And Then I Learned to Fly

There is a simplicity of life offered to all, but sadly attained by few. It is a profound clarity in our identity and purpose that comes from knowing who we are in the Lord and how much we mean to Him. It is the place of peace that surpasses all understanding; a knowing that life is much more than what is commonly perceived. It is the discovery that the One who calls us to Himself, is worthy of our unhindered trust and unlimited love.

In fact, for many this deep seated security is only found when God mercifully and lovingly swoops in to adjust our focus. He cradles our face with those big, strong, yet gentle hands, looks straight into our eyes and waits. He patiently watches as we strive to attain peace through ever spinning trinkets of man-made pleasure and trivial pursuits. He waits for us to stop wiggling around in fruitless efforts to quiet our soul and center all of our attention on Him. "And therefore will the Lord wait, that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you." -Isaiah 30:18

For me, the season when He brought my heart and spirit into harmony with Him, came when we lived on the mission-field. I admit I chuckle and shake my head when I think of the irony of the mission-field during our last year and a half. The mission-field is supposed to be a place of pouring out, of giving freely to a people and place not your own. It's where lives are changed, people are healed, and cultures are impacted with God's love and power. Much of the time we lived there, all of those things happened. But I admit it wasn't the healing, salvations, or miracles happening through us or around us that impacted me the most. It was what happened inside of me as God took my desire to be fully His and began answering that yearning.

You see the last 18 months that we were there, nothing I had envisioned personally, was happening. It was a time  where I had no friends, nothing to do, and no where to go. Everything I tried to do fell to the ground and eventually I began to surrender to the nothingness, feeling consumed by the type of prison I found myself in. The heat was unbearable in our poorly made house, the water was off more than it was on, and the electricity sometimes went out for days. People I reached out to for friendship didn't reciprocate. I was alone with my daughters, husband, Jesus and my longing soul. We didn't have the resources to be able to move back to the States. We were totally in God's hands - ultimately the best place one can find themselves.

I had no distractions of normal life to inhibit my time with the Lord. As a matter of fact, most of what I had, was time with Him. In the midst of confusion, surrounded with nothing, I found that my spirit was still shining. As I would quiet my heavy heart filled with questions, I would find my spirit connecting with the Lord on the deepest level possible. Worship would bypass the clutter of my mind and navigate me into His presence where I knew that a foundation of trust was being assembled. The security I so longed for would only be found in Him, not in my location or circumstances. (This revelation alone was worth all of what I went through.)

And then I learned to fly. My circumstances didn't change nor did my overwhelming desire to be free from them. I wish I could tell you a defining moment in this season that turned things around, but there wasn't one. There were many. Every day was a defining moment. Every time I decided to smile, to worship, to encourage myself and my family, every time I prayed for someone on the street when I didn't want to, every time I lifted my hands thankful for His love, each moment I laid my questions at His feet, defined me and altered me most profoundly. I just kept doing it - every day, over and over and over again because He was all we had and in truth all we needed. 

Then one night I had a dream unlike any I had ever had. I dreamt that I was flying around our house, in and out of each room, fully free and happy. My prison became a limitless sky! It was so real. I had never dreamt I could fly before. The Lord was showing me how I could be free and soar higher than my circumstances. I was still stuck in the natural, but I was learning how to be free and fly in, through, and above the limitations that went deeper than my surroundings into the depths of my soul. After I had that dream, it was only a matter of a month or two before God moved us back to the States.

Now that we are here, I have had to learn to fly in the midst of busyness and stay in the place of worship and communion with Him. This is the position most find themselves in. But regardless of what situations you are facing, what distractions seek to hijack your focus, God is wanting you to stop and discover something beautiful; something simple yet profound. In order to learn to fly, we must choose to love, to be thankful, to trust Him, and to experience the substance of His presence every day and in every situation. He longs to fulfill you, satisfy you, and  surprise you with His love! Can't you sense His nearness now? Don't you feel Him drawing you every so gently into His love? Stop wiggling and be still. Everything that once has tripped you up is actually a step to stability - a foundation of strength and assurance. Choose to take moments - over and over again to be with Him, to love, to surrender all, and to be thankful and then you too will learn to fly.


When Impossibility Meets Possibility

I have written many times for this blog and as a guest author on other sites, encouraging others and myself on the importance of hanging in there & worshiping beyond our circumstances. But yesterday I realized how few write about the experience of dreams coming to pass. To keep writing about how things will get better and failing to write about how incredible it is once the breakthrough actually comes, sounds as though we are beating a dead horse ...always hoping but never realizing our dreams coming true. It's essential that we celebrate and shout our victories even louder and longer than we have bemoaned our struggles.

Today I want to tell you that it is quite sweet on this side of the breakthrough! Years ago I led an amazing dance team in FL and felt so fulfilled and blessed to be doing what I loved. Then I gave it up to serve for many years on the mission-field. For all of the years that I was on the field, I taught ballet here and there, but longed for the day when I could truly dance not only what was in my heart, but to be a part of a team who shared my passion. Every time I tried to do anything with dance as a ministry, it fell flat. With each passing year came the realization that I was getting older and more out of shape. My dream of ministering with dance felt like it was dying. Right before we left the mission-field, I once again laid my dreams on the altar and thought my only outlet to worship the Lord in dance would be in the privacy of my home.

Then we moved to Redding and joined Bethel Church. Immediately, I was surrounded by passionate lovers of God who shared the same heart for dance and worship. I wanted to scream, "Please let me dance with you! In the hall, at a house, just let's get together and dance!" But the one thing I have come to appreciate about our church is that no one is promoted based on talent, ordination papers, or the famous people you have ministered with. Here, it is all about relationship. And relationship is one of the beautiful things we encounter in the ministries we join.

The fulfillment I have found isn't only because I get to dance - though that feels AMAZING - it's because I have found a group of people who love what I love, care enough to be real, and are crazy in love with Jesus! It is actually easy to say they are family - after all, that's Christian lingo for lots of people - but I am happy to say they are my friends.

I understand quite abundantly how blessed I am to have come full-circle. There is definitely more that I believe will come to pass, both with dancing and writing, but it is finally here. It is actually happening. After years of holding tight to the hem of His garment, worshiping and praising the Lord for what felt like a disappearing dream, fighting disillusionment & discouragement, that He some how, maybe, just maybe had forgotten, God has once again proved His faithfulness. I never expected that my dreams would begin again in my 40's when I was in the worst dance shape ever, but God is more concerned with my heart than the height of my leg or how many pirouettes I can do! I understand where Bethel gets their model of relationship over titles. They get it from Him. And I have come to value that as well.

So today as I publicly shout, "God is faithful! I've never been happier!" I want to cheer you on as well. He was all I had for many years. I had no local friends (besides my amazing family), no outlet to dance, and my dreams felt like a cruel mirage, but I had Him. He became my Best-Friend more than He ever had been. I learned to trust Him more than I thought I could and I worshiped more honestly and deeply than imaginable. The times of disillusionment don't last forever. I am one who can very humbly and joyfully attest to this truth.

Thank you God and thank you Bethel Leaders for a not only a place I am free to use my gift, but for place I now call home.


A Journey Into Identity

In all of the years I’ve been dancing, I have never had a season where I have learned more about dance and myself in it, than this last year. Unfortunately, it has come out of a season of injury. This has been a difficult season to navigate through in the natural, but what the enemy has tried to steal, kill, and destroy, God has turned into a time of great discovery. 

I have danced since I was 4 years old. I have no memories of a life without dance (except when having babies). As a result of a life woven into a beautiful tapestry of dance, my identity has been intertwined with dance as well. When I cannot dance, I feel incomplete. However, what I’ve recently been processing with the Lord is that my identity is not that of a dancer. When God looks at me, the most significant thing He sees is not that I am a dancer. The most significant thing to Him, is that I am His child. 

I am much more than dance. Within me is the convergence of two realms – Heaven and earth contained in one body. I am His child and a vessel of His Spirit. Since God is love and I am made in His image, I also am love and a dispenser of that love on this earth. Dance is only an expression He has given me to shine forth my true identity. The problem is when we confuse our identity with the expression of our identity. This has been one of the biggest things I’ve learned in this season and to be honest, was hard for me to come to terms with. Who am I if I’m not dancing? Who are you if you aren’t doing the things that have become a part of you? God doesn’t define us by what we do, but by who we are.

Looking back over the 24 years I have taught ballet, I have found a common thread among injured dancers. They complain more about their frustration with not being able to dance, than they do about the injury itself. They express how fragmented, out of sorts, and discouraged they feel when they’re unable to lose themselves in the movement of dance. And that is in fact what happens to dancers - we blissfully lose ourselves in the freedom of expressing an inward reality. 

You see for those who only watch dance, they may not understand that the physical aspect of dance is only a portion of what is happening. For us, body, soul, and spirit harmoniously articulate themselves through the language of dance. As worshipers who dance, it is an especially deep experience. It is a language of love, a way for us to shine forth what He is saying & doing, and what we are seeing & experiencing. But when that expression is suppressed, we can feel off balance. We have become so intertwined with this expression that we confuse it with the deeper foundations of who we are. 

In seasons when we have no outlet for dance, (no studio, etc.) or are physically restricted, we should embrace these seasons as allowances for strengthening our foundation in Him. I believe that when we aren’t able to express ourselves through the gifts He’s given us, it is a good time to make sure the gift is still as pure as when He gave it to us. A season where we cannot dance is the perfect time to lay this gift at His feet and allow Him to purify any area that has been tainted with mixture of any kind. And the only way to know if it has been tainted is to ask Him. We want the waters flowing with purity in order for them to have their full intention realized. I also encourage every dancer to take at least a couple of weeks off each year for these same purposes.

Expressions of love can become automatic – done out of a habit instead of an overflow of experiential love. When this happens we are exhibiting the clanging symbol symptom. (see 1 Cor 13) It is so important that we walk every day, every expression, with constant awareness of our Source – of His love as the foundation and center of what flows out.


Anything is Possible!

At the close of the year, whether it was a tough year or an amazing one, most people begin to hope. We look at the approaching year as a clean slate, a motivation to believe in ourselves and allow ourselves to dream again. So many make quiet promises that in all of the ways they let the year go by with unfulfilled goals, the new year will be a year of focus and commitment. Stirring themselves up, they decide to believe that anything is possible and lists of hopes and dreams are rewritten. I too have felt a great excitement about next year since November! However, this morning the Lord prompted me saying, "I am the eternal now." And, "I am enough."

Because Jesus is The eternal now, and He is enough, each morning is our clean slate and the start of each day is our chance to refocus and stir ourselves up. He is the eternal now, ready to create hope in those who feel hopeless and revealing the passion inside of us that is able to move us to greater things. He is enough; all we need to not only understand what our deepest desires in life are, but what the steps are to see them accomplished.

When we live our lives understanding that He is our greatest delight, our most glorious ambition, and then attentively lean in with our heart, mind, and time, we will find ourselves discovering the ultimate fulfillment. He truly is - enough. I've discovered this time and time again in seasons of trials and seasons of joy, I'm always brought back to the truth that the passion that burns within me finds satisfaction in His love alone. It is then out of the place of this saturated awareness of His nearness and His love, that my heart then hears His wisdom and direction on how to achieve the goals stirring in my mind.

He is enough when things are going badly, to be our peace, our hope, our anchor in the wind, and our joyful expectation. And when our cup is overflowing and peace is ours, the arms of the One who has wrapped us there, lovingly hold us steady as we fix our gaze on Him.

So, as many are refocusing and setting new goals, remember that it is in Him all satisfaction is found and out of your nearness to Him all dreams can be realized through the wisdom He longs to share. He is eternally walking in your now, just waiting for you to join Him as you realize that in this life and forever - He is enough!


Day #4 A Torrent That Surpasses Our Wildest Dreams!

Here we go! If there is one subject that is my absolute favorite, it's worship! For me, more than any other place of encountering the Lord, worship is not only the easiest and quickest route, but it is the most intense place I encounter Him. By worship I mean a time when music is on and songs of love are pouring out of our heart and song; probably some dancing happening as well! Worship is a huge part of my identity; it probably is for you as well! I was reminded again today how important worship is to my life and how I honestly don't feel "normal" if I haven't had good worship time with the Lord. (For the record, worship doesn't always have to be with music. Even as I write this, my heart is yearning, longing for Him; pulling Him closer just because He is on my heart and mind. I can barely write as I can feel His nearness. Worship is so much more than a song, but I'm choosing the one facet of song just for today!)

There is something about worship that goes deeper than any other place. Worship takes us past the place of distraction, even when there are multitudes around us, and we bring Him love. Just love. His love moves our hearts and our love moves His heart. Take a moment right now - take a deep breath and close your eyes and imagine Him sitting right there with you and tell Him how much you love Him. Just focus on Him and expect that love to be reciprocated! Ah! The more we love Him and pour out our love, the more it increases! Sometimes it can be so intense we wonder if we can possibly contain more - but we can. 

The place of love is the place where fear, anger, pride, and so many other fleshly things disappear. My Pastor, Bill Johnson, reminded us today of that old song, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace." He talked about when we choose to focus on His face, His beauty, how all the things of earth grow dim. That is SO true!

The possibilities in worship are deeper than we can imagine. No matter how close to the Lord we have come, there is always a closer place. We have to be careful that we don't become comfortable with the levels of worship we have experienced. There is more - always more! I'm looking for the face to face encounters. I'm looking at Him, I'm loving Him, but I'm anticipating it to get deeper every time. Our worship goes into the Holiest of all places, straight to Him, accepted by Him, enjoyed by Him.

I try not to make my blogs long, because I know people don't like to read long things. But how can I possibly talk about worship and leave it with so few words? And yet how can my many words possibly describe the indescribable pleasure of encountering this love?  My heart is to pull you into a place where you finish reading this and all you want is to go worship Him; all you desire is His presence! Worship is the love we pour out on Him, and yet He can't help Himself as His love becomes a torrent that surpasses our wildest dreams!

Here is what the Lord is saying to you:

"You have ravished My heart. You have inflamed My being My beloved one, My equal, My bride. I am undone by your love. Merely a glance from your worshipping eyes and you have stolen My heart. Just gazing into your heart, joined to mine, and I am overcome! Conquered! Ravished! Held hostage by your love!" 
Song of Solomon 4:9 The Passion Translation


Parenting Messes & Victories- No Domestic Foo Fooey'ness Included!

We've been looking at different ways we encounter God. Today however, I want to talk about parenting. (You know, when I think about it, God actually has used my daughters many times to speak to me and to teach me a great deal about His love. I have encountered Him through my kids countless times!)

A few weeks ago I met one of the leaders at the Youth group in which two of my girls attend. She asked me what I did to raise girls so in love with the Lord and told me I should write a book about it. I smiled, but thought, "Oh if you only knew! It hasn't been me, it's been all God." No false humility about it. I'm as shocked as anyone. Our daughters are 20, 18, and 15, and while I am incredibly amazed by their relationship with the Lord, I have no thoughts of writing a book on parenting. Today I only want to offer you my testimony. No sugar coating, no stories of home baked cookies, and domestic foo fooey'ness, but just a very candid look at our journey and the struggles that turned into triumphs. (I suppose that alone could be a book, but I promise a condensed version today!)

The only thing I can say I have been good at, is loving our girls and directing them towards encounters with the Lord. When they were little and having tantrums, or misbehaving, there was one thing I always did - send them to their room to ask Jesus how He felt about the situation and not to come out until they heard from Him. Almost every time they would come out having encountered
Him. When things were going good, I would remind them to spend some time pouring out their love and thankfulness to Him. It was never about religious dos or don't s, it was always about getting to know Him. To this day, tucking themselves away with the Lord to hear His heart has become a habit for them.

When our oldest was 8 years old and the youngest was about 2, we moved our family to Puerto Rico to become missionaries. We spent a total of 8 1/2 years in Puerto Rico, moving back and forth between there and the States in a total of 6 moves. The more we moved and the older they got, the guiltier I felt with each move. Though some years on the mission field were incredibly awesome and fruitful, many years were very difficult and lonely. Most of the time my home-schooled girls had no friends and we had no money to enroll them in extra curricular activities. We even considered putting them in school, but the schools would have put them a few grades down because they didn't know much Spanish, so we declined. Every time we moved we got rid of everything we owned. When they were little it was rough making them give away their toys, but when they were older, rough took on a whole new meaning as giving away furniture meant sleeping on pool floaties and using boxes as furniture for indefinite periods of time. Many times we had no running water for days, no electricity, and never any AC in blistering humid heat. Such is missionary life and we had it easy compared to many who are missionaries in third world countries. I have so much respect for them!

Those years were filled with many tears, many doubts about my parenting skills, and a lot of guilt as I would hold my daughters and assure them that God would bless them with their hearts desire. (I was reassuring myself as well.) The sacrifice my children had to make wasn't something I anticipated when we first moved them as little children. I expected my husband and I to be the ones to pay for what I considered our call. It wasn't until recently that I have seen the extraordinary plan of the Lord to use those seasons of solitude as a setting that facilitated great dependance upon the Lord. The very thing I felt so guilty about, was the very thing the Lord used to ignite passion in our children. I have often stood amazed because I know our lifestyle could have pushed them away from us and the Lord, but He knew it would do the opposite.We all have areas in parenting where we feel we could have done better. But as we keep our hearts and direct the hearts of our children to the Lord, we see Him go way beyond the expected and do the extraordinary. There were 3 things I have prayed over them since conception: 1- That they would have a close relationship with the Lord all of their lives, 2- A close relationship with us, their parents, and 3- That they would be best-friends all of their lives. I just did not expect Him to answer my prayers the way He did.

 At the last church we were  a part of in Puerto Rico, nobody went up front to worship except the dance team, even though there was a lot of space. My girls and I have always loved being up front in worship. It is a place where we are undistracted and can really lose ourselves in worship. I taught our girls that true worshipers carry an anointing to break things open and at this church they discovered the power of that truth for themselves. To the front we would go, knowing people were wondering what we were doing, and get totally lost in worship. It wasn't long before others started to join us and by the time we left, each service had a number of men, women, and children worshiping freely up front. The anointing we carried, and just being us, helped free others to worship.

To this day, people go up to my girls requesting prayer because of the way they see them worship. There is a depth to their relationship with the Lord because of the things they have had to walk through. I am incredibly thankful to the Lord for taking our obedience to Him, as hard as it sometimes was, and proving Himself faithful. My girls are growing into women we are incredibly
proud of. It wasn't because of anything specific we have done other than loving them unconditionally and continually leading them to the One who loves them more than we do.

Today, be encouraged. God knows how to take what we think are big messes and turn them into beautiful victories.


Day #3 The Secret Power of.....


Yep, I said the "f" word, but don't stop reading! As I meditate on the various ways I encounter the Lord, the subject of fasting has been swirling around in my spirit. Let me first say that I'm writing on each subject as the Lord prompts, with no particular order of importance to me. There are so many different ways to fast and I was thinking about the fact that in different seasons of my life, I also fasted in different ways. It's not my intention to discuss a current trend in small groups that fasting isn't for today. The Bible is chock full of proof that we are to fast - period. 

For many years I did full fasts with water and juicing only. Those were some of the most amazing fasts I have ever done in my life. There was something about the feeling of physical emptiness that enabled me to hear the Lord very clearly. It's something I don't fully understand, but the hunger and weakness quieted my mind. During those years of fasting I received such clarity on situations where I truly needed His leading. For me the times of my full fasts were times of delight because of the ease of hearing Him in them.

The second season of my fasting consisted mainly of Daniel Fasts. These were actually harder fasts at times, than the full fasts; partly because my flesh wanted to eat what it craved and partly because the encounters with the Lord weren't as amazing, so there wasn't as much incentive. The ability to control my food cravings and give my body was it needed instead of what it wanted was symbolic of what the Lord was doing. There was no clarity of His voice in these fasts; no immediate reward of His
presence, and I had to push through by faith. At the time I didn't realize how much that would help me to persevere through some very difficult seasons in my life where the Lord was only giving me what I needed and not what I necessarily wanted. For me it was about strengthening my spirit and being led by it, instead of being led by my flesh. 

The other main way I have fasted has been by shutting out distractions in my life. I would cut out things like Facebook, email, TV, etc., in order to keep my free time focused on Him. For me the decision to fast these things was much harder than actually doing it. These have always been times of deeper revelation because my mind isn't as cluttered with useless information and I am intentionally listening more.

Obviously there are many other things we can fast - fasting words of criticism or sarcasm, fasting video games or talking on the phone - the list is endless. However, there is one thing I know - fasting always does something within us even when we aren't aware of it. During a fast we don't even have to have a great deal of set apart time to make the fast worth our time. Something happens within our fast that causes us to become more aware of Him and our attention is constantly drawn back to Him because of the sacrifice we are making in our bodies. 

Don't let fasting scare you. If the Lord is calling you into a season of fasting, it will be worth it - promise!


Day #2 Joy - Let's Have Another Round!

I've been thinking quite a bit on these seasons of change we all go through and specifically how the Lord encounters us in them. In Day #1 I encouraged you to think about the ways He touches you and to find out for yourself what is the most prominent way for you at the moment.

As I was doing that today, I remembered one of my favorite seasons. Back in the 90's when revival hit Toronto and parts of FL., I was blessed to live in FL and got hit hard by the joy of the Lord. I spent a lot of time during those days in meetings and on the floor, laughing uncontrollably for hours at a time. I would wake up the next day and start laughing again. Wow! That was so awesome! I know some are still in that season...laughing and drunk all of the time, but I'm not. I fully believe it is not a stopping place, but something to catapult us to even deeper things in the Kingdom. Although I think it is accessible ALWAYS!

I'm very happy in this season of my life, but I haven't been experiencing that drunken, blissful JOY like I did for those years back in the 90's. Sure, it comes in waves, but nothing like it used to. Being happy is one thing, but JOY...hahah! Yes, that's a different thing and I could go for another season of it. How about you? How about taking some of the deeper encounters we have had, coupled with the wisdom that has come out of hard times, and have another round of joy?

Most things worth having in the Kingdom are accessed by faith. His joy is accessed the same way. On one hand we can't force a season upon ourselves that the Lord isn't ordaining. On the other hand, we can! Just take a look at John chapter 2 and how even though Jesus said it wasn't His time, His Mom was able to change the time table. There is something to be said for tenacity! And I for one have decided to plunge head first again into the reality of His joy in me and for me. I have noticed that the things we study, listen to, honor, etc., become more and more real in our lives.
So, how about it? Anybody else ready to have another round?


Day #1 - Embracing The New

I've been pondering the many ways we spend time with the Lord. While I firmly believe that communing with Him throughout our days is indispensable, set apart time is equally important. A marriage that didn't have time exclusively set apart for the husband and wife to be alone, would suffer greatly. The same is true in our relationship with the Lord - there must be time to be with Him, and Him alone.

Many of you know that since our move back to the States from Puerto Rico, our lives have changed drastically. In my season of adjusting to this incredible new life, I began to wonder if I was doing something wrong because my time with Him had changed quite a bit. I have found that we tend to become so accustomed to the "normal" way the Lord encounters us, that we downplay noticeable shifts, especially when the "norm" has been outrageously good. Too often we want to camp at specific encounters not wanting the present glory to lift or change. But He has promised to lead us from glory to glory! Letting go of one season, no matter how glorious it was and trusting Him to lead us is key in this amazing relationship. If every meeting, every encounter, was always the same, this beautiful friendship would become stale and boring. Realizing this has brought me a lot of freedom and I can enjoy this new juncture in my life without forcing myself to replicate an experience, the way I approach Him, or even the manner I expect Him to meet me. 

In light of some of these revelations I began to think of you, my friends, who also have burning hearts for greater intimacy with the Lord. For those of you who would like, let's journey together through some of the specific ways we spend time with the Lord, how they affect us, and how we can better facilitate what He is doing in our lives in the seasons we find ourselves. 

At first I was going to set a specific amount of time, perhaps 2 weeks, but I don't want there to be pressure in what we are doing. So, while I will write Day #1, etc., it is only to assist you in keeping track of our journey. I truly mean "our journey", because I would love for you to share in the conversation, here and/or on FB. (Either on my personal page, or The One Who Waits page.)

To start out, I encourage you to take some time and think about the many different ways you truly enjoy spending time with Him. Then we will talk about how we encounter Him in those ways. For example, at the moment, I encounter Him mostly in 3 ways: worshiping Him in song (with music playing), reading, and dancing. For others it may be through contemplation, painting, or Bible reading. I would love to hear how you spend set apart time with Him, and if you are having a hard time getting time alone with Him, feel free to say that too!


Just Let It Out!

The last time I wrote a blog, I was standing in the waiting line for breakthrough. Now, here I am having tea with breakthrough and quite enjoying our time together! At times it seems almost surreal to be walking out things that I have believed for, for so long, and at other times it feels the only natural conclusion to faith.

There have been a few times lately in corporate worship, that tears of thanksgiving catch me by surprise. Most of the time I wipe them away and replace them with a great big smile and words of thankfulness to the Lord. (Surely a smile much more effectively communicates the joy that I feel, right?) However, the other day the Lord began to remind me of the beauty of tears.

"Pour them out upon Me. For I long to receive your tears of joy and thanksgiving. Just as you used to pour out tears of worship, so determined to trust Me regardless of what seemed like unanswered prayers, so you must freely let your tears of thanksgiving flow. They are a beautiful offering of love to Me," I felt the Lord speaking to my heart.

I know that God has enjoyed my happy dances of joy, but I wanted to enjoy the sweetness of His presence in breakthrough, to the same degree that His presence sustained me in pain. Until you have experienced His love and nearness in pain, the fulfillment that His closeness brings in blessing, isn't the same. It isn't that we have to cry to show our appreciation! But taking the time to pour out our heart in thanksgiving, to the same degree we poured out our hearts in petition, is a reflection of the level of intimacy we have with the Lord. 

The Lord knows the deep workings of our heart. To hide or lessen the emotions He gave us, in order to give Him what we think will move Him or be acceptable to Him, is to turn off an avenue of beautiful and unique expression that nobody else can give Him. We aren't to allow our emotions to lead us into disarray, but when they are a natural result of our intimacy with Him, we can be sure that they are pleasing to Him. 

Regardless of which side of breakthrough you are on, know that your nearness to Him and the outflow of your hearts expression, is beautiful in His sight. Take the time to allow your heart to burst forth with whatever His closeness pushes to the surface. Bring Him your song, your tears, your joy, your tightly gripped hand on His garment, but whatever you do, come with your heart's expression of love.


Breaking Free From the Monotony

Here in Puerto Rico it is normal to see stray horses walking the roads. However, seeing them run down the Interstate is not something you see often. Recently, my husband and I saw just that - two big horses running scared with their small foal. They were running on the side of the highway in the same direction as the four lanes of traffic we were on. A construction worker was waving a flag at them, trying to scare them back into the grass, away from traffic, but there was no safe place for them to go for at least half a mile. All we could do was pray that they wouldn't head into traffic and cause an accident.

I imagine these horses were either tied to some trees in a nearby field, or kept in a stall, but the monotony of their unchanging circumstances drove them to break free in hopes of finding something better. That sounds very familiar to me! How many have found the dullness of circumstances (pain of trials, etc.) driving them to break free and run ahead of God into something new? One can get weary of waiting for the promises to come to pass, and instead of shaking off the frustration, exchange the safety of one place for the danger of another. Sometimes it feels like ANYTHING would be better than our current situation! However, becoming exposed to the freedom we have longed for must come in God's timing, not ours, or we will find ourself running scared and though someone may wave warning flags in our face, not knowing what to do or where to go. Suddenly, the safety of monotony becomes desirable.  

This reminds me of Isaiah 30:15-16, "For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: 'In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.' 'But you would not, And said, 'No, for we will flee on horses' -Therefore you shall flee!"

It's always the point just before the breakthrough that feels the hardest. It's then that so many have done their own thing and decided that because God didn't do what they expected Him to do, when they expected Him to do it, that He must have forgotten. But it is in the place of quietness and confidence, or we could say, relaxing and continuing to trust Him, that we find strength to continue. Let's look at what verse 18 of Isaiah 30 says, "Therefore the Lord will wait, that He maybe gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him."

Today if you have been feeling discouraged by what seems to be a delay in your answered prayer, take a deep breath, release your care once again, and remember that God has it under control. Breaking free from your situation before God releases you, may be just as dangerous as those scared horses on the highway, longing for the safety of home. Though we often do not understand God's timing, we must trust in His love for us above all else.

I pray today that you will find yourself drenched in the tangible goodness of God, where you can rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory as you wait. (see 1 Peter 1:8) In His presence is fulness of joy! (see Psalm 16:11)


Pondering - to encourage you!

Today's blog may be a bit different than my usual, but I pray my candid pondering will encourage you! 

The other day I was told that a friend of mine met someone who read my blog (whom I have never met) and how the Lord ministered to her through it. Hearing about the situation made my day! It is one thing to journey through life's trials and triumphs with the Lord, but it's entirely different when we go beyond ourselves and minister the revelations we've received to others. I've found that many times I don't realize how much I have learned in a particular season until I use the truths I've "owned" to minister life and encouragement to others. When I say "owned", I am referring to when we go past head knowledge of the Word and experience it for ourselves. (See "Experiencing the Word", blog below)

It's like we get tunnel vision in the midst of the things we go through and though we are doing our best to keep our hearts and minds on the Lord, sometimes we just feel stuck, with no natural knowledge of how or when things will change. But then, in the midst of our trials... our discouragement, sickness, failing hope, our deserts...our CRUD...whatever you want to call it, HE COMES! Sometimes He comes with nothing more than His overwhelming love, but that alone has the strength we need to take a deep breath and face another day. Somewhere in the midst of a glory encounter, we get our fight back. It isn't that we are looking to always fight the enemy, but the INNER fight we need to shake off self-pity, fear, worry, or whatever we deal with, and say, I WILL BLESS THE LORD AT ALL TIMES, HIS PRAISE SHALL CONTINUALLY BE IN MY MOUTH! (Psalm 34:1) Faith and hope rise as we remind ourselves of His love, His faithfulness, and His Word. As we continue to encourage ourselves and set our mind on things above (Col 3:2), something changes within us and ultimately, around us.

We were created to BELIEVE! That's why we are called "Believers", not doubters! 
James 4:8 says, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded." Sometimes He comes and surprises us with His love and strength, but USUALLY the awareness of His presence comes because WE are purposely focusing on Him, drawing near to Him. We purify our hearts by choosing to be single-minded; deciding to believe regardless of what we see or feel in the natural and shaking off the double-mindedness. Without faith we aren't pleasing Him (Hebrews 11:6). You cannot mix faith and doubt - it just doesn't work. Sometimes our greatest battles are not the ones we have with the enemy, but with ourselves. We must CHOOSE to believe!

After hearing about someone who "stumbled" across my blog and encountering the Lord, I was so encouraged. Not only does the Lord see when we live as "laid down lovers" (those who have surrendered all), but the world sees as well. Be encouraged that what you do in secret is having an affect on people even when you are not aware of it!!

I want to encourage you today that regardless of what you are going through, regardless of how long you have gone through it, He holds the answer. We access the answer first by faith. We choose to believe. We choose to thank Him in advance. We choose to worship Him and bring Him love even when we don't understand. When we do these things, we choose well. 
If you are doing these things, YOU have chosen well. 

The Lord has told my family that we are moving to the States. We chose to believe that we are moving BEFORE we could see any evidence in the natural. Now, as people are being moved on by the Lord to sow into us, we are starting to see the manifestation of what He said. But, it isn't fully there. HOWEVER, in our hearts, we are convinced this move will happen and SOON & we are beginning to pack. YOU have promises from the Lord too! Begin to praise Him for the answer and if there are steps you can take in the natural to step into the answer, do so as He leads. 

Remember, your current trial is your future strength that will be used to minister to many!!