He Chose Her Before She Was Born


Writer’s Note: Today marks the 27th anniversary of the glorious day that God made me a mom. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the birth of my one and only than by re-sharing this post from three years ago. It started out as a post bragging on my baby girl and turned into my testimony, a story of God’s grace and His passion and compassion for all of us; His talent for using all things for the good of those who love Him. All that said, I must include a warning for those of you who know me. There may be things in this post that you may not know about me, things that I am not particularly proud of; however, as I continue to watch God take both the good and the bad and weave them into the most incredible stories–such as the story of my little girl–I think it is important to be real. Our world today is too much in need of hope to not be real and to show how God is always and in all ways looking out for us. Even when our situation looks like a complete mess, God is busy behind the scenes. What looks like rubble to us are building blocks for our Creator. We just have to get out of the way and let Him work! Thank you, Jesus, for being the cornerstone of my life and thank you for Billie. I am blessed beyond deserve.

Billie was far from an ordinary kid. To tell the truth, she has never been ordinary a single billie preachesday in her life. Even before she had made it out of the womb, this wee little girl had begun spinning a story of goodness and love that, looking back, could only have been penned by the master author Himself. Not to say that God doesn’t leave His fingerprints on all his creations, but with some it is just a little more obvious. Such is the case with my daughter.

Just the knowledge that she existed had lifted me out of the downward spiral my life had taken when I turned 30. Always the responsible, level headed one, something about turning 30, combined with a devastating turn of events in my life, had put me on a path of self-destruction. Alcohol. Gambling. Even drug experimentation and unprotected sex. Things I never thought in a million years I would do. But, for a short while, as a lost soul trying to find my way, I did them.

It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in God. In fact, with the help of my college roommate, a sweet and kind preacher’s daughter, I had accepted Him as my Lord and Savior back in college. But that’s about as far as it went. I did consider myself a good person and, upon occasion, would even shoot up a prayer or two when things got tough. Saved or not, however, sitting in a pew was not a place you would find me on Sunday morning at that time in my life. Churches, I felt, were just too full of hypocrites.

And, in my heart, I fully believed that to be true as that had been my experience with the church when I was growing up. Being pushed to the altar by friends who had just the night before drank themselves into a stupor made absolutely no sense to me. Not to mention that it seemed like the preacher was always preaching about hellfire and brimstone; the fearsome, formidable God he painted in his sermons not leaving much room for the loving God of reality.

Yeah, I believed in God, but I didn’t truly know God yet and I certainly hadn’t learned what it meant to fully give my heart and my life to Him; to have a personal relationship and to walk with Him in complete faith.

From my limited perspective at that moment in my life, I was—as I had been for some time—alone. My earthly father had been killed when I was just a little girl and I didn’t yet understand the extent of love, forgiveness and purpose my Heavenly Father had for me. In my mind, I had no other choice but to take care of myself and to be my own safety net. Seeking God’s guidance for my life wasn’t even a consideration at that point.

Fortunately, God intervened anyway.

Enter Billie—the answered prayer that I didn’t even know I needed.

Having veered so sharply off the path, it seemed as if baby Billie truly was God’s way of reeling me back in, bringing the poor choices I was making in life to a screeching halt and replacing them with proof that He could take the most troublesome of situations and use them for good. This yet-to-be-born baby was was a living example that would continue to prove this most wonderful promise over and over as the years went by.

I pretty much did a 360 and began trying to live as healthy as possible, following my obstetrician’s advice to the tee. I quit drinking, smoking and any other dangerous habit I had been dabbling with for the past few months before her conception. I quit not because I thought it would keep me out of hell, but because it was the right thing to do. I had a baby on the way; a life that depended solely on me to survive and I didn’t want mess that up.

I even agreed to marry her father, though we had known each other less than a year. I just seemed like the right thing to do. I can’t really say that I loved him, but I figured I’d eventually fall in love with him. After all, we were having a baby together.

Needless to say, without going into details, our marriage was like the house built on sand. When storms came that first, emotionally-charged and stressful year as I also dealt with health issues and worries about getting Billie into the world safely, the marriage collapsed and we gave up on one another.

God, however, did not give up. Not only did he bring Billie into the world and keep her safe, but He made it more and more obvious that He had a plan for her. And, like David of David and Goliath fame, He had no plans of waiting until she was an adult to use her. Truth was, He started using her before she even exited the womb, making sure that this new baby gave both her dad and I exactly what we needed in our lives at that point. Billie’s dad actually credits her arrival for finally facing and defeating his own demons.

All that said, I still didn’t attend church as Billie began to grow up. Until, that is, the heart-wrenching devastation of Sept. 11, 2001, a day that rattled me to my very core. All of a sudden, I realized that not only had I been holding God back in my own life, but I was keeping the greatest blessing He had ever given me away from Him as well and was compelled to do something about it. We began visiting churches, but none felt right. They didn’t feel welcoming, which I equated to being full of hypocrites. I didn’t yet understand that many people attending church were just as confused and lost as I was; and that it wasn’t necessarily hypocrisy they exhibited, but the same ignorance and stubbornness I had been carrying for years.

Long story short, I continued to search for a church for both me and Billie, who was now in second grade. We ultimately made our way to Harvest Church and—from the moment we crossed its threshold at the Ramada Inn where it was meeting—I knew that we were finally home.      It was an easy choice to make sure that she and I were there every time the doors were open and, with Pastors Jim and Jen as our teachers, we both began growing UP. Billie loved the kids program. She adored the Pink Carpet and her carpet leader, Mrs. Mary. We both loved learning about and getting to know God.

Truthfully, I couldn’t believe the difference it made to know God personally versus simply knowing of Him. He started showing up and showing out in both our lives and it was exciting. It’s still exciting. Even though He has performed and showed me many miracles over the past decade and a half, I still cherish those early God moments that changed my life forever.

Indeed, Billie did grow up at Harvest and I will be forever convinced that Harvest was always a part of His plan for both of us, and most especially for her. In fact, this morning as I watched her—now 23-years-old and the head of the church’s Children’s Ministry—give the message in the main church service for the very first time, my mind rewound itself to a Sunday about 13 years ago when my 10-year-old baby girl leaned over while listening to Pastor Jim preach and whispered this into my ear: “Mom, I know what I want to do when I grow up,” she said excitedly. “I want to preach.”

Well, my sweet baby girl, you did it and you did it good!!!! I love you and I love God for picking me to be a part of your story and, most importantly, for allowing both of us to be a part of His. I thank Him for making you a living, breathing example of how miracles and beauty can come from even the darkest, seemingly hopeless situations. I thank Him for Harvest Church and for making His presence so obvious in the church as well as in both of our lives. May we all continue to fulfill His will and purpose until His Kingdom comes. Amen and Ehmen.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” – Jeremiah 1:5

There’s purpose in the present…


November 25, 2018

 

Dear God,

Where to begin? It’s been awhile since I opened up my heart and let it flow onto the blank page.

If I am finally honest with myself, this year has been fashioned of fewer deliberate Purpose Scripture Image created 11.25.18prayers and more and more silent groanings. Thank You for never letting my needs go unmet, even when I don’t know what they are or are just too tired and distracted to lay them at your feet. Thank You for sending Your Spirit to continuously intercede on my behalf.

Thank You, too, for sustaining me as I have attempted to find a new normal. Losing my job of two-decades-plus, and more specifically the safety net that it provided, has been harder on me than I have admitted. I still believe with all that I am that You did not want me to step back into a full time job, but to remain self-employed so that I am forced to depend on You and You alone. It’s been 18 months now and You are still sustaining me. Though I often fall short month to month, I have yet to want. Still, I have also yet to rest in a place of complete trust in You. I am sorry for that and pray that you will help me with my unbelief.

Thank you also, Lord, for the doors you have opened for me. I never dreamed that I could go out on tour, physically or mentally. But, not only did I do it, it was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life, even with the bumps along the way. You made it obvious that I was where I needed to be and with the people I most needed—incredible people so genuine

0A9D2BBB-4FA9-477C-999E-9CB2D6310588

Thank you, David and Tamela Mann, for being obedient to your calling and allowing me to become a part of your phenomenal “Us Against The World” family.

and full of love for each other and for You. No pretenses whatsoever. What a rare and beautiful treat and definitely the stuff of which lifelong friends are made. Thank You, from the bottom of my heart, for the doors you have opened and those that I know You will open in the future.

And, thank You, Lord, for yesterday, for instantly answering my prayer to have my passion reignited and ink to begin flowing again. The God moments and ideas started flowing within minutes. So, so many ideas, that I am honestly not sure where to start, but I know I should not worry as You are with me.

I couldn’t ask for a better Muse and Mentor. Ever.

Help me to walk in complete obedience so that the seeds You have planted within take root and bear abounding fruit for Your Kingdom. I love you, with all that I am.

Amen and Ehmen.

 

Dear, Dear Child,

How happy it makes me when you meet me here. I can speak to you anywhere, anytime, but it is in the peace of My Presence where the world falls silent that you are able to hear and understand Me most.

Thank you, Child, for your obedience. I know you feel deep down that you have squandered much of this past year, but I encourage you to not let the enemy twist your thoughts. He’s resorted to the same old tricks since the beginning of time. Attempting to lead you away through guilt; through self-doubt.

He knows your heart is Mine, so instead he has to resort to making you feel unworthy.

Hogwash!

You, My Child, are worthy. I picked you. I equipped you.

You are the only one who can fulfill the purposes I have for you and, as long as you love Me and stay connected to Me, nothing can stop you.

I AM proud of you, Child.

You have done nothing wrong.

That Elevation Church podcast that popped up out of the blue yesterday was no accident. I need you to Job on Purpose Image Created 11.25.18hear and believe that the downtime of the past couple of years has not been wasted. It was necessary. Like My son Steven said, it has all been a divine delay; a delay of My own design.

I am lining things up, Child. My plans for you are even bigger than you know; bigger than you will know while on earth. The impact of your purpose will ripple throughout the generations well into eternity. And, as long as you believe in Me; as long as you trust in Me; as long as you are Mine, you can rest easy knowing that you are called; you are equipped; and you are right on schedule—for nothing, My Child, can thwart those who love Me and are called according to My purpose.

Buckle up. You are in for the ride of your life. While the phrase “it will happen” brings hope for the future, I need you to retrain your brain to this truth that your heart already knows to be evident: Your purpose is present tense; a fluid, living, breathing part of you and it is happening right now!

You are exactly where you are supposed to be.

I love you, Child, with a love like no other. Merry Christmas.

 

 

 

His Call, My Heartbeat


The blank page beckons.blank computer screen

Visual silence.

A blank slate interrupted only by the blink of the cursor.

Blink. Blink. Blink. It’s slow and rhythmic and, for me, thought-provoking.  It’s like the heartbeat of a new creation just waiting to be born.  

No wonder I have such an affinity for the blank page, for it is the platform on which thoughts and words come alive and, if I am lucky, become helpful and provide a positive impact to those who read them. Better yet, they become a tool for the Lord, our God.

Words are my calling. I’ve always had a predisposition for them, but, several years ago, it became evident that writing is a big part of the reason I was put on this earth. Still—though the calling is undeniable and has become almost as important to me as breathing—I still wrestle with it at times as, more often than not, I find myself fighting to find the time and energy to commit to it.

Time or no time, however, it is absolutely impossible to describe the feeling I get when I know that there is something I need to write. It bubbles up from the inside and I am miserable until I finally put it onto paper. And the very, very best part is when someone reaches out to me out of the blue to tell me how something I wrote touched them or inspired and helped them in some way.

This week—a week when I was particularly needing encouragement to find a way to continue, despite my crazy work schedule and other demands of life—three people reached out to me to tell me how God had used something I wrote to speak to them and encourage them in a profound way. What I want them to know is that God also used them to reassure me that I cannot give up on this mantle He himself has placed upon me.

Somehow, some way, I will continue to answer His call. His call, my heartbeat; the blank page, my canvas. Thank you, Jesus, for giving me encouragement through Your Word and through other people. Keep reminding me that what I view as waiting is all part of the process. Write on…

Amen and Ehmen.   

Don’t Waver in the Waiting Period


Writer’s Note: I have let life take me away from my personal “Me and Thee” time and this week, after much prayer and speaking with a dear man of God that I respect greatly, I made the commitment to spend at least 30 minutes every day for the next seven days communing with The Father. As those of you who frequent this blog know, my personal way of doing this is via the blank page. I start with a prayer and then quiet my spirit and type what I “hear.” Sometimes this process takes 15 minutes and sometimes 30 minutes or more. I know that I know that it is God as He almost always will plant one or more scripture addresses in my head that–when I pick up my bible and look them up–I discover that they go perfectly with what He is teaching me in that moment.Though it is my personal and unedited conversation, I share as I know that it often speaks to some of you as well. Have a blessed and beautiful day. Amen and Ehmen.

February 2, 2017

6:45 AM

Good morning, God.

I know it’s been awhile since I have met You here. I won’t make excuses, but instead am making a dear godcommitment to meet You here for at least 30 minutes every morning for the next seven days. I have missed our time together more than I even know how to express. Fortunately, I know You know my heart and You know the depths that I am feeling. My heart, my soul and my spirit long to be close and connected to You; to experience the closeness and supernatural wonders that come with that closeness. To hear Your voice, Your correction and Your direction and to be obedient to Your leading. Lord, help me to be cognizant of Your Holy Spirit. Help me to turn down the noise around me and focus on what is truly important—You and Your kingdom. You know my needs at work. Help me to be successful without feeling like I have to give up my time with You. Meet me where I am. Help me to stay in constant communion with You, to walk and breathe in the Spirit. And, as for the job for which I applied, Lord I ask that, if it is Your will, that You make it clear to the one that will be hiring as well as to me. But, if it is not where You want me, make me able to accept it and continue waiting for the opportunity that You have designed just for me. You know I need Your help, Lord. I need Your help tuning my ears to You. Please make me receptive to Your leading. I want nothing more than to fulfill your purposes for me. May Your will, Lord, not mine, be done in my life just as it is in Heaven. I love You, sweet Jesus, with all that I am. From the bottom of my heart, I remain Yours.

 

Dear, dear Child,

Oh, how I have missed our time together as well. I have been calling out to you, but you have let the world distract you. I am not blaming nor condemning you as you are human, but I am reminding you that I am always right here anytime that you need me. I’m so sorry that you have felt alone, but, as I know you know in your spirit, I never left. And I never will. You are not alone.

I know you love Me, child, and I’m so happy that you have devoted yourself to Me. The missing link for you is that, while you remain Mine as you said in your prayer, you are not remaining IN Me. There is a difference.

All my children who have accepted Me as their Lord and Savior remain Mine throughout their lives and into eternity, but it is those who remain IN Me that stay connected to Me at all times. It is like the scripture describes and you have studied time and time again. I am the Vine and you are a branch. You must be connected to Me and tended by The Father to live and produce good fruit.  

I am pleased that you have committed to meeting Me here every morning for the next week. I will be here waiting. I love you, dear child, and I have great plans for you. You simply must trust Me and know that I have prepared a way for you and that I am in the process of preparing you. When you don’t feel that you can hear My direction, when the direction is not clear, give Me thanks for where you are and then wait. Waiting is where I equip and prime you for your destiny. Don’t give up in the waiting period. Remain IN Me. I am here, child. I never left and I never will. Repeat that throughout this day until it takes root deep in your spirit. You are Mine, child, and I will eternally remain IN you. Look up that scripture, child, and write it here. Also, read and study Ephesians 6:7 and Colossians 3:2.  Commit them to memory. When you have conflicting thoughts or find yourself dwelling on your job and the things that are pulling you away from Me, repeat these scriptures. I love you, child. Walk with Me through this day…

John 15: 5

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.

Ephesians 6:7

Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

Colossians 3:2

Think about the things of Heaven, not the things of earth.

His sign said, “Ugly, Old and Homeless…”


His sign said ugly, old & homeless. He eagerly and with sincere appreciation took homeless picthe $20 bucks I handed him. His face lit up as he showed me the Lord’s Supper coin he carried in his pocket. He told me that, though it made his bag heavier, he always had his bible with him. He said “God bless you, friend” and I told him I’d be praying for him. I also told him that the last thing on his sign might be true from an earthly sense, but that the other two couldn’t be further from the truth. Beautiful hearts and souls come in many kinds of packages. With cars stacking up behind me, I asked him if he liked Doritos and, when he nodded yes, I returned his coin and gave him the chips. He went back to his curbside seat and in my rear view I could see that he was already enjoying them. I drove away sad and blessed at the same time.

Note: This was inspired by a man who can often be found sitting on the corner as you leave the Arby’s and Pilot station just off the exit nearest my home. He has been there for about three months. Please, if you see him or another like him, help them in anyway that you can. It really doesn’t matter why they are there; just that they are there and that we all need a little help now and then.

And The Word of God says…

Matthew 25:40

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'”

Happiness is Fleeting…


As I looked to God for some peace during these crazy days, he sent me back in time to a journal entry I made quite awhile ago and, while my part of the conversation is too personal to share at this juncture and the situation far different, this excerpt from His part is applicable and timely for me today. Perhaps it will be for you as well. Amen and Ehmen.

nature shot at stone mountain“Breath in, inhale my Word, My child. You are far from alone and your story does not depend upon another human. I am so proud of you for being so intent on fulfilling my will and purpose for you. Please stay the course as I promise you that it will be well worth it. You, my child, are on the fast-track to joy and joy trumps happiness any day of eternity. Many people that you know, including yourself, still get caught up in seeking happiness, but happiness is fleeting. One rain fall can wash it away. One gust of wind can grab it from your grasp. Joy, on the other hand, like me, will never leave you. You may not recognize it, but it is there for the taking. Believe in me and I will give you peace and joy. Talk to me and ask me and I will give you the ability to see. I love you and, in the end, that really is all that matters. Stick with me. The best days are still ahead!

 

Leaving a Blessing


As the temperatures cool and the world sports the colors of the Thanksgiving season, it’s always nice to take pause and thank God for our many blessings. And there is so very much to be thankful for. Leaves, for example. Starting as a tiny bud, new leaves spring forth around Easter time each year, literally breathing life into the world, not only preserving our very existence, but also providing us shade along the way. Indeed, every single leaf has an important, life-giving, life-preserving job. Perhaps that is why God gives them such a beautiful and colorful exit every fall. This year, as the leaves around you burst into an array of breath-taking colors, take a moment to thank God for them. And as they take their final bows, falling from the trees carried by the gentle winds of November, send up a bountiful round of applause straight from earth’s stage to Heaven’s ears.