After the Battle

The custody battle that has occupied too much mental, physical, emotional and financial resource for two years is finally over. My oldest is now living and going to school in London.

Amazingly, this is actually almost okay. Relatively okay.

I’m not thrilled, but here is the thinking:

– I still unfortunately suspect the motives of any father who would take an eleven year old away from three younger siblings, but he has been a painfully critical father for all those elevent years. Let him parent. We shall see.

– There are a lot of responsibilities to go along with parenting a child, and a nearly-teenaged one more so. It looks easier than it is. Not all of those responsibilities are immediately apparent. What happens when there isn’t anyone or anywhere to take a vacation from those responsibilities, which might be strongly desired for someone who has never been a full-time parent – what then? We shall see.

– God loves, adores and takes wonderful care of this child and has ever since she was the size of a grain of rice. He has not stopped. While I do not pretend to understand the liberal court craziness that led to this decision, it is a decision that was from the hand of God and I would not for the world step out of His grace or His plan. This part is painful, but sometimes He does that. Better to see what the longer term vision is, because it will be tons better than anything I could have come up with.

– Truth? I would not change a single thing – the comments of our friends and family validate that our family is healthy and strong and much loved, and we are parenting our little flock with all the care, love and service required from good parental stewards. So the court did not judge by the same standards – this isn’t a surprise, is it! This is the same structure that unleashed OJ isn’t it! Whose opinion am I really concerned about? Not any judge!

– Besides, hope does not disappoint and I know there is more to this story that I can’t see. I do not think for one minute that my God would have me go through this – and my family, and my friends – without honoring the humility it has required, the obedience and the trust. Especially the trust. That was big.

So while I do miss her and her silliness and thinking too much about it can reduce me to tears – go away Accuser, and leave this mama be – I am generally at peace. I have discovered that the compassion that used to terrify me is more accessible now and I can hear or read awful stories without thinking, NOT MY CHILD…no, it isn’t about my child but the right response is to pray for whoever is in the awful story, not take the bait from Satan that it is a sign of impending doom, and move on.

The most liberating things out of all of this are the biggest surprises. The fighting is over – my first husband is daily sending awful, vicious, gloating emails and they just flow past me. (Thank you Lord). The fighting is over! He can’t pick any more fights – and we don’t have to rise to all this bait! (Thank you Lord). My worst mama nightmare is realized in a much less awful form than I had feared – and I’m walking this out and actually, pretty darned okay. It could have been so much worse. THIS is manageable. (Thank you Lord). I have learned how to fight, I have realized part of my calling in life is to be a warrior even though I’m a woman, and I am perfectly capable of any fight that comes my way but only because my God is able. I just sort of have to turn up. (thank you Lord, that one especially is a really good deal).

And…we are looking at the positives. That my daughter is attending a very swanky British private school that I am not paying for, and this is a huge experience for any kid especially an American one. That she has the opportunity to be very close to her father, if she chooses, or she can evaluate for herself who and what he is, without my influencing even unintentionally. She seems to be doing okay. We are going to let her sit for a while – let’s see how this plays out.

In the UK, she can decide at age 12 what she wants to do and the courts will honor it. She should have a pretty good idea by then, and we will honor what she wants too. I am letting her be a little more than I’d like but in the interest of letting this play out – her father needs to learn the same as I did – how you handle the little issues, and the big ones, how you handle the day-to-day drama of raising a child, what you do when you want to go out or be quiet or read in peace but you have a child and it just isn’t going to work that way.

If he is a different person than I think – this will work out great, and he will have a good relationship with her. That is a super outcome.

If he is the same person that I think – it will get old, fast. That’s okay too.

But the best part of all of this – I am not in control and there is not one single thing I have to do right now except trust. No fights. No worrying. No fear. Just trust. Amen and Selah.

Isaiah 40 – Read It Again, This Time as a Mother

How many Christians know Isaiah 40, or at least parts of it, without even having to look it up?

This part especially:

30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;

31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Appears in how many of our worship and praise songs. Especially the eagles part. We like that.

There’s some other stuff that had not caught my eye or my heart until today, that I think bears reading again (and again and again) if you are a mother.

It’s scary to be a mother. I work 90 minutes away from my children and I have recently realized this is not by accident – yes of course I took the job because I was 100% certain this is where God was sending me, although I have no idea why. Partly, now I see, is that I’ve been very controlling and anxious over my children’s safety. They are small. Yet where was I when he hung the stars? What can I do, even in the same room, to keep them safe? Read Job once and you realize – nothing.

So that means I have to trust, which is an ongoing and recurring thing in my mama heart, and I’m learning so painfully slowly. But I am learning. I don’t have to and I should not feel that I must keep those babies safe. Do you know what is convincing me of this more than any other day? Look at this:

11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.

That’s the NIV translation. My children are carried in his arms, close to his heart. That is a safer place than I could ever give them. I have been reminding myself, almost daily, that I am a stewared of these little lives that I love so much, but they are not my possessions. They are HIS and that is how they will grow and thrive. He has plans to prosper them, to give them a future and a hope. Plans to prosper them and not harm them.

Just yesterday I began to talk to my oldest about warfare. She’s the one in the middle of the custody drama, and I have see the way Satan is answering my total trust in God for our custody battle. He is attacking her. Mean things have been coming out of her mouth, about herself and about others, that I know are not from her heart.

So I sat her down – after disciplining her for very loud, yelling back-talk – and asked her about her thoughts. She insisted they were her own. So I explained to her – our enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. Part of destroy is all the filthy lies that try to teach us we are not talented, we are fat, we are bad, we are incapable and unworthy. Already my precious baby has felt the “slings and arrows”, the fiery darts.

She really did not know Satan could invade her pretty little head with lies that sound like her voice. You know what, at her age, I did not either and that accounts for a lot of pain.

The other Good News for Mamas is the last bit, that He gently leads those with young.

How vulnerable are we when we are so attached, so utterly amazed with our wonderful children and so terrified for their safety and well-being. How much we need wisdom and discernment, not just for them but for ourselves. We will be led, and it will be gently. Awesome! I’m such a rebel in my flesh, that settled right over me light a snuggly blanket and I thought, wonderful, I need all the wisdom and help I can get and feeding it to me gently will make sure I receive it too.

For people like me who were not raised in a particularly Evangelical or Charismatic church, the idea of warfare and battling it out is pretty radical. So I’m a newbie. But that made me notice this part too:

2 “Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her,
That her warfare is ended,
That her iniquity is pardoned;
For she has received from the Lord’s hand
Double for all her sins.”

When I see “her” in a passage that God has called to my attention repeatedly (this chapter in Isaiah showed up in not one but three different places the last two days, I think I’m supposed to be looking here!) it makes me take notice. This is the NKJV (the NIV has “hard service” for warfare and that is pretty interesting to think about too).

Notice it says “is ended”. Not “will be”, not “might be”. This not hang in there and see what happens. This is rest, trust – your battle is done. I know I have one more week of court in July, so my battle still lies in part a head of me – so my reading of this is more about what God also said to Jehosephat (and directed me to last time we were heading to court).

12 O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”

13 Now all Judah, with their little ones, their wives, and their children, stood before the Lord.

They were about to be attacked by a much stronger enemy, and Jehosephat wisely remembered the promise from God, that He would defend and protect his people if they turned to Him, so that is precisely what Jehosephat did – no panic, no stress, just cry out to God for help. Notice it’s not just the warriors in the line of fire, it is all the people including their precious children. And here is what God told him:

“Listen, all you of Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you, King Jehoshaphat! Thus says the Lord to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”

That’s what I think this passage means for us as well. The battle is not ours, but God’s. That idea of being thankful for the victory before the actual fray. If God is battling for you, is there really any question about the outcome?

So if God is protecting your children, it is time to trust. Even when you have to battle whatever is troubling you – trust and understand. He is your strength, your helper and your glorious sword and he will make your enemies flee – you will trample on their high places.

I think I have been guilty of discounting this in my own life, worried my choices in my first marriage would mean I somehow got left out of the battle help and other good things. But right there it is, God is over it and I should be too, and it is really well and truly time to trust.

Abigail The Re-Marrier

Facing custody court (again), I was led to the story of Abigail.

HOW with my history, did I manage not to read this before?

Abigail – married to a truly unsavory character (probably arranged, in her defense – he was loaded and she was pretty and we know in the ancient world those two things sometimes led to an unwanted or at least undesirable union). One day he did a truly foolish thing and his wife, after the fact, learned he had laughed at and scorned King David.

I don’t think I would have gotten past the YOU DID WHAT? stage if my first husband had done such a thing. Although he did have a habit of offending anyone who knew him any length of time. I’m envisioning Abigail among her handmaids, doing Old Testament house wife kinds of things – and a servant coming in with a mortified look on his face to inform her “guess what he did THIS time”. The servant was smart to tell her. I’m sure it wasn’t the first time servants ratted on Mr. Nabal.

And Abigail – far, vastly superior woman – didn’t panic when she heard that King David was doing exactly as one might expect of King David and coming to deal with her buffoonish husband. With an army. Rather than chasten the hopeless case who shared her bed, she prepared gifts for the offended king and went out to meet him. Despite her own standing, wealth and apparent beauty, she humbled herself. A wise woman, she understood there was nothing her husband could or would do to avert the marching disaster, but that she might be able to speak reason to the offended king.

Her argument why David shouldn’t destroy her entire household was much cleverer than anything I would have thought of: King David should leave revenge to God, and spare her stupid husband for his own sake. Let her husband deal with what was coming; David should remain above such a trivial and potentially dangerous action.

It is hard for me to discern – David’s ego (it was nice to have praises of such a woman heaped on your head, I’m suire) or David’s better self (after all, his God did indeed claim all rights to vengeance and still does) won out. The twit was spared. The pretty, genteel and very clever wife saved the day. Home she went to tell the drunkard how she had averted disaster, but not until the next morning when he had sobered up enough to understand – you nearly got yourself killed and I fixed this. I am confident she managed to relay this news with grace. I would have likely thrown pottery.

Her husband did her the tremendous kindness of dropping dead very shortly after, and King David did her the even greater kindness of wooing and marrying her. Bathsheba might have set his pulse racing, but Abigail apparently held his heart. They had a long and joyful marriage. She was the advisor, the companion and the consort.

We know enough about King David to understand this: he did like beautiful women, but I’m sure he appreciated a woman of her standing who wasn’t afraid to defend her home and her husband, showing tremendous loyalty to an oaf who didn’t deserve it. Abigail would not have laughed at David for dancing in joy. Abigail would have brought him a glass of water or danced with him. Abigail would never have taken a bath on the rooftops. David likely reasoned that this mature, wise woman would whisper Godly counsel in his ear, guide him thoughfully and gently, defer to him with respect but ensure that whatever he did, she would be there to smooth over or defend the imperfect moments for him. She didn’t gloat over her silly husband, she wouldn’t chasten or gloat over the King. This was a good wife to add to one’s collection.

And for Abigail? Sure, she must have thought, oh my another husband…the streak wasn’t exactly a winner so far. But David was reputedly handsome, and strong, and even with his occasional issues with impulse control he was a steady, Godly man and a fierce warrior too. If I were Abigail, that last one would be enough all by itself. No one is going to mess with me or my family with King David and his sword in front of me.

I know exactly how she feels. I married a wonderful man the second time, but I can’t claim any of Abigail’s cleverness or sense in going about it. But I do see how her patience, her insistentence on the high round was rewarded and very generously. What could be better as payback for time in a special Hell than to marry the most desirable man of your generation? And live in a castle?

I’m not expecting my first husband to be struck dead in quite such a dramatic fashion. And I might have to do some more fighting – that’s okay – it took seven times around Jericho to get those walls down. I can do some more marching. God’s people have faced laughter, scorn, ridicule and overt hatred all over the Old Testament and yet they were never defeated. God only rarely swoops in and does mass destructions. God usually prefers to equip his people and give them the test of the fight, and the rewards of obedience, determination, focus on Him and an attitude of service. Not my war, but Yours. Not my strength, but Yours. Not my glory – but Yours.

As Beth Moore points out in one of her teachings – it’s a fight “for” not a fight “with”. Fight for my daughter. Fight for my family. Fight for the right thing. Fighting “with” my ex is an unfortunate consequence but it’s not the centerpiece, not by a long way. And Fight With only matters when it’s “fight alongside”…when the one you are fighting with is the ruler of the universe, that’s critical indeed. After all, where was I when he hung the stars?

I will Never Leave You or Forsake You. It’s a promise – it was true for Abigail, it was true for Joshua and it is true for me. I will step on those high places – and one of them will be custody court. Those high places are MINE to bring down – not on my own strength or righteousness, by any means. But My God has a plan and he’s going to come out of it looking as amazing as always. All I have to do is keep marching, trusting, obeying. Those things aren’t easy, but they are possible and they are necessary.

Abigail inspired me through the hardest three days I’ve faced in a very long time – in court, listening to the other side list every minor parenting mistake I’ve made in eight years, put them ALL together and then blow them up. It was rough, but I survived. I had a shield.

Abigail probably did it with more grace. But I did it, and My God made sure I did. I’m not sure what he’s planning, but having seen what he did for Abigail – and having seen the charming man he found for me the second time around, I’m okay with letting Him do it His way. We have to finish this fight in a few months. This time, it won’t be my shield that I need, but my sword. I’m relying on and trusting my God to lead me to fight fairly, to fight for and not fight with, and to know that He is there, always.

Anyone who gets in the way had better know, the Mama Lion you’re looking at is the least of your worries. My God hasn’t lost one yet.

Something to Fight About

So recently I was led to a series of Old Testament readings with a common theme: people who didn’t want to fight, who were asked to fight, then found they had all they needed from God to win (and win quite conclusively, actually). Not all the fights were actual battles or swords – like Daniel. Some of them were, like Joshua (be strong and courageous! said to poor Joshua at least three times; clearly Joshua wasn’t looking very strong or courageous to warrant that much encouragement). Some had to do all the prep work, but then didn’t actually have to do the fighting (Jehosephat).

As we are approaching round 6 (or is it 7) custody battle for my oldest child, this time her father has trotted out alienation as his reason to open a new case. Alienation is a much-disputed “syndrome” where the custodial parent intentionally manipulates a child, so that the child will not like or bond with the non-custodial parent. Interestingly, it is very common in families with a history of abuse.

Given this is what I was accused of doing – and given that I had absolutely not mounted a campaign of nefarious anti-father PR – I started researching.

Alienation is almost always described as a syndrome in the CHILD but all the symptoms are listed for the PARENT. It reminded me of Munchausen’s (the one where the mother is so anxious about the child, she makes him sick on purpose to get to the doctor frequently). The parent shows paranoia, for example. I found only one symptom list about the child, and even that had mostly references to the parent (look for symptoms in PARENTS and you will find hundreds, maybe thousands of lists).

What was that all about? Well, it turns out that the author and perpetuator of Alienation does not believe in domestic violence. Just like that, Santa, Tooth Fairy and Abusive Spouses – all in the same category.

So play this forward: mother turns up to court accused of alienation. She is likely a victim of previous spouse abuse. She is nervous, paranoid, probably exhibits all kinds of fearful reactions to the questions she gets about how she is parenting her child.

Like most abusers, the father is manipulative and charming (how else did he convince her to stick around as long as she did), and he seems totally calm.

See, she must be an alienator, because, look, this father has nothing to worry about or hide – he’s so calm. She’s a wreck!

Let’s think this through: of course, not all alienators were abused and I’m sure there are parents who do that to their children as part of nasty custody battles. But I do not think it is typical and an awful lot of psychologists agree with me. Just not with Gardner.

So the mother has escaped and gotten custody of her child – she has to send said child to visit the abuser periodically, so she naturally worries, what if he does the same thing to this precious child? She tells the child just enough – this is not okay, yelling is not your fault, tell me if you are ever hurt in any way…not to frighten the child, but to arm him.

Maybe the abuser is basically a pretty nice guy unless you marry him. But maybe not. In the case of my first husband, he is the nicest friend you could ask for, but he really doesn’t like kids and he neglects my daughter shamefully. She is a trophy, and a stone to fling at me. Custody visits are more about depriving me of her company than enjoying time with her, which is why I suppose he likes to leave her in hotel rooms and flee to the bar during their visits.

We tread a fine line: my daughter knows what abuse looks like but she also knows I’m prayerful and hopeful that it won’t be her experience. We say nice things, we encourage, we follow our custody order to the letter. He does not.

Interestingly in our case – he manifests an awful lot of the symptoms of alienators. I’m not expecting his lawyer to point that out.

And yet – this Gardner is widely read, accepted and studied in contested custody cases. There are mothers out there in a panic every day because a father who needs to improve decided it’s easier to blame her for relationship issues with the kids than to actually work on the relationships with the kids. Isn’t this typical of abusers generally? Wasn’t it always her fault for provoking him? So now, of course, it’s also her fault the kids have been provoked into not liking him.

I’m a little disgusted, frankly, at our courts if this is really the case universally – and our judges haven’t made this connection. I’m disgusted at the court psychology profession that leaps onto a very liberal pro-dad bandwagon (and we are SO about dads in our house) without noticing the pile of poop when they land.

The facts of THIS case, and I am sure many others are that the father of my oldest child needs to focus a lot more on bonding and relating, and a lot less on attacking and ego. There are piles of evidence, there are credible witnesses, there is a mountain of research and lots of testimony to be heard about exactly who and what he is. Thank God for our family, our friends, our God. We have all the weapons we need in this battle.

And so we will fight, again. Once again, I am confident in the knowledge that no weapon formed against me is ever going to prosper, and that those who slander me will be disgraced themselves. It’s a promise. I know I have to do the preparation, show willing, pick up my weapons and go to the fight. I might have to figuratively march around this formidable city seven times. I might have to toot a very loud horn. But the city will fall, and the enemy will be vanquished. Just like the Levites had to pick up the Ark and march into the waters to get the sea to part – I have to pick up the battle standard and start stepping. The waters will part. The enemy will fall. Selah.

I’m hopeful that stepping on my enemy’s high places will give me a vantage point where I can see others who need help with the same kinds of foes, and where I can be seen by them. That, and the future security and safety of my daughter, are things worth fighting for.

Getting Spartan

This is day three of my little vacation to Sparta. Figuratively only, of course.

What does this entail?

I am getting serious about health and my weight. I’m not huge, hippo-esque or even zaftig at this point, but I’m nervous about getting that way if the trend continues. The chub ends here! So, no carbs for me for at least the next three or four months. So far, not too bad. This doesn’t mean I’m ready to make zucchini bread for my family yet, but maybe by tomorrow. The taste test thing is way too tempting.

I’m getting serious about my little helpers. The big one is caffeine. So, day three of one serving or less. Huge headaches days one and two. Today, not so bad.

I’m going to re-focus on my Spartan Spending policy. I’ve been doing so, so much better but fluff is still hiding in my budget here and there. With back to school coming up next month, I’m going to be relentless: lunch-bringing, free-tea sipping, no-magazine reading nazi, that would be me. By not drinking caffeine, this removes a good $5.75 from my daily spend on office days too.

Eating, drinking and spending – three things I’ve been learning to moderate slowly over the last two years. Now, I believe I am being asked to really chisel. Cut back to the bare bones and see what’s there. How dependent am I really on donuts? Diet Pepsi? I’m not sure. I’m hoping not much, but there’s only one way to find out.

All of this feeds into Project Baby Five. We didn’t manage it this month, and that sent me totally reeling. I’ve never taken more than a month to conceive before. Even taking into account the January miscarriage, this feels too long. So I had to take a hard look at my life and see where I can be healthier. That baby is there, I am sure, reserved and with my name on it – I just have to rearrange my life a little to make room. I don’t like it, but I don’t make the rules either.

I see how things have moved with each of my children. My first was a surprise, and she forced the situation in my bad marriage. So I confronted my fears about being a single mother and my fears of my first husband and I was rewarded tremendously for my willingness to move with the flow she created.

The second one appeared almost as easily and quickly, solidifying my second marriage and starting us on the path to our future family. She created a balance that we hadn’t had before. Number three took an extra month that felt like forever, but we got a beautiful boy for our efforts and patience. Number four was another surprise, but she came in the midst of a storm and held us together through a very hard year. I see how these babies were timed perfectly, each arriving at exactly the right time for exactly the perfect reason.

I am sure number five – and I am really believing we have one waiting for us – will be the same. We have learned to live with a certain amount of gray in our lives, with not a lot of concrete except our family and our home around us. Although our family life has been joyful, I have had another really hard year. I sense this baby will bring more renewal, focus and much-needed joy in the midst of my trials. I also know the house has to be in order to accommodate him.

So for now, I wait, not as patiently as I’d like, and I clean house. Anything that would make my God think twice about letting me have this baby, has to go. I have to show I’m serious, I’m dedicated and that I can make those kinds of choices. Baby or diet Pepsi. Baby or twenty pounds of fluff. Baby, or magazine/toys/clothes. Baby wins every time. Now I just have to walk that out.

Sarah Sarah Mother of a Nation

When I get an inkling of what God is up to in my world, I don’t usually laugh.

Usually, to my shame, it’s more like, you want me to WHAT?

Or, how are you going to swing that one (oh Creator of the Universe, Lighter of Stars, Spinner of Planets, Author of Life, Ruler of Heavenly Kingdom…oh yeah).

Worst, it’s the whisper of blessings to come and the swift roaring in my head of the Accuser. No, not for you. Why would He do that? You aren’t holy enough/worthy/gracious/obedient/cute enough for that. No, not for you.

So I think about Sarah and I sympathize. If I were her age, and I still didn’t have any babies, the possibility of a nation coming from my old, wrinkled, weathered body would be too much for me to think about too. It would hurt if I believed it for even a second, and it didn’t happen (and why would it happen, when for so many years I’d waited).

But the whispers of blessings to come creep up on me, still.

The Blessing of Asher. Asher, the last one. Asher the name that pops into my head when I’m not really thinking. Matthias. George. George? I have a great – great-grandfather named George and I’d forgotten that was his name.

Who are these people?

When you want more little people in your world, and you don’t have them yet, hope is scary. Wanting is scary. I can’t plan because in my fleshy and stubborn heart I have accepted (most days) that it isn’t up to me.

If I hope, and keep hoping, how much would disappointment hurt?

On the other hand, isn’t this the same God who gives me peace to accept so many more awful things than not having six children when I’d like to have six children? Isn’t this the God who keeps the ones I do have in excellent care, surrounding them with angels and minding their every step?

Is it selfish to want more, when I already have so many? It’s understandable because frankly my children are wonderful. They are blessings uncountable. I see the fingerprints of God, on every one of them.

I look at them and I think, I want to bring up more servants and warriors for my God. I want to serve as a mother, I’m not done serving in this way. Is it my heart? That thing – I don’t trust.

Somewhere in the calm and quiet of my soul, I hear whispers of little people. Are they going to be mine? I don’t know yet. Maybe they will be in my life in other ways.

Sarah must have looked at all the women around her (and there are so many beautiful new babies in our church, and so many more on the way it is just wonderful and amazing and exciting and I get happy just thinking about it). She must have thought, do I have one of these in there somewhere?

How amazing, to go quietly to rest and peace and her God knowing that even though she only had one child of her own, through His Grace an entire nation would call her mother. I don’t know why He made her wait so long, maybe there is some grace in there that I do not understand because being the mother of an entire nation is a pretty big blessing.

Until I know, I will continue to pray: O Lord, my Lord, keeper of my children. It is my fond desire to serve you in raising more babies. It is my fond desire to bring more life into the world. You have regarded the lowly state of your handmaiden, how I struggle and worry and become anxious when you have already blessed me so much. Please be the keeper of my heart, and my mind, and give me the peace to accept your will. Thank you for protecting my babies and my family and my home. And if you do have an Asher or a Matthias or a George (or all three), O Lord, I would be happy to see any or all of them.

New Trick and a Whopping BIG Sword

I never watched Xena the Warrior Princess much, because when it was on, I lived in the UK and it came on at a bad time for my life.

I did, however, admire the exploits of Saint Olga, who before she converted to Christianity protected her small son, her kingdom and her people from invasion by scalding, burying alive and crushing the envoys sent to intimidate her. Eventually, they realized the Lady’s Not for Turning. Period.

More recently, and at the perfect time, I saw the new Alice in Wonderland. The one where Alice is a grown up and goes back to help boot the evil Red Queen and reinstate the sweeter White Queen. Alice was like Joan of Arc with better hair. She swung an enormous sword and beheaded a dragon with a very bad attitude. My three girls and I were jumping up and down cheering her on.

Equally invigorating – watching Lord of the Rings…Eowyn, taking out the evil dark knight, that no man can kill…but she can because she’s no man!

There are plenty of icons and symbols in history and fiction of the warrior female, yet it is a difficult muse to tap for so many of us. Being a mother brought out my soft side as much or more as it has brought out my Warrior Queen.

But the Enemy hasn’t slowed down one bit, and his attacks are every bit as vicious as they ever were. I find them more painful now, mainly because I’m defending myself and four little people who haven’t learned to fight for themselves.

My first husband wants custody of the big one. And today, in a TV-interrupted debrief from her, I learned that the psychologist asked to evaluate her – and decide where she goes – wanted to know would she like to go live with Father, and spend all her vacations with Mother? She said no, clearly, no (quote). But it put a real wrinkle in my day and I fought tears for an hour. How could anyone be so heartless to even ask such a question? This child is alive becauase I fought off the same father she’s now casually talking about.

I know who could be so heartless. It’s the same evil snake who wants to destroy my family from the inside, and your family too.

I was watching Beth Moore yesterday. She had her sword out – the Word of Truth. And she fought with the skill of an Olympic fencer. Take that, and that, and that. Gospels, Epistles, Psalms, Old Testament prophets – one after the other.

No weapon forged against me shall prevail.

No weapon.

No psychologist with silly new age ideas about “alienation” or a father inhabited by a spirit of contention and hate.

No court in the back woods with no idea how a smart 9 year old thinks, or what is best for her.

Satan is going to keep bringing it on, and it’s exhausting and sometimes I cry.

But…I also believe…Jeremiah 29, For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Be still, and know that I am God.

In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:27-29

The LORD will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your fathers, 10 if you obey the LORD your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deuteronomy 30, 9 – 10)

 9This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance 10(and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe. (1 Timothy 9)

Take that, and leave my family alone!