AngeLingo – Prayer for a Friend’s Leg

Tonight she randomly broke the silence on the couch and told me that her close friend, Katia has had pain in her leg all week. She even had to wear a special kind of sock that compresses her muscle – and she was walking stiff-legged up until yesterday. Then Angel said she prayed for her. She didn’t want Katia going on vacation to Hawaii (today) with so much pain and discomfort in her leg. So she said that she prayed – from across the gym – as Katia was talking with Lila.

And today, she came to school with no compression sock, and she was better! Her leg was healed.

I love that she used the terms better and healed.

I love that she prayed…even if from across the gym, and I love that she told us about it, excitedly.   It seems so small…but just that little story showed us her heart of compassion. The heart of God for his children, for their restoration and health. Even if it’s to be able to enjoy a vacation! Love wants the best.

I’m so proud of you, Angel. Keep praying for people. No matter what happens. Keep praying.

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What is Soul Rest?

One thing that puts a little smile on my face on any given day, is when I see a hummingbird fly over to my feeder and take a drink. I usually think the words, “Drink Up!” which makes me think of drinking in the things of the Spirit. Maybe that’s why I don’t like it empty for too long.

3-hummingbird-suren-nersisyan

Today I realized when watching one little guy sip to his heart’s content, that his wings never stopped. Did you know a hummingbird’s wings beat between 50 and 200 flaps per second depending on the direction of flight, the purpose of their flight and the surrounding air conditions? After thinking about it, only one in about four will actually stop flying when they drink at my glass feeder. They get enough food to last them a while, and they’re off. They’re fed… sustained, and then they resume their busy little schedule of whatever it is hummingbirds do.

I watched, hesitant to move, waiting for his wings to stop. But they never did.

An average hummingbird’s heart rate is more than 1,200 beats per minute (compared to the average human heart rate of 60-100 beats per minute). A hummingbird takes an average of 250 breaths in that one minute – and that is when they’re at rest. Their breathing pace naturally increases when they are in flight.

A moment later, I heard through the kitchen window glass, the hum of those wings as my tiny friend flew away and disappeared through a hole in the hedge. I squinted for a last glimpse of him – and wondered if God ever watches us like I do hummingbirds… waiting for our wings to stop. Waiting for us to actually rest while we take in what He’s left for us take in. We sip on our Sunday morning message. We “drink up” our devotional, and I wonder if it matters to Him how often we drink a little at a time, “on the go”.

There must be more value to rest than we can consciously grasp. This world values the opposite. It overwhelmingly values busyness, often equating busyness with productivity. “If I can just keep flapping my wings while getting this food, I can get more accomplished. Carve some seconds off.” “If I can just soak in some decent lyrics while I’m driving…” “If I can cook dinner while I get one more chapter read from my audiobook…”

But either I’m lazy, or I’m wise to think it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re more productive. At least in God’s eyes. So…what is “productive”, what is “accomplished” in God’s eyes?

Am I lazy, or am I wise to think that resting is crucial? Even Godly. That as upside-down as it might seem, resting in Him – in his presence – in the faithfulness of his words – without a scheduled start and finish time – is probably the most productive thing we’ll do all day – or all week.

But rest is not a given. It’s not something that is transmitted to us if we slow down, sit in front of the fire or have a screen off for long enough. I mean, doesn’t even the term “long enough” change from day to day, depending on a dozen variables? True rest, from what I’m noticing, is more of an opportunity that comes to people as a direct result of their obedience to what God is telling them to do. It’s not even non-scheduled chill time with Him. Although non-scheduled chill time with Him is some underestimated gooood stuff, that I am valuing more and more with each year.

Soul-rest is a gift from God Himself, written about in Hebrews 4. Read that whole thing – it’s only 16 verses long. And the last 3 give hope to the weary and busy of us – the weak and tempted of us. Please – keep reading till the end!

I want to be intentional this year, to stay “rested” in Him. Meaning, not just not busy or multi-tasking. Because neither one of those is wrong. But to stay rested by checking myself – and asking, “God, am I walking out what you’re asking of me in this season?” And the inverse – if I notice I’m not at rest, asking Him, “Ok, Dad… I feel stress. I know something’s off-balance. Am I not obeying? Is it as simple as not believing a promise you gave me a long time ago? What is it? Would you help me pinpoint it?”

Every single child of God has access to a special kind of rest that no one else in the world has access to, because of Christ. Soul rest. He makes it possible. And obedience makes it ours. Let’s drink up.


https://www.thespruce.com/fun-facts-about-hummingbirds-387106

 

Opportunity Surge

When God is faithful to my husband, he is faithful to me. I am an extension, and I feel privileged to be connected to the blessing. Tonight, Ricky and I got to go on a little date – we tried out the new sushi bar in town, Momiji’s. On the way there, he told me casually that he gets a bonus (a Christmas bonus… a little late?) from the boss he just resigned from! He resigns and his boss not only gives him a bonus but a solid lead for a freelance project for a wealth management firm! This new lead might even end up as a year-long retainer – what an incredible answer to prayer that would be!!
Then he told me about some of the recent encounters he’s had with inmates, as the new representative for the Freedom Through Faith program for the Washington County Jail. His title is Professional Visitor – such a strange thing to see in print inside a plastic lanyard. He has been given the honor of visiting inmates every week – many a week – to talk, to spend some time, to discuss how they’d like to connect with a faith community from the outside, maybe have a pastor from their preferred kind of church visit them. The fact that he has 3 past convictions of felonies in that same county makes it really hard to believe he’s allowed in there, let alone appointed to help the inmates in this way. The head Chaplain who offered him the volunteer position said he’s never seen it before. But here he is. Tonight, he said that one man told him from behind the glass, “I guess your prayer for me worked last time you were here. I didn’t think about slitting my throat once this week.” And today, an inmate looking at 12 years in prison soon, offered to pray for him.  It completely took Ricky off guard and blessed him to pieces.
Then we get home, and Ricky says – I didn’t want to firehose you with all kinds of news, but today when I was leaving the jail, I got a call from an old friend I used to work with, and he’s now working with John Maxwell and asked me if I’m freelancing again, and if I’d have time to help them with some projects. He offered to fly me to Atlanta to talk over everything. He even mentioned flying to a few countries to work on projects with movie clips or interviews or something…asking if he has a valid passport.
WHAT in the World!? No, he doesn’t! He’s never needed one!
This is all happening within weeks of resigning a job he knew that he knew that knew was not a good fit for him.  It seems so crazy – all kinds of opportunity (there are 2-3 other ones, too) showering down on him at once. But this has happened to us before – so we recognize it now – we are saying OK, Lord, we just want to be open. We want to keep trusting you. So bring it on, whatever you have for us. Whatever you think we can handle. Help us to walk in your wisdom and make choices that reflect boldness and faith. Help us to seek always and first, your kingdom. Your righteousness. It’s as if the moment things would seem wobbly and unsure in the world’s eyes, God swoops in and says, “Pick a Hand.” and then He starts pulling out hand after hand after hand after hand after hand from behind his back. And we watch them open and so often they are things of eternal value. Opportunities. Influence. Joy. Peace… They open and we look at each other like, Really?! Is He serious? Take it!

Thank you, God! All I can say is Thank you. For blessing my little family, often times by blessing my amazing husband. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

 

 

 

Highest and Lowest

When worshiping tonight, I had the urge to lay down on the floor. I’ve never done that before, at home, in my kitchen. The rest of the family was out and I had a long, random Youtube video playing through my speaker – a One Thing conference worship session. After The Lord met me in a precious way as I interceded for some people, I dropped to the floor and stayed there for awhile. Not thinking of the dirt or crumbs. Arms out. I did wonder what my kids would say if they walked in. But they didn’t.

I noticed some things when I got low to the ground. I didn’t want to get up. I felt almost weighted. I just wanted to be silent, not move, and soak in the words. Or sing. Or yell them. My poor neighbors. Then be silent again and think about Him. All kinds of things about Him. I asked Him if He would give me a vision, but He didn’t. I am realizing I don’t really know how to be still for long. I don’t know how to quiet my thoughts…or let my mind go blank for Him to write on. But I’ve heard it’s possible and it sounds awesome. So I’m going to practice it. See what happens.

I remember this thought I had as I lay: It is right for me to be down here. So low.

Not like, “I’m nothin’ but a lowly worm” off-base humility kind of thought, but like, “Jesus, you are higher than all. And I cannot get physically any lower than this. How are we close tonight? How is it that I can feel you here with me like this?”

There was a rightness about it, this is difficult to explain.

The song ended. I wiped my tears with my sweater, got up a little weak, and started making myself a tasty fajita. All was well with the world.

If You Say So

If you say so.

We say to God, Let your will be done.  Lord, have your way. Whatever you want to do, I want it done – if you say so. And that is wonderful. Even Christlike.

But I hear him saying today, the first day of 2018, I will not work and impose my will on you unless and until I hear your invitation for me to. I say to you today, “if YOU say so”.  I will change your heart. If you say so. I will expose the things shrouded in darkness that need to go. If you are willing to see them as I do. If you ask me to shine my glory on them so bright that the holy glare of my presence obscures, even obliterates them. Are you ok with that? I will not force my will on you. I am not a controller. I never have been. I am Love and will not demand my own way.  I am a Co-laborer, as you are. I created you like me, to work alongside me. I don’t prefer to work alone. I wait and am patient to hear you ask for my help. My guidance. My presence close by. My shame-free conviction. Even if it takes half a lifetime. Your will in alignment with mine – this is a priceless, joyful event that is worth the wait, every time. Every day.  So today, January 1st, 2018, for this year that has 364 days yet to unfold, I wait like a Golden Retriever waiting for you to throw that tennis ball… again. I wait for you to ask me. To seek me. And I say, Yes. I see your heart and intent is to align with mine. It reminds me of my Son’s, as he knelt, that sorrowful night in the garden. Your heart is not for my will to adjust and be molded and somehow align with yours. No offense, but yours is too limited anyway.

If you want my input in your life, if you want my restoration power to work in deep layers previously untouched, if you want my peace to infiltrate the busyness, and my wisdom to interrupt your penciling in of the unnecessary… if you want me to highlight by my gentle Spirit, all the lies you have been believing, and to speak life and truth over you instead, and if you want my stripes to heal the wounds you’ve been bandaging up with your cheap, temporary fixes, just say the word. I know how tired of them you are. I know it’s exhausting. Let’s do this together. It will take some getting used to – this mutual submission thing. And it doesn’t make sense to the human mind. But I give you the microphone, and I say, Yes. It would be my absolute pleasure to work with you to do these things. I will.

If YOU say so.

A Start to a New Life of Hope

A few nights ago, I was sent a text by an acquaintance from church. He said his son was downtown and came across a young lady, J, who was scared and needed help. Later he discovered she was caught up in the sex trafficking scene, had been literally running for her life, and offered to bring her home. He lived at home, himself, at 24. She’s been sleeping in their garage this last week, and getting a chance to relax, and observe how this family lives. Eating with them, worshiping with them (dad leads worship at church and plays guitar), talking about all kinds of things. Dad thought of me to see if I could help, as this is a temporary solution. I texted Rebecca (Bender) and she agreed to talk with dad and J. But I have the privilege of being the in-between advocate, which makes me light up inside.

I stopped by the mall and asked the associates at The Body Shop if they would be able to help me support her by providing a gift of some kind…and they asked their manager and he approved 3 different gift boxes worth over $30 each, for 3 survivors I know. This kind of generosity amazes me, and yet didn’t surprise me. I’ve known TBS to be a big supporter of anti-trafficking since my SCTNow 5k awareness campaign days (’10-’12). So after the mall, last night, Angel and I got a chance to meet her in person at their home. I love to give gifts to survivors and pray with them, if they allow me. And she allowed both. She said on three different occasions how she sees a strength in Angel. “You are so strong. I can just tell”.

Her smile was almost constant the whole time we were there. She seemed genuinely happy to be there.  With the gift box of Mango scented things, I included my own box of little things: Rebecca’s book, Roadmap to Redemption, 5 nail polishes, and some Freedom Stickers with the National Hotline on it, that she can ask bar/club owners if she can stick on the back of their women’s bathroom stalls (she is extremely interested in helping others out of the life of trafficking and this was the best thing I could think of that she could do at this point).  Oh, and some peppermint-scented play dough I made yesterday. So weird, but I thought it would be fun and almost therapeutic for her. She seemed to just love smelling and playing with it, which made me smile. The last thing was a rubber bracelet that said “Don’t give up. You’re worthy of love”…and she liked it, but immediately asked Angel if she had one and when she replied no, J gave her the one I’d just given her. It was obvious the joy she had to be able to give to someone else in that moment.

I prayed on the way home and am praying this week, for peace, true rest, divine guidance and HOPE for J’s future. She will need addiction and mental help, spiritual guidance and over Holy Spirit covering.

Will you join me?

me and jolene - face-obscured

 

 

 

 

 

Let Him Interrupt

His boy was finally home. The lost son had appeared around the bend. The dead – was now alive. It was celebration time! What a scandalous story of mercy, the Prodigal Son. This son as-good-as spit in his father’s face, asking for his inheritance early, left home and spent it in no time – frittering away his portion of what his father worked hard to earn. It wasn’t his remorse, actually, but his hunger pangs that drew him back home. Jesus tells the story with precision and purpose recorded in the gospel of Luke.

I am focusing today, on just a couple of moments in it, where he is sitting in shame and pig slop, considering the worst case scenario vs. the best. What to do. Do I dare return? If so, what would I have to say for myself? I’ll pick up the scripture in verse 18 of Luke 15, where the young man is thinking and planning it out:

“I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, 19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”

This is human reasoning. First admission. Confession. “I have sinned against God and against you.” And then there is an equating of that sin with a real felt unworthiness to continue as being counted a son, or heir. “I am no longer worthy of being called your son.” And his third statement is one of working to be accepted and to earn his keep at his father’s estate. He begs to be allowed to work there. “Please take me on as a hired servant”. Our equivalent of “Will Work For Food”.

It’s human nature to think you are unworthy of his goodness, his mercy, his love. Especially just after you’ve royally messed up. I urge you, let him interrupt you as you pray and reason. Let him stop you mid-sentence. Right there. And not allow you to finish your thoughts  – your “Please take me back, but only use me to serve you.” Your… “I will do all I can to please you God.” Your “I will read my Bible every day, now.” “I will volunteer at church consistently from now on.” “I will keep my promises to you.” “I will pray more.” “I will stop wasting time, money – my life.” “I will…”

What have you prayed?

Let’s pick back up in the story where he finally comes home – in his dirt and stench, with nothing left but poor reasoning and plans:

20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.[a]

And that is as far as he got. Because his compassion-filled father interrupted before he had the chance to say what he’d rehearsed in his mind – before getting to the big pull – what he thought would be the kicker – the deciding factor: “Let me work for you as a hired servant.”

But the good father interrupted – to speak to his servants, actually. The option, the plan his son had to work – to perform for a wage for his provision – was never even voiced, and certainly never considered:

22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.

May I suggest, that the Father – our Father in heaven – longs to interrupt your “I will…”‘s with his, “Quick!…” Notice in the passage above, where he interrupted. His son’s plan was:

1. confession 

2. declaration of unworthiness of son-ship 

3. proposition to earn his wage in order to eat

The father in the parable interrupts after #2. But make no mistake. It’s not because he agrees with #2 and just cuts him off before he gets to #3. He addresses the unchanging of his boy’s status as son first thing, when he says, bring the finest robe and get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. These were signs of this time, of dignity, wealth, authority and family identity. Of belonging, and the position of son, restored. And if that wasn’t implication enough, I see him (yelling excitedly over his shoulder), “this son of mine was dead and now has returned to life!” “This son of mine.” Well, that settles that. The father would never disown his son. No matter what. Nothing would change the relationship at least on the part of Dad. His love and bond were too strong. Even stronger than before!

So that leaves one element in the speech of the squanderer left unaddressed by his dad, #1, the confession of sin.

I believe that was intentional too. No need to bring up the sin and betrayal. To say, “I can’t believe you even bought prostitutes.” No need to talk about it at all. His son brought it up. That was all that needed to be said. Nothing more, nothing less on that. Perhaps because there really should be a humble admission – an honest confession.  But when that happens, it is usually evidence of a heart and mind already changed. Repentance. And that is the starting point for all renewal. All restoration. No need to take him by the arm, walk him back to the pig pen and rub his nose in the nasty pods. There was already repentance.

I know as a parent, I’ve been guilty of doing just that – bringing up the past – dragging my child through the details, even amidst an obvious broken and contrite heart. Why? Many times, I’ve even implemented some made-up punishment vaguely related to the wrong. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it’s my attempt at making sure they know the “depth” of wrong done so they aren’t tempted to go there again. But God is changing me. He’s softening my heart to be more like his. To reflect more mercy, more empathy. More like the father in this parable. It’s been slow, but I see some change.

If you read the rest of Luke 15, you’ll notice his son never bringing up the proposal again. Never bringing up the betrayal committed, the dishonor or the unworthy feeling he had still being considered a son. Because what his father said when he interrupted – this was the new narrative. This was truth. Identity. Significance. Purpose.

Whenever the voice of guilt turns to condemnation, or when your inner voice is declaring unworthiness of being a child of God, but only worthy to serve…

Whenever you feel like you need to perform for His approval, or work for a perceived view of your right standing, or keep doing more, more, more for His provision and sustenance, I implore you ~ repent. Change the way you think about Him.

Let Him Interrupt.