I did it! I summited two inches to the top of my scale and overcame! Thank you, thank you, thank you… If you’re just stopping in for a quick read, I shared yesterday, stepping on the scale was perhaps the biggest step of faith I’m being asked to take right now. Really, Shanon? Yes. Really.
But I did it. Was I happy with the numbers? No. Can I do something about them? Absolutely! And I will because it is time to build muscle, lose fat and nurture my skin (the largest organ of my body).
During a four month post lumpectomy follow-up in January of this year, I hopped on the scale and was not happy then, either – 167 – ouch! At least I have lost 4.6 pounds since the beginning of the year, which is shocking.
It is time to lose body fat with a laser focused nutrition program. Whole30 coupled with intermittent fasting will help lose the visceral (deep fat around my organs) and the fat closer to the surface. Both of these numbers came in too high on the scale this morning. Both carry risk for disease. Carrying too much visceral fat is a serious health problem. Studies have shown that excess visceral fat is linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, heart disease and even certain cancers.
The higher your BMI (related to increased body fat percentage), the higher your risk for certain diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems, and certain cancers.
It is time to take care of my skin – also the largest organ I have. Sure I would like to reduce wrinkles and not get “droopy” in places, but it is bigger than that. Adults carry some 8 pounds (hey this is how much both my girls weighed when they were born!) and 22 square feet of it (about the size of your favorite snuggie in the winter time).
I want to keep on keepin’ on for the Lord as long a He will allow me. Sure I look forward to dancing in the streets of gold one day, but there are so many lives here who still need to know Jesus! AND – Holy Spirit deserves to live in a healthy vessel, the place He now resides.
I’m ready to do this. I’m ready to share the journey. I mean, who doesn’t like a good transformation story? I’m a sucker. Plus, hopefully you will be inspired to take a step of faith wherever God is calling you to in this season.
vi·va·cious lively in temper, conduct, or spirit: SPRIGHTLY; ZESTY I want zesty!!!
My goal is to settle into a healthy lifestyle, it is not about a size, number or date to “get skinny”. I’m in this for the long haul baby. Weekly action steps to get there include: lifting heavy weights three times per week, Whole30 and intermittent fasting, and being intentional with nourishing my skin with high quality skin products. One faithful step at a time, and I know I will be right where God needs me to be, to truly live vivaciously in the calling He needs me to press in and press on towards. See you next week, blessings!
There is a scene in the movie Footloose, the 1984 version with Kevin Bacon (does the newer version even really count?!), where the character Ariel attempts to speak with her father and he is too busy. Ariel seems to be used to not having her father pay attention, other than attempt to control her through religion, while he seems to be everything to everyone else in the church he leads and the community he is a part of. The story line seemingly points out this behavior of her father as being part of the reason Ariel becomes a rebellious, promiscuous teen – one who is slapped in the church of all places by her father, after sharing she is no longer a virgin.
Of all the scenes, why is this one coming to mind? Trust me, I enjoy the scene where Kevin Bacon is dancing solo in the barn, or where Willard is learning to dance to “Let’s Hear It for the Boys”, much more!
As God led me into ministry over the years, I have often thought of this scene. I would pray the Lord would keep me aware of what was going on in my home, and with my children. I’ve prayed He would help me not grow more concerned with the needs of others, MORE than that of those just down the hall from me. I have prayed He would help me always operate from a place of love, rather than religion.
I have seen one too many pastor’s kids slip away, unbeknownst to the shepherd God entrusted them to. I have heard too many folks judge the behavior of a child, or parent, or both, simply because the parent chose to live a life for others, rather than self, and their kiddos appeared to be experiencing growing pains and learning things the “hard way”. I have seen people who have professed the love of Jesus too often be the harshest and most judgmental when folks they held to an unknown (and often unrealistic) standard, failed or made mistakes, withdrawing or becoming overbearing. I have seen those same folks be happy to expose the faults of others and even propagate them in their circles of influence – defaming the child and the parent. After all, if the parent were paying more attention…or if the parent was so “right”… Little Johnny wouldn’t be making such blatant mistakes while appearing so white-washed-perfect, right?
You and I both know we don’t look to movies to guide us in life, we look to the Word of God – both written and spoken to us in the prayer closet. Recently, I’ve had to do just that. My kiddo messed up – BIG TIME. The details aren’t important, but sharing a few things the Lord has led me to via the circumstances, is.
Jesus was twelve when He began to operate in His free will and listening to His heavenly Father (Luke 2:42, 48-49 MEV). If at this age He believed He should be free to follow after the Lord, then at this age one can conclude kiddos begin to exercise their own free will and ability to make their own decisions – we hope they are good choices, but sometimes they aren’t. My husband and I chose to not be controlling with our kiddos. We had experienced this and it was no bueno. We had also witnessed friends who were controlling, even wielding religion over their children – again, no bueno. I trusted the Lord would lead and guide through me by His Spirit, and He has.
In fact, when the situation with my kiddo came up, I knew the truth right away. I wasn’t consumed by the ministry or helping others to the point of oblivion in my own home. No, He provided revelation. But He wouldn’t trump the free will of my soon to be adult child and force her to be honest. He did however pursue her to the point where the conviction He was spurring moved her to being honest and then repentance. He is good like that.
Onlookers are often dismayed at how good God can be towards those who follow after Him with all their heart, mind, soul and strength. Because their pursuit may be lukewarm (or nonexistent) at best when compared to others on fire, they often “chomp at the bit” to discover something that reaffirms the thought “no one can live life like (fill in the blank)”. When the scrutinized does make a mistake (and they will as long as they are a human being walking this earth) the thought is somehow affirmed and folks chatter, “See, I knew so-and-so wasn’t what they portray themselves to be”.
In our scenario, my daughter was concerned about the impact her decision would have on me. This wasn’t about me, it was about her. I knew the Scripture in Ezekiel, her sins are not mine, and mine are not hers. We are individually accountable. ‘Doesn’t the child pay for the parent’s sins?’ No! For if the child does what is just and right and keeps my decrees, that child will surely live. 20 The person who sins is the one who will die. The child will not be punished for the parent’s sins, and the parent will not be punished for the child’s sins. God doesn’t hold the parent accountable for the child’s sin, nor vice versa. It is often human beings who like to project this type of mindset. It is also human nature to want to punish, or make sure someone “learns their lesson”. Again, God is not wired this way.
Ezekiel 18:21 shares: But if wicked people turn away from all their sins and begin to obey my decrees and do what is just and right, they will surely live and not die. 22 All their past sins will be forgotten, and they will live because of the righteous things they have done. 23 “Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign Lord. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live. 1 John 1:9 states it this way: If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
But shouldn’t someone be held accountable? Shouldn’t they have to PAY for their actions? There needs to be some punishment! Again, when I look to Scripture, I see Jesus interact with a guy named Peter in a completely different manner. Peter did not want Jesus to obey God, by going to the cross. Sin is essentially disobedience to what God is instructing us to do through His Holy Spirit leading, at any given moment. Peter’s desire to have Jesus disobey was called out by Jesus and this is what He had to say in Mark 8: “Get behind Me, satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Satan? Really? But did Jesus withdraw from Peter? Did he communicate to everyone in ear shot his weak and sophomoric mindset, warning all He could about Peter’s “issues”? No.
SIX DAYS LATER PETER SEES JESUS IN GLORY. After six days Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain, alone by themselves. And He was transfigured before them. His garments became shiny, extremely white as snow, such as no launderer on earth could whiten them. Mark 9:2-3 MEV. One day Jesus is calling Peter out and paralleling him to satan, six days later He is lavishing Him with revelation and glory. I wonder how God feels when we seek to punish others rather than pursue reconciliation and His passionate purpose for them.
But what about repeat offenders? They must be taught a lesson. They must be stopped. You’re right, they should be taught. But the Lord is the One to do the teaching. He is the one to bring the justice. He is the one to bring the conviction. Any correction outside of consulting Him in prayer first, is futile and more damaging. Peter was a repeat offender. After denying Jesus three times and then going fishing, Jesus again blessed Peter rather than withhold from him or give him the cold shoulder. Luke 22:61-62, John 21:3, 6 Holy Spirit also gave Peter a boldness to preach a convicting message that then added 3,000 souls to the Kingdom of God in ONE DAY. Perhaps herein lies the issue, Jesus truly LOVED the way God needed Him to, and humans (even professing Christian ones) have a hard time with this command. Yes, this is a command.
Jesus was more concerned about covering Peter in love (1 Peter 4:8) in order for Him to reach and live out his call and destiny. I believe Jesus could see past the sins, denial, zeal and fleshly fervor of Peter and into all God had for Peter.
There is a lesson to be learned in every scenario. We learn things about ourselves, we learn about others, and we learn what God needs us to see when we look to Him FIRST and all other opinions second or third – if entertained at all. With each lesson we can choose to build up, learn and grow, and implement boundaries, or we can tear down, remain small in our limited understanding, and attempt to invoke vindication not ours to impose. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:18
In the end all Ariel was looking for was her father to love her and guide her through her confusion, hurt and sorrow – she happened to be looking in the wrong places, while giving into the influences of the peers around her. Ren (Kevin Bacon) did not see her as her past mistakes or a girl he could take advantage of, but as a girl worthy of only a kiss, a beautiful dance and a tender heart. Her father? He was able to truly see his daughter, abandon religion and pursue relationship with her. Then everyone was able to dance!
I pray as we continue this dance of life, we are able to allow the Lord to lead, and joyfully follow, while dropping the stones in our hands in order to take His and be merciful, kind, forgiving and most importantly – love – to one another. I pray we are just as eager to see the plank in our own eye, as we are the splinter in others. I pray we are positioned to learn from one another and build one another up, rather than point fingers and do our best to tear one another down. Blessings!
In the past several weeks, maybe even months, I have been learning quite a bit about prophecy, process, pain and patience. Prophecy, while instructed to especially desire this spiritual gift in the Bible, seems to be misunderstood, stifled by skeptics, or altogether dismissed (1Corinthians 14:1). Process, while often slower than snails on a summer night for many, is right where the Lord needs us to cooperate and be intentional; moving from glory to glory in the Lord is a process (2 Corinthians 3:18). Pain, while a part of any growth process, also gets a bad rap. The Word says in this world we WILL have trouble (John 16:33), yet only an admitted peculiar person will free-willingly press in to the pain of breaking and pressing for the purest of the Lord’s oil to be poured out through their life. Patience, a fruit of the Spirit and so very hard to come by in this “gimme now era”, is a virtue truly only God can help us maintain in any given situation – be it our own transformation, the hope for loved ones in our lives, or a vision or painting He places on our hearts.
Holy Spirit planted the seed of this piece in my mind and heart over eight years ago. Honestly, I had forgotten about it, until I was reminded this week. Too many things in life had attempted to derail the vision with more painful circumstances than a porcupine has needles (okay, maybe not that bad ;) ). I won’t go into the pains of the past. If you’re interested, perhaps you’d enjoy my recent podcast series? It wasn’t until this past summer, the vision began to formulate in my mind. As I pondered the “glory of God” and then began a study on it (feel free to find this on YouTube), each piece continued to come together.
First the sketch created with my Bic and graph paper. Then a watercolor painting with my inexpensive paints and ink on paper. After joining a group of Christian Artists, Holy Spirit began to bring a slew of thoughts and ideas for a third iteration. I quilted photographs together to create the digital rendition of the vision seen in the center. Each component selection led by the Spirit.
The background was a photograph taken a couple years ago of the most beautiful rainbow, the golden colors and hues mesmerized me, speaking to me of the promises and faithfulness of God. The foreground colors came from a photo I had taken after having hiked the highest point I’ve ever summited, all while hearing the Lord speaking and calling to me, “Come up higher”. The stairs are from the Lincoln monument in Washington D.C., representing freedom and liberty. The bride in white symbolic of the Bride of Christ – acquitted, no longer guilty, in Christ. ALL extend and focus on the Glory of God.
This week, as I was taking notes for a new adventure, I opened a notepad and began to peruse the pages. I found the image seen with highlights, written sometime March of 2011: Glory to Glory, Walking barefoot up a glorious stream, from one stone to the next. ~ Transformed
My eyes teared up. Transformation, moving from glory to glory, and encouraging other women to connect with the Word of God and Holy Spirit to be intentional about their unique transformation journey, is where God has led me since this note jotted down so long ago. Oh how faithful He is! Not just to me, but to the nearly thirty-five other women with an array of backgrounds and challenges He ministered to through the Rise Up Commitment. Oh what a Good Lord we love and loves us!
Regardless of the speed of the process, the depth of pain experienced, and many times feeling left empty of patience, when the Lord declares a thing through a prophetic word or vision – He WILL bring it to pass! We have to add another “P”… PERSISTENCE! We must hold on, press in, press on, be okay with growing increasingly peculiar and remain passionate about our First Love, above all!
We are co-laborers with God and you are God’s cultivated garden, the house he is building.
During yesterday morning’s service at Times Square Church, Pastor Carter Conlon shared,
“Get ready for a journey!
Your life is going to change.
Your future is not going to be like your past.
You’re going to live a life that brings GLORY to God!
You're going to have a breakthrough.
And you're not just going to sing about it, you're going to live it.”
His whole sermon leading up to this statement, I was “Amen-ing and hallelujah-ing!” Everything he spoke of is exactly the journey the Lord has had me on for the past five years. Interestingly enough, it has been five years since this blog journey began and the Lord REALLY began to have His way in my life.
I was already in reflective mode, pondering the post I might write and share as a glorifying synopsis to the One responsible for every ounce of transformation radiating from this life. He set the stage. I am a living testament to every instruction Pastor Carter Conlon provided yesterday, is true.
1.Read the word yourself
2.Connect with others
3.Set yourself apart
4.Consume the WHOLE word of God - no hypocrisy – no picking and choosing palatable
5.Get ready and Go on the journey!
Reading the word for myself is exactly what Holy Spirit led me to do five years ago. It is His encouragement through me as well. Devotions are nice and easy, but Holy Spirit taking you on a journey is where it is at!
Connecting with others – others with a heart for following fully after God – did come next. The Lord brought women into my life ready to grow and transform. We could turn to one another for prayer and support and encouragement. We were, and still are, iron sharpening iron, doing life together – across multiple denominations.
At multiple points I had to agree with the Lord and say, “This (fill in the blank) cannot go where YOU are taking me. I choose JESUS over (fill in the blank)!” This was and is a hard one. “Fill in the blank” can be a relationship, habit, behavior, addiction, mindset, fear, or concern. Many times, it will be related to the thoughts of wondering what others will think. When we set ourselves apart for God, pruning and purging takes place, but oh how good is His grace!
Reading all of the Word of God, and allowing it to change me, rather than me attempt to change the word to my liking – has always been my desire. It takes courage to humbly say, “Lord, You know best. I don’t. Help me understand, embrace and follow after You.”
The journey is remaining consistent with these four keys. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. It is easy to fall out of the word. There will be attempts to disconnect us from others and keep us distanced. Temptations will come attempting to (sometimes succeeding even) have us fall back and away from being set apart. Not all of God’s Word is pleasing to read and embrace. Have you ever read Isaiah 20? After the prophet said, “Here I am Lord, send me!” God asked Isaiah to walk around naked – for three years – just to prove a point! Hard to embrace? Just a little.
But we FREE WILLINGLY choose to continue to respond to Holy Spirit – our Comforter, Counselor and Teacher. We continue to repent and keep going when we do fall down. We get back into His Word and presence. We choose to reconnect when we realize we’ve chosen the pain of isolation far too long. We choose to press on towards the mark and high calling – WHATEVER THE COST!
This is my encouragement for YOU today. I pray you declare, “I am getting up and I'm going with God! I want to see what God will do!!”
God has been speaking the RISE UP message to my heart for over four years, and He spoke it again through the words of my Pastor at Times Square Church, "We are being called by God, as the Church of Jesus Christ, in this Nation, to RISE UP and take a God appointed journey. We are. Get ready for a journey! Your life is going to change. Your future is not going to be like your past. You’re going to live a life that brings GLORY to God! You're going to have a breakthrough. And you're not just going to sing about it, you're going to live it."
This is 100% true – for the vessel willing to search God’s word, connect to the body, set yourself apart, and accept the whole word of God. Godspeed my friends!
Praise and GLORY be to God for the past five years!!! The journey will undoubtedly lead to vision, compassion, a sense of authority, the will to fight for others and TRANSFORMING more into the likeness of Jesus Christ!
September 3, 2014 - Began the LiveEatSweat Blog (link)
May 16, 2015 - Completed Spartan Sprint (image, link)
August 16, 2015 - Completed Spartan Super (image, link)
Aug/Sept 2015 - Strong Magazine Highlight (image)
October 11, 2015 - FIRST LES45 Group Challenge (link)
November 2015 - Shepherdess Rise Up Study (link)
March 1, 2016 - SECOND LES45 Group Challenge (link)
June 2016 - Mission Trip to Dominican Republic (link)
God began to move me from behind the keyboard and blogging, to going LIVE - completely outside my comfort zone!
September 12, 2016 - THIRD LES45 Group Challenge (link)
September 27, 2016 - Rise Up! Is Back (link)
November 21, 2016 - It's Time to RISE (link)
April 13, 2017 - Rise Up! Devotions Book Launch (link)
June 2017 - Rise Up! in Dominican Republic (image)
October 9, 2017 - Rise & Pray (link, YouTube)
October 17, 2017 - Rise Up Commitment Seed Planted (link)
God was calling me to move from behind the camera, to meet with women in-person - again, outside my comfort zone...
Jan-March 2018 - The FIRST Rise Up Commitment (testimonials)
February 2018 - Embraced my call to teach, encourage through the prophetic and facilitate healing as
the Lord leads
April 15, 2018 - Launched Podcast (link)
Sep-Nov 2018 - The SECOND Rise Up Commitment
December 13, 2018 - Beyond at BrewHa (YouTube)
God was calling me to move from a select group to a public forum where all were invited
May 2, 2019 - National Day of Prayer
May 23, 2019 - Launched "My Voice His Story" Memoir
June 23, 2019 - Launched the THIRD Rise Up Commitment in local homeless shelter with five women
August 10, 2019 - Reach Out! With roughly 200 folks (image)
God has been moving me from inside the public platform, to outside declaring His Love and Word!
Wherever you are HE is faithful to accept what little we believe we have to offer and multiply in ways BEYOND our imagination!!
"Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." Deuteronomy 6:5
Transcript from: Day One - Beyond - Glory School
I am getting ready to embark on a new season. Well, first of all, the new season is my oldest daughter is going to be a senior. She's actually starting the first day of her senior year today and my youngest daughter is a sophomore.
They're not just going off to school today. I have this sense and I have been feeling for the past couple of weeks now that I'm also going to school and it's the glory school. What does that mean? It means that the Lord has been speaking to my heart about His glory and discovering what His glory is and what it means and what is the outflowing of His glory?
I'm going to begin to share little tidbits here and there about the glory and really just share as He leads. Yesterday I Googled “glory” in the King James version. There were 375 occurrences on GLORY.
I'm going to be in the glory for three months. This morning I was reading in scripture Genesis 31:1, Genesis 45:13, Exodus 8:9 and Exodus 16:7. These Scripture led to a few stories. The first one was about Jacob and Laban’s sons getting jealous that he was becoming wealthy and he was doing well. The second was Joseph where he had become wealthy after his jealous brothers threw him in the pit, but God was restoring, reconnecting and reconciling to his brothers and ultimately his father. The third story was about Moses and Aaron praying for the frogs to leave. But the then Pharaoh does disobeyed yet again and would not listen to the Lord. The fourth was the glory of God being connected to providing meat and bread to the Israelites in the wilderness.
The four things that stood out to me was the Lord instructed Jacob to leave after the jealousy and he listened and he obeyed. That's something I'm praying for us today as well myself. The second that stood out to me was that what was intended for evil can be turned for good just like Joseph. He was thrown into a pit. Many of us know the account where it seemed like Joseph encountered one challenge after another in Egypt. The third nugget was that the Lord answers prayer when we are led with compassion, but we should not attach ourselves to the outcome. Finally, the Lord provides. God desired obedience from the children of Israel when He instructed them to collect the bread in the morning and collect the meat in the night, to collect the double portion on the sixth day, in order to rest on the seventh day.
The theme for me this morning is listening to the Lord and trusting there is wealth and abundance in the Lord. There is goodness in the Lord, but He also desires that we listen. Which is exactly what I am doing.
The Lord has been speaking to me about going BEYOND. Last year in May, I was on a prayer walk and He said, “Here.” I was praying in the Spirit and the sound “aqui” continued to roll off my tongue. Aqui in Spanish translates to “here” in English. He then laid out these seven components He was speaking to my heart, if balanced, would reflect the face of Jesus Christ. There's a whole story to I may share in the days to come.
The seven areas: God at the center of all that we do – center and forefront.Everything flows from having a connection with the Lord through Holy Spirit, prayer, scripture and a great profound love for Jesus. The second and third components are having a high calling and taking care of the essentials of this life by tending the vessel that the Holy Spirit resides in. Finally, ministering in our marriages, with our children, ministry or place of employment, and then carrying the glory of the Lord, the presence of the Lord, into all areas that we go into; the grocery store the bank work wherever we may find ourselves in her home, especially and so.
He's been saying, “All right, it's time. It's time to live this out and it's time to allow Me to minister”. So I'm entering a season where I am going to continue to pray. I'm going to continue to love the Lord. I'm going to continue to be led by the Spirit. I'm going to be getting into scripture on Glory.
I know my calling. I know what God has called me to. He's called me to teach and encourage and to facilitate healing and to minister through the prophetic by sharing with others. I know that He's called me to love my husband well, my daughters well, the community well and the Rise Up Community.
One thing that I've not been doing so well is taking care of this vessel, and so it's time for all of these components to come together and for Him to really minister to me first and foremost. This is kind of a season of rest. This year has been challenging and been a lot of spiritual warfare.
But I believe the season was essential to understand that when we press into the Lord that the enemy is going to be right there. This was something I wasn't really actively conscious and aware of I guess, nor doing something about it. The Lord has equipped me and I can now see things for what they are.
You are invited to join me on this journey. I say join me on this journey because this is really considered day one. I foresee this going on for a few months. So if you want to come along great. If not, that's okay, too.
I will only be sharing on the YouTube channel. He has made it very clear to withdraw from Facebook and Instagram. He wants His voice to be the only voice that I'm really listening to and leaning into right now. I love to follow people like Larry Sparks, Lana Vawser as well as Nate & Christy Johnston. However, He really just wants to speak to me and have me listen to Him alone.
I just pray in the name of Jesus. If you're watching today that you and I would do what the Lord is asking us to do and trust that He is good and He is a God of abundance. I ask in the name of Jesus that if there's something going on that was intended for evil that you would be able to trust the Lord to know that He can transform circumstances into being utilized for HIS good. I also ask in the name of Jesus that we are led to pray with compassion for people just like Moses and Aaron was and then take our hands off of the outcome and the response of those people, trusting the Lord. I pray we trust that the Lord will provide and He will give us just what we need for that day, but to seek Him that day for what we need to seek Him for first thing in the morning and even in the night, just like the manna in the morning the meat at night. I pray that we were seeking Lord in the morning living off that bread of life the word of God, and then at night closing and trusting that he will even speak to us in our dreams.
So I pray this was a blessing to you. Take care. God bless and have a great day.
They looked at one another as if to silently question, “How could she have known?” I knew what I had experienced just hours before was Holy Spirit preparing me to allow Him to be revealed…
We all experience a degree of brokenness and heartache. God has made it clear the circumstances of one are no greater than another. However, we are fully aware what some live through just feels more weighty and horrific than what we can imagine.
Physical abuse – almost to the point of death – at the hands of a spouse and in front of a child.
Years of addiction to some substance or another, choosing a high over a child, waking up in a prison cell wondering “what happened”; daily wrestling shame and remorse, fighting to find worth.
Poor choices leading to having no place to go, losing your children to foster care, wrestling with constant anxiety, and fighting to live an honest life.
Brokenness and abandonment leading to layers of deep and high walls, cutting off everyone, wandering to high and far places – constantly searching – never settling.
Loss after loss, murder and suicide, abuse and torture – relentless depression and anxiety – while doing everything to fight for a child and a peaceful life.
We may read, and identify. We may read, and compassion wells up inside. We may read, and conviction pricks our hearts to reassess those things we identify as wrong or unjust in our own lives.
I knew this call was going to stretch me. I had no idea how. A couple weeks ago it was brought to my attention an individual connected to the group I am ministering with had made some considerably unhealthy declarations. The remarks oozed with darkness and actions threatened what I sensed God wanted to do. I committed to the ladies I would pray for the situation.
“Lord, push back – and out – the darkness that resides and believes it prevails, by the power of Your Spirit and presence. When I, or others in Christ, walk into the space, I pray darkness realizes it is not allowed to stay. YOU desire my Sisters in Christ be healed and made whole more than I do, please deliver them from the tactics and antics I’m being told are taking place”. I was then led to reach out to a faithful and trusted prayer partner for council and agreement.
Again, I give you an eternal truth: If two of you agree to ask God for something in a symphony of prayer, my heavenly Father will do it for you. Matthew 18:19 TPT
Prior to our session this week, I felt “off”. I was more fatigued than normal. I felt irrationally emotional. Thoughts bombarded my mind I knew were not my own. Something was attempting to convince me I did not need to show up for the week’s session. My husband could tell something was up. When he asked me what was going on, all I could do was cry.
How do I share something he doesn’t understand? How do I describe something I don’t even fully understand? He is going to think I’m crazy (more than normal ;) ). Then I felt like Holy Spirit needed me to share. I sensed this was going to be a testimony of faithfulness my husband could not deny. I believed the situation possessed the potential to be a faith builder for many.
“I feel like someone is feeling suicidal. I feel like someone really wants to hurt themselves. I can feel the heaviness of thought running through their mind.” I looked up to make eye contact and found compassion in his eyes.
“That’s deep”. Translation: I really don’t know what you’re talking about, but I believe you believe it and it’s genuine, or you wouldn’t be crying in the way you just were. He gave me a hug. I went on to get ready, blared worship music and praised while doing so. Then, I was on my way.
After opening the session with worship and prayer, I could not escape the need to pray for the one contemplating self-harm or even taking their own life. The tears again welling up, a notable quiver in my voice, and an urgency I hoped the gals understood.
After prayer was when I noticed – SOMETHING was resonating with them, their glances provided clues I was not off base. However, it was not until the end of our hour and a half together, just before we entered into our departing prayers for the week, that I learned what had been going on.
One gal expressed her challenges for the week prior, making her requests known for what lie ahead. I pointedly asked if she was the one prayed for. “No, but it is someone connected to us. It is no one in the group, but someone connected with us.” The other gals confirmed and proceeded to share the individual whose challenging words and chaotic behavior weeks prior, had free-willingly decided to part ways. SHE was the one wrestling with the dark thoughts I believed Holy Spirit was revealing… Talk about needing to call on Holy Spirit to help decipher mixed emotions!
On one side, God was being praised for answering prayer. On the other side, a very serious concern for the soul in torment elicited more concern and a need for more prayer. On one hand, five women just witnessed the faithfulness and love of the Father by placing her situation on my heart and and moving me to publicly pray. On the other hand, there was relief from the chaos they felt subjected to. On one side I was grateful I could share this testimony with my husband so he wouldn’t think I had drifted farther than he knew what to do with. On the other, I was burdened and saddened that it was true.
Jesus! Teach, comfort, guide and share truth. Please.
WE prayed. I left. I did not share with my husband. Something inside me wanted confirmation what I was hearing was factual. The next day, I witnessed with my own eyes, from the soul herself, the torment she is living with. My heart sank and I prayed.
I know I reiterate all the time about the importance of you and me hearing from the heart of God. I know I share posts that confront our complacency and hopefully lovingly convict us to remove distractions from our lives so we can hear from God through His word and prayer. I know it may feel intense, overwhelming and maybe a little too much for some. I hope this testimony confirms God’s heart to us… HE IS THE ONE desiring we set aside distractions and hear from Him. This is only one example WHY.
Our ability to free willingly make time to hear from Him above all other voices this world throws at us, could mean eternal life or death for someone. It could be the healing someone either does or does not receive. It could be the next faith building brick a loved one needs. It could lead to the demonstration of God’s love the world around us desperately needs to see. I finally did share with my husband how the events unfolded, needless to say he was speechless yet in awe at how God had moved for one many may likely have given up on.
Be encouraged today to spend time with the Lord. Give Him what little you believe you have to give. Position your heart and soul to hear what His Spirit is saying. Take in the truth of His Word. And please, if moved to do so, pray for the healing of those lost and bound by darkness, who have concluded there may be no other way, but out.
Our parents did not model what it was like to live married as God intended and prescribes through His Word. Praise God we DID have my husband’s grandparents to look to as an example of commitment. Commitment was, is and will always be the cornerstone of our marriage.
Commitment was the word I shared with the pastor marrying us so many years ago, as the most important element to live out until death do us part. She was stunned. She shared many couple share love as the most important, or maybe a good plan, or having lots of things in common. In my heart of hearts, I knew all of those things could change, fail, or simply not be present for a season. I also knew in my heart of hearts after moving out a couple days following my seventeenth birthday, commitment to him was vital if I never wanted him to feel rejected like I had.
The first eight years of our marriage consisted of babies, building, and growing. It also consisted of selfishness, fighting addiction and one another. It was hard. Then, Jesus.
Jesus called our whole family to Himself in the fall of 2008. He called me back after years of wandering. He called my husband after years of not believing. He called our daughters to enter relationship with Him at the tender ages of five and seven. Our lives changed for the better.
We were equipped. We were poured into. We were prayed over. We lived in a season of thriving for nearly eighteen months. And then we didn’t…
This new life, while a blessing, brought its own challenges. We didn’t know what we were up against in the spirit and slowly things began to fade away again. AS CHRISTIANS, living for GOD, we found ourselves separated twice, bickering non-stop, and continuing to fight for our own way.
“But this is what God needs me to do!” I would argue.
“Who am I to argue with God?!” my Husband would lament.
Talk about creating a confused environment for our children. I thought I had this divine order of living thing all figured out. He did not want anything to do with it if the picture I presented was what it looked like. But God and His good grace.
In January of 2015 my husband was so ill with influenza he lay on our couch with a 105° fever for nearly nine days. I could have cared less. Harsh, I know. I had so many reasons, so many justifications for WHY I didn’t need to care anymore. I had an arsenal to come back with if he took even one shot with his words. I had examples all around me of Christian women I knew that had left their marriage (some even encouraged me that some marriages just don’t work out), and God seemed OK with it. Needless to say, God needed to deal with me and my heart. When Holy Spirit very clearly instructed me to sit with my Husband, take care of him, and tend his needs the entire week - I did. When He reminded me of the bedrock of my perspective on marriage to remain committed until death do us part, and to remove divorce from my vocabulary and list of options once and for all – I did.
This year, we took a BIG HIT. HUGE. Praise God He had prepared me for it, but it still hurt – deeply. This time, though, I didn’t have an arsenal of justifications for being hurtful in return. Separation and divorce were not an option (although there was a break to "breath" and allow Holy Spirit in) – God had effectively pruned those “options”. COMMITMENT, again, was the Word repeatedly coming to mind... NO MATTER WHAT.
I began to seek God, rather than solace in my pain, and ask what was going on. How could this have happened? Why?
Little by little, Holy Spirit began to reveal to me some scenarios where I had deeply hurt my Husband. He had never shared the hurts with me, for fear of communicating selfishness. However, when I went to him with what I believed God had shared with me, his facial expression said it all. Thank You God for sharing with me!
As we moved to heal and "make right some wrongs”, God laid very specific love actions on my heart to follow through on, specifically to minister to my Husband. God always knows our hearts. He is just waiting for us to ask Him what will impact the hearts of those we love, and minister to them in the most profound of ways.
Something began to happen. The Lord began revealing my heart’s desires to my Husband – and HE WAS RESPONDING. These were “little things”. I thoroughly enjoy laying in the hammock with a good book and maybe even slipping off into a cat nap in the summer. Once my Husband cut the trees down that hosted my peaceful resting place, I no longer had that small pleasure – and I missed it. As part of meeting a heart desire for my Husband, I purchased a bike to ride with him and go places with him. We talked about this becoming something more than just a leisure ride every now and again, but no firm commitment to make it practical.
Within the span of about two weeks, after following through on the love actions God had placed on my heart, the following shaped up…
My husband bought a couple posts to plant in our yard so he could hang the hammock up again. Swoon. While he was away on business, a hitch arrived on our front porch. A hitch that would support a bike rack the two of us would then be able to haul our bikes on and go on bike tours together. When the tiniest of packages arrived that would eliminate the “pop-pop” sound that could wake up the entire house when just one of us was preparing breakfast – my heart burst!
Yesterday, when he asked me to open the door and close it again with no sound, I lost it. Sure I was grateful it would no longer urk me to no end, but I was grateful for something more. My Husband was beginning to gain confidence in those small whispers and then FOLLOWING THROUGH. This is HUGE. He was beginning to respond to Holy Spirit – whether he realized it or not. But you know what? God needed me to do the same.
My Husband and I are on really different places on our faith journey, and our walks look completely different, but I know the same God we have faith in loves us both SO MUCH and desires to make Himself known through the little acts of obedience that are really magnificent, miraculous acts of obedience when we consider our journey up to this point.
Be encouraged today, listen to God and move towards His call on your life. His call will not exempt those closest to you - specifically your spouse or children – your family will always be God’s first priority in your life. If you’re willing to pray for others and trust God to minister to the multitudes through your life and voice, trust Him to do the same in your home, with your Husband and kiddos. If your commitment is waning in your marriage, take a moment to reflect on all the ways God Himself has remained committed to you, regardless of shortcomings, and allow a fresh wind of the reminders of His faithfulness to move your sails to do the same in your marriage.
Holy cannoli it is the middle of June! Almost the middle of 2019! How has YOUR year been going so far?
If I am honest, my year has been INTENSE. But God is good and did not lead me to believe it would be anything other. I simply didn’t know the circumstances that would make it so. Praise God for His grace as I’ve maneuvered through. Praise God for His mercy every single time I stumbled and fell flat on my face (which was a lot). He is ALWAYS FAITHFUL. ALWAYS!
He has been ministering to my heart – quite intensely – it’s time. Time for the change to come to pass. Time for transition to take place. This isn’t new. I have posted about this earlier in the year. It is as though that was the preparation, the lead up of sorts. The events of the past near six months have been in preparation for a moment of no turning back. It’s as though it is time to cross over into the FULLNESS I believe God has – no going back.
Imagine a mountain. I see the past 168 days of trekking up a mountain. There have been periods of rest on plateaus along the way. There have been moments where my footing was not as stable as it needed to be and I slipped down along the face of the landscape a bit. There have been moments when I stopped and looked out on the horizon long enough to capture the sunrise of revelation long enough to settle so deep within my soul a second wind lasted for days where the air was increasingly thinner than the elevation before it.
I’m sure you’re eager. Why such a climb? What has been going on? It seems almost like fiction…
The year was kicked off with more masses being discovered in my breast tissue following a lumpectomy last August. I literally found myself in the middle of a situation I was completely taken off guard by. I felt the tangible impact of spiritual warfare and became more privy to the tactics of the enemy on my life. I witnessed first-hand how the powers and principalities of the world will engage and attempt to activate my husband and daughters in his fight against God’s will. I experienced one of the darkest, if not the darkest hour (days) of my life. Another mass decided to rapidly grow and cause concern. The battle raged and only God’s mercy could keep me in the way I chose to respond to it on some days.
Intense? A little.
But the intensity of God’s presence and His Spirit empowering me to RISE each time I fell was overwhelming! He didn’t abandon me when I fell! He didn’t shun me from His presence! In fact, He drew me in even more.
During this same timeframe, I have learned more about spiritual giftings, resting in His presence and the importance of understanding who I am in Christ in order to fly freely. I have been blessed with an unshakable knowledge, God has surrounded me by women (and a handful of men) who will pray and intercede for me. I’ve experienced first-hand God preparing me for what lie ahead and trusted Him to move me through what He had already revealed. I was able to continue to take steps of obedience regardless of my circumstances, due to my growing love for Him and others. These steps of obedience are proving to be more fruitful than I knew they would be and a harvest is on the horizon. My prayer life has taken on a new life, hence, intimacy with God has grown.
I have received a couple words now in my spirit what God has been speaking. Turning point. Reset. Crossover. Interestingly enough this Friday is the first day of summer, or the longest day of the year, to which the days will begin to get shorter; an apex if you will. The midpoint of 2019? July 1/July 2.
This ascent is now looking more like a bit of a plateau at the top, not so much a sharp peak. The plateau holds within it somehow a reservoir of living water that must be passed through in order to, not return the way I have been brought, but to continue on along another side. Down? I don’t think so.
I am fascinated by the imagery God is placing before me. It’s as though He is saying to me, “A complete immersion in the Holy Spirit, like the river of living water spoken of in John 7:37-39”. As this vision is proposed before me, I smile.
“Can I float around for a while?”
Then I think of the Israelites walking through the Red Sea from Egypt and then again through the Jordan River from the Wilderness. They didn’t rest there, they continued moving forward as God made it so. They cooperated as led and moved on into the place of promise.
Moving and settling into the promised place – the place of FULLNESS – requires BREAKTHROUGH (another word He has been speaking to me). Breakthrough requires calling on Holy Spirit to manifest the fruit of the Spirit, self-control to ensure I follow His Spirit and not my flesh. I can see now why the battle has been intense. Shoot, it has been confirmed multiple times. God’s glory. Oh God’s GLORY is about to break forth in ways not known and I cannot wait. At the same time, I cannot even begin to describe what it may look like. I simply know it is going to happen and it may likely align with the glory of God described in Ezekiel 1:27 – 28:
26 Above the expanse that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone. And on the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man on it high up. 27 Then I saw as glowing metal, as the appearance of fire all around within it, from the appearance of His loins and upward; and from the appearance of His loins and downward I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and there was a brightness around Him. 28 As the appearance of the rainbow that is in the cloud on a day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice of one speaking.
If your year has been intense to say the least, I pray you are able to slip away with the Lord. Allow Him to convict and correct and reveal His righteousness, prune and bring peace, trade sorrow for joy, and rest in Holy Spirit. Jesus, be made known. God, fill the earth with Your GLORY. Love, continue to come down. Holy Spirit, move us. Please let me know if I can join you in prayer.
He no doubt planted this seed in my heart this time last year and the blossom seems to be in full bloom eagerly awaiting the fruit.
The fruit of this fullness ushers in transition – transition from one place of understanding into another. Moving from one lifestyle to the next. Being called to grow deeper and ascend higher with the Lord than before. Image to image, glory to glory. The thoughts of both transforming and transitioning are exhilarating – yet invoke a degree of timidity.
After the blossom, the fruit. Like our apple, peach and pear trees, this next season of waiting is one of constant attention. The bugs and that which desire to devour the sweet succulent flesh and juices of the newly birthed goodness wait also with anticipation. The scavengers equally exhilarated to sink their teeth into the harvest.
God has moved me to write and complete the memoir He has placed on my heart. The launch will be the end of the lead up to the podcast series launched on May 24th. He has also established the connection to minister with women who have found themselves in jail and/or wrestling with addiction. It is hard to believe He stirred this desire in my heart over a year ago and ministry partnership with Mission25 will begin in just under four weeks. A vision He placed on my heart last year for a worship festival in our community is in the works and will come to reality in August. I love how God placed this hope on the hearts of many and confirmed the vision by bringing folks together to collaborate and make this His reality. Fruit. Fruit. Fruit.
But, bugs too. I sense so many see only the output of God’s goodness in the lives of others without fully understanding the battles being endured; without being privy to the itemized invoice of the cost being paid. We WANT to see the good, but not too much – don’t make anyone feel bad for doing anything less. We WANT to see the challenges so we know we can relate, but not too much – don’t make anyone feel uncomfortable.
I want God to be exalted and glorified. I want Jesus to be made known. I want folks to understand this walk is the most rewarding, yet challenging walk we will find ourselves on. There will be resistance. There will be challenges. There will be days when exhaustion appears to take over. There will be days when we may feel like we no longer want to whether the storms. There will be days, or weeks, where the enemy attempts to distract with false reports and pressing on every side. There will be days when we wonder if we will EVER get over this bad habit (sin) that seems to be a gatekeeper to the fertile pasture of MORE God has for us.
Every moment, every question, every doubt, every struggle is an opportunity to rest in and acquiesce to God’s grace and Holy Spirit. But we have to resolve to not camp out there. We have to agree to continue forward. This is where I sense God desires we simply “be” until the next season dawns. Like the peach, pear and apple tree, we need only remain upright, standing where planted, and trust the fruit will be revealed. We will have to apply our supernatural spiritually organic sevin dust: the Word, prayer, worship, following Holy Spirit, abiding in God’s presence, daily resting in His armor, and declaring His truths (rather than our opinions, thoughts or feelings).
Eventually the warm Son will break open fragrance and we will know it’s time. In the ripening, let’s rest where we are, under the shadow of His wings and KNOW in His timing we will break forth anew, in a place we’ve never known.
And it is happening rapidly in nearly every sphere of existence!
A new work area at work.
A new den at home (and a great room in the throes of being changed).
A new routine on Monday nights.
A new sport to learn and support.
Today, a new computer with new software and icons and – oh my Lord – everything LOOKS so different!
Don’t be so dramatic you might say. My marriage is changing. My relationship with my daughters is changing. Relationship with others is changing. Where I was and what God had me doing, is changing.
Change, for some, is almost too much to bear.
We like things to stay the same, even if staying the same means being out of joint with others or God, settling for a stale, murky and dead atmosphere, operating out of fear of letting go, and remaining connected when God is counseling it is time to move on.
As I type the word “change” I sense Holy Spirit speaking, “Change implies you can always go back. Change is not what is taking place. Transformation is. ” Transformation – a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.
I can always move back to my old work cube, change the colors and flooring back to the same color and texture in my den, resume my previous Monday night routine, and not show interest in learning about tennis or go to matches. God seems to be speaking these things are a fore shadow, or indication of something new in the future, of what is taking place in my soul and relationships with Him and others – dramatic change in form and appearance never to return to the previous state.
When moving my cubicle, I had to pack up my old items and move it to the new. This was an opportunity to throw away items that were not going to fit the new space.
When renovating the den, we ripped up new carpet and padding, painted over new colors, and rearranged with new elements.
When transitioning from my Monday night routine, I had to trust God to continue on the very work He began through me, without me, and let go in order to lay hold of His heart in a new season.
Is all this easy? No. But it is necessary (so He tells me ;) ).
A couple weeks ago I shared a blog post alluding to God speaking ahead of time before one enters a challenging time in their life. Separation, threshing, squashing and pressing were mentioned. If you aptly concluded, “She must have been going through something or is going through something or is about to go through something”… D, all of the above.
With only a quarter way into the year, interesting is the most affable term to be used.
Our family had an amazing spring break. Truly. I shared a post about God speaking to me regarding being the “golden apple of His eye”, while on the beach. What I didn’t share was what He continued to speak to me following our time together.
He began to speak to me that because I am the apple of His eye, He will do everything to look after and protect me. Not only me, but the plans and purposes He has for my life, my children, those He has connected me with, and the future I’m currently oblivious to. As I listened, with spiritual ears, I was somewhat dismayed. A particular relationship, was going to appear to “take a hit”. But what would appear as a “hit”, was really God’s hand saying “this far and no farther”.
But why? You see, I am familiar with this. God has in fact spoken to my heart about relationships, particularly close ones, in the past. He has shared something was about to take place and there would be a shift. A shift that was necessary to continue to grow forward. Low and behold, it would happen. This has happened not once, not twice, not three times, but four times. I have learned when He speaks, “keep a distance…allow this relationship to rest…stay away until I say…caution and cut loose…”, I need to listen.
In three of those four scenarios, I in my desire to maintain what I considered peace and an appearance of maintained connection, would reach out and more damage would be done. God ALWAYS knows better than we do. Always. The fourth, when I was cautioned sitting across the table from someone, and this individual in fact played out behavior reinforcing God’s caution – I was grateful I learned the “hard way” times before to listen. But is it “easy”? No.
This time will be no different. There is a tension between what was and what is becoming. There is uncertainty that rattles our confidence. There is doubt that the new is really going to be a step in a more promising direction. And that is just what goes on in our own mind!
Change or transformation is also difficult because other people have a tendency to take our pruning personal. Others may not understand our directive to maintain distance. Others may be jealous of our ability and call to change, when they appear to be in a holding pattern (although they might not be if they saw the price being paid for change). Others may want us to stay the same because if we don’t, it disrupts the comfort zone they’ve established for themselves. The behavior and the way this plays out can look a variety of ways. Unfortunately, it isn’t always supportive, may come across as passive aggressive, and sometimes can get downright ugly.
Peter struggled with the pruning of Jesus, and took it personal as well. When Jesus foretold of His suffering, death and resurrection (the ultimate threshing, crushing and pressing we celebrated this past Friday to Sunday) in Matthew 16:21-28, we can see Peter’s response. “God forbid, Master! Spare yourself. You must never let this happen to you!” I imagine Peter wanted Jesus to stick around. I mean, just a few verses before, Jesus told Peter he would be the rock on which the church would be built. Peter was also looking forward to the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. How was Jesus going to build on and deliver the keys to Peter, if Jesus were dead?! How did Jesus respond to Peter taking His pruning personal?
“Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things that are of God, but those that are of men.” Ouch. I again imagine some serious offense and sulking going on.
It is a dangerous place to find ourselves in, when we think we have it “all figured out”. It is hazardous to conclude we have learned all there is to learn and operate from a static rather than spiritually organic place. It is fatal to allow our pride to speak up rather than be humble to the fact only God truly possesses the knowledge of good and evil and we can trust deferring to Him is in everyone’s best interest.
I may be a little “rocked” by all the change that appears to leading to transformation. But, I trust the Rock of my Salvation to keep me steady and cause me to be that which He needs. I pray you are able to do the same if you find yourself in a season of upheaval. I pray we are able to defer to the Master while we attempt to maneuver through transitional growing pains. I pray we don’t get stuck in the crushing, falling for the lie that this is all there is. I pray we hold onto the hope and promise there is fresh wine, fresh oil and fresh bread on the other side!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.