Come what may…he loves us, y’all!


 

April 15, 2018

Dear God, dear god
On the surface, it is a dreary, sleepy morning. I awoke to rolling thunder in the distance and now a
rather harsh rain is falling. Of course, with the skylights in my living room, the rain always sounds pretty intense, I imagine much like it does on a tin roof. I have always heard that many people find rain on a tin roof comforting. I’m not sure about that. The sound can sometimes be deafening. It definitely takes some getting used to. Still, even with all the noise, here I sit, safe, sound and dry, tucked away comfortably in my bed, writing you. Now, that is comforting! Insert peaceful sigh, here. I can feel you all around me, Lord. Welcome to my humble abode. Come on in and stay awhile. I love you.

*****

Dear Child of Mine,

I love you, too. I love being in your presence as much as you love being in Mine.

It is a beautiful morning. Listen to the birds just outside your window. Can you hear them singing My praises? They are thanking Me for the rain as they know rain is a necessity of life; a gift from Me to all of creation. When the sun is shining, they thank Me for that, too, as it is also a gift.

You see, child, the birds get it. They understand that I will take care of them, no matter what. They live each moment, come what may. They trust Me to provide and protect. That is how I want you to live as well.

Come what may is a very difficult concept for you. It unsettles you like the roaring noise the rain makes on your skylights or a tin roof. What I want you to understand, my dear one, is that I am like the roof. I am the one that takes the beating so that you can remain safe and dry. I cover and protect you.

As for the sound, I hope you, too, will find comfort in it from now on. Let it be an audible sign to you that I am your protector and provider; that I will never leave nor forsake you. Listen, do you hear it? That, my child, is the sound of true love and devotion. Close your eyes and drink it all in. Live in the moment. Trust. I’ve got you covered. Today and every day, come what may.

*****

Writer’s Note: Though it has been awhile since I have immersed myself in His Presence, conversing via the blank page, I have–this very week–once again discovered that He is always waiting and willing. He loves us, y’all! He really, really does!

Amen and Ehmen!

2017: A “But God” Kind of Year


As I sit and stare at the last page of my 2017 calendar, I can’t help but notice how free the day looks. The burden and weight of all the other days are gone, crumpled in the trashcan below; days lived, some happy, some sad and some—more than I like to admit—chalked up to just another day.

But, I realized as I studied this scene, that what looks like trash is actually a beautiful work of art,

Look up and breath

My New Year’s Resolution for 2018!

each torn calendar page representing yet another day that God loved, cared for, provided for and sustained me.

No doubt, 2017 has been a year of transition and trying times. A year of ripped off Band-Aids, shrinking comfort zones and vanishing safety nets. A year filled with frontline assaults on my income, my health and the health of many of my loved ones and friends.  A year that could have easily derailed me and thrusted me into a downward spiral of depression and hopelessness…BUT GOD.

The Bible often introduces similar scenes that are recorded on its pages with these two simple, but powerful words, “But God.”

Beautiful words on which our Lord and Savior rides like a knight in shining armor. Words that have changed the trajectory of the lives of men and women throughout history and have breathed new life throughout time. Words that have rescued, sustained, protected and revived entire nations and individuals, myself included, more times that can be counted.

Yes, 2017 has definitely been a “But God” year for me.

Today, I find it refreshing to recap those “But God” moments as a reminder of how very much God loves me and is always in my corner; a timeline of sorts that proves His unyielding affection and unwavering presence in my life. A timeline that breathes a revival of refreshed purpose, hope and life.

I started 2017 entrenched in a job that was literally sucking the life out of me. Eighty-plus-hour weeks filled with more 20-hour days than I care to recall. Youthful supervisors who made no attempt to hide their agenda to run off anyone who had been in place prior to them. Pay-cuts, complete and utter disrespect, constant patronization, and a schedule of brutal and non-sustainable hours which wreaked havoc on the physical and emotional health of those targeted.

BUT GOD…He pulled me from the wreckage and gave me a new beginning.

In May, when the earth was springing into its annual rebirth, the job that I had held onto for far longer than I should, suddenly came to an end. The writing was on the wall and my self-constructed safety net was in the trash. And, yet, I had peace. Fear and worry danced all around me, but never really took ahold of me. I felt His Presence and knew in my heart that what looked like an ending was actually a beginning, a gift from the Almighty Father in Heaven. I couldn’t have survived what that job had become.

BUT GOD…He sustained me and provided for me.

 I spent the next six months without an income to speak of, but never once did I go without. Once again, fear and worry danced all around me, but never, ever got a grip on me. He sustained me. Successful appeals, found money and odd jobs and projects seemed to fall in my lap as I met each month’s bills on time. And while the job market for a woman in her mid-50s is far from burgeoning, God paved the way for a new beginning; a jumpstart on a self-employed career which promises more time, more energy and, eventually, more money to fulfill the purposes He has set before me. I know this deep down at the very core of my being.

Of course, now unable to threaten me with my job, the enemy had to find another area of weakness and soon began to launch attack after attack on my health. For the past six months, it has been one thing after another and my immune system has struggled to keep up. Fear, worry and hopelessness have danced all around me and, I must admit, have occasionally drawn me in. With my body broken, my spirit often tried to follow.

BUT GOD…refused to give up on me, offering me the time and means for healing as He continues to build me up for a purpose-fulfilling future.

For years now, He has been leading me toward changes that I fully believe will re-set and revive my body, healing present ailments and staving off future ones. Before, I didn’t have the time or the willpower to comply, but I have slowly come to realize that, once again, what the enemy means for harm, God uses for good. It is clear that I have to make changes if I want to live the life He has for me and He is now giving me the time and I am slowly gaining the willpower to do so. Yes, hope is on the horizon and 2018 promises to be a breakout and breakthrough year.

Thank you, God, for sustaining me and transforming a tumultuous year into one of hope, promise and confidence for the future. Thank You for replacing my innate tendency to worry and fret with an awareness of Your presence and the confident assurance that You are always and in all ways looking out for me.

Thank You for showing me once again that a life fueled by faith is a life filled with blessings and hope. Though I don’t know exactly what 2018 holds, I can step into it with the confidence that You are already there with arms of protection, hands of provision and a heart full of love.

Happy New Year everyone! Remember that God not only loves you, but He is FOR you. With Him on our side, 2018 has no choice but to be epic. Amen and Ehmen!

Happy_New_Year_2018_Greeting

A shadow without a soul, BUT GOD…


Her foundation was cracked, damaged almost irrevocably; my friend’s young life cradled not by warmth and safety as it should have been, but instead rocked by the abusive hands and harsh words of an angry and drunken father; a man that not only cursed God, but who sat himself upon a self-made throne and ruled with an iron fist.

His family lived scared of him and later scarred by him. For, even after his reign ended in death, the roots he had planted continued to haunt and hurt; to break through and crack almost every inch of the foundation upon which they had landed. Over the years, she lost both her brothers to tragic circumstances and she also seemed destined to continue traveling a dark and cursed road, her choices and current lot in life often colored by her distressed upbringing. She says she often felt like a mere shadow without a soul.

But, God…

My favorite word combination in the Bible, two words used together 43 glorious times in Scripture and a phrase that is definitely cause for jubilant celebration. God’s unbending, unchanging response to satan’s relentless challenges. The bottom line. The last word.

Two words that speak life instead of death. Yes instead of no. Can instead of can’t. Will instead of won’t. Do instead of don’t.

Two words that create freedom instead of imprisonment. Victory instead of defeat.

“But, God” is a game changer. A Holy and glorious intervention.

Below is a poem that my friend, Denny, wrote after God lovingly intervened in her life in the late 1990s during a trip to a Women of Faith Conference in Seattle, Washington. She doesn’t know I am reprinting it and I am praying for her forgiveness in advance. It’s just too good not to be shared; the beginning of her new story—one that has still been filled with chapters set deep in the valley of the shadow of death, but with one HUGE difference.  This time she is accompanied by the Father that loves, guides and protects her just as a father should and who punctuates every stormy, tumultuous chapter with the same happy ending. Two words: But God….

Thank you God for saving my friend and for saving me…for introducing us almost a decade ago over an internet scrabble board…and for etching and intertwining a divine purpose in both of our hearts. May we continue to follow You into this purpose and create works that will grow Your Kingdom and forever glorify You and Your Name.

I also pray that each of you reading this now will recognize  your own “But God” moments. If you are in a valley, I promise you that He WILL see you through. Don’t give up. Look up!

You are prayed for…today and always.

Amen and Ehmen.

 

praise God girl and cross in sky

Photo from crosswalk.com

 

Twelve Disciples Plus One

By Denny H.

Twelve disciples plus one boarded a van one day,

Embarking upon a pilgrimage, we were traveling far way.

Headed for Seattle, to praise and learn and pray,

We didn’t know each other well, but they had much to say.


Sharing testimony, their convictions wound in tight,

It bound them all as sisters as we drove on through the night.

They joined in prayer; they shed some tears; they sang with great delight,

They came to know each other well; they whet my appetite!


Women of Faith is what they were, as we joined, the ebb and flow

Of throngs of comrades joined as one to hear the Word and grow

But I was anxious, I had no right, to think that God would care

What am I doing with all these women, “God, why am I in this chair?”


 I’m not like all these Christians who know the love in bloom,

As brides in their relationship to a God who is their groom;

I’m not a daughter of our Lord, I could never call Him Dad

The God I know is an angry God, a God who is always mad.


The God I knew when I was young, my father proclaimed to be

An irate, furious and abusive drunk, the Lord of our family.

Mercy, compassion, love and hugs were not what we were shown,

But vicious, mean and callous words were all we’d ever known…

Both my brothers and myself were rock, not precious stone.


I recalled our childhood lost to scorn and also so much shame,

How we as children yearned for God, but were deluded by his name.

I mused on the brother that still lived and to the one—discouraged—died

If they in spirit had known a Dad, they’d embrace the love denied.


I thought of me, the years misplaced, a shadow without a soul,

Reaching for wrongs to right my life, to govern and control.

How tired I was of drifting along to a future without a goal,

I felt, if I was to truly live, somehow I must be whole.


So here I am, I’m in this seat, and wearily I began to pray,

While I listened to the gentle speakers, and to all they had to say,

As they shared their lives—their griefs and sorrows—yet held firmly to their trust

That God is there through thick and thin; that God is not unjust.


Then something happened while I prayed; I softly, slowly died,

I doubled over in that chair and I cried, I cried and cried.

I cried for me, and for my brothers; I cried for all the years

That we had lived not knowing God; I cried such healing tears.


I prayed for me that blessed day; how I prayed to be God’s child;

I prayed for Him to be my Dad and through GRACE, I finally smiled.

For in my mind, I saw a girl, brand new and she was me,

Finally now I could embrace my promised pedigree.


I joined my sisters in that van, the twelve of us plus one,

Now thirteen disciples heading home, my new life just begun.

How I sang and shared and prayed as I extolled my Dad above

That I am of His family conceived from His own love.


A soothing balm restored my heart, a spirit set me free.

And I am here to testify, I’m His daughter, yup that’s me!

I searched, I asked, and I received; received His guarantee

That I shall live, because He lived and because He died for me.

Step-by-Step


As I stepped outside, the sun just peeking up from beneath the covers of the horizon, I couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief as a cool morning breeze greeted my skin.Beautiful flowers and driveway in neighborhood 7.2017

It has been really hot lately. And humid. So humid, in fact, that it feels like Mother Nature wraps me in a warm, wet blanket every time I step outdoors.

But not this morning and, as the cool air energized my spirit, I couldn’t help but send audible thank you’s heavenwards.

Man, it felt good to feel good. It felt even better to sense Jesus’ presence by my side. I’ll be the first to admit that I am not always in step with my Maker, but today was different. The heat and heaviness of life did not exist in this moment and off I went feeling light on my feet and loved in my heart.

I’m pretty sure I had a bounce in my step and I definitely had a smile on my face as I stepped from my driveway onto the asphalt in front of my house. I turned to the right as I have so many mornings, but instead of tucking earbuds into my ears, I decided to listen for God’s voice. Prayer, after all, isn’t always talking and presenting requests to God; it is a two-way conversation which requires us to sometimes close our mouths and open our ears.

He didn’t disappoint. As we strolled along, He began to whisper words of comfort and direction deep into my spirit. He told me that this time and situation were not a punishment, but rather a gift. That this was my time. Our time. A time for reconnection and reinvention. A time of complete trust and dependence on Him. Himdependence, if you will. The time and place our lives intersect; the very place in which His will meets my purpose.

His words washed over me like a comfortable garment. Oh, how long I have waited for this moment. The moment that I could truly take hold of this purpose and dream that He has placed within my heart. How I have longed to harvest what He has so carefully planted.

I breathed another sigh of relief as the mantle that had once felt too heavy to bear, now slid over me like a breeze and rested gently upon my skin. I was surprised at how soft and comfortable it felt. He spoke again. “This, my child, is what I mean by ‘my yoke is easy.’

At this word, I felt the urge to stop and, as I stood in the middle of the road, I noticed that I felt surprisingly relaxed, unlike two weeks earlier when I had felt too uncomfortable and restless to stand still, afraid that someone might see me and wonder what on earth I was doing. I had always felt that I needed to be moving or else I must be wasting time.

But not this day and, as I stood still, He led my eyes to a beautiful flower standing proudly in the distance amid trees and weeds. It was obviously not planted by human hands, but it was unbelievably breathtaking under the spotlight of the morning sun. How could I have not seen this before? How could I have missed this beautiful thing? And, as I stood there and questioned myself, He stood right beside me ready to answer. “See, my child,” I heard His Spirit whisper. “This is what I mean when I say ‘be still and know that I am God.’”

“You, my child, are to be like that flower amongst the weeds,” He continued. “You are to be a hope among the desolate. A flower for which I can bring the winds and scatter your seeds, giving birth to new growth and new hope in places you have yet to see and some you may never see with your own eyes.”

As His words trailed off, we resumed walking. He nudged me down a path I’ve never taken before; hard to believe since I’ve now lived in this neighborhood for a decade this very week. What a creature of habit I can be!

He whispered that sometimes we must get off the beaten path to discover new things about ourselves and about Him. Routine, He declared, can bring death to creativity and creativity is one of the most effective ways to express love and to reflect who He is. “Look around,” I heard Him say. “I am doing a new thing.”

Although the last time I had taken a new route, I had run into a not-so-nice canine, today, I felt a peace in my spirit as I walked along; probably because I was accompanied by the King of Kings. The trees were beautiful and the aroma of honeysuckle chased after me, encircling my senses and making my heart sing. I couldn’t help but smile as I caught myself humming. I was practically skipping along. It didn’t matter that I really didn’t know exactly where this path would lead or what I might find along the way. I was just enjoying being with The Father.

I felt like a young girl in love. I marveled at how blue the sky looked; how green the trees and grass; how beautiful the birds and animals; a little bit of heaven just a few steps off the same road I had traveled so many times. But, almost as soon as I had gotten lost in the newness and beauty of the excursion, I realized the new road had come to an end and I was now standing in a cul-de-sac. I wasn’t ready for it to be over. Had The Father not just said that we sometimes need to get out of our routine?

Sensing my disappointment, He answered quickly. “Just remember, child, even what feels like an ending will always be a setup for something greater when you are walking with Me. I use every step of every journey to teach you and mold you; to open your eyes a little more.”

I drank in His words, knowing in my heart that He was not just talking about this morning’s walk, but instead about the current concerns regarding my life and career. God has been so good to me through my latest situation and, today—almost two months after the unexpected and abrupt end of a 22 year career—I am actually quite enjoying learning to trust Him completely. I am finally making choices based on what I feel is God’s desire for me as opposed to my natural tendency to search for the secure and the safe.

Back on the main road now, I turned to head home. The morning was gaining momentum and the heat was rising just as fast as the sun. I picked up my pace, ready to get home before it got any hotter. Thank goodness this homestretch was shaded by the many majestic oaks for which the street was named.

Again, however, I felt another nudge to stop in the roadway. And while I felt a little more than distracted as sweat began to roll off my forehead, my eyes were drawn to a tree just a few feet away from me. What? Are you kidding me?

I stood in awe as right there in front of me–growing on a random tree on the fringe of the woods–was a grape vine loaded with young grapes. How had I not seen this before? The flower earlier on our walk was pretty far into the woods. Had the sun not shined its spotlight on it, I may have Grapes along side of road 7.2017missed it. But this vine, filled with clusters of grapes, was growing wild right along the path I have been walking for months. What’s more, I know grape vines. I have one just like it in my yard. In fact, He has used it to teach me throughout the decade I have lived here; so much so that I have often wondered if the grapevine is the reason God made this my home in the first place.

“You haven’t seen it before, because you weren’t looking.” God’s spirit said to mine. “To you, it was just another vine. It wasn’t until you really opened your eyes and the fruit started to emerge that you took notice. You, my child, are like this vine. You grow and prepare, I prune and tend, but, it isn’t until the fruit begins to materialize that people really begin to take notice. This is your time, child. Get to work and watch me multiply the fruits of your labor.”

Ahhhhhh. Happy sigh. Thank You, Jesus, for this walk; for this day; and, most of all, for this opportunity to be a part of Your plan and purpose. You gave Denny and I a very important assignment several years ago and I know that I know it is time to make it happen. Not ten years from now when I retire; not next year when things slow down. But now. I am honored, humbled and grateful. Help us, Lord, to stay in step with you as we continue to journey into your will and purpose.

We are ready, willing and—with your grace and help—I know that we are also well able. Amen and Ehmen.

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:30

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Isaiah 43:19

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

“Be strong…Be strong…and get to work, for I am with you, says the Lord of Heavens Armies, My Spirit remains among you, just as I promise…So do not be afraid.” Haggai 2:4-5

A morning of prayer and praise


Father,

Come close and touch my soul. Quieten my spirit so that my internal being may bask in the same peace and silence that envelopes this beautiful spring morning, a blank canvas inviting us to become one with new beginnings, abounding love, and eternal promises—with You.  

Lord, synchronize my heartbeat with Yours so that I may dance through this day to the tune of Your glorious and holy rhythm and purpose.

Capture and reshape all my thoughts and desires so that they line up with Your pre-destined desire for me. Heighten my awareness of Your presence and make me more sensitive to Your leading so that I may not miss a single opportunity to serve You, to please You, to praise and love You.

Help me to hear Your voice in everything I see and hear as all of creation sings of Your majesty and glory, and help me, Father, to fine tune my own voice as I join in that chorus.

And, lastly, my dear Lord, help me to turn loose of those worldly things which I hold too tightly. Though I recognize that it is impossible to grasp hold of Your hand when mine are full of things I was never intended to carry, I still find it hard to let them go.

Abba Father, I need You more than I need air and love You with all my heart and soul, with everything I am today and everything I know I can be as I submit myself to Your will and purposes. Help me, Lord. I am yours.

Amen and Ehmen.

 Isaiah 41.13

Amen and Ehmen!


It’s in the silence of these four walls, the quietness of my hurting, still soul, that I finally hear Your Voice. It’s rhythmic and in tune with the beating of my heart and it’s the most beautiful thing I have ever heard. You speak to me, sing to me, patiently. You offer joy in a place I have allowed bitterness and hurt to take root. You smile though I have done nothing to deserve it. You love though I have been selfish. You stand by me though I have repeatedly abandoned you. You are God and You deserve my praises. I am forever thankful for your patience and forgiveness and especially that those things transcend all time. Forever and Ever. Amen and Ehmen!

2015: Some days are breathtaking. Some Just Take Your Breath.


December 29, 2015 11 a.m.

 

Dear God,

It’s a new day and it’s about to be a new year. 2015 has certainly been a dear godroller coaster of a year. The ups have been slow coming, but worth the climb with breathtaking views from the top, while the downs have just been breath-taking. Literally. Off the top-rung of the ladder, flat of your back, all the wind in your lungs violently forced into the atmosphere breath-taking.

However, today, as I sit quietly and reflect on all that has happened in the last 363 days, I don’t want to complain; I don’t want to lament or languish. Instead, I want to offer up praises of thanksgiving to You, our Father in Heaven. Thank you for the breathtaking highlights, most especially the union of my baby girl—one of the godliest women I know—to a man who also loves You unequivocally and unapologetically. What a beautiful, God-inspired life lies ahead for them and the new family their marriage has created.

As for 2016, I don’t know what it holds. I do know there is some baggage that I have no choice, but to lug into the new year, but I also know with everything that I am that You will be with me through every single moment, celebrating the highlights with me and molding me throughout the low points, using what may appear to the naked eye as bad to make something for my own good and Your own glory. You promise that to all of us who love You and I do love You!

Today, Lord, I just want to praise You for all that You are. I want to thank you for being an unyielding Father who I know that I can trust. Please help me to always remain aware of Your Presence…in the good and the bad. I pray continued blessings over my baby girl and new son-in-law and I ask that you give healing to those of my friends and loved ones that need it, myself included. You know the needs. Help us to not fear the tests nor any diagnoses that might be forthcoming, but instead to keep our eyes and ears tuned to You as You have—and have always had –every single detail under Your control.

Thank you, Lord. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Help me to continue to walk into my purpose and Your will and please continue to shine down upon me with favor as I now lay down the burdens and hurts of 2015. With You by my side, 2016 will have no choice but to be epic.

I love you, Lord. Amen and Ehmen.

Summer Storms…


Writer’s Note: I have always hated stormy weather. I always found it frightening, and still do to some degree. However, about a year ago, as I sat outside on my patio and watched as a summer storm took over the skies over my home, God gave me these words and this “vision.” Makes me smile. 🙂

The darkness rises up from the horizon as if all the demons in hell are readying for battle.  Rapidly they advance into thestormy skies heavenly realms and the world beneath grows dim.  The clouds loom darker as the sounds of battle begin. Thank God, the enemy has obviously met resistance.  Thunder rolls as angels hurl lightning bolts at the aggressors and the sky lights up with instantaneous flashes of hope. The good guys are winning. They always do. And just as He has always promised, from the darkest of circumstances, the living waters of Heaven rain down on the earth. Thank you, God, for this day; for this storm; and for the beautiful things that will grow because of it. Amen and Ehmen. Have a beautiful day, y’all and embrace both the sunshine and the storms. Much love, Brenda.