2020 is Still Going to be a Great Year!

Chris and I both felt excitement as the New Year 2020 was approaching.  We had more hope for the future than we had experienced for several years. 

Chris kept saying, “This will be a good and blessed New Year!”

               I was hearing the same message in my own heart and from others in the body of Christ.  Brian Simmons visited our church at the end of January, and his wife said that 2020 was going to be a year of redemption and a year of “a flying eagle company.”

                I loved that word!  I have been searching the skies for eagles for the past two years.  In February our family took a day trip to Gifford Pinchot State Park.  It was 55 degrees, sunny, and beautiful.  The children were fishing, playing on the playground, and throwing football.  I was sitting in the sunshine with my eyes closed, letting my mind wander.  I began to wonder what 2020 had in store for us.  Would Ashlyn get surgery to correct her scoliosis?  Would it go well for her? Would we be able to take a family vacation?  Would we experience prosperity this year?  Or would an unexpected tragedy befall us?  I didn’t know, but I felt safe in God’s hands.  Peace surrounded me.

                I stood and opened my eyes and there it was! 

A bald eagle was flying right above us in the perfectly blue sky. It was so close.

http://Photo by Frank Cone from Pexels

                It was my eighth eagle sighting.  Eight is the number of new beginnings.  That same week, God had given me three different chapters of Isaiah to read.  These are the verses that jumped out.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up: do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland…” Is 43:18-19

“From now on I will tell you of new things, of hidden things unknown to you.They are created now, and not long ago; you have not heard of them before today.” Is 48:6-7

“Pay close attention now: I am creating new heavens and a new earth. All the earlier troubles, chaos, and pain are things of the past, to be forgotten. Look ahead with joy. Anticipate what I’m creating: I’ll create Jerusalem as sheer joy, create my people as pure delight.” Is 65:17-18 (MSG)

                LOOK AHEAD WITH JOY, God said!

                All that has happened since February is something new and unexpected.  I never anticipated this “pandemic” or how governments and people would respond to it. Yet I am still looking ahead with joy.

                Our lives have been restricted.  Many businesses had to shut down and many people can no longer work.  We can’t gather or attend church in person.  Yet necessity is the mother of invention, and I see inventions and innovations coming out of this time. 

I see new perspectives, new systems and new ways of doing things.  Businesses, our economy and our country could emerge from this crisis better and stronger than ever. 

                Most of us are told to stay in our homes with our families.  Forced to be with our families: to eat together, talk together, work together, and experience every moment of every day together – wow!  What a novel idea for most modern families!

I love having 9 of my children home with me every day.  Reason # 1002 to have lots of children: you will never be lonely, isolated, or bored during a pandemic.  Reason #1003: you have an instant party to celebrate any birthday or special day that might come around. (Reasons #1-1001 will have to be the subject of another article since they are too numerous and too wondrous to discuss here.)

Families are getting closer and stronger.

We are no longer taking our families for granted. They are our support network, our community, our church, and our greatest mission field.  The family is God’s glory center, and it is the foundation for His next move, His next awakening, His next revival.

It seems as though our enemy has us trapped, yet all the enemy’s plans will be used by God to destroy him (Ps 54:5).  Darkness is being exposed and the light is shining brighter than ever. 2020 is the year of clear vision and things are starting to come into focus. 

It is becoming very evident who trusts in the Lord and who doesn’t.

“There is no peace for the wicked.” Is 48:22

“One who trusts (in Jesus) will not panic.” Is 28:16

“The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.” Pr 28:1

Many non-believers and believers alike are realizing that they need to repent.  Many people are seeking peace and seeking God.

Many Christians are moving out of the ordinary into something new…a baptism of fire!  We are letting go of comfort and happiness and pursuing the kingdom.  We are moving away from self-preservation and learning about the wisdom of the cross; to lay down our lives to gain true life, to surrender ourselves to obtain true liberty.

I am praying along with Lou Engle that God would pour out his Spirit on us.

It will be something that only God can do and something we have never seen before!

How glorious for multitudes to turn to Jesus!

How earth-shaking when every Jesus follower confidently declares,

The Spirit of the LORD is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim FREEDOM for the prisoners and recovery of SIGHT for the blind.” Luke 4:18

And then not just say it, but actually do it!

As I was formulating this article in my mind, I randomly opened up my Bible to the second chapter of Joel.  The entire book is just perfect for this time in history.  What God highlighted to me was His response to his people after their fast. Tens of thousands of people all over the world have just finished a 40 day fast. Perhaps God is saying this to us right now.

“I am sending you grain, new wine and oil, enough to satisfy you fully…Rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you autumn rains in abundance…the threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.  I will repay you for the years the locust have eaten…

And afterwards I will pour out my Spirit on all people.”

These are Exciting Times!

“That was the most amazing sight I have ever seen!” I thought to myself in wonder.  The sun was just peaking over the horizon, I was just waking up, and God had just given me a dream.

                In the dream I awoke at a time that I thought would be perfect for a quiet time, 4:44 am.  I got up and started getting ready before I realized that the clock read 12:44, just a bit past midnight.  I wasn’t tired so decided to stay up.  Soon all my children were awake as well, and we enjoyed the unusual night, reading books together.  After a short time the sun was up, even though it was the middle of the night.  I went outside, heading into a forest to attend a prayer meeting, but before I reached the gathering, I realized that there was something I needed to do back at my house.  I walked back into a clearing and I saw the most amazing rainbow in the azure sky.  Its colors where much deeper and more solid than a normal rainbow, and instead of making an arch across the sky, it twisted and turned like a ribbon. I realized that the rainbow was somewhat solid, made from clouds.  I rushed back to the prayer group, excited to tell them to look to the sky.  They had already seen the unique ribbon of colors, because it had threaded itself through the branches of a nearby tree and spilled out towards the ground.  As the magnificent cloud reached me, I noticed that it had lost its color and had dissipated, rather like fog when you walk through it. I walked back to the clearing and the sky had turned black with an approaching storm.  Yet the rainbow ribbon was brighter than ever, with the deepest reds and blues and purples I had ever seen.

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger from Pexels

It was then that I awoke and thought, “That was the most amazing sight I have ever seen!”

                As I got ready in the bathroom, I looked up at my mirror and saw the pages that I had taped there. These were important quotes and scriptures that I wanted to memorize.  The first one I read was a quote from David Lebo from a prophecy he gave in 2019 titled “I am Setting My Eagles Free.”

                “My eagles are soaring in this time.  You will be caught up in a perpetual, never-ending state of soaring on wings like an eagle in the reality of Isaiah 40…You will not fear the storms in your life.  An excitement will arise within you when you see the storms clouds begin to form.”

                I did feel excitement when I had seen the black sky in my dream.  I read another quote, this one from Rick Joyner from a recent Word of the Week.

                “It has been said that the EAGLE may be the only creature in nature that actually likes STORMS. They have learned that if they approach a contrary wind at the proper angle, it will carry them HIGHER.”

                I was reminded of another dream I had back in October.

  I was working in the kitchen in a large facility that seemed to be hosting a conference.  Rick Joyner rushed through the kitchen on his way to somewhere important when he stopped and looked at me.

                “You are a good dishwasher. You deserve a raise!”

                At the time I was disappointed when I awoke from that dream.  Rick Joyner has been a kind of spiritual father to me, discipling me through his books and his videos.  Yet a father would see my true identity.  I was NOT a dishwasher!

                As I remembered this dream again I realized the important part of the dream.

“YOU DESERVE A RAISE!”

Perhaps that was just God’s way of saying, “If approach the storms in your life in the right way, I will take you higher. I AM going to RAISE you up in this time. I will take you to the next level.”

This is a word for the entire church, not just me. 

The black storm clouds have filled the sky.  Yet the rainbow (promises of God) made of clouds (His presence) are more visible and more stunning than we have ever know before.  If we believe Him, we are living in His promises all the time. 

As a child I would love to run out into my yard when it was a foggy morning.  The thought of being inside a cloud was fascinating to me. However, when I ran toward a solid looking patch of fog, it would seem to disappear when I got there.  Sometimes the promises of God can be like that.  They are surrounding us, but we can’t see them.  In my dream I was able to take in a panoramic view of this mysterious rainbow when I stepped into the clearing.  I think this season of quarantine is like taking a step back to get a better view.

Let’s open our eyes while we have the chance, while all “non-essential” activities are canceled and our routines are interrupted.  Let’s turn off the TV and put our phones away and turn towards the Lord!  Worship Him!  Sing to Him!  Wait on Him! 

He will lift us higher. 

What magnificent sights He wants to show us!

God’s Vision for Me as a Mother

The first story I ever wrote about motherhood was titled, “My Children Aren’t Perfect.” It told about my original Glorious Vision of Motherhood. I believed that if I poured all my love and time and just the right bits of research, learning, and training into my children; they would be practically perfect. With each passing year the truth became more and more ruthless in wrestling my pride and ignorance. Finally I saw my Glorious Vision as what it truly was – a grotesque idol that must come toppling down.

                When the dust settled, all I had were broken pieces of my dream and a tentative hope – that God could make something beautiful with my imperfect mothering and messed up children.

                Now six years later I am confident that He is writing a masterpiece with my broken life!  Of course He can bring eternal glory out of my flawed motherhood.  Of course He can with yours!  That was His plan all along, and our imperfections are just interesting details that add conflict and excitement to His story. 

                During the drudgery of dirty diapers, emotional outbursts, and broken car doors when you are in a hurry to get somewhere; it is nice to set our sights on something lovely.  What does all our “day to day” hustle really mean?

                When I was feeling so sick with my 10th pregnancy, God began to show me His Glorious Vision for my Motherhood. I had been sitting on the sofa for about a month.  To pass the time I would try to read books.  Still I would have to stop every so often to put the book down, close my eyes and just breathe. 

                “I am fine.  This nausea will pass.  I will not feel wretched forever.  I just need to get through this day, this hour, this moment, this next chapter of my book.”

                Then I would continue to read, to try and escape how I felt, and to enter into another life more pleasant than my own.  Janette Oak books were always a good choice; interesting, sweet, and encouraging.  Perhaps you have read her famous book that began her famous series, Love Comes Softly.  I didn’t read the entire series, but I read one of the very last books, The Tender Years.

A scene at the beginning of the book captured my imagination.  The original heroine, Marty, was now in her 80s.  She was helping in the kitchen with all the daughters and granddaughters as they prepared a feast for a family reunion.  One of her daughters urged Marty to sit down and take a rest, and she did so gladly.  That gave her time to think about her many descendants that were all around her, romping in the yard, or in far-away places.  Marty knew each one by name.  She knew where they were and what they were doing.  She knew their infinite value, carried them in her heart, and constantly remembered them in her prayers.

I counted each name she listed (which included children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and all of their spouses).  One Hundred and fifty!  That was the number of her progeny.  I was impressed and amazed!  She and her husband Clark had 5 children.  I had 10!  Marty began to fade out of my mind and I imagined myself at 80. I was vibrant and healthy, excited about having most of the family home to eat around our huge tables and play around our large country home. I could have more than 150 in my brood, and I began to get so excited! 

In the moment I was still feeling listless and weak.  But my spirit perked up as I realized that someday I would get my energy back. Someday I would enjoy playing and learning new things with my children again.  Someday even further down the road, it will no longer be me who is pregnant.  It will be my daughters and my daughters-in-law.  I will be able to help and encourage them! 

Someday I will help cook and clean for them.  I will snuggle newborns and chase after toddlers. I will babysit, read books, and do art projects.  I will encourage my children and grandchildren and pray for them by name. I will rejoice with every wedding and every new life! 

And while I am living my normal and mundane mom-life, my descendants will be slowly and surely taking over the world!

I closed my eyes and this is the vision that God gave me.  Chris and I had grown together to become the trunk of a mighty oak tree.  The more we press into God, the deeper our root system grows down into the fertile soil.  We have sprouted 9 strong, tall branches that will produce many branches of their own.  We also have a special branch that is smaller and more twisted than the others. Although she most likely won’t sprout any new branches, her life and her fruit are indispensable to our family. Together we are a magnificent tree, the kind that dominates the landscape and produces much fruit.  The kind that offers shade to the burnt-out, rest to the weary, and shelter to the storm-tossed.

Like it says in Is 61:3, “we will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”

This vision of the mighty oak gives me strength and encouragement on the hard days.  I am living for the long term benefits, not immediate comfort.  Lots of crap happens in life.  Sometimes storms come and tear off the fruit.  Sometimes the branches are in danger of being cut off.  The floods come and threaten to wash us away.  The droughts come and jeopardize our green leaves. 

I know that as long as we press into God, our roots will always tap into His water, His life, His Holy Spirit just like in Jer 17:8 and Ps 1:3. Those roots are the anchor that keeps us steady and firm.

I got through that difficult pregnancy, got through the difficult labor, got through the difficult recovery and have begun to get my energy and enthusiasm back.  I have been able to enjoy my jewel of a baby girl while at the same time joyfully anticipate the future babies that my own children will have in the coming years.

God took this vision one step further for me recently at church. I had my eyes closed during worship and I was thinking about all the trials we had endured and were still enduring.  Then I saw our family as a mighty oak tree again – tall and strong and green.  I saw our roots go deeper and then deeper still with each hardship.  This continued until the roots hit molten lava. 

Photo by Phil Kallahar from Pexels

The lava traveled up the roots and soon the entire tree was ablaze.  Yet it wasn’t consumed as a normal tree would have been.  It was like Moses’ burning bush; still vibrant, still alive, yet on fire. What a sight to behold!

Then I remembered that I had been asking God to put fire in our hearts.  A fire for Him that would never be quenched. A fire which would burn away all other “gods”, which would give us zeal and energy to pursue Him to our dying breath. A fire that would continue and even increase down through the generations. 

It seemed like God was saying, “If everything that comes your way in this life causes you to go deeper with me, your prayer WILL be answered. It is happening even now.”

A fiery, flourishing, expansive tree reaching the whole earth with its branches heavy laden with fruit – that is God’s Glorious Vision for my Motherhood

It is a vision I consider worth living and dying for.  It is a vision that I know that I can’t accomplish.  I have very little control over who my children marry, how many children they have, or the length or quality of their lives.  I can’t anticipate the wrong choices, the tragedies, or the sorrows that may come.  Nor can I imagine the intensity of the triumphs and joys. 

Yet I know that God will accomplish His purpose for us.  It is HIS vision!  And if I am able to make it to 80 and take in with my own eyes the powerful world-changers I helped to bring forth; it will be all His doing!

Perhaps you don’t have as many children as I do.  Perhaps you have more. You might even have a beautiful menagerie of spiritual children, adopted children, God-children, or step-children…charming, amazing, and exasperating children!  Each family tree is unique and one of a kind.  Each has a special purpose.  Have you asked God to show you His Vision for YOUR Motherhood?  Go ahead…I dare you!

I bet it is GLORIOUS!

My Biggest Breakthrough: Part 2 – The Original Wound

Photo by Miriam Espacio from Pexels

Areli, Aria, and I had a wonderful time in Texas. When we returned home I was still living in the wonder of the love that God had shown me there.  I tried to process it, understand it, find scriptures to support it, make it part of my every thought, and believe it in my every cell. 

                A very curious thing had happened in Texas.  Aria had refused to nurse.  I thought that perhaps it was because I didn’t have my usual nursing pillow and everything around us was different.  I did get a few good nursing times with her in our hotel room…when she was totally asleep.  Surely she would resume nursing normally when we were back home.

                Within a few weeks of returning home, Aria stopped nursing completely.  I couldn’t coax her, though I tried and tried.  It was totally fine of course!  She was 15 months and eating all kinds of wonderful food.

 I just thought I had more time, time for her to be a baby, time for her to need me, time for us to snuggle.  All of a sudden my time was up.

                A week went by and my nursing pillows were still out, my bedroom was still in disarray with pillows stacked on the loveseat in the just the right way for nursing.

                “I need to put the nursing pillows away up in the attic.  Now is my chance to make my room pretty again and get rid of all these random pillows.” I thought.

                The thought made me want to cry.  I didn’t want to be done nursing!  The sorrow hung with me and it was stronger than when my other babies had weaned.  Perhaps it was because with the other babies, I knew in my heart that God had more babies to give me.  This time I do not have that assurance.  I could be done nursing…forever.

                I really did feel that the timing of this was from God, that He wanted me to go deeper with Him.  So I allowed myself to feel the pain, to explore the pain, with the help of the Holy Spirit.  I realized that I was only eating for one again.  It didn’t feel important anymore what I ate.  Do I really deserve the best food and supplements?  Just me?  I am not as important as Aria.  In fact, if I am severed from my children, am I valuable at all? 

                I realized with sadness that I was not, at least not in my own estimation.  Being a mother of many children was never my aspiration growing up.  Being a mother at all was sometime I had given very little thought to.  But after I married Chris, we both realized we loved children and we thought would like to have six.  God blessed us with more children than we had imagined, and I grew to love this destiny that God had for me.  I had found my meaning and value in it.

                Then all of a sudden I saw a picture of myself in my mind.  It was just me, just Anne, floating in an empty universe.  No husband, no children, no past, no future, no accomplishments, no good works.  Just Anne.

                “Did Jesus really die for just me?  Does He love just me?” I wondered.                                                  

                My resounding answer was, “NO! How could that be?!”

                Of course I knew that theologically He loved just me.  Plus He had personally shown me His love!  So why was it so hard for me to believe it?  I went through the next two days pondering this question, filling with self-hatred, teetering on the edge of despair and depression.

                I realize now that I should have taken the focus off my own feelings and my unworthiness.  I should have been praising God, trusting Him, and speaking out the words He had spoken, even if I didn’t feel as though I believed them. 

                Again God led me to the empty universe.  There I was. Just me.  Again the question, “Did Jesus die for just me?  Does He love just me?”

                “No, I am so unworthy!” I answered.  The emotions that surfaced were so deep, so raw. It was as though they had been buried for a long, long time.  They reached back to a time in my life of which I have no conscience memory, yet stemmed from an event that I have recently became aware of.  Compared to the sorrow I was now feeling, all my previous emotions had been superficial.  Finally God had reached down to the root of the matter, the original wound to my spirit, the original lie that I believed. 

He had gently pulled off all the band aids that I had so clumsily put on just to keep living.  Old and infected scabs were being scrapped away and the wound was fresh and bleeding.

                “I am not worthy!  I should not even be here.  I do not deserve your love.” I told Jesus.

Jesus answered back.

Always Jesus answers me this way, but I do not always hear.

Always Jesus answers YOU this way, whether you can hear Him or not.

Can we open our ears and try to hear?

Jesus answers;

I love you.

I love YOU!

I have always loved you.

Before you existed, I loved you.

I have loved you for every moment of your life.

I will ALWAYS love you.

You cannot change that.

You cannot cancel out my love with your disbelief.

My love is always right here.

Will you receive it?

My Biggest Breakthrough

“Take me from where I’ve been into something new.

I’m giving up control.

I need a breakthrough.”

This chorus from the song by Chris McClarney kept playing through my mind, over and over.  Pretty soon I was singing the song to God as I was getting ready in my hotel room. I was preparing for the second day of my amazing, miracle trip to Texas.  A few months earlier my daughter Areli had invited me to the YWAM base in Tyler, TX to attend her graduation ceremony. She was graduating from the Discipleship Training School, the same school I had graduated from 25 years earlier.

My first reaction to her invitation was to laugh!  How could I leave my family and spend the money for plane tickets to travel to Texas for a weekend?  It just wasn’t economical or logical.  Yet, I couldn’t stop thinking about the idea.  I would need to take Aria who was still nursing and too little to be without her mama.  I would need to find someone to provide personal care for my special needs teenager before school and before bedtime each day.  I would need to make sure the rest of the children were taken care of and make sure they had meals to eat. I would need to find an amazing deal on a plane ticket.  God would need to provide a miracle of extra money! 

I didn’t say anything to Chris at first because I thought he would shoot me down.  He works long hours and I hated to ask him to handle things at home while I was gone.  I just couldn’t stop thinking about this trip!

When I told Chris about it the following day, he was more excited about the opportunity than I was!

“You should go!  It would be so special for you to return to your alma mater!  I think you should go,” he said.

I was so surprised!  What an amazing husband I have! I started praying that God would put all the pieces together.  Areli started praying.  Areli’s friends and leaders started praying. Within a month and a half God had worked it all out.  Aria and I were going to fly to Texas on Thursday and return home on Sunday.  We were even able to change Areli’s return flight home to be the same as ours.

I was astounded that God would do this for me!  I had never traveled without Chris since we had gotten married.  I also had never traveled with a baby by myself before.  I was nervous but so excited! I felt that God wanted to speak to me on this trip. I got some friends to pray for me, that God would encounter me and Aria and Areli.

Now it was Friday, and I was in Texas.  The two flights the day before had gone better than I had expected.  Aria was much easier than I had hoped for!  I had gotten a bigger and better hotel room than I was supposed to have. The weather was gorgeous! I was meeting such wonderful people.

“Take me from where I’ve been into something new.

I’m giving up control.

I need a breakthrough.”

I continued to sing this chorus.  I was trying to worship God while I prepared myself and Aria to attend the base worship service that morning.  I was feeling so thankful and so happy, yet I became aware of another nagging feeling.  What was it exactly? Guilt? Anxiety?

I realized that I wanted to do everything right on this trip, to make the most of this short time.  I really wanted to be an encouragement to every person I met and to share with the students my perspective of the school 25 years later.  I didn’t feel like I had done that at all. 

I was about to walk out the door to head to the Paris Fellowship Center for worship when I heard God say, “You don’t HAVE to do ANYTHING. Just rest and enjoy.”

It was startling how those simple words changed my outlook.  All of a sudden I felt at peace and ready to enjoy my vacation.

The worship was so simple. Just two women singing, one of whom was playing a guitar.  The spirit was sweet and I felt God’s presence.  I was also aware of a familiar feeling.  The sensation I used to have when I attended base worship 25 years ago.  A self-consciousness that wondered how others would judge me when they saw me.  Was I being too demonstrative in worship? Was I being too reserved? Did I look like a tired, out of shape, middle aged mom? Or maybe someone would think I looked young enough to be Areli’s sister? These thoughts caused a low-grade stress that was so distracting yet so normal.  I thought I had left this type of insecurity behind years ago, but it was still with me.

I just wanted to worship God with my whole heart, without thinking about myself.  All of a sudden I felt as though the space above me opened and I could feel the love of God pouring over me without blockages, without filters.  I had never before felt His love this strongly, this purely.

“You could do everything wrong for the rest of your life and my love for you wouldn’t change. I created you because it made me happy.  I delight in you!”

I felt free of stress, worry, and all pressure to perform. A weight had been lifted from my shoulders that I never knew was there.  For the first time in my life, I felt fully FREE, fully LOVED!!

This was the answer to ALL my problems!  This was what I had always strived to achieve but never knew I already had!!  It was hard for me to believe because it went against my ingrained thought patterns. 

I felt the open heaven close slightly. 

“Oh no!  God, help me to hold on to this! Don’t let me lose this awareness of your love!” I prayed as worship came to a close.

I still felt His love more than I ever had. I remained peaceful in the freedom He had just given me.  I enjoyed the rest of the trip in the afterglow of this experience.  There were certain things I knew were true about me.

I was a dream in God’s heart before He made the world. (Eph 1:4, Rom 8:29)

He brought me into this life because He wanted me. I made Him so happy! (James 1:19)

I brought Him delight before I knew right from wrong, before I ever tried to please Him.

Jesus died for me.  He won the victory for me. He won every victory. It is already done! (1 Cor 15:57, John 19:30)

The redemption of God is stronger and bigger than me.  Bigger than anyone.  Bigger than the world and bigger than the devil.  Bigger than my mistakes. (Is 65:17-25, Col 1:20)

I will spend eternity with God in joy and joy and more joy.(PS 16:11)

I can rejoice now! (Phil 4:4)

I don’t need to worry about anything, ever!  (1 Peter 5:7)

His love is unwavering. (Jer 31:3)

I knew that believing all these truths was the key to actually being able to accomplish my purpose on this earth and love others.  I could never do it by trying hard. The work of God is this, to BELIEVE! (John 6:29)

While I was in Texas this seemed easy to believe. 

“God has answered my prayers and has given me my biggest breakthrough!  To simply live in His love!” I thought.  I was excited to return home and live in this revelation that I had known before in my head but now understood in my spirit. Living in His unconditional acceptance would finally slay the fear of man and insecurity that had always been my close companions.

However, you can’t live on the mountaintop forever.  Eventually you have to keep going and encounter a valley.  And with any new revelation there is always a test.  Why do I forget that there is always a test? 

Heaven and hell both press in to demand an answer to this question, “Do you truly believe what God has just told you?”

I wish I could say that I passed the test, but that was not the case.  I found that my biggest breakthrough could also lead to the darkest valley I had yet encountered…

To be continued…

A Return Trip to my Alma Mater, YWAM Tyler

When my firstborn daughter, Areli, invited me to her graduation, my first thought was, “There is no way I am going to be able to leave my family and fly all the way to Texas!”

Talking with Areli on the phone during her Discipleship Training School had reminded me of the raw faith I had when I did my DTS, 25 years ago. Areli had the faith that God could get me to Texas, why shouldn’t I?

I had not taken such a trip without my husband since I had gotten married.  Yet Chris, really wanted me to go.  He felt that to visit my Alma Mater would be such a special time for me. Boy, was he right!  God orchestrated a delightful and refreshing getaway!

My one year old daughter Aria and I traveled for about 8 hours before we arrived in Tyler, but the trip had gone better than I had hoped. One of the YWAM staff picked us up at the airport, and she was beyond friendly, carrying all the bags and taking us to the grocery store.  She dropped us off at the base hotel, and we found the loveliest accommodations waiting for us.  I had been given a small apartment with a living room/kitchenette and a king-sized bedroom.  It was just perfect for Aria and I!

Soon came a rap on my door.  I opened it and there stood Areli, my beautiful daughter that I hadn’t seen in person for 5 months!  Such joy!

Later Areli took me to supper in the new Paris Fellowship Center.  Such a lovely facility.  Such friendly people everywhere I turned.  During my 4 days at YWAM Tyler, I got to meet the students and leaders of Areli’s DTS in addition to students of many other schools.

Each day we took a long walk around the base.  It looked so much the same as it did 25 years ago.  Wide open spaces, beautiful and peaceful. We enjoyed the warm sunshine and the mild weather. 

We visited the charming chapel and the playground by the lake.  We always stopped by the lake to eat a snack.  One day we visited the new SST Village. 

Another day we visited Ag Tech.  I loved it!  What a brilliant way to raise vegetables and eggs for the base.  New and better farming practices and prototypes were being developed, and then taken out to the mission field. What a practical way to bring God’s love to needy places.

We went to the Base Worship on Friday morning. It was a simple affair with voices and a guitar.  The spirit was sweet and God’s presence was transformational.  God gave me a breakthrough in my thinking, perhaps the biggest breakthrough of my life.  I will write more about that in a later article, but it felt almost as if I had been born-again…again!

That evening Aria and I were welcomed into the girls’ dorm to participate in a pre-Love Feast nail-painting party.  It was so fun to be among such sweet ladies.  I got to see the bunk that had been mine in DTS. 

I remembered the good times I had spent in that room with the five other girls, three of whom became my best friends. 

Sue, Charlene, and Maddy above. Charlene, Maddy, and I below.

A year after DTS I traveled to be in Maddy’s wedding, and a year after that she was in mine.  I am still good friends with her and one other roommate, Sue. What a blessing they have been to me over the years.

Saturday was the big day!  There was a Friends and Family Reception where the leaders talked about YWAM, DTS, and SOE.  Leland Paris spoke with his kind and powerful voice, so much the same as he had spoken to my school 25 years ago. 

“We have been serving Jesus together, what could be better than that!” Fran Paris said about their 50+ years of marriage.

I was impressed with the fire and maturity of the leaders.  Areli’s DTS had been very much like my own: same themes; many of the same speakers; same structure with work duties, one on one discipleship, small groups, and intercession groups.  Yet it seemed like the details had been honed to perfection, and the training held the depth of wisdom gained through experience. I was so very pleased that Areli had chosen to come!  I was thrilled that she planned to come back for the SOE!

Next we all chose seats at the eloquently decorated tables.  We were served a lovely dinner by the new students.  Areli told me that the base chef had been working on the meal for days, and it was exquisite!

After the Love Feast, there was worship, and Aria began to do the cutest baby, butt-wiggle dance.  She looked at the young man standing beside her and decided to raise her hands like he did.

We returned to our seats and listened to stories from the Family DTS.  It was the first DTS of its kind at this base, and it was amazing!  Entire families were learning and ministering together.  One of the families I had known from back home.  I was so amazed at how they had sold everything and came when God called them.  The father and son testifed about how the son had heard God’s voice and prayed for a man, and that man had received healing in his eyes!

Then Areli’s DTS took the stage.  I heard a girl talk about hearing God’s voice for the first time.  I heard a young man tell about God’s creative way of showing him how to let go of his anger. I heard another guy tell of when he witnesses a healing after he prayed. The evening wrapped up with the SOE telling their stories, and each student received a diploma. Everyone was overflowing with an awareness of God’s goodness!

Sunday morning we had time to take one last walk around the loop.  I hated to leave this special place. I was reminded of the many walks I had taken with God on this path.

“There was the exact spot that God told me that I was going to marry Daddy,” I told Areli and two of her friends.

Where we stopped for a snack at the water’s edge was where I heard God speak to me so clearly as I prayed about finances for outreach and my future.  He gave me this scripture:

“They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jer 17:8

I still remember this scripture and think of it often.  I am not a missionary depending on monthly support, or traveling to strange and exotic locations.  But I do have 10 children, which sometimes requires a leap of faith to just get out of bed each morning!

I recalled all that I had learned here on this base and how it changed the course of my life. My expectation for DTS and SOE was that I would learn about how to evangelize and about how to be a foreign missionary.  Yet almost every speaker who came to our school, every book that I read, every encounter I had with new friends taught me about something different.  Something I desperately needed to know but didn’t know that I needed to know.  Something that would prepare me for the future that God had planned, a future I had never even guessed at 25 years ago.

God taught me about marriage, raising children, homeschool, and His heart for families. I hadn’t thought much about these subjects previously.  I had been focused on getting good grades in order to get into a good college so I could become a teacher.  Once I began my YWAM journey, I fell in love with it!  I continued with SOE and at the end of it, I pictured myself as a missionary with everything I owned strapped to my back.  I was excited to go anywhere.  I prayed about the next step, and all I heard God say was, “Go Home.”

I didn’t understand it at all.  Yet I obeyed.  A month later I was engaged to my high school sweet heart.  A year later we were married.  25 years later we have 10 children. I am living my destiny, and I love it!

Now I can see that God had perfectly prepared me.  YWAM was a huge part of that! I can also see that all my mistakes and missteps along the way just brought me closer to Him. What would I say to the new DTS and SOE graduates?

“God is using everything in your life to prepare you for your purpose.  It is ok if you don’t have a full picture of that purpose, God does!  Whatever you are picturing, it will be totally different anyway! It is usually harder but better!  All your experiences give you something important, even the painful ones, even the ones that seem like mistakes or failures.  Make the most of your YWAM experience!  The time set aside to seek God is sacred and will bring great rewards in the future.”

As we walked back to get ready to leave, I felt so thankful for my Alma Mater.  I felt thankful that Areli was experiencing it too!  Perhaps there was a deposit in little Aria’s spirit that would bring her back here for her own adventure, to this extraordinary place that has brought generations to the feet of Jesus!

The PA Grand Canyon, Family History, and Bald Eagles: 2019 Family Vacation

It was that time of year again. Family vacation time!  This year I had rented a place for an entire week plus a day.  We hadn’t been able to do that since 2011.  I spent months searching for the perfect house, making lists and comparing pros and cons.  I interviewed each child and found that they didn’t care as much about the house as they did about the land. 

They wanted to be far enough away from other people that they could shoot BB guns and have camp fires.

                We finally settled on a farmhouse in Liberty, PA.  It had 6 bedrooms and 130 acres.  I was hoping it would provide the perfect peaceful retreat.

                The week preceding our vacation, Chris had transferred to a new building at work.  He is a UPS driver, and they had moved a lot of the routes to this new building.  His 10 minute commute became 30.  Not too bad especially since he had gotten his own regular route for the first time since he started 4 years ago.  However, the days proved to be much longer, threatening to overtake his 14 hour limit.

                “Did I tell you I saw an eagle at work the other day?” he asked me at the end of the very long week. “It was right there, flying over the Target parking lot.”

                I marveled at that!  Chris had gotten a very busy route in the heart of retail businesses.  Not a place you would expect to see an eagle.  Eagle sightings had become a sign of God encounters to me.  I have written about it in many articles starting with A Hawk, a Vulture, and an Eagle and continuing with Part 2, This is a New Season, and A Surprise Visit from my Marine.  Wow! I really have seen a lot of eagles! I took this fresh eagle sighting as a sign that this new position for Chris was part of God’s plan. 

Though it seemed that it would require endurance and long hours, God would meet him there.

                I was also fully expecting God to encounter us on our vacation, and I was not disappointed!

Saturday

                It sure took a long time to get 10 people packed up and ready to go.  We filled a rental trailer with all of our essentials.  Half of it was food!  By the time we were ready for the long drive, the rain had cleared away.  The journey toward northern Pennsylvania was beautiful, the golden sun playing on the autumn leaves, weaving in and out of the rolling hills.  We listened to the CDs I had checked out of the library, The Penderwicks in Spring. It was the fourth book in the series that we had come to adore, and it seemed just perfect for our family right now.  The oldest girl was away at college (just as our oldest daughter is away at missionary school), the neighbor boy was away in the army (as our oldest boy is away in the Marines) and the other Penderwicks were of many different ages, just as our children are.

                We finally arrived!  It was quite remote and the land was beautiful.  The house was very interesting with an old, quirky charm.  Everyone got unpacked in their new rooms.  Then we cooked hotdogs and s’mores over the fire outside. Such a lovely evening.

Sunday

                Chris drove most of the children to the PA Lumber Museum and they enjoyed the antique vendors, the demonstrations, and the exhibits. 

Chris purchased a book published in 1901 titled The Life of William McKinely.  Many times in the next week I would see Cadin enjoying the solitude of his own room and reading this book. 

Since the Lumber Museum wasn’t handicap accessible, I stayed home with Ashlyn and Aria.  They were so sweet and we spent a happy morning outside in the sunshine.

                That evening Chris grilled hamburgers and we all ate outside.  It was cold!  Chris decided to zip Aria into his jacket.  He still was able pass the football with his boys.

I wanted to hold these family moments forever in my memory!

Monday

                We drove to the Lenard Harrison State Park.  They had a beautiful overlook to view the PA Grand Canyon. 

Soon however, we encountered stairs and Ashlyn could go no further.  We found an employee who showed us on a map the two Handicap Accessible trails.  We stopped for lunch first at the playground.

                Then we drove to the Pine Creek Trail which was at the bottom of the canyon.  The path was wide and flat, good for bikers and horses.  It was gorgeous!  We saw a covered wagon tour pass by.

                We continued the adventure by driving to the other side of the gorge to access the Barbour Rock Trail.  Most of the children were tired of walking and just wanted to stay in the van. 

                “We came this far, I am going to walk to the vista!” I announced.

                Chris came with me along with three of the children.  Chai stayed with the rest in the van.  It was only .7 miles to the Vista and what a lovely walk.  All of a sudden we came upon the vista and it was breath taking. 

I wanted to linger there just a little longer than the boys would have liked.  My patience was rewarded as Chris and I got to see a large bird circling over the gorge.  When the sunlight flashed on the white tail feathers, I knew we had seen a bald eagle! 

Oh to be an eagle and to soar over such a sight!

                The entire day felt like a gift from a loving Father.

Tuesday

                We took the morning and drove to Mansfield, my father’s hometown.  First we visited the house where he had grown up.

The last time I had been there was for my father’s internment in 2013.  The home had looked small and barren, stripped of the magic it had possessed when I was a child.  The current owners must have poured a lot of love into the property, because it looked so charming again.  What relief that brought me!

                Right down the street was Oakwood Cemetery.  I couldn’t remember where the family grave-site was, so we just got out and started looking.  After a few minutes I caught sight of two stones decorated with flowers and birds, the prettiest in the cemetery.  They belonged to my Grandmother and Grandfather! 

And right behind them was my Dad’s and a stone for my mom, ready for her but not yet needed (thank goodness!)  As a child, I had always been very bored when my relatives took me to pay respects in a cemetery.  Now it was a very meaningful part of my family history.

                We drove to the History Center on Main St. and were greeted by the woman who runs it.  She talked to us and showed us around. 

She showed me a picture of my Dad in her Mansfield High School display.  She remembered him!  She said that if I donated something of his, she would put it in her display.  I loved seeing the history of the small town and felt honored that my Dad had been a part of it.  The children mostly just loved the little dog Amos who considered the museum his home away from home.

                We ate lunch at a park that had a swing just perfect for Ashlyn.  It sat in the shadow of Mansfield University where my grandfather had been a professor.  Grandmother and Grandfather had passed away when I was still in elementary school.  Before they died, we would travel to Mansfield only once or twice a year.  We always came for Thanksgiving, and it was always cold, wet, and dreary. 

But on this sunny fall day as I watched my children play at the park, my view of Mansfield was being redeemed.  It was a gorgeous little town!  I felt the sunshine make its way into my memories and brighten up my view of my father’s side of the family.

Wednesday

                Being the first rainy day, we decided to stay at the farmhouse.  There were so many books and games in the library and a large collection of toys and coloring materials in the loft room. 

As Chris was reading about the nearby Penn Wells hotel, he decided that he should take me there on a date that night.  I was actually hoping to return, since it had been the place that my grandparents would take us for Thanksgiving once Grandmother decided that she was too old to cook.

                We drove through the hills and low lying clouds to get to the charming town of Wellsboro.  I recognized so much about the Penn Wells, and I enjoyed being there again.  Memories of my grandparents warmed my heart; Grandmother asking me to sit by her at the meal because she wanted to get to know me better, Grandfather insisting that I turn in the $2.75 in quarters that I had found in one of the payphones in the lobby. 

                After we finished the meal, we walked up and down the main street and took in the display windows of all the little shops.  Dark had fallen and nothing was open, but it was still fun!

Thursday

                The children were so anxious to get out of the house and use some of their spending money, that Chris took most of them to Wellsboro that morning.  I stayed home again with the girls and enjoyed the relative quiet of the house.

                That evening we took a walk and gathered wild flowers for the table.  We listened to Frank Sinatra on the CD player while we made supper.

Friday

                The children had taken every opportunity this week to play outside and explore the woods, the fields, and the 5 tree stands.  They had conducted target practice with BB guns. They had honed their skill with the bow and arrows.  They waged laser tag battles.  This day they decided to craft a tepee/ wigwam!

Saturday

                The week had come to an end.  We had to get packed up and set all things back in their proper places; no small feat with many small hands constantly grabbing and relocating!  We pulled away at 11 am and told the children that we had two surprises for them.  The first came after an hour of driving.  We stopped at the Country Cupboard to partake of their lunch buffet. This was a special place because we had spent two Thanksgivings there.  I groaned inwardly when I saw that most of my children’s idea of enjoying an all-you-can-eat-buffet meant getting a plate of rolls and mac and cheese followed by two plates of dessert.  Finally we issued the proclamation: a meat and a vegetable must be eaten before dessert is consumed.

                After the meal we had fun walking around their large greenhouse and gift shop. The second surprise was just 20 minutes away. We drove along the river to find our way to the Joseph Priestley House.  I looked up and saw two large birds circling directly above the street. 

A pair of bald eagles!   

                We arrived at the lovely house built in the 1700s.  A tour guide was just starting the tour, and we learned all about Joseph Priestley.  He is famous now for discovering oxygen.  He also discovered many other gases and created carbonated water.  First and foremost he was a man of faith and believed that science both confirmed and validated his faith.

                After we departed the historic site, all that was left to do was drive home.  Such a stunning drive!  I pondered why God had allowed me to see three eagles on this trip. What was His message to me?  I think I simply saw them because I was always watching for them.  I expected to see them.  Most of the rest of the family hadn’t spotted them because they just weren’t looking. 

I think that God encounters are around us all the time, we just need the eyes to recognize them! 

And of course, God is just so very, very GOOD!

The Hunted Becomes the Hunter

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger from Pexels

Sometimes living in this world overwhelms me.  One of those times happened recently.  Concerns and fears were pressing in on me, and I was trying to hide.  I realized that I had spent most of my life avoiding any person or situation that I thought would hurt me. In my mind’s eye, I could see myself.  I was a pitiful, little field mouse.  I was running from one hiding spot to another, not wanting to be in the open field.  I knew that if I ventured there, the powerful birds of prey would pick me off.  I felt like a victim, too small to fight back, too lowly to be confident.  I felt ashamed of all that I was not.  The snakes of shame were hissing reminders of what I was – a pesky, dirty, little rodent.

                Then I felt the slightest breeze of the Spirit.  The picture in my mind flipped.  I rose from the ground and began to ride the wind.  I was an eagle.

I WAS THE BIRD OF PREY.

I saw that pesky vermin running on the ground. 

THAT WAS MY ENEMY.

The enemy was so small, yet I could spot him from a mile away.  I could easily hunt him and swoop down to finish him off.  And all the shame?  Those filthy snakes of shame?  Those were my food!

The Hunted had become the Hunter!

                How glorious it felt to fly above the ground!  How freeing and beautiful it was to be who God had made me to be!  How wonderful to not be afraid!  Then I remembered a passage of the book I had been reading by Rick Joyner, “The Valley.” In this prophetic allegory, a group of sojourners were making their way to the Mountain of God.  They had to pass through the Valley of the Shadow of Death in order to get there.  Elijah had come to give them guidance.

“You do not defeat an enemy by just getting past him.  You defeat fear by growing in faith.  You defeat despair by growing in hope.  You defeat death by growing in life.  True life is only lived by those who no longer live for themselves, but for The King, and do all things for His sake and for those He gave His life for.

                “This valley is here to help you find true life…but to find that path, your goal must be greater than getting through the valley.  You must resolve to seek out and destroy the enemies that are in it,” Elijah continued…

                Finally Charles spoke up:

                “This would be a radical change of not just our strategy, but my understanding of our purpose.  So the path of life is found by seeking the enemy?  And then to be on the offensive and attacking?  I am sure most of us were thinking we needed to do all we could to avoid the enemy, to just get through it.  I thought finding the path of life was done by seeking the path of life, not fighting.”

                “To do His will is the path of life for everyone.  This is His will for you here.  This valley has a high purpose, and part of it is to prepare you for the rest of your journey to the mountain, and then to be of use to The King in the great battle to come.  You must become true warriors, and no true warriors seeks to avoid the enemy…

                “In this valley lie your greatest fears.  They are your greatest threats and your greatest challenges.  That gives the potential to be the place of your greatest victories…

                “The Lord created this valley, but men made it the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  So He uses it to seal in His people who they are called to be – warriors that do not kill, but impart life. They do not wound, but heal.  They do not oppress, but set captives free.”

                The enemies that I am to hunt and destroy are fear, doubt, and shame (just to name a few) in myself and others.  But when I flap my great wings, I will bring the wind of healing and refreshing to people.  People are not my enemies.

                A few days later I randomly opened my Bible and started reading Esther 8.  Again I found an example of divine reversal.

The Hunted becomes the Hunter!

                The King had given Haman permission to draft a law that authorized the enemies of the Jews to rise up and kill them.  The King didn’t realize that his lovely queen was a Jew.  Her people were facing utter annihilation.  The queen went to the king and in one moment, with one decision of the king, the entire picture flipped.  He allowed Mordechai to draft a law that permitted the Jews to strike back.  Fear of the Jews fell on all the other people.  Just the day before Esther was praying for the courage to reveal that she was a Jew.  But in that day:

“In every province and in every city to which the edict of the king came, there was joy and gladness among the Jews, with feasting and celebrating. And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them.” (Esther 8:17)

                Esther was bold, and she and her people fasted and prayed.  But it was God who gave them victory over their enemies.  I went back to reading Psalm 18.  I had been reading it for a few weeks and I just wasn’t getting it.  Why did I keep returning to it? What did God want to tell me?  Finally it became clear.  God was taking me from being the prey to being the predator.

The Hunted becomes the Hunter!

34 He trains my hands for battle;
    my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
35 You make your saving help my shield,
    and your right hand sustains me;
    your help has made me great.
36 You provide a broad path for my feet,
    so that my ankles do not give way.

37 I pursued my enemies and overtook them;
    I did not turn back till they were destroyed.
38 I crushed them so that they could not rise;
    they fell beneath my feet.
39 You armed me with strength for battle;
    you humbled my adversaries before me.
40 You made my enemies turn their backs in flight,
    and I destroyed my foes. (NIV)

                As I was pondering all these things in my heart during the next week, I encountered this scripture on Facebook and then Pandora.

Psalm 2 GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)

Why do the nations gather together?
Why do their people devise useless plots?
    Kings take their stands.
    Rulers make plans together
        against the Lord and against his Messiah by saying,
            “Let’s break apart their chains
                and shake off their ropes.”

The one enthroned in heaven laughs.
The Lord makes fun of them.

As soon as I picture God up on His throne, laughing at my enemies, I am up there in the sky with Him.  I can see how small and weak the enemy is compared to my God.  I can see the joy on His face, the fire in His eyes.  He isn’t worried.  Not about the mice or the snakes.  Not about me either.  He is laughing because He knows all that there is to know. He sees all that can be seen.

He is laughing because He sees His eagles rise and begin to hunt.

(Recently David Lebo released a prophecy confirming all of this.  “I am setting My Eagles Free.”)

A Surprise Visit from My Marine, a Family Picnic, and another Eagle Sighting

It was 7pm and dinner was still not ready! I was working in the hot kitchen as the children were running all over the house and yard.

“This just does not work!”  I lamented to Areli, my oldest daughter.  “It is simply too late to be eating supper.”

How did it get so late, and why was I so unprepared today?

“It is alright, Mommy” she said sweetly as she helped.

I was putting the finishing touches on chicken chili (why did I decide to make soup on such a hot day?) when I heard a voice behind me.

“Mom! Mom!”

                I turned around and to see a face I hadn’t seen in four months.  The grown-up, handsome face of my oldest son, Cole.  It took a few seconds to register in my brain.  Then I rushed to hug him, and hugged him, and hugged him, and hugged him some more.

He had just graduated from his Marine MOS training school that morning.  We had all texted him congratulations, and his only reply was that he was off to his next duty station.  He had told us earlier in the month that he didn’t have enough time to come see us, and that it could be quite a while before he did.  Little did we know that he had bought a car and had gotten enough leave to drive home.  Areli knew all about it and had been in communication with him the entire time.  My heart was so happy, so thrilled, so blessed that I couldn’t put my emotions into words. Suddenly I was thankful that dinner was so late and I simply said.

                “Cole, you are just in time for supper!”

 

That Saturday we decided to take the whole family to Little Buffalo for a picnic.  We had many happy memories of day trips and camping trips there, and it was a beautiful day!  As we started the journey in our 12 passenger van, my heart was overflowing.  Our van was full, and I was so thankful that all 12 members of our family were together again.  I sent up a little prayer.

                “I would really love to see an eagle today since we are all together and Cole is here, since Cole is an eagle too.”

About five minutes pasted.  We drove across the Susquehanna River and there it was.  A big black bird.  Flying across the road right in front of us.  It had a white head!

It was a bald eagle!

“There is an eagle!” I screamed 5 times as I pointed frantically.  Most of the children saw it before it flew out of sight.  Cole didn’t spot it, and he started laughing at me.  The other children looked at me strangely and someone said, “Mom, I don’t think I have ever seen you so excited!”

“I was definitely more excited to see Cole when he came home…but you guys don’t understand!  I just prayed and asked God to see an eagle today.  Literally 5 minutes ago I asked Him, and there was an eagle!”

Chris had just been telling me how he had to drive this route many days to deliver packages.  It was a lovely drive.  But he had never seen an eagle before.  The rest of the day I spend in gratitude and wonderment.  Why would God so quickly answer my frivolous little prayer?  What had I done to deserve to be surrounded by such beautiful and handsome faces?

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These people made up my whole world, all my hopes and dreams. They are large portions of my heart walking around outside of my body.

They are all so precious, so special, and so important to me.  They were all here together on this perfect day.  Finally we had to head home, clean up and make supper. The perfect day was fading into twilight, and I wanted to hold on to it.

Cole would be leaving for his first duty station soon.  Would our entire family ever be in our van together again? I began to worry.  It is easy for a mother to worry.  So many details for each child.  So many hurdles stand between them and accomplishing their destinies.  Sometimes one of those hurdles is me!  (Did I check all their school papers?  Did I look that child in the eyes today and see his heart?  Will this one overcome my bad parenting techniques in the past?) A hundred fears began to pop up their ugly heads, and I began to play whack-a-mole with them in my mind.  Not a fun game because they just keep popping back up again.

                Finally I remembered that God had just shown me an eagle.

He had done that twice before, and both times He had used the eagle sighting to tell me something very important.  The first time was in response to a very specific prayer of mine.  He showed me that I do hear His voice, He does hear my voice, and that He created me to be a spiritual eagle.  (Details in “A Hawk, A Vulture,and an Eagle” Part 1 and Part 2.)

The second time I was on a long drive and He told me that I could trust Him with my Children and that He loved me more than I could imagine.  Then I saw the eagle.  Right at that moment this scripture came on the Bible CD I had been listening to.

So don’t lose your confidence. It will bring you a great reward. You need endurance so that after you have done what God wants you to do, you can receive what he has promised.

“Yet, the one who is coming will come soon. He will not delay.

The person who has God’s approval will live by faith. But if he turns back, I will not be pleased with him.”

We don’t belong with those who turn back and are destroyed. Instead, we belong with those who have faith and are saved.

Hebrews 10:35-39 (God’s Word)

                It was clear that these fears had no place in my life.

God loved me, He was holding my husband and my children in His hands, and had given me the faith I needed to stand firm with confidence.  Then I was reminded of something He had been showing me a few weeks ago.  Frankly I had kinda forgotten about it, because it was just too hard to wrap my brain around, so against my normal way of living.  However, this third eagle sighting had convinced me that this was truly a message from God that I had to believe and attempt to live.

It is called, “The Hunted becomes the Hunter.”

To be continued….

He Wants His Love to be Known

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Photo by Tim Rebkavets on Unsplash

The prince was kneeling before his father, the king.  This was a good and wise king.  His kingdom was vast and his subjects were too numerous to count.  His dominion was full of prosperity and peace.

                “How much like me this son of mine is,” the king thought to himself.  “He has grown into such a fine young man.  He will be wanting to take a bride soon.”

                “Father,” the young prince began as though he had read his fathers thoughts, “I have found my true love. I have come to ask your permission to pursue her.”

                “Very good my son! Who is she?” the king answered with a hearty smile.

                “Her name is Marie.”

                “Marie,” the king’s smile faded. “Her name means ‘bitterness’, and it describes her well.  She lives outside of the boarder of this land, in our enemy’s territory.  Her life has been hard, and I fear that there is very little beauty or joy left in her, even though she is still young.”

                “This I know, father.  I met her once on my way to the Outer Lands.  She was rude to me.  She was dirty and dressed in rags.  Yet there was something about her that has captivated me.  I feel that there is a treasure beneath the filth.  Every night I have dreamt of her, and I cannot forget the haunted look in her eyes.  Perhaps my love could banish that emptiness and transform her from ‘Bitterness’ into ‘Full of Grace’.

                “Son, consider your decision well.  Do you truly think that Marie will be a princess befitting our glorious kingdom?  Will she make a fine queen someday, able to rule at your side?” the king questioned.

                “I know that my choice seems irrational, even reckless.  Presently she would make a horrible queen.  But I love her, Father, with everything in me.  I love her!  I know that I can save her from her life of misery and her bitterness. Please let me try.” The prince closed his eyes and bowed his head, awaiting an answer.

                The king’s deep voice quavered with emotion, “Son, I am so very proud of you.”

The prince lifted his head suddenly. He searched his father’s eyes, the eyes that always seemed to hold the answers. The king went on.

                “You see, Marie was born in this Kingdom and royal blood flows through her veins.  She was meant to be your betrothed.  I knew that she could become a woman worthy of you, my noble son.”

                “What happened to her?” the prince asked with a new passion in his eyes.

                “She was kidnapped at a very young age and carried away as a slave.  She has lived in the enemy’s land, misused and deceived for all of her life.  She may be saved, but there is no guarantee. She does not recognize her dishonorable condition, because she has never known the beauty of our kingdom.  She may become offended by your purest intentions. ”

                The words of the king seemed to ignite a fire in the already love-struck heart of the prince.

                “I must go to her!  Father, I must show her that she is loved.  That she is worthy.  That she is destined to be a queen!  Please Father, let me go into the enemy’s territory.”

                “You must understand, son, that your quest is noble and born out of true love.  But you will suffer.  You will suffer all that Marie has suffered…and much more.”

                “I know,” the royal son replied in a passionate whisper, “Somehow I have always known. But my suffering is a small price to pay for Marie…for my love.  To live here in the glory and abundance of our kingdom without her would cause me greater suffering.”

                The prince paused as if the very thought of a life without his love was too terrible to express. He stood to his feet and raised his voice, “I am ready, Father.  I must go to her!”

                The king stood as well and enveloped his son in a strong embrace. 

“You are right.  You ARE ready.  Marie IS worth the price. I will miss having you here by my side, but I am confident in the future. A future where both you and Marie are reigning with me.  This quest is your destiny.”

The prince thought he saw a tear roll down the strong cheek.  The King continued in a whisper now.

                “This quest…it will cost you everything.”

 

As I watched this scene unfold on the stage of my mind, I knew that my assumptions were changing.

My paradigm was shifting.

My world was transforming.

This prince wasn’t afraid or reluctant.  He was confident and bold.  He was longing to go into hostile territory.  Like a courageous warrior, he was willing to suffer and to die for the object of his love.

This prince was Jesus.

This Marie was me.

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Photo by Kenny Luo on Unsplash

I was the prize that fueled His courage.

I was the treasure that energized His passion.

I was the pearl of great price that He sold everything He had to obtain.

He pursued me like a man pursues His bride. And He found me.  He saved me.  He turned me into “Full of Grace.”

He is still wooing me.  He is still fighting battles for me. I am not yet a queen worthy of His great Kingdom.  He is relentlessly pursuing me until I truly know who I am and whose I am.  I feel Him teaching me His ways day by day.  I feel His patience and His passion.  I feel His delight and His desire.

He is pursuing each and every one of us, but only a few of us are aware.  The rest go about their lives oblivious of the glorious kingdom for which they were born, the love that chases them.

Men and women all through the ages have encountered this love-sick warrior prince.  Sometimes they caught just a glimmer of His smile, just a glimpse of His fiery eyes.  Other times they have been washed by His love, wave after relentless wave until they were happily drowning in it.

Some have written about it.  One such man is Cory Asbury.  I found in the words of his song “Reckless Love” a confirmation of my own experience.

When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me

You have been so, so good to me

When I felt no worth, You paid it all for me

You have been so, so kind to me

And oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God

Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine

And I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away

Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God, yeah

There’s no shadow You won’t light up

Mountain You won’t climb up

Coming after me

There’s no wall You won’t kick down

Lie You won’t tear down

Coming after me

One night I was able to steal away to the prayer room at church.  I got so caught up in my love for Jesus that my words just came spilling out in a passionate prayer.

                “Jesus, you are everything – all we want.  You are the goal, the prize, the destination, the journey, and every step in the journey.  You are everything!”

I felt a small twinge of guilt.  I offered up a silent prayer, “Sorry Holy Spirit. Sorry Father.  I didn’t mean to forget about you.”

Then I saw the Father smiling down on me with pleasure, just as any good father would do while witnessing his son and fiancé being clearly head over heels in love with each other.

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Photo by Joshua Rodriguez on Unsplash

                “You have chosen well, my son,” I heard him say.

I was shocked to hear this.  I simply don’t see myself the way the Father does, the way Jesus does.

I am so thankful that He will never be satisfied until I do.

I am so thankful that He won’t let me go.  That the fire in His eyes and the burning in His heart will never be diminished.

Jesus is the prince.

I am HIS PRIZE.

YOU ARE HIS PRIZE.

He will never give up us.

If you have never encountered this love or long to encounter it more, listen to “Reckless Love” and ask Him to reveal himself to you. This is a prayer that he has suffered, died, and now lives to answer.

He wants his love to be known!