do, darkness flees and light comes!

Let’s pray

Father, this darkness is so heavy. Some days, I just want to stay in bed, pull the covers over my head and tell the world to go away. I am lonely and so tired. Still, I choose to believe You. You are my only hope. I put my trust in You.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen

Now it’s Your Turn
Consider the truth that our thoughts always flow to our greatest weaknesses. What does that statement really mean in your life?
Re-visit the basic truths wrapped in the death, burial, resurrection and second coming of Jesus Christ. When the dark thoughts come, hold each one against the backdrop of these truths. Evaluate the difference this “eternal backdrop” makes in your thought life.

If you are battling depression, don’t be afraid or ashamed to cry out for help. Read Psalm 40:1-3 as God’s promise to you!

Hope In The Midst Of Depression – Part One

This is from a devotion I get every day.  It is a series.  Since depression is something that I battle I wanted to share it with others – anything to minister to our bruised spirits.

Hope in the Midst of Depression 

Part One

Mary Southerland

Today’s truth

Philippians 4:8 (NIVB) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.

Friend to Friend

While my eyes were riveted to the television screen, my heart went out to the handcuffed woman clad in an orange jumpsuit as she meekly followed the policemen who was escorting her to jail. A pastor’s wife…accused of murdering her husband. My emotions stumbled over each other as anger warred with compassion, confusion with condemnation and justice with mercy – and I was certainly not alone in my emotional battle. Newscasters vacillated between understanding the horrific and callous act she had committed because, after all, this woman was the wife of a pastor. Church members were stunned; some at a loss for words while others could only stare at the camera in a daze of pain and disbelief. Words like “perfect” and “ideal” were used to describe the Winkler family.

Then it happened. Mary Winkler raised her face slightly, long enough for me to gaze into hauntingly familiar eyes, eyes filled with emptiness and darkness. While I cannot condone or even understand the actions of this woman, I can understand the road that brought her to the dark place where she felt her only option was to commit a heinous crime. The pit of clinical depression is a place of devastation — the playground of Satan and the forces of hell. In 1995, I found myself sitting at the bottom of that same dark pit, desperate for God, pleading for deliverance. After two long, hard years of painful emotional work, fierce spiritual warfare and complete brokenness, I stepped into the light.

As God has allowed me to share my story with others, I have been amazed at how many women people struggle — in painful silence – with depression. I have good news for you, my friend! There is a way out of that pit and freedom from the darkness. Over the next few days, I want to share some of the truths God taught me in the darkness that have revolutionized my life in the light. One of the most important truths is that we can change the way we live and minister by changing the way we think.

As I sat in the pit of clinical depression, I began to see that my destructive thought patterns had become a vicious cycle of self-condemnation and insecurity. That cycle had to be broken. I began to pray, asking God to take control, knowing that only he could accomplish what I was asking. The steps that follow have re-programmed my thinking processes and literally transformed my life.

Step one:
Recognize the power of thoughts.

Proverbs 23:7 says it this way: “For as he thinks within himself, so he is” (NASB). In other words, what we think about, we will become! The greatest battlefield for the Christian is the mind. Thoughts are real and powerful! Our actions, our attitudes, our habits are born in the mind — in our thought life. We can literally change our lives by changing what we think about. Isaiah 26:3 promises, “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you” (NLT). Peace and joy involve both the heart and the mind. Wrong thinking will lead to wrong living. The first step toward a right thought life is to recognize the power of our thoughts.

Step two:
Know God’s standard for our thought life.

First standard: true thoughts “True” literally means “genuine, authentic, or real”. When we deposit God’s Word into our mind, it will transform destructive thoughts into healthy ones. Don’t waste precious energy trying to be what others expect you to be or trying to earn the approval of anyone but God. Be real!

Second standard: noble thoughts “Noble” literally means “worthy of honor and respect”. The word “noble” is used only four times in the New Testament. Each time it is used it is linked to self-control, specifically to control of tongue.

1 Timothy 3:11 “Women must be respected by others. They must not speak evil of others. They must be self-controlled and trustworthy in everything” (NCV).

“Admirable” is similar to noble and literally means “fair speaking” or “worth talking about”. In other words, if we think right we will speak right! Statistics say that the average person spends one-fifth of his or her life talking! (For us ladies it might be a slightly higher percentage!) If our words were put into print, a single day’s words would fill a 50-page book; in a year’s time, the average person’s words would fill 132 books of 200 pages each! What kind of book did you write today? Was it one of encouragement or condemnation, love or hatred, peace or anger? Proverbs 16:24 reminds us that “pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (NASB) Words are just like seeds. What we plant will grow.

James 3:2 “For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well” (NASB).

An ancient fable tells about Proteus, a monster that had unusual power. Proteus could assume many shapes and appearances. He could become a tree or a pebble, a lion or a dove, a serpent or a lamb and had little difficulty in changing from one form to another. Proteus reminds me of the human tongue. It can bless or curse. It can express praise or whisper slander. It can speak a word of encouragement or become an instrument of destruction! The control of the tongue begins in the mind! The bridle for our tongue is a controlled thought life…a thought life that is admirable…a thought life that is noble…a thought life that is filled with light instead of darkness.

Let’s Pray

Father, as I examine my thought life, I see the darkness hiding there. Negative thoughts, critical thoughts, prideful thoughts…but Lord, I submit my thought life to You. I give You permission to pinpoint those thoughts that are displeasing to You. Please give me the strength to eliminate those thoughts and the source from which they came. I really want to think right and live right.

In Jesus’ name

Amen

Now it’s Your Turn

Read and memorize James 3:2 “For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well” (NASB). How does the truth of this verse play out in your daily life and ministry?

Examine your thought life for destructive patterns of thinking. Can you identify the source of those patterns? Get past the thoughts themselves and go for the jugular of that source. Root it out! Eliminate it! Ask the Holy Spirit to empower you to stand against it!