Who’s Speaking?

This blog post comes in response to one of my dear readers, Selah Vita. Both Selah Vita and God have recently brought up the conundrum many of us find ourselves in when we “hear” something. We wonder, “Is it me? Is it God, or is it the devil?” I thought I’d share my thought process on this confusion, in hopes of helping someone.

The easiest one for me to knock out quickly is the enemy speaking. In John 10:10, Jesus said that the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. So, if what I am hearing goes along those lines in some way, or makes me feel guilt ridden, condemned or some other horrible emotion, that’s very likely not God and is most likely inspired by the enemy. Romans 8:1 says there is no therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. There’s so many verses that speak to the character of the enemy that once you have that knowledge, it isn’t so difficult to discern the tricks of the enemy.

The same is true for Abba. When you know His character, it’s easier to discern when He is the one speaking to you or even through you. One cliche that rings true is that God is good all the time. He truly is good. He is all, in all. He is good. He is love. He is peace. He is life. You get the picture. One habit I picked up several years back, is that I literally blame every good thing that happens on God. This one habit ends up having a ripple effect that is amazing. Something good happens, I give Him the credit for it which makes me more grateful, joyful, happy, etc. Then, it causes me to be on the lookout for more evidence of Him, which makes me more tuned into Him, which makes me see even more of Him, and on and on. He is literally all over the place, in all the details.

While away on vacation, we visited a Trader Joe’s store. A clerk with a gorgeously wild, red, curly mane gave my children a bag filled with lollipops and me a free reusable Florida bag. I blamed God. Like most children, I have 2 in particular, who are crazy about Trader Joe’s lollipops and I happen to be just as crazy about reusable bags. The man didn’t know this, but God does, and, that man offered himself to God (whether he knew it or not) to be used to love on us with things we enjoy while away. It’s like kisses and hugs from God, reminding us of His everlasting presence.

So again, I blame every good thing that happens on God. That gets me to the “suddenlies” that occur. When I am looking for something and suddenly envision where I last put it and find it. When I suddenly have a thought or idea that follows no logical thought pattern that I had going- it’s typically God. When I, a staunch believer in not just homeschooling, but unschooling, got a thought about a nearby trade school and my middle daughter, no question, that was God, lol. I even said to Him aloud, “Ok. I will check it out.” Only He could have orchestrated that and known that my girl, who has never attended school, would be excited to go, even if it’s only 2 hours a day.

Sometimes, there’s a feeling that goes along with Him speaking. There are times I hear Him and feel compelled to do or say something. Other times, I feel a sense of excitement, joy, or even negative emotions another person feels. This is the way He has me relate and open conversations with others at times. I have felt the impact of accidents I wasn’t involved in- not with the pain included, just the shock of it all and the knowledge of the vehicles involved, things like that. This has happened several times and each time, I would begin to pray in tongues and would eventually find out exactly who I was praying for and how they miraculously came through the accident unscathed. I like to call that, Holy Intel. There’s so much I could say!! God is so creative and exciting. He speaks in so many ways and uses literally anything. We have but to be tuned in.

The last one, “Is it just me?” can be easy at times and tricky at other times but because God is good, I trust Him to give me a good old stop sign if I am heading in the wrong direction. One such time was when my husband and I felt it was time to move from New Jersey, back down to Florida, where we married and started our family. We were so excited to head back down there, we prayed, and had it on our family vision board. We marveled at how often we saw Florida tags while driving along in New York and New Jersey. My husband put in for transfers to several locations in the state of Florida. We just knew it was time to go. We even packed some things in boxes in our garage as evidence of our faith to move back to Florida. Basically, God said, “Not yet.” Because of the connections my husband has and more, the move should have been super easy and smooth. We should have had the “problem” of having to choose which location we wanted to accept in Florida, but God closed every single door and you know what? We are eternally grateful. We needed to remain here and make the connections we now have which are so vitally important to us and even in the Kingdom of God. We may still head to Florida someday, but we are quite happy to be here at this time, because we know it’s where we belong. It’s where God wants us.

In this example, where it clearly was not God’s idea for us to move, we lost nothing. We operated out of faith and did many things that are very positive and hope building and more. I say that to say, don’t let fear of “Is it just me?” stop you from stepping out in faith. Move forward knowing God is with you and will help you. We learned a lot of things that God would use later, so even in getting it “wrong”, a lot of good came out of it.

There’s also times when it’s obvious that a thought is so not God. Thoughts that are selfish, rude, mean, etc. Again, there’s so much that can be said, but I don’t want to write too much here. As always, you can also simply ask the Lord to help you to better discern where thoughts are coming from. He is more than happy to help because as stated before, He is good!

Oh! Before I forget! To my dear Selah Vita, this is your year honey. I know the New Year has come and gone but this is a new beginning for you. I believe you have lots of surprises in store for you this year. Some things that you have thought about and wanted, and others that weren’t even on your radar, all coming your way, this year. I also believe this year you are receiving what I can only reference as a tune up to tune in, to Him. You will find that by the end of this year, you have less and less of an issue discerning exactly where thoughts, ideas and phrases are coming from. Write, Selah Vita! Write down those thoughts and dreams and visions you are getting. They all mean something. In fact, some of the guessing will be addressed and answered in dreams, so write these things down. You are building a log book of faith, lol. You will have all these instances and situations that you can look back on and see how very much our Abba loves and speaks to you and through you. Have fun with this and pass on what you learn!! You have so much to teach and offer others. Love you!

Holy Spirit Led Learning

We are an unschooling family. Although I grew up traditionally schooled,  I can look back and see that, even when I didn’t know anything about the term or that it even existed, I was always an unschooler at heart. If I had an interest, I explored it until my heart was content.  I have always loved learning, but I did not love school.

Before my oldest was 2 years old, I met a homeschool mom who I know God sent my way to set ablaze the path we were to take concerning my child(ren)’s education. Frankly, at that point, I dreaded the day I would have to officially send my child off to school.  We had so much fun learning together. I didn’t want to miss anything.

Unschooling was and is very natural for us.  After having lived it for almost 20 years now, I am definitely a believer.  A quick definition is that unschooling is simply child led learning.  It is gaining an education for a child that is fully centered around each child’s individual interests. I enjoy following and facilitating activities centered around what each of my children are interested in.  It makes for quite an adventurous life that one would be hard pressed to plan or duplicate.  For us, it is very much Holy Spirit centered and led as I know Holy Spirit is the one who keeps me abreast of what’s next for us.

This way of life is not for the faint of heart. It’s not for everyone, and certainly not for those who feel more comfortable following “the crowd”, doing what most everyone else is doing.  Child led learning can freak out such personality types, “How in the world will they ever learn to ______________!!!” There’s so many things one can insert in that blank, lol.  We are never without options for freaking out, I suppose.

Anyway, something interesting happened to us within the last week.  As I stopped to get water, not thinking of anything in particular, the Lord dropped 2 things in my spirit, my 2nd daughter Jenai (pronounced jen-ay) and a vocational-technical school nearby.

Here’s the thing.  My children have never attended school and I don’t know very much about schools here in Jersey as I grew up in DC.  When I received this download from my Abba, I said, “Ok, I’ll check it out.”  Jenai, like both of her parents, is all over the place with regards to interests and talents.  She sings, she draws, She makes video movies with dolls.  She is very handy around the house and loves to put together whatever comes in the house. She makes doll furniture and accessories and designs the set for her doll videos.  She builds things with cardboard boxes, like atm machines and vending machines that actually work.  She cooks, she does animation, dabbles in contortionism, loves doing nails, writes penpals making them pocket letters… You get the picture.  All over the place.

I talked with her about the school and explained that they offer a wide range of programs including green construction, animation, cosmetology, culinary arts and so much more.  She would be able to go for  2 hours each day, for whatever program she is interested in as a share time student and still be technically homeschooled.  I explained this to her, shared the website with her and let her know that she does not have to go if she isn’t interested.  I just felt led to check it out as I told Abba I would.

What was interesting for us, was that the school was having an orientation for students interested in attending in September and it turns out that Jenai is the exact age that they are ideally searching for.  Of course, Abba knew all this. I hurried and signed up for the orientation which was to be held days later. Interestingly enough, it was held on a day and at a time when we are typically not available, but that week, we were available.  God was up to something.  I told Jenai that we’d go and check it out.  At the very least, I told her that she would get resources to help her further her education outside of the school (impromptu prophesy, lol).  That happened and more.

While there, we did a 30 minute general information session, after which, we were given a folder that included a map of the building.  Each program was listed with classrooms where students and parents could go and get more information about as many programs as they chose.  I told Jenai to lead the way.  I wanted her to check out every area that was of interest to her.  I enjoyed following her lead and was happy that it was just the two of us. After attending 2 of them, we made our way to see the graphic design teacher.  My heart jumped with excitement as the teacher spoke. I knew this particular program would speak to Jenai’s heart more than the others had.

Not only did Jenai get information about the program there, but after telling the teacher a little about Jenai, she told us that industrial design is something that sounds right up Jenai’s alley.  She said that graphic design is a great foundation for industrial design.  She also told us about a nearby college that would accept credits from Jenai’s time at the school and those credits could go towards a degree in industrial design if she chooses to attend college.  She went on to invite Jenai to spend a day at the school next week to see what a day is like.

Between you and me, I am super excited.  My spirit is really excited for Jenai about it all.  I drove home to her that the Lord loves her so much that He would speak to me about her in this way.  She seems to be really excited too but whether she goes in the end or not, I am very happy that she knows God singled her out like this.  I am happy to have taken her somewhere, to look into things solely for her.

She’s funny, she said to me, “Man, the only drawback is that this is gonna mean I am no longer an unschooler, because I will technically go to school.”  I laughed and said, “Girl, this will make you an unschooler times two!! You will be going to school 2 hours a day, yes, but, you will be going to do something that is of interest to you, only because you choose to.”  That’s unschooling.

It’s the Thought That Counts

I hope this blog post finds you doing well, basking in the Christmas afterglow.  I just wanted to share a little of how mine went.
My husband is an air traffic controller, so he had to work late on Christmas day. In the morning, we had a wonderful time exchanging and opening gifts with our 5 children. This year felt particularly special as my girls are all older and did their own shopping.  They were all very thoughtful in what they gave everyone.  All of my gifts were very thoughtful. Each was something that I truly wanted but probably wouldn’t have gotten for myself. Each were things I hadn’t even mentioned, so for me, that made it all the more special knowing they really considered me and what I like. I won’t bore you with all that I received, but I will tell you about one gift in particular.
We recently de-cluttered our entire home. One item I intended to part with ended up being one that was too difficult to let go. It was a pink suitcase box that was a record player. My aunt bought it for me and she died when I was 10. It had reusable stickers of a home and furniture. I loved it and still have a few old records.
My 14 year old daughter, upon seeing how difficult it was for me to part with my now broken record player, decided to recreate the whole thing for me. She got me a new pink record player and some reusable Melissa & Doug stickers. I thought it was so thoughtful.
We played my old albums, starting with my Christmas With the Smurfs one and more. They all love the record player now and want more records.
I feel so enormously blessed to have such thoughtful children.  Each of them really touched my heart with their gift choices for myself and everyone else.  They make me so very proud to be their mother.  I am enjoying this time we have together, relaxing and not having to run anywhere.  I’m excited to continue on this way for a few more days.
Another blessing that I have received has to do with what recently happened to my youngest son. See the blog post about that here. The taunting images that kept replaying over and over have faded.  I can no longer see it as I did before and the whole event isn’t affecting me as it had before, thank God!  My baby is fine and we can move on happily, trauma free.
So, that’s it for now.  I pray that you and yours are blessed beyond measure and that this new year is your best yet!

Saying No to Trauma

We had a scare Friday night. My 9 month old son Jonathan was crawling in the kitchen as always, exploring his home, when I told my daughters who were also in the kitchen that I was going to the bathroom.

When I walked by him, he got upset (as he tends to when I seem to be leaving) but didn’t really make a fuss. I was on the phone with my mom.

While in the bathroom, I heard my oldest daughter Jaiela say somebody was blue and then my husband Jermaine told me to come downstairs now.

I hurried down the stairs and saw Jaiela pass a completely limp Jonathan to Jermaine. He talked to and rubbed Jonathan and turned him over. Jonathan was not responding at first. Jermaine told me to call 911 and as I dialed, Jonathan came to, sweating and drowsy looking.

Before I got off the phone with the people, Jonathan was behaving normally.
The people arrived and checked him out. They said he was (thankfully) perfectly fine and responsive.

No one found anything and the EMT said he could have choked on saliva, that happens. Jonathan has actually done that before but he didn’t turn blue and pass out twice.

We felt he must have quickly eaten something harmful so we watched him closely, and today, I noticed a kernel of uncooked popcorn in his stool. With a 9 month old’s trachea being smaller than a standard drinking straw, suffice it to say, it could have turned out very differently. We thank God that the baby is OK.

Immediately after the police snd EMT’s left, everyone in my family (outwardly) appeared to be back to normal; everyone except me. I know, after what we’d experienced, they were not all good either.

I feel this is something the enemy would want to use to traumatize us. I am a seer. When I recall conversations or situations, I can recall whatever I saw, even something in passing like a clock on a wall.

When planning an event once, I was asked about the space. I was able to go to the space in my mind, look around at it and see a yellow sign that said the maximum amount of occupants for the space. I saw it all over again almost as clearly as if I was there.

So, for me, although I know the possibilities full well, it wasn’t worry about what could have happened. He is fine. The problem was seeing my baby limp and unresponsive over and over again.

As we went to bed, I nursed him and began to whisper praises to God. I worshipped Him until around 2:30am and then fell asleep.

I refuse to allow the enemy to torment me. I will not be scared out of the gift to see that God has given me. I will turn this source of torment and use it to torment the enemy with praises to a God who gives generously, loves immeasurably and protects fiercely.

Even after seeing that image over and over, I also saw and continue to see evidence of angels all around this house. I praise God for that.

I am determined to fight to keep my peace. Jesus paid for it. It is mine and I won’t be robbed of it.

Even now, I can hear the Lord telling me, just after my 5th consecutive miscarriage, “You will have a son.” I remember asking Him to name my son. He eventually said, “Jonathan”. I remember crying when I looked up the meaning to find that the name Jonathan means, “Yahweh has given”. The Lord does not give and snatch away as some actually believe. That is not a good father. I wouldn’t do that to my children and I know my Abba is so much better at this parenting thing than I am. I will keep and treasure my gift.

The images can keep right on coming. I will simply use it as a praise break and worship my Abba, my God, the Many Breasted One who has done for me what I cannot and could not have done for myself. I will continue to trust and believe- no matter what.

On His Mind

My Abba never ceases to amaze me. Focusing on the fact that He would not only create me but would long for an intimate relationship with me is more than I can comprehend.

Celebrities don’t really do it for me. My mom once took me and my cousin to a concert. I had a poster of the group in my bedroom and admittedly loved their music. I think my mom may have been more excited than my cousin and I. As the group performed song after song, and the audience screamed, stood and sang along, my cousin and I sat and watched the show quietly. I remember my mom being surprised. She figured we’d be among those singing and hollering and being all excited. It wasn’t that we didn’t enjoy it; We did. It just wasn’t that serious to be all up in arms about it. I felt like, I came to see the show, so I watched it. I don’t feel compelled to fawn over people. I prefer to stand back and watch, see what I am really dealing with.

In Christian events, it’s the same thing. There are some people, who, anytime a known name comes, they feel the need to seek that person out and speak to them privately at some point, when possible. I see no need. I don’t need to shake their hand or meet them any further than having been in attendance. I don’t know, it’s just not my style. Again, I prefer to sit back, watch and discern.

For as long as I can recall, God Himself is the only one I totally go nuts over. He is the one who amazes me when I come across proof that I am on His mind. He leaves me awestruck, time after time, giving me just the right words at the right time for people whose situations and lives I am so utterly clueless about.

One such time happened on a recent Saturday, at a children’s conference that I was a part of. It was a prophetic conference geared towards ages 7-12.

We had some older and younger children come along with siblings, and since they were present, we sought to include them as much as they wanted to participate. It was wonderful.

We taught on identity, hearing God’s voice and prophesying. We did prophetic activations with the children and had them up prophesying and all, it was such a blessing to witness. At the end, we had all the children line up to individually receive prayer, prophecy, healing or whatever was needed. As I stood in front, to receive people to minister to, I looked at the children and saw a 16 year old boy. He was disinterested to say the least. I got his attention and told him to come to me. I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to speak with him.

When he got close to me, he asked if I would pray for him. I said yes but stopped short of saying anything more. I just stood there, looking up at him (at 4’10”, everyone is taller than me). We just stared at each other for a long while, it was like we were both really seeing each other, like we were reading each other, gathering information. I loved him immediately and immensely. Thankfully, at that time, my oldest, who often ministers with me, was ministering to someone else, so he and I had this block of time, although surrounded by many, all to ourselves. After a while, I said, “Ok. I need to hug you now.” Now, I am excellent at hugging. I hug with love and sincerity. I don’t like what I call little pissy, pitty pat hugs, where you barely touch. I’d rather not engage in that type of “hug” at all. Not knowing what I will get in return doesn’t matter, I always seek to really hug people when the opportunity arises, and with this being a teen, and a boy, I really had no idea what would happen.

This child hugged me just as I hugged him. I unashamedly cooed over him, telling him how sweet he is and just poured out everything in God’s heart towards him that I was feeling in that moment. I feel it even as I type this.

Anyway, we hugged for a good while and then my daughter came into our conversation and we blasted him with an encounter with God that I’m sure that child (nor I) won’t soon forget.

The thing is, I was just being me, or so I thought. I was just following what I felt led to do. I had no idea who this young man was and how he got there. I had no idea that this young man’s grandfather raped his grandmother and that is how his own mother came to be. My God!! Talk about destiny! And the thing is, we talked a great deal to this young man about his destiny. We stressed his being here being very purposeful and so much more. We had no idea about the struggle he’d had on both, the night before, and day of the conference. He didn’t want to come, but not only did he make it, albeit reluctantly, God called him out and met him there, and we got to be a part of that!

I love that God does that to me. Often times, I’ll be somewhere shopping or ministering at an event. I will look out and see someone who is just working or trying to shop. I will inevitably see someone who has no intention whatsoever in coming up for prayer (at events), but God will have me leave the line of ministers, He will have me turn around in parking lots, hunt people down in aisles at stores, whatever it takes, to get to that person that He is longing to connect with on a very personal level.

Sometimes, it’s the person who just feels invisible, other times, it’s a person who isn’t even looking for Him, yet, they are on His mind. I love that!!!

As if having these opportunities weren’t awesome enough, my Abba recently did this for me as well. I received a call from an 11 year old girl in our youth group. She’d had a vision about me the night before. In her vision, I was getting married. I was dressed in white and my bouquet was that of white roses. She saw a figure standing at the alter waiting for me, she knew he was my groom, but couldn’t make out his features. I walked up the aisle towards him, looking at him. All around me, the people that were there were in utter chaos. As chaos reigned around us, my groom and I were completely unaffected. We just focused on each other as if nothing was happening at all. As I walked towards him, I began to sing. As I walked down the aisle singing, each person began to turn into angels, one by one.

What an amazing vision!!! I was so impressed that she would contact me to share it with me. What a confirmation of John 6:29 truly being my life verse! I have prayed so fervently for Him to be more real to me than anything or anyone around me.

It also reminds me of the phrase about one being, “so heavenly minded that they’re no earthly good.” That’s such nonsense!! The more heavenly minded one is, the more earthly good one can become!! The world has things so backwards!!

All this to say, it just amazes me how much we are on His mind. He will stop everything and do anything to get our attention and confirm things in our hearts. What love He has for us!

I will end by sharing two interpretations I got for the vision from my little girl.

From Gary- It shows that it’s important to keep your focus on Jesus who is the bridegroom and not get distracted by people around who have all kinds of issues and so lack focus. Their turning into angels, I believe shows that as you stay focused and in a state of worship, people will see and be affected. Angel is another word for messenger so people will become focused on doing what they are called to do as you stay focused and your example will influence them.

From Russ: You’re going to fall more in love with Jesus and experience more of His nature in you.
Your ministry of helping people experience Papa’s best for their lives is about to become ridiculously easy.

I also think the vision is for the body of Christ. We are entering a new season where Jesus is becoming more of a focus than ever before. And what we release out of our place of oneness with Him will profoundly impact and change people’s lives.

God is too much!! Until next time, dear reader, be blessed!

The Process of Metamorphosis

It has felt like a long and hard road for so many in my inner circle.  So many back to back trials, some big, game changing trials, and others, small annoyances, but the trials seemed to come one after another.

I’ve felt, even in the midst of my own trials, that God was up to something big. I firmly believe that the trials we don’t cause ourselves and thus experience natural consequences for, are present to help mature us and enable us to be able to handle the blessings and new things God wants to bring our way.

I feel strongly that we are in such an amazing time of transformation.  It feels as if some major changes are taking place. God is taking those who are willing, from one state of being, to another that is a bit foreign at times, but glorious. Some thoughts that I admittedly have had for quite a while are really magnified and highlighted to me these days.  Thoughts about what it truly means to believe Him over everything and everyone.  I’m also having thoughts about what it really means to be a daughter of the King of Kings.  It struck me a few weeks back, when I was about to be faced with a circumstance that normally brings about some sense of trepidation, I began down that negative path and God said to me, “Who are you?” I immediately came to myself, sat up straighter and had a great time.

Thank God that He speaks!! I am intrigued by Proverbs 25:2 which says it is the glory of God to conceal a thing but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.  My daughter and I have noticed that during most of our runs (except our rainy runs), a butterfly or two crosses our path.  We didn’t think much of it at first but it kept happening so we took notice. Yesterday after Heaven’s Invasion was over and we stood around chatting, someone brought up butterflies and their symbolism, and I remembered the ones that seem to join us on our runs.  Butterflies symbolize things like metamorphosis, hope, and endurance.  Russ mentioned Romans 12:2 which says that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.  He said the word for transformed is the same as metamorphosis.  That struck me.  I enjoy running and will continue, but I did start this as an effort by which to lose weight and it is happening.  My daughter and I are literally changing our bodies from the inside out in a physical sense.  And, while that is happening, the Lord is also doing the same in my mind and heart.  He is removing negative and destructive thoughts, behaviors and patterns, and replacing them with Truth.  I can most certainly attest to going through a major metamorphosis right now.

I see the butterflies as a promise.  I feel that all the hard work is paying off and will continue to do so, and, something absolutely beautiful will come out of it all.  Of course, I am eager for the end product, but, I will do my best to enjoy the journey of getting there.  There’s a lot of beauty to behold in the journey as well.  I just thank God that He speaks.  What has He been saying to you lately?

 

My New Habit

I have a new habit.  No worries, it’s a positive one, although, depending on who you ask, it may be seen as kind of negative.  To get right to it, my new habit is running.  I’ve been doing it 3 times a week, every week, since mid July, and it’s been absolutely amazing.

I’m positive that I started too soon (for my body) after giving birth, but I’m happy, nonetheless. I’m ecstatic, actually.

I never planned to run.  I actually remember (quite well) saying that I’d never run. I thought running was boring in light of the amazing time I had doing a mud run back in 2012.  I enjoyed the obstacles of the mud run but refused to run in between those obstacles. My exact words were that I would only be found running if I was being chased, and even then, because of my past, I’d not run. I said I would just stand and fight, but here I am, running, and absolutely loving it. Proof positive that one should never say never, right?

I like to credit God with every good thing that happens in my life and running is no exception.  A big part of the reason is because I was so staunchly set against it.  After giving birth this time, I began to feel bored with doing workouts that targeted parts of the body as if those parts are separated from the whole body.  It no longer made sense to me to have an arm day or leg day, etc.  I wanted to do things that just incorporated more movement into my lifestyle.  One thing I so enjoyed while growing up, was double dutch.  I wanted to teach my 3 daughters and have that be one of the ways I moved my body and lost weight.  (We had an opportunity where my aunt, cousin and I did a little double dutch intensive with them this past weekend. They got to see me in action and were quite proud and impressed too. The stamina and endurance of running the last few months translated extremely well into jumping double dutch. I was impressed that I wasn’t winded at all.)

In addition to starting to teach them double dutch, I decided to start walking.  I walked for one week and next thing I knew, I started a couch to 5k  running program the following week. Runner’s high is most assuredly a thing, and I so enjoy it that I quickly became hooked. Not having plans to run in the first place, I thought I was merely following the program but two days after finishing it, I found myself at the starting line of my first 5k.  As I crossed the first corner, I wondered why on earth I was there.  I wondered why I thought this running thing was a good idea.  I wondered how on earth I would finish the race when it felt so difficult not even 5 minutes into it.  Then, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, over and over and my mantra became, “Ok, Ok, Ok.”  Real enlightening and encouraging, right?

I remember seeing an older woman in her late 70s.  She looked amazing in her capri leggings and sports bra.  Granny was shapely and had muscles and all.  I was encouraged.  Then, as I neared the halfway point, puffing along, she ran in the opposite direction (she’d already been where I was and was on her way to the finish line), she encouraged me even more yelling to me, “Keep going!! You’re looking great!!”.  I said a breathless thank you and did my best to smile her way.

Inside, my heart soared.  Here was an older woman rocking a 5k, strong as ever and looking fabulous while doing it.  This sport, yes, I call it a sport, has longevity.

As God would have it, I joined my local road runners club, and after the first meeting, a woman walked up to me asking what races I had run.  I told her and she said she’d done that one too.  I stopped, looked at her closely and asked if she wore the sports bra and capri pants.  She said yes.  I cried and insisted on hugging her.  She gave me a prolonged hug and kiss as I cried and told her what an inspiration she was and is to me.  She held me and encouraged me even more and told me her running secrets.  I now lovingly refer to her as Granny Zan.

This post partum period has been one of my more difficult ones.  I am so grateful the Lord has led me to running.  Although I wasn’t looking to do races, I have done one in September, October, I’m already signed up for races each month, thru January and I’m eyeing one in April of 2018.  The Lord couldn’t have given me this gift at a better time and He knows it.  It helps to keep me sane and is slowly but surely, changing my body for the better.

Despite well meaning but non running friends and their weird warnings about why I shouldn’t run, I am having the time of my life.  The running community is astonishingly supportive and loving and the benefits are numerous.

I am able to be a better me for myself and my family.  I am modeling a lifestyle that is and will continue paying off big time for us all.

In a running group, one person asked what others think about when they run.  I thought for a moment and replied with some of the following: I think about how fortunate I am to be able to do this.  I enjoy the scenery and hope the deer don’t see me as threatening and decide to attack.  I listen to the many sounds of nature and my rhythmic foot falls.  I listen to funny books and lol, and stories from The Moth that make me cry as I run.  I smile and pray.  I wonder why I am doing this and then wonder why I didn’t do this all my life.  I bask in that beautiful “runner’s high” and imagine all the good running is doing for my body.  I see myself thinner and faster with my now 7 month old in tow.  I feel proud that I am a for real runner, right now.  I am an athlete.  I check my posture, breathing, etc.  I wonder if I am finding that balance of pushing myself but not to the point of overuse or injury. I enjoy that feeling that only another who has crossed a finish line knows. I experience sheer joy at the powerful simplicity of putting one foot in front of the other, carrying my whole body over the expanse of miles and miles, with my own two little feet.

This, like so many other things, has been yet another gift the Lord has strewn along the path He set for me and I am beyond grateful for it.  As Psalm 16:9 says, We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.  In this case, He has done so, quite literally.

First 5k 9/17/17 FIrst 5k

Life Giving Words

I enjoy encouraging people.  It’s something that comes natural to me.  If I see or notice something about a person, I feel the need to tell them.  Oftentimes, I have taken this compulsion as just a little thing but I am seeing more and more that it isn’t a small thing at all.  There are times when, what to me seems minuscule, means the world to others. Each time I am faced with this fact, it startles me a bit.

See, you never know how one kind word can impact someone.  A person could be having a really tough time, or worse, have suicidal thoughts, and one kind word could make all the difference.

I know of one such time where the words used, weren’t even kind per se, they were just words, but they meant everything, so much so, that a life was literally saved.  If I remember correctly, my brother Scott who told a group of us about this, said the words were, “Yellow flamingo”. If I’m wrong, we’ll just pretend that’s correct.

There was an event (Christian gathering of some sort), and someone got a word from the Lord and it was “yellow flamingo”.  They got nothing else, no insight whatsoever.  So, when the opportunity came for them to get on the mic and say it, although they felt beyond silly, they went.  Imagine, a gathering filled with people and you get “A word from the Lord” like that with nothing else.  Now, there are times that I get what to me is a strange word and nothing more.  Then, when I say that part, the Lord gives me more.  It’s an exercise of trust.  Anyway, this poor soul got nothing else, lol, even after saying it.  So, after getting on the mic and saying, “Yellow flamingo”, and getting nothing else from the Lord, the person turned, intending to return to their seat.

Suddenly, there was a loud cry. The (crying) person was approached.  Sobbing, the person said that they had planned to commit suicide once they returned home that evening.  They hadn’t even planned on attending the event but had the sudden urge to go, and before leaving, they told the Lord, “If you tell someone to say ‘yellow flamingo’ to me, I won’t kill myself.”  Well, that brave person literally saved a life that day.  We just never know how we can help others.

This is why, in part, when I feel impressed by the Lord to say something, anything to others, I just do it.  I’m only responsible for being obedient in giving the word, I’m not responsible for what happens next.  I just need to do my part.  Imagine if the person thought, “Yellow flamingo?  That doesn’t even make sense! I’m not saying that!  I must be just making stuff up!”, and said nothing.  If they had stayed silent, a precious life would have been lost that evening, but God is so good that He told a person who would push past feeling uncomfortable or even embarrassed, and just deliver the life saving words to the one who desperately needed it. Wow!!

God is really good at getting us to step out of our comfort zone, but we have to be willing to go.  The rewards of following His leading in this way are nothing short of amazing but it can also be a quite sobering experience.  You just never know.  I encourage you this week, to unleash a multitude of encouraging words over others.  No one should be safe from getting a kind word from you.  I challenge you to especially do it with one who is being… a bit difficult to love, hahaha.  That’s some real stuff right there! If you find that too difficult, baby steps, give a kind word to someone else.  Have fun with it.  It’s like scattering seeds of something delicious and looking back to see that you have an enormous harvest to enjoy.  It is one of those things that blesses the person and you, and it feels wonderful!  So, go for it!  Bless some people with kind words and watch how things change for you.

A New Flow Is Here

Today is my sweet sister Karina’s birthday.  She is an amazing gift to me in so many ways.  Just before my (biological) sister and friend Kerina went home to be with the Lord at 40 years old, the Lord gave me another sister with a very similar name and gifting.  Karina is a constant reminder that God loves me dearly.

Karina was talking to a few of us today about how God has instilled a greater amount of patience in us over this last season, and she declared no more delays over us.  I feel wholeheartedly that she is on to something as I sit and consider various circumstances in my life that seemed to be put on pause, some at what felt like, the worst moments.

You know how, when difficult situations arise and then pass, once you’re on the other side, you see clearly how you could have done things differently?  This is one time where I can say that I did a lot better than ever before.  In the midst of my “great pause”, I did some lamenting, but primarily, it was out to God.  The lamenting I did to the few people that I did, proved to be amazing choices too, as I became surrounded and engulfed in prayer and godly counsel.

The most important thing I believe I did right this go ’round, is that I although I felt circumstances in my life were on pause at horrible moments, I kept moving forward, sometimes crying, but praising and worshiping God the whole way through.

When and where there was something I could do to help, I did it, and continued on, even seeing little to no changes. When I wasn’t seeing much progress in my post partum weightloss journey,  I kept right on running- literally.  When I couldn’t seem to write, when my ability to flow with my writing seemed to have packed up and moved away, I would write just a word.  I literally have a document with a list of words. When I experienced marital issues, I did my part and pressed onward, in love, because ultimately, I love my husband and want to stay married to him for the rest of my life.

Now, I am seeing steady, small changes for the better in my marriage and weight loss journey.  Today, I did not write mere words, I wrote paragraphs.  I flowed with Holy Spirit and wrote what the Lord gave me to write.  I finally feel like I am truly working on one of my books!

My prayer for you is that you would experience this flow of movement in a wonderful direction.  I declare that what was stopped up and blocked off, is now open. My prayer is that you don’t despise the difficulties you have experienced.  I pray that you see how they have helped you to grow. I speak a holy release over you.  May you always flow with the Lord and be productive, producing a harvest far greater than anything in your wildest imagination!

 

 

Done With “Do Do”

A few months ago, in a meeting, a dear friend challenged a small group of us to find our life verse. I loved the idea, but I definitely felt it would not be an easy feat to choose one verse from the entire Bible that would be the verse that stood out so much to me that I would feel comfortable saying, “Here. This is the one right here.”  I prayed about it and forgot about it, well not completely, but I didn’t pressure myself to figure it out.

Wouldn’t you know, God has given me my verse!  So here’s the thing, I will share my verse with you of course but don’t be all anticipating that it will end up being yours too, it may very well be, but I know now, it’s mine.  This is not to say that I’m throwing out the rest of the Bible, that would be stupid, but this verse really speaks to a place deep in my being and just strikes me.

My verse is John 6:29 but I have to include at least John 6:28 as well. The New Living Translation of these two verses says, “28. They replied, ‘We want to perform God’s works, too.  What should we do?’ 29. Jesus told them, ‘This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.'”

The Amplified says 28. Then they asked Him, “What are we to do, so that we may habitually be doing the works of God?” 29. Jesus answered, “This is the work of God: that you believe [adhere to, trust in, rely on, and have faith] in the One whom He has sent.”

The Mirror says, 28. They immediately wanted the recipe! Tell us then what we must do in order to accomplish God’s work? 29. This is the work of God; your belief in the One whom he has sent! Then it goes on to say, “Even your ability to believe is God’s work!  Realizing your authentic sonship on exhibit in Jesus is God’s gift to you and cannot be earned! How can your labor compete with what God’s rest celebrates as complete!”

In all three translations, the idea was that there had to be some formula, some plan or recipe that we must follow and execute in order to do the works of God.  Jesus’ answer was that we are to simply believe.  He didn’t rattle off a to do list or anything of the sort.  Even in believing, Jesus referred to this too, as God’s work.

As I sat for a moment and considered different situations others I know are dealing with, and my own, I kept hearing, “Be still.  Be still. Be still.”  Then, I heard Godfrey Birthill singing, “Living in the unforced rhythms of grace” and the light bulb turned on.  When I first heard the song, probably a year ago, I loved the words.  I didn’t understand the line, “living in the unforced rhythms of grace” but my spirit loved it immediately.  When I say loved it, I mean loved it.  Admittedly, my mind had no idea though. I’d just sing happily, along with my children who also love the song.

Now, I get it.  Grace is free, unearned, a gift, and I can live from that state of being.  I don’t have to pull out formulas, hoping something will work.  I don’t need to say this special prayer or do this special thing or that, I can simply trust.  I can just believe.  I can truly live in the unforced rhythms of grace and receive all my Abba has for me.

I get that not everyone will understand this just yet or experience the “Aha” moment I have, that’s OK. My prayer though, is that we would simply trust Him and stop trying to conjure up whatever we are believing Him for, by trying this “recipe” or that.  If He said it, it is so, and I for one am going to believe, because Jesus himself said to do so.  If we could do all the work ourselves, Jesus wouldn’t have needed to come.  Thank God, Jesus did come, and, he said it was finished.  He did all the work, even that of enabling us to believe as he chose us first.  So, I’m done, friends.  Done with the do do’s. I will simply trust, as Jesus said.  Hope you will too.