All Is ‘Whale’ With My Soul


As I lay in bed trying my best NOT to wake up early this morning it was as if God started tugging at the covers. The tighter I pulled them around my shoulders, creating a cozy little comfort zone, the harder he tugged. He often does this when I have been absent from our special morning time together for longer than I should or if I’m dragging my feet on something He has asked me to do. God’s not big on earthly comfort zones and, though I usually fuss about it at the time, I really am thankful that he doesn’t let me kick back too long.

This morning it was about digging deeper into some things I just keep putting off. Truth be told, I often put things off, sometimes for a very long time, years in fact.  Fear of failure and rejection, says I. Disobedience and distrust, says He.

As I lay there silently arguing with him and preoccupying myself with a game on my phone, His still, small voice grew louder to the point that I could no longer ignore Him and, just as I gave in and put my phone away, I heard him whisper the name Jonah.

Jonah? Like the guy that got swallowed by the whale? That Jonah?

Jonah, I heard again, as I reached over to pick up my Bible. Flipping through the Old Testament, I finally landed on the book of Jonah and began to read. And the more I read, the more I began to understand. Never in my life had I seen myself in this particularly story, but here in this moment, on the pages of my own bible, Jonah, it seemed, was synonymous with B-R-E-N-D-A.

Like Jonah, I have been running from certain aspects of God’s calling on my life and, as I read his reflections as he was entombed inside the belly of that great fish, I felt compelled to read the words aloud.

Jonah, Chapter 2

1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. 2 He said: “In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry. 3 You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. 4 I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ 5 The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. 6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you, LORD my God, brought my life up from the pit. 7 “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. 8 “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. 9 But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the LORD.’ ” 10 And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

Honestly, I think I have been in the belly of a whale for a while now. And thank God. Thank God that he hasn’t given up on me; that he still finds me worthy of my purpose.

One way or another, He will get me there. Who am I to complain about the mode of transportation?

I’m coming, Nineveh. I’m coming.

Amen and Ehmen.

Tip me over and pour me out


January 6, 2019

Dear God,

Out of obedience and Your own beckoning, I am here. I really didn’t want to put this on paper as I feel that I am beginning to sound like a broken record. Actually, more often than not, I KNOW I sound like a broken record in my prayers and pleas. I’m just glad that You can see past it, into my heart, and know my deep love for You. Though my trust obviously wavers, my love does not. I’m a work in progress and, as Your word declares, always will be until the day that I meet You in Heaven. Help me to be more moldable, teachable and trusting, dear Lord. Help me to trade in my fear and fret for unwavering trust and contented dependence.

Each time I come to a crossroads, such as when a project falls through, You always come to my rescue. It may not be in my preferred time, but it is always in Your perfect time. I KNOW this from experience. You have a stellar track record and yet, if I’m totally honest, this living on the edge, not knowing from where my next paycheck will come, wrecks me every time.

Lord, today, I just need to hear from You. I need to KNOW and to hear once again that I am on the path that you desire for me. And, if so, help me to squash my disbelief and rest in the knowledge that You will take care of me just as You have promised and proven time and time again. Help me to hang on to You and not bail or let the enemy steal this time with which You have blessed me; this time to move my purpose forward.

I NEED You, my Father. Every moment of every day. I am nothing and I am useless without You. Come close and allow me to hear Your heart. Amen and Ehmen.

Dear Child,

My desire is not that you are perfect as we both know is impossible by virtue of your humanness.

Instead I cherish the moments that you are real and honest with Me; for it is when you pour out your burdens and fears to Me that I am able to refill you with more truth and love; more fuel to keep on the path I have set before you.

While I wish you would fully trust Me, I also understand when you waver. The most important thing is that you keep coming to Me and laying your burdens at My feet; for when your burdens are at My feet, the enemy cannot use them against you. He knows that I will crush him with a single strike of My heel should he try to snatch them.

You can come to me anytime. I will not grow weary, My child.  I know that you have fears; fear is a common human condition and has been since the days of Adam and Eve. Why do you think “Fear Not and Do Not Be Afraid” appear so many times throughout My Word? You are not the first to need reassurance and you will not be the last. I’m okay with that, as long as you continue to come to Me.

I love you, child. Unconditionally and Completely. Eternally. Even when you don’t understand My ways, trust in My love for you and know that you can always approach Me anytime you desire. Everything else will fall into place. Thank you for spending time with Me this morning. Now, just breathe and watch me refill you with My goodness and faithfulness.

A Dream Awakened. A Purpose Revived.


While I am pretty good at daydreaming, I’m not much of a dreamer when my eyes are closed. And, if I do dream, I typically don’t remember.  About four years ago, however, I had a dream that I shall never forget; a life-changing dream that I soon knew was an answered prayer straight from Heaven; the unmistakable confirmation of a prophecy spoken over my life a few weeks prior.

And, although what unfolded in that dream has never been far from mind, I definitely haven’t allowed it to light a fire under me as I know was intended. Instead, I placed it on the back-burner as I so often do when something overwhelms me. Thank goodness, I have a relentless, never-give-up-on-me Lord and Savior who began the process of coaching me out of hibernation this past summer and moving that dream back to the forefront of my daily consciousness.

Dream Revived Note PhotoAs I began thinking about the dream more, I began praying for another dream to boost my spiritual confidence, or, better yet, a replay of THAT dream. I also became obsessed with RVs as that had been the dream’s setting. I even found and entered a contest to win one as I figured this would be a quite fitting–and inspiring—place to finally finish the book the Lord had begun unfolding almost a decade ago.  And, because God is always faithful, I just knew I was going to win.

Spoiler alert. I did NOT win the contest in October. However, God did show up in a most impressive way and on the very day of the contest drawing, nonetheless. I know because I kept notes in my phone.



Dream Relived Tour Coach Cab in Color 2018From My Dear God Journals. October 31, 2018. My first-ever job on the road.

As I stood alone on the Mann Family’s tour bus, I knew in my spirit that there was more to the moment than just being obedient to God, stepping out in faith and doing something new. I knew there was something else God wanted to reveal to me on this trip and this empty tour bus—parked with shades drawn—appeared a clue.

My eyes were drawn to an iridescent light in the bus’s ceiling which illuminated the driver’s cabin in a kaleidoscope of glimmering light and color. As if a spotlight cast from Heaven itself, I felt compelled to take a seat and closed my eyes in hopes of hearing from the Lord.

Within moments, my mind began spinning in reverse, like a tape rewinding in the now antiquated and dust-laden VCR I refuse to remove from my entertainment center. Backwards I went, images of places I had been and moments I had lived, all zipping by in sync with a garbled soundtrack which sounded a lot like Alvin the Chipmunk singing in foreign tongue.

Backwards I went, past all the job difficulties that have plagued the last few years—the multiple management changes and difficulties that those brought, the age discrimination, the toxic work environment and the painfully obvious ploys used to seal my fate as the last of the “old crew” to finally be swept out.

Past the death of my brother and the frightening illness of my mother and my other brother; past my own health scares and an extended illness that literally took my breath away; past what I now know was bouts of depression and crippling fear which I allowed to sideline my passionate pursuit of the very purpose God has laid before me. I even whizzed past the good days, the grace and blessings that God continued to bestow upon me despite my hit-and-miss acknowledgement.

Backwards I went at dizzying speeds, coming to a stop at a place of great familiarity. I inhaled deeply as a wave of déjà vu and intense curiosity beckoned me to reopen my eyes. I was still sitting in the driver’s seat, but I was definitely not on the Mann’s tour bus anymore. In fact, I wasn’t even in 2018.

Instead I had awakened in the midst of the very dream that God had gifted me some four years prior; a dream for which I had prayed for fervently; a pivotal dream in my journey of purpose; a dream of great enlightenment that had both thrilled and overwhelmed me, and, because of my own fear, eventually derailed me.

This was obviously more than a run-of-the-mill déjà vu moment; it was a moment undoubtedly meant to put me back on track; a moment that shouted Isaiah 14:27: “The LORD of Heaven’s Armies has spoken—who can change his plans? When His hand is raised, who can stop Him?”

This answer is nothing and no one; not even a stubborn, hardheaded, “bless her heart” southern girl.

Thank You, Jesus, for bringing me back to the last docking station along this purposeful journey; thank You for allowing me to relive the dream in which Your will and purpose for my life became evident and intersected and intertwined with my own.

Thank You for replaying the dream that awoke my reality.

May I honor and be obedient to it and You, putting pen to paper and sharing it with the world just as You have asked.


Today’s take-away: We are to live in expectation when it comes to prayers, but never forget that just because He may not have answered the way we expected, does not mean He didn’t answer. Stay alert and enjoy the ride! I promise you’ll never be bored. As for me, my first New Year’s resolution for 2019 is to permanently capture my dream using pen strokes and paper. Almost as unbelievable as it is true, it—and the prophecy that preceded it—changed my life and will, if I stay true to my calling, eventually lead to a completed book that will change the lives of countless others as well. Pray for my obedience and stay tuned.

–Amen and Ehmen.

Ask and It Shall Be Given Scripture Photo

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.

 

 

 

Every life matters, every purpose precious.


purpose image from internetDid you know that you are just as important to God as anyone that lives or has ever lived? He loves you just the same as He loves the preacher, the president, the Pope or even one of His 12 disciples.

Doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. He loves you the same. No more, no less.

And did you know that the purpose and plan that He has for your life is just as important to Him as the purpose and plan He had for Noah, for Moses, for David and anyone else that has ever lived?

The purposes and plans He has for you are just as important to Him as the purposes and plans He has for the famous evangelist, the respected world leader, a well-loved purpose image quote from fred buechnerChristian musician.

Not one of us should waste another minute selling ourselves short or underestimating our value to Him and His Kingdom, for we never know when our minutes on earth are up.

Every life matters. Every purpose matters. Always has. Always will.

Take your place in His story and know to the depths of your soul that His story is the ultimate happily-ever-after story. And, best of all, it’s already written.

And the Word of God says…

“But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth” (Exodus 9:16).

“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). 

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).

“The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out” (Proverbs 20:5).

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13).

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace” (2 Timothy 1:9).

Chasing Peace


 

nature shot at stone mountain

All this time spent chasing peace. The wrong places. The wrong faces. A team of could have beens and should have beens that, in truth, would never be.

A world—both external and internal—rocked by evil and wrong, unfathomable madness and mayhem. So much needless strife and stress. Disappointment and failure. Physical and emotional strains and pains. Needless, but not pointless.

The fact is that it is in the useless that God finds value; in the meaningless that meaning and purpose is birthed. It is in the turmoil of life that we unearth peace; it is in uncertainty that we find faith and what was once exceedingly evasive is finally discovered lying dormant within.

Thank you, Jesus, for not only planting peace inside of our hearts, but for always, always standing guard so that no one and no thing can ever take it away—not even the loss of a job or a loved one that we thought would last forever. My friend Denny and I know this first hand. We have lived it before and are living it now. And it is good.

My prayer today is that you, too, wake the peace that slumbers within, giving all of yourself—your troubles and your victories—to the Prince of Peace, your Father and Mine, the Lord God Almighty.

He loves you and so do we! Amen and Ehmen.

More about Peace from Gotquestions.org:

The Bible has a lot to say about peace. Jesus is called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Paul refers to “the God of all peace” (Romans 15:13, 33; Galatians 6:16). The term peace is often used as a greeting and a benediction (see Luke 24:36). So what exactly is peace, and how can we have “inner peace”?

A word often translated “peace” in the Bible actually means “to tie together as a whole, when all essential parts are joined together.” Inner peace, then, is a wholeness of mind and spirit, a whole heart at rest. Inner peace has little to do with external surroundings. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” He had also told His followers that “in this world you will have many troubles. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). So peace is not the absence of trouble; it is the presence of God.

Peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). When the “God of all peace” comes to live inside a believing heart (1 Corinthians 6:19), He begins to produce His own characteristics in that life. Inner peace comes from knowing that circumstances are temporary and that God is sovereign over all (Isaiah 46:9–11). Peace comes from exercising faith in the character of God and His Word. We can have peace in the midst of challenges when we remember that “all things work together for the good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). We can choose peace rather than give way to fear and worry. Inner peace resulting from a relationship with God allows us to keep things in proper perspective. We can accept difficult situations on earth by remembering that our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).

We are commanded to “live in peace” with others, as far as it is up to us (Romans 12:18; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Hebrews 12:14). To live at peace means we interact with those around us in accordance with our own wholeness of mind. Our reactions to circumstances can bring peace to an otherwise chaotic situation. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9). And James 3:18 says, “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” God’s desire is that we who know Him learn to live in peace within ourselves first. Then we can radiate that peace to others, bringing calmness and wisdom to tense situations, and in so doing be lights in the world (Matthew 5:14; Philippians 2:14–15).

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

Red Rover, Red Rover…


God, I hear You calling and I’m trying desperately to catch up with You; to walk beside You, to synchronize my steps with Yours. But, I’m continually running into obstacles.

As if on cue from satan himself, out of the shadows step the demons of doubt, fear and deprecation. red rover red rover croppedThey stand in front of me and block my path, arms locked together as if to engage me in a game of Red Rover.

“Red rover, red rover, send Brenda right over,” they chide, demonic laughter filling the air and assaulting my confidence and my faith. I can’t help but shiver as their Goliath-sized shadows hijack the sun’s warmth as well as its light. It becomes a battle just to see.

And, yet, their purpose is dreadfully clear. They have come to intimidate, threaten, frighten, scare, bully, coerce, terrorize, daunt and taunt me; to keep me frozen in place and far away from the purpose that You prepared for me before the first word of Creation was ever uttered.

“Red rover, red rover, send Brenda right over.”

My mind starts to reel; to unravel like a runaway spool of thread. I can either run away and live the rest of my life knowing that I gave up on You or I can face this thing head on.  I breathe deep and step back a few steps so that I can gain more momentum. There is no way I’m giving up, I mutter to myself. I will simply close my eyes and run with all my might, straight through their arms and into Yours.  

But, oh sweet Lord, the growls of my opponents are becoming louder and more obnoxious. And, as much as I want to walk with You–to fulfill my purpose–I can’t help but notice how grotesquely strong they look. How on earth will ever be break their hold, I ask myself, and, with no immediate answer, I shrink back in defeat without ever taking a step.

Defeated. Beaten. Overwhelmed and overcome.  I look down at my feet frozen in place as the enemies’ taunts crescendo in victory.  They win. Again.

The only thing I have left now is to pray. But I don’t even know where to start. I am so ashamed that I once again let the enemy defeat me, to hold me back. With the words “I’m sorry, Lord” rising up through my spirit, I begin to hear a still small voice. It is a warm, familiar and very quiet voice, but still somehow louder than the enemy’s raucous heckling. I immediately recognize that it is You.

“Get up, child,” You whisper sweetly. “Get up, but don’t try to run with all your might; this time, child, run with Mine.”

Your words, gentle and powerful at the same time, send a surge of encouragement and pronounced strength coursing through my spirit, mind and body. I rise up into a crouch position just like that of an Olympic sprinter and, with the sound of cheering angels ringing in my ears, I open my eyes. I see the band of demons still outstretched before me and I see their mouths moving. It sure looks like they are still talking trash, but the words filling the air about me are beautiful, peaceful, encouraging.

“It’s over, It’s over, Brenda come on over.”

I can no longer contain myself and, even though I still see the demons, I take off running toward the beautiful sound. And, as I run faster and harder than I dreamed possible, the heavenly cheers grow louder and louder and the demons grow smaller and smaller until I finally burst though their evil stronghold with the fortitude and power of a wrecking ball.

I hold up my arms in victory and as the dust settles around me, I see You standing there in all your Glory.Victory Photo 1-John-4-4-You-Are-Of-God-beige-copy You smile a knowing smile. You’ve been here all the while; waiting on me; cheering me on.

Lord, thank You, for never giving up on me, even when I give up on You; for having faith in me, when my own faith waivers. Thank You for sending Your spirit to intervene when the enemy lines look too strong to break through and for helping me to stand firm when I feel weak. Thank you, Lord, for Your willingness to keep reminding me that, with Your help, I DO have the strength and power to run full steam ahead into Your will and purpose, for it is there that You dwell and it is there I wish to dwell also.  With all that I am, I praise You. Amen and Ehmen.

 

Memories of Me


I walked into my mother’s old home and, amid the smell of must and dust, I boarded a time machine that would transport me back decades in a matter of moments. childhood-memories

First stop, my childhood bedroom. I reached deep into the closet and right back into history. My memory has always been sketchy at best, but laying my hands on fragments of my past brought a flood of memories of a happy and hopeful little girl that loved to make people laugh and smile. One that loved to play music, to draw and, yes, write.  It was nice to see her again.  

Not that I’ve changed that much in the past five decades. Sure, I’m older and–I hope–wiser, but I still have the same overall traits and passions. It is definitely the way God wired me and it was nice to be reminded that nothing, not even the tragedies and hardships that my family endured, could change that.

Yes, the man who took my father’s life when I was just 8 years old is responsible for turning what should have been colorful, beautiful childhood memories into a haze of black and gray; but today God saw to it that I got reintroduced to the good memories created by that happy-go-lucky, tree-climbing, music loving, creative little girl once again. Thank You, God, for giving me this gift. I will never know what might have been had my father been allowed to stay on this earth with us, but I do know that You have always and continue to have my best interest at heart and this little girl of Yours is very thankful.

Thank You for the bright memories and Your promise to always help me live my life in full, living color. I shall never stop pursuing You, Lord, and the purpose for which You created me. That’s my gift to you. I hope you like it.

Amen and Ehmen.