December 29, 2006

Beauty in Brokenness

I pray all of your Christmas Celebrations were successful - filled with love and family and friends... focused on the Lord and allowing His Fragrance to penetrate the atmosphere even for the briefest of moments!

We had the best Christmas ever... just so relaxed and amazed!

I have been sort of sitting on this post for awhile now... trying to find some balance and footing on what I have been feeling/battling/striving to understand. I am one of those people who will get a Word from the Lord, or a vision, or an insight - and I want to chew on it a bit and really examine it before I speak it out. I know, I know... God is not always wanting me to do that... and I am learning to follow His lead if it is a 'now' kind of thing... but - in my comfort zone - I have time and space to digest for myself what He has shared with me - before I speak it out. I know that God is trying to 'break' me out of this habit!

After receiving a word from the Elijah List not once, but twice... I suppose I will just poor out my heart here and pray that it will encourage and not cause anxiety or confusion. (Although - to be honest - it did do that for first!?)

One overwhelming 'feeling' or awareness that has come to me this year - stronger than at any other time for me - was the fact that I live a Charmed Life. Honestly - I am blessed beyond measure and I live at peace with my family, and my friends. I am secure in my home and in my giftings and am growing in understanding of just how Abundantly the Lord desires for us to live! He came to give us Life, and Life ABUNDANTLY... He loves to bless His kids... I am sort of wired in that one "faith" way - although there is a balance in it all that is sometimes lost - but I have really had a year of feeling like - "Wow?! Why me, Lord?!" I am not rich, or a huge success by the World's standards... but by God's - I am in a good place!

For the past two months or so... that "Why me, Lord?!" feeling sort of shifted to a "What is going to happen... when is the other shoe going to fall?" sort of feeling? It was not heavy or 'present' much of the time - but just always back there in a corner of my mind. At first, it made me really thankful for all that I have and it also made me really drink in certain moments. I found myself really taking 'snapshots' of events or simple moments and thinking things like, "Lord - don't let me ever forget this!" or "Thank you Jesus for giving me this moment!" Gradually though - this feeling began to turn over to fear. My family would go sledding or my husband would be late coming home from work and I would give over to Fear that I had once been delivered from. I would recognize it, and battle it with the Word, and feel somewhat of a release.

I felt this "Doom" that was coming... and I felt like it was a personal thing... I couldn't really tell - however - if it was a warning from the Lord, or an attack from the enemy?! I honestly think it was both... at one point, a dear friend of mine felt that the Lord wanted to tell me that it is okay to be Broken. Brokenness is good... it is! ...I see the Beauty in Brokenness now from a healthier, I think Godlier perspective than what I first feared when she spoke those words! At first, due to the struggle I was going through - I assumed it confirmed that something horrible was coming... something dire... "I-better-hold-my-little-one-closer-and-tell-everyone-I-love-them" sort of fear. I prayed and fasted and prayed some more... I searched my heart and invited the Lord to break me if I was prideful or unwilling... I honestly felt like He and I were good... I found myself asking Job-like questions... pleading with Him to not test me in that way. As much as I love Him... in all honesty - I just don't know how I would pass? He is first - but my husband and daughter are a very close 2nd and 3rd!?

At any rate - I continued to pray for discernment and insight! I battled fear because I knew enough to know I did NOT want to become like Job and have what I greatly feared come upon me! I took Authority, I plead the Blood, I tried to stay in tune.

And then - comes this Word from the Elijah List... check it out if you have not read it... I will give a link at the end of this post! Anyway - it is about earthquakes and eruptions and being prepared. We have all heard and read the prophecies coming about impending earthquakes and volcanic eruptions through out the past years... it's almost like a dulled repetitious tune that keeps replaying - reminds me of the New Testament scripture about the return of the Lord... we can find our senses dulled and our belief teetering over to unbelief when it comes to the fulfillment of the Word. I began to pray about this feeling I was battling and wondering if I was given this burden for the purpose of intercession - and (once again!?) maybe it was not all about me?! It is hard not to read this word and not give over to fear... but I know that God has been preparing us for such a time as this for a long season. I began to feel like as long as I prayed in faith over my family and health and such - why would God all of the sudden not work for me?! Why would He turn His back on me!? I know the Word... and I will need to spend some more time in it - but I also believe now that the heaviness I was feeling was a warning to pray. The enemy simply took that old familiar spirit of fear and began to sow those dreaded "what if's" again! He twisted the warning and began to sow seeds in me that God did not intend. Once I began praying on a broader scale and interceding for my state and country... the heaviness began to lift. Does this mean that nothing bad will happen to me?! We know that bad things do happen to good people - but if we dwell on that and plan for it - we can rest assured that the enemy will take it and run with it! We must abide in a place of faith. We must trust in, lean, and rely on Him and Him alone to see us through!

So - I was getting a clearer picture of what I was being called to do in this season. Simply put - it is to continue to do what I have been doing... but with more intensity and urgency! at teh same time, I began reading this book, called Blue Like Jazz. There was one simple quote in the beginning of the book that gave me an Ah-Ha moment... Donald Miller talks about trying to fix a broken world while not realizing or acknowledging his own brokenness. He went on to write: "I think Jesus feels strongly about communicating the idea of our brokenness, and I think it is worth reflection. Nothing is going to change in the Congo until you and I figure out what is wrong with the person in the mirror." (Blue Like Jazz, pg 23)

Then I stumbled back upon a Blog I used to visit more often and one of the posts asked, "What have you learned this year?" I got to thinking about that... and you know the single most important thing that I have learned this year? It is that God desires us to be REAL... to be transparent... (yes - to be Broken!) Does that mean to be BROKEN-broken... I pray not... but I think it means to be Honest with each other... no more masks and facades!? Brokenness means to be interrupted, to be disrupted due to change, to be damaged or altered by breaking. It seems as if all of these things may be upon us in the next days and months... whether spiritually, physically, or both! ...and yet, we can still run to Him and trust in His covering, His protecting, His provision. He is good... all the time... He is trustworthy and strong. In good times, and in bad times, He is our All Sufficient One! Believe me, I do not know what is coming - to my life or to yours - but I DO know that He is enough... and as long as we stayed tuned in to Him, and we follow His lead, He will cover us and speak to us. He is the Good Shepherd, and we know His voice. If we are called to pack up and leave, or to store up extra supplies, or to bow down and pray... we must trust that He will tell us... and we must be willing to be Broken and not pause and ponder and weigh what we are feeling - but to act on His prompting... to follow His lead! Then and There... because Timing will play a powerful part in all that is coming upon us in this next year!

I pray you will read through this post from Steve Schultz... pray over it - test it - if you find yourself battling fear... plead the Blood... study it out if you need to, read "The Blood and the Glory" by Billye Brim. I pray you have a truly Happy New Year and you will find yourself full of faith, and prepared in the coming days - for whatever it is the Lord has for you!


(Elijah List Word regarding coming )

December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas!

I just wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!
I pray it is wonder-filled and full of awe!
May His Presence be made known,
and His Gift received with Joy!

December 20, 2006

The Scents of the Season

(Here is an edited edition of our current Family Christmas Letter...
again - minus the family info!)

Mmm - the scents & sounds of Christmas… - it seems that they are all around me
- wherever I go. In fact, I believe they were ‘out & about’ even before Thanksgiving?!
It seems we go from one holiday to the next with little time to rest & recuperate!
I must admit, I have been putting this letter off now for about a week. I kept thinking of it, praying a bit, then putting it aside. I don’t know about you, but it seems nearly everyone
I have talked with lately has had a harder time feeling festive & excited about all the
coming Holiday Hoopla this year! It is so easy for us to not slow down & focus the way we
really want to. We have the best of intentions, but often times we find ourselves exhausted,
& feeling ’behind’ instead of relaxed!

I love Christmas! I love all the sights & sounds, the smells & rituals of the holidays!
This year, though, somehow it hasn’t flowed so smoothly from
Thanksgiving to Christmas for me.
I’ve been praying about why this is.
I was relieved to find out others had been struggling a bit as well.
(It was not just me!) As much as I love routine & tradition - sometimes I think God is
trying to break us free from some of our ‘normal’ lives & we can tend to fight against Him, unaware! Maybe our Christmas spirit has been tainted by the tragedies of the past few years - from tsunami’s to hurricanes, to earthquakes, wars & rumors of wars, etc.
Maybe we have forgotten that we are not a people without Hope!
We are called to Hope. Maybe we have shrunk away from the childlike excitement of
Hoping, expecting, anticipating! However, we celebrate Christmas - much like Thanksgiving - because of those blessings that we DO have - already!
Sure - the presents & stockings & gift giving is all part of our tradition.
But - at the heart of our celebrations, should be Love.
Love given, Love received, Love shared…, Love made manifest!
All that we do & all that we are, is - or should be - founded on & steeped in Love!
“For God so loved the world…“
I think of the song that is playing on the radio now by Sanctus Real, “The Face of Love”.
The chorus sings out, “The face of love. The face of love. You look more like Love everyday!” Jesus is the face of Love, & we are called to let Him shine through us!
In our rush to beat the holiday crowds & get the good deals, buy the gifts,
write the cards, attend the parties, are we allowing His love to be seen through us?
I want others to see the face of love - Jesus - when they look at me.
That is the desire of my heart - to allow Him to shine & flow through me in such a way
that others SEE Him - really SEE Him! Not in a religious way - but in a real way!

As I was praying & unpacking ornaments, candle holders, & Christmas towels,
I got a whiff of my Christmas candles & that got me to thinking about the Scents of Christmas! Mmm - Cinnamon, Nog, Frankincense, Fresh Pine, etc.
I guess I am very in tune to my senses, because I can get real nostalgic at the simple
thought of a childhood smell or the scent of Grandma’s kitchen.
We used to have a fresh cut Douglas Fir tree every year - & the smell of pine
would fill the house &, I realize now, THAT was the scent of Christmas for me.
We went years without a tree, & now we have an artificial one.
But that is still one of my strongest memories/senses tied to the Holidays!
Another smell that captures my attention - Fresh Baked Bread. Christmas or anytime!
What is it about Fresh baked bread that can stir up a hunger that you didn’t even HAVE
a few moments before? That is when it hit me, we are not only called to Love, & to Hope,
we are called to be the Fragrance of God (2 Cor.2:14-15)
Jesus also said that He is the Bread of Life.
If others around us can smell Him in us - they will hunger for what only He can give!
When we ‘decorate’ our hearts & homes with Him, & our priorities in order - He promises in Psalm 19 that He will give us great rewards - one version says, “Hidden Treasures.“ This season is not all about the gifts, the presents & the hoopla! We all tell our kids that... & we mean it! But who doesn't love that perfect, thoughtful, gift!? Who doesn't desire a Great Reward - that was personally picked out for us? Isn’t it great that God has done that for each of us? He hand picks gifts to give us all the time. He gave His best, many years ago - & as if that were not enough - He just keeps on giving! I pray that in the midst of the busyness of the season - you will find Hope in your heart, Love overflowing, and the Fragrance of God surrounding you.
You see, in the midst of our Traditions of Man & all the lists of things to do & gifts to buy,
our Fragrant Lord awaits! He is patient, loving & kind... He is with us - wherever we go
& whatever we’re doing. He desires us, more than anything we can do FOR Him!
He calls us to Him in the midst of this season
& asks not for us to do MORE...
but to simply BE with Him!
He may be interrupting your ‘normal’ life
& drawing you to not do more this year - but less.
He may be waiting for you to run to Him
& catch a scent of His Fragrant Love!
Great Rewards? Oh yes!
Hidden treasures? I know it is so!
I pray that in the midst of all your running around,
all your serving & shopping...
I pray you will take a moment here & there,
close your eyes, stop & pray, worship Him...
“O, Come let us adore Him“
...meditate, think...
I am praying that you will be able to smell
His Heavenly Fragrance of Hope, of Joy, of Love,
& know that He is Emmanuel - God WITH YOU.

May you enjoy the sights & sounds of the Season
& smell the scent of His Love that He lavishes upon you!

With Love & Blessings, Merry Christmas!

December 12, 2006

Your Favorite Spot!

Well - I just thought I would share a portion of LAST years' Family Christmas Letter... minus all the personal family info... I encourage you to find your 'sweet spot'!

I can't believe that it is already the time of year that finds me browsing over our yearly calendar & making plans for the weeks to come as well! With the decorations all around, the lights plugged in, & the carols softly playing in the background, I find my focus & peace as I gaze at the Manger that occupies our Living Room. This little Babe, after all, is why we celebrate! If not His Birth, then at the very least, His purpose... Love! "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son." It's such a familiar passage that we sometimes forget... "For God so loved... that He gave..." For God SO LOVED... that HE GAVE! That is amazing, isn't it?! He still gives today, you know?!

We so often sing the carols about Jesus... His Birth... His Gift... But what I have been thinking about lately is what have I given?! We are not required to do "good works" to earn His Gift of course... we'd never be able to work enough to EARN it... (that's what makes it a gift!) But we are called to bear fruit! The Bible says that people should know that we are Christians 'by our love.' So, what do I do to let His Love flow through me & shine into a dark world? How do I allow Christ to be seen in me? I think we'll be surprised when we see the various ways He worked though each of us from the other side of eternity! It is in the big AND the little things! It's in the sacrifices AND the things we love to do! One Sacrifice I make each year at Christmas time is such a small thing...but it helped me to communicate with my daughter a powerful truth of habit & home!

Creatures of habit... that is what we all are! Whether you think back to childhood memories or current rituals.. we all have our favorite spots! At the dining room table, in the car, your side of the bed, etc.! We have been blessed with a room with a view... a huge picture window that overlooks our city! There are better seats in the Living Room... there's a spot on the couch that if you sit there as the sun rises, you can watch Mt. Adams change colors as the sun reflects off the snow; there's the Loveseat that is angled to look straight out the window & give a view of the city lights at night time. But my favorite spot is in the chair in the corner! It's close to the window & I can still enjoy our view... I can watch the sunrise, hear the quiet of snow falling, or see the twinkling of lights below...But my chair is also angled in, so I can see into the rest of the house. I am able to see when someone comes home, or enters the room. & I am able to keep an eye on all of the activities going on! It's a comfy chair, & the side table has everything I need when I come & meet with my Lord! It's got my favorite lamp (a keepsake souvenir from a trip with friends.) It's got a few of my favorite scented candles, a framed photo of friends & family, & the current books I am reading. Just below that I will find my Bible, & a choice selection of Journals for me to write in! It's close to the stereo so I can set the mood with music, & close to all my other resource books, if God sets me on a chase in His Word! We used to have a room in our home that was the designated "Prayer Room" - I used it especially when my little one was smaller. She came to learn that if Mommy was in that room, I was meeting with God in prayer & worship. She would come in from time to time, but it was a necessary spot 'set away' so she knew if she was coming in, she'd have to pray & wait... a great lesson to learn! As she grew older, & we housed more & more guests, our "Prayer Room" became our "Spare Room" & I found myself sitting in this chair in the corner, more than anywhere else!

During Prayer meetings, Bible Studies, or morning Devotions, this chair is my 'Withdrawing Room" as R. B. Munger writes. I have made my heart Christ’s' home, & we meet here ~ in my favorite spot ~ to talk about my day, pray over what concerns me, or just sit & spend some quiet time together. Whether it's intercessory prayer, a morning devotional time, or evening reading, if I am seeking God or communing with Him 'on purpose' ...this is where you will find me!
I light my candles, grab a drink, open up the Word & feast with Him at this banquet table He prepares in my Favorite Spot! There is about one month out of the year that I sacrifice my Spot! As we decorate for Christmas, I move my Chair into my daughter's room. She absolutely LOVES that! It is where I will find HER praying & reading in the mornings & evenings during the holidays! In place of my chair, we set up our Hay & Feeding Trough... & we place a "Babe wrapped in Swaddling Clothes' in that spot! We hang a Star from the ceiling & shine a spot light on Jesus - our Reason for the Season! As the holidays near, we put gifts around the manger scene & spend some time focused on WHY we are celebrating!

One day my daughter asked why I put this scene in my Favorite Spot, giving up my normal routine each December. I thought about it for a moment & said, "It's a little sacrifice for me, but that is the spot where His Presence is... it's the perfect Spot! It is where I honor Him throughout the year...where else would He go?!" My Favorite Spot is surrounded with some of my favorite things, but it's His Presence that draws me there - to our "Withdrawing Room." I know I carry Him with me in my heart... & where I go, He is. But there is something special about having a tangible meeting place set up! I encourage you to search out your heart & your home, & prepare Him room... Prepare a place for Him! Whether you have never offered Him your heart - or that was done years ago... I encourage you to pray about how You are loving those around you... what can you give... what do you sacrifice... how does He flow through you to bless the world around you!? ...When we 'Prepare Him Room" - Oh My - how He comes!



December 10, 2006

O Little Town of Bethlehem...

The Lord has continued to speak to me these past few weeks about the Fragrance of God.

This week as I drove to my prayer meeting, I was praying about that Fragrance... I have been in services where we have had a heavenly fragrance surround us... in one season it smelled like Frankincense, and in one season we were surrounded in a Vineyard, smelling pressed grapes! It was divine... we knew He was there... visiting us. We could linger in certain areas of the building and catch a whiff of Him. My, how I want to pass by those who are searching and have them smell His very Presence on me!

I arrived at my meeting, and the leader was teaching out of Luke Chapter One. It was very good and I found myself reading ahead and the verse that stood out to me is in the midst of Mary's Prayer. "He has filled and satisfied the hungry with good things..." (Luke 1:53a)

Jesus is the Bread of Life... He said so Himself! He is the Bread that gives Life. Through His body, His sacrifice, we gain eternal Life. When we feed on Him, we grow spiritually and we live that Abundant Life He promised us! I remember hearing Kenneth Copeland teach on spending time in the Word awhle back... Now, John said that Jesus is the Word... so it is easy to see that the Word (Jesus) is the Bread of Life... and when we feast on the Word - we are filled. Kenneth went on to compare the Word with physical food. He taught on how we need to eat everyday to nourish our bodies and keep us healthy and strong. We do not eat a nice meal on Tuesday and expect it to sustain us through until the weekend, or the next week! We should not assume the same thing when it comes to feeding on Spiritual Manna! We must feast on the Word daily to remain strong and healthy and growing! Now feasting on the Word includes more than just reading a quick devotional... and while I believe the Bible should be opened each day - I am not legalistic in thinking that this is required... but it is desired - and it is beneficial to us... I will be honest - some days I do not get my Bible open - but I have still spent time with the Word... I have prayed, I have worshiped... my goal is to dig into the Word consistentl - but I do not want any condemnation here... just know that while it IS the best discipline - you are able to feast on the Word without opening your Bible everyday. So there is Grace extended... I would rather spend ten minutes in worship - and feast on His Presence, than 5, 0r 10, or 20 minutes in His Word - trying to just get through it!

So, back at my Prayer meeting... during the worship, the Lord led me to read John 6:41-58... I will post it here for you to read:

"The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” And they said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” Jesus therefore answered and said to them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:41-58 NKJV)

I was then reminded of the story in the Bible about the two walking on the Road to Emmaus. I LOVE this story! It is found in Luke 24. These two men were so disillusioned, they did not recognize or 'see' Jesus walking along with them. Even when He began to speak to them - they did not see. But there was something in the Breaking of the Bread that caused their blind eyes to be opened, and they could see that it was the Lord! There is a claymation movie about Jesus called, "The Miracle Maker" - I HIGHLY recommend this movie... it is one of my all time favorites! There is a little weaving of a story that ties things together which may or may not have happened, but the overall story is intact and so very powerful! The movie has a scene that includes the road to Emmaus. I love it! There is something so powerful when we see - really SEE - our Lord, willingly breaking Bread with us - FOR us... I encourage you to take Communion in this season... whether on your own - just you and the Lord, or as a family.

If you have ever baked fresh bread in your home - or gone into a bakery when they have just taken the bread out of the oven, you know that smell follows you! It gets into your clothes and stirs up a hunger in you that you didn't even know was there! It reminds me of the Sinner and her Alabaster Box... while she ministered to the Lord, that oil also absorbed into her skin, her hair, her hands... and as she walked away - she carried the scent of worship with her! Even as Jesus - the Bread of Life - was being broken for her... she carried the smell of Him with her! When I gather together with family and friends, I want the Fragrance of God - that Bread of Life - to stir up a hunger and to linger through me as I go about my days!

I pray you carry with you that Fragrance of God in this season, and cause others to hunger for Him as well!


Oh - just a side note, Jesus - who is the Bread of Life - was born in Bethlehem, with means, "House of Bread" (Isn't God just too cool... and thorough!)

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