Overflow

While cleaning sewer overflow out of my basement carpet I considered the day ahead.

So many gaps...

Not yet 8am on Saturday morning and the day felt like it’d already been long.

How am I going to fill in the gaps?

My husband lay in bed, recovering from a surgery.  He would be at home all day, recovering, resting… regaining his mobility.

Where are the resources to fill all the lack?  How do I steward what little I have?

My ears stuffed with earbuds pumping celebration in toward my eardrums, my thoughts… I almost laughed out loud.

There is no way I will make it today! 

Searching for answers, to truly be responsible with what little I have to stretch over the yawning gaps in resources for the day… just this day, not even tomorrow yet… searching for some kind of plan;  a strategy… something…

“Go, I will cover you,” says the quiet voice in my knowing.

No plan.  No detailed direction of how to go.  Just, GO.  I WILL COVER YOU.

I set my mind to it.  One step at a time, I decided.  Like walking on water.  One foot in front of the other.

I can do this.

Look at the God who’s serving me… SERVING ME!  The God who never ceases to provide, to amaze, to extend grace…  He is covering me today.  My job, according to Him, is to go and receive His provision in each step.  To receive!

My job as wife, mommy, every other role I will play today… my job description in all of these is to move into receiving.

To discover what it means to live in grace – to see my gaping areas of lacking filled to overflowing with His grace covering me, providing.  Me, my husband, my children… those who will touch our lives today.  His overflow will increase in me, will increase me.

I don’t see it.  I don’t see how my circumstances are possibly going to work today.

But I see God, who is more than able, at work for me.

And I receive.

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{prayers} Of Intercession

With the children tucked into bed and the tea steeped and steaming, the house quiet and the heat filtering through vents, I peak out the window.  Frost is already visible, glinting silver on blades of dying grass and bare twigs in naked trees.

The moon is low and and full, as if the light it carries is a heavy weight tonight.

Below the fog is lifting up from the wetlands and the evergreens on the foothills across the fields appear black and dense, with the flickering train light dancing airily through the bends over the river’s bridge, into the open for a moment, then back into dense black.

These moments, alone in my room after hours of being surrounded by people, these moments are the most precious and the most daunting.  In the quiet I see the faces of those I’ve smiled at, loved on and been loved by, spoken to… I see their eyes… and I see so much more.

I see the weight of life, the struggling words within.

I see joy, I see futures and hope.

So much.

I hear words.  Words that they shared, these beautiful people.  Words accounting for things I’ve seen, and words hiding the things behind their eyes… words of secret pleading.  Words of truth and words of masked uncertainty.  Insecurity and expectation blend together as, in the silence, these words refill my ears.

Then the Lord invites me in.

It’s a place that inhabits my room, and opens up from within my mind; a peeling back of a veil and a stepping through in thought that I can feel in the air I sit in and draw breath from.  Into this place I carry all these wonderful people, their eyes and their words.  Everything that I have seen, I bring here.

Face to face and side by side, His arm around me, His presence pressing lightly down, surrounding me.  I know the sound of His voice so clearly and it brings a soothing calm.  I used to come here dressed in armor, ready to do battle in His name.  What silly girl I was!  Like going to bed with shoes on, is how I would enter this secret, intimate place.

Now, we sit in the quiet together.  He already knows everything that I come to Him with.  He knows each and every name, has seen each and every eye and heard each and every word.  It was at His invitation that I was able to see; and together we speak the necessary words back, the healing words, the cleansing words.  Words of comfort, of hope and of acceptance that each one needs.  At times He invites me to pick up pen and paper and write a note that He speaks to one or another.  At times I read His Word instead, and occasionally speak it out loud, back to Him.  And sometimes we simply weep together, for there are some things that no words can heal.

I feel His heart beat, He is that close, and I know His smile, the astounding love in His eyes that breaks with the gut wrenching pain of some whom we have seen and heard.  I have seen His jealousy, and know His patience well.  His compassion is endless, His kindness so immense.

Every moment we are together changes me.

Every moment spent in His presence within this secret space fills me with something I cannot explain. I carry it back with me.  Peace.  Grace.  Understanding?  Thanksgiving.  Humility.  Adoration…

And before drifting off to sleep I often hear, “Thank you, Child,” and I feel the gentle embrace of His presence enfolding me within His love.

“I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.”      Mark 11:24

{the power of} Words

God spoke: “Light!” And light appeared. ~Genesis 1:3 Have you considered the power of words? A word spoken, “light,” and something began to exist that hadn’t existed before.  That is power. What words have you been speaking?  Have they been positive, upbeat, … Continue reading

What Forgiveness Is And Is Not

http://www.elevationchurch.org/sermons

This is a wonderful view on forgiveness and on what it is and isn’t.  In light of all I have grown up believing, and still hear preached regarding forgiveness, I love the freedom and truth that this message enlightens that word with.

Truly life-breathing words spoken at Elevation, I hope you are able to take the time to hear them.

Deliverance Part 2: Understanding Spirit

Something that has helped me walk forward in my freedom is having invited the Holy Spirit to take up residence in my thoughts, my will and my emotions.

I don’t know what your background is.  Mine is Conservative Baptist.  I was not raised to believe in “baptism of the Holy Spirit” and I was raised to believe that when you ask Jesus into your heart you are given the Holy Spirt, and that is enough.  That the rest is up to you to make good choices because you read and memorize Scripture.  Oddly enough, it has been reading and memorizing Scripture that opened my eyes to how much more power and authority we have when we do receive a baptism of the Holy Spirit – a baptism of fire.  (Acts)

My friend, the one who introduced me to deliverance, put it this way:  When you buy a house it has a yard.  Front, back and sides, surrounding the house.  When you go to live in this house, you set up your living space inside, in the kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, living and dining rooms.  

The yard represents the spirit of us.  Where we connect with the outside.  The house represents where we spend most of our time, our soul.  Where our thoughts, our will and our emotions dwell.

When you ask Jesus to come into your heart, you are inviting Him into your yard.  You are sealed for eternity with His Spirit in your spirit, fully surrounded. I have learned that most people stop here.  At least, I did.  Having been told that this was enough.  Assurance of eternal life and sins forgiven.  However, living constantly in my spirit is as practical as living constantly outside in my yard.  Because I only spend a portion of my time in my spirit, or out in my yard, I only gain that much understanding of God, Who He is and how He functions.

Most of us live in our houses.  Metaphorically, this is within our thoughts, our will (power of decision) and our emotions.   But until we invite the Holy Spirit in, He remains respectfully out.  He is always completely respectful of our free will.  Inviting Him in is what the Bible, in Acts and in a few of the gospels, speaks of as the baptism of the Spirit, or of fire.

When the Holy Spirit is sitting at your kitchen table, or helping you clean up your bedroom and scrub your toilet you get first hand experience of Who He is and how He works.  I’ve heard it said that it is like the difference between dating and marriage.  Or the difference between carrying around a cup of coffee and drinking the coffee (or Spark, for you Advocare buffs) so that the caffeine is in your system, rather than in your cup. 

For me, inviting the Holy Spirit deeper into my life, inviting Him to dwell in my thoughts, my will and my emotions, has made the difference between life in black and white and life in full color.   It has been the difference in striving to practice the fruits of the Spirit, and relaxing into the fruits of the Spirit simply flowing from my life.  Scripture has come to life.  I get why it is so exciting to be saved, set free, forgiven – and I finally understand what the peace that passes understanding is, and the joy that flows from it.

It is the difference between working in your yard, playing, gardening, waving at the neighbors, grilling, etc., and living daily life within your home.  Inviting the Holy Spirit inside, accepting the gift of His baptism (which is different and secondary to water baptism, Matt. 3:11, Acts 11:15-17, Luke 24:49, Acts 1:4-5, 2:1-6, 8:14-19, 9:17-19, 10:44-48 and Acts 19:1-6), is the best decision I have ever made

And it is something that is hard to describe until you experience it for yourself. It takes the work out of producing the fruit of the Spirit – I recall verse as I need them, without even having necessarily memorized them and there isn’t anymore striving to be patient or kind – I find that my love for those around me is deepened and increased with my more full awareness of God’s love for me, and patience simply flows from this.

That is another thing, I experience the love God has for me at a much deeper level.  He literally feels closer.  I don’t have to set aside time to meet with Him to gain perspective or insight or understanding – He is working in and through me constantly – with my knowledge!  I set aside time now because I long to just sit in His presence alone, the intimacy is real and amazing.  And, I don’t have to work at attaining it.  I understand what it means to be accepted exactly as I am.  No rules, hoops, theories, scheduling, or theology to wade through.  Just me and my God, who loves me.   It is life off the hook, organic and mysterious yet remarkably simple.  

Accepting the gift of baptism of the Spirit is accepting complete freedom in Christ.  Not just the knowledge of freedom, but full submersion in that freedom!  It is power and authority and simply doing what I hear and see the Spirit doing.  All striving gone.

It is the ability to discern what name to call the enemy when he attacks me or my family, to bind him and send him away in the name of Jesus.  It is the ability to discern the lightening of the air around us, and to feel the difference.  It is the ability to know what needs to be bound, and what needs to be loosed to help others attain their freedom in christ.  It is being given new eyes, ears and senses.

And this gift is what has made walking in my new found freedom so wonderfully possible to maintain and enjoy.  Not just the assurance of my salvation, but the experience of the power of being set free.

Movement

When God moves into action, we can be sure of one thing: we will see our enemy’s reaction.

When you find yourself in the midst of chaos, frustration, turmoil or downright opposition from every angle, take a minute to step back and look at areas where you may be getting closer to breakthrough.  Chances are you have come to a point of realizing some promise or blessing and our enemy is aching to manipulate, lie & distract you from recognizing it.

The enemy comes to steal and destroy, however, we have a God who has already stripped him of all power.  The only power he has is what he convinces us to hand over.  Through fear, weariness, unbelief, impatience and lack of gratitude.

If you feel under attack, or down on your luck, take some time to speak some gratefulness, to remember what God has already done on your behalf, and to keep your eyes open to what is just ahead – When God goes into action, there is revelation!  

Deliverance Part 1: Amazing Grace

I walked through something called deliverance.  The first time I heard about it was through a friend, who asked me if I knew what it was.  My only experience with anything of that nature up to this point was a story I was told by missionaries who spent 5 hours casting demons out of a woman who collapsed in exhaustion afterwards.  My friend assured me that the deliverance she was speaking of was nothing like that.  She recommended a book called 2 Hours To Freedom, by Charles H. Kraft.  After reading the book, I knew this was something I needed.  Up until this point, I was living in a hole of fear.  Fear and control, manipulation and fog.  I was afraid of people, of dark places, of new experiences, of being left alone with my kids when my husband traveled.  I was afraid of disappointing others, of what people thought of me.  I was too afraid to speak to some people and I went out of my way to control situations so that I could keep fear at bay.  I was controlling within my marriage and over my children. I was afraid of my husband leaving us.    Walking through deliverance was one of the most amazing, incredible and odd experiences I have ever gone through.  It was nothing like I expected or was afraid it would be.  There was so much acceptance, openness and partnership, I felt safe.  I felt loved.  I cried a whole lot, coughed some, and was thoroughly prayed over.  I felt validated and understood.  I felt affirmed and I felt set free for the first time in my life.  I walked out of the room lighter, peaceful and with a deep calm joy.  For a few days I couldn’t stop smiling.

 It was explained to me that unforgiveness gives the Enemy a stronghold in my life to hang out and bully me, specifically for me in the way of fear. Forgiveness is something that I have spent a long time learning and working through.  For years it has been a major theme of my life.  But sitting down and going a bit deeper, writing down on paper things from my past that came to mind, I discovered that the biggest area of unforgiveness I was still struggling with, was with myself.

What follows the act of becoming delivered is what is most important.  I was encouraged to be vigilant and stand firm in my newly gained freedom.  I had a list of things to pray, to stand against when the attacks came.  And come they did.  When you remove strongholds from within you, you basically step on a bee hive and have a bunch of homeless bees on the defense.  The old frustration, irritation, temptation to jump in and control, the habit of fear – it all came back.  But the differences was that now, with strongholds gone, these things didn’t overwhelm me or control me from within.  They just buzzed around my head and shoulders.

At times it got so intense that I remember stopping in the middle of putting shoes on my screaming toddler, getting down on my kitchen floor and simply repeating the name of Jesus over and over, until I could literally feel the air around me open up again.  Sometimes the most intense attacks came in the form of old habits, and bickering children.  But now, all I do is simply call the “attacker” by name (annoyance, irritation, fear, strife, etc) and tell it to leave us alone, in Jesus name.  I am still in awe of how the air literally clears when we practice this. 

There was a day, while walking on the beach, when I remembered something we had been struggling through with my oldest son.  We had recently learned of some traumatic experiences that he’d had  gone through several years back, things that had I known at the time I would have taken swift care of.  But he’d been bullied into not telling, tormented with threats of harm.  Before any of this was revealed to me, I had flared up in frustration over his behavior.  I had yelled, and there had been door slamming.  We’d all been reduced to tears.  When He was finally able to speak out the things that were haunting him, with the encouragement of a word of knowledge the Lord gave me, things changed dramatically in our home.  But there are still moments of tense frustration.  It was one of these moments I was encountering in memory.  At that moment I remembered how crushingly harsh I had responded and guilt flew to the cracking of my heart like a swarm of vultures ready for an easy meal.  Fresh guilt for not having known what he’d had to endure years ago, for not having known and rescued him. New flocks of guilt descended on top of the first flock, for not being more loving now, more patient now.  

I was in tears.  I was torn apart inside and sobbing openly right there in public.  As if that wasn’t enough, memories flew in, memories of other moments where I failed horribly as a mom to all three of my children.  When I had cut them down in sarcasm or snapped at them in rushed frustration.  I was begging God’s forgiveness out loud, waves crashing and rushing toward my feet, seagulls calling above my head.  

A familiar sound rose up from within my core,  “As you have forgiven all who have hurt you, I have forgiven you.  In the same way you have let them off the hook, decided to no longer hold them accountable for their offenses against you, I have let you off the hook with your children.  

When I look at them I do not see your mistakes.  I do not see wounds you have given them.  When I look at them I see in each of them the beauty I placed within you to impart to them.  As I have dealt with you, I will deal with them.  As I have healed you, I will heal them.  I will care for them as I have cared for you, and I will supply them with all that they need to overcome all that they have faced and will face in their futures.  

My only requirement of you is to continue living out the example of forgiveness, and to love them continually with the love I pour into you.”  

I wish I could say that the whole swarm of guilt lifted off and all is well.  It did lift.  It did soar a respectable distance above my head and leave me be for a while.   As I forgive myself, as I soak in the words spoken over me from within, as I sit and listen to others share their experiences of freedom and lessons of joy, of throwing off the shackles of religion, I see the flock of guilt hovering above me grow thinner.    As I practice speaking out, “I forgive myself” I see the flock growing thinner still.

A continued theme as I walk forward in this new found freedom has been that God has let me off the hook.  He no longer holds me accountable for the things I have done, or the ways in which I have failed.  He sees me as radiantly beautiful, a luminescent reflection of Himself, mirrored in three incredible children who are healthy, healing, growing and loving.  If God is not holding me accountable for failing, then who am I to keep myself dangling from the clutches of guilt? 

Motherhood: a ministry of the willing woman

Motherhood is not defined by children in her care, by those she carried within herself till birth.  Motherhood is not defined by those who’ve adopted, or fostered or inherited by circumstance.  Motherhood is not withheld from those who have lost, or never had. Motherhood is not waiting for those who are longing to become.

Motherhood is the formal title for the ministry entered into by the woman who is willing to receive those who are in need of her, whatever form or method in which they arrive into her life.

The ministry of motherhood is a gentle art forged in the fires of sleepless nights and interrupted life.  It is a ministry that keeps long hours; a ministry of sacrifice, service, and of selfless offerings. It is a ministry of coming to the end of herself, of being ministered to, being filled with that which is beyond her so that she can continue to pour into the endless depths of another human life.

The ministry of motherhood is a timeless garment, a veil of transparency worn best when cinched with a belt of humility.  It is a display of beauty when accompanied by grace.  For, as each eye seeking material to reproduce will at some point place on display her every flaw and imperfection, repeat her words both wise and foolishly spoken, and will do so completely beyond her realm of control.  The ministry of motherhood is embroidered with the delicate art of laughing at herself when seen through the eyes of those who look to her for imitation.

The ministry of motherhood is at the heart of every woman, from the time of Eve.  It has touched us all.  The ministry of motherhood is not always one of blood and birth, but is always of heart and soul.  A mother is one who is familiar with sacrifice, her own self tearing and ripping with the tearing and ripping of another.  She brings life into this world, whether by body or spirit overflow.  It is a pouring of herself into the living self of another, tirelessly, relentlessly, forgivingly and patiently, with endless empathy.  She is one who teaches what love is, nurtures understanding, coaxes up the learning.  The ministry of motherhood weaves up that forgiving place for those she loves to retreat within, finding safety and grace. It is a ministry of understanding what lies beneath, of speaking truth in loving tones, of harboring the helpless through storms and lifting high the matured to catch wind and take flight

The ministry of motherhood is freely given, to the deserving and undeserving alike. It does not wait for her to gain an understanding; she learns her skill through the hours of setting aside herself for another. The ministry of motherhood is not merely a calling. It is the very heart of life.  It catches her all by surprise, whisks away her breath and calls her into unknown waters in the blink of an eye. It is she who rises up, it is she who will claim her place, whether or not she is ready and whether or not she understands the package it comes to her in, it is she who will leave us with legacy after legacy of wonder loving grace

It is her life laid down for another that shows us the meaning of living, this ministry of motherhood.  It is here that each woman finds her captivating beauty, her exquisite elegance, her ageless allure.  For at whatever age a girl becomes a mother, and through whatever the circumstances her ministry is birthed, her touch, her voice, her love and her life will last, reaching down through generation after generation, and long beyond her final breath.

To my mother who gave birth to me and raised me well, to those mothers who have and continue to nurture me in spirit and to all these mothers who accept and invest selflessly into the lives of my children.

Happy Mother’s Day! Thank you, this world would not be the same without your love!

My Best Birthday Gift

The best gift my husband has ever given me, and our kids for that matter, is time away all by myself.  He and I both run into a lot of people who think this is crazy.  He has even had to sort out the feelings of rejection that my need for time alone has implied to him.  But, every single time I have taken space from daily life I have come back a better, new and a more fun, life-giving person.  Every time he has been grateful for the “new me.”

Do you ever find yourself hanging onto an item and after several interruptions, requests, mediations, demands, you look down at your hand and realize you have no idea why you are hanging onto it?

For me, getting away alone gives me the space and silence I need to recognize things I picked up somewhere and forgot to put down.  Unforgiveness is one I seem to gravitate toward, and usually over silly things I’d quickly forgotten about.  Responsibility that isn’t mine is another.  Anxiety and worry.  Unmet expectations – expectations that really shouldn’t be held up in the first place.  Disappointments, usually related to expectations, but also in myself, my children, my husband, friendships… disappointment is a pretty aggressive weed in my life. There seems to be so much I can be disappointed about!  Failure – even imagined failures!  Fear and self-consciousness tend to get clumped together in one fist pretty often too.

Getting away, settling into a space of complete silence and empty of people, highlights these things for me.  It opens doors for release, where I can let go and get rid of these things I somehow picked up and forgot to set down.  Being alone, a few days uninterrupted, gives me the time to remember what I’m holding.

And then, THEN, once these things are gone and my hands are free again I find the capacity to truly worship, to lift up emptiness for being filled with what inspires life.  Being emptied of myself, of all the trash I keep gravitating toward, even unintentionally at times, opens up room within me to receive all the good things God intends.  In the emptiness I recognize there is no condemnation, no rejection, no refusal.  In the emptiness I regain vision of what is truly amazing, and I have the room to ask for and receive it.

Getting away alone means I empty out all the trash and fill up with all the joy, hope, peace, refreshment, life, beauty, wonder, compassion, mercy, hope, empathy, respect, awe, availability and fun I can hold.

Getting away alone means I come back a different person.  Clean and free and full of good things to dole out to my husband, children and into friendships.  If we can only give from what we have, then getting away alone is absolutely the best possible gift I could receive.