Monday, April 7, 2014

Hearing God's Voice - Testimony

It was December 2012 and I was on a plane headed to California with a new friend.  We were going to visit a church in northern California for a long weekend and I was so excited about the entire trip.  After we talked and talked and talked, we finally switched seats in order to turn our heads in the opposite direction because we were getting neck cramps!  My friend became tired and decided to rest.  I sat there, now in the middle of her and a stranger, quiet, giddy, fully awake.  I was on an adventure with God and it was thrilling.  I remember thinking to myself, “my kids aren’t with me, my husband is not with me, I have absolutely no responsibility right now and nothing to distract me.  What can I do with this precious time?”  I then had the next thought, “This God-adventure begins now, not when we get to the church for the weekend”.  So, I decided that the kid on my left was the perfect target for prayer.  He was slumped down with his black hoodie over his head and ear buds in for the entire flight.  He never moved.  I prayed, “God, I know you love this kid just as much as you love me.  Would you show me Your love for him?”  What happened next was a series of visions I had while my eyes were closed.  First, I saw a single tool, then it disappeared, then another and then it vanished.  I opened my eyes and looked at the kids’ hands and decided that the Lord was showing me that he was a mechanic.  I typed it on my iphone.  I continued praying for him.  I was flooded with more ‘words of knowledge’ for him and was able to actually feel how God created this person.  I could actually feel that this kid was a giver.  He loved his family.  I kept writing things down in a list-fashion on my iphone.  After a while I decided to get up and walk around.  I slipped my phone up into the overhead compartment on my way back to my seat and continued the rest of the flight in total peace and rest. 

As we began to make our descent I realized that I would need to actually share the revelations that I received with this kid in order to fully walk this thing out in faith to see God get some glory.  I decided that I would wait until we were just about to land, when he had to turn off his electrical device before I engaged in conversation.  As he stirred from his sleep and prepared for the landing I somehow mustered up enough guts to make small talk with him.  I then proceeded to tell him that I had been praying for him as we were flying.  He looked at me like a deer in headlights and then to my surprise a huge grin grew across his face.  He laughed and said, “You prayed for me?  Wow.  Thank you.  I am a Christian.”  I then asked him where he lived, and some general questions.  It turned out that he is from California and he was on his way home from North Carolina to say an emotional goodbye to his family before he was being deployed to Afghanistan for the first time.  He then disclosed his profession:  He is a mechanic on black hawks!!!  My arms went limp and my heart began to race faster.  I was overwhelmed with the fear of the Lord.  I said, “I know, the Lord showed me while I was praying for you that you were a mechanic.  I will get my phone down as soon as we land and show you the whole list of things God wanted me to tell you”.  We both sat there giddy and in awe of God as I shared with him all that I could remember from my prayer time.  He allowed me to pray for him and we enjoyed being in God’s presence as His love was so evident for this kid.  As soon as I could, I reached up and got my iphone.  We were both in awe as we looked at the list together and began to deplane.  When my friend and I were walking up the tunnel into the next airport the kid ran up behind us and said, “Hey! You want to see what I work on?”  Chris then showed my friend and me a short video clip of himself in his fatigues with his black hawk all revved up in the background.  It was incredible. 

I love how God works.  I could have totally missed that opportunity and read a good book, fed my spirit on the Word or plugged in some worship music for the rest of the flight-all good things.  But, as soon as I made myself fully available to let God’s love flow through me into another person, both of our worlds were rocked.  This has happened a couple of times since then and I’m realizing that God loves everyone and He is waiting for willing participants to be conduits of His love.  It doesn’t always have to be a word of knowledge.  The key is to simply be available and make your spirit free and open to being used by God however He directs in the moment.  It always involves love and faith.  With those two you can never fail. 

1 Corinthians 13:8a –“ Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]”.

-Jenn H. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Oh, thanks for asking...

Do I have a story?  Yes.  Yes I do.  We all do.  Do I have a reason for being extravagantly in love with Jesus?  Many.  Does my story include some of the following: The death of a sibling born with a chromosomal disorder, lust, riding waves of emotional Christianity?...lets just say that I'm only beginning to get warmed up.

My story of course also includes choices.  Sometimes I've made poor choices, like the time I used charm to get onto a ride for free at a carnival, only to get so dizzy that the 2 pounds of fudge previously ingested found its way back out again.  Or, the time I thought that Christianity was a series of emotional waves and for the first time I found myself empty and emotionless, numb.  In this time I chose to completely abandon my God and my upbringing and run as fast as possible to self-indulgent and instantly gratifying pleasures.  By the grace of God this particular season only lasted just under a year.  And, I'm alive to tell about it!

The last three and a half years have been an awakening to the realness of God.  I finally came to the end of everything and decided that it was time.  After walking hand-in-hand with two separate close friends/relatives through the deaths of their children, and seeing them choose to trust God and not blame God, my whole being wanted, needed and craved this stability.  It was time to extravagantly live for God.  It was time to no longer hold back and reserve a part of me for self preservation (you know, just in case God disappointed me or didn't come through for me in a situation).  No more did I want to choose confusion, pain and religion.  About this time I chose to abandon my hurts, confusion, questions, my whole self (body, mind, spirit) entirely to the gospel at the foot of the cross.  I thought, "What do I have to lose? Everyone already knows that I'm a Christian.  Its about time I start being one".

From this point on I may or may not have experienced some or all of the following: hilarious fits of laughter accompanied with joy-tears when reading the Bible, a release of love and forgiveness towards people and misunderstandings from the past, an intense craving for knowledge and understanding of everything about Jesus' life on earth, a re-capturing/abandonment of my mind to absorb truth and understanding, a desire to see the miraculous and take part in it, personal physical (crazy!) healing, receiving God-given dreams when I'm sleeping come to pass and be fulfilled.  And you know what?  I haven't even begun to get warmed up. 

Why do I share this with you?  Because God is more real than the computer or electronic device that you're on right now.  His Son, Jesus, is alive and seated in authority, above all earthly kingdoms.  Holy Spirit is a free gift to you for the here and now and I dare you to give Him a try.  I dare you to go whole-hog, all eggs in one basket, total abandonment.  You may want to hold on tight because you are about to have your socks blown off, and pretty much everything else (what's that saying about always wearing clean underwear?  You may want to heed that advice) ;)  Ha!  I'm not actually speaking of physical clothing here...I'm talking about religion.

Hang up religion.  Stuffy, musty religion.  I dare you to lay yourself (No one is watching) at the foot of the cross and ask God to consume you and see the emotional and physical healing begin.  But the beautiful gift is that its your choice.  No one is going to force you here.  We're in love with choices as Americans.  Here's the biggest and best choice you will ever have the opportunity to make. 

I cannot put into words the heart-transplant that's taken place inside of me.  Shame is a long-ago mere thought that I can laugh at.  Love is more intense than ever before.  My love for people, all people, at times is too much to handle.  I don't feel sad for people who have never experienced this freedom, I am grieved, brought to gut-wrenching tears to see people who have chosen another lesser way.  I hate to see my friends, my family bound in fear and pain and numbness - I can't even imagine what our God feels.  Our God who paid it all for us to be free from this stuff.  This is not conceited, rude or haughty.  If I kept on living in this freedom without telling you about it - that would be conceited, rude and haughty; keeping it all to myself for my own benefit.

All I ask is for you to just try - with that beautiful gift of a will that you've been given.  Maybe just ask for a simple gift of faith.  It will come.  Don't try religion - in fact, why don't you symbolically spit that out and ask, seek and knock, looking for total truth.  God is love. 

Matthew 7:7, 8

7 [a]Keep on asking and it will be given you; [b] keep on seeking and you will find; [c]keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who keeps on asking receives; and he who keeps on seeking finds; and to him who keeps on knocking, [the door] will be opened.

1 Corinthians 13:3, 4, 5

3 Even if I dole out all that I have [to the poor in providing] food, and if I surrender my body to be burned or [a]in order that I may glory, but have not love (God’s love in me), I gain nothing.
4 Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.
5 It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].

Friday, October 26, 2012

Broken decrees via dream power!

Have you ever had a friend who took a major risk all for your benefit, and truly expected nothing in return?  Maybe it was a business partner who sacrificed to offer you a position at his or her company when you were in need of a job.  Maybe it was a friend who sacrificed his or her strength and swiftness and let you finish a race ahead of them, so you would receive the better time.  Maybe it was even someone who took a risk and sacrificed their safety, or even the chance of losing their life, all for your safety and benefit.

Several months ago a picture popped into my mind’s eye.  I saw people linked arm-in-arm standing in one line next to each other and the line wrapped around the face of the earth.  The people were the Bride, us.  I saw a move of God get sprinkled onto one portion of the people but because everyone was “linked” the ripple effects spread and everyone everywhere received the benefits of God’s outpouring.  It flowed through the people until all were impacted.  There was no jealousy.  There was no separation.  There was joy and expectancy and trust.  In this same vision I saw a black and white bumper sticker on cars everywhere that said ‘BRIDE’.  No individual church names.  Simply, ‘BRIDE’.

We all remember the story from the Bible of Daniel in the lion’s den and we are well acquainted with the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego in the fiery furnace.  But, I’d like to dig a little deeper into the juicy details and glean from the wisdom and guidance that these times so long ago provide for us in this day and age, specifically these literal days.

As you know, Daniel came from royalty.  He was counted among the “youths in whom was no defect, who were good-looking, showing intelligence in every branch of wisdom, endowed with understanding, and discerning knowledge…” (Daniel 1:3-4).  Daniel did not have a choice in his royalty or his good-looks but because of his royalty, he was taught the best curriculum's and all things wise from an early age.  Thus, Daniel was brought into training to serve the king when king Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem.  I love this next verse (Daniel 1:8) “…But, Daniel made up his mind…” he determined and purposed for himself that he would not partake in the king’s choice food and wine.  This time he certainly had a choice in the matter and he exercised his will, and aligned it in accordance with righteousness “...that he might not defile himself”.  Because of this act of faith “God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the commander of the officials” (Daniel 1:9).  Daniel and his three friends were granted their request to eat only a “Daniel’s fast” diet and the Lord made them stronger than the boys who ate of the king’s choice food and wine.  The greater blessing than royalty that these boys received was due to their faith and their will to not “go with the flow” but to remain righteous, despite their opportunities for lavishness.  Physical, mental and spiritual blessings began to be poured upon these boys: “And as for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom; Daniel even understood all kinds of visions and dreams…And the king talked with them, and out of them all not one was found like Daniel, Hannaniah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s personal service…they were found ten times better in wisdom and understanding than all the king’s magicians and conjurers” (Daniel 1:17-20).

When the king later had a dream that he demanded an interpretation for, and none of his magicians, conjurers, sorcerers or Chaldeans could make known the dream nor its interpretation, the king entered a furious rage and “gave orders to destroy all the wise men of Babylon” (Daniel 2: 12).  When Daniel was informed of this he “went in and requested of the king that he would give him time, in order that he might declare the interpretation to the king.  Then Daniel went to his house and informed his friends Hannaniah, Mishael and Azariah about the matter in order that they might request compassion from the God of heaven concerning this mystery, so that Daniel and his friends might not be destroyed with the rest of the wise men…” (Daniel 2:16-18).

Daniel is the one who God used to reveal the dream to but in his bold humility he brought his friends into high standing and favor with the king!  Here is just the beginning of the end result: (Daniel 2:46-49) Daniel gave all credit to God, before he even began the dream and its interpretation. After the king received the correct interpretation he "answered Daniel and said, 'surely your god is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery. Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief perfect over all the wise men of Babylon. AND DANIEL MADE A REQUEST OF THE KING: and he appointed HIS FRIENDS over the administration of the province of Babylon, while Daniel was at the king's court".
Daniel used his favor for the benefit of his friends, and did not preserve safety, blessing, and promotion for him only.  He basically risked his life, in faith, to pull him and his friends into right-standing with the king. 
Daniel was full of power, wisdom, boldness and understanding but because he chose humility and because he gave honor and credit to God and because of his desire to not take any credit for himself, and to bring his friends into the favor that was intended for him, they all stepped into power and authority and favor. And, don't you think this was a HUGE thrust in each of their faith to "cement" their trust in God for what was to come: the furnace (and walking and talking with Jesus face to face in a fire)?
In addition to Daniel's contending for his friends, I believe that there is another message here that is crucial for right now.  This past week, during a time of group prayer, I sensed that there was this great and rushing "political river" that was so strong and powerful. I felt like many Christians (including myself at times) have the attitude of "whatever is going to happen will just happen" and I feel like people just expect to be taken in this powerful river.  I'd like to compare this to the edict that king Nebuchadnezzar decreed in Daniel 2:12-15 "because of this (lack of interpretation from the kings 'wise men') the king became indignant and very furious, and gave orders to destroy all the wise men of Babylon. So the decree went forth that the wise men should be slain....then Daniel replied with discretion and discernment to the captain of the king's Daniel went in and requested of the king that he would give him time...."

Daniel had discernment and did not just "go with the flow" of the political decree. He exercised the gift of discernment, with discretion (as to not make a "show") to save his life and his friends!!!
The beautiful ending is that they all finished (more than) well! They were appointed as rulers with provision, favor and abundance. They were gifted greater faith because Daniel had boldness and humility to discern and obey The Lord. But, he had to ask The Lord for the dream.  Let us take a stand today and choose to activate our will, the beautiful gift that it is, to resist a “political river” and resist the overtaking of the current to be sucked into dismal and hopeless situations and mindsets.  Take your stand before the King in humility and ask once again for your loved ones to have their hearts of stone transform into hearts of flesh.  Take advantage of your ability to come into the King’s presence and link your spiritual arms with the Body and pull each other into the Lord’s favor, provision and blessing. Our God is not a God of disappointment.
Let’s resist the pull of the “political river" and ask our King for favor as we discern the time and pray acutely with great precision and discernment.
If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.  Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer offered in this place” 
2 Chronicles 7:13-15 (AMP)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Themes, peace and layers removed

Hi! I'm still here!  Just soaking up all that summer has to offer.  I haven't known where to start since writing last, since SO MUCH has happened.  Without wasting our time I'm just going to start writing....

I was just sweeping off the front porch when I realized, "wait a minute, I can do this with my children when they wake up, they love playing outside and helping me.  But, what I can't do when my children are awake is write a post."  And here we are. 

You know when you have those times in your life when a theme keeps showing up?  Take for example humming birds.  My mom and I were on the phone last week and a humming bird flew up to her window, three stories up, and looked straight at her for a few seconds then flew off.  Later that day a woman shared with my mom how excited she was that when she was sitting on her back porch, that same day, a humming bird flew straight up to her and did the exact same thing!  Unbeknown to them, I was at a meeting that same night where a woman named Mary Hasz was sharing her story as an artist in the prophetic-worship world and she brought three of her paintings with her.  She's probably done hundreds by now but guess what one of the three pictures was that night?  A hummingbird!  Just floating there as if it was staring at you.  Nothing too deep but maybe just a whisper of wonder and joy.  I'll take it!  In the least, it made my heart smile and be a little more in awe of the Lord and how He weaves His creation together to bless His children.

Here's something that keeps showing up for me right now: The story of Mary.  You know, the Mary who didn't help her sister Martha in the kitchen the day that Jesus came to visit their house??  I have always been intrigued/confused by this story because I've been a people-pleaser for my entire life.  I do not want to disappoint.  I want everything to look good, smell good, taste good and be pleasing.  Why?  I have realized that it all points back to me.  I want to be seen as perfect.  I've had a hard time giving Mary slack for skipping out on the tasks that needed to practically be done in order to have a pleasant day...and not go hungry. 

Over the past week I have heard this particular reference not once, not twice, not three times but at least FOUR times from non-related materials and events.  The first time was in my own one-on-one time with the Lord in the Bible (Luke 10, Mark 14, John 12).  The second time was in a devotional called Spiritual Java.  The writer wrote about moving from a servant to a friend of God.  He referenced the story of Mary and Martha and something JUMPED out at me.  It said, "Its as though Martha was making sandwiches that Jesus had never ordered while Mary was enjoying Jesus' favor and using the time simply to be with Him.  Mary wasn't a non worker; she had learned to serve from His presence-only making the sandwiches that Jesus had ordered". 

The guest pastor at my church yesterday also preached from this passage and he put it this way, (paraphrased) "Mary had just seen Jesus raise her brother from the dead, witnessed the feedings of the multitudes and other miraculous things.  Surely, He could call in take-out if He wanted to!"  Mary had made the decision to activate her free will and worship Jesus in that moment.  She did not perform duties FOR Jesus by making sandwiches.  She did not stow away her precious ointment, or sell it for profit to feed the poor (Jesus said that the poor would always be with you but that HE would not always be with them), she poured it over Him.  She worshipped Him.  She knew that her needs and desires would be met by Father God: lunch (she did not help make it), husband and future (some say that the perfume she put on Jesus that day would've been her dowry).  She worshiped the Jesus/Son of God that she knew, with everything she had.  She did not waste the precious moments she had with Him.

Just today I turned on Spotify to listen to an album that I do not own.  I wanted some worship music playing in the house and I heard that there was a new CD out by someone local here.  I clicked on a song that looked good and what popped up when that song was finished?  A "sermon" about worship.  What story did Jonathan Helser reference?  Mary and Martha.  Again, the theme of worshipping The One, Only, Son of God and not letting anything get in the way.  Those other things are good, and yes, lunch needs to be made but, (paraphrased) 'Good is always the evil counterpart of God's best'. 

I feel like the Lord is revealing to me that He's shaping me into the one and only 'Jennifer form of Mary'.  Into someone who is starting to peel off the deep layers of people-pleasing.  As I'm asking Him to gently purify my heart, cleanse me from all my sin, and to rid me of myself, I'm realizing what a gift our will is (this is going to be an entire post one day).  I see that I worship stuff all the time because I choose to.  My children, my husband, my home, my friends, my clothes, my cooking, etc.  BUT I've discovered that the free will that we have is most alive, beautiful and giving when we choose to worship and seek God.  I feel the need to quote LeVar Burton at this time, "But, you don't have to take my word for it!"

How do I know this is taking place?  What examples do I have to share with you?  I'm glad you asked! 

1) When I gave birth to my first child I was so excited and filled with such a peace for the first time because I knew exactly where I was supposed to be and I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing.  I knew that I could not plan an event for my work while I was delivering my baby.  I knew that I didn't need to wash 10 loads of laundry when I was pushing my baby out.  I knew that my job, my purpose in that moment was to bring forth my baby.  It felt so peaceful to not be pulled in 100 different mental directions but to focus and to know that this was my only task/purpose for that time. 
My life is looking and feeling more and more like that.  Ok, maybe not exactly like that ;)  But I'm pretty sure you get the gist of what I'm saying.  Peace.  I'm living in more peace than ever.  Are things perfect? Nope!  But I am thriving in a restful, joyful and peaceful place with the Lord.  I'm FAR less provoked to anger with my children.  I'm way more self-controlled when it comes to eating and exercising.  I'm about 10x's slower to speak and eager to hear (I still have quite a ways to go in this area).  And these are just a few "first-fruits".  None of this is boasting, by the way.  Its just a little 'rainbow noise' to brag on the amazing fruit that God offers.

2) Last week our daughters' teachers came to our house for a home-visit.  I was busy preparing the house when I thought to myself, "I should probably go get dressed and then finish all my tasks after that".  I was trying to prioritize what I had left to do over the next hour before the teachers arrived.  I propped the broom against the side of the house, to resume sweeping off the porch after I brushed my teeth, washed my face and got dressed.  When I was drying off my face the doorbell rang.  I knew instantly that it was the teachers.  An hour early!!  What was my first thought/reaction?  Laughter!!  For real!  Ok, then very quickly after that I grabbed some non-matching clothes and threw my hair back in a half-falling-out pony tail.  As I ran to the door I passed the dust mop propped up against the living room wall, and eyed the dirty wash rag on the kitchen counter, and chuckled to see some feathers on the floor from Coen's pillow parade from earlier in the morning.  I also passed a mirror that reflected a freshly washed face with not a stitch of make up on, nor moisturizer!  I was seriously laughing to myself.  I counted this reaction as fruit of this new faith.  Moving from one place to another place in my relationship with God.  I obviously knew that I couldn't run around the house frantically trying to close drawers, pick up feathers and powder my nose.  The teachers were standing on the other side of the all-glass door!  We had a good laugh and really enjoyed the visit.  In fact, they took a picture, as they always do, of Kayna and I to remember the day.  When I think back on this day I really have a light heart.  No embarrassment or excuses to be made.  Just laughter.  By the way, they called shortly after they left to apologize that they had made a scheduling error and that they were in fact supposed to be at my house an hour later.  We just laughed all the more.  It really wasn't a big deal!

I'm going to end here.  Oh - I will be writing more soon.  As soon as I finish editing the many drafts I have already written.  There's so much to share. 

I hope you're encouraged to take a layer of people-pleasing, or self-pleasing off today and find something to focus on from God and turn it into worship.  And by all means, please laugh at something today!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I surrender.

I've had about 75 blogs written in my head between my last entry and now.  The only trouble is that i haven't had/made the time to sit down at the computer to actually type any of them out. 
There's been something on my mind lately that I've recently become sickeningly aware of everywhere I turn.  Most assuredly from myself to begin with.  Its life-sucking and miserable to be around.  Its even more miserable to succumb to it and be (ironically) controlled by it.  Its called control.
Have you ever thought about what a pet peeve is?  Its basically something you can't stand because you have no control over the action or the person who is performing your pet peeve.  You don't like it because its out of your control.  Have you ever been around a close friend or family member who didn't do something exactly the way you would have?  In all honesty, its often difficult to not offer your two cents of how you'd i.e. reheat the leftovers (microwave vs stove top) or how slow/fast to drive, or how to load the dishwasher, cut the roast, change a diaper, fold the towels, replace the toilet paper (roll face up vs down- it can be a very personal preference!).  All these little "things" and desires for control add up to be a whole lot of wasted energy and time inside our heads.  You know what it breeds?  Discontentment, disappointment, dislike and ultimately can succumb to bitterness and separation.  Emotionally, physically and spiritually.  

What's the opposite?  SURRENDER.
In light of Mother's day I have a little personal story for you.  Sorry for the gritty details, it just comes with the territory.  On Mother's day 2010 I started my period.  Not so much of an interesting fact for most readers, but it was a very emotional and difficult day for me.  You see, I had wanted to have another child for almost a year up to this point but my husband just wasn't ready (he'd recently been unemployed and wanted to provide properly for his family.  I admire him greatly but my emotions and control had gotten er, out of control).  In February 2010 (at the height of my frustration and disappointment) I came down with food poisoning.  Out of this time of weakness came a time of surrender and a "hanging up" of my control of wanting to have second child.  I decided that I was no longer going to bring it up in conversation and that I was simply going to pray about it and ask God to move on my husband's heart when the time was right.  I confess, the decision and deal was made out of spite and out of a defense to protect myself from further disappointment.  You see, I had it in my mind that 3 - 3 1/2 years was the perfect age between children.  This gap of even just trying to conceive was growing shorter and shorter.  Never mind the chance that maybe it would take several months or more to conceive.  

So, here I was celebrating my very own second Mother's day with my beautiful first-born gift of brown-headed sweetness with eyes that would melt any one's heart, yet I was hurting and longing so badly on the inside for another child.  I felt so guilty for hurting in this way.  But its where I was. Tears needed to flow in order to bring healing and another wave of surrender.  In order to keep up with my end of the surrender-deal, I had purposely closed myself off in the sun room so I could quietly grieve those moments in solitude while my daughter napped and my husband read the Sunday paper.  Suddenly my time was interrupted.  My questioning husband entered the scene and found me curled up on the far corner of the couch.  This time I came out with the ugly truth and sobbed until my head throbbed.  He truly didn't realize how bad I had been hurting and how much of a desire this was for me.  I remember feeling such a sense of freedom, and beauty that washed over me as I expressed such a vulnerable sorrow to my husband.  I told him that I had been torn between this intense longing for another child and respecting his desires as well, that weren't quite um, ripe at the time.  I don't remember too much more about our conversation on the couch that day other than coming away with a new, honest and pure sense of surrender.  There was mutual respect and a love that was shared in such sorrow.  This wasn't a controlling pity party where I was using my emotions to conjure up a response from my husband.  Like I said, I hid myself away to grieve alone so I kept up my end of the bargain I had made between myself and God. 

The feelings and desires I had for another child were shared with my husband on Mother's day 2010 from a place of brokenness and surrender.  The control was not there.  In fact, if I've ever felt out of control of something it was definitely during this time.  The beautiful thing about this moment is that I felt such healing from confessing and sharing the intense feelings and hurts.  I thought I needed to do the opposite to "be strong" and stand firm and hold up my end of a silly deal.  In fact, these legalistic and rigid ways were keeping me from truth and openness and healing. 

I share this because I believe there's something sacred about marriage that God wants us to see, learn from and preserve.  There's a natural reflection that He created in marriage between a husband and a wife that was intended to mirror God and the bride of Christ, the church.  You see, my husband sensed that something wasn't right.  He pursued me.  He drew me out of my self-loathing pain.  He wanted hear and listen to my heart.  He wanted me to be vulnerable with Him and not hide anything.  The good, the bad, the ugly.  He loved me in my mess.  We were both brought to a more close and intimate place.  We didn't make any decisions that day but healing was provided. 

If you do the math you can figure out that our second-born was conceived about two weeks later. It was a beautiful surrender of both of our hearts and wills. Don't read anything that comes close to manipulation in this story. That would be the opposite intent of my sharing it. There wasn't an ounce of that in the beautiful brokenness of the confession and healing that came on Mother's day 2010.

Wrapping this post up now.  My point is this.  We must become beautifully broken.  Throwing off preconceived thoughts/bets/deals/sins/places of hiding and darkness.  Letting go of control.  Surrendering our desires to God and trusting Him when he says that "all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose" - Romans 8:28.  Last time I checked, humility is according to His purpose and something that God looks for in His children.  Will all of our answers be met immediately? No.  But if you're in this true and pure place of surrender, you won't even care about the answer.  I promise.  I know from another experience that I'll write about at another time.  Its pure freedom.  I guarantee it, or your money back ;)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Truth and Dare

Three years ago I came face to face with the ugliest, blackest part of my heart.  We all have it.  Black spots of sin and hurts that we've nurtured, fed and felt entitled to coddle and love, in secret.  It all came to the surface at a time when I was going through the toughest point in my marriage.  Chris was unemployed.  We'd been in ministry on staff at a loving and wonderful church, for our entire relationship, from dating to seven years of marriage.  It was a precious time of learning and loving on others.  Amazing youth, world travels, and deep friendships from this time are to be treasured forever.

All of this rich time in ministry coupled with my upbringing in a christian home and I'm not convinced that I've ever really believed the whole bible.  I'm not saying that this is the right way of coming to a decision, especially one of this magnitude, I'm just saying that this is my story and what and how things have unfolded lately.

A couple of weeks ago, just before Easter, I realized that I hadn't abandoned my entire mind to fully trusting in and believing in the scriptures.  Maybe because I've felt insecure and unable to fully understand all of it.  Maybe because some parts are so poetic that I'm not sure what its really saying.  Maybe because I have read parts as an historical account, not necessarily applicable to life today.  As Easter approached and I began pondering the mystery and wonder of the cross, I felt like I needed to make a clear cut black and white decision.  I was either going to continue riding the fence of being "luke warm" and pretty much be ineffective with the rest of my time here on earth, or I was going to fully give myself over to trust in God and His Word, the Bible in its entirety.  It seems so simple yet its taken 30 years to fully say "yes" to everything.  Don't get me wrong, I have believed in Jesus, God the Holy Spirit and the Bible for the greater portion of my life.  But, what I'm saying now is that I'm ready and willing to actually start living like I believe it. 

I've felt the love of God more in the last three years, since dealing with my ugliest sin, than I can describe.  It has rocked my world to have exposed the most vulnerable part of my heart to God, my husband, my family, my friends and to feel loved deeper by the God of the universe than ever before.  It proves to me that there is truth and power in the scripture: 2 Corinthians 7:10 "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret..."      

I can boldly tell my story with no rocks unturned because I firmly believe and have felt that "there is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.  We love because He first loved us." 1 John 4:18-19.

I'll revisit the situation that arose three years ago in another blog post.  Many things have occured over the last 3 years that have sling-shotted me to this point.  I want to end this post today with the hope that God speaks about in the first book of the Bible.  This is at the very beginning of it all.  I find such joy in this and I hope you do too.  I don't expect to live a perfect life from here on out.  Its impossible.  BUT I will trust in the hope that God has created for us to 'master sin'.  Cain and Abel were brothers and offspring of the first humans, Adam and Eve.  Cain became angry at God because God did not approve of Cain's sacrifice.  God already knows Cain's heart but yet He gives Cain a chance....
"Then the Lord said to Cain, 'Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?  But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door, it desires to have you, but you must master it" Genesis 4:6-7.  My visual interpretation of the underlined portion is crushing it under your foot and breaking the power of that sin.  Rising above and resisting even the earliest temptation when it rises up.  Master it.  Through the power of God's spirit He has given us, we can battle and win/master these sins to fully be set free, and able to step into greater things on earth. 

Lets be transparent and master our sin!  What do we have to lose?  I wish I could shout out from the highest mountain top how free this season has made me.  How loved we are!!! And how EASY and FREE it is to experience true love and freedom. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Post-puberty independece

When I was 18 I had a revelation.  I'd somewhat been living a double life up to that point and I was ready to make a clear cut choice between which way I was going to live.  I chose to abandon the "Godly/good girl" in me and I literally made a black and white decision to live on the wild side.  You see, I was hurt, broken and had my own name that I wanted to make for myself.  I'd dabbled in sin before but this time I was making a declaration to myself and the world.  I'd been hurt by spiritual leaders in my life up to this point and I felt justified in turning my back on what I thought was truth.  Thankfully, this phase only lasted a couple of months.  Not too long, and I'm grateful for that, but long enough to feel dissatisfied and bored with the world's offerings.  Sure, it was a thrill at first and freeing to finally not care what other people thought, I'm not going to lie.  But every weekend began to look the same, with the exception of coming closer and closer to putting myself in danger physically and emotionally.

I remember one day driving home from a place where I'd fallen asleep passed out the night before and I was angry with God.  I was angry because I was not satisfied.  I was angry because I thought I'd turned my back and made this decision -once and for all- that I was going to go my own way yet, the anger was there because I could not be left alone.  The spiritual numbness wore off and my conscious the Holy Spirit was rising up all at once.  I was on I-485 and I remember clearly looking up at the overcast sky yelling at God and telling Him how mad I was and that I didn't want Him in my life and that I wanted to do my own thing because I had been hurt by what I thought was Him in the past.  The problem with my spite is that I had been drifting on the coattails of other peoples' faith for my entire life.  I'd been putting leaders on a pedestal where I was trying to equate them with Godly perfection. I'd experienced deep disappointment, mistrust and manipulation and I was pointing it all toward God.  For some reason, in this exact moment while driving, my mind was instantly flooded with a worship song.  It was ridiculous.  I was so confused and mad because I couldn't stop the ringing of the song in my head while I was up on my own pedestal being angry.  Unfortunately, I cannot tell you the name of the song, BUT I can tell you that something supernatural happened in the following 15 minutes.  By the time I got home I was the most confused and torn up person I've ever seen.  I sat at the kitchen counter on a bar stool and was shaking on the inside.  My dad walked in.  Out of my mouth came the most honest and vulnerable statement that I'd ever spoken up to that point.  "I've been getting drunk".  More words followed but they don't matter today.  What matters today is that my dad loved me.  He did not rebuke me.  He loved me.  He did not punish me.  He loved me.  He did not stuff spiritual jargon down my throat.  He listened to me and loved me in my mess.  The grace and mercy that I received that day marks the beginning of my falling in love with Jesus.  For myself. 

Almost 13 years have passed since then.  Some amazing things have taken place in my life.  I've fallen in love, I've married, worked some amazing jobs, travelled the world, I've given birth to two beautiful children, etc.  But, I leave you with the tease that I truly believe that I've just begun to really LIVE in the last couple of months. 

...and it all started with another deep, dark and vulnerable confession.

"He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy" -Proverbs 28:13

"Therefore confess your sins to eachother and pray for eachother so that you may be healed"
-James 5:16