Thursday, August 30, 2007

And That's How I Knew You

My husband knew me from childhood, basically. We grew up in the same town, and went to the same high school where he would walk past me in the hallway, noticing me, but I didn't "see" him. We had a few conversations, and then not till I was in college, and he in seminary, did we start to really have meaningful conversations. He got to know me, and for some reason, he loved me as I was- which was quite a mixture of faith, fear, zeal, compassion and drive! What's so precious to me is that he has always seen me for who I am. When we first dated, I threw up barricades and tried to sabotage our relationship, and he paid no attention to those manifestations of fear because he saw those actions as manifestations of my history, but not my destiny. He knew he would love me, and that love would win me over and change how I acted.

Why I was blessed to be loved that way by another human being, I don't know. I think its a rare thing. People can often know part of your history, but not your true identity. They can know some things about you, but not know your essence, your heart, your raison d'etre.

Raison d'être is a phrase borrowed from French and its primary meaning is "The claimed reason for the existence of something or someone or the purpose of something or someone"- says Wikipedia.

My reason for existence is to know God, serve Him, love Him. "What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever"- says the Westminster Catechism. I can't enjoy God if I don't know Him for Who He really is.

Every time I try to get closer to the Lord, try to grasp His Majestic Love and Grace and His Essence, I start to learn something I never knew about Him before. And what usually provokes me to draw close to Him is that I see someone else and HOW they KNOW Him- His love, His faithfulness- and I want that. I want to know Him that way. I don't want to be like the wicked and lazy servant in the parable of the talents- he "knew" his master differently than the other servants did. And it wasn't good.

How is it that three servants in one household can know one master- see his actions every day, his habits, watch his face and demeanor, and yet one out of the three servants sees his master in a different light-or rather, shadow? Luke 19 and Matthew 25 each have a parable of a Master and his servants and an accounting that was done upon the master's return.

In Luke 19's account, the one servant who hid his talent, says to the master on his return, "...'here is your mina, which I have kept put away...for I feared you, (was constantly afraid of you-Ampl) because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit and reap what you did not sow. ' "

The Matthew parable has the servant who did nothing with his talent say this:"I knew you to be a harsh and hard I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground."

If we hadn't seen previously the reaction of the master to the other two servants who carried out profitable trading, we might have concluded with the lazy servant that maybe he was right- that master was too hard to please, harsh and demanding.

But instead, the master had not only commended the actions of the two servants who multiplied the master's resources, but he allowed them to share in the bounty by making them ruler over more. But better than that- and THIS is how we know what kind of a master he is- he says to the two servants "enter into the joy of your lord"- meaning, I'm so happy over you and over what you've done- be happy with me and proud that you've done well!"

Here is the thing about this master: He could be pleased. It was possible to please him. He wasn't harsh and austere, as the lazy servant imputed.

I struggle with knowing God's character- knowing his heart and and how to attribute correctly to God the things that are of His doing- and those that are not. Do I think I can please God? Is my perspective of God accurate, fair- or is it wicked?

The lazy servant wasn't just lazy- he was "wicked and lazy". Wicked in the perspective he had of his master, and therefore lazy in his actions, because he thought "Why bother? You can't please the master anyway."

I know this parable holds so many lessons- about stewardship, about the timing of the return of the Lord and the need to be ready and "do business" till he comes, about multiplying our efforts in His vineyard and bringing in the harvest of souls....

But there is another lesson here that speaks to my heart and makes me fear- in a healthy way; makes me afraid to miss something profoundly life changing: How I Know God to Be will affect How I Am.

How DO I know Him? What would be the words out of my mouth when asked to give an account for what I've done with my life and the reason why I hid talents, hid a calling, or sabotaged success- when it was God's harvest for me to bring in? What would be my excuse if I was not commended for faithful stewardship in certain areas of my life? It would be "Well, I knew you to be hard to please God, so I always got discouraged. I felt a lot of despair in this world because I didn't see You overcoming in my life. I started a lot- but I never finished- because who really does that well, anyhow? Who can really please you fully?" That excuse would not only be a lazy self-perspective, but a wicked perspective, implying that God can not be pleased no matter how hard you try or what you do. And that's a lie.

How can I be like the two servants who got busy doing what they should be doing? They understood what the master wanted from them, because they knew who the master was. He was a Good Master, Fair, Righteous, Rewarding Faith and actions done in obedience to his word to them.

I want to be not only commended with hearing "well done, good and faithful servant" but I want to DO what good and faithful servants DO because they KNOW WHO their Master is.

So, I am rehearsing my account of God- how I know Him- with a perspective of faith. I'm calling it out- that this is how I will be. This is how I WILL know Him- because this is how God is- even if I have not yet fully apprehended it all. "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." Phil 3:12

So this is what I am saying of the God who enables me to know Him:

"You're faithful to the max, Lord. You never run out of patience with me. When I run, I don't grow weary, when I walk long distances, I don't faint- because You are the wind beneath my wings. You are a Rewarder of those who seek You. You distribute gifts to men, every day- and not just on Christmas, when You gave us Your all. You are easy to please- not that you're sloppy or have no eye that sees, but that it CAN be done. You CAN be pleased, for you have given us everything we need for life and godliness. You rejoice over us with singing. You are not hard, harsh, austere, or severe - though you are an awesome God of justice and righteousness. But I'm your child. And I know You- through Christ- to be the One I not only want to please- but the Father I run to with a heart full of eternal appreciation. "

When I stand on THAT day- when really, who could stand before the great God and King? But I do, all because of the blood of Jesus-

this is what I will hear, over and over ...

"Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty"

And this is what I will know:

"Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments.” Deuteronomy 7:9 NKJ

Yes, I'll think to myself, as I look up at the Lamb slain for me-

and that's how I knew You.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Lesson from the Widow of Zarephath- part two

I can be a bit confusing, I suppose, talking about provision and prophets visiting widow's houses- but I didn't write this story, God did. (1 Kings 17:8-16) I am fascinated by the scene of the widow of Zarephath with her last bit of resources and her fear that she was at the end.

It's easy to panic when you think you are at a breaking point- whether it's financially, emotionally or circumstantially. But the scene at the widow's house is pretty much like today: it was the worst of times, and it was the best of times. It was a time when Israel's worst king reigned on the throne, and God's powerful prophet, Elijah, had just come on the scene. And of all places, Elijah's first miracle was done at the widow of Zarephath's house. What a commentary that is!

If God had "commanded" the widow "to provide" for the prophet Elijah, how did God get that message to the woman? Did she hear that call to do something drastic- by faith- in her spirit? Did she sense the integrity of the word of the Lord spoken through the prophet himself when he asked her for a "morsel of bread" to eat?

You have to understand, in biblical times, the Jewish principle of receiving a person's representative. You received a person "in the name of " that person- and received their sent message or provision. That's why in Matt 10:41 it says "He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward...." There were plenty of false prophets, even in Elijah's day, and yet the woman identified correctly that he came in the name of the Lord, as an ambassador of God's word to the people- and she received his word to her-"Do not fear". She made some food for him to eat- the last of what she had.

The widow gave out of the last bit she had- in obedience, by faith, with a conviction of something big enough to launch her out into the scene of "God....please show up!" and HE DID. We see a picture of a widow in the New Testament, doing something like that. Jesus was watching the giving taking place, and saw a poor widow put in her last two coins ( Mark 12:41-44) and though it was less than what everyone else had given, it was actually MORE than all the others had given because "she -out of her poverty- put in all that she had, her whole livelihood."

Her whole livelihood. Merriam-Webster's online dictionary defines this word's origin as "Middle English livelode course of life, .... means of support or subsistence"

Widows struggle with this issue of means of support and provision. So do many people. If you are self-employed, your means of subsistence seem to be centered squarely on your shoulders. If you're launching a business, you're on your own. Sometimes you can feel like you are carrying the weight of a problem or the weight of trying to give birth to a dream. You can think you are near the end of your total reserves. Often you give sacrificially, and it is the last of what you have...that you can see.

If you've walked away from a job with a pink slip in your hands, or you walked away from the doctor's office with a bad report, it would be easy to think your fate- your means of support or subsistence- are determined by these things. THEY ARE NOT.

It's what the Word of the Lord tells me, in the face of my fears, that determines how well I am doing and what to do next. I, personally, have set out to write and speak forth the word and counsel of God, but I could run out of resources to do so. That's the reality. My well could run dry. My physical, financial reserves are at their low, right now. But its not my job to replenish them. My job is to obey, to be faithful to the call, to walk by faith, to hear the word of the Lord spoken to me- through whomever and whatever circumstances He chooses to use. God is reminding me to visit the widow's house, the place HE chose for Elijah's first miracle, and look at faith in action.

If you're looking with me, we are surveying her shelves. The jar of oil is at its end. The flour bin looks empty. But I see her running to make a meal- her last- to give it first to the one who spoke the word of the Lord to her. I see her, face determined to not fear in the face of unsettling circumstances. I watch her arms vigorously make the bread and she serves it to that old prophet with a conviction of resolute faith in the provision of God. Her livelihood is tied up in all that God calls her to.

And I nod my head in agreement with her, thanking her for reminding me that I can do it, even do it afraid- everything HE Calls me to.

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:12-13, NIV

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

My Stay at the Widow's House

How do people progress through tough times, tight circumstances, fearful financial constraints? We have gone around the mountain, at times, when we should have scaled it. We have had seasons of abundance but then our "brook" would dry up.When your brook dries up, and the ravens no longer come to feed you, it's possibly time to move to the widow's house. That's what the prophet Elijah was told to do.

I've been to the widow's house, literally and figuratively. When I was little, I used to go and visit Mrs. Katz,a sweet Jewish lady, a widow who swam every day at the Y, and who made me delicious chicken soup with matzo balls. She had meager resources, and lived in a tiny apartment near a crummy part of the city. But she was always peppy and full of vim and vigor. She impressed me, at that young age, as someone who was not destitute or a victim of circumstances, but rather, a fiesty fighter.

It's not as bad as you think when you stay at the widow's house. Miracles can happen there.

Provision for you can occur in the most unlikely places. I think that's what is happening with me, in my life. Things are getting crazier but more meaningful. Ever since last spring, when I came down with Mono and then all our vehicles died and $17,000 later we were back to square one with two (finally) necessary vehicles but less resources. What had we accomplished but fighting through sickness and financial loss? It happens to many. But then more losses started occurring, and our brook is really drying up. The ravens do not come and drop food down. We are asking God to provide, to sustain us.

7After a while the brook dried up because there was no rain in the land. 8And the word of the Lord came to him:9 Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you. (1 Kings 17)

The prophet who had proclaimed "no rain!" as a sign of judgment against the wicked king Ahab, who walked in miracles, was often affected by the consequences of these signs and miracles he did. If there is no rain, there is no food growing. God sends him to the brook Cherith- but it then dries up. Then God sends him to the widow of Zarephath- of all things! A widow- with her last bread stick to eat (if you will) is supposed to provide for the great prophet Elijah? What an irony.
But it's interesting to note- God has "commanded" her to provide for him. Somehow she got the message from God of her role in this interesting scene.

It all goes to show- you never know WHO God will use in your life, and WHAT circumstances will be the forerunner to your expansion. You can go from a dried up brook and no food to an overflowing oil jar and a bin of flour that stays full- no matter how much you use. If you're at the widow's place- you'll be fine, and so will she.

In the Bible, you couldn't find a more destitute figure than a widow or an orphan. There were no public systems of welfare and sustenance. There were no subsidized housing and food stamps. There wasn't anything of substance in a widow's life. A widow, in biblical times, was the picture of complete, utter dependence on God. But that is everybody's reality- if you remove the veil of those things we think are supporting us, that we rely on.

I never felt afraid at Mrs. Katz's house. There was plenty to eat, and there was peace in abundance. There was laughter and dreaming. An eighty year old lady and a little child (me) enjoyed such abundance. And I am thinking back on that picture to fortify me.

Until the day that I see the rain of abundant provision or the overflow of increase, I wait at the widow's house- the place where just enough for today is what I see before me. But that's not what I am looking at. I'm looking at that vat of blessing- for all that I have put my hand to and have not looked back- and I see it pressed down, shaken together, and running over.

All this I see from my stay at the widow's house.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Celebrate Good Times

Bill and I celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary this weekend. We're very low-key about celebrating- something that I'm hoping to change about myself. I want to learn the Art and the Secret of Celebration- because I believe it whallops the Enemy when we all-out celebrate victories and milestones in our lives. (The Enemy of our Soul is the king of "raining on your parade").

But it was a good celebration- even if it wasn't exactly the most romantic. My parents took us all out for dinner, and it was great to have our two kids celebrate with us. I watched everybody as they talked around the table at the restaurant and I noticed so many things.

My mother, for instance, is the most amusing and hysterical person you have ever met. She is ...erhumpf...uh.... 80 years old ...ssshhh, and yet she told my 17 year old she wants to be his band's Agent, and get them bookings! What a hoot she is! Since she has battled depression and has raised five children with a minimum of the modern day resources of today, I say she is entitled to think exuberantly, and to Go For it! Book him at a big arena, mom!

My Dad was his usual self- assessing our progress, coaching us in our individual pursuits, ordering the best and the most interesting from the menu. My son was witty and bantering back and forth with his grandmother, and my daughter was looking beautiful and sweet, as 13 yr olds look in their glory.

My husband and I said the least because we were enjoying watching our kids with my parents. He doesn't have to say much for me to sense his peace and his enjoyment. It has never taken a lot to make my husband happy. (Lord, what did I do to deserve this man?!) He has patiently put up with my occasional tirades, my bursts of creative enthusiasm and the voyages I then take into the unknown. He will open the oven door with a sigh, and take out the dirty pots and pans that I hide in there when I can't get to them, and he'll wash them without a complaint. He will crack funny jokes to try to induce a better mood from me on those days that are a bit too long or too dark. He is a Renaissance man, of many talents, and fairly quiet about them.

Lately, hope has been arising in our spirits, and a sense of destiny- God's divine calling- is before us. He and I have "history" together, but we also have a destiny before us. That we have stayed in step with each other is amazing- but not when you think about the fact that we both long to stay in step with God most of all.

I was a pioneer girl, and am a spiritual mountain climber now. I've been a lot of things: afraid, adventurous, a student living abroad, a pastor's wife, a real estate agent, a teacher of the Word; I've been frustrated when I've been held back, and I've been excited about growth and change. I've journeyed with my husband for over 23 years, and he has seen me in a lot of different places, roles, conditions, crises, and moods. I celebrate the fact that he wants to see what's next in my life, as I can't wait to see what God does in his.

We're celebrating the progress of anything that rises above the ordinary- and LOVE is at the top of the list.

Friday, August 24, 2007

I Was a Pioneer Girl

I was a Pioneer Girl when I was young. Pioneer Girls was a cross between Bible Club and Girls Scouts, giving us fun things to do, scriptures to memorize, and leaders who mentored us. Each girl had a "pal" who was their special mentor. Mine was Mrs. Jonas- a pastor's wife with silver hair and a bright smile. I remember going to her house and baking with her one day. I don't think she ever gave me any specific talks on how to be a success or how to be a pastor's wife one day (which is what I did become)- but I do remember looking at her and thinking how strong she was, how confident and stable she was. I wanted to be like that.

What I remember most of all, about Pioneer Girls, was the theme song we sang every week. I'm not sure they sing this anymore- maybe it's too hokey and old fashioned for today's standards. But I haven't ever forgotten the song- or the message.

"Pioneers across the prairie, in the days of wagon trains,
Pressing On to New Horizons, in our hands, God's Precious Word...." (sung with a solemn, purposeful look on the face)

Somewhere in these last couple years, and specifically these last months, I have adopted into my vocabulary the phrase "onward!". I never noticed how often I said it or thought it or encouraged others with it until I began to read back my writing, my e-mails to others, my messages. If I didn't specifically say the word, I was certainly always thinking it as I encouraged people, as I encouraged myself- on those dark days- in the Lord.

I am a TRUE pioneer girl, and Mrs. Jonas would be proud of me. I have pressed onward when I would have liked to quit. I don't say this proudly or arrogantly- but hear me now, I do say this confidently. You have to KNOW what you are made of- the stock from which you've come. You've got to know that you're the type that will press onward, that you are of the "violent" group who hear the good news of the Kingdom's message, and "seize it".

"And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force." NKJV Matt 11:12

Better said, and explained, is the Amplified version:
12And from the days of John the Baptist until the present time, the kingdom of heaven has endured violent assault, and violent men seize it by force [as a precious prize--a [a]share in the heavenly kingdom is sought with most ardent zeal and intense exertion].

If you're "pressing on to new horizons" you are most certainly seeking with ardent zeal and intense exertion. And it should feel like you are. Flabby purpose and half-hearted goals are not the earmarks of a pioneer of Christ.

This past year felt like a cross country wagon train expedition. Indians came out of hiding and shot arrows at me- at my prospects, my means of getting somewhere. (Vehicle after vehicle broke down, just after I had broken down in health).Sickness plagued our wagon - and made a feisty, capable woman like me feel like a marshmallow crossed with an old woman. (Mono is something young people battle with more vigor that I could!) As we crossed new frontiers, the distances between wagons grew larger, and words of encouragement grew farther in between. (You can be around Christians but feel very alone sometimes. The Church is a terrible place to waste...away). It's often lonely when you're journeying onward...and onward...and you still can't "see" your destination ahead.

I had a check up at the cardiologist yesterday. (Long story short, mono brought out some previous problems I had with my heart twenty years ago). My heart is in fairly good shape, but there's a couple tiny problems. But his overall assessment of my heart was made in comparing my heart to what people looked like at the Gym. "Some people's hearts are muscular and toned- yours is a bit flabby looking" the doctor told me.

As long as it's beating, I thought rather dryly. This was the same doctor who several months ago had told me to hold off on all exercise. Now I'm supposed to have a muscular, vigorous heart that looks like it wants to scale mountains?! A Mountain Climber's Heart?

I sense a new calling, now. From pioneer to mountain climber- it's all in a day's journey ...onward.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Queen of Anonymity No More

I changed my mind about having privacy. I used to be the Queen of Anonymity. But I've decided that once you start blogging, once you start sharing with people your dream of being not just a writer but an author, your calling to proclaim "Behold your God!" from a mountaintop perspective (that was scary to climb)- why think I can still have my cautious, bubble of privacy and artificial peace? I can't- and maybe I really don't want that anymore.

I'm not advocating wild rides down the highway where I shout out my name to the world. But honestly- can I really stay small and cloistered in an anonymity? Can I ignore the admonishment of Isaiah 54 -in the name of false humility and a self-impoverished spirit ?

2Enlarge the place of your tent,
And let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings;
Do not spare; Lengthen your cords, And strengthen your stakes.
3 For you shall expand to the right and to the left,
And your descendants will inherit the nations,
And make the desolate cities inhabited.

Expansion and desolate cities getting inhabited are not the earmarks of anonymity!

Wikipedia tells us:
is derived from the Greek word ανωνυμία, meaning 'without a name' or 'name-less'. In colloquial use, the term typically refers to a person, and often means that the personal identity, or personally identifiable information of that person is not known.

More strictly, and in reference to an arbitrary element (e.g. a human, an object, a computer), .... "anonymity" of that element refers to the property of that element of not being identifiable within this set. If it is not identifiable, then the element is said to be "anonymous".

So how can I shout truth from the mountains, write books for people to read and be encouraged by- if I want to stay anonymous? My life's calling and the results of God's dream birthed in my life should be noticeable, and cause positive rippling effects in this world. It should be identifiable because our God is, Himself, quite amazing and noticeable!

I feel a song coming on....

To the depths of the sea
Creation’s revealing Your majesty
From the colours of fall
To the fragrance of spring
Every creature unique
In the song that it sings
All exclaiming

Indescribable, uncontainable
You placed the stars in the sky
And You know them by name
You are amazing, God
All powerful, untamable
Awestruck, we fall to our knees
As we humbly proclaim
You are amazing, God
" (I love this song!)

Now what in the world has brought this all on, you ask? I stopped in at the library today, heart trembling in anticipation of a NEW BOOK to read! Honestly, give me a new book that will change my life- instead of chocolate- any day!

Let me explain my book "anointing" to you. I have this "thing" about "seeing" the book God wants me to read, as I'm perusing the shelves of a library or thrift shop or book store. I can TELL when a book is meant for me. Maybe God knows how I learn best- and that's by reading, studying, delving into someone else's journey and lessons learned. He sees to it that I am well fed!

Today, with book in hand, I left the library feeling like I had been given a ticket to advancement. I always "advance" when I read- by that I mean, I take a step further, I decide not to give up the fight, I get encouraged to go another round. I honestly believe demons tremble when Lauren Caldwell gets a inspirational book of truth in her hands, because they know the book WILL affect me significantly. (Now you know why I want to be a writer who can inspire others to not quit in this life's battle we are in!)

I've been writing about having a dream, and about self-development (I always think of the library catalog categories as to what my writing would fall under). This book- Knit Together: Discover God's Pattern for Your Life- is the first non-fiction book Debbie Macomber has written, after having written
over 150 novels, and selling over sixty million books! Talk about learning a secret from her about having a dream and self-development!!

I have to be honest- I am restraining myself from gulping down this book in one sitting, because I don't want it to end. Just reading the Foreword had me savoring the sense of what's to come- an impact will be made on my life, on my thinking, on my self-perspective. Let me share a tidbit from the Foreword by Liz Curtis Higgs;

"Each real-life story Debbie shares is designed to turn your secret dreams into spoken dreams and your spoken dreams into reality."

Is that good or what? That's enough for me to meditate on just for the entire day. In fact, I can't go racing on with my reading, because if I miss even just this one simple truth, I might miss getting on the train to my destination.

Think about this: your secret dreams have to first be birthed in your soul, and you hold them close to your heart. But then they have to get spoken. You need to tell someone about them. Then you get really crazy and start telling the world (it's easy to do with a blog!). Your dreams won't be so secret and private anymore. These spoken dreams will then be on their way to reality- and maybe due to the fact that others will come along side and be part of the dream coming to fruition.

It all starts with coming out of your tiny tent you live in- a humble, self-effacing tent. I know because I lived in that kind of a tent for so long, and thought I was doing God a favor by staying small and quiet. (My husband thinks I would be doing him a favor by staying quiet!) But he's resigned himself to the fact that Lauren has come out of her tent and is reporting for duty,and in that sense, I am only doing what expansion and dream fulfillment require of us.

I'm just coming out of the shadows of obscurity and privacy- for the sake of a dream.

Monday, August 20, 2007

I've Changed My Mind

I've changed my mind, literally. No, I don't mean I'm going back and forth between decisions (though I have done that!). I mean- I have changed my mindset- my point of view. I say this by faith, I say this by expectation of God's help, and I say this with a drop of evidence that I see. But nevertheless, I am changing everything about me. I've decided to appropriate this newness of being that we can have when we are walking with Christ.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Christ in me, the hope of glory! Christ IN me means I do have hope that I CAN change. And not just change a couple things about me, but ALL things. I don't mean a personality change- a change in temperament and in my history- but I do mean a change in how I see me, and how I know God sees me, and therefore how I act, and in what direction I press onward.

It started with a dream I had the other night. In my dream, I was in my car, crossing a bridge up high in the mountains. I felt afraid of the heights and I saw the steep drop all around me. I was going forward, though- even though I was afraid. And as I drove forward, I felt the love of God encompass me, hem me in, hover over me. Such a juxtaposition of feelings. On the one hand, I felt afraid of the heights, and aware of the openness all around me, but on the other hand, I felt protected, and almost as if there were the weight of wings spread over me. I was feeling fear, but I was drawn to the love I felt- so I could go forward. And I did.

I've decided I don't have to look around at myself all the time, stick in the spiritual thermometer to see how I'm doing, taking my spiritual pulse and continually assess my spiritual health, all the while murmuring sadly in a low voice "not good, not good at all."

I can't make it with that kind of suffocating introspection over every mistake I make, but nor can I make it by being a foolish daredevil and just set out over the heights and walk across a rope, overly confident in my own abilities. But I can be confident in His abilities!

"He makes my feet like hinds' [feet], And sets me on my high places. (NASB) 2 Samuel 22:34 tells us.

( He makes my feet like those of a deer and gives me sure footing on high places.)

HE says I've got feet like a deer, able to go up into scary high places and not fall.He says I can have the mind of Christ. HE says He has not given me a "spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind"- and I've decided to say "Thank you" and appropriate what HE says.

I changed my mind about how I feel about myself- which is the fact that some days I like me, and some days I'd like to trade myself in for a newer, improved model. And then I realize that God has already traded me in- redeemed my life, given me Christ "in me" as my hope of glory.

"From glory to glory He's changing me..." the song goes.

And it all begins with what I think about that- do I believe it? And I've decided that I do. I've decided to take His perspective on me as truth.

So, I've changed my mind.

Friday, August 17, 2007

What is a Dream Part 3

The Struggle Within

Have I ever told you that when I gave birth to my first child, our son, that I thought I was going to die?
Seriously. (Now I have talked with my son about this whole scene, so don't worry that he will be traumatized for life thinking that he almost killed his mother!)

I had a difficult pregnancy (and it only got worse with pregnancy #2, but that's another story). I was so sick and weak, barely gained any weight, and at approx. my 36th week, my water broke.
Bill nervously rushed me to the hospital on a dark night, up in the mountain top town of Bethlehem New Hampshire. But then nothing happened. No labor. Nothing. By the next day, they had to induce labor because of the high risk, and the doctor thought it would take a while for me to respond to the pitocin. Ha! Bill had gone down to the cafeteria for a bite to eat, my doctor had left the hospital for his office down the street, and I was left alone in the room with a nurse who was bored. But she wasn't bored for long.

A freight train suddenly, out of nowhere, rushed through my body. I began to writhe in pain and scream. Nurses rushed in. Bill returned from the cafeteria and saw me and was frozen at the sight. They called for the doctor. They were not prepared for what happened- my body over-reacted to the small amount of pitocin in my system- and it was too late to give me an epidural for the pain. I thrashed around on the bed, screaming. I thought I was dying, and that I had to get this " freight train" out of my body!

I transitioned so quickly that they rushed me into the delivery room, and called in the pediatrician (because my baby was going to be premature and underweight). This is where I kicked the doctor in the face (I have a legitimate excuse- I was deranged with pain!). I literally forgot I was about to give birth. I just thought I was in a battle of life or death.

Several weeks later, after Alex was born at 4 lbs.14ozs , had stayed in the hospital close to a week, and was released in good health, I was at a post-natal exercise class. (What was I thinking?! I had had enough exercise in the delivery room to last me 400 years!!) I ran into a woman who compared notes with me, and realized she was in the birthing ward at the same time I was. When I explained what time I was in labor and gave birth (omitting the fact that I was shrieking the whole time) she put two and two together and said, "Oh, you were the one screaming! If that had been my first baby, you would have scared the *#&! out of me! (Sorry, but those were her exact words.)

This all leads me to my point: many forget that you have to give birth to your dream. Often we find ourselves shocked at the amount of pain it takes to bring our dreams to the point of delivery. One of the final chapters in Christine Caine's book A Life Unleashed: Giving Birth to Your Dreams has this as a chapter heading -"No Pain, No Gain". That pretty much sums it up. She explains that this stage of transitioning toward the pushing out of your dream contains intense testing.

"It's usually during this intense time of pain that we want to walk away and give up on our dreams," Caine writes.

I would have walked away from pushing out the baby if the pain hadn't been so extreme. But the answer of relief was only ONE way, sister- and that's pushing the baby out! But with dreams, we do have the option of stopping in mid point, failing to progress in labor, or closing up shop on our dream and walking away. And you think the pain will then go away?! It doesn't. It never goes away when you have walked away from the dream God has placed in your heart.

I have shared my birthing story in somewhat vivid detail to help you be sober minded about the reality of giving birth to your dreams. Jesus thought this was a good idea- letting people know the tough times ahead but also the comforting peace He provides.

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." JOHN 16:33

I feel like ole Aunt Agnes of the Mountain Top Revival Church when I say this: It's almost a sin to hide disturbing truth, and not prepare people for the reality of the battle. This lack of disclosure of truth is a stumbling block. When people are finally faced with the reality of the battle, they are shocked at the pain, and surprised by the arduous nature of the task. Many lose heart, abandon ship, and walk away from their dreams- or worse, the Faith.

Matthew 18:7 [Jesus said,] "Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes!"

Romans 14:13 Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another.

I think one reason there is SO MUCH DESPAIR AND DEPRESSION in the Church is that we have believers going through great trials, arduous journeys, cataclysmic birthing scenes, and NO ONE prepared them for the "ugly reality" of it. And they're stumbling into despair because of this.

We smile and share our triumphs, but we do not want people to know we spent the night weeping in our closet, or pacing empty moonlit streets because we could not sleep with the beast of anxiety and worry hovering over us. We don't want people to know we are scared out of our mind as we face financial constraints and a possible abortion of our dream if we can't make the next round of payments. Somehow we think these sad scenes of burdened, stressed out saints in agony are signs that we are NOT on our way to the fulfillment of our dreams.

That couldn't be farther from the truth. The struggle, the lion's den, the fiery furnace are places where dreams are pushed out. Hear this: it gets hotter and harder just as liberation and fulfillment come!

"Anytime God is about to bless you and answer your prayer, expect a struggle within..." TD Jakes writes.

So here's the good news and the bad news. Giving birth to a dream is simply the hardest, messiest, most agonizing thing you can go through - but it's WORTH IT. It IS a struggle. Ask Bruce Wilkinson, author of The Dream Giver. Ask anyone who has travailed and triumphed in the end.

Now, after all this stark reality, you've still got a dream? Good. I mean that- it really is a GOOD thing. Remember that. Because there will be days when you feel like you are cursed with having this dream, days when you feel like the weight of this dream will kill you, and days when you soar higher and higher on wings of God's grace and His enduring hope -

because you have a dream.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What is a Dream?!- Part 2

In Expectation of a Harvest

Having a Dream involves two components: the dream itself and the results of having a dream. The Dream itself is your gift to the world, sometimes literally. Think of Joseph in the Old Testament- the fulfillment of his dream would involve his brothers "bowing" to him in honor and in need of the surplus grain that he ruled over, and was even responsible for its existence. If Joseph hadn't interpreted the dream, and been put in the position to be second in command over the land and over the process of reaping and storing the grain- there would have been no surplus to share with the world, and especially, to share with his own family. It all started with a dream- his- and with the interpretation of a dream, later.

The dream itself should be big enough that it touches the world in some way (ie. running an orphanage, speaking hope to the captives, running a business that will employ thousands). The second part of having a dream is the fuel it injects into your life, the wind beneath your wings (sing it, Bette Midler!), the breeze that lifts your sails and inspires you to get up every day and face mountains when you have to. And with guts (I could say " courageously" but that sounds more lofty than the actual guts you need)- and with guts, say "Be gone" to those mountains. Then proceed doing the work of clean up- because when mountains crumble before you there's usually a little clean up to do!

Years ago, back in some dark days of my life when having a dream was pretty much all I had, circumstances were so tight, literally, and resources so limited that I needed more than a dream- I needed provision for the day in order to maintain the dream for tomorrow. I remember being challenged by one of the many inspirational books I was reading at that time.
( I read a lot- it is my faith fuel! I read a lot of Christian self-help books, books written by Life Coaches and by leaders who have persevered through tough times). I had little income coming in during that time, my husband was not pastoring anymore and was trying to run a small remodeling business, and we were not a pretty sight, emotionally. Our hopes were prime ingredients for a good wine: they were crushed!

But as I read this one book, I felt challenged to write down what I would do with the harvest when my dreams were coming true. I felt led to take a figure of a million dollars a year, and write down what I would do with it. I first wrote "tithe ten percent" then increased it to 20%. That's easy. Then I wrote "buy a home to live in, and spread out in" because we were living in a tiny cottage with two children. Then I paused. What else? I wrote "Fund an orphanage" because I knew someone who wanted to run an orphanage someday. But that's as far as I got. I had so much harvest- in my dream- but no plans to utilize it, disperse it, grow it, and benefit from it.

As long as we can't think of what to do with a big harvest, that would be honoring to God, then we have no reason to pursue a harvest. And if we have no reason for a big harvest, we have no motivation to put our hand to the plow and get started on the process of cultivating, sowing, watering, and then reaping a harvest. What for? We have no big barn prepared to properly store the harvest and from which we can share it, disperse it, maintain it. We have no reason to have a dream if there is no harvest in mind. There would be no gift to the world- without a dream- and there would be no fuel for living an inspired life- a life God breathes into.

The passage of 1 Cor. 9: 3-14 talks about reaping from the spiritual task of sowing- and how its okay to reap materially in doing a "spiritual" task such as preaching the word. When you have a dream, your dream is a gift to the world- we've established that. But many do not think they can partake of the by-product of having a dream: the enthusiasm, the joy it gives, the inspiration and motivation that having a dream provides for your life.

"Assuredly it is written for our sakes, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher ought to thresh in expectation of partaking of the harvest." 2 Cor 9:10 Ampl

When you're preparing to bring your dream to the world- even if your dream has died several times, God has resurrected it and it's now time to give birth to it- you will partake of the joy of seeing it realized. And if your dream is still in the transition stage of coming about, then even more so- be expectant of the harvest! Walk about with a smile of amazement on your face because you "see" it ahead. Let people ask you, "What's going on with you?"

Tell them, "I'm expecting a harvest- because I have a dream."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What's a Dream?!

Ladies, and any gentlemen reading this blog-(and if there are men, I apologize for the undergarments reference from the last post!) I have to interrupt this message for an emergency announcement- (hear the beep, beep, beep in the background)-

It has come to my attention that several respondents, already, on the poll listed below, do not have- and do not know what a dream is!! And I believe there are more people out there without a dream- and I've got to address this.

I could not be where I am today (and where exactly am I, Lord?!) were it not for holding onto a dream for my life. My first dream, originating back in sixth grade, was to be a writer. I write, therefore I am! But more than that, it was the beginning of having something to share with the world.

"Something beautiful, something good,
of my confusion, He understood

All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife
But He made something...beautiful ...of my life" fades out

He really has done that. But it started with having a dream of being someone who could share something good with the world. I've gone on to add in other dreams, dreams I share with my husband, Bill, and dreams I've had for our family, and dreams I've had for places I'd like to visit (living in Spain and traveling through Europe back in college, was a dream my Dad had for me, and he birthed that dream into my heart and wouldn't let me walk away from it- when I was about to.) Mil gracias, papa.

It is vital that we have a dream, and maybe more than one! God's people are characterized by wild, over-the-top dreams that only a wild, over-the-top God could help us fulfill! That's why this passage , from Psalm 126, is one of my favorite dream-boosters:

1 When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion,
we were like men who dreamed.

2 Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
"The LORD has done great things for them."

3 The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.

When people see God do an amazing work in your life, when He fulfills a dream, when He turns around your captivity, people will notice! And they will attribute this amazing work to God-
no one will be able to refute that a great God did a great work in making a great dream come true. And notice the lovely by-product of this miracle- you will be filled with joy. You will sigh in satisfaction. You will look heavenward but will also be busy with the joy of your heart for as long as you're here on earth....

because you've got a Dream.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Will Wonders Never Cease?!

Will wonders never cease! The most amazing things have happened. Now to some, they might not seem miraculous- but to me, well, they're amazing. At our daughter's 13th birthday party, my parents and siblings came over for a cook out. Little tidbits of information got relayed to me in a most unassuming manner- but they made my eyes open wide with wonder. Someone is using their teaching gift at a church - and they haven't done that in a very long time. Another wondrous account I heard was someone throwing away something old they had worn for a long time- after receiving a gift from someone who never goes out shopping for someone else. Her eyes twinkled as she relayed it to me. (Hint, hint: When is the last time you bought new underwear?!) These may not be big wonders to you, but I SAW them for what they were: He is changing us.

Anytime someone changes a habit, or does something they've never done before, you should marvel. Making a change is a miraculous thing. I am trying to break out of old mental habits, and trying to give birth to a new self-perspective: seeing myself the way God sees me. This coming year, the theme for the Women's LIFE workshops I teach at at my home church is
"It's a New You"- and we'll be exploring every aspect of our lives in the light of what Scripture tells us should be "new"- "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." 2 Cor. 5:17. New things have come- miraculous things, wondrous things.

I got thinking about the word "wonders", and I started humming that song "God of wonders beyond our galaxy...." What are the wonders He is doing in my life? Do I have eyes to see them?

"Wonders" in Scripture appear in many places. One word is pala (Judges 13:19- "did a wondrous thing")- to perform a miracle, marvel, wonder, or supernatural deed. In Zech 3:8 it's called mophet- a miracle, sign, token, wonder. This word is used 36x in the Old Testament. But what's really interesting, according to the commentary in my Spirit-Filled Life Bible is this: "While mophet contains the idea of something miraculous, in some references it seems to connote an illustration or an example."

In the New Testament, in Acts 15 and the discussion of the Jerusalem Council, miracles and wonders done among the Gentiles convinced the Jewish brethern that God was, indeed, at work in their lives too- and that they were to be included in the Christian family. This word "teras"- wonders- expands further our understanding of this word. It "denotes extraordinary occurrences...unusual manifestations, miraculous incidents portending the future rather than the past, and acts so unusual they cause the observer to marvel or be in awe."

When you observe these wonders, (whether they be the purchase of new undergarments by someone who never does that, or something more miraculous than that!) you should marvel and be in awe....of the God who works mightily in our lives to change us, to cause us to go from stuck in a rut to "born free" (remember that old song?!), from slave-mentality to an understanding that "I am a child of God".

Deut 6:21-23 reminds us of our spiritual ancestors who were brought "out of Egypt with a mighty hand; and the Lord showed signs and wonders before our eyes...Then He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in, to give us the land of which He swore to our fathers"

The Lo
rd shows wonders as a demonstration of His power as He brings us out of bondage. And He brings us out of bad situations, out of bondage, out of a bad mindset- in order to bring us into a good place, a good land. A spacious place where you can stretch out in your God-given gifts and talents and till the earth, sow your seed, and see a harvest. And remember, you shall see the labor of your soul and be....satisfied. Jesus did. (Isaiah 53:11) That alone is a miracle- a wonder- when you see a satisfied saint, who has once gone out weeping- but still bearing their seed for sowing- and then you see them returning, rejoicing, bringing their sheaves with them. ( Psalm 126 :5,6) It's a sign- it's a "picture promise" that God wants you to have in your mind. You- satisifed- filled up with God to overflowing.

Will wonders never cease!!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

From a distance

Tomorrow I will be -not the mother of a child and a teen- but the mother of two teenagers. My daughter turns 13 tomorrow. This is the sweet girl who still likes to walk with her hand in mine, who'll call me by phone when she's sick and needs me to race up a mountain to get to her, who gives me foot rubs, who likes to bake with me, and who is my fashion consultant. (You should see her roll her eyes when I pick out something too staid and dull! )

These will be wonderful years. (I'm "calling it out", remember?). I don't say this naively- I already have a 17 yr old teenage son who has taught me more about calling upon God for grace than almost anything else has! But it's not because he's wild or bad- he's just an adult-in-process and I'm a mother who is learning the art of loving fiercely and "letting go". I never realized when I gave birth to my children that I would always, always be a mother- yet they would not always be children.Think about that. They grow, mature, and leave the nest someday, walking away as adults practically. We grow, mature, but we will never stop being a mother- even though they need less mothering of the type we did for so many years.

My daughter seems to like trying her wings based at home base. She can't see how she would ever want to leave home. I may always have a close relationship with her, or she may grow more than she thought, and change to need more room, more challenges, more sights to see. I really don't know how our relationship will change.

For now, her hand is in mine a lot, her eyes smiling at me. My teenage son smiles at me, but from across a room or as he is heading out the door. And from a necessary distance, I can see he is doing just fine. I may not always do well with this transition.But we will still transition. We can not stay in the past, nor cling to the memories of what they were: adorable children with impish grins, snuggled close to me. They will always be snuggled close to my heart, but even as I embrace them I will see them, more and more ...from a distance.

"To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven...." Ecclesiastes 3:1

Thursday, August 09, 2007


I am back to voyaging with vocabulary. When I was in high school, we had to do so much vocabulary memorization. I am never sorry that I had to do so. It has paid off in my life. The years we were homeschooling our son, I gave him plenty of vocabulary work, and lots of Greek and Latin vocab. to memorize.

This all comes from having grown up in a home where my Dad, having come from Bolivia to the U.S. at the age of 19, learned the English language - and learned it well. And God help his kids if they didn't speak the English language properly! There was never any lazy questions allowed in our home. If you ever asked,"Dad, what does this word mean?" he would always say "Go get the dictionary and look it up." He knew more vocabulary words than the average man, but he wouldn't let us ride on his coat tails. He wanted us to learn the meaning of words. He wanted us to put our efforts into knowing the power of each word we spoke.

Words are powerful. Certain words, clearly understood, turn on light bulbs in our head. Certain words , lately, are really sticking in my head. It's like God is saying "GET THIS!"

The word for today is satisfaction. I love "s" words- they're simply scintillating and smashing!(Some words are just fun to speak, period.)

But this word- satisfaction- seems to get Christians up in arms. It seems like a selfish word or a sinful word. People immediately think of sexual connotation or of selfish endeavors in getting satisfaction. But I love this word- and God does too!

"A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth, and the recompense of a man's hands will be rendered to him." Prov.12:14

Wiktionary describes the meaning of satisfaction:


  1. fulfillment of a need or desire.
  2. the pleasure obtained by such fulfillment.
  3. the source of such gratification.
  4. reparation for an injury or loss.
  5. vindication for a wrong suffered.
Solomon, the king noted for his wisdom, seemed to think satisfaction was important. He said this:

18 Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him—for this is his lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God. 20 He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart. Eccl. 5:18-20

Your heritage and your inheritance is satisfaction. Satisfaction is something you can get- it comes with the sweat of your brow, the work of your hands, the words from your lips. Speak well, speak kindly, and you will be satisfied you did. Write, create, draw or express yourself in an artistic way, and you'll be glad you did. Satisfaction is being occupied with joy. Satisfaction is knowing God has vindicated you from a life of shame or guilt- and has deemed you cleansed, forgiven, and loved.

There is nothing noble in laboring and creating only to be unsatisfied with the results. I, for one, intend to look like the cat who ate the canary, going around with a smile of delight on my lips.
When people ask me why I look so happy, I'm going to answer with the shocking truth-
"Cause I'm satisfied."

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Calling it Done! Before it is

I have found that there are three stages in every great work of God: first, it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done. J. Hudson Taylor

Marybeth Whalen, of Proverbs 31 ministry, has this quote on the bottom of her e-mail, and it spoke to my heart today. This is what I have been conversing with God about lately. Things have been seemingly impossible and difficult. I've been feeling like I can't get ahead. I don't want to self-sabotage what God has me starting.

I've been talking to God about how to DO this thing of "by faith". God is telling me He wants me Calling it out, and calling it done!! What is the it? The work He has called you to, the dream of your heart, the labor of your soul.

"He shall see the labor of his soul and be satisfied..." Isaiah 53:11

What this means may be better described in the Message version of this verse:

"Out of that terrible travail of soul,
he'll see that it's worth it and be glad he did it.
Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant,
will make many "righteous ones,"
as he himself carries the burden of their sins."

Christ foresaw the results of His labor on the cross- He could see ahead that it was worth it to die as a ransom for our souls. Can you see ahead, in what you are laboring in, and can you see already- it's worth it?!

Calling it done- before it is done- is not a magic formula or a "health n wealth" pronouncement. Calling it done is walking out your calling with an eye toward the fulfillment, with a smile in anticipation of the reason for the work you do. He who has called you is faithful, and He will help you to do what He's called you to.

One of the most powerful sentences Christ ever uttered is "It is finished!" And it was completed- His death on the cross secured our eternal futures. But Christ knew it was finished even before He died on the cross, because He knew HE WOULD DO IT. He would go to the cross. He would obey the Father. He would see the labor of His soul and be satisfied.

The Rolling Stones sang "I can't get no satisfaction"- but let me tell you, I can. I will be satisfied to walk with Him, run when He says to, do it while trembling but do it afraid! I will see the labor of my soul and be satisfied that I gave my all for His Kingdom purposes.

I see it ahead, and it is finished.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Dirty Feet, Weary Travelers

My daughter Abby decided to give me a foot rub last night (I think she's still feeling grateful for the midnight rescue!), and she began with washing my feet. I was half-reading a book, and listening to her chat away about the day as she rubbed my dirty, hot, tired feet with her wet towel.

"Hey, I'm like Jesus! I'm washing your feet!" she exclaimed with a sudden revelation that she was being a true servant as well as sweet. (She already knew she was being sweet because I kept telling her so!)

She seemed truly amazed that she wound up doing something "good" that occurred, often, in the Bible. Something we don't do much of, for others, because frankly- it's a bit awkward in today's society. I don't mind (well, actually I MORE than don't mind) my daughter washing my feet because she and I love "spa day" at home. We laugh and chat and giggle together when we do pedicures or facial masks in the privacy of our home.

But washing feet for someone I don't know? Does the Bible really want me to do that today? Some of us have tried this in small fellowship groups and the results have been mixed: experiences of real fellowship and tenderness, experiences of awkwardness and "this is weird!-
and that's okay.

I think we need to get back to the purpose of the foot washing: it was to relieve the distress of the weary, dirty, tired traveler in Biblical times. The foot washing was done by servants used to handling "the dirty work" of tasks that were crucial to survival and comfort: servants cooked, cleaned, and washed feet. It wasn't meant to be this deeply moving spiritual experience with eyes locked on each other and solemn silence all around. It was ministering to the needs of the weary traveler who had come in the door from God-only-knows-where.

Today, we have a lot of people coming from all kinds of tough backgrounds and stressful situations. They walk in through our front door or into our churches and they need the equivalent of a foot washing- and they need it now.

Forget bringing out a pan of warm water and a cloth. Instead, give them what they need: help with getting rid of the soil of the world grinding into their souls, the coolness of something that relieves their thirst for something they haven't yet found, and rest for their frantic minds that can't solve the problems that persistently press in to their lives. You've got what they need- and today, it isn't a actual foot washing- it's more than that.

4[The Servant of God says] The Lord God has given Me the tongue of a disciple and of one who is taught, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. Isaiah 50:4 Ampl.

When I am tired and feeling sullied by the world and overwhelmed by life, nothing ministers to my soul more than an encouraging word, a prophetic word that points me forward, or the words of a friend who is lifting up my burdens to God and calling down God's grace on me.

There's a lot more than dirty feet at stake here. Souls are waiting to hear a word that will set them free, a word that will cause them to look up and see ...HE is there.

(Special thanks go out to all my friends who've "washed my feet" and have encouraged my soul,especially my Proverbs 31 "speaker" friends!You all do know how to Speak a word in season!)

Friday, August 03, 2007

Charging Up the Mountain

Charging up the mountain, last night, all I could think was I've got to get to my daughter! She had called me from camp, just an hour earlier, sobbing into the phone- she was sick to her stomach, overheated, and overwrought. My heart not only went out to her- I went out to her!

When the cell phone connection suddenly died, while I was trying to find out how ill she was, I panicked over not being able to hear her voice, and more than that- knowing she needed to hear mine. I grabbed a printout from map quest and ran to the car. Give me God-speed I prayed.
I wasn't sure if I could remember the long winding route up the nearby mountain to her camp.
I made it half way there, and then got lost. It was pitch black out, and there were few lit buildings on the road. At a traffic light, I saw a man on a motorcycle pull up. I opened my window and called out to him. He's either going to attack me or help me- let it be the latter, Lord! When another guy walked up, from nowhere, I then had two people to point me on my way up the mountain .

I was practically driving a rocket - that's how steep the climb was up the mountain. There were few street lights and lots of curves. Oh, Lord- you know how all those times when I got mad and cried out 'Just take me home now, Lord'- well, I don't mean it. Please let me not fall off this mountain! I want to live! Darkness and fear makes an honest woman of us all!

I finally made it to the camp, and there was my daughter at the doorway. I hugged her tight. She felt very warm, but I knew she'd be fine. Everything would be okay. And it is.

I don't know why I go shooting out into the dark every time I hear a distress call- but I can't help it. I don't like the idea of anyone being alone and sick and afraid. There are too many women battling depression, anxiety and fear- who feel so alone. The battle is not what I want to liberate them from- I can't always take away the things that cause distress in women's lives. But I don't want anyone to feel alone in the battle. There's nothing worse than a lone soldier who feels left behind by the battalion. There's nothing so traumatizing as crying out for help- and no one can hear you.

But there IS Someone who always hears your every cry, Someone who not only can get up the mountain every time- but HE made the mountain. He can also move it, too- with just one word. So can you.

And He said to them, "... if you have faith the size of a mustard
seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,'
and it will move;and nothing will be impossible to you. Matt 17:20

Yet, the biggest mountain we should want to move is the mountain that keeps someone from seeing and experiencing the love of God.

"If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 1 Cor 13:2

Moving mountains or charging up's all in a day's work for a mom, for any woman who is out to share the love of Christ with those who need His hug.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Fan the Flame

I have a confession to make: I've asked God for something, and it might make life slightly unbearable for those closest to me who will feel the heat. Don't worry- I didn't ask God for something bad- it's all in His will.

Here's how it happened. A couple Sundays ago was Motorcycle Sunday at our church. God bless these wild-lookin' guys (and gals) who come roaring into the church parking lot. You do know, don't you, that these burly men are not only big and husky on the outside, but they've got these big hearts for God as well. The preacher had on a green bandana around his head (loved the color- "excuse me, sir, where did you buy that?") and the power of God pulsing through him as he preached.

We don't normally have a lot of upfront altar calls or "Come for prayer up front here"- we're a bit understated in our expression of faith, in our weeping over sin, in our calling out for God to help us. (Check with me in a year and I hope to tell you God has blown the lid off our church!)
So when the altar call came, and the motorcycle preacher calls his "ministry team" to stand in the front to pray for people, you could have your choice of big, scary looking men to pray over you- if you went forward.

Go forward, I did. I mean, nothing against demure, refined women with conservative dress and sweet smiles, but I'd like the chance of something a little more powerful than that to rub off on me. (But I do know some wild, all-out older women of God that you feel a little shaky when they head towards you to pray over you! More on that another time. Just remind me to tell you about Halley).

So there I am, walking up to this burly guy and his buddy next to him.
"What do you want prayer for?" they ask.
"I'd like prayer for..." I hesitated.
"Yes?" (Now remember, we're practically shouting as the worship team is blasting their music
behind us.)
"I'd like prayer for....boldness," I said.
The one guy smiles at me, nodding his head in agreement, as if to say "Little lady, you aint seen nothing yet!"

And then they prayed for me. Prayed- I don't know what- but I walked back to my seat thinking, "Oh God, I'm already a bit much for my family to handle- what'll I become next?"

I'll tell you what I'm going to become. I'm going to become a KEEPER.

"That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us" 2 Tim. 1:14

I'm also going to become bold (makes sense, since I asked for it!) about what's IN me, and I'm going to "stir it up" alot.

"Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands." 2 Tim 1:6

Or as the Amplified version words it "stir up-rekindle the embers, fan the flame and keep burning- the gracious gift of God, the inner fire that is in you..."

Now if I do this, and I propose to do so, I can't make any disclaimers about potential liability to those around me. As that famous saying goes "When you're on fire for the Lord, people will come around to watch you burn."

on't worry- I don't plan on doing anything needlessly wild for the sake of trying to SHOW that I'm bold. I know boldness isn't in wearing a leather skirt and riding a harley down the street- although I will do so if required by the Lord. As well as climb to a mountain peak "and there proclaim,'Behold Your God!'"

If you'd like to join me in this venture into boldness- for His Sake, and the sake of all those who need to know His power to overcome- then, as the Living version words it "I want to remind you to stir into flame the strength and boldness that is in you...."

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to get another log for the fire.