This is a New Season!

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There is a new season that I believe God is leading us all into. He is whispering in our ears, He is wooing us with His love, He is drawing us to follow Him out of the desert.  The desert season was full of disappointment and wounds.  It was full of waiting and hope deferred.  Yet God was saying through one of His prophets (Sue Roby), “The Delay is in your favor.”  I tried to hold on to that thought, to continue to believe that all would work out for the good…but I let some of my faith slip away.

A few months ago another prophet (Tony Brazelton) came proclaiming, “The Delay is over!”  My spirit leapt when I heard it. Could it really be time?  The time I had been praying for?  Yet the fear of disappointment almost choked this new hope to death.

In September God gave me two scriptures to read, Isaiah 65 and Psalm 144.  These same scriptures had been a source of strength during the lowest point in our lives as a family.

Is 65 had been God’s way of announcing to me that I was pregnant, back in 2010.  Verse 9 says, “I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah those who will possess my mountains; my chosen people will inherit them, and there will my servants live.”

I was happy to be pregnant and to feel the presence of a fresh new spirit within me.  I didn’t even need to take a pregnancy test.  Yet also I was ashamed.  Ashamed that I was pregnant for the fourth time in 5 years.  Ashamed that we still lived in a two bedroom townhouse and had to go to the health clinic for lower income families in Colorado Springs.  Ashamed that we struggled to pay our bills and had to set up a nursery for our baby in our walk-in closet.

The baby girl was due in January.  Right before Christmas Chris was laid off from his job.  We didn’t know what we would do.  We tried to enjoy Christmas as the debts grew.  I had a difficult time with Ashlyn’s birth which I wrote about in Birth Story Part 3.  Yet when she was born I was filled with peace and bliss.  My perfect baby girl!  God was so good!

The very next day the doctor informed us (devoid of compassion) that something was definitely wrong with our baby, but they didn’t know what.  Then began the many tests and scans.  Problems were found in her lungs, diaphragm, and heart.  We didn’t know what was going on.  We asked our church to pray and the only word they had for us was that this was my fault, that I was being too prideful.  I asked God if they were right.

That is when God gave me Ps. 144.  I felt peace flood my soul as I read:

“Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace.  Our barns will be filled with every kind of provision. Our sheep will increase by thousands, by tens of thousands in our fields; our oxen will draw heavy loads. There will be no breaching of walls, no going into captivity, no cry of distress in our streets.”

Amazingly Ashlyn was cleared and was released to go home after just two days, a perfectly healthy baby girl!

ashlynA perfect baby girl…until the results of the Chromosomal analysis came back.  A part of her 6th chromosome was missing but no one knew what that meant.  No one had ever seen this before.  We began this journey of parenting a special child, one who didn’t grow and develop like the other children.  One who had to wear a brace for a dislocated hip and a patch for strabismus in her eyes.  A child who needed physical therapy to learn to sit up and occupational therapy to learn to drink from a cup.

This is when Is. 65 became even more meaningful.  God had brought her forth and had told me that she was destined to take mountains.  She was not a mistake!

By April Chris still hadn’t found a full time job.  Our church kicked us out and shunned us.  Our mortgage and second mortgage were threatening to foreclose.  Our townhome association was threatening to take us to court.  Ps 144 didn’t appear to be true for us.

Yet God worked His miracles, one at a time.  He gave Chris a new job, sold our townhouse, brought us home to Pennsylvania, led us out of debt, and blessed Ashlyn with supernatural health.  More financial struggles, hardships with the children, and failed business ventures followed.  But we were home in the land of our inheritance.  We had friends, family, and a church that loved us!

When I started reading Is. 65 and Ps. 144 again this September, I was reminded of the encouragement I had received from them years ago.  Yet, I didn’t really want to delve into them, to relive the pain we had been through.  I kinda thought, “I know these verses inside and out.  I’ve been there and done that and I DON’T want to do it again.  Can’t I read something else?”

But I felt God saying, “Take another look.”

I discovered that these words, written thousands of years ago, were perfectly tailored for my life.  Not just my life back in 2010, but my life in 2017 and beyond.  I received revelations that I was not able to receive back then.  That our church in Colorado was not pleasing to God, but HE HAD BROUGHT US OUT OF IT to possess His Mountains.  Not because of anything we had done but because His faithfulness, He saved us from that situation and now we are taking mountains for His Kingdom.

Then I saw all the promises that God had for His servants (Is. 65, verse 13).  We will eat, drink, rejoice, and never be put to shame!  This has happened in our lives.

Then I read a verse that I had never noticed before, verse 16b.

“For the past troubles will be forgotten and hidden from my eyes.”

If God can forget the past, why couldn’t I?  I felt Him saying to me, “I am bringing you into something new, something you haven’t seen before.  You don’t have to interpret current events through your past experiences.  You don’t have to look into the future through the lens of the past.  I am going to give you a new perspective.”

I had been gaining a different perspective, an aerial view like that of an eagle.  I didn’t want my thinking to be clouded by people’s opinions, ever changing circumstances, or the dark clouds of depression.  I wanted to be seated with Christ in heavenly places, to see things from his Eternal perspective.  God was telling me that I was meant to be an eagle.   I was trying to fly, but I really needed some help.

I asked God to let me see a real eagle, and He answered my prayer just weeks later on our family vacation up north.  See my previous articles, “A Hawk, A Vulture, and an Eagle Part 1 and Part 2.”  I felt elated!  I felt inspired!  I felt ready to fly!

Of course vacation has to end and normal life has to begin again.  Could I see an eagle during the course of my daily routine? Chances were no.

I have made a weekly trek to a farm for years now.  At first I never noticed the birds flying in the sky.  Not because they were not there, but because I was not looking.  After God started speaking to me about being an eagle, I began to search the skies.  I loved watching all the birds – the swallows, the robins, the wrens, the sparrows, and even the crows.  They looked so free.  Even better that those birds were the large birds that flew high above the rest.  I felt inspired by their flight…until I realized that they were vultures.

Months I spent searching the sky for eagles only to see vultures, buzzards, and more vultures!  Ahggggggg!  At the end of October I made this trip for the 20 zillionth time.  I saw a large bird swooping down over the highway.  Another vulture, I said to myself.  Still, when I got close enough I turned my eyes away from the highway and up to the sky just long enough to see…

A bald eagle!  I saw the brilliant white head and the powerful straight wings!  I was not expecting that at all!  An eagle in my own neck of the woods!  In the midst of my normal routine!

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This seemed very significant so I asked God if there was something He wanted to tell me.  Immediately I heard this verse on my Bible CD:

“‘The One who is coming will come.  He will not be late.  The person who is right with me will have life because of his faith.  But if he turns back with fear, I will not be please with him.’

But we are not those who turn back and are lost.  We are people who have faith and are saved.” Hebrews 10:35-39 (ICB)

Fear has been my normal reaction to many things, so normal I hardly realize that I am choosing fear over faith.  But I am not one who turns back!  I am one who believes!  I will choose faith!

I heard God say to me, “I want you to be ready to see eagles where in the past only the vultures flew.”

A Cure for the Negativity that is All Around

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Have you noticed the negativity all around us lately, with the election and the terrorist attacks and the accusations of racism?  What a silly question!  We have all noticed it.  My last article was “How I feel About Donald Trump”, and I had never written anything “political” or “controversial” before.  I was expecting to be attacked by the negativity that has been so prevalent.  I was pleasantly surprised that most of the feedback was very positive.  Thank you, those who took the time to read my thoughts!  Thank you to those who have hearts open to hear a message of hope!  Thank you to those who gave me encouragement!  One word of encouragement is stronger than a thousand of negative ones!

I am not surprised at all by the negativity of the media or of non-Christians in general.  All of these precious people were created to be in a relationship with a God.  They have not yet encountered that perfect love and have undoubtedly had their share of hurt and disappointment.  They were created for a perfect place, yet live in a world full of sorrow and suffering.  They are angry and bitter and don’t even know exactly who they should be angry with.  Many of them fight with all their strength against the very thing that could heal their anger and put their world right again.  Before we as Christian judge them too harshly, let us remember the words of Abraham Lincoln when he was criticized for wanting to treat the South with compassion, “Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”  Let us be encouraged by the story of Saul of Tarsus and dare to believe that the greatest enemy of God today could be His greatest champion tomorrow!

What I have been very shocked by is the attitude of many Christians in this elections.  Christians should not be impressed by the negativity that the media is trying to feed us.  We should not look at the world the way the “world” looks at itself.  Jesus said that we shouldn’t judge unless we want to be judged.

Yet I understand why Christians have been so very judgmental.  I make judgments all the time.  Most are unconscious – I just think I am observing and then coming to a logical conclusion.  I want to understand the world around me and why things are the way they are.  My brain gathers the information it is given, processes it according to my own experiences and my unique world view and comes up with a determination that makes sense to me.  My own wisdom provides a false sense of security.

It is false because my thoughts are not like God’s thoughts.  My ways are not like His ways.  He is so much higher and has a different perspective.  He sees all things that ever were, all things that are, and all that will be.  He sees with complete clarity from a heart of perfect love.

I am so thankful when God proves me wrong!  I love it when a person who I thought was mean and grumpy turns out to be my best friend!  I love it when a situation that appeared to be hopeless gets turned around and becomes the most amazing story of redemption! My incorrect judgments have been exposed enough times for me to realize that the kingdom of God is backwards according to my wisdom.  God loves to make the first last and the last first.  He loves to use the foolish things to confound the wise.  He loves to surprise us and do the unexpected.

I think the reason that Jesus spoke to the masses in parables was that he wanted true followers.  True followers are not those who are excellent at following the rules and what seems to be logical.  True followers of Jesus are those who have an active relationship with God, who listen for His voice every day.  We need His voice to navigate through this confusing world…and GOD DESIGNED IT THAT WAY!

When Jesus told the crowd, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.”, do you think He wanted the people to come to the most logical conclusion about Him…either that he was insane or had a morbid fascination with death?  He wanted as followers only those people who were willing to seek the voice of God to reveal to them the truth and beauty of His statement that was offensive to most.  Perhaps even more than that, Jesus wanted followers that trusted Him enough to follow even if they didn’t understand.  Their love and loyalty to this “Son of Man” who had proven His character to them again and again superseded their need to understand.

God’s wondrous plan of salvation for mankind was understood by no man on this earth while it was unfolding.  Even though Jesus explained it clearly to his closest disciples, they were in despair when it all happened.

Isaiah said this about Jesus;

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him.

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.

Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

If I had been there at the cross to see Jesus, beaten and bloodied so that he no longer looked like a man, naked and reviled so I would have to turn my eyes away; how would I have judged that scene?  How would I have judged Jesus?  I probably would have thought, “What a poor wretched man.  What did he do to deserve such a death?  This is one of the worst things I have ever witnessed.  This is one of the darkest hours in all human history.”

Yet this man was perfect, powerful, and indescribably beautiful.  He was not a lowly criminal but the King of the Universe.  He accomplished all that He had set out to do, and it was actually the most powerful moment in human history.  The moment that sin and death were defeated and all of us were set free…FOREVER!!!

We miss what God is doing because we are focused on the wrong things.  If something is despised or rejected by men…it might just be God.

Yes, we need to discern what is the Holy Spirit and what is not.  We need to understand what God is doing RIGHT NOW and join HIM in His work.  We need to seek His heart and come into unity with Him.

I am not talking about false hope or putting our faith in something that isn’t real.  I am not talking about closing our eyes to evil and pretending that it isn’t there. I hate that!  I hate believing in lies and I hate disappointment!  Yet, those who put their hope in God will not be disappointed!  I am talking about a reality that is more real than what we see around us.  I am talking about a reality that is higher.

Alaska. Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in flight. Wing span can reach 6.6 feet. Males can grow up to 9lbs in weight, 50,000 bald eagles live in Alaska.

Once I had to seek that reality just to survive.  How thankful I am for that time, for I will not be so easily deceived again.  You see, I was part of a church that specialized in showing people their sins.  They thought they were doing God’s work by helping to “perfect” all the people around them.  What they were really doing was speaking the words of the Accuser which only brought condemnation and despair.

They had been working to try and “fix” me for a few years.  They finally decided that I was too “broken” to remain part of the church.  They said nothing to me about this decision but discussed it among themselves.  That morning in my quiet time God gave me a scripture that I will never forget.

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.

Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her

that her hard service has been completed,

that her sin has been paid for, Is 40:1-2

 Even though God was speaking tenderly to me, the church was not. One of the church leaders called my husband to a special meeting and proceeded to tell him that our family could no longer be part of the church because of my sin.  She said that I was so deep into my iniquity (no specific sin was mentioned) that I was interfering with their prayers.  She said that I was keeping Chris from his destiny, and that it was never God’s will for him to marry me in the first place.  She believed that eventually I would leave Chris. Once that happened, he could return to the church.

When Chris told me what they had said to him, I felt as though I had been punched in the gut and had all the wind knocked out of me.  Did I believe the words of the Lord that I had received earlier in the day?  I am sorry to say that I did not.  The words of man are spoken so much louder and seem to be much clearer.  Chris and I spent many days in darkness and condemnation, trying to find a way out.

Still the voice of the Lord was whispering to me, and I sought Him like never before!  One night I was praying over our family and wondering what would happen next without our church, our friends, our support network, and our future as we had envisioned it.  I saw in my mind a picture of an eagle’s nest.  It was so high in the rocks of a mountain that you couldn’t see the earth below.  The nest was full of baby birds.  I felt God say,

That is your family.  You are meant to be eagles and you are to raise your children to be eagles.”

            My first thought was, “How dangerous to raise my children on the side of a cliff.  What if they fell and went crashing to their deaths?”

But then I realized that eagles were born to be up there.  It was their natural habitat, and they were not afraid of it.  Babies eagles were born to fly, and fly they most certainly would!  They were born to view the earth from a different perspective, a higher perspective.

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They can see more at one time and see for longer distances than most animals.  But what if an eagle is confined to the ground, to see only what is right in front of them.  What if they are thrown down to the dirt and are unable to rise and feel the wind carry them above the smog and the grime.  What if they are down there for so long that they forget the beauty of the clouds and the heavens above?

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I imagine that they would get frustrated, then afraid, then angry, then bitter…just as I have in the past.  Just as many Christian have during this election.  I am so thankful that God has given me wings and lifted me up where I belong.

Children of God…you were born to fly!

But those who wait on the Lord

Shall renew their strength;

They shall mount up with wings like eagles,

They shall run and not be weary,

They shall walk and not faint.

 The other voices out there will yell at you!  They will attract your attention with flashing lights and mesmerizing images.  They will pull you in and hold you captive.  But the voice of the Lord is still and it is small.  In order to hear it, we must silence all other voices, we must silence our own thoughts, and we must wait on the Lord!

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Wait on the Lord!  For you are a great company of eagles born to fly!