Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Are You Studying the Enemy?

A few months ago a friend suggested a book to me. I won’t put the title, but it was about the enemy and learning to defeat him. Without hesitation, I ordered it, but when I went to read it, I could not make myself stay focused long enough to get through any of it (and that is very unusual for me). It has been sitting on the nightstand in my bedroom until yesterday, and now it is in the trash can. I’ll go into that a little further in a minute…

The other day I saw another friend post a book they are reading about the enemy, and it hit me. I became so convicted about “studying the enemy” that I threw away the book sitting on my nightstand.  I wanted to share what I have realized through some prayer about this specific issue and hopefully it encourage you while shedding some light on the topic.

I am a pretty big time reader (as I’m sure you can tell from my extensive vocabulary and excellent grammar, right? hahah!!), but over the last few months the Lord has really laid it on my heart to chill out (a little) on reading all of these other books and DIG into the Word. Read the Bible, memorize Scripture, study it, pray it, and read it some more with a hungry heart & desire to be filled with truth. Books are great, & I highly recommend that if you aren’t already, for you to become a reader. (Don’t buy the “lie” that you don’t like to read.) But here is what I know, friends. The BIBLE is our ultimate source. It is the living, infallible, convicting, sharper than a double edged sword, WORD of God. It is our instruction manual and a love letter from Him to us. It is a remedy for every issue we face and a prescription for every ailment. It can give us direction, teach us about leadership, marriage, parenting, finances, and trials. It will teach us how to live like Christ, even in a fallen world.

So here’s the deal.

Make no mistake. We DO have an enemy, and it is important to be aware of him. He is described in John 10:10 as a thief who wants to kill, steal, and destroy. 1 Peter 5:8 describes him as a roaring lion prowling around looking for someone to devour. I am convinced he specifically wants to attack marriages because that will wreak havoc on families and churches, all of which are so dear to the Lord. So yes, he is there, and we must be aware that we are facing an enemy. Ephesians 6 talks about our enemy…

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[c] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

However, I think it is unwise to try to study his tactics.

I know some of these books are written by some big names in the Christian community. And I haven’t read the books, so I am not saying that there is false information in them. But, I believe when we read them, we are focusing on the WRONG thing. In this case, I think the best defense is a great offense. Rather than studying the enemies schemes, we should focus on efforts on getting to know the know the TRUTH. Getting to know our loving Savior. Getting to know his Word, and knowing the truth so well, that we immediately recognize the lies and attacks of the enemies. (I know this is kinda deep, so I hope you’re following me here.)

I know I’ve shared this analogy before,  but I think it’s worth sharing here because it’s so applicable to this topic. In other cultures, children are taught how to run the family business from an early age. When teaching their children to recognize counterfeit money, they do so by having them study REAL money so very well would immediately recognize a fake.

The same thing is true with what Jonathan and I do in our business. We are in nutrition, but rather than giving people a huge list and teaching them the things they CAN’T eat, we help them focus on, study, & learn to prepare the foods they should be eating.

I also know some people that say things when they’re praying like “Get behind me, Satan.” Friends, I believe it is DANGEROUS to talk to the enemy. Do not even give him a foothold. If you feel him attacking you in some way, pray God’s Word and know the victory has already been won. No weapon formed against you shall prosper.

Doesn’t that make more sense? Don’t focus on the lie…the enemy…or the list of rules. Focus on the TRUTH. Developing a deeper relationship with the Savior and get to know him better. It’s not about rules, it’s about the freedoms you’ll have by being under the umbrella of protection God gives to those in his will.

So…Here is the good news! The Bible clear lays out for us how to defend ourselves against the enemy in those remaining verses of Ephesians 6. We must arise EACH morning and put on the full armor of God. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—

I hope that wasn’t confusing.

I know that’s a lot and I’m not sure that I got it out quite the way I wanted. But my whole point is this. Don’t study the enemy or his tactics. Know you have an enemy, and defeat him by saturating yourself with the TRUTH of God’s Word.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Sailing through the Caribbean

One of the five ways AdvoCare pays is through incentive trips. It’s a performance- based deal…so the more people you help, the more likely you are to earn it. (It is highly competitive though.) We have earned a few of the corporate incentive trips in the past, but turned down two of them because I was due with my sweet boys around the same time. We are so thankful for the trips though because this is where we’ve had a chance to meet some incredible people & make some great new friends we would have never otherwise has the chance to get to know. We love being around like minded people and we like to travel, so we always go for the trips.

We knew pretty early on we were going to earn the Caribbean trip, but couldn’t decide if we were actually going to go. We are just in a season in life where we don’t like to leave our kids. (We both like our little 1 hour at the gym a few days a week, but that’s about it!) It was a 7 night cruise through the Caribbean on the world’s largest sailing yacht (which did sound awesome!), but that just felt like too long to be away. Plus, I as and am still nursing so that would be 4-5 pumping sessions every day. There was NO way (trust me, I explored every option) to bring the milk home, and pumping and dumping that many ounces is just so sad. Nursing mamas, y’all feel me?

We debated, talked about it a good bit, prayed about it fervently, and even reached out to a few of our mentors for their advice, and finally responded that we were going to go.

One of the main reasons we wanted to go was to have some “us” time. It is so important to us to continue to strengthen our marriage, and that’s something we have to be intentional about. Working from home together means we get to spend a LOT of time together, but we spend most of that time taking care of the kids and house and business (which we LOVE & are truly so grateful for!), so we wanted some unplugged time to connect, reflect on 2015 and talk about goals for 2016. You don’t have to go on a fancy vacation to do that, of course, but because it was an all-expense paid trip to some of the most beautiful locations in the world, we decided it was a good time to do just that. Makes sense, right?

Another reason we wanted to go was to have the opportunity to be around some of the top leaders we know. I’m not talking about just in the world of AdvoCare. I’m talking about people who are walking the walk, creating true legacies, raising champion kiddos that have become remarkable adults, and are making a DIFFERENCE in this world. Most of these folks have gotten to where they are because they are incredible people and LEADERS, so we wanted to soak up some wisdom from them. Not just business stuff- way more than that. Parenting, marriage, leadership, ministry, business, investments…There was such a great wealth of knowledge, experience, and wisdom on that boat and we are so thankful to have an opportunity to learn from those folks.

The few days before the trip, we seriously almost backed out about 50 times. Even the day before we were scheduled to fly out, Jonathan and I considered calling to cancel (and just pay back the company for our trip) because we were having such a hard time leaving the boys. (Both of us.) I cried. A lot. I don’t know if everyone’s like that or if that seems overdramatic, but neither one of us like leaving the boys and it was not a decision we took lightly.

Anyway, we (obviously) ended up deciding to go and I am so THANKFUL we did! We needed that time to recharge and reconnect, and I don’t think it’s something we would have made time to do otherwise.

My mom and Jonathan’s sister and dad tag teamed watching the boys for us. We are so, so thankful for sweet family loving on our little guys, and I know we are beyond blessed they are always so willing to help out. I know they had a blast too and made sweet memories with Jase and Kade. We want them to have a strong bond because family is so important to us.

Our trip was from Saturday, December 5th through Saturday, December 12th. The yacht was called WindSurf and it was through Windstar Cruises. We’ve been to the Caribbean a few times & it is absolutely gorgeous, but this trip was some of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.

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We flew into St. Maarten (which was awesome!) & bussed over to the ship.

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Thankfully all of the travel was pretty uneventful. I am still nursing so I have to be careful about what I take. I tend to get motion sick pretty easily, but I wore those wrist bands that hit a pressure point (found them at Walgreen’s I think) and they worked like a charm! I never felt sick at all. I did not do the best job taking pictures this trip. Boo for that!

Here are the places we visited:

  • Philipsburg, St. Maarten
  • Falmouth Harbour, Antigua
  • Soper’s Hole, Tortola, BVI
  • Jost van Dyke Great Harbour, BVI
  • Virgin Gorda, Prickly Pear Beach BVI
  • Gustavia, St. Barthelemy  (St. Barth)

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St. Barth was my favorite!! It was seriously so, so neat. We bought the boys a book & Jase a pirate shirt that has become his FAVE! He asks to wear it every day.

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There were some awesome excursions. We signed up for a submarine tour, a helicopter tour, and a segway tour of Antigua.

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Now I’m just here to tell ya, I had NO IDEA what I was getting myself into with that segway business. I almost backed out & almost cried. (TOTALLY overdramatic but I didn’t even care- I was scared!!) Once I got the hang of it, it was easy peasy. But it took me a little while & I was not a natural by any means, so I was seriously thankful for the helmets and elbow pads. (And would have been totally cool with knee pads, shoulder pads, and a cage on the helmet too.) **FYI: Fear is not your friend on those things. Shout out to the mall cops- they’re harder than they look. At first anyway. Jonathan got the big daddy & rode it like a champ. This ended up being one of my favorite excursions! Pretty serious crowd, right?

I think everyone was a little worried for me…shew!

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Meeting one couple in particular was the highlight of our trip. They spoke life into us & shared some things we desperately needed to hear.

It may sound cheesy, but the people are definitely, definitely my favorite part of the trips. The food is phenomenal. They make sure you have some great experiences. You can’t beat the scenery and the weather was pretty perfect. But the people seal the deal for me every.time.

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There is something about the ocean…God’s handiwork is breathtaking, isn’t it?

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When the cruise was over, they took us over to the Westin in St. Maarten & let us hang out till it was time to catch our flight. We had a room where we could relax and take a shower, and we actually ran into my cousin Nicole! Crazy small world, right? They were celebrating their anniversary and it was so great to see them!

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I am so thankful for the opportunity of AdvoCare and for the options it has created for our family. I am thankful for the experiences, for the friends we would never have had the opportunity to meet otherwise, and for the quality time with Jonathan. It was a trip we will always remember, no doubt.

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