Friday, September 4, 2015

Dry Bones (Always, always hope.)

It's hard not to feel the heaviness of these days.  I try to get a deep breath and wonder how much longer the Lord will tarry before He calls us up in the rapture.  I think He was good in telling us that when we start to see end times prophecies happening to look up because our redemption is soon!  God knew we would need the focus of keeping our eyes on the One who is sovereign over evil and also tender to our souls.  He knows.  Whatever you are facing, He knows and is working on your behalf.

I was thinking yesterday about how God told Ezekiel (in chapter 37) to speak to the dead, dried out bones.  God didn't take the prophet to the dead scene so that Ezekiel could watch God speak...God took him there so the Ezekiel would speak life over the scene.  God tells him to prophesy over the bones:  that they would HEAR the WORD of the LORD. 

Ezekiel obeys and God does the resurrection work that He is so famous for.  Ezekiel speaks and God raises up the bones and covers them with flesh and sinew.  But, the bones are still without breath.  Ezekiel speaks again and God breathes life into the bones. 

This passage had its ultimate fulfillment in 1948 when the nation of Israel was restored.  In a single day, God took a scattered and seemingly dead people group and gave them back their land and national identity.  (Verse 14 says:  I will place you in your own land. Verse 25 says they will dwell in that land FOREVER.)

While this passage has had its primary fulfillment, God is still in the resurrection business.  The same resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us!!!  God is still looking for people who will speak life into dead situations.  The WORD of the LORD can take anything that is dead and dried out and beyond rotten and raise it to NEW LIFE.

Authors Hays and Duvall say, "The point of this chapter is that these people are really, really dead, yet God brought them back to life.  Thus there is always hope.  IF God can bring these bones back to life, he can restore fallen Israel, and he can bring anyone else back to life that he chooses.  There is always hope when God is involved."

I love that.  Always, always hope.

What situation can you speak life into today?

Your words are beyond powerful when it's THE WORD you are uttering.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A Look at Betrayal

I swore I wouldn't venture into this topic.  Then God showed me something that I think He wants shared.  Like you, I am sick of hearing about Ashley Madison and the exposure of rampant sin across our nation.  Only three zip codes in the whole United States did not have someone signed up on this website.  That proves that this is not just a personal issue with the likes of a few famous people, but a whole-scale national issue.  We have strayed. Far.

While studying the book of Jeremiah (what a book for the times!) God reminded me of the figurative imagery He used over and over in this book.  He calls Israel His wife, and throughout the book, tells them that their repeated idolatry looks like betrayal in marriage.  In "The Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook" by Daniel Hays and Scott Duvall, it says, "idolatry against God, Jeremiah proclaims vividly, is a betrayal of the relationship between God and His people (i.e., the covenant), much like the betrayal of a marriage that occurs in acts of adultery."

Later, Jeremiah takes the image one step further and says that the wife has not just betrayed, but become the harlot, because she doesn't even blush at sin anymore. The above mentioned book says, "the people are chasing after other gods just like a married harlot chases after lovers in a total abandonment of her marriage (and causing pain and embarrassment to the husband.)"

I think when God exposed the Ashley Madison list, He is in essence saying that the list reflects not just the nation, but the church specifically...those that are in covenant with Him.  Have we strayed from His heartbeat?  Do we seek false and cheap imitations of the pure Love He offers?

The above book says, "What do we idolize and worship instead of God?  Wealth?  Success?  Fame?  Do we live for ourselves during the week, ignoring the call to stand for social justice, and then assume that attendance in church on Sunday will make it all okay?  Have we let our rituals (how we do church) replace our relationship with God?  Perhaps we need to listen carefully to the indictments of Jeremiah."

The word I can't get out of my head is repentance.  We as God's people must repent.

The beautiful thing about the book of Jeremiah is that it doesn't leave us in an anguished state.  Yes, the Prophet calls out the sin.  Yes, he proclaims God's desire for repentance.  Yes, there is judgment.  But, the book ends in forgiveness and restoration.  Our just God is always our merciful God.  He is never one without the other.  He is always and completely both at the same time.

There is restoration available.  But, first, repentance.

"So just as Jeremiah slaps us in the face with the seriousness of sin, so he also offers us the solution, pointing us to Jesus, who forgives us of all our sin."

A question for our souls today:  Have we betrayed our first love?

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Writing on the Wall


 
I wonder if Belshazzar, the final King of Babylon knew just how serious his actions were.  He was throwing a huge feast and thought it would be amusing to dig out the vessels of gold and silver that had been tucked away into the king’s treasuries, thanks to Nebuchadnezzar.  Nebuchadnezzar had taken these holy pieces out of God’s holy temple and stashed them away in his own treasury, during the great besiege of Jerusalem.

King Belshazzar took something consecrated (set apart for the Lord) and desecrated it.  They poured wine into the vessels and praised false gods between every sip.

God intervened immediately.

The hand was made visible.  But, only the hand could be seen, mind you!  All of a sudden, the light illuminated the hand that scribbled something unknown onto the palace plaster.  The King stood shaking in his fancy garb as pee probably puddled into a pool at his feet.

Astrologers and soothsayers and all the so-called wise men could not interpret such a thing.  The Queen stepped in and said “never fear, Daniel is here.” 

The man with the God-given name of “God is my Judge” stepped onto the scene and told Belshazzar he had not humbled his heart.  “You have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know, but the God in whose hand is your breath, and whose are all your ways, you have not honored.” (Daniel 5:23b)

The King’s horror escalated as Daniel gave the God-declaration:  Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin.  Numbered. Numbered. Weighed.  Divided. (Some say “numbered” is said twice to suggest that things would happen quickly.)

Read in Aramaic, they form a sequence of weights that decreases from a mina to a shekel to a half shekel. God has numbered your kingdom, Belshazzar, and is finished with it.  You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting.  Your empire-kingdom of Babylon is now divided and will be given to the Medes and Persians.

That very night, Belshazzar was killed.

The Kingdom was divided.

Did Belshazzar not know his enemy was at his very doorstep?  Instead, he was feasting and drinking and abusing God’s sacred things. He was foolish and oblivious to the reality all around.

I heard Jonathan Cahn recently say that our nation has taken the sacred and holy vessel of marriage and desecrated it by its redefinition.

I think it’s obvious that the United States of America has been weighed in the balances and found wanting. Does that mean we are numbered and He is finished with us?  Will our great Kingdom be divided and given over to our enemies? 

Lord, let us not take lightly the days that we are in…

 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Repentance {Soften this Heart of Stone}

Sometimes, I think we as Believers think we have it all figured out.  We accept grace and then get all smug and forget that we need this grace day in and day out.  It is then that we stop offering grace to others.  Our hearts are to continually be in repentance-mode.  God calls us to sin no longer and if I'm not in a constant state of turning away from something ugly in my life, then I am probably in sin.

Sometimes, we need to ask God to come down and soften our hearts that have become stone.



Repentance is to turn away from something that doesn't glorify God.

I love this checklist that Anne Graham Lotz put out last year.  It is a good way to ask God to search me and know if there is anything offensive in me.  If I read the list without praying first, I am prone to skip over areas where I might be harboring sin. But, if I pray for the Holy Spirit to shine a light on things, He is faithful to gently show me areas I need to turn from.

I believe national repentance must start with personal repentance.  Murray says, "Every deep revival among God's people must have its roots in a deep sense and confession of sin."

There is grace right here...the place where God wants to soften our heard hearts. {Every time I go through this list, He shows me something fresh.  Humbling, I tell you!}

Lord, shine a light on the things that don't bring You glory and give me grace and strength to turn from these things.  Make evil taste nasty...in hopes that I spit it out and never want to consume it again!

Here are Lotz's thoughts...

1.  Ingratitude:  Neglecting to thank God for answered prayers and all of His blessings.  Am I thankful for my spouse, children, work, home...etc.??

2.  Neglect of Bible reading:  Reading without focus or not making it my first priority.  Would I rather read a fiction book or turn on the TV?

3.  Unbelief:  Doubting who God is and what He says.

4.  Prayerlessness:  Constant chatter instead of fervent prayer.

5.  Unconcern for the lost:  Leaving it to the "professionals" to get the people saved.

6.  Hypocrisy:  Pretending to be more than I am.

7.  Pride:  Impressed with my own reputation and accomplishments and offended or resentful when someone else receives more attention.

8.  Envy:  Jealousy of those more gifted, fruitful and recognizable than I am.

9.  Critical Spirit:  Finding fault with someone because he or she doesn't measure up to my standards.

10.  Slander:  Telling the truth about someone with the intention of causing others to think less of him or her.

11.  Lying:  Making a statement, exaggerating, or inferring something that is contrary to the unvarnished truth.

12.  Cheating:  Not doing to others what I expect or demand them to do for me.

13.  Robbing God:  Exercising my gifts or spending my money, time, or energy on things that have a selfish goal--without asking God first.

14.  Fear:  For being so afraid of what others think and say that I remain silent, hiding the light of God's gospel under the basket of intimidation.

{I repent.  Come and make this hard heart pliable.  Mold me into your image, Lord. My sacrifice, God, is a broken spirit.}

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Beachfront

{Happiest of birthdays to my favorite Mom!
We got to take a little girl trip.  We soaked up sun and wriggled toes
 in sand and ate pounds of gumbo and shrimp.
 Thankful for this little lady who raised me to love Jesus.}























Sunday, August 23, 2015

School Daze. A Haze of Memory from 9th, 7th, and 4th Grades.

Good heavens, I never knew a beehive could stand so tall.  Those girls ratted and ratted and teased and teased in the wee hours of the morning, preparing me for my initiation day, the first day of 9th grade, the first day of high school in a brand new city—brand new state.  I had miracle of miracles made the dance high-kick team and after practicing in the grueling heat all summer, this was the day they introduced the dance team freshmen to the rest of the much older high school world.

After the older girls matched my hair to the 70’s, they put me in a skin tight brown polyester dress with embroidered flowers that barely covered my bosom but still managed to hit my ankles.  As the sleeves fluttered in the wind, I gulped back tears, wondering what on earth I had gotten myself into. 

I had so much makeup on that I didn’t even recognize myself when they pranced me in front of the mirror, me apparently supposed to be proud of their cheap artistry. The black eyeliner rimmed me to the point that I almost signed “Cleopatra” on all my papers that first day.

I was appalled.  Mortified.  Horrified. 

And that was just the first day.

Ninth grade all around was a difficult one.  It held a mass amount of rejection, new kid on the block and all. Apparently I was so uncool that kids would swim away from me at pool parties, the tears on my face disguised as chlorine infused droplets of pool water.  Ninth grade also held my first kiss which made me want to gag and be my Daddy’s little girl forever. I still have nightmares that I am back in that town and back in that school.

I want my ninth grade son to know this:  People can be cruel for no stinking reason.  Let it roll off your back and don’t hold onto grudges and bitterness.  Forgive quickly and pray for those that persecute you or you know, swim away from you.  Continue to cling to your faith and celebrate family time.  And for crying out loud, don’t dare start kissing girls yet.  J
 
 
 

Cowboy boots kicked up the sawdust as my hot pink Wranglers waltzed into the show ring.  Sweetie, my black heifer was by my side, and together, we dominated the fairs and every show in between.  They would slap her grand champion time and time again, me smiling from ear to ear.  The trophies started invading every corner of my yellow bedroom.   It made Sweetie’s sassy attitude a little more tolerable to bear.

While 7th grade was a blast in the school room, what I seem to remember most are the cow shows.  It was my second year of showing, but I was finally starting to understand things like the difference between a heifer and a Hereford.  Winning, of course, was the icing on the cake.

Days of driving to the barn, washing, grooming, feeding, showing, and so forth kept me out of a lot of trouble during my teen years. God knew I wasn't going to be an athlete, so He gave me something else that would put my Dad and me on the same page. God used those days to groom in me a healthy respect for my Dad and an appreciation of his authority in my life.

 I want my seventh grade son to know this:  Your Dad is the most influential person for you right now.  He is going to teach you how to be a man.  He is going to teach you to work hard, celebrate victories, and live in reality.  Whether driving to soccer matches or church, enjoy his presence and all the wisdom he has to offer you.
 
 
 

 

Right past the large red farm gate that separated yard from pasture was the pond.  The pond held little significance to me because there were no fish in it.  It provided water for the cattle and looked pretty enough—in a murky pond kind of way--and that was about it.  One day that all changed.  Dad decided we didn’t need the pond anymore and so he got out a giant beast of a yellow machine, backhoe, I guess, and started digging large trenches so the pond would drain.

Enter my panic attack.  The so called non-existent fish were flopping and my heart was pounding to the cadence of save-the-fish.  Mason jars in tow and buckets galore, I plopped my cut off jean short self into the muck and mire.  Let’s be real here.  It was mud, pure and simple:  glorious mud that sucked my legs right under, threatening to hold me hostage forever.  Nevertheless, it might have been the most fun thing I’ve ever done, grabbing fish and tadpoles and all things swimmy, saving them in clear containers. 

We dumped what we could into the creek.  The next day, I loaded up the tadpoles, with the punctured Mason lids screwed on, and begged every other fourth grader to take one home. (Can’t you just hear the string of curse words at the 3 o’clock pick up line when kids climbed into the back seats with their new little tailed friends?)

Mrs. Whitlach, a fifth grade teacher close by, took the remainder of my orphaned tadpoles and dumped them into her large aquarium.  It might have been the nicest thing a teacher has ever done for me.

I want my fourth grade son to know this:  There is something noble about offering life to everyone and everything around you.  Even fish and tadpoles deserve a chance.  Never turn away from the tender heart God has instilled into you.  Even if the situation seems absurd, give until you can’t give anything else.  You just never know what kinds of life you will leave behind in the quake of generosity.
 
 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Beach Letters {Rend Every Last Heart}

{Written on August 9}



This sound right here.
Listen in, incline thy ear.
God rules here.
God delights in this place.
His majesty roars upon the shoreline.
Each pounding, a beat of His heart.
The blue of the waves fades into the blue of the ocean which fades into the blue of the sky.
Such grace, all this blue.

Today, I hear the roar of a God coming to rescue His bride from evil and wrath.
Yahweh's power commands the ocean to come to a certain point, and then no longer.
When the Restrainer is gone, who will keep the never ending waters from leaving their mark?

Sometimes grace allows the swirl of blue to go beyond for the purpose of redemption.  What if judgment always has a deeper intention of grabbing our hearts and begging us to return?

Make our hearts perfect with you, our Maker.
Forgive us for being like Solomon, whose heart was turned away from Yahweh and unto cheaper imitations of love. 
We are no better than him, our kings have set up sites for the abominations of children.
Children fashioned in your image.
Every last beautiful one.

This sin never goes without a peering of God's eye.
God rends the Kingdom from Solomon.
He enlarged their eyes, allowing them to see the True King as He tore the powerful nation in two.

Perhaps, in judgment (after all we have mocked your heart for marriage and cut up your precious babies and betrayed Israel) perhaps You will descend upon our nation and rend her in two, in hopes of rending her heart.

Whether by a physical split of the land or a split of some other kind, I am uncertain.

Who am I kidding?  We have been split for as long as I can remember.  North vs. South.  Republican vs. Democrat.  Slave vs. Free.  Christian vs. Atheist.  Grace vs. Legalism.  Humility vs. Self.  Pro-life vs. Murder.  Black vs. White.  Guns vs. None.  Terrorism vs. In-house false flags.  Cheap entertainment vs. Holiness.

Perhaps it will be a physical split, after all.  None of the other divisions have returned us to you.

Rend every last heart until it is You alone we worship.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The God of Provision

There is a lot of unrest regarding the month of September.  From the final blood moon to the Shemitah to the Pope coming to address the UN to Congress voting on the Iran deal...there are a lot of things coming to a head next month and a lot of anxiety is floating through the air.

We need to be aware of the times, but left unchecked, fear can permeate into our pores, allowing our thoughts to run towards the "what-ifs" instead of to the "Who" that orchestrates all things.

While at the beach, God reminded me that He is our Provision.  He won't be boxed.  His methods of providing for His children have always looked differently. He owns it all and He will shower down His riches in whatever way brings Him the most glory for each unique moment and each unique child. Sometimes, we just need to unbox Him.

He reminded me of four different scenarios and different people.  He was their provision in each circumstance, even though the situations are entirely different.  I hope these examples reassure you in whatever place you find yourself today.  Unbox Him and see His glory radiate!

1.  God told Noah to prepare.  He warned him of something that no eye had ever seen before:  rain and a flood.  God gave Noah very specific instructions for an ark of safekeeping, pitched with grace.  Noah and his family gathered food for themselves and the animals.  {In this example, God was glorified in giving instructions beforehand.  He was glorified in the preparing.}

2.  God told Elijah to flee the wicked people that sought him out.  He pointed Elijah to the brook of Cherith by Jordan.  God sent a raven to bring him bread and meat morning and evening.  Elijah drank from the brook until it dried up.  Then, God gave him new instructions for sustenance.  {God was glorified in the sovereignty over His creation...commanding even a bird to feed His beloved prophet.}

3.  At that point, God told Elijah to move on.  God provided through a widow who only had a handful of meal and a few drops of oil left.  She listened to Elijah and obediently made the cake-bread for him.  The meal and oil miraculously lasted and lasted.  {God was glorified in the multiplication of items on hand.}

4.  The Israelites while under Pharoah ate the Passover in haste, with loins girded and feet shod.  God executed judgment, and they were spared, all because of the blood that covered their doorframes.  The Lord passed through to smite His enemy.  The Israelites were told to take flocks and herds, kneading troughs, and the Egyptian's jewels, silver, and gold.  God divided the waters to ensure their escape.  At Marah, they needed water, but it wasn't fit for drinking until God acted.  They needed bread and God rained it down.  Every single day was reliance on God...except for the Sabbath which they had been allowed to gather double for.  They lived like this for forty years.  {God alone was their moment by moment provision....such a demonstration of His glory!}

There is a song we sing at church called "Good Good Father" that I can't get out of my head. 

"I've heard a thousand stories of what they think you are like but I've heard the tender whisper of love in the dead of night.  And you tell me that you're pleased and that I'm never alone.  You're a good good Father.  It's who you are. And I'm loved by you.  It's who I am."

No matter what lies ahead, we are secure.  We have a Father that is quite fond of us.

He is good. And we are loved by Him.  Nothing else really matters.

Rest in His provision for you.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Dross

While standing knee deep in the ocean the first day, I was almost repulsed.  It was nasty.  The waters that are usually clear were polluted.  A huge film of filth covered the surface.  It looked like some combination of dirt, brown algae, and sand had concocted, rising to the surface.  It became iridescent after the collision with the washed off sunscreen.

"Dross."  "This is dross," the Lord said.




Dross:  Something regarded as worthless, rubbish, foreign matter, scum, the impurities of metals separated in the process of melting.

Hebrew definitions of dross:  refuse, worthless or unwanted objects or materials, impurities removed during refining

This word picture hit me so hard and I knew it (a time of cleansing) was coming for all of us, the unbeliever and the believer alike.

There are a ton of verses in the Word that talk about dross.  Most are so heavy, I don't even have the heart to type them out.  (You can study Malachi 3, Ezekiel 22, Psalm 119:119, Isaiah 1:22-25, and 1 Peter 1:7.) There is a time quickly coming when God will remove all of the impurities.  For the wicked, this will be judgment.  For His children, this will be through trials and perhaps even persecution.  He is coming to cleanse. He is coming to scrape off the layer of filth that covers our hearts and our nation.  He is coming to purge.

If we belong to Him, we have no need to fear.  Being in the furnace (where we melt and the impurities rise to the surface) is exactly where we can find him and know Him deeply (just like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego!) The dross can't rise to the surface unless the heat is extremely intense. The blessed truth is that once we have melted, He can easily mold us more and more into His character and image.

He is shining a light on all things hidden.  Surrender every dark corner for the purpose of cleansing, healing, and restoration. He is good.  You can trust His heart.

"These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."  1 Peter 1:7

Friday, August 7, 2015

The Roar of the Lion







When Satan sprawled the news of Cecil the lion all over the headlines, I about came undone.  I'm not here to talk about whether or not we should kill animals.  I'm here to say that Satan is always throwing diversions our way to get our eyes off of what really matters.

In these times, what really matters is THE lion.  His name is Jesus and He is the lion of the tribe of Judah.  This title is found in Revelation chapter 5. 

Can you hear His roar?

Because, I can assure you the Creator that dreamed up beautiful babies knit together in His own image, who now sees those babies ripped apart, to be sold off...THIS TRUE LION is roaring.

This lion, who clearly told us very clearly in the book of Genesis that anyone who curses Israel will be cursed, is on a rampage against all nations that don't stand with Israel.  As far as I can tell, that is every nation except Israel.  We, as the United States, no longer stand with the apple of God's eye.  We sold them down the river when we handed over billions of dollars to a nation that has promised they will use a nuclear bomb to wipe Israel off the face of the map. What we don't realize as a nation is that we really sold ourselves down the river.

Can you hear His roar?

The roar precedes the death to the lion's enemies.

I have never been more grateful to be His own than in this moment and season.  I can almost taste the wrath of God that must happen soon.  How long, O, Lord...my soul is at the point where I am begging for righteousness...no matter what that looks like.  As the bride of Christ, I believe we are hidden from that wrath...but not necessarily from persecution and suffering.  Having the hope of heaven and the hope of the True Reigning King will get us through whatever lies ahead.

In the book of Revelation, Jesus is CALLED the lion (but John SEES a lamb because Jesus's glory will always be in his sacrificial love for us.) The context of him having the title of lion is that He alone is worthy to open the seals of judgment. Woe to all of those who have rejected His grace.  There is still time!  Pray for those who don't know Him.  Repent!

In 1st Peter, Satan is said to be like a roaring lion.  He is the counterfeit and can only pretend to be what God truly is.  "The roaring lion of hell is no match for the conquering lion of Judah."  {Come, Lord Jesus!}

"The King's wrath is as terrifying as the roaring of a lion; but his favor is as refreshing as dew upon the grass."  Proverbs 19:12

Can you hear his roar?


 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Asher and His Bath

“Wanna take a bath?”  “Baaaaath!!!”  he screams as he runs into my bathroom where his pint sized porcelain pool awaits.  He does his best to pull down his shorts and rip off his diaper.  He asks, “Pee Pee on potty?”  Asher hops up on the seat, sits for five whole seconds, only to grin at me, and say, “No, thank you.”  Every single time.  Can’t get him to pee to save my life.

I kneel and crank up the hot and the cold, both cascading into a lukewarm perfection, using more cold these days, due to the 110 heat indexes.  He squeezes into the space in between my arms and grins up at me, his anticipation leaking through his pores.  His eyes are swirled with wonder and hues of blue and I swear those few seconds of him glancing my way are some of the happiest moments of each day.

I lather his baby soft dark blonde hair up with Johnson’s and we rinse and rinse and rinse.  I squirt lavender wash onto a white fluffy cloth and scrub each little toe, each little finger.  He is officially clean but the fun has only just begun.

The toys await.  Tug boats and fish squirties and yellow duckies and measuring cups float, begging to be picked up by the happy fella.  He plays and plays, me watching from the safe distance of my bed, occasionally saying, “Sit down, Asher!”  “Okaaaay, Momma,” he croons back to me as he plops himself back into delight.

Two year olds aren’t always little hellions.  Sometimes they offer so much joy your heart can’t even hold it all.

I let the water out and wrap him up, him grinning all over himself.  We step over to the sink where hair and teeth are equally brushed.  I leave his hair wet, knowing it’s simply too hot for a hairdryer.

“Jammie time!” I scream and he takes off running through the house, naked and unashamed, the way we were once all meant to be. His dimpled bootie shakes and his brothers laugh at his innocence.

Still naked, he peers at his bookcase, grabbing one to look at while I put on his diaper.  Always reading, this fourth boy.

I put him down and he runs to find each family member, giving them big fat kisses on the mouth, telling them goodnight.  Asher loves big.

I place him onto the bottom bunk, lay his beloved baby blankets beside him and offer prayers to Jesus.  Thank you for creating Asher, Lord.  Use him for your glory, Lord.  Thank you for the joy he brings to each one of us, Lord.
 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Beautiful Inheritance

There are certain times of the year that I miss her more than others.  August 19th is one of them.  She was due this day, the same day my sister Kiley made her appearance.   I thought for sure our girl would be a repayment of the sorrow in losing my sister.  I was wrong.  I stood on the church stage singing on August 19th and the tears fell so hard that I couldn’t even get the words out.  My soul surrendered another anguishing exhale as my heart worshiped the God who gives and takes away.

This is the story of my daughter.

We always wanted a whole slew of kids.  Four or five was our number and when we reached three, we needed to pause and take a breath.  Things were difficult in many areas.  Grief.  Finances.  Relationships.  All areas took their toll and we put having more children on the back burner.  In the fall of 2010, we felt released to start praying for the possibility of another child.  During that time period, God made me aware of just how afraid I was to ask for a girl.  I had wanted a daughter since I was a wee little thing and yet all I could see were the blessing of boys.  I had surrendered my desire for a girl long ago, so much so that I was afraid to even ask anymore.  So, I took a big breath and asked the Creator.

Through that time period, Sam (only 5 at the time,) starting praying for a baby sister.  He wanted to name her Nabie and when asked why he wanted a sister, he said, “So I can love her.” 

Days turned into weeks that turned into months. In the busyness of life, I squelched my desire and convinced myself I hadn’t even asked.  While at a charity event, I told God I would take it as a sign that I was supposed to have a daughter if He let me win matching mother and daughter aprons. 

I did.

The aprons are joyful and bright with large pink flowers and I wanted to cry because our God is so personally involved in our lives.

In late April of 2011, I had a vision of her.  I am not prone to having visions, but this one was so clear.  She was around the age of two or three, twirling around in a dance of light.  I couldn’t see her face, but I know she was smiling.  Joy was exploding from her.  She had light brown baby soft hair that was in pigtails.  They had a slight curl to them, as if a curling iron had given each pigtail a big ringlet.

She stole my heart that day.

On June 20th, while in the Florida Keys, I penned out a prayer.  It is the prayer of my daughter.

“I ask you Father, in the name of your Son Jesus, for a daughter.  I ask you for a girl who might reflect your beauty and grace.  I beg for a girl who might bring joy and shalom (wholeness, positive blessing) to our family unit. 

The desire for a daughter has not wanted through the years.  Yes, I have lied and said I am content, but an inner ache remains.

Give me a daughter and a huge taste of how you feel about me as your daughter. 

I pray that she would desire you above all else.  I pray redemption over her at a young age.  I proclaim my seed as blessed.  I pray health and vitality over her.  I pray life over her physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual parts.  I pray a hedge of protection over her and that Satan would never be allowed to touch her.

I pray you give her a spirit that longs to serve and not seek the limelight or attention of others.  At the same time, I pray she is able to use her God given gifts for your glory without fear or reservation.

I pray she is humble, submissive, compliant, and obedient.  I pray she would love much and give much.  I pray a knowledge and wisdom over her mind and spirit that could only be from you.

I pray purity over her whole frame and strength to withstand pressure. I pray a special bond of respect and love between she and her Daddy that won’t be marred with time.

I pray against any tension, anxiety, or jealousy over our mother-daughter relationship.  I pray the wounds of expectation and never achieving the mark and rejection and fear of making decisions would not be passed down in the name of Jesus.

I pray Godly and pure girlfriends over her.  I pray you would gift her with friends who aren’t worried about what the world thinks. I pray her whole life would be gifted with Godly friendships…from start to finish.

I pray a quiet and gentle spirit over her…the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which in God’s sight is very precious. (1 Peter 3:4)

I pray she would cherish the fact that she can be still and know that God is God, especially among a generation that finds it impossible to be still at all.

I pray she would have a healthy respect for authority and understand her God given female role in God’s story for her life.

I pray she would do others good and not harm.  I pray the spirits of malice, bitterness, manipulation, and judgment would not be found in her.

I pray that she would always be able to laugh at the days to come and that worry would be far from her.  I pray faith, rest, and shalom over her countenance.

I pray, Jesus, that you would fill her with awe and holy reverence for your name, the name above all names.

I pray a spiritual inheritance of knowing and loving the One True God over her.

I pray your delight might be in her.  (Hephzibah:  My delight is in her…Isaiah 62:4) I pray her life might offer a pleasing aroma to those around her.  I pray her presence might bring life and a soothing balm of comfort to everyone she comes into contact with.  I pray rest and tranquility over her countenance that is equally mixed with bubbly joy and a life lived to the fullest.

In vanity, I pray a head full of dark-thick-black hair over her and that she might resemble my beautiful Mother.  I pray she is marked with outer beauty but remembered for her inner beauty.

I pray a special bond between her and her brothers.  I pray that the differences in age would not be a deterrent to strong relationships and ties.  I pray the boys would always have her back and treat her with the utmost love and tender care.

I pray that as she goes through life, her soul might always be able to say, “all is well.”  I pray my favorite hymn might spill over into her life as well…that she too can say, “It is well with my soul.”  I pray a song of praise in her heart that would spill forth from her mouth.”

A solid year passed after I gathered enough courage to ask for a daughter and still, nothing.  When Sam got some pretend money, he saved it to buy his baby sister a dollhouse.  During this waiting period, God started telling me to be courageous.  I had no idea just how much I would need it.

Over these months, God started revealing Himself as El Simchah Giyl, God, my exceeding joy.  His name literally was a double portion of joy and he started to promise me a double portion, as well. On December, 9, 2011, I took a pregnancy test.  The line hinted at the faintest of pinks while the Creator and I celebrated in a triune of intimacy, even though I wasn’t quite sure yet if the results were accurate.

On December 13, Sam, six, made me a paper heart.  He taped it right on my belly.  He patted my belly and told me it was going to have to get really full for his baby sister.  After getting the kids to school, I took another test.  This time, the line quickly turned pink.  I fell to the white bathroom rug, bowed low, and repeated over and over again, “Wonderful are Thy works, I know that full well.”  Psalm 139:14

After getting Sam from half day kindergarten, I pulled into the driveway and noticed the pot of Gerbera daisies that Eric and the boys had gotten for me the previous June.  The daisies were yellow, but only lasted a week or so.  I was so sad to see them die, but I left the pot alone, hoping they might return.  Imagine my astonishment when I peered into the pot only to see the tiniest beginning of a yellow Gerbera daisy poking its way out of the soil.  Perfect little petals in a sunshine hue adorned the green stem.  Typically, Gerbera daisies don’t even bloom in the winter!  God had been extravagant in telling me that He was bringing about new life!

 
I was overwhelmed at God’s attention to detail and His involvement in my life.

Eric and I rejoiced over our baby for a solid seven days.  And then, on December 19th, God swept her up into His presence.  One of the hardest things I have ever had to do is flush the remains of my beautiful girl. My soul shattered and I swear fragments of it were flushed away with her.  My lips achingly uttered the same Psalm, “Wonderful are Thy works, I know that full well.”

I miscarried, but I didn’t want to miss the spiritual enlargement that might come instead of a protruding belly.

God faithfully revealed Himself as the Master Gardener, the one who skillfully knows what to plant and what to uproot.  It took time, but His grace refused to leave me in my empty and hopeless state.  I learned that the gateway to abundant blessing is always through death.  Seeds must be buried deep in the dark soil before they can ever rise to the surface in new life.

Months passed and Sam continued to speak life over me.  He told me over and over again that I would be a Mommy again.   I would cry and choke down my food and wait to see what God would do with the words of a six year old.

August 19th came, me sobbing on the stage.  We were supposed to be in the hospital, peering into her beauty for the first time, and we had absolutely nothing to show for it.  I had a double portion of ache that day, as I also mourned the ability to celebrate my sister’s birthday.

I was oblivious, but God had already implanted Asher Tate.  I was pregnant this day, and didn’t even know it. I thought all was lost and yet God had already planted the seeds of restoration.  He had brought about my double portion of joy, Asher (happy) Tate (happy.)  God used him to bring a sense of completeness to our family as well as quench my desires for another girl.

Our daughter has a name. It isn’t any name that we would have chosen on our own, but it totally fits her.  Her name is Daisy.  When God allowed us to see the Gerbera daisy the same day we found out about our girl, we knew He was being extra gentle in giving us something tangible to hold onto until we could see her again.

I still have our matching aprons.  My small garden is scattered with gerberas. She would have been three in a few weeks.  I miss her madly. I look over the prayers I prayed over her and realize that God has answered so many of them.  Satan never touched her.  She does others good and not harm.  She has such awe for the name of Jesus. The delight of the Lord is all over her. Every single day, her soul proclaims that all is well.

Straight into the Father’s arms she went.  We share the beautiful inheritance of knowing and loving the One True God.  One day, we will sing His praises together, hand in hand.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Exposure {Nothing is Hidden}

This is what I feel like is happening right now…

Light shines in the darkness.  We think of that in such glorious terms, and it truly is!  But, I think since late June, God has taken a huge spotlight, cranked it up to the highest power, and pointed it towards our nation.  The light is uncovering just how dark we are.  It’s almost as if He is saying, “You are an evil nation.  Let me show you just how bad you are.  There is no more hiding or sweeping things under the rug.  I am shining a light so that you can SEE for yourselves just how far things have gone.”

This is the theme I can’t get out of my head.  Since late June (only one month ago!), we have had unthinkable things rise to the surface.  The state of Oregon now allows 15 year olds to have a gender change without their parent’s consent.  Planned Parenthood sells aborted baby parts.  Marines have been killed by hate. Our President made a deal with Iran, a nation who isn’t afraid to call our country the “Big Satan.” People are either losing their jobs, resigning, or being ridiculously fined for expressing their freedoms of belief. Caitlyn (aka Bruce) Jenner was awarded the ESPY award for courage?!! Ashley Madison’s infidelity website has been hacked, exposing the sin of individual hearts.  The military is training in various southern states of America for eight solid weeks and their motto is “Master the Human Domain.”  This has all taken place in the last month.

This is not a time for fear.  But, this is the time to open our eyes and beg God to allow us to see!  We know that God is the one shining the light on all the things that break His heart.  We know He holds the standard of light and holiness as well as the cleansing only He can graciously provide.  Lord, have mercy on us and bring us back to your heart.

Today, instead of telling God what is on your heart, pause and ask God what is on His heart regarding our crumbling nation.  What He says might surprise you.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.  Everything is being uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:13

Monday, July 13, 2015

True Light

Darkness Darkness all around.  It permeates through the screen and jumps onto my skin, daring to seep deeply. It percolates and drips slowly at first and then alarmingly fast until the whole pot is discolored black.  It mocks me at the checkout line and sneers at me when I turn on the television. 

From the looks of things, it appears as though the darkness has won. So many are enslaved in this affair with the pitch black.  Vile and filth breed in the murky waters of indifference and corruption. The pride and the hate and the abuse and the murder scream into my ears, threatening my sanity.

The black flag of evil is flying high.

But, it isn’t my banner.

Rescued, I was, from this lightless pit.

During the ancient plagues of Exodus, the darkness was so thick that no one could see anyone or move about for three whole days.  Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they dwelled.

God’s light shined on His people then as it shines on His own now.  His Spirit blazes through my pores and His Word marks my footsteps. Even in the alien world of blackness, God’s light dawns every single morning for those bathed in bloody grace.

The light of Christ living within is needed in this hour.
 
 

While our fellow friends-family-foes grope in the foul depravity, they are searching for something, anything, which will fulfill.

We can extend the light that was extended to us.

We often feel our wicks are about to go out; we are so listless, tired, even depressed.  We must ask Jesus to blow onto our flickering lights, and burn our insides afresh with His presence. Even at our weakest, the light of the Holy can pour forth, changing lives and rescuing the God-image called mankind. We are not useless, powerless, forgotten, or extinguished.  We are more than conquerors in this world.  We are, dare I say, victorious.

One day, our lights within won’t be needed.  The heavenly bodies, lamps, candles, and flames will be discarded.  All eyes will be on the True Light.  All knees will bow to the Light of the World.

Rays emanate from your Holy stature.  You plucked the moon like a giant grape and trampled it like wine.  The stars—even the sun-king—came to You in reverent obedience as You called each one by name.  You told them they had served their purpose and they gratefully bowed low and extinguished before the True Light.  All did not seem dark, but brighter.  Purer.  All eyes were on the Source.

 

Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation-- whom shall I fear?

 The LORD is the stronghold of my life-- of whom shall I be afraid?

 

Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

 

Psalm 112:4 Light dawns in the darkness for the upright; he is gracious, merciful, and righteous.

 

Psalm 43:3  Send out your light and your truth;

 let them lead me;  let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!

 

Revelation 22:5

There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp of the light of the sun,

 for the Lord God will give them light.  And they will reign for ever and ever.

 

{Glory.  Hallelujah.}