Go Higher

I must have looked like a crazy woman to the shoreline walkers. First I paced back and forth. Then I stood still and stared. Then I would pace again. Stare. Repeat.  This is how I process stuff at the beach when my brain is working on something too big for me.  I was praying. Sort of.  Lord what about… And Lord what if… And Lord I can’t figure out…Lord what are you going to do about…Lord when will…  As I said, praying, sort of.

For the life of me, I just couldn’t figure out an answer for burning in my soul. My list of issues were close to home.
• Facing fear in certain relationships
• Parenting in this season
• Helping my aging parents
• Overhauling my health

But my list also extended to further reaching problems.
• My friends’ mothers dying from cancer
• Grief over trafficking, immigration, etc
• Frustration with the church
• Our planet drowning in plastic

That’s not even everything on the list! No it’s not drama. So don’t say it.  It’s real world. It’s life. And sometimes it presses too close.

I wonder what the Holy Spirit does in these moments.  Watching me, watching you, try to figure out things that we were never meant to figure out alone.

In one of my pace and stare cycles I said out loud, “Lord, why aren’t you answering me?”

“I already have,” the Spirit said.

“When?” I shot back. “I’ve been out here forever pouring my heart out to you. You haven’t said anything.”

“Crystal texted you earlier.”

I stopped mid-pace. I grabbed my phone and looked at my text from my friend Crystal. She sent me a song link and said, “this reminds me of when you heard this at jazz. [jazzercise]”  I had even responded fondly with: “This is one of my favorite pre-Jesus songs. He’s always calling us home.”

Can you believe that interchange happened a hour before my prayer meltdown?

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Confidence in Transitions

Sometimes known as the Squeeeeeze, we call transition lots of things. In limbo, out of rhythm, off your game. Then there’s my personal favorite, out of my comfort zone. We are so certain the deep unsettled feeling is a bad thing we conclude we must be doing something wrong.  But what if the deep unsettled feeling is a good thing? I had a moment in the ocean about transitions that might help us navigate the arduous and sometime unwanted process.

By it’s very nature, transition means movement. Moving from one place to another. In work, family, relationships, even faith every area requires forward motion. To be fair the only thing worse than transition is stagnancy. Standing water, or stagnant, is foul and infested. We desperately need movement to keep us fresh. The Lord used waves to stir up my standing waters.

I go out into the ocean about ankle deep. Feeling pretty confident I step a little deeper because I have a sense of control. But pretty soon I feel the familiar pull on the sand as the water retracts. If  you are beach savvy at all, we both know there is a battering line you must cross, the line where the waves break before crashing onto shore.  If I try to stand or swim  near that line, I will be beaten to death. But if I jump over  the wave, or better dive under it as it is crashing over, I can “pass through” the line and the water calms a bit. By the way, it’s also deeper beyond the break.

(That’ll preach all by itself. Keep going. Don’t let the pressure of the coming waves paralyze you. Jump higher or dive under and you can pass through to deeper waters.)

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Are you BAD or BIG?

Whoa.  This summer I am in my own personal crash course with the Holy Spirit. Several books have come my way which are blowing me up  in all the needed places, but put those books in the hands of the Living Spirit and  you have a cocktail called Rock My World, complete with a little umbrella. Wink. Seriously. It is in a word: Transformation.

One book is called Are My Kids On Track? by Goff, Thomas, and Trevathan. If your kids are little, get and activate it immediately. If you are thinking about kids, get it and work it in to your marriage right now. If you’re like me, and your kids are on their way out  door, go take a deep breath of Grace, and then immediately activate it anyway. It’s never too late to start doing something better.

These wise, insightful counselors and authors have so many tools for healthy emotional development and go so far as to identify, for each gender, stumbling blocks and and building blocks. I tell you, this book is a must read. You know why? Because if we don’t turn our stumbling blocks into building blocks then we remain stuck little kids inside grown up bodies. And we all know THAT person who “never grew up.”

One particular insight explained stumbling blocks for boys as B-A-D.  They said boys are most likely to go to Blame, Avoidance, and Denial. BAD. Believe it or not, there are building blocks to help them through this, as opposed to saying “boys will be boys” or boys are not emotional. Okay you got this concept? BAD, being aware  of when I am refusing to take ownership, when I refuse to engage in a solution, or even admit there is an issue.

Holy Spirit has  used this book to install a new alarm system. My heart starts pinging when I go to BAD.

The Holy Spirit took this pearl and added it to a beautiful concept from another book called Rising Strong by Brene’ Brown. As one of my Kate friends says: Love me some Brene’.  Brene’ asks some real world questions in the aftermath of when you fall flat on your face, when the worst thing does happen, when you fail in front of everyone. How do you get back up?  How do you rise again stronger and wiser and kinder to yourself and those around you?

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The Season of Hope

We had a fire in our fireplace last night.  Uhm. It’s mid April.  We pack and unpack our winter jackets. We wait and wait for the last frost to plant our tender flowers only to turn around and cover them for threat of another frost. Uhm. It’s mid April. So what’s the bottom line.

just. breathe. 

Ever since Resurrection Sunday my spirit has been buzzing with the same Hope that creation sings out day after day. We laugh about blackberry winter, and dogwood winter, and who knows how many more, but we all are Looking for Something. We just know that winter won’t last. Even the brave pansies and daffodils stand strong in their stamina and  say, “hold on, keep believing.”

where does hope come from? 

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Agreeing with Heaven

First. I am shocked by the long stretch since I blogged. Two. I HAVE been writing and developing material (more on that later) but it just hasn’t made it to this particular outlet. Three. I am so blown away by the power of God to answer our prayers. 2017 was a year of dreams and visions and revelations. He blew me up in May with a crazy callout to “go for more” and then He started pushing and pulling and leading me into More. Even if my knees were knocking. And 2018? Well this is the year that all that good, juicy stuff between He and I gets poured out. Whew. I may need a nap.

Here’s my overarching song for today. You know what beats the blues? You know what “fixes our eyes on Jesus”? You know what keep giving us energy to get up day after day, heartache after heartache? Our dreams, especially the dreams that He himself has revealed to us.

I tell you what..He’s relentless.  I was doing this dream exercise in one of our groups and I asked the women to just listen with Holy Spirit and write down 2-3 things they heard.  As I was waiting quietly, the Spirit nudged me and said, “you too.”

So I listened and heard. The answers came pretty quickly but the writing it down took a little more effort. The dreams were too big. Too much. Too audacious. Too embarrassing. Just TOO, dang it. The Spirit just kept pressing.

“Write them down.”

“I can’t.”

Write.”

“Okay, I’ll write two of them. Happy?”

“No. All three.”

I sat there waffling between faith and doubt. I wanted what He said. I just couldn’t see how what He said could come to pass.

“By faith.” He whispered reading my thoughts.

I finally wrote all three down. And I finally got all three out of my mouth when it was my time to share. A funny thing happened. Every time I spoke out the dreams the Lord shared with me, my faith grew and my doubts diminished. I was prophesying over myself and agreeing with Heaven every time I repeated what the Spirit said.

It’s been almost 8 months. God has been pulling the pieces into place. He is the Dream Maker. My job is be the Dream Keeper and stay in step with Him as He does what only He can do.

So with that said, do you know what His dreams are for you? Are you keeping them well? Are you paying attention when He starts pulling pieces together?

What a ride. Just start speaking them out. He will do the rest.

 


 

It’s a God-bathed world. And the devil hates it!

I just can’t take it . Every time something terrible, horrible, bone chilling happens, the same question rises up.  Where is God? And I tell you He is where He said He would be.

Right in the middle of the mess with us. 

One of the single greatest omissions of modern church thinking is the concept that we live in a war zone. It is our enemy who prowls around looking to devour, even to kill, steal and destroy. (1 Peter 5 and John 10) So when that destruction comes, why are we so surprised?

Are we so deceived that we do not know how and why to rail against the true source of hate and death? Are we so socially and spiritually numb that we do not see the war against God’s children?

God loves the world He has created.  The enemy hates it.

The enemy uses all manner of strategies to mar and distort all he can.  But God still brings comfort, healing, hope and peace regardless of the tactics used. God’s number weapon? Me and you.

Last night, the Lord woke me up. As I focused my eyes in the dark, I saw the brilliance of the moon in my house. I heard this phrase over and over in my spirit

A Great Light has come
and the darkness cannot put it out.

So now what?

Jesus did this crazy thing in the gospels. First He said, “I am the light of the world.” (John 12) And then He turned around and said, YOU are the light of the world. (Matthew 5) 

I don’t know about you, but I see a Great Light burning in the hearts of men and women who run to help in places of devastation and horror. I see God’s light shining through us as we love and bless when we could hate. I see a Great Light in the hearts of believers who carry His power and authority to stand and overcome the prince of this world.

I tell you worship God. It is our greatest weapon and the enemy hates it!

God is good. God in the details. So instead of blaming Him, let’s display Him.

 

 

 

When God Answers In Crazy Ways

In the White House, they call it the news cycle. On the TV, they call it breaking news. In the human heart, these predictions create sheer panic.   Yet there is a greater revelation in of all the natural disasters and it hit me like a lightning bolt this morning.  I was watching a  clip from Steve Hartman on CBS Evening News  about how we went from rioting, protesting, hating each other one week to rescuing, serving, saving one another the next week.

Then I recalled this photo circulating on social media.

This is the wonder moment.  Me and my praying friends, and I am sure you and your praying friends, have been asking God to do whatever it takes to bring peace.  I have been releasing the Shalom of Heaven over the violent mood of our country.  And suddenly,  our differences have turned from throwing words and punches to throwing prayers and supplies.

Has God used these natural disasters to bring about the prayed for perspective shift?

I understand if you are living through and after these catastrophic events, it is hard to imagine celebrating or lifting up praise. Yet my friend in Houston confirmed the shift saying there is an overwhelming sense of gratitude.  Even more, she said, once they started reconnecting with the rest of the world and heard about the devastation in India and surrounding areas, she and her community were humbled all the more realizing it could have been so much worse. “Even with the destruction, we were still blessed,” she said.

Now with Irma, the forest fires, the Mexican earthquake, and other life altering circumstances, can we or will we maintain our confidence in a good God?

He is NOT bringing judgment. That is Old Testament rhetoric that has no place this side of the cross.

What we can see all through the Bible however is a God who is our “ever present help in time of need.”

This morning as I rejoice that Irma has reduced from Category 5 to 4, I am still praying for the storm to move, subside, or shift. I am still believing for rain. I am still believing for comfort for Houston and other affected parts of the world.

And. My spirit has paused to thank God for reminding us of who we all are.  Human beings. Each and every one worthy of love and dignity.  Maybe, just maybe, God has answered our prayers by showing how valuable life really is.

Creeping Under The Gates of Hell

When I first stumbled through my overcrowded garage and my bare foot touched the tentacles on the floor, I let out a scream and jumped back.  With my phone flashlight in hand, I crept up, somewhat embarrassed, to realize these “tentacles” were instead a tenacious vine.

(We are in East Tennessee after all and pretty far from any invasion of an octopus, wink.)

But still I couldn’t figure out what the heck this vine was doing creeping under my door. It was so sickly. Clearly it was dying. I started to pull it up but stopped short.

I don’t know why I let this vine interrupt my mission. I was confounded. Why would a vine be trying to get IN my garage. There is no sunlight, no nutritional soil, no means of water.  It simply could NOT survive.

Then I heard this crazy whisper, “Raise the garage door.”

So I did.

“The gates of hell will not prevail.” I heard the Spirit say.

I stood there in awe.

Who knew this vibrant, green, luscious plant was on the other side of the garage door? Who knew is seemingly sickly yet unyielding vine was wholly and happily sustained by a stronger, larger network of plants?

This! This is what the true Church is. This is what the Body of Christ, the Life of God, whatever language you know, is all about.

Christ in us, the hope of glory.

This is what “Jesus alive in us” is all about. The plant is Not dying but fully alive in the mother plant. And the mother plant is spreading and multiplying in every direction.

Likewise, the Spirit of God in us is invading this world, even the dark, void of light garages of our world. And it is in a word, unstoppable.

We don’t have to be afraid of the dark.  Life is sliding under the door.

And the gates of hell cannot keep it out.

 

New Wine Church

What can I say? We have been doing “church” for years. Jesus called it ‘where two or more are gathered in his name.’  So yeah. That’s what we have been doing. But then came the call to start something on Sunday. And it just feels— different.

Call it cultural perceptions. Call it fear of man. Whatever it is, God is asking us for radical trust that this is His dream. New Wine Church is His idea.

We want to foster a place where the presence of God is the most important thing. We believe in a community that functioned like Paul’s gatherings. A place where deep hearted believers can come to celebrate God, to be fed, to grow in their gifting, and, a place where the unsaved are drawn into the family.

How?  The power and presence of God.

So what to expect. A community with opportunities to engage with each other. Worship times where we expect to encounter the Holy Spirit. And teaching that is fresh manna.

Here is mine and Chuck’s heart. We know God is laying out a table of truth, grace, transformation, power. We are inviting anyone who as hungry as we are to join us for more.

First meeting is January 26 at The Empty Cup located on Executive Park Drive.

9:15-10:00   Coffee and Community

10:00 -11:30 Worship, Teaching and Prayer


Pearls of Wisdom: On Sex, Beauty, and Worth

I think I shied away from continuing to talk about sex and beauty. In my mind, my kids had heard it all before. We have been talking about sex and beauty since they were toddlers. Now as teens, their pushback was working. The rolled eyes, the “I know, Mom!” comments, the sighing and huffing was enough to deter one more lecture.  But then, I saw the brokenness and confusion around sex and beauty and I knew it needed to be talked about. Again.

I was reminded of a weighty word the other day that’s worth repeating. It’s more than ‘save sex.’ It’s the WHY of sex. 

God is always in the details. It’s important to know that the very first “shedding of blood” was not for the clothing after the Fall. It was the blood covenant of marriage between the man and the woman. 

In the garden, the man and woman were naked and unashamed. God covered the woman’s vagina with a thin membrane called the hymen.  And when this “veil” was torn, the small amount of blood signified the covenant she entered with God and Adam as the “two became one flesh.”  It was a holy contract. And their heirs, the children they produced through their love, became a reminder of God’s faithfulness, because they too have  passed through the veil of the blood covenant.

couple-behind-veil-wedding-ideas-from-marvelous-things-photography-600x400-1

The symbolism is breath-taking. Do we teach this kind of beauty to our children? Because if we did, the worth of our sexuality just might go far beyond our current standard.

(This is an extremely short version. See Kris Valloton, Moral Revolution)

In light of such honor, the demonic abuse and distortion plainly seen. Turn on any channel.

We are more than objects and animals.

I want to remind us of the Why of God’s heart:  to protect something sacred and honored. We set a high standard of purity because we agree that God’s way is best. “The marriage bed is to be honored by all.” Hebrews 13:4  

So we count virginity for women and men as a great treasure because they have fought and defended what God prizes. We count marital faithfulness as a great treasure because we don’t allow the enemy to invade our Holy Ground. We don’t apologize for setting a standard that reflects the heart of God.

And. With grace, we understand that not all fight this battle to the end. We take courage and comfort in our sexual failures, because the blood of Jesus washes us from all stains. All. Stains.

Yet we do not deviate from the standard. God’s way is best. Every. Time.

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