Tuesday, March 8, 2016


This past weekend, I attended a women's retreat hosted by our parish. It was great. Very Catholic - in a very good way. We closed with a woman's testimony (Karen Rutherford) - the mother of our priest, Father Mark. [Yes, Catholics have testimonies.] and Karen brought.it! - if we were more southern, more African-American, and less white-midwestern, we probably would have been yelling, "PREACH!" over, and over, and over again.

One of the key points in her story was that we have got to be on our guard against the devil. She specifically quoted Ephesians 6:10-15. She had us sing "Strong Tower" by Kutless.

and, boy, did I need it today.

1 Peter 5:8 tells us that "our enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour."

Today, I tried a new class at the gym. My friend, Karen (not Father Mark's mom), and I have been going to the gym for almost two months about 3-4 times/week. We've been lifting, running, and getting stronger.

We tried a barre class: specifically "Barre-Be." And that is not an accurate name. It should be called "This will kick your ass, punch you in the gut, and take your lunch money." It was hard. So hard, that about 15 minutes in...I almost had a break down.

I was on the verge of not just tears - a full-on, "I.can.not.do.this. I can't do anything. My life is so hard right now, and the last thing I need is something that is this hard that I have chosen to do" melt down. I was so close to just letting it all go that I had to physically stop, breathe, and ask God to give me the strength - mentally, emotionally, and physically - to keep going.

God helped me. I kept going. I was not going to cry. I'm tougher than that.

Ephesians 6 describes spiritual attacks like this - as flaming arrows. My battle, apparently, wasn't through. After the almost-meltdown (which was during mat-work), we moved to the bar. barre? barre. This allowed us to now have view of the wall of mirrors. [yea - half-hearted/self-conscious cheer]

[Now, I understand that the mirrors are designed to help you work on your form. But, really. Did men design these - or just gorgeous women without body image issues?]

Those arrows were pointed right at my exposed self-consciousness. "Wow. You really should have worn a different shirt. Ugh. Those love-handles. Look at those. Wow. Wow, I am actually the only person here with love handles. Coooool.... Wow. Look at these pants; they really emphasize my thighs. Wow, I actually have the biggest thighs here. Cooool.... Oh my gosh. I thought I was doing so good. ...I am never doing this class again." 

As I changed and tried to sift through this defeated spirit, my first desire was to go to Mass tonight and just get some Jesus in me. I realized that these thoughts are arrows trying to ruin me. But, they don't need to. I don't need to let them.

Paul (in Ephesians) and Peter both exhort - push - us to recognize that we must be alert. We must be on guard. Attacks will come at us when we start making in-roads to becoming the best version of ourselves (walking the road toward holiness and away from self-destruction). An attack is not a defeat (it's actually a sign you are getting somewhere).

Let's remember to utilize our power:

 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.  Ephesians 6:10-19

 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.   1 Peter 5:8-11

 As I drove away from the gym, "Strong Tower" started playing in my head; my sign from the Holy Spirit, that He's got this.

1 comment:

PJ Colando said...

eager to give you and Dan hugs, helping to reassure you that you have two stalwart, fervent supporters who are praying to help you. bring. it. with all the love that we can muster, sweat pants and all. Looking forward to it!