It is called “The Women’s Encounter” because it is not just a conference but an experience of God’s love. From the lovely decorations to the friendly faces all around, God’s love is evident. Each year the attendees receive a word, a scripture, a gift, teaching, and personal prayer.
Last year’s Encounter was called “The Garden.”
Many women from Life Center came to the stage to share stories; essentially their spiritual seeds, refreshing water, aromatic herbs, and stunning bouquets of flowers. Each one uniquely displayed the goodness of God, and I felt unable to fully absorb the richness of it all.
I would like to share four of my God Encounters.
1.My word was “Rekindle”.
I loved that word! I pictured a rekindled fire in my heart; more love, more passion. Later in the year the word took on a deeper meaning when my husband and I were planning a romantic beach getaway. I was praying about it in July and God gave me a scripture, 1 Samuel 2:8-10. The Message states verse 8 like this;
“He puts poor people on their feet again; he rekindles burned-out lives with fresh hope; restoring dignity and respect to their lives – a place in the sun!”
As our retreat approached, Chris and I decided that we would spend some of our trip writing down our visions and dreams for the future. In 2013 I had started a dream journal where I recorded 171 dreams that I believed God would fulfill. Years of disappointment caused me to put that journal on the shelf and not opened it again. It felt much safer to leave it alone and spend my energies on the challenges of the present. But now I felt God asking me to revisit a few of those dreams, and it was much more painful than I thought it would be.
At the beach, with the cold and windswept ocean outside the window, we started to type our “Family Vision”. I had a vivid dream that night that I named, “House of Hospitality” in my journal. I didn’t quite understand it, but since then God has been showing me the peace and beauty of His vision for my life.
Since our trip in October, I have felt a rekindling of my dreams and a fresh hope overtake the burned-out parts of my life. I took my dream journal out again and started fresh with the title “Reawakening Dreams 2022.”
2. At the 2022 Women’s Encounter I received a scripture, Matt16:19
“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
This was a confirmation of a scripture I had received from a friend for my birthday which just happened to be 2/22/22 last year. Is 22:22 (ESV)
“And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David. He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.”
I was deeply impacted by these two verses and used them as my guide throughout the year as I took more authority in prayer.
3. I was on the ministry team and had two opportunities to pray for all the women who stood before me.
This was my favorite part! I could feel God’s overwhelming love for each of His daughters, some I knew and others I had never met. I was blessed by their stories and sweet spirits. I could feel Jesus fill my mouth with the prayers He was praying and the words He was speaking over them.
4. One of the most amazing God encounters during the 2022 Women’s Encounter actually happened in my home after the conference was over.
But it all started when Anne Stock was on stage the day before talking about the higher ways of our Master Gardener. She referenced the parable in Matthew 20 where the workers hired at the end of the day were paid the same wage as those who had been hired at the beginning of the day. I had always felt so thankful that the last would get the same reward as the first, because I considered myself part of the last generation who would see Jesus return to the earth. How amazing that I would receive the same reward from Him as those who had lived in previous generations but had never seen the fulfillment of so many promises!
In Anne’s sweet and wise way, she reframed this parable in a context I had never considered. Those who were not hired until later were not late in coming to the market place, nor were they lazy and not wanting to work. They were waiting in faith at the marketplace the whole day. They were expecting to be hired, they wanted to be hired, but it appeared as though they had been passed over. Anne said something like this, “The woman who has 10 children and has been living in her calling this whole time, you who have been waiting for a baby – you get the same reward.”
A friend sitting next to me poked me in the shoulder and gave me a knowing look, probably because I have 10 children.
“Was Anne thinking of me when she said that?” I thought to myself while feeling vaguely unsettled. I had never considered myself the one who had been hired first and the thought seemed a bit unfair. I quickly forgot about it as I engaged in the rest of the conference.
The next morning, I woke up early with a headache. I went to take a shower and have my praise and worship session with God. I began to sing out Matt 11:28-30 in the Message:
“Are you tired? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
I had chosen that scripture to post on my mirror because I thought my husband could really use it. He had seemed burned out lately. When I sang, “I will never lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you” I began to cry with unforeseen, deep sorrow. Immediately I remembered the reference to a woman of 10 children working through the heat of the day from Anne’s talk the previous day. Like a movie, memories began to play through my mind. Memories of my early days of mothering. Hard days. Impossible days. I felt alone and overwhelmed. I felt like a failure. So much physical and emotional work during the heat of the day. No good support network. Religious pressure to “be a good wife and mother” and not act like I was dying, not ask for help. Not receiving help when I finally asked.
I hadn’t felt the pain of those days in many years. I had forgotten that what it felt like. I didn’t realize that I still carried it.
Through my stifled sobs, Jesus was telling me that He had never laid anything heavy or ill-fitting on me. Not even on my most impossible day.
I had taken the heavy yoke upon myself by making myself a victim, not believing His words, believing the lies, and accepting the pressure the enemy put on me. I asked God to forgive me for carrying my blessings like they were burdens. I forgave all the friends and family who could have helped but didn’t. I thanked God for all the help that I did receive. I thanked Him for enabling me to dig a trench in the isolated desert that He could fill with His grace. I thanked Him for grace on top of grace on top of grace.
I felt His presence washing away the pain and exhaustion of that season and taking away my fear of that season returning. I heard Him gently say, “You never have to go back to carrying the heavy load through the heat of the day. Take my light burden today and every day. You are now heading toward the cool of the evening.”
I felt healed and refreshed and my headache suddenly disappeared. This intense work of the spirit only took about 10 minutes. I hadn’t expected it or asked for it, but the overwhelming goodness of Jesus had encountered me. I felt it a privilege rather than a burden to be allowed to enter so early into my calling to raise 10 children, 24 years ago. And I am not nearly done yet. I have at least 14 more years with children in my home, and I am so happy about it! The first shall be last and the last shall be first, and I am so blessed to abide in Jesus wherever I end up in the line. What a beautiful “Garden” of His presence He has created for me!
I know that I will find Him in unexpected ways in the midst of the “Waves”, The Women’s Encounter March 24-25, 2023.
“We can no longer stay silent! We must speak out!” says one impressive leader.
“We can no longer hide inside the church walls! We must take the kingdom of God into every mountain of culture!” says another leader.
“As Christians we have access to the most powerful, creative, intelligent and compassionate being in the universe. We should be at the top of every mountain!” says another.
I whole heartedly agree! God put us on this earth, not to find comfort and happiness for ourselves, but to bring His kingdom into this war-torn battlefield. Whenever I hear a call to action, my first reaction is guilt. In my estimation, I haven’t done very much to impact culture. Second, I feel overwhelmed with the enormity of the job and the smallness of me.
How CAN I make my voice heard?
How DO I make a difference?
I try to be connected to the Holy Spirit everyday and simply obey what He is telling me to do. Most days obedience is spending time with Him, serving my family, educating my children, and researching important topics. I know that if I can love my family and teach my children God’s ways, I have accomplished my destiny. There is nothing more powerful than being part of a living, breathing example of God’s Love.
Sometimes I feel pushed to do more. Over a year ago I began emailing my school board and superintendent. This has led to great conversations. I have started to learn about our school district and follow the school board meetings.
I didn’t want to enroll my three older sons in public school this year. I had a bad feeling about it. They were adamant about wanting to attend in person school rather than cyber school. My husband felt that we should give it a shot, since masks were optional.
I took my son to the “New Student Orientation” at the High School. We all sat in the auditorium for a message from the principal. He seemed like a good leader, and I loved his message.
“This could be a good place for my son,” I thought to myself.
My opinion changed as the principal started giving the parents and students medical advice. Because of a new quarantine protocol, he advised all students to be vaccinated and wear a mask. That way, no one would have to lose days of school. Any student who had been in contact with a sick student would have to quarantine for 10-14 days if they were not vaccinated or not wearing a mask. His advice had nothing to do with health. From his perspective, his job was to see all his students successfully through to graduation, and this was the most effective way to do that.
It was obvious that the protocol was designed to push students to vaccinate. This is not the place of a school district. And here was a principal advising that my student get experimental gene therapy with no idea what the short-term or long-term effects would be, simply for the sake of CONVIENIENCE! How could I let this go unchallenged?
“You should speak at the next School Board meeting,” I felt the Holy Spirit whispering to me the following weekend.
“Really! I don’t think I am ready for that. Is it really that important? Couldn’t I just email them my views,” I whispered back.
I COULD NOT shake the feeling. It got stronger Sunday morning in worship. I asked God for a verse. He gave me Eph 5:8-11
“…for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as Children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true) and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”
These words made me certain that I would please the LORD if I would speak the truth at the school board meeting. It may not change the dynamics or decisions of the school board that much. It may not make a huge difference in my children’s schools. But at least I could please God! At least I could speak out truth and know that it would not return void!
I had watched school board meetings over the summer, and the high school auditorium was empty except for the school board members in the front and a few people in the audience. The last time there were only two public speakers. It would likely just be me and the school board, no big deal. I could do this!
Monday morning came and I planned on spending most of the day working on a 5-minute speech. I asked my oldest if she could manage the younger children so I could focus.
I looked on the district website to check the agenda for the meeting. Close to the beginning was time for public speakers. There were already nine speakers scheduled to speak! Most appeared to be in favor of universal masking. One was someone I knew who had previously ripped into me for supporting the Republican platform. One was the principal himself! The man who was to be the central focus of my speech to the school board.
Instantly arrows of palpable fear ripped through my body!
It wasn’t just me and an empty auditorium anymore! I would have to stand up in front of those who oppose me. What if I was the only one? What if I was attacked? Public speaking can be daunting. I used to be petrified of the mere thought of it, but God had healed me of that. I wrote about overcoming my fear of rejection in my article, “Fear Won’t Steal my Voice.” I have been able to speak in front of others by His power, but I had never done it in such a circumstance as this.
I retreated to the bathroom to be alone. My heart was thumping!
“I don’t think I can do this! How am I going to do this?” I asked God.
God impressed upon me that it was even more important that I speak up. I HAD TO BE A VOICE FOR MY CHILDREN. In fact, my children had a voice also. If they were going to attempt to thrive in the public school system that was designed to persecute them, they would HAVE to find their voices.
I called on some close friends for prayer coverage. I told the three boys that they would be speaking tonight and to write out something to say. I prayed that God would give me a strategy for the day. He did! Step by step I followed what I felt He was telling me to do. I was trembling literally and figuratively, but I couldn’t stop to think about it, I had to keep moving forward.
I looked at the entire agenda again. Sure enough, right after the public speakers, a new health and safety plan would be approved or denied. I called the school district to get myself and my boys on the agenda. The woman told me that the new plan should be uploaded to the website soon. I only had to wait a half an hour before my hunch was confirmed. The plan contained universal masking for every person inside school buildings.
After I had gone to the trouble of registering my students for school and one week before school was to begin, they wanted to change the plan!
I decided to call the school board members who had given me their phone numbers. I got through to one. We had a long conversation, and I learned more than I was bargaining for. Previously I had thought the board was populated by good meaning people who cared about my students. Perhaps they were just misinformed. I learned that it is much bigger and much deeper than that: A political and spiritual battle with political and spiritual forces. Thank goodness I had a prayer covering!
I also learned that 90% of the parental feed back had been pro-mask. Come on PRO-FREEDOM parents! We must make our voices heard!
I called two families in the district to ask for their support. They didn’t realize that a new plan was going to be voted on, probably like most parents in the district. They couldn’t come to the meeting, but they would pray for me.
I figured that I should talk with the principal who I was going to reference in my speech. He actually answered the phone, and we had a great conversation. I first thanked him for his strong leadership. Then I explained to him my position:
We could have in person school and STILL give students medical freedom.
He said that they all had to follow the protocols given to them by the Dept of Education. I explained to him that those were not laws but guidance, and that our school board had the ability to create their own protocols. He didn’t think that was true: they had to follow other rules given to them by the DOE like the requirement for all 11 graders to get a physical or be prevented from graduating. I replied that the physical requirement was state law. It had been a bill that was passed by the Senate and the House and signed by the governor years ago. This new protocol was NOT law, but rather something that the Dept of Health and Dept of Education were telling them they should do. He admitted that he never realized that there was a difference.
I knew that this battle was not about health at all. It was about politics. It was about freedom. I asked God to show me exactly what He wanted me to speak. I could have spoken for hours, but I only had five minutes.
I started typing and it took a long time to express all that was rolling around in my brain. Once I was done, it was way too long. I cut it, cut it, and cut it again. I had certain objectives:
To please God
To speak truth that had power behind it
To address the concerns of the school board (personal and district liability)
To treat everyone as my advocate or future advocate. I didn’t want to build a wall. I wanted these people to work for me and with me!
I then researched information on the Senate hearing where the Secretary of Health and the Secretary of Education both stated that the details of the Health and Safety plan were up to the local school boards to determine. I found the videos and sent them to every school board member and the superintendent. (Since then the Gov. and Sec. of Health have issued mandates that they promised they would never issure, but those mandates are ILLEGAL!)
I read and reread my speech out loud to make sure it sounded right and was within time. I read over my boys’ speeches and gave some pointers. I had them read them out loud to practice.
All of this took most of the day. My stomach was churning, and I didn’t feel like eating, but I made myself eat all three meals. Finally, the time was drawing near. I didn’t see how I was going to be able to function as nervous as I was. I had been praying all day, but I finally decided to pray out loud the scripture I had put up on my mirror, Jer 1:7
The Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy,’ for you will go to all to whom I send you. Do not be afraid of them for I am with you to deliver you.”
As soon as I spoke out that scripture, a peace descended. My nervous trembling stopped. I felt confident. God would do it!
I encouraged my boys to speak loud with confidence. I told them how very proud of them I was! My husband and oldest daughter were able to come along for moral support. As we pulled into the school parking lot, a good friend (who is also my sons’ youth pastor) pulled in next to us. What an encouragement!
We entered the building and there were many more people than I had ever expected! It seemed half were wearing masks and sitting alone, and the other half were showing their faces and sitting in groups. We found seats and were joined by another friend from church.
It seemed to take forever for the meeting to start and to get through all the boring stuff. Finally, it was time for the public speakers. One speaker after another lectured on the same theme: we have to protect our students and staff by instituting universal masking. Nine speakers all had this opinion, and the meeting was very boring. My confidence had grown into a burning desire.
“Let me up there! Let me speak a different word!” my spirit was screaming. I was excited when it was my turn. I began in a loud and enthusiastic tone. (My family told me later that the audience roused from their stupor and looked up at this point.)
When I mentioned that I had 6 children in the district and 10 children in all, I felt a small shock wave ripple through the auditorium. A man sitting close by who had been on his computer got up and began recording me with his phone.
“At least they are waking up!” I thought.
I was able to speak out truth! For the first time that evening, I heard exclamations from the audience. Outbursts of support! My sons spoke next (the only students to speak) and they all did an excellent job. Thankfully after that, many others spoke for freedom and truth including parents, the county coroner, a lawyer, and a bus driver. It was a wonderful discussion, and a few points became very clear.
Freedom was the primary issue.
Students are not at risk from this virus.
Masks are only effective if they are N95 and properly fitted and there are no child sizes.
The board listened to everyone respectfully and then began to discuss their own views on the subject. One board member asked the district doctor to come and explain the situation. It was very clear that she was uncomfortable, nervous, and was gasping for air under her N95. She hemmed and hawed around the point, and I couldn’t understand how the school board found this testimony compelling enough to support universal masking.
When it became clear that most of the board had already made up their minds before the meeting even began, anger erupted from the audience. This was quite distressing for the board. When the vote was taken, 7 voted for the new plan and 2 voted no.
Praise God for those 2 glorious, rebellious NO VOTES!
I counted the evening a victory and an important step in winning the entire war. Here is why:
I spoke the truth and truth will prevail. Who knows where all those truth seeds have landed? For some they are just an irritant. But for others they will take root and grow!
I got to meet many of the other speakers and audience members and expanded my knowledge and sphere of influence.
My children learned how to participate in the process of freedom.
In the weeks following I have heard from many people who were watching the recording and who were cheering me on!
A father saw my speech. He reached out to me to explain how he is devoting a good portion of his time to fight for freedom in our school district. He has been talking with school board members and lawyers. He has been talking to parents and community members to pull us together into a larger force. He told me he has a “fire in his belly” and he is not going to stop. What an answer to prayer he is! I don’t have the time to do what he can do, but I can support him!
One school board member emailed me, “Thank you and your children for having the courage to speak. Although I was prepared to say something, I didn’t feel it was necessary after you all spoke. Your words have power.”
Another member emailed me, “You and your incredibly well spoken, thoughtful and intelligent children did an amazing job of driving home so many important points… you can be so proud of your family and the wonderful human beings you are raising. It can be so difficult speaking up when you find yourself holding a minority opinion- but it is so important that we have these dialogues, and we voice concerns about giving our government more latitude than they may deserve out of propagandized fear.”
Most importantly, I experienced in my own life that God’s words are true, and He will do what He said He would do.
The Lord said to me, “Do not say ‘I can’t do it, I am only a mom with no credential or experience.’ I will put my word in your mouth. You will go to all whom I send you. You will not be afraid for I AM with you!”
Those words were true for me that night at the school board meeting. Those words are true for me every day. Those words are true for you as well!
Here are the words I spoke that night (modified to take out specific names).
Members of the school board, thank you for all you do for our students! Thank you for responding to my emails and talking with me on the phone.
I am the mother of six children in the school district. I have 10 children and have been studying nutrition, health, brain development, and education for the past 23 years. I concentrate on building their health from the inside with good food and good habits. We never have to go to the doctor for being sick. We have no asthma, allergies, or take any medications. We didn’t change anything about our lifestyle when this pandemic began and have continued to be extremely healthy.
Thank you, High School Principal, for your wonderful leadership at the high school new student orientation. Your speech is what inspired me to come tonight. You encouraged the students to come to you if they had a conflict with another student. You said that we could work out any situation if we just get together and talk about it.
It is pretty clear that we have a situation now, and I know that we can protect our students and staff while still protecting their most sacred rights. The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is the foundation of our country. To protect life, we must insure medical freedom. Life is in the breath, and my students have the right to breathe fresh air. I have seen many studies that prove that masks are not effective in stopping the COVID virus. I have never read a study proving that they are.
Masking violates that very way our immune systems were designed to work. The respiratory system is an open system, always receiving foreign gases, particles, and microorganisms along with oxygen. The way our body cleanses out the bad is the exhale. To trap my child’s exhale against his nose and mouth in a warm, moist environment doesn’t allow his immune system to work properly.
I have heard from many in the district that we may have to return to mandatory masking and that is just the way that it is. Whenever you say, “That is just the way that it is”, you eliminate all discussion, all questions, all research, all individual freedoms. That is not what I want my children to learn when they are in school. I want them to learn to think for themselves, to question, to study, to research, to come up with new and better answers.
This is what the Principal talks about when he calls on his students to “BE Great Every Day!” This is the way of all inventors, innovators, and entrepreneurs. When we issue one size fits all mandates, it is not teaching our children to be great and to make informed decisions. We are teaching them to comply to a socialist system.
I have heard it recommended that all students be vaccinated and wear masks, so they won’t have to miss important days of school to quarantining. It is not the virus that is interrupting school, it is the quarantine protocols. It is very clear that the unvaccinated students would be the ones denied their right to a public-school education even if they are perfectly healthy. With all the talk about inclusion and equity these days, I am very surprised that you would discriminate against one group of students.
My entire family probably had COVID in the past year. For us it was a mild cold that didn’t even slow my boys down. Yet now they have a robust and durable immunity. Did you see the recent study that looked at people who recovered from SARS 19 years ago? They are still immune to SARS today along with SARS-CO-V2! Our natural immunity not only lasts but recognizes all 29 proteins on the surface of the corona virus, rather than just one spike protein as with the vaccine. The vaccine does not prevent infection or transmission as the head of the CDC recently admitted. There were over 10,0000 breakthrough cases reported before the CDC stopped counted them.
I sent you all links to the Senate Hearing where you can hear both the Secretary of Education and The Secretary of Health state that the details of the Health and Safety Plan are in the control of local school boards and will not affect the Esser Funding.
Please correct this illogical protocol of masking and quarantining healthy students. Please protect their freedoms. Thank you!
“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. 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. As I walked into a clearing…
I saw the most amazing rainbow in the azure sky. Its colors where deeper than a normal rainbow. Instead of making an arch across the sky, it twisted and turned like a ribbon.
I realized that the rainbow was made from brilliantly colored clouds. I rushed to the prayer group, excited to tell them to look to the sky. They had already seen the vibrant ribbon, because it had threaded itself through the branches of a nearby tree and cascaded toward the ground. As the magnificent cloud reached me, I noticed that it had lost its color and had dissipated, like fog. 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.
It was then that I awoke and thought, “That was the most amazing sight I have ever seen!”
I got out of bed and headed to the bathroom. I looked up at my mirror and saw the pages that I had taped there. They were important quotes and scriptures that I wanted to memorize. The first one 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!”
“YOU DESERVE A RAISE!”
Perhaps God was saying, “If you 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 is like taking a step back to get a better view.
Let’s open our eyes while we have the chance, while many “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!
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…
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.
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?
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.)
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 was a warm summer night and the sun had not yet set. My brother and I were hanging out with our friends at the close of our youth group meeting. Our youth pastor, Bryan, came up to us and said, “Your mom is in the office and wants to see you.”
That was very unusual. My mom didn’t attend our church and she never came on a Wednesday night. When we entered Bryan’s office, Mom told us that we had to call our grandfather, “Papa” as we called him. He lived in Wisconsin and we only saw him and our Grammy twice a year; at Christmas and during summer vacation. We loved them dearly, yet I didn’t understand why mom had driven all the way into the city to make sure that we called him on the church telephone.
“Your Papa is going into surgery early tomorrow morning, and I wanted you to talk to him before that,” Mom explained.
With the excitement of the approaching summer vacation and my graduation from High School, I had completely forgotten that Papa was scheduled to get a hip replacement. He was in his eighties but still seemed fairly young to me. He and Grammy loved to go hiking, yet in recent years his hip pain had made even walking very difficult for him. The past summer, Papa didn’t breathe a word about his pain, yet I saw him trembling and breathing with slow, shaky breaths whenever he sat down or got up again. Grammy was anxious to get back to their active lifestyle and urged him to get the hip replaced.
I wasn’t worried about his surgery. He had gotten his other hip done a few years back, and it seemed rather routine. I took the phone and told him that I loved him and hoped his surgery went well. I thought my mom had been silly to insist upon this call. After all, we would see him in person soon.
That was the last time I ever had the opportunity to talk to my Papa, and how thankful I am now for that phone conversation and my mom’s intuition. Days later we learned that something had gone wrong after the surgery, a nasty infection. Papa’s vital signs went haywire, and he was about to die. The doctors were doing everything they could to stabilize him. In the scary chaos, they asked Grammy if they should put Papa on life support. She looked at the love of her life, the man she adored, her partner for more than 63 years. She saw him dying and thought the doctors were asking her if they should save his life or let him die. Of course she chose to save his life.
She told me later that she didn’t understand what life support really meant. If she had known at the time that it meant hooking her beloved husband up to all sorts of tubes and equipment, keeping his body alive in a sort of artificial limbo state; she never would have agreed to it.
Yet there he was, in the hospital bed, being sustained by machines. Grammy’s heart was broken and so were ours. Everything had changed. No more hiking trips. No more happy summer vacations listening to Papa’s funny stories. No more Christmases with my grandfather and his white hair all mussed up from getting out of bed so early in the morning.
There could be a miracle. I believed in miracles and I prayed for a miracle for Papa. I thought about what a precious man he was. He had met Grammy when he was 21 and Grammy was only 16. He walked her home from the ice skating rink and never had eyes for another girl. They waited 10 years to get married so they could save money to build a house.
He was called into the army during WWII, but never left the United States thanks to his excellent typing skills. That was a very good thing, because during that time, my mother was conceived!
After the war, he began working at a bank as a teller and worked his way to becoming the bank president. He was known by many of the people in the small city of Wausau, and was affectionately called “Chick” even though his name was Harold. He was always easy with conversation and jokes and was great fun to be around.
He was a very honorable man and attended a Methodist church. He didn’t talk much about his faith. In fact, when I had a life-altering salvation experience at the age of 14 and started attending a Charismatic church, he didn’t seem that interesting in talking about it. I wondered if he really had a relationship with Jesus. Had he ever asked Jesus to forgive his sins and take him to heaven? I didn’t know. The thought of never seeing my Papa again terrified me.
That week I graduated from High School. The graduation ceremony was lovely. I had some of my closest friends back to my house afterwards to celebrate. We stayed up most of the night, talking. There is so much to talk about when you are on the verge of the rest of your life; with missions trips, college, and careers all on the horizon.
Then we got into a circle, grabbed hands, and began to pray. We prayed for each other, prayed for our futures. Then I began to pray for my Papa.
“God, I ask that you would do a miracle and heal Papa. If he doesn’t know you, Jesus, DON’T LET HIM DIE! Heal him and speak to him and let him know your love. If he does know you, if he is going to heaven, then let him die. I don’t want him to have to suffer indefinitely, unable to talk or really live. If he is saved, please take him to heaven,” I prayed.
I looked up at the clock and it said 2:30am. It was time to wrap up this party. My friends returned home and I fell asleep in my living room, curled up on the recliner.
In the morning my mom gently shook my shoulder. “Last night your Papa died,” she said.
I was so sleepy, that I didn’t respond except to let out a sad, “Ohhhhhh.” Then I rolled over and went back to sleep. I couldn’t explain the peace that I felt. My mom expected me to be quite distraught, and she hated to give me the news on the day after I graduated.
Later, when I was fully awake, I asked my mom, “What time did Papa die?”
“It was 1:30am,” she answered.
My heart sank. He died before I had prayed that prayer. I didn’t have any assurance that I would see my Papa again.
Then I remembered. Papa had passed away at 1:30am Wisconsin time. That was 2:30am our time here in Pennsylvania, the exact time that I had asked Jesus to carry him to heaven!
In November my mom started acting strangely. We were all together for Thanksgiving, but she wasn’t herself. The children haven’t seen their grandma since that day.
Since then, Mom has been in and out of 4 different hospitals. Her mental and physical state has fluctuated wildly. I have long since lost count of how many doctors, nurses, physician’s assistants, and social workers I have talked to. None of them could tell me why this was happening or how exactly they planned on fixing it. The plans were not so much focused on bringing abundant health, but more on stabilizing her. And the plans changed almost daily.
I would visit mom when I could. None of the hospitals were places that I enjoyed spending several hours in, let alone weeks at a time. Stark, barren, clinical. Very little that was cheery or beautiful to look at. Very little to do. No fresh air or access to the outdoors. Mom and I were both dreaming of a better environment in which she could convalesce.
When I was in my mom’s house one day, collecting some clothes to bring to her, I notice this pretty decoration.
It was the stone that she had received at our church on Mother’s Day. It carried a message that I hoped would be true for her life. I prayed that she could have a fresh start.
It was finally decided that she was stable enough to be released to assisted living. Mom and I were both so excited! I had found a lovely, friendly place that would become her new home. It had a large “apartment” for her. It had a nice dining room and common area with a fire-place and piano. It had a courtyard where she could do some gardening.
I prepared for her to be transferred. I gathered necessary and homey items from her house. When I was out shopping I found this little sign and thought it would give Mom a positive message to look at, day after day, in her new room.
I was hoping that it would give her comfort when she felt the pain of what she had lost. I prayed it would give her hope in the difficult days of transition.
It really could be possible that once Mom adjusts to her new home, meets new friends, and participates in new activities, she will be happier than before. Perhaps with the burden of taking care of her home and herself is lifted, she will feel a sense of freedom. Maybe her loneliness will fade away and she will enjoy life afresh! Perhaps God will draw her to himself like never before and will make her Valley of Trouble into a Door of Hope (Hosea 2:15).
I was sure praying that all of that would be true, but I felt worried too. Was it too much to ask for? Too much to expect?
I found out on Friday that the Assisted Living Home couldn’t take her until Monday. My heart dropped. Another weekend in that boring hospital with the screaming lady right down the hall.
“Oh well, God, work all these things for Mom’s good,” I prayed.
I got busy putting together all the details. I compiled stacks of paperwork. I worked on checklist after checklist. I wrote everything important on the calendar for Monday to be sure I wouldn’t forget. As I was writing on the little square that represented March 20th, 2017, I realized that I was writing around the words that were preprinted there…
First Day of Spring!
My heart leapt! My eyes filled with tears of joy! Even though the delay seemed like a trial, it was God’s plan all along. His plan was good. His plan was full of Hope. His plan was for a Fresh Start!
Will you all pray for my Mom? For abundant health and life? For a heart after God? For an awareness of God’s goodness? For a recognition of all His good gifts He gives her with each new day? For a Fresh Start and a Spring Season?
“God, do I have your heart? Have I heard you correctly?” I found myself asking. I turned to the Bible and asked Him to give me a scripture. I was still wearing my pajamas and doing my morning exercises. The little ones were playing around me, and I should have been getting on with my day, but I just had to hear His voice.
I opened the Bible to Hosea 11 and began to read.
When Israel [I felt like God was putting the USA into this place] was a child, I loved him,
And out of Egypt I called my son.
The more I called them, the more they went from me;
They kept sacrificing to the Baals, and offering incense to idols.
It was the hand of God that formed our nation. Yet our nation has largely turned away from our Biblical foundation. Our country sacrifices the blood of 3,000 children a day to the idols of fear, selfishness, wealth, and convenience.
Yet it was I who taught Ephraim [America] to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.
God had abundantly blessed our country and given us freedom and prosperity, but systematically over the years the government has turned from Him. Most of us are complacent in seeking him.
They shall return to the land of Egypt, and Assyria shall be their king, because they have refused to return to me.
Swords will flash in their cities, will destroy the bars of their gates and put an end to their plans.
I can see how America deserves judgement from God. My heart is heavy.
My people are bent on turning away from me. To the Most High they call, but He does not raise them up at all.
At this point my heart is beating fast. I am panicking and full of grief. “No, God!” My heart is whispering, “We cannot endure this.” I continue to read.
How can I give you up Ephriam [America]? How can I hand you over, Israel [USA]? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim [cities that were destroyed with Sodom and Gomorrah but no longer remembered]?
My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender.
I WILL NOT execute my fierce anger; I WILL NOT again destroy Ephraim [America]; for I am God and no mortal, the Holy One in your midst, and I WILL NOT COME IN WRATH.
I did not know this chapter of the Bible by heart, so when I came to these verses telling of God’s mercy; relief and deep, deep gratitude flooded my soul. I found myself on my face on the living room carpet, weeping uncontrollably.
His word is MERCY!
We deserve judgment, but He has said MERCY!
All I could do was worship Him with tears as my little ones continued to play, unaware of the collision of heaven and earth that had just occurred inside of me.
Then I continued to read Hosea 11:10-11.
They shall go after the Lord, who roars like a lion; when he roars, his children shall come trembling from the west.
They shall come [with eager haste] trembling like birds from Egypt, and like doves from the land of Assyria; and I will return them to their homes, says the LORD.
This election has served an important purpose; to expose the problems in our nation and awaken the church. This is going to continue!
God is roaring like a lion!!!
Do you hear him? Will you come to Him like never before to seek Him for the healing of our land? He wants to provide every American with peaceful dwelling places, secure homes, and undisturbed places of rest (Is 32:18), but it will take quite a battle to get there.
After I read these verses, I was sure that whoever was elected would be God’s mercy to us…and I was about 98% sure that it would be Trump. Nov. 3rd was my day to spend 3 hours in the Furnace (prayer room) at my church. This was such a pleasure for me since I love to intercede but don’t have many chances to leave the distractions of my busy household.
Those of us in the Furnace felt incredible faith to plead the blood of Jesus over our land, which speaks a better word than judgement and the Accuser. I prayed out Is 40: 22-24 which talks about God’s breath as a whirlwind, blowing away evil rulers like chaff. I prayed that every evil in our government and in our culture would be blown away by that whirlwind and that the Kingdom of God would replace it.
When I returned home I found confirmation to all of these things on Facebook. The importance of Hosea 11:11 was highlighted to me when both Rick Joyner and Lance Wallnau announced that they are having important meetings on 11/11/16 and Veronica West saw that same day as a day of justice. Another post from Veronika West went like this;
“DAUGHTER WHY DO MY PEOPLE LISTEN AND PAY ATTENTION TO THOSE THAT CRY OUT JUDGEMENT, JUDGEMENT, JUDGEMENT IS COMING, FOR SURELY I TELL YOU MY HEART OF LOVE AND COMPASSION IS TURNED TOWARDS THIS NATION, FOR I HAVE HEARD THEIR CRIES FOR MERCY, MERCY, MERCY, MERCY, MERCY, MERCY, AND NOW MY MERCY IS MAKING A WAY WHERE THERE SEEMED NO WAY”, says God.
As I was reading these words I had a video playing on another tab. It was a service in which Dutch Sheets and Chuck Pierce were prophesying over America. It had just been recorded in Las Vegas a few days earlier.
“MERCY, MERCY, MERCY, MERCY!” they kept saying over and over.
I continued to read the post from Veronika West;
“THIS IS THE 11th HOUR, FEAR NOT, FOR HIS MERCY IS MAKING A WAY, AND HIS GRACE HAS NOT GIVEN YOU WHAT YOUR SINS HAVE DESERVED, GREATER ARE THOSE THAT ARE WITH YOU, THAN THOSE THAT ARE AGAINST YOU!…
AMERICA, I DECLARE THIS IS THE 11TH HOUR, THE HOUR OF DIVINE INTERVENTION AND GREAT REVERSAL!!!
WATCH! HERE COMES THE WHIRLWIND OF REDEMPTION AND RESTORATION, LOOK UP! THE SPIRIT OF MIGHT AND POWER IS RISING UP IN THE LAND, THE GRACE AND MERCY OF GOD IS OVERRULING, OVERTURNING AND UNRAVELING IN THIS 11TH HOUR.
Then I heard the spirit say, “BELOVED HAVE I NOT SAID, I AM DOING A NEW THING? OH YOU OF LITTLE FAITH! REPENT OF YOUR DOUBLE MINDEDNESS, AND YOUR COMPLAINING, AND RETURN TO YOUR FIRST LOVE. LOOK! HERE COMES MY DIVINE INTERVENTION AND GREAT REVERSAL, FOR MY MERCY IS MOVING AND MAKING A WAY WHERE THERE SEEMED NO WAY, GET READY FOR MY WHIRLWIND OF REDEMPTION AND RESTORATION IS COMING QUICKLY AND SUDDENLY, I HAVE HEARD THE CRIES OF MY PEOPLE AND IN MY GREAT COMPASSION AND UNFAILING LOVE I HAVE NOT GIVEN YOU WHAT YOUR SINS HAVE DESERVED, BUT MY HEART AND MY HAND HAS BEEN MOVED TO SHOW YOU GRACE AND UNMERITED FAVOUR IN THIS 11TH HOUR…”
Whether you like him or not, Donald Trump is part of God’s plan for mercy. Trump will not do everything right, but he is God’s way of resetting the clock to give the church in America more time. More time to do what Jesus asked us to do, make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19) which means OUR NATION! It is time that we stop listening to the media, to people, and to the Accuser. It is time that we start listening to what the Spirit of God is saying about Donald Trump and the USA!
I honestly think that our failures are more useful than our successes. They certainly provide us with the opportunity to humble ourselves and acknowledge our need for God. God doesn’t waste anything, and failure is a treasure trove of learning if we will take the time to seek out that treasure. It is painful to come face to face with our shortcomings, but oh so worth it!
As we were heading toward the end of Signarama, I took every available moment to seek God. I needed to hear His voice because it seemed like our circumstances were contradicting everything I thought He had told me.
I thought He had told us to buy the business. Despite my fears and uncertainty about it, He had given me supernatural peace. I thought that He had promised to prosper Signarama. I thought that He had promised to use it to bring us the wonderful provision that He kept talking to me about. Through the four years of running the business, we experienced ups and downs, but mostly downs. Yet through it all, I had felt the peace of God.
Now that we faced our own inability to keep the business going, I questioned whether I had heard God correctly. Could I even hear His voice at all? How could I ever be sure that I knew what His will was? How could I avoid making the same mistakes in the future?
Annalise was just a newborn, nursing about 8 times a day for an hour at a time. Nursing this sweet little girl was my full-time job. I still had to take Ashlyn to therapy once a week at HealthSouth. Ashlyn’s therapist gave me my own little office to set up camp during the hour and 45 minutes that we were there. I could nurse, read, and pray in a quiet, private room while Ashlyn did physical and speech therapy. What an amazing gift!
Each week I would get cozy in a chair with Annalise and a nursing pillow. I would set out my Bible, journal, and pen on the little rolling desk. All my other children were in school or at home with my two teenage babysitters, and I had uninterrupted quiet times. I would ask God all my questions….and He would speak! How precious those times were!
One day I was mourning the loss of our dream. Chris always said during the pain and struggle of business ownership, “It just has to be worth it!” I always felt that it definitely would be worth it…eventually. Business people kept telling us that after 2-5 years we would really see the profits. Eventually, if we had the right team of employees in place, Chris would be able to work less but make more. He would have the freedom to pursue other investments, to spend time with the family, and to take vacations. Signarama would be an investment that would bless us for the rest of our lives, and perhaps one of our children would want to take it over when Chris retired.
Yet, we couldn’t make it to the point of earning a profit. We were facing the reality of losing everything we had put into it and moving backwards in our goals and finances.
It had not been worth it at all!!!
God gave me the scripture Is 49:4.
“But I said, “I have labored to no purpose; I have spent my strength in vain and for nothing.”
Isaiah was describing exactly how I was feeling! I continued to read.
“Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand, and my reward is with my God.”
Could there possibly be a reward in all of this? We just had to trust God that He was holding our reward even though we could see nothing good in failure.
When I talked to Chris about all of this, he told me that he had been meditating on the same scripture! God certainly was trying to tell us something.
Another day at HealthSouth, I asked God, “Was it your perfect will for us to buy Signarama when we did?”
He gave me Is 49:6.
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
God had spoken this to Isaiah right after he had lamented about spending his strength in vain. Isaiah was being obedient to give God’s words to the Jewish people, yet he didn’t see any fruit. No one was listening to him. He was probably threatened and harassed for his message, and he couldn’t see what good could possible come from his pitiful ministry.
Yet God surprised Isaiah by telling him that his vision of bringing his people back to God (a vision that seemed totally unrealized) was way too small. God was telling Isaiah that he would also bring the light of salvation to the non-Jews all over the world. How could Isaiah have imagined how far his words would reach and how many people would be impacted by them? For the past 10 years I have lived in the book of Isaiah! The words of God recorded by that discouraged prophet have been a life line to me!
I bet Isaiah never imagined that a little mom and housewife in Pennsylvania would be forever impacted by his ministry. Yet here I am, writing an article about him! I bet most of you reading this have also been blessed by Isaiah.
I was very comforted by the thought that God was going to use our lives in ways we could not imagine, despite of, or maybe because of our failure. Still, we were praying that God would do a miracle right now that we could see. Resurrect our business, bring in the finances to keep going, bring us to the place where we could make a profit and recoup all our investment and more! The days went by and no miracle came. Why was God saying, “no” to our pleas?
After my time with God at HealthSouth, I began listening to some CDs that had been recorded at a recent conference at my church. I came across a quote from Lance Wallnau that spoke directly to my heart.
“God says no to what you want simply because He has something better in mind. If God isn’t answering Joseph’s plea to be released from the confinement of his prison cell, it’s only because Joseph, prophet, man of God, blameless as he may be, has a smaller perception of what prophecy fulfilled looks like than God has. In other words, he was willing to settle for a whole lot less than God had in mind so God had to keep him in a place of contradiction until the timing was right for him to be released to the greater thing God had.”
Could this be what was happening in our lives? God had promised prosperity, we had pursued prosperity, and we had failed. God’s promise was still true, but His plan was even greater than we had originally thought. Was Signarama “too small a thing?” Did God have something much greater for us?
We purchased Signarama because we wanted something better for our family than struggling from paycheck to paycheck. We were in pursuit of the American Dream; that if you worked hard with skill and determination, you would achieve a better life for yourself and your children.
“Is Signarama a picture of what we could do with our own hard work?” I asked God.
“We were with child, we writhed, but we gave birth only to wind. We have won no victories on the earth.” Is 26:18 was the answer that I received.
Perhaps God’s dream was higher than the American dream?
“How gladly would I treat you like sons and give you a desirable land, the most beautiful land, the most beautiful inheritance of any nation. I thought you would call me ‘father’ and not turn away from following me.” Jer 3:19 was the scripture I got next.
This reminded me of the book I had been reading, God with You at Work by Andy Mason. Chris and I knew in our heads that we were God’s children and He was our Father. Yet reading this book had made me realize that the way we thought and lived our lives were indications of an orphan mentality. Truly being a son and daughter the way Andy described it was so foreign to my thinking that I could hardly understand it.
He said that the key to doing business in a kingdom culture was behaving like sons. To live in our inheritance that Jesus already won for us rather than working so hard for payment. To cease from striving and self-effort and to do all our work out of rest. To not seek God to attain His blessings, but to seek Him for relationship simply because we love Him so much. Then we would be able to watch the amazing things that God would do on our behalf.
People in the world are successful in business all the time with no relationship with God. They have innovative ideas, work hard, and achieve great things while having no understanding of God as their father! Why could WE not succeed even though we had sought God every step of the way and asked for His blessings?
Perhaps it was because we have also prayed crazy, outrageous prayers such as:
Give us more of you!
Give us YOUR dreams and visions.
Don’t let us fall short of YOUR plans for us.
Don’t let our lives be ineffective.
Let us impact eternity.
We want to see and participate in signs and wonders.
Bring all of our children into their destinies.
Prayers like that mean that a financial success out of our own hard work was “too small a thing.” God has something bigger for us like he had for Isaiah and Joseph. Something that requires us to actually become the people He intended us to be. That can only happen by seeking Him more and more each day. By being uncomfortable to know that we need Him. By seeking His kingdom first.
We can never achieve this by working hard. We can never step into our sonship and inheritance by working hard. Signarama was all about working hard. God cares about us too much to let us earn success from our own hard work. He wants us to become a son and a daughter and to see real success happen out of rest. Success that He brings about with His amazing power – not our own abilities or intelligence.
I still don’t understand this whole “sonship” thing. How can I just accept His unconditional love for me? How can I just live in my inheritance? You mean I never have to work hard to earn it? I never have to prove anything? God delights in me just the way I am right now, failures and mistakes and all?
You mean I never have to worry about provision because God ALWAYS provides for His children? I don’t have to seek after these things but can seek His kingdom? This I just don’t understand.
But at least now I KNOW that I don’t understand it. I can ask God to show me and help me. I have the death of Signarama to thank for that!
As a young girl, I read that one out of every ten babies in the United States was born by C-section. I remember thinking, “If I have ten children, I will probably have a C-section in my lifetime.” But who really has ten children anyway? So I dismissed it as a very unlikely possibility. Despite the fact that cesareans have become more and more common (one out of every three births), I estimated that my chances were dropping. I was healthy and strong, educated in natural childbirth. I had beautiful, easy deliveries…eight of them! Although theoretically, I knew that anything can happen in this life, and I was not exempt from the risks of childbearing, I never thought it would happen to me.
I was so excited to be pregnant with my ninth child. I became even more excited when I found out that it was a girl! I had longed for a girl for so long, that I had almost given up. I felt the overwhelming joy of a dream come true. Yet along with it came a suffocating fear.
I had never before worried about the life of any my unborn babies. I just loved them, prepared a room for them, and anticipated a future for them. Yet this time I began to wonder if my preparations were in vain. What if I never got to hold my baby girl in my arms? What if I never got to dress her in all the pretty clothes? What if the sweetness and the tenderness of who she was, left my life forever?
I didn’t speak of these thoughts. If I uttered them out loud, they might become more real. Finally one night I tried to explain it to my husband, and I began to cry. Why was I crying? The baby was healthy and moving around in my belly. This had been my easiest pregnancy yet. There was no reason to worry.
“I think you have fear with this baby because she is so connected to the promises of God,” Chris said. At that instant I realized that it was true. We had already named her Annalise Promise which means “Oath of God” and “Graced with God’s Bounty.” Her name was a sign to us that we would be entering a season of promises fulfilled, promises for abundance. We had always prayed for that season. We had been looking for it ever since we had gotten married, straining our eyes across the horizon for any sign that the prosperity might be on its way. We felt deep in our bones that God meant for us to have more than enough of everything we needed, everything our children needed. Yet we hadn’t been able to live in that prosperity, cycling between the highs of great opportunities and the lows of dashed dreams.
Now we were having a girl whose very name meant the Boundless Generosity of God, and I was terrified that I would never be able to keep her or God’s Goodness, that both would slip through my fingers no matter how hard I tried to grasp them.
Of course I realized that God does not work that way. This fear was not from Him, yet He would take it from me, I was sure. I laid my fear at His feet and He gave me hope and joy and promises! He had me read Zephanaiah 3:14-20 over and over again. I could almost hear Him rejoicing over me with happy songs. I could feel Him hold me in his strong arms. I could sit back and watch him fight for me and gain the victory! I did not have to fear disaster! He was holding my little girl in His hands and she was safe!
My other babies were always head down in my womb, settling into a familiar position that I knew so well. But this little girl would not do that no matter how much we talked to her, coaxed her, and prayed for her. She would flip and turn and end up in all sorts of positions.
I was becoming quite nervous about her position as I headed into week 37. Our whole family had been hoping for an Easter baby which was only days away, yet Annalise was still not head down. I would lay in bed at night, tired yet unable to sleep. My belly was so big, I found it hard to breath. I could feel her do flips inside of me.
“I think we need to get another ultrasound to check on your placenta. If it is too low, that may be why the baby is not able to descend.” Mary, my midwife said as I was getting close to 38 weeks.
I had no intention of getting another ultrasound, but the night before Chris had expressed concern about the same issue. I felt peaceful that Annalise was safe and sound in God’s hands, but for Chris’ peace of mind, I agreed to go in and get checked. I prayed that if all was well, I would go into labor before the ultrasound. A peaceful homebirth was my heart’s desire. I would rehearse the wonder and beauty of it in my mind to cheer my weary bones. Yet I also prayed, “Don’t let me give birth at home if you want me in the hospital.”
Labor did not come and I found myself lying on a table in a darkened room. It only took the ultrasound tech a few minutes to see that placenta was covering the cervix.
“I am so sorry!” Mary said, “I know how much you wanted a home birth, but we just can’t deliver you at home. If the placenta is born first, your baby could die. You will need to choose a hospital and I suggest you go in tomorrow. It would be better to get a C-section as soon as possible so you don’t go into labor.”
I was in shock. I couldn’t believe what was happening. Yet, I knew that it was what God wanted. Otherwise He could have easily moved that placenta and brought labor on the week before. When I returned home from the ultrasound, all I could manage to do was cry. Most of my other eight children were around the house playing or doing homework after school. My oldest daughter hugged me and said, “It will be ok, Mama.”
I tried to believe her. I cried and grieved the loss of my perfect homebirth. I had wanted to be close to my other children. I had wanted a fast and easy recovery that would allow me to continue taking care of the needs of the home and homeschooling. I tried to wrap my brain around the fact that I had offered my body to God as a living sacrifice, to carry this child of promise, and He was going allow doctors to cut into me tomorrow.
The next day Chris and I began the work of getting ready to go to the hospital. As soon as Chris’ mom had heard about the situation, she had started driving to Pennsylvania from Florida. She would be able to get to our house by the evening to take care of the other children. How that eased my mind!
I sent a prayer request to all the ladies who had been to my baby shower a few weeks earlier. I also called my mom to explain the situation. She had been hoping to be at the birth, but I told her that I had to get surgery and she probably wouldn’t be able to see the baby until hours afterward. Mom happened to be at the ladies meeting at church. She stopped the meeting right then and there and asked for prayer for me!
A lovely thing began to happen. As I was trying to get ready, rushing around the house, up the stairs and down the stairs again, I started to receive emails and texts and calls from loving friends. They were praying for me and speaking encouraging words and offering help! One dear friend even prayed out loud for Annalise while I turned on the speaker phone so Annalise listen.
I was feeling an overwhelming sadness about having to endure a C-section, but I didn’t want Annalise to feel sad. I didn’t want her to feel like she was being torn from her safe haven too early or experience anguish on the day of her birth. The prayer I heard coming from the other end of my phone brought peace to my body and soul.
“Annalise will be so peaceful. It will be a sign to you.” I heard my friend pray.
Chris and I arrived at the hospital in the early afternoon. Mary was already there. It took hours for the staff to assess me and determine that the placenta was not actually covering the cervix but was dangerously close, only .9 cm away. Studies had shown that 90% of women with a marginal placenta like mine bled during labor and required an emergency C-section to save the life of the baby. Thankfully, I had not yet gone into labor and we could have a planned C-section.
It took several more hours to prep me for the C-section. During this time I felt oddly peaceful. God was in control and it was going to be ok. Finally at 8pm I was taken into the operating room where the anesthesiologist started the spinal.
“No pain. You will feel no pain, only pressure. No pain,” he kept saying over and over again.
I must admit that I didn’t believe him. How could I feel no pain at all during such a major surgery? Yet almost immediately, I started to lose feeling in my lower body. I started feeling woozy. My body felt so heavy. I was so tired, that I could hardly respond to the questions the nurses would ask from time to time. Before I knew it, Chris was next to me.
I heard the voice of a doctor instruct the intern on how to begin. I had never seen the doctor’s face. The intern had introduced himself and explained the entire procedure beforehand. He said he had done at least 50 to 60 C-sections in the past. He was friendly and I liked him a lot. The doctor, however, was gruff and rude to this nice intern, acting like the intern had never done a C-section before.
“NO, not like that! Not like that! Here, let me do it!” I heard from the other side of the blue curtain. I really experienced no pain at all! It was amazing to me. It almost felt like this procedure was happening to someone else. Even the abrasive voice of the doctor and the extreme pressure on my pelvic bone couldn’t bring me out of my medicated haze. But more than that, I felt the peace that surpasses understanding. I knew that God had every detail of this birth planned out for the best.
“She is almost here.” I heard Chris say with joy and excitement. I just couldn’t muster up excitement myself. I felt pushing and then a weight was lifted. I was lighter!
“She is here!” Chris said. Quickly the little bundle was taken to a table just a few yards behind me. I couldn’t see her, but I could hear her. She was crying for all she was worth! A good sound. I wanted to call out to her. I wanted her to know that I was close by, that I was so excited that she was here, but I didn’t have the energy. Someone brought her to me and placed her on my chest. She was little and perfect. I was too numb to hold her, so she was whisked away again, this time out of the operating room. Chris went with her and suddenly I was alone…so alone.
I was lying on the operation table in the middle of the large room. I was vaguely aware of nurses and doctors working to stitch me up. They were talking among themselves, but not acknowledging me. I knew that the bright lights were highlighting my nakedness and my gaping wound.
“My baby is here! She has been born!” I thought to myself. “Yet how could this really be considered her birth? I didn’t give birth. Is today really her birthday? I didn’t push her out. The doctors pulled her out. It didn’t feel like a birth.”
As these thoughts floated around in my clouded mind, sadness descended. Instead of feeling the overwhelming relief and bliss that enveloped me after the birth of my other eight children, I felt a stark and cold loneliness. I wouldn’t allow the weeping to begin. I knew it would overwhelm my consciousness. I didn’t want to meet Annalise in the recovery room with tears.
Soon I was being wheeled to where my baby was. She was placed into my arms and I got my first really good look at her. Her face was tiny and beautiful, and she was looking up at me with open eyes. So serene. So peaceful.
She was a sign to me that everything was going to be ok. I would heal. The sadness would fade. I had suffered loss, but it hadn’t been the disaster I had most feared. My little girl was safe. Safe too were all of God’s promises. Our finances were still in an unstable place. But I was certain that we would see His goodness. I was sure that Annalise would live a life marked by God’s generosity.
The bliss didn’t rush in and seep into every cell as I had hoped. It crept in slowly.
It increased slightly with every look into her eyes, every touch of her soft skin, every time she nursed.
My heart was full of sorrow and joy, but the joy would overtake and overwhelm, one miracle moment at a time.