Venture beyond your perception

Social media can be a real blessing and a real pitfall. I enjoy Instagram a great deal more than I enjoy Facebook for many reasons. Facebook my feed is usually bombarded with political posts and judgments from people who are called not to judge and hatred from people who call themselves tolerant. So you see, even though I have tweaked my feed, I still see these things and generally just shake my head, un-offended.

But tonight, I’d like to challenge your thinking on a subject that few seem to venture into without being extreme one way or another. Tonight I saw another post from a fellow believer who was outraged about another lost court case against a Christian florist who refused to make flowers for a “homosexual wedding.” I understand full well what the Word of God says on homosexuality but are we called to judge persons of a same sex attraction? Let me set this up.

“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18 

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” Colossians 1:5

“‘On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there,  and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.  When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.”‘ John 2:1-11

Alright, I think I set this up well enough. So, just a few things to highlight here; Drunkenness on wine leads to ruining your life, Jesus is the exact representation of God Himself and Jesus turned water into wine after people were already wasted at a wedding. Hmmmm…. is this the Bible contradicting itself or did Jesus see the Father’s heart for this newlywed couple and bring out more wine so that the wedding celebration could continue?

Do you think Jesus was sitting in a corner writing a list of all the people that were at the wedding who were drunk? Do you think He was happy to be there and celebrate with them? I know that this was most likely a “straight” wedding but the sexual orientation isn’t what I’m zooming in on, it’s Jesus seeing what the Father was doing in those circumstances in spite of what the word says about drunkenness on wine.

If we’re going to shrug and say, yeah but He was Jesus! But didn’t you die, were raised and seated with Christ and given His Spirit? Why wouldn’t we seek the Father’s heart in regard to other situations that seemingly challenge what we read in the word? This is such a huge subject matter, I could probably spend weeks camped out on it. Jesus challenged the Pharisees continually, from washing hands, to hanging out with rabble to healing on the sabbath. If we are under the new covenant (which we are) then love is our highest command. And love, covers over a multitude of sins.

I guess what I am saying here is that there are a lot of things that happen in this world that go against the word, things that are also heart breaking and unthinkable. Humans were given free will, we don’t always do what we should with our freewill, whether it breaks laws and statutes or not. Sometimes the choices we make harm ourselves and others. We already know this. Why are we still outraged and put it on blast all over the internet when it happens? Why aren’t we more inclined to share what we love, rather than bash what we hate? The way I see it, posting all these horrendous or Biblically “offensive” things that happen in the world is no better than standing in the person we’re judging’s face and calling them every name we feel is applicable.

Would you stand in front of an abortion clinic and call all the women there whores? Would you tell someone who is in a same sex relationship how bad they are and how they’re not going to heaven because of how they are living? What about the thief? Or the person with a problem with alcohol or drugs? Are you going to slander them in their faces too? Why not go after the young girl who stole a pack of gum when she was in middle school? Don’t you want to know who these people are before you place your judgments on them? They are people! God sees them and loves them. Don’t you want to know their story? Jesus hung out with the rough and tumble, talked with them, ate with them. Got to know who they were… He loved them. You will never get someone to see things “your way” by telling them how awful you think they are.

I am going to end this with some final thoughts. ” A gentle answer turns away wrath,but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” Martin Luther King jr.

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

Jesus had nothing but love and compassion for those around Him. When someone caught His gaze, in the midst of whatever kind of life they were living, they saw nothing but love on His face. That was one of the most beautiful things about Him, His compassion. We are called to be imitators of Christ.

When giving up is not an option.

“Never give up on what you really want to do. The person with big dreams is more powerful than the one with all the facts.” Albert Einstein

There are life circumstances that do not allow for giving up or even taking a break from those circumstances. These are the kind of circumstances that are day in and day out, from the moment you wake until you go to bed at night and sometimes throughout the night. These are the type of circumstances in which you need a mighty outpouring of grace each day to get through and thrive through. For some, this is just their lives and to others, it is a spectacle. Which maybe in some cases, it is both.

I like to keep it real on here. Sometimes it challenges the mind; “religion,” personal opinions, puts you in a place of; “well if that were me I would…..” —which is a dangerous place to put yourself in. I want to ask the question; why keep going? What drives a man or a woman to keep on pushing when there seems to be no reason to carry on? Is it pride? Hope? Stupidity? I can give you my reasons but what are yours? What spurs you on? The thrill; accomplishment, you can’t stop, Jesus?

I lived that other life, the one before Jesus. I was like a wayward child, following my any and every whim. I had no idea what I was doing. I wanted what I wanted at the moment, even if it had no eternal meaning or purpose. Eternity had no bearing on my decision making because I figured I was just going to go to hell anyway (thanks religion) so why not just do what I want to do while I’m here.

Since Jesus, I haven’t found perfection and all the universes answers haven’t been revealed to me but I know that if I pray about something, the Holy Spirit is faithful to answer me. Although there are some times where it feels as though the lines of communication are silent. He’s still there and I’m still here. Sometimes we can’t see through our own stuff to receive what He is saying. I don’t doubt His presence or His ability to share insight with me.

There are mountains that have not moved, they are big and exhausting. I detest the very sight of them because I know they don’t belong, they aren’t in line with “On earth as it is in heaven.” What are you supposed to do when you’re tired, you feel as though you just can’t do it anymore?

“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.  Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:67-69

I know life is extremely difficult sometimes and often. I know some of us want nothing more than to just lay down and not get back up again. I know you are tired and weary. I’m not going to tell you to get back up and fight more, this isn’t your battle. This isn’t my battle either. I’m tired. Everyday I do what I need to do with the grace that Papa gives me each day, that is the only way I have come to discover how to get everything done. But where else are we going to go? Backwards isn’t the answer. Into hiding won’t suffice. Death is no solution at all, there is always a better answer than death. If you are contemplating suicide, please reach out to someone, there is always someone who is willing to help and listen. (including me)

“The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all.” Psalm 34:19

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7

I’m not the kind of person who is going to throw a ton of scripture at you because that is what I “should do.” I place it here because I believe it. I believe that in spite of all my difficulties and disappointments, that Papa still loves me and walks with me through my every day life. I am willing to bet that He grieves right along with me. Buy why hasn’t this or what prayer been answered? Honestly, I don’t know but I’m not going to avoid Him or stop pressing in for answers and insight. The path I once walked was hopeless, on this path, I have a great deal of hope even when to most, it still looks hopeless.

I liked Peter’s response; “Lord, to whom shall we go?” There isn’t anywhere else to go. Once you have walked with Jesus, there isn’t anywhere else to go. If I don’t perceive there to be hope in this lifetime, there is hope in the next life. I know that at least in this lifetime I will never be alone, even when I feel alone. I will never be lost because He knows exactly where I am. I know He always knows how I feel, when I get the sense that no one else does. These things I take comfort in. When there seems to be nothing else, I have this, I have these promises. Do you not realize the bearing your beliefs have on your very lives?

“For as he thinks within himself, so is he.
He will grudgingly say, “Go ahead and eat all you want,”
but in his heart he resents the fact that he has to pay for your meal.” Proverbs 23:7 TPT

What you believe, truly believe is more evident in your life than what you speak. Don’t put on a show, just believe. What do you have to lose? You lose everything that was worth losing in the first place; anger, hatred, hopelessness, anxiousness, wayward living, purposelessness. When you have no reason to carry on, you still have one more reason, the One who loves you more dearly than you know. What is behind you is not worth revisiting. Get into a quiet space and give it all to Jesus, I can tell you from experience He’s got your back and He can handle anything you can manage to throw at Him.

I pray that this blessed somebody today. If you know some of my story, this post would make a lot more sense, so please read some prior posts to fill in some of the blanks. I know surrender isn’t always easy and pressing on isn’t either. But I know you have all the love and support you do need coming from the hands of a loving Father, just trust Him.

Love overrides all…

‘“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”’ John 8:4-11

Can you even imagine the scene? This woman who was caught in the act of adultery was likely dragged out of bed naked or maybe partially naked and thrown into the dirt and called out for her sin in front of a crowd. She was probably scared; mortified, felt completely exposed in more ways than one and possibly repentant. Who knows what kind of life she lived up until this point. Maybe she was a prostitute or had been sexually abused at a tender age, forever impacting how she viewed sex. We don’t know but one thing we do know, Jesus treated her with dignity in a terribly undignified situation.

I like to think that Jesus was writing in the sand as a sign of His lack of interest in the Pharisee’s antics. I like to think there was an eye roll in there somewhere too. He already knew what they were doing before they even brought the woman to Him. His answer was spoken to them in a language they could understand, the law. But His answer to the woman was given through grace.

” For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:17

” God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.” 1 John 4:17-19 MSG

Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn it and if we have the same standing in this world as He did, then why are we running around hitting people over the head with the Bible? Why are we getting into arguments with each other about doctrine? Didn’t Jesus tell us to love one another, so that others will know that we are His disciples, His friends? Why is the church so dang mean? Why do we judge others? Why do we shut them out? Why do we not include them because they are different? Or are caught up in an addiction or a lifestyle that may be considered less than savory? Why!? We aren’t here to judge either! If we judge, we are driven by fear and if we fear, love is not perfected in us. If Jesus didn’t judge, then nor shall I! Did you not know that love covers over a multitude of sins? Love raises others up out of muck they are in. Love puts a smile on a persons face and reminds them that they are valued. Can you imagine the impact you can have on people if you just do the very thing Jesus called us to do, love others? Can you see the smiling faces? The filthy coats that will be shed because someone was loved back to life?

I can remember not feeling loved or accepted, it was an awful feeling. The enemy hisses in your ear that you’re not valued and that the world would be a better place without you. It is a heavy burden to feel so low and unloved, or worse, unlovable! There are people out there who have never felt loved, never had someone ask their name, or pay them a compliment. There are people who aren’t even treated like a human being, with a real beating heart in their chest, just like you and I! That is a horrid, horrid truth to consider but it is a fact! And because we have God living within us, we have the distinct honor of loving people. Not just certain people but all people!

We are the church! This isn’t someone else’s problem, it is ours! This is our commission. This is our privilege, our honor. This isn’t a burden or “our cross to bear,” it is an honor. Papa is love and because He loved us first, we have the ability to love others.

Allow your compassion run wild. Let your love set fires in hearts, in communities and in the world! I would rather die and have God tell me that I loved too much, rather than loving too little!

Yeah but what about this scripture that says this, and this scripture that says that!? Just love, pure and simple love. Judgement isn’t our job, just love. We can take and piece together scripture to support our agendas and leave a whole trail of destruction behind us, as the church has already done. I don’t want to hear another story about someone who went to church and got hurt or shut out. It took an awful lot of courage for those people to walk through those church doors after their last bad experience and we’ve gone and done it to them again? Love is of the utmost importance, Jesus said it is the highest command. It isn’t our place to determine if they “deserve it,” just love them. Don’t expect anything in return, just love them.

Papa is so good to have already filled our hearts unto over flowing, now we just have to get out there and let it spill out all over the place! Throw love around like glitter, make the whole world around you sparkle! Let His glory shine through you! Oh man, what a beautiful thing! I am so psyched right now, love, plain and simple, endless love!

God bless you all, I hope this fired you up too, to get out there and just love on others. You won’t run out, you won’t grow tired and your life will be far from boring! Let’s light the world on fire with love!

Don’t believe the lies

There are some things in life that sound far too simple to grasp and yet, for some reason are difficult to believe and take within ourselves. Believing that Jesus died for you may be an easier concept to grab a hold of, most people manage to grab hold of that. For many the offer comes along at just the right time, much like a beacon of light on a dark night or a life raft. So we cling to it with all of our might. But now what? There is so much more!

Following Christ isn’t sin management. It isn’t checks and balances. It isn’t getting all cleaned up on the outside, while still living in despair within. It isn’t a list of do’s and don’ts, even though many teachings out there will have you believe it is. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36

You are infinitely free from all of the above. You are free to be you while you walk along with your Lord every single day. When you said yes to Jesus, you died and were raised to life with Him. The old has gone, the new has arrived, His Spirit lives within you. He is there for your benefit, to guide you and to shape you into your new likeness, if you are willing to let Him in on it. You still have the free will to say no, but why would you? Life with Jesus is a beautiful relationship, the most beautiful relationship you will ever have! He has nothing but good things to say about you. He adores you and thinks nothing but good thoughts about you. His will for you is always the highest thing possible, He wants you to reach your fullest potential.

“I can’t afford to have thoughts in my head about me that God doesn’t have in his.” Bill Johnson

You know how when you mess up, your mind begins to reel and the next thing you know, your whole countenance has changed from light to dark? It’s like a snowball. It begins with negative thoughts that then begin to manifest themselves as problems around you. You break a glass or you hit every red light on the way home or your spouse shoots you a look that wasn’t joy filled. The life that we experience begins with the thoughts that occupy our minds. If you are busy thinking illegal thoughts about you or someone else, your mind darkens and what you see around you is more darkness or negativity.

Changing your thinking isn’t the crescendo, it is believing what you are thinking. Many people believe in Jesus but they don’t believe Him. Yep, that’s right, they don’t believe Him. They don’t believe all the good things He says about Him. This is the hardest part, this is where most people miss the bus on living life abundantly. Why is it so easy for most people to believe the terrible things that are said about them and not the kind and truthful things Jesus says about them? Because their faith was in others, rather than the One who truly loves us. Their identity is found in others, rather than the only One who knows who we are inside and out. Once we shift our focus from others to the only One who truly knows, the opinions and words of others fall to the wayside.

This is freedom. This is the one thing that if we don’t get this, there will always be some sort of anchor attached to our legs. We may move forward a little but with great striving and grief, not with ease and grace.

“Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.” Ephesians 2:7-10

Hinge yourself upon this. I know I have shared this scripture with you before but it is infinitely important and applicable anytime. God does it, from start to finish. Say yes, that is all. With each step, say yes to Him. Anything you hear that is contrary to what He says about you is a lie. The lie may come from someone you love, do not condemn them but trust that the Holy Spirit within them will align them with all truth and simply remind yourself who you are in Him. That is all that you ever need to know about yourself, what He says.

Until we stop believing the lies, there isn’t much of a difference between us and the rest of the world. We can’t be tossed about by every word spoken over of, we are called to be different, to be certain, unshakable. This isn’t anything you can muster up on your own remember, God does it all from start to finish.

There is so much more to this blog, it will likely be multiple parts but I believe this is a good place to begin. I pray this blessed someone today, God bless you all!

Who do they see when they see you?

“Let them see you, In me
Let them hear you, When I speak
Let them feel you, When I sing
Let them see you
Let them see you in me” Song; Let them see you, JJ Weeks band.

When the road is hard and long and you have been waiting forever for your breakthrough, what comes out of you? When you are among other people, are you kind and patient and loving? When a friend is down on their luck, do you encourage them and give them a hand up? 

“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:46-48

If you allow this scripture to sink in, it will guide you in the art of loving like Christ. What risk is there, being loving toward strangers? If we know who we are in Christ and know that our Papa loves us, there is no sense of rejection. If we can’t even manage to welcome people from outside our church into the 4 walls we call church, how are we any different than the rest of the world? People go to church every week looking for the answer to the age old question; why am I alive? The physical building of the church can lead someone to that answer. But they have to feel welcome there. Church isn’t a country club for the elite saved folks, it’s a hospital for the once sick, in process of recovery! We are all in process. Never think so highly of yourself, that you have arrived, you are changing and evolving and growing just like the rest of us. I certainly don’t want to go somewhere, where I feel like I have to try and fit in. I already should fit in because we are brothers and sisters in Christ and that is enough. If you think there is more than that to qualify, then that thought pattern needs to be thrown out.

You have what it takes to be like Jesus, more than you may comprehend. You already are like Jesus, He lives within you, His spirit moves and breathes within you. Allow His warmth to wrap around others and love on them. Allow His peace to permeate wherever you are. Let His words leave your lips and fall upon the ears of those around you. The people around you are dying to see Him, you may be the only Bible someone reads. It is more in how you conduct yourself, than it is in what you say. The Pharisees were the holiest of holy but Jesus had bones to pick with them at every turn. They talked an awful lot and kept themselves quite cleaned up but the conditions on their hearts and their motives stunk. We don’t want to be found to be anything like them.

Throw love and kindness around like glitter! You’ll never run out and it doesn’t matter if you ever receive it back because Papa sees what you do and He will surely reward you well.

I hope this encouraged someone today. I know it’s a hard line but it hurts to hear about people trying out church and leaving saying they will never return. For someone who doesn’t know Papa yet, that’s a difficult situation. They went looking for something and allowed themselves to be vulnerable enough to go and somewhere along the line, they were let down. Heck, I’ve recently had some less than stellar church experiences but I know who Papa is, so I’m not discouraged. I’m sad about it, sure and it needs to change but we will continue our search for our new church home. It just won’t be the places we have already gone. I don’t want a red carpet but I do hope to see love for Jesus and love for your fellow believer. You can’t really have one without the other. Jesus did tell us, to love one another as I have loved you. If we miss that target, we’ve missed everything. God bless you all.

The breath of life

“God of Your promise
You don’t speak in vain
No syllable empty or void

For once You have spoken
All nature and science
Follow the sound of Your voice And as You speak
A hundred billion creatures catch Your breath
Evolving in pursuit of what You said
If it all reveals Your nature so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You say
Every painted sky
A canvas of Your grace
If creation still obeys You so will I” song: So will I, 100 billion x

I remember hearing song posted above and it captivated me instantly. Songs don’t really do that to me anymore, whether secular or worship music but this one caught me off guard. “For once you have spoken, All nature and science follow the sound of your voice.” That lyric in particular, catches me. If everything, spare humans are as God intended, and they still follow the sound of His voice, what was His initial instruction to us?

God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them
        reflecting our nature
    So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
        the birds in the air, the cattle,
    And, yes, Earth itself,
        and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”
    God created human beings;
        he created them godlike,
    Reflecting God’s nature.
        He created them male and female.
    God blessed them:
        “Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
    Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,
       for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.” Genesis 1:26-28

I chose the message version for some of the wording— the words, being “responsible for the earth”, rather than the word “subdue” which some misunderstand for being domineering or controlling, treating however we wish, which I don’t believe was God’s intention. In the NIV, God instructs Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. Multiply of course was make other little Adam’s and Eve’s but being fruitful is another, rather large subject. Jesus spoke a lot about fruitfulness. When God breathed life into Adam and also created Eve, they too, like the song, began to evolve in pursuit of what God said. And so we know how things fell apart quickly and so sin came into their perfect world God had created. They were cast out, to live in a sin shadowed land. Adam and Eve were the original light bearers. They could no longer bear that light because they invited darkness in. But let me ask you something. If Jesus restored the light by dying on a cross for us, taking up sin and death and even illnesses, isn’t our original relationship status with Papa restored?

Because of what Christ did, our relationship is restored to God. Our responsibility here is to be fruitful (expand the territory, bear the fruit of Christ) and multiply in number and also take care of or be responsible for the earth and all of it’s inhabitants. Christ lives within us, we ought to bear the fruit of Christ. We are responsible for the planet, one rather large goal of ours should be to reduce waste and our carbon footprints. We are responsible for animals, we should take care to not slaughter them to satisfy our appetites. (Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. Genesis 1:29)  This place, these animals, these people aren’t “things” that we can do as we please, this is our responsibility to steward it well. I feel like this is often a subject many won’t approach because it is a subject people become very passionate about or can be viewed in other ways or in other versions, the wording is different. Think about it, we were restored to our original plan for relationship with God. God walked in the cool of the evening with Adam, they spoke, God knew Adam and Adam knew God. You could say they did life together. When God looks at you, He sees what His Son did, not the darkness that broke out and cast it’s shadow over Eden.

What is fruitfulness then? Fruitfulness is lighting other peoples torches whose are still snuffed out. It is demonstrating your identity through love and action.

We all know the fruits of the spirit from Galatians 5:22-23,
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” This is merely an outline of fruitfulness. Bearing fruit is so much more. It isn’t just a plan that works out so that you can glorify God. It isn’t just sharing the gospel with someone. It isn’t just filling up a backpack for needy children at the start of the school year. It isn’t “getting people saved,” or moving in the gifts of the spirit. These are great things, I am not speaking against them, I am saying they are not just these things. It is a lifestyle of never ending heavenly expansion, knowing that everywhere you go, you bring the kingdom with you. That even in your darkest hours and on your worst days, you still live and breathe Christ crucified and what He came to restore to you. That even when life squeezes you, Jesus still comes out. The hopeless need to see hope. The loveless need to feel love, not judgement. The lost need their footpath lit for them because after all someone else did that for you at some point! The Holy Spirit with produce these fruits for you. You need only yield to Him. How else can we be enabled to live like that, still having hope in the midst of trials, other than by the power of God? Other people need to see it, this is the kind of fruit people need to see. This is the kind of stuff that make people wonder why you’re so different than everybody else. Allow the Holy Spirit to work this within you.

We have a job here, a directive. Jesus was the exact representation of the Father while on the earth, our job is the same. He handed over the keys to us when He left, then sent His Spirit to give us the ability. There is nothing that is truly fruitful that we can do apart from the Father. Our world has been turned into a mess because of man’s perceived notion of fruitfulness. Man has lined his pockets with the monies made from his “fruitfulness.” It is high time we get our heads screwed back on straight and pick up where Jesus left off. We don’t have another earth to run to once this one is destroyed. If you think animals voluntarily go off to the slaughter and not cry out when they are killed, you are sorely mistaken. If you think someone else will make up for your rudeness, you’re wrong. Let’s love and respect everyone and everything because each are a gift from God. When He originally created everything, He said it was good. It is still good, we just have to get back to treating it like it is good, treating everything and everyone with love and respect.

Your relationship with Papa has been fully restored, there was no part of it that He didn’t take account for or miss. Let us live accordingly. I do know, this life, this walk with Jesus is a life long process. It is a day to day, sometimes minute by minute thing, matching His steps, one at a time. If we don’t have revelation about who we are called to be, then how can we, “Evolve in pursuit of what You said?” If we are uncertain of what He said, He left behind an entire book. And if that isn’t enough, He sent His Spirit. The wrong things begin to repulse us after a while, whether it is thinking patterns or habits. We no longer fit in the old mold from which we came, it’s terribly uncomfortable going back. So, let’s not go back anymore, let’s continue to move forward and evolve. Christ by His spirit will enable us to do so. Oh thank you Father that I am not who I once was! Oh friends, doesn’t that feel good? You have been restored. You are redeemed. You are made whole. You are dearly, dearly loved!

The ebb and flow of life.

“On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.” John 7:37-39

We have been in California for 2 weeks now, there are two things that I feel Papa in really working into us while being here so far. Trust and rest. We are foreigners here. I can count on one hand how many people we know or have met. We trusted Papa to get us out here and we will continue to trust Him to reveal our purpose here too. It was such a sudden move, He blew the doors open just as we had stopped considering a move across the country at that moment. How does a family like ours integrate ourselves into a new community, meet new people and make new friends? If there is any one thing I can take away from the entire moving and transplanting experience is, nothing can be rushed.

I had a lovely picture the Lord brought to my mind this morning as I was laying by the pool and praying. I saw a rocky terrain with water flowing through it, winding and turning freely through the rocks and pebbles. But then the water came upon some larger rocks and got an extra surge and powered right over them with no effort. I felt like the Lord was highlighting this to me today. Here is what I believed it meant for my family and possibly for you too.

There is a saying in this life that I have heard many times; just go with the flow. The trouble with that flow, is that it may be headed the wrong direction and from my experience it usually was. You certainly don’t want to have a damage plan for your life but a plan for hope, to be prospered and for a future, just like Papa says in Jeremiah 29:11.

When you are living in the flow of the Spirit, it doesn’t matter where you are or who you are with, you will succeed. It does not matter what obstacles are in your way, the Holy Spirit flowing within you and through you help you power through. Nothing is too hard for God. God is not afraid of what you are facing. He is aware of the diagnosis. He knows about all the bills; the heartache, the dreams that died, the foreign land that you are in. If the Holy Spirit is within you none of these momentary troubles stack up against the power and the strength that raised Christ from the dead.

If I am flowing with Him I have nothing to fear. It’s at the moment that I step outside of His flow that I have exercised my will, inviting in fear and all of his nasty friends. If I am flowing with the Spirit is there any challenge I cannot take on or any task too great? You see, it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives within me and was He ever impressed by fallen or broken circumstances? No— and neither should we. Jesus walked this earth, just like we do each day but He lived from the heaven to earth. We have the ability to do the same!

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus…” Ephesians 2:6

This is us friends! We are seated with Him. We have His spirit within us to conquer whatever this life may throw at us! He didn’t get ruffled about everything. He didn’t tailspin when He was having a seemingly bad day, He flowed with Papa right through His days. He ushered in heaven wherever He went. Jesus went with the flow, He went with the heavenly flow. He didn’t “fit in,” He stood out, we are called to stand out, to be in this world but not of it, meaning not an extension of it. This world isn’t meant to make it’s mark on me, I am to make a mark on it. This world and it’s ideologies are a shadow of the world and life to come. We have found our little corner of heaven here in California but we know that this isn’t where we kick our feet up and consider ourselves as having arrived. I don’t know exactly what we are doing here but Papa does and we know that He will reveal all the ways we can bring heaven with us wherever we go.

“Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.” 1 John 4:17 NKJV

Oh friends, let the love of God flow through you everywhere you go! Know that His Spirit flows within you and makes all things possible should you just trust Him. Know that His heart toward you is good, His thoughts about you number more than the grains of sand. His love for you is more than you are able to imagine. Just ask Him how much He loves you! Allow yourself to follow in His flow, no thing that you encounter will be too difficult. He has no fear of the things that lie before you, therefore you can have confidence that as long as you are hidden in Him, you shall have no cause to fear either. I pray this blessed someone today!

Supernatural love

“But in knowing and loving God, I am released to a measure of supernatural love that is unattainable apart from God.” Bill Johnson

Our little family circle has a wealth or challenges. Challenges that someone who is superhuman could manage and endure. I am well aware of my short comings as a mere human, so every day I look to the Lord for my strength. There are days I think I have it handled and run out ahead of Him, I am quickly reminded that He is the only one who is equipped to put the fires out. Fortunately, those days are getting to be fewer and further between because I think my stubborn butt is getting around to realizing that trying to take a short cut winds up turning into a long road.

Put your hand on your chest. You feel that? That’s a gift. We wouldn’t have a heartbeat if it weren’t for Him. Why on earth would I ever think I could love others effectively without His supernatural ability working within me?

Agape love is what we are called to, it is a persistent, unconditional kind of love. It is the highest form of love. It is the love of God for man and of man for God. (source Wikipedia) I love that part of the description above, persistent and unconditional. Unconditional of course literally means; without condition. Conditions being those walls and limitations I have been referring to in prior posts.

I will share with one of my favorite stories about Jesus showing agape love to a man. When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” Matthew 8:1-4

A leper was an outcast, or was cast out of a community for being “unclean.” It was a slow and painful death, where the victim was littered with sores all over their body. If for any reason a leper left their camp and were to walk anywhere near where everyone else frequented, they had to yell “unclean” as they approached other people. I can’t imagine how lonely it was to be this kind of outcast but also humiliating. This man, whoever he was, was someones son; possibly someones husband or father and friend. But he was sent away because of a medical condition. He was likely missing the sensation of physical touch, affection even. Jesus touched him to make him well. But instead of Jesus becoming unclean (which was believed to happen in that day) Jesus made the man clean. So, Jesus in a simple act of loving this man, fulfilled many things he desperately needed. The need of physical touch; love, acknowledgement, acceptance, restoration and willingness. These are just a handful of the things that jump out at me. This is supernatural love!

I have not touched a leper and seen them made clean but I have the opportunity to love and serve my family every single day, outside of my ability. Because the demand on me, is far outside of my ability. I am not a doctor or nurse but I am called to be one every day. I am not a chef but I am called to be one. I don’t have the capacity to keep track of the hundreds of things I need to on a daily basis but I know the Holy Spirit will prompt me. In every day and in everything I do, I know where my strength and ability comes from. I am the mother of a child who physically relies on me for her movement. I am a small woman whose back is in terrible shape but the Lord upholds me every single day. Agape love begins at home. It is possible because I am willing. If I say I can’t do it some days, it is because I won’t, I have allowed myself to become unwilling.

“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” Mother Teresa

Love those around you without condition or motive. Just love them where they are at. Love them even if they can’t repay you. Love them the way Christ loves us. You can’t lose. Even if they don’t love you back, you don’t lose. Because getting them to reciprocate love isn’t the objective. Love others as though you have never been hurt, love them openly and unafraid. Because perfect love casts out all fear and perfect love is only found at it’s source, Papa.

It was Good Friday today. Today we think on the ultimate sacrifice, Jesus having paid the highest price, hanging on a cross for all. He didn’t just die for those who believe, He died for all, no exceptions. The Roman soldiers who spit on Him and laughed at Him, He died for them too. The lepers; the addicts, the outcasts, the poor, the rich, everyone. Jesus knew His Father and knew the Father’s heart, Jesus knew where His strength and ability to love came from. Jesus was the exact representation of the Father. Apart from God, we do not have the ability to loves others in this way. We get in the way of loving in such a grand way.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t agree with the other person or you don’t hold the same values or belief systems. Love them. It doesn’t matter if the person even likes you, love them. Love covers over a multitude of sins.

I hope this has blessed someone today and possibly challenged you too. We are called to be a light in this world, not rule book keepers. Just love people, they will see Christ in you.

Over coming PTSD and medical related anxiety.

“But first seek his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:33-34

I used to sleep with one eye open. We had a very long hard road when Lily was born and there was no end in sight. On her 5th day of life she was put on oxygen, we were told her lungs were underdeveloped even though she was full term. Immediately upon birth she had already been whisked off to the NICU and had been experiencing an extended stay in the hospital, with the newest development, her stay was extended. Sitting in the corner of that room holding her, there were alarms going off everywhere, a lot of the time. Sometimes it was her, sometimes it was other babies. They don’t call them alarms for no reason, when it is your child panic rises up within you. I felt as though my heart was going to jump out of my chest every time her alarm went off. All I could think was oh dear God, please tell me it isn’t something major.

Her oxygen saturation would drop out of no where and for no known reason. To tell you the truth, it didn’t even make sense that her lungs were underdeveloped either but we went along with the doctors as they seemed to know somewhat, what they were doing. Oh the alarms my friend… I’m holding my dear little one, trying to bond with her amidst all the noise and chaos and trying to allow my mommy instincts to kick in when; beep beep beep beep beep. Not a quiet beeping but a long terrifying one. It was awful.

Lily only spent 10 days in the NICU but she was set to go home on oxygen. I fought to get a pulse ox sent home with us, as they weren’t going to send one. We spent one night in the parent suite with her to do a test run. The nurses were just a short way down the hall from us. I laid in bed while she slept with one eye open. I was watching her oxygen saturation bobble between 98% and 87%, I knew her alarm would sound if she dropped to 85%. So here is where it began. I was waiting for her to dip that extra 2%. She had done it many times during waking hours, why not while asleep too? I was terrified to try and fall asleep and have that alarm wake me up. It was an awful sound. I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t know how to, it was as though I forgot. In a matter of a few days a little machine that was monitoring my daughter had slapped its terrifying handcuffs on me, I was subject to the machine now. In an effort to get some shut eye, when she woke for her next bottle and diaper, I zipped her into my favorite mommy hoodie, reclined in the rocking chair and closed my eyes. I slept for 15 minutes.

When we finally did take her home, the homecare medical team met us at our house and showed us how to use our new equipment. We had ample tanks of oxygen, plenty of canulas and plenty of line to stretch across the house. Oh yes and of course a pulse ox to alert us should her numbers take a dive. We were all set right? Ready for success! Wrong. I didn’t sleep. I couldn’t sleep. I watched those numbers for many nights, it became a game. Were they going to go up again or move down a percent? Finally I reached my cracking point, I broke emotionally from sleep deprivation. My husband and I made an agreement to take shifts. Oh my gosh, what a relief! He stayed up all night with her so I could sleep and I got up bright and early in the morning so he could go to bed. We finally figured out the sleep thing.

I had to start doing normal stuff again like leaving the house. Panic would set in. I wasn’t afraid to leave Lily with my husband, I was afraid to talk to people. I didn’t want to talk about what I had just been through. What else was I to talk about? If I saw anyone I knew, they would know I just had a baby and ask how the baby is doing. So there was that anxiety. The next one was far worse, going to stores. If I managed to not feel like I was going to vomit anymore and mustered up the courage the step over the threshold of the store, the first thing I was bombarded with was people noise and the beeping from the cash registers. Deep breaths as I moved through the aisles. I would hear a loud noise and jump, my heart rocketing up into my throat. I was so grieved that I was experiencing this, I beat myself up about it for quite sometime, having a pep talk like; hey, you are a healthy individual who is also very outgoing and social, what the heck is wrong with you!? I just couldn’t do it. My dear husband took over on grocery shopping for a while. I drew the line when I came home sobbing from the store one day. It wasn’t just PPD for me, it was all of the above. It was the death of the child we thought we were going to have. It was PTSD; it was anxiety, depression, grief, sleep deprivation… I could hardly eat!

I think I have painted you a clear enough picture, I hope. What did I do? I began to say no. I began to do it scared. I began to get back out there and try to socialize. I said no to the thoughts and feelings that accompanied all these diagnoses and reaffirmed who I am in Christ. One of my favorite scriptures that I clung to; “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

I cannot take credit for the changes that were made within my mind. God did all the work but my part in it was handing it over to Him. I couldn’t do it. It was well above my ability to take good care of a sickly baby and take care of myself. I was so depressed and distraught, I didn’t cook for 6 months! If you know me, you know I spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

I reached a place in my journey where I realized how severely broken I was and I wanted change, I did not want to live like that anymore. I did not want to jump when I heard a loud sound. I did not want my heart to feel like it was going to beat right out of my chest. I needed to be calm first, for myself but also for Lily, children feed off of our energy. I didn’t want to be basket-case mom anymore. It was painful physically and I felt like it was killing me. So, I gave it to Papa and little by little He helped me through the alarms and the noise and talking to people again. He helped me get free.

Lily was cleared to get off oxygen at 6 months of age. I kept the pulse ox on her at night for a while just to be certain and eventually when i felt like it was time, placed it in the closet. That was a huge faith step for me. Little did we know we weren’t done with alarms. Lily has spent many nights in the hospital hooked up to all kinds of monitors. She came home on TPN (total IV nutrition) last summer before her g-j tube surgery. The pump on the TPN had an alarm. The pump for her gtube has an alarm. Now my husband and I have a phrase that we have shared with others on how we handle the alarms, we say— it’s not oxygen and we chuckle knowing we already tackled that one.

I know this is a long post but I also know someone needed to read this. I know there are folks out there suffering in the grips of PTSD; anxiety, medical trauma, social anxiety etc. There is a way out. I don’t know if you have a relationship with Papa God but He is an amazing Father that deeply cares about you and your mental health. He didn’t cause your trauma. I could have easily blamed Him for Lily’s condition, citing, that if He was such a loving God how could He ever allow something like this to happen to an innocent child? (or one of the many other atrocities in the world) I do know He didn’t cause it. We live in a broken world but as light bearers in this world we have the privilege and ability to bring light to dark circumstances. I have Christ within me and He is the light! He is the reason why I have any hope at all! Friend, I hope this blessed you. If you are struggling, please reach out to me or to someone else, there is help and His name is Jesus, I will happily tell you all about Him. God bless you all.

The medical carousel

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates

When I became a mom again, I didn’t picture myself stepping into the shoes of hardcore medical advocate. Nor did I think it would be such a fight to ensure my daughter gets what she needs and avoids what she does not need. For those of you who are not familiar with myself or my family and have had no introduction to my former blog sites, I can give you a quick run down.

Our little princess was born in March of 2014 with a rare chromosome abnormality called partial trisomy 9&12. So rare that she is the only one in the world with it. We were given generalized ideas of what to expect with Lily but no solidified answers. So, for the last 5 years we have been blazing a new path in the wild Amazon of medical phenomena. Lily is 5 but is said to have the developmental capacity of a 4-6 month old. In fact, just a few weeks ago she spoke the most blessed word (her only word) I had only dreamt of hearing, Mama. I cannot put into words the joy that filled my heart upon hearing her say Mama.

After numerous surgeries; many specialist visits, appointments, therapies and hours spent in frustration and tears, I feel like we are mostly where we have always been but it looks a bit different. Lily stopped eating last summer entirely. Her reflux was so violent that she lost her desire for food. We had been told by many doctors that she did not have acid reflux or GERD but after having a visit with the top reflux specialist in the world, it was finally confirmed, the very thing I had been asserting all along. We were left with no other choice but to have a j-gtube put in her stomach. There was a part of me that had felt like we had failed her, we couldn’t make the reflux stop so that eating by mouth was enjoyable. Let me tell you, we had tried everything imaginable! I cried out to God on many occasions leading up to executing the inevitable. It was either follow through with surgery or helplessly continue to watch her health decline. Of course we did it. It was terrifying but a relief at the same time. We weren’t going to go through the daily struggle anymore of whether or not she will eat her food.

Lily has a tether again. Much like she did when she was on oxygen for the first 6 months of her life. The tether looks like a leash to me; walls, constriction, limitations. I want to cut the tether. Not metaphorically but truly get rid of it. I want to cut the tether to the insurance companies who, if her stuff isn’t billed right or the deductible isn’t met decides not to ship her life giving food and other medical supplies. Do you realize how disgusting that is? Insurance companies decide who gets to live based on what you can afford or if your prescriptions are billed correctly and if not, you don’t get what you need? That isn’t medical care, it’s control and a very sick way of playing god. And I use a lowercase g because there is only One true God, not mere humans who thrive on policies and quotas rather than helping innocent lives flourish.

If I could only express adequately what special needs parents go through just to get their kids what they need I’m quite certain your jaw would hit the ground. I had all of Lily’s deliveries lined up about a month before we moved out of the Midwest. We came to California to get well. We came here for the more consistent weather; the fresh produce, my husbands cancer treatment center (I’ll be writing about this soon) the ample sunshine, the list goes on. So far, honestly, Lily seems happier here. She was effected terribly by the weather systems that moved through Wisconsin on a daily basis, the temperature and barometer swinging wildly every single day. She and I both are human barometers, we both can feel it in our heads when a new pressure system is moving in. It’s not exactly a blessing but I am glad to say, I have not had a headache since being here and I don’t have any reason to believe she has either.

Cutting the cord isn’t going to be easy but we need to regain control of Lily’s health and health plan. I am indebted to the medical staff in Milwaukee for the life saving surgeries they performed on her, she would not be here without them. Now that we have the ease of being able to feed her without the worry of whether or not she will eat what we offer her, it is time to reconfigure her food intake. We need to get her weight back up. For the last 4 months she has been on juice during the day, reaching 68mls an hour. I am hoping to transition her to bulk feeds via a syringe. I had attempted it before with little success due to continued reflux but now that her reflux has drastically improved because of the pure fresh pressed fruit juices everyday, I think it is time to try again.

This isn’t where I saw myself or my family. I never thought I would have to be a medical expert on a bunch of stuff more people have never heard of or been exposed to. I never thought I would be researching the things I have had to research. But I don’t think you can find freedom in all of this until you go through the various stages of grief and acceptance, eventually moving onward and upward. You can’t just camp there. We didn’t ask for this, nor did Lily. Lily depends on us to not camp in our sorrow and to make decisions that may not please all parties involved. I have done my share of arguing my position of why we do or don’t do certain things on Lily’s behalf and I’m not afraid to continue to do it either. I will do what is in her best interest even if no one else understands or supports it. One day when I leave this world I will give an account, that is the only thing I am concerned about. Not what this or that specialist says. I have often come to the conclusion that if it doesn’t make sense to the majority of the people around you, it is Spirit led. I’m sitting here shaking my head with a smile on my face. It’s true. If it’s impossible but you can see the outcome, it’s God. Sometimes you can’t see the outcome but you know that you are supposed to do something a certain way, go, do it. Don’t be afraid, God will guide you. Rely on Him, He is already where you are headed. THAT is comforting.

This is a long hike, we reach plateaus and resting places but we haven’t arrived yet. We just keep seeking Papa’s face every single day to give us the next move to make. I am tossing out my preconceived notions and ideas, the way I think everything should look. The vast majority of my pain has been grieving over what I thought should have been. There is freedom in taking things as they are and relinquishing those things to God to bring good from them. He has no intention to harm us or punish us for some unrepented sin. You died and were raised with Christ a brand new creation and your goodness is because of His goodness. We were meant to be free in this life, we don’t need to be enslaved to rules; fences, limitations and ideologies. All things are possible through Christ. God is Lily’s healer, Jehova Rapha! He put the medicine in the food. He had a plan for all the disease we would encounter here in our lifetimes. He foresaw everything. We just need to return to that plan. It isn’t a plan to ruin your mealtime fun and enjoyment, we just weren’t meant to eat many of the things we do eat. Our household is realigning itself with the original plan and within it, freedom. Many blessings friends, I hope this blessed someone today.