Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Treasure that Changed My Life



Muttering under my breath with hands on her shoulders, I prayed, "Lord, send someone to her to teach her of Your great desire to heal." We were in a small group together and I knew her story and her struggle AND I knew my God.

Two weeks later she approached me and asked, "Would you consider mentoring me?"

Funny how God answers prayer isn't it?

We read through the book Christ the Healer by F.F. Bosworth.

We were both learning.

Growing.

Healing.

I looked forward to our every other week meetings in my den with the large pocket doors we would pull shut. There was usually tea and a treat if I had baked that day.

That time was precious.

In a mentoring relationship there should be mutual respect, encouragement and growth.
Mentorship is a demonstration of Sonship - in heaven and earth. It is a cry to the son to listen to the instructions of the Father. It is the hope of the older women to teach the younger. It is recoginziing a need for assitance and support in fortifying our callings, purpose and destiny. Theresa Harvard Johnson, Apostolic Mentorship: Critical Tools to Help Artisans Identify their God Ordained Mentor
Of all our meetings and talks, what stands out the most is one verse we came across in the book:
Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. Jeremiah 33:3
A treasure.

Neither of us had read that verse before and we were so amazed by the words, I think we read it more than once.

The excitement was palpable.

We are at least nine years past those scheduled, secluded meetings in my den and she has blossomed into a confident, determined and faithful woman.

For me, that verse changed everything.

He would do it and He has, repeatedly.

He would show me things that were hidden and He has, repeatedly.

Jesus died for this so that I might have life and have it more abundantly and part of that is supernatural wisdom - the great and might things I do not know.

There have been many situations where this was all I had and God always came through. The message resounds throughout scripture.

When words fail...

Psalm 119:66
Teach me good discernment and knowledge, For I believe in Your commandments.
When life is hard...

Psalm 119:27
Make me understand the way of Your precepts, So I will meditate on Your wonders.
When I don't understand...

Psalm 119:125
I am Your servant; give me understanding, That I may know Your testimonies.
When I don't know what to do...

James 1:5
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
When people fail...

1 Kings 3:11-12
God said to him, "Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice, behold, I have done according to your words Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you.
I say with all confidence, test Him in this. Call to Him, He will answer you AND show you great and mighty things that you have not known.

The treasure is two-fold; I found a nugget of truth that has sustained me in many situations for many years, but the greater treasure was discovering it with someone who was searching too. We find treasure by pursuing God through His Word and pursuing relationships with those He puts in our lives.

Treasure is meant to be found.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Memories are not the Boss of You


You know how memories are - they come and go. Sometimes they hide and surface at what seems like the most unexpected times.

As I listened to totally unrelated testimonies of God's love, grace and faithfulness a 34-year-old memory came to my mind as clear as if it was yesterday.

I was about 11 years old living in a condominium with my mom in Hialeah, Florida. My best friend Susan lived next door. We spent hours every day swimming, skating, talking and playing. We were inseparable.

One day as we played in the open stairwell next to my apartment on the second floor, her stepfather came out and grabbed her by the hair and dragged her down the concrete steps into their apartment. I could hear loud banging sounds, him screaming and her and her mom crying. I was terrified. You know what I did? I called Children and Family Services.

Although I was living my own abusive nightmare in my family and had no voice to defend myself, I tried to protect my friend. You know what happened? Nothing.

That was not the last of the abuse I would hear coming from the 2 bedroom apartment next door, but I accepted the fact that there was nothing I could do.

Last night I realized the guilt I carried for not being able to protect my friend is still alive and well in my life, but what I know now that I didn't know then - I don't have to carry it. 

The guilt that weighs so heavy on my mama's heart isn't mine to carry. It was carried to death on a cross. It was transferred to the shoulders of a sinless man who was fully God.

He took it.

Not only did He take it, but He took it away.

When I carry the guilt it is an insult to His shed blood. It's as if I'm saying it wasn't enough.

It's blasphemy.

What I have come to know by the Spirit is that this kind of revelation is always followed by healing. So, today, on my face before Him, I laid it down. The guilt. All the years of guilt and the guilt of today.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Romans 8:1
There is always an exchange. When I lay the guilt at His feet He has something to give me in return. It's not even my job to figure out how to get rid of the guilt I simply lay it down and trust. I lay it down and get His light and His healing power.
If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed. John 8:36
This applies to anything that keeps you from His best for you. Today if you are carrying something that has become too heavy or burdensome to bear, I encourage you, get on your face and release it to Him. He will give you what He intended for you all along. He can't put something in a hand that is filled with things He never put there. So, trust, open up your hands release the burdens and receive the grace and whatever else He might have for you.
Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is His flesh, ... let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:19,20,22

Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Simplicity of Thanksgiving


Today may be full of joy or full of sorrow, but in the midst, there is always thanksgiving. Be honest about life today, don't pretend and be thankful anyway. Let's practice being thankful in all things because if our God is good that is always possible.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Everyone Loves a Good Parade


The marching band is heard before you ever see the procession. Music drifts through the air, while you wait in anticipation to see the elaborately decorated floats. The excitement is tangible.

Everyone loves a good parade.

I am no exception.

But I’m talking about a different kind of parade.

In Exodus 33 when Moses asked the Lord, “Please show me your glory.” The Lord responded, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’”

Several years ago, in a difficult season, God showed up at every turn, every day and in amazing ways. A friend shared the verse above and said that was what my life was like, “His goodness passing before me.” It made me think of a parade.

He is doing it again in a slightly different way.

Over the last several months I have seen many people that I have known over the 17 years I have lived in Georgia. It has been like a parade. As I see each person, memories come flooding back, where we met, what we did together and how the Lord showed up. It has been nostalgically, overwhelming and I’m grateful.

I am grateful because I love these people.

I am grateful because He is the same God.

With Him, there are no coincidences. Every parade has a theme and this one is no different. This is a parade of remembrance, seeing all the goodness, through people, pass before me, again.

I thank my God every time I remember you. Philippians 1:3

With these friends, there were good times - small groups, prayer sessions, worship nights, and even good cry sessions. This season has brought redemption to my heart. When it comes in a procession His overwhelming love is evident. I can’t help be aware of His faithfulness, His goodness and His care in my life.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8
Not sure why the recent influx of friends past, but I know the Lord is showing me something and the constant reminder of all the people He has brought into my life is a great place to be this Thanksgiving.
...and it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord), and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the Lord,“For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever,”...2 Chronicles 5:13

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Hanging On


God has ways to deal with things. His ways are definitely not our ways and last week I was more sure of that than ever. 

It was a fairly good week with some fun and friends sprinkled in and promised to be an eventful weekend, but I was feeling anxious. God has been leading me in a direction this past month and last week, feeling terrified, I hit the brakes.

Screeching halt.

After praying, dialoguing with a friend for a bit and filling my mind with truth, I settled down for bed early. 

Before my feet even hit the floor Thursday morning God instructed me to clean my closet. He was teaching me about my recent anxiousness and relational struggles using my cluttered closet. 

Analogies, similies, and metaphors were all in His briefcase
that morning as He revealed, once again, my struggle to "let go." 

Seemingly everything the Lord reveals to me is a deeper truth He has previously introduced, so I looked up a post I wrote in 2010 and it was the basis for my conversation with the Lord that morning. A deeper revelation of my propensity to "hold on" when everything points to "let go." Even then he was laying a foundation, building layers of truth in my heart and some of that truth is beginning to bear fruit.

Going through my closet that morning was cathartic. Every item was representative of something - the times I wore it flashed across my mind, the person who gave it to me or what I was doing when I last wore it. Each item representative of something I was holding onto. It was surreal. 


There was some serious baggage in there.

When the Lord gave me the revelation years ago there were three things I tended to hold tightly, but I'm happy to report there are only two I still struggle with. It has been a long struggle, but persistence is paying off.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22
He doesn't want us to hear His Word and keep going,
He wants us to hear His Word and be changed. 

I'm changing, slowly but surely.

So, as I entered the closet that morning with the previous day's battle won, but still fresh in my mind I filled five garbage bags.

Two lies were evident as I filled bag after bag:

LIE


I hold onto things because I am afraid of lacking.

TRUTH

Fear the Lord, you his holy people,for those who fear him lack nothing.The lions may grow weak and hungry,but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. Psalm 34:9-10
LIE

I hold onto relationships that are dead or dying because I am afraid to let go.

TRUTH
"Truly I tell you," Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Mark 10:29-31
I hold onto things and relationships that the Lord would rather see me let go of. Things that keep me from His best for me, things that keep me from His blessings, things that keep me from His will for my life. I'm still recognizing things and people that I'm holding onto and asking Him to show me how to let go because I cannot do it on my own.
Sometimes the strongest thing you will ever do will be to let go of someone. It will be painful, you will suffer guilt, and you will second-guess yourself, but for your own sanity and quality of life, there will come a time where you hand them to God, with your love, and trust Him to be who and what He is. - Lee Goff
These are long-time struggles, but I am confident after this closet decluttering experience, that I am closer to seeing fruit in the remaining areas too. Sometimes the branch has to be pruned before it will bear fruit.
Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. John 15:2

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

What Success Won't Tell You About Small Beginnings



God was moving in my heart in ways I didn't yet understand. It was a stirring, a longing. It was at a ladies' tea in December 2006. One year later, almost to the day, I knew He had been preparing me for the opportunity that seemingly dropped in my lap.

He wanted me to purchase a tea shop that was closing and run an online tea business.

As silly as it may sound it was the most faith-building experience I'd ever had.

There were a lot of things to consider at the time:
I had no money to start a business.
I had no experience running my own business.
I had no experience with tea.
I did not let that stop me. My faith kicked into overdrive. I stepped onto every stone He put before me.
The finances came.
All my precious job had given me the experience to start and run the business.
Since the ladies' tea in 2006 I had become a student of tea, therefore, I had a lot of  crucial information already. 
Our church had an auction recently and I wanted to contribute something, so I auctioned off a tea party for eight and a “How to Host a Tea Party” class. I wasn’t in town for the auction, so I didn’t know if someone purchased it, but a week later I received a call. The winner had not only purchased the tea party but had been determined to win the bid. She said she was bringing two groups of friends together who had not previously met, so she had my full attention since bringing people together is one of my favorite things. Her excitement was contagious.

It didn’t take long for the Lord to begin speaking to me about this party and these women. I auctioned off a tea party, but He had plans for so much more.

She picked the menu and gave me the freedom to talk about tea or not. As I prepared Friday I was near tears as the Lord was so specific about the plates and cups and these women He adored.

He wanted them to know how uniquely He had created each one of them, He instructed me to choose my most uniquely shaped teacups. When God speaks to me so specifically, so lovingly about others it reminds me He is no respecter of persons and does the same for me.

Saturday was the tea party. As is always the case with a tea party or a tea class I walk away in awe of how God shows up.

These women didn’t seem like strangers at all, they felt more like long lost sisters. 

God showed up!

The hostess had air plants at their places for them to take home and a friend and I had painted pictures for each of them. I heard more than once, "This means more than you know."

I know how our hearts need to hear Him whisper something specific to our heart.

You see God loves a tea party, but He loves His daughters even more.

A tea business may not seem like a big deal and in many ways, it wasn’t, but in the ways that matter it was the best thing I’ve ever done.
God has His own measures of success which include our obedience and commitment to the call, regardless of what we face. And so, this should be the yardstick we use to measure our success. Gladys Famoriyo, Christian Post
God continues to use my obedience and willingness all those years ago to open doors for me to share His love, His love for His daughters - that is always a humbling and awe-inspiring experience.
Though your beginning was insignificant,
Yet your end will greatly increase. Job 8:7
What has He called you to do? It may not be what you want or what you thought, but maybe, just maybe it is the next step in getting closer to His perfect plan for your life.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Fanning the Flame


We waited for this night for a year. Everyone was worshipping. I was one of 70 women in the room and I heard the Lord clearly, "It doesn't matter what size the flame, I will fan it."

It was His promise for the women, for the weekend, for me.

And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Acts 2:2
And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit." John 20:22

I don't know where you are. You might have only a mustard seed of faith left or more than enough to go around. He sees you and He will meet you right where you are.

He knows just what will get you ignited.

I stood there worshipping, grateful I had even made it to the conference, as I thought of the battle I had just won. A battle for my family, my destiny, and my calling. I was on the mountaintop. He met me on that mountaintop literally and figuratively and He fanned the flame.

His fresh wind blew all weekend and I was transformed in a way that is still hard to put into words. 

I encourage you, call on Him. No matter where you're at, call on Him. He will be found and He will answer you.

Before you pick up the phone to call yet another friend or send another text, get on your knees and tell Him like it is. He already knows, but just like you would want your best friend to tell you the details of her life, so does He. He cares and is always ready to listen.

Let His Spirit blow through your life, your circumstance and ignite something in you.

It will be perfect.

Perfect for you and perfect for your situation. 

Just like a windy day, your hair might get a little messy and things may get moved around, but trust Him. He will take that tiny flame and fan it for His glory and your good.