Prophetic Happenings at Church

Dear Gateway,

God is speaking so much to our church and about our church and THROUGH our church right now that I’m having a hard time condensing it down into a written form. But if you consider yourself affiliated with Gateway Christian Center, you will want to know these awesome things! There’s so much good coming at us, it’s like trying to take a sip from a fire hydrant, and it’s challenging to organize the information. But I’m gonna try! Let me begin by talking about how special Sunday, Dec. 8th was.

For THREE YEARS we have been praying for the prophetic, and the tangible moving of Holy Spirit, to be activated among our people. Yesterday (Sunday) we experienced it! Here’s how things unfolded: First of all, we got there and there was a bird in the sanctuary. Initially I viewed the bird as an annoyance… it was fluttering around above people’s heads and making a distraction. But I happened to speak with Steve Lowe, and he told me he’d been trying to get the bird out since the day before, because it had set off the building’s security alarm, and he’d had to drive down to the church Saturday afternoon to see about it. He said that he tried several things to get the bird out, to no avail. At one point, the bird flew over to the big brown cross in the corner of our sanctuary and landed on the very top. He took a picture! Then he waved his arms very enthusiastically to try and shoo the bird outside, but the bird instead took off and flew straight UP.

SO.

When he told me that detail, my mind was suddenly flooded with recalling a beautiful dream I’d had a few weeks earlier.

👆🏻There’s the dream as I posted it on Facebook.

So we ended up having church on Sunday with the bird still in the sanctuary. At the beginning of our service, people just started sharing prophetic words, or dreams, or answers to prayer. This free-flowing sharing is a sign of Holy Spirit moving in our midst and we love it! Nadine came forward and shared a deeply encouraging thing the Lord had said to her. As she shared, we realized that the content of her word matched very closely with a prophetic dream Pastor Mike had had the night before. These “coincidences” are actually God weaving threads among us as a church and they hold great significance. After Mike, Nadine and Sarah had shared, I came up to explain something that the Lord had laid on my heart earlier that morning. He had spoken an Assignment for Gateway! He took two (partial) Scriptures and wove them together and instructed our church to PRAY these two sentences, OUT LOUD, every day until January 1, 2020.

His instructions about this were very clear and I knew that I should share it with everyone. He wants as many Gateway people as possible praying this certain, simple prayer every day. Will you please join us?

Okay, one more cool “coincidence.” This morning (Monday), as I was reflecting back on how sparkly-awesome church was yesterday, and remembering to pray our special prayer, I felt the Lord nudge me to check my phone and I saw a notification from YouTube inviting me to watch this message. (This is just a 2-minute screen recording I made. I can share the link for the whole message for anyone who wants it.)

This is about Jesus saying “It is finished” while he was on the cross, and it’s about praying God’s word out loud.

NOT a coincidence at all. God is speaking to our church.

Love to all,

Sally

The 12 Year Foundation of Gold and The Lightning Rod!

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Note of explanation: This article was originally written as a prophetic update just to the people of our church, but has been modified to be more ‘user-friendly’ for the general public.  Our church is called Gateway Christian Center, my husband Mike is the Pastor, and our worship leader is our daughter, Sarah. Throughout the Winter and early Spring months of 2019, the Lord began to speak to people among our congregation about the concept of “The Threshing Floor” and instructed us as a church to take our prayer requests to the threshing floor. We’ve enjoyed digging into the Bible to learn all about threshing floors, what they mean and what happens there! 

At our National Day of Prayer Event on May 2, 2019 we had 3 stations. One for Personal Threshing Floor, one for GateWay’s Threshing Floor, and one for praying over our Country.

As soon as I arrived to the parking lot that day, clouds gathered and I heard thunder rumbling. I got my big American Flag out of my car because I was going to use it to help decorate the “USA Station.” I carried it across the parking lot, and as SOON as I got into the building with it, a HEAVY rain suddenly began to fall. This rain (rainfall is SO LOUD at Gateway!) triggered a memory. And as soon as I started remembering, God started talking! I remembered that there was another service, years ago, that I had called and hosted (because God had told me to) and it had rained so loudly that time as well. So I started wondering, “When WAS that?” Then Holy Spirit just started bringing it all back to my mind and also talking to me at the same time.

It was the first week of May, many years ago. God had been speaking to me about Revival, and the last Sunday of April I’d actually brought the message at Gateway and it was entitled “Let it Rain.” Then God had instructed me to call Gateway to a Solemn Assembly… something I’d learned about in the ‘90s while studying past Revivals in American history. God instructed me to host the event for my church, and to tell the people that they must arrive into the building in complete silence, and REMAIN in complete silence until God released someone to speak. In private prayer at home one day before the event, God showed me that the Silence at our Solemn Assembly would last exactly 40 minutes, but that I was not to tell that to ANYONE, not even my husband.

So… miraculously… WE DID IT! A lot of people came. It was an evening event that started at 7:00. The people came into the sanctuary in silence, filled up the chairs, and we just sat there, waiting on God to move. Most were just privately praying or meditating. After a while, I heard the Lord say to me, “Look at your watch.” I did, and it was 7:39. Then a few seconds later, at 7:40 on the dot, Mike opened his Bible and began to read a scripture passage. SIMULTANEOUSLY, it began to rain. It rained harder and harder and Mike ended up having to shout to be heard over that rain on our metal roof! After Mike finished reading, people began to share. They got up and gave praise testimonies. It rained harder and they would have to shout. Then people began to get up and confess sin and shortcomings in their lives, and again the rain pounded so hard that we needed to shout to be heard. It was COOL!

So, fast forward to this past Thursday. These memories were flooding my mind, and I excitedly told Sarah that somehow we’d ended up having our National Day of Prayer event on the exact anniversary of the Solemn Assembly event, and I told her it was in 2006. Numbers are important to me, so in my mind I did the math and said, “It was 13 years ago, almost to the DAY.”

(This was incorrect but I don’t want to get ahead of myself here…. it’s part of the story of how God moved on Thursday!)

I chose to go pray at the USA station first. I got on my knees and began to just pray for America. Almost immediately I heard the Lord tell me to ask for Gateway to be a “hot-pocket”… a “hotspot of activity for the Fire and Glory that are coming as We launch Great Awakening and it sweeps nationwide.” It was like God was feeding me the words to pray. “Let Gateway be a hotspot of brilliance and Light and glory and miracles.” And when the word ‘miracles’ came… I saw Jesus laughing with his head thrown back in the most authentic and JOYFUL, victorious-feeling laughter!

THEN, I saw a vision: I saw an hour glass with only a very few grains of sand left in the top half. I thought, “Oh no! Time is running out??” But then I saw a hand come into the picture, and as soon as the final grain of sand dropped, the hand gently turned the hour glass over. Then the scene zoomed out a bit, and I could see that the now-FULL top part contained sand that was Red, White and Blue!

Then the scene changed and I was shown a map-image of the United States, and a wave of GOLD swept over it, turning our whole country gold!

I was so excited about what I’d just seen that I immediately shared it with Sarah. Then she told me that during that same time, SHE had just had a vision while praying at the Gateway Threshing Floor! Here it is in her own words:

“Over America—  I saw the Lord tilt up the chin of His Daughter America, home of the Free and the Brave. He said so tenderly to her as He lifted her face to His, ‘America, America, God shed His Grace on thee!’  Then He kissed her and His LIFE BREATH went deep into her being! She is coming back to LIFE! America the Beautiful! Land of the FREE, home of the BRAVE.” 

Later, when I had moved on and was praying at one of the other stations, God nudged me and said “Hey, it wasn’t 2006.” I knew he was talking about my incorrect assessment of when our Solemn Assembly had occurred. He said, “It was 2007, remember?” And I DID! He had instructed me that year to do THREE assemblies, one month apart, leading up to the Nashville ‘Call’ event in July of 2007, and then take a group from Gateway to The Call. Spring and Summer of 2007 had been an AMAZING time for our church! 🙌🏻

So after God reminded me that it was ‘07, my brain said, “Oh okay so it’s been TWELVE years.” And then God said “Look up the spiritual meaning of the number 12.” So I did!

The number twelve represents FOUNDATIONS… the laying of a foundation.  Then God showed me something SO AWESOME that it gave me chills. The 12 years in between the 2007 Solemn Assembly and our prayer service last week was, how do I put this…. ROUGH for our family (and many families within our church). I’m talking fiery trial after FIERY TRIAL! But that FIRE was purifying our foundation and turning it to Gold! For TWELVE YEARS God has been making sure that our foundation at Gateway is pure, golden, forged in faith, and STRONG! 

While I was still praying at the “Gateway Threshing Floor” station, the Lord said some other exciting things.  I will type it out here like the conversation that it was. 

God: “When I determine to do a thing, WHO can stop it? Implied answer: NO ONE.” 

Me: “What have you determined to do here, Lord? Make MY heart-desires match YOURS, O God! Don’t let me cloud this with any selfish or misguided goals/hopes/dreams!” 

God: “Gateway is a Lightning Rod!  An anointing will come here… a FRESH-feeling anointing. Salvations, baptisms and healings will flow out of it.”        AMEN!

Late that same evening I received a text from a prophetically gifted person who: 1.) RARELY texts me, and 2.)  Had NOT come to our church’s event and knew nothing of the details about how our National Day of Prayer had gone, but he texted: “God has  been telling me to tell you that today is a day of remembrance.”

The next morning I awoke from one of the strongest prophetic dreams I’ve ever had. I won’t take the space to type it all out here, but it was about our current President and the interpretation was that a New Day is dawning on America! 🙌🏻 

Then on Sunday morning, May 5th, the Lord woke me while it was still dark and just told me to look at the clock. I looked and it said 4:44. I said “What does 4:44 mean Lord?” And immediately I saw a vision! I saw the whole earth… our planet just floating in space (like a normal satellite photo would show), and a hand came and reached over behind the sphere  🌏 to take a piece of ribbon and bring it forward. Then another section of ribbon was gathered from the left side of our planet, then a piece from the right, then the fourth piece from the bottom, and the ribbon was tied into a bow upon the world.  

I got the strong sense that God was “wrapping things up.” (The kids these days… when something is nearly finished, will say “Put a bow on it!” That was what it seemed like God was showing me!) 

In conclusion, [for NOW!… because these cool prophetic things KEEP happening!] I just wanted to gather into one place here in our fifth month of 2019, all the things God is pointing to and saying to us as a people. Something HUGE (and wonderful!) is approaching, and I am so blown away that our humble little church gets to be a part of it! Let’s be READY!

 

 

Truth is a Person

Last night we wrapped up a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, full of laughter, sweet family-time, fellowship, good food, games, etc. It was just plain GOOD. Then I got ready for bed around 10:00 p.m. and as soon as I laid my head on my pillow, I literally felt my mind trying to turn to some dark places. (It was like my brain had a mind of its own! Weird, I know!) It felt like a train, loaded up with Negativity, Fear, and Doubt, left a station nearby and came railroading into my thoughts, unsolicited!

First there was fear. Y’all I am not a fearful person and rarely struggle with that issue. But suddenly I was worrying about everything all at once. How my kids are turning out, my teen daughters’ safety and well-being, my grand babies, my marriage being attacked, our finances, the health of our church… no area of my life was untouched by this dark, creeping fear. Because I’ve been a Christian since I was 9 years old, and I’ve been in church all those years and paid attention (!), I knew what to do. I recognized where this crap was coming from, and I began to pray. I said the name of Jesus out loud, and I began to quote a lot of Bible verses that I’ve committed to memory over the years for occasions JUST such as this one! Guess what? It didn’t work this time.

Having faced this particular “not working” thing before, I knew what to do next: WORSHIP HIM. (By ‘Him’ I do mean the One and Only, the Lamb slain before the founding of this world, our Jesus.) Now my favorite way to worship Him is to sing to Him. It’s what I’ve always done, since early childhood. So lying there in the darkness of my bedroom I tried to softly sing my worship to my God. But it wouldn’t come out of my throat. And that’s when this dark nasty force took it PERSONAL. I heard a foul whisper, “If he hadn’t taken your voice away you could win this thing.”

🎯

There it was. Bullseye. Arrow straight to the heart. My heart hurts already every single day over the fact that I lost my voice seven years ago and never got it back. My heart grieves over the fact that I can no longer sing. Lying there in my bed last night, tired and wanting to be asleep, I’d temporarily forgotten that I can’t sing anymore. For a SPLIT SECOND, I felt my spirit, my heart, my core self trying to slide down into the location this foul demonic spirit had chosen to take me… despondency and bitterness, anger at God, spewing at Him “Yeah, God I WOULD worship You if You hadn’t made it freeking IMPOSSIBLE!” It felt good to my hurting flesh to be angry.

But. Somehow (praise God) I knew this was a trick. It was an invitation to somewhere that looks/feels good at first, but turns ugly once you’re there. I knew not to go.

I’d already tried prayer, quoting Bible verses, saying the name of Jesus… I now caught myself wondering what other tools I might have in my tool belt. (Mike had just preached the day before on our spiritual armor, from Ephesians 6, so I was mentally scanning through whatever options I may have left.)

And that’s when Jesus showed up. Like, inside my mind, where I could see him, His manifested Presence came walking into my thoughts. (That’s the best way I can explain it.) Y’all, the look on His FACE. It was so… human. And recognizable. Like, “Hey there I’ve seen this nasty thing you’re up against tonight while you’re just in your bed minding your own business trying to go to sleep. Want some help?”

[This is the kind of Savior we have!😭]

So this is how it went down after that: He asked me, “If all of those things that you were fearing actually happened, and every other worse-case-scenario you could imagine also happened to you, where would you be?” I said, “With You.” And suddenly ALLLL this PEACE flooded my mind/heart/soul. Then He invited me somewhere. He said, “Come float on a cloud with me.” Now this is funny right here… like an inside joke between me and Jesus, because he knows I hate it when people think that Heaven is just formerly-alive humans floating on clouds. So I saw this delightful twinkle in His eyes when He invited me to do that. In my mind, my imagination if that’s what you want to call it, I pictured Jesus and me lying down and relaxing, adrift on a white puffy cloud. Nothing was said… we were just TOGETHER. The next thing I knew, it was 6:00 this morning and I was waking up from a refreshing sleep. Still feeling close to Jesus.

**WHO WON THAT, Satan??** hahaha

I know that God wants me to write this episode down and share it with others, because we all have a nasty enemy who is real, and can try things against us. The devil hates us because we bear the image of God, and he really never tires of trying to trip us up. It’s important that we know how to fight him and take our stand against him.

One final note: the thing I was doing right before Jesus Himself showed up and basically shut the enemy’s assault down, was that I was scanning (frantically, I’ll admit!) through the list of weapons/armor in Ephesians 6. I realize now that what “worked” in this case was Truth. The very first piece of armor Paul lists is the Belt of Truth. The fact that he calls it a belt shows that it protects your gut, your CORE. Remember how I said that the enemy took it to a place that was PERSONAL? When he brought up my voice condition, it felt like a gut-punch to my soul. But last night, I didn’t have to “find Ephesians 6 in my Bible” or intellectually remember the verse about the Belt of Truth. My frantic mental scanning got interrupted because TRUTH walked in. Truth is a person, and His name is Jesus. He helped me so much last night! ❤️

The (World’s Longest) Blog That I Didn’t Want to Write

Do you know that for the past six and a half years I’ve been living life with no voice? I don’t mean metaphorically, like you hear about on the News, where a certain people-group feel that they “don’t have a voice.” I mean like I literally lost my voice in April of 2011 and never got it back.  I speak in whispers. And that is a VERY frustrating and agonizing way to live.  People can’t hear me.

I have no idea how to start this particular Blog post. A gigantic part of me doesn’t want to write it. But God keeps nudging me to write it… and somehow, deep in a smaller part of me, I know that I need to. Mostly it’s about something tragic that happened to my daughter, but it’s also about my voice, and God and Jesus and the biblical gift of prophecy.  Maybe if I can process what has happened, then I can find an appropriate place to put the pain/confusion/disappointment. It’s scary to begin, though. I really don’t know what I’m going to end up saying. But, in faith that something good can come out of it… here goes.

December of 2017 was rough.

Heck, ALL of 2017 was rough.  But December decided to out-do all the other months, and let the year go out with a double gut-punch.  I was recovering from the serious E. Coli infection that had had me in the hospital for a day, and then home for TWO WEEKS with a PICC line in my arm, receiving daily I.V. antibiotics to basically save my life. So that was fun. But when it was finally over, I began to re-group and set my personal plan of attack for the upcoming Christmas season. When you have six kids, three sons in law, and three very-adored grandbabies… shopping for gifts is serious business, and you must have a strategy! This holiday shopping would make a nice fresh focus for me.   And just as I was making my initial plans, I received some happy news. A new grandbaby was on its way! And the due date was my birthday! OH how this news warmed my heart! And, let me explain… it warmed my heart extra, EXTRA much because of “what had happened.”

My birthday is the sixth of August.  Last year, on August 6th 2017, my daughter Leah had suffered a miscarriage at my house, during my birthday party. It was a very sad day. I hurt so badly for my daughter, and cried a LOT that day. Our whole family did. It was just plain SAD. When I received the news in early December that Leah was pregnant again… I was overjoyed. When she told me that the due date was Aug. 6th… I latched on to what felt like a very natural, God-inspired thought inside my own head: “Poetic justice! A sweet reward! Since we suffered such a loss ON my birthday last summer, God is making it so that we receive this awaited precious baby right on the same day, one year later.” It seemed right to me! I loved it. “How very kind and awesome of God to do this for us,” I thought, “after the particular sadness of the August 6th miscarriage.”

Why call it a “particular sadness”? Do I call it that just because it happened on my birthday? No, there was more to it than that. You see, this was not Leah’s first miscarriage. Let me explain.

The year 2017 started off with us grieving.

We’d been extra happy all during the Christmas holidays(2016) because Ben and Leah had announced a pregnancy in early December. Our family LOVES babies, and we get really excited when someone is expecting! In the week between Christmas and New Year, though, I received a text from my lovely daughter asking for prayer because she’d started having symptoms of a threatened miscarriage. This was new to me, to our whole family. No one in our family had ever had a miscarriage before, or even the threat of one. Naturally, we took it to the Lord in prayer. We prayed hard, and we prayed “right.” By that I mean that we dug in the Scriptures and found verses that matched our need. We prayed specifically, and we prayed with faith. We reached out to multiple friends and family members who are known for being mighty prayer warriors, and got them praying too.

Nevertheless, a few days later, Leah lost the baby. Oh how we cried! Oh how it hurt my mama-heart to see my 23 yr. old child grief-stricken. It really hit her hard. But, after several days, she got up, took her stance as a faith-filled child of God, went back to worshipping Jesus (even though it was thru tears) and never missed a Sunday fulfilling her role as a worship leader at their church. I was amazed at her faith and courage.

Leah’s doctor had suggested they wait several months before trying again to conceive, so that’s what they did. But one very hot July day, I received an invitation to come over to Leah’s house for coffee. I kinda’ knew something was up… call it mother’s intuition! With a joyful sparkle in her eyes, Leah told me that she’d had a positive pregnancy test, and that she and Ben were so excited! Immediately, though, I heard caution creep into her voice as she told me that they were going to keep it confidential for a while, because of “what happened last time.” I winced at the memory of the pain from 7 months before. I remembered how she’d chosen faith and strength in the Lord, and carried on like a trooper. I said, “Leah, God’s not going to let you lose two babies.” I meant that from the depths of my being. I literally could not fathom that happening. I set about rejoicing over my new, forthcoming grandchild!

Do you know what that’s like? For a big ole’ loving family that LOVES babies? You immediately begin daydreaming… will it be a boy or a girl? Will he/she look like older siblings? What names will be put on the list of possibilities? How soon can we start buying teeny-tiny clothes, socks, onesies, to celebrate? What kind of fun shower can we plan? These were my joyful thoughts. UNTIL.   The unthinkable phone call, “Mom please pray, I’m spotting again.” My gut wrenched. My spirit automatically wanted to turn to prayer… but there was this shadow there, that hadn’t been there before… a dark whisper saying “you prayed last time, and it didn’t work.” I rejected that thought and began praying anyway. It’s what we DO! We are Christians! We are a Pastor’s family! Leah and Ben are Worship Pastors at their church! We live by faith. We exalt Jesus in all that we do, and proclaim God as a good, GOOD Father. We stand on His Word. We walk in victory, reciting verses about being “more than conquerors.” That’s how we live.

Ben and Leah contacted their core prayer team at their church, and we did the same. We stirred our faith up and went on about our week… keeping schedules and looking forward to my birthday party on a Sunday afternoon. Scripture-based prayers asking for this new life in Leah’s womb to be protected and healthy were never far from our lips. Nevertheless, as I’ve already mentioned, that baby was also lost. The timing and circumstances of this miscarriage were absolutely heartbreaking. I was growing tired of seeing my daughter in so much pain… physical, emotional and spiritual pain. Those un-answerable “WHY” questions wouldn’t stop pounding through our brains. People say things like, “Well, this little life just wasn’t meant to be.” Okay then WHY would God allow the conception to take place at all? If this person wasn’t meant to exist… fine…, don’t let them form in the womb! Every single conception of a human being is an absolute miracle! Why were these tiny humans being conceived, only to be lost through miscarriage? These are the questions that make your heart and your head ache to the point of anguish.

But we took our anguish to God, and even though no good answers ever came, we eventually dried up our tears, said “God is good… even when bewildering loss occurs,” and we went on with our lives. Leah’s doctor this time said that, like last time, they needed to wait several months before trying again, but that if/when a conception occurred in the future,  she should come in for weekly blood tests to monitor her pregnancy hormone levels. The theory was that, if low levels were what was causing the miscarriages, there were medical interventions that could help fix that problem. Eager and excited to add to their family, Ben and Leah followed the doctor’s advice and waited the appropriate amount of time. After a four month wait, they were happily letting us know that a positive pregnancy test had happened again! We all felt cautious, but were reassured by the fact that Leah’s doctor’s office was going to be immediately and consistently monitoring the situation. Looking back now, I wish that somehow we could have been shown what was actually happening: we were all climbing aboard a gut-wrenching rollercoaster.

The first appointment brought good news! Her HCg levels were normal, and it seemed to be a thriving healthy pregnancy. Yay! We all breathed a very joyful sigh of relief! Prayer teams were notified of this happy praise report.  The next week, the blood test gave numbers that were not exactly DOUBLE, which is what the nursing staff had told Leah it should be. She worried. I worried. We prayed. The following morning, however, the doctor called and reassured Leah. Even though the numbers had not precisely doubled, the pregnancy was still healthy and there was nothing to worry about.

*Sigh of relief number two*

“Just to be on the safe side, though, let’s schedule an ultrasound for next week,” the doctor also said.

While we waited for the ultra sound, normal days were happening. Leah was having classic symptoms of pregnancy… heartburn, nausea, etc. Although those are annoying, we were joyful at the presence of them, because it just kept reassuring us that THIS pregnancy was a keeper. The Christmas season was upon us, and my heart began to soar a little. Then came the day of the ultrasound appointment. I’d asked Leah to text me as soon as she knew anything. Her text came, and it seemed tentative. Something about not being able to detect a heartbeat, and the sac measuring a bit small. “But it’s really early still” the technician had told them. So we didn’t know anything for sure. But I could tell Leah was worried. The doctor would call the next morning with official results. So, we waited.

The next morning I got a text from Leah that sucked the air out of my lungs. I was in the living room of my house, trying to start the academic portion of our (homeschool) day with my 13 and 17 year old daughters. These are Leah’s younger sisters, and they love her very much. These are my two youngest children who have cried and cried with us as the whole family grieved the loss of two tiny babies already. These are my teenagers who have grappled alongside me with those un-answerable questions. I silently read the text from my phone screen: “I just want you to know that I heard from the doctor’s office. I was prepared for them to be pretty negative but it was actually even worse than I thought…” She went on to explain that the results of the ultrasound were not good and that their instructions were to basically hunker down and prepare for a miscarriage. Although I’m not typically a cryer… I burst into tears right there in front of my girls. “I CANNOT watch my daughter go through this AGAIN,” I sobbed. Academics got cancelled and we spent that time praying instead. We pleaded for God to work a miracle.

The morning after that, I reached out to check on Leah. I told her how much and how fervently we’d prayed. She was appreciative, and I began to hear a twinkle of positivity in her voice. She and Ben had opted to hang on to the phrase “It’s not over till it’s over” and to keep praying and trusting God for restoration and Life! I could tell that faith was rising… at Leah’s house AND at mine! We were choosing to stay encouraged, and keep believing that our God is a miracle-working God!

Then things started getting really exciting!  We both go to churches that encourage the prophetic. We believe that God still speaks to people, and that members of the body of Christ can encourage each other with “words” that they’ve received from the Lord. We’ve seen some amazing fruit come from these types of prophetic encounters, and some very accurate words have been delivered in our churches. So, on the heels of that day after the first ultrasound, when we felt faith rising for this pregnancy, sweet friends from church began to reach out with very encouraging words. There were also prophetic dreams, and those special ‘signs’ that happen when a group of people are praying SO hard over something. The world calls them ‘coincidences’ but praying people see them as God intervening. For example, Leah and Ben had latched on to the phrase “it’s not over till it’s over,” and that phrase started popping up everywhere! Leah’s favorite podcast preacher released a message that same week, and the sermon was titled “It’s Not Over Until It’s Over.” The sermon itself was very faith-stirring, and pounded the concept that God keeps His promises! We were so encouraged!

Person after person reached out and proclaimed that God had spoken and said that Leah would NOT lose this baby. People even prophecied that God had revealed to them the gender of the baby, and that this child would grow up to be mighty in God’s Kingdom. With every encouraging message, dream and sign, our faith climbed a little higher. Then came one REALLY encouraging phone call!

Several days after the initial doctor had called and told Leah to prepare for a miscarriage, a different (higher ranking) doctor called and told Leah that she may have been misinformed. This doctor had just reviewed the images on the ultrasound and said that things actually didn’t look that grim! She had a completely different perspective on things, encouraged Leah that this could still be a viable pregnancy, and scheduled a follow-up ultrasound in one week. OH MAN DID OUR HEARTS SOAR! Here’s what I wrote in my journal the next morning:

ABBA! Yesterday Leah’s doctor’s office called and began to speak a different word over Baby B!! Highly unusual! I THANK You, God! I thank You that You are turning this situation around!

So, enter another seven days of walking by faith. Leah was still pregnant, and her body was showing no signs of miscarriage. Christmas was getting closer, and we allowed ourselves to feel festive. God was quietly working a miracle, and this Christmas was going to end up being extra special!

The day of the follow-up ultrasound came. I was at home, praying and expecting to receive news of a marvelous confirmation of our faith. Instead I got this text from Leah:

Hey. It isn’t good. No further development or heartbeat.

Sorry to have to text you this.

She sounded like a robot.  This is my early-20’s girl, an expert ‘texter’ who uses all kinds of expressive words and humor, and also emoji’s,  to get her points across.  But on this day, all of that was absent.  Just the dry facts appearing on my phone screen.  My heart sank to my feet.  What about all the prophetic words?  What about what God had indicated through all those signs and dreams?  I thought He was doing a miracle!  Lord, PLEASE!!  Don’t let this happen the THIRD TIME.  And right here at CHRISTMAS! I ached with sadness.  And I felt that ache touching another pain in my heart. Two things were connecting down in the depths of me, and they both hurt. They both had to do with prophetic words that don’t turn out to be accurate.

I knew to let Leah have some time and space.  I knew that she and Ben needed to be able to sort through their own disappointment.  The next morning I talked to her.  She sounded…. cut off from her self.  She sounded angry.  And very sad.  She said things like,

we just wasted two weeks of believing/hoping/praying

obviously God can do what He wants, but if I’m gonna lose the baby my only prayer is that my body will just get it over with, so that it’s not happening right ON Christmas.            (This was December 21st)

May I be completely honest?  I was mad. Mad at God.  And my prayers to Him were angry prayers.  I prayed for my child, “Lord God please just have mercy on her and let this process happen soon and quickly so that it’s not exactly during Christmas.”  But days went by and nothing happened.  Leah and Ben were outwardly strong… probably because they had to be. They have two children and wanted to make the Christmas season special and joyful for them! I admired my daughter as she, with stricken heart, carried on through those last few days leading up to Christmas, focusing on making things wonderful for her little family.

I’ll spare us the typing out of the details at this point, but the miscarriage did happen during Christmas.  It was a difficult one, and though she’d resolved in her soul to NOT end up in the hospital on Christmas, that’s exactly how things unfolded.  Unlike the previous two miscarriages, with this one Leah was hemorrhaging and couldn’t get that under control.

Worst.

Case.

Scenario.

Everything we’d prayed so hard for had NOT happened, and everything we prayed SO DILIGENTLY asking God to NOT let happen… ended up happening.  We were stunned with anguish, confusion and what felt like righteous anger… but we didn’t get bitter, and we never accused God of being not good.  We just cried out to Him in deep prayer, “God we don’t understand!”

It’s okay to scream to God that you don’t understand.  It’s okay to groan and cry and tell him that his lack of intervening has made you feel bewildered and unrescued.  He can take it, and He is a God who understands how our hearts feel.  As I reminded myself of these truths, I figured I’d better go ahead and bring to God in prayer the other issue that was nagging at my wounded heart.

Way back at the beginning of 2017, I had been given some very exciting and encouraging prophetic words from several different people.  During the first week of January alone, three different trustworthy, Jesus-loving friends had come to me… each one NOT KNOWING that any others had come… and said that God had shown them that I would get my voice back in 2017.  Our whole church and many other friends have been praying a long time for the restoration of my voice, but this was the first time I’d been given such encouragement, with a date attached!  I rejoiced at this information!  “2017, huh? Wow, Abba, thank you! This is so exciting! I wonder what month it will happen? Oh I hope it happens before the big mission trip in July! Lord you know I really need my voice for that mission trip!”  These were my thoughts and prayers.  I totally believed that I would experience the restoration of my voice in 2017.  I just hoped that God didn’t mean, like, December 31st, 2017.  He wouldn’t do that, surely.

But 2017 marched on like weeks, months and seasons do… and I ended up tackling each thing on my calendar without a voice.  I teach school. I lead a group of Youth on Wednesday nights at my church.  I am a Pastor’s wife for goodness sakes! Ya need a voice for these things! I strain and croak out sounds, and it makes people feel awkward. I see it on their faces when they think it’s not showing. People ask me if it hurts to talk, and for some reason I always lie and tell them that it doesn’t.  I guess I’m eager to put them at ease.  The Mission trip came and went… No healing of the voice.  A giant Youth event that I was leading in October came and went… same thing.  But I kept hoping. I kept writing in my journal, and praying, and reminding God that I’d received those awesome prophetic words!  I stirred up my faith and reminded myself that 2017 wasn’t over yet.

I stayed  in that mindset all the way through the grief of Leah’s third miscarriage. I just knew that my voice restoration was one miracle we were going to see!  But before we could even surface for oxygen from the stunning loss of the baby, it was midnight on New Year’s Eve and my voice was as strained and croaky as ever.

This has been a painful blog to write and it has come with difficulty and SLOWNESS.  I started it in early January and now it’s almost six weeks later! It has never taken me this long to sort through my circumstances, my feelings, my heart, and whip it all up into a blog-post. Like I said at the beginning, I didn’t even want to write it in the first place, but the Lord just kept on prompting me to. He knew it would help me, and I certainly hope that my words here can help someone else!  That’s why I blog!

When you’re trying to live here on this earth as a Christian, and be the ‘real deal’… an authentic Christ-follower, walking-by-faith kind of person, you are going to encounter seasons where painful disappointments and difficulties hit you in rapid succession, to the point of making it seem like God is not there, or not on your side… not helping you. I don’t know why this is an inevitable ingredient in the lives of God’s children, but I do know that these times bring us to a choice.  We can grow bitter and begin to close ourselves off from God, or we can choose to stay open and trusting… even when we cannot understand why God has allowed such suffering to come.  I explained it to my youth group like this:  Picture, in your mind, a shelf. And on that shelf is a box. The box has a label on it that reads, “I will NEVER understand this.”  The three miscarriages, the ‘mistaken prophetic words,’ the dashed hopes for a miracle, the lack of healing for my voice…. all of those things went into the box.   But remember, the box is on a shelf! And the shelf is labeled, “GOD IS GOOD.”  All of that sorrow that I will never understand is resting on a shelf called God is Good.

Now, as I begin to close out this post, let’s take a look at the mistaken prophetic words. Analyzing what happened is important, because letting the authentic gift of prophecy happen in the local church is important.  As I already mentioned, both Leah’s church and my church have embraced the prophetic and have experienced some wonderful fruit from it!

I’ll admit, on January 1st my heart wanted to take this stance: “Okay THAT’S IT… FORGET the prophetic! People mess it up, people don’t hear correctly, and it does too much damage! I don’t want to run the risk of opening my heart up to that again.” But then I thought of 1 Corinthians 14: 1-5. (Look it up and read it!)  Paul  goes on and on about how beautiful and LEGIT the gift of prophecy is in the New Testament church!  And then I thought about all the accurate, LOVELY words from the Lord that have happened in and through our ministries… words that have really helped people!  So I decided to soften my stance and just pray some more about it.  Over the last six weeks, as I’ve prayed, God has shown me that there will always be risk involved in staying open to the prophetic, but He does want us to stay open to it.  He also showed me that people, especially the ones that are new to the prophetic, sometimes will hear a word that is not accurate because they are listening to a part of their heart that LOVES you.  They feel love and empathy for you, because you are going through a tough thing (miscarriage, illness, etc.) and they desire so strongly for you to be healed/rescued that they mistake that holy desire for the voice of the Lord.  It comes from a place of love, so they feel it must be God talking. We can train ourselves to listen for that.  Now that I’ve lived through this season of disappointment, I can train my ear to listen in the future… “Is this person speaking out of a deep desire they have to see a certain miracle happen? And could they be getting mixed up because they truly love me, or feel empathy for me, and are hoping so strongly for a good turn-around to my circumstances?  As wise Christians, we can check for that.  And this wisdom works from the opposite direction as well!  As we pray for others, and try to get an encouraging ‘word from the Lord’ to help someone through a tough time, let’s check and make extra-sure that we are not prophesying out of simply a place of deep empathy for what the person is going through. Deep love, empathy, and compassion may feel like the “voice of the Lord,” but clearly they are not the same thing. Let’s learn to be really careful about that!

Guys… life can be brutal sometimes. But GOD is always good. He offers a Peace that comes when ‘understanding’ can’t. He brings forth fruit from our lives, on his time schedule and in the way HE wants.  And all the while He is loving us with an unexplainable, radical love. If you don’t know Him at this kind of level, set your heart on a course to find Him here. It sometimes feels like rough, scary waters… and it definitely gets messy and involves risk… but it’s worth it. HE’s worth it.

THE AMAZING MOMENT OF SILENCE AT THE CALL

(This title borrowed from a 13-yr-old.)

Ever participated in a “moment of silence”?  I figure we all have. Whether it’s a football game, or in a classroom somewhere, or another kind of public gathering, we’ve all been led by a speaker to pause and offer a Moment of Silence…usually as a way to show respect for the victims of a tragedy. It’s a way to honor the dead or injured. It’s a way to call attention to the fact that a significant loss has been suffered. It feels appropriate. And it usually lasts about one minute.

Actually, for the purpose of this blog-post, I took the time to do some research on “the average length of a moment of silence.”  Wikipedia said it was one minute. But some other website options popped up as well, so I looked around.  Y’ALL! We as the human race are so funny!  I was seriously laughing as I read some of the dead-serious posts on this topic. It seems that, as we modernize and progress as a culture, it turns out that one minute is too long!

One Bride-to-be logged her question on a wedding planning forum. “I want to have a moment of silence during our ceremony to honor some grandparents who have passed away. How long should the Moment be?”

Oh my word, the answers!! Most advice givers said something like this: “Girl one minute is waaayy too long. It sounds short when you’re just talking about it, but try sitting down with a stopwatch, by yourself, and set it for one minute. Sit there in silence and you’ll realize… it’s excruciating!”  (Some used the words “awkward” or “painful.”)  One advice-giver agreed and told her that waiting one minute would cause her guests to squirm.

WELL…. at The Call event in Washington D.C. last month, we had a Moment of Silence that lasted FIVE minutes, and I want to tell you about it!

First, let me describe the setting. We’d traveled there to participate in a four-day event.  Awaken the Dawn was the first three days, which included 72 hours of NON-STOP worship and prayer, coming from over 50 tents (each state had a tent and then there were also Regional tents) all spread out over the entire National Mall of our nation’s Capitol.  It was outdoors, and it was HUGE.  Right in the center, there was the Main Stage… you know the type… a great big outdoor stage with full professional Lighting and Sound, “jumbo-trons”, etc.  From this stage the top Worship bands played, and the keynote speakers spoke. Then on Monday (the fourth day), after Awaken the Dawn closed out, we all transitioned into the event called, simply, “THE CALL.” It also happened from the Main Stage.

I describe all this to drive home a point:  It was outdoors, and it was loud! It was public, and anyone who happened to be in, on, or around the National Mall that day was “at” this event whether they intended to be or not. There were no fences or barriers separating our giant event from the general public. So… tourists, sight-seers, politicians, office workers, Capitol police, State Troopers, lawyers, interns, school kids on field trips…. we were all mixed in there together!

Because I’d brought a group of young people from our church to this event, and because I was also helping to keep an eye on my toddler-age grandbabies, we chose to settle our group kind-of on the edge of things… not deep in the center of the crowd. This gave me an even better view of the people passing by, the every day people who’d not planned to be attending a Christian mega-event that day.  I studied their faces.

When it was loud, with either a worship band or an impassioned speaker, they were fine. These every-day-people just tuned it out. But when the Moment of Silence came, things changed.  Before I describe their reactions, let me insert here the words one of our young people posted on social media afterwards. This is from the same kid who inspired my title.

If no one has told you, we spent the entire morning rallying and shouting and singing and jumping and making tons of NOISE. We were praying for NO MORE ABORTION. It was so powerful, and it was literally like God was releasing a roar upon that place. 

Then. 

We get these pieces of red tape. They have the word “LIFE” written on them. And all those people, more people than I’ve ever been with at one time in my whole life, put one of those over their mouths and we were in silence for five minutes, on our knees. And I SWEAR IT WAS MORE POWERFUL THAN THE WORSHIP. THERE WAS NO NOISE. AND IT WAS EVEN LOUDER THAN THE NOISE WE HAD MADE BEFORE. 

Just the silence was so holy. The air was literally filled with this heaviness. It wasn’t sadness, exactly. But it was a cry for our nation because GUYS it’s MESSED UP!

Just seeing the silent tears running down people’s faces and watching as even the people who weren’t pressing in before were overtaken by the moment of remembering supposedly-lost children who aren’t lost after all…

There had been SO MUCH worship. There had been SO MUCH noise.  There had been cries for justice, forgiveness, mercy and grace. It’s like we were building toward something…. a crescendo pointing toward the more important.  And then the Silence came, and I don’t know how else to describe it but it was like God’s heart spilled out there.  It was for aborted babies, and broken-hearted mamas, and guilt and shame and self-hatred. It was for healing and freedom and restoration of joy. It was almost too much.   It was holy.  Right there in the middle of Washington, D.C.

And the every-day people noticed it.  It was so interesting to watch.  Their faces showed bewilderment and awe at the same time. Fifty-thousand people had just suddenly grown completely silent.  The passers-by could hardly process it.  And when it went on and on…. it freaked them out.  Some quickened their pace, as if trying to escape this anomaly. Some instinctively slowed down, maybe some forgotten part of their soul trying to savor God for a moment.  All looked as though they’d fallen through a glitch in the matrix.

Before I close out this blog-post, may I draw your attention to one last thing?  Look at Revelation, chapter 8. “And  when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.”  God has His own pre-planned Moment of Silence, and it will go on for a lot longer than one, or five, minutes.  Can you even imagine it?  And just like at The Call, this Moment of Silence comes at the apex of a crescendo.  In Revelation, it’s a VERY DRAMATIC  crescendo!  It’s beyond the scope of this blog to get into interpretations of the book of Revelation, but I encourage you to read the crescendo, study God’s Moment of Silence, and see what you think it may be about.

Maybe the amazing Moment of Silence at The Call was just a small foreshadowing of one that’s coming up very soon.

GRIT AND HIGHLIGHTS

How do you show a “Highlight reel” from an event that hasn’t happened yet? Well, it’s called a Promotional Video! And some companies are very good at making them. They craft scenes that illustrate what they HOPE will be the very best moments of their upcoming event, they add all the right positive vibes and heart-touching filters, and *Boom*, as soon as you’ve watched it you say, “I HAVE to go to that!”
Awaken the Dawn producers made really good promotional videos. Kudos to their team for working so hard! They took their high quality videos to social media, and the results are in: thousands of people responded by attending their event!
AND THE EVENT WAS GOOD. But it didn’t live up to the promotional videos, and here’s why that’s a GOOD thing:
On the looong ride home from Washington D.C. the day after Awaken the Dawn ended, I had time to debrief with the students from our youth group who’d (very excitedly!) come with us to attend this amazing three day event. One young teen named Carter was still trying to process everything  (weren’t we ALL? 😄🙃) and he said something that really struck me. I’ve actually thought about it a LOT since these words came tumbling out of his mouth, and it has inspired this blog post.
He said, “I thought that the whole thing would be exactly like the videos we watched before coming. But… I realize now… there are a lot of normal moments in between the highlights.”
BAM, Carter. You just hit the nail on its head.
Also: Welcome to ministry. Welcome to real life and tryin’ to serve Jesus & his kingdom. Most of it ain’t gonna make the highlight reel. But that’s okay because God is recording it allll! And one day we get to sit down with Him, snuggled up with a big bowl of popcorn, and watch the whole movie.
When Carter mentioned the “normal moments in between” he was talking about the nitty gritty. He was talking about MANY trips to the stinky port-a-johns, about long waits in long lines to buy food from the side of a noisy truck in the hottest, stickiest humidity you can imagine. He was talking about walking FARRRR to the metro station, and accidentally getting on the wrong train. He was probably even talking/reminiscing about staying up all night in the rain and the weird effects of sleep deprivation on the human brain!
As I pondered Carter’s words, my own remembering kicked in, about the “normal moments in between.” The literal grit and gravel in my shoes, and how it turned to mud after the rain. The rude lady on the Metro. How my muscles ached when my 4 yr old grandson fell asleep in my arms and I had nowhere to lay him down for almost an hour.
None of this was on the Promotional videos. And that’s good because it teaches kids like Carter, and grownups like me, that ministry consists of a few highlights popping up here and there but MOSTLY and MAINLY it’s just doing life with and for people. It’s being authentic and in-love-with-Jesus in the daily grind of life. Just like Jesus Himself did. He walked down long dusty roads… dealing with people, hanging out with his disciples, talking, laughing, getting into scrapes with rude people and antagonistic people, looking for a place to eat, dealing with interruptions, ….. just LIFE.
Prior to the Awaken the Dawn event I had the privilege and joy of hearing its Founder and visionary, David Bradshaw, speak at one of our local churches. He said something that day that really encouraged me, and I completely agree with him. He said that the LOCAL CHURCH and its ministries are God’s “PLAN A” in the Kingdom, EVEN MORE THAN GATHERINGS.
In other words, great big national gatherings and special events are good, and they do have their place, but the pastors who are making church happen week in and week out in their own communities, getting up every morning and laying down their life to try and bring our world a little closer to the Kingdom of Jesus… THOSE are the ones God holds in especially high regard. This was special to me that particular morning because of a specific reason.
*My husband is one of those pastors.*
Ya know why he wasn’t with me to hear David Bradshaw? Because it was on a Sunday morning, and across town from our own church. I was free to go, but somebody had to stay and make Church happen for OUR local congregation! My husband stepped up and gladly did his job, just like he has for thousands of weeks of Sundays and Wednesday Nights and every other day when there needed to be an outreach or a counseling session or a wedding or a funeral or a hospital visit.
Doing the Jesus life.
Sometimes there’s gravel in your shoe, and the port-a-John is out of toilet paper.
But God values you HIGHLY in all of those moments! We just have to stay in love with Jesus and keep Him at our very core. Let HIM (He is the living, fresh Water that flows up from the deep part of us) be what exudes out of us while we wait in a long line, or get shoved aside by a rude person, or….. whatever ‘normal’ moments await us.
And don’t forget to honor and thank your local pastor! They’re doing the Plan A of the Kingdom. ❤️
P.S. I had THE MOST WONDERFUL time at Awaken the Dawn and there were most DEFINITELY some highlights! I promise my next post will be about those! God bless David Bradshaw and his whole team, and Lou Engle and all of The Call people too! Something was begun in Washington on October 6-10, 2017 that will reverberate across the world for a very long time! 💪🏻

THE WORDS JESUS DIDN’T SAY

Imagine that you’re at a local sporting event, and the moment has come for the National Anthem to be sung. A guest soloist is brought out, and into the microphone he confidently and beautifully begins…”Oh say can you see? By the dawn’s early light…” The singer does a great job, but at the end, something very strange happens. He sings, “O’er the Land of the freeeee…,” but then stops and sits down! Everyone there would have the same thought: Hey that guy didn’t finish the song! Can you imagine the feeling of (for lack of a better word)…unresolved-ness  that would be hanging in the air??  Well that’s what happened on the day Jesus entered the synagogue in Nazareth and began to read.

It was the Sabbath. He was in his own home town. And the Bible says he went to the synagogue “as was his custom.” (Yay for this giant plug for weekly church attendance!!) He was fresh off of his 40 Day Fast in the wilderness, and he was launching his ministry. He had a statement to make. Luke, chapter 4, describes the moment:

“…he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down.”

Oh, Dr. Luke! THANK YOU for these details!! Dear reader do you see why he included this last part? Jesus didn’t just ambiguously taper off with his reading of this famous passage from Isaiah. He ended most decidedly right where he meant to end, rolled up the scroll,gave it back, and sat down! The PROBLEM??

HE CHOPPED OFF THE LAST PHRASE. 

AND IT WAS THEIR FAVORITE PART. 

Let’s look at the actual passage Jesus read that day. It’s in Isaiah 61, verses 1 and 2. Jesus read ALL of verse one, so I won’t re-type it. But verse two is where the Jews in the synagogue that day had their problem, so let’s examine it:  “…to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (here’s where Jesus stopped, but Isaiah goes on) and the day of vengeance of our God.” 

Ever heard of the Age of Grace? You’re living in it, in case you don’t know. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let’s go back to Luke, chapter four. Luke does a great job of describing the awkward moment that has just befallen Nazareth’s Jewish congregation. He says that after Jesus sat down, “the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.”

You know what I think? I think they were already ticked. He’d stopped short of saying their favorite part, and it bugged them.  “…year of the Lord’s favor yeah, yeah Jesus…hurry up and get to the good part! We want vengeance. We wanna see Rome get theirs. We wanna see all our oppressors get kicked in the teeth.” So they fastened their eyes on him, the room was very  ‘vibey’ and they waited to hear what he’d say next.

And what he DID say next… Well it’s only the Best. News. Ever.

Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” 

GAH!! Pardon me while I geek out for a moment. It’s…. The gospel in a nutshell! He just listed off his job description as SAVIOR OF MANKIND. We’d been building toward this moment since GENESIS CHAPTER THREE!!!

But the peeps in Synagogue that day? They missed it. Because they were too focused on revenge.

Let’s see what happened next.

“All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. ‘Isn’t this Joseph’s son?’ they asked.”

These people.  In their hearts they were ticked. But with their mouths they were being complimentary. I don’t know about you, but right here I’m picking up on some fake and some condescension. They weren’t “amazed” at his words in the sense that they were agreeing with him, but rather that he sounded so… educated and graceful. Wasn’t this the kid who grew up in that carpenter’s shop down the road?

And Jesus? Of course he saw right through it. That’s why he said the laser-focused, accurate, and very blunt things in verses 23-27.  Yep, he poked ’em right in their religious spot.  And literally within five minutes of complimenting him, they were dragging him outside to KILL him!  (They weren’t successful because it wasn’t yet his time.) But Golly Peterson this really happened!! And it all started because Jesus left out the part about vengeance.

Do you know WHY he did that? It’s very important! And, it reminds me of a joke from elementary school:  did you hear about the old couple whose house sat right beside the railroad track? Every night, at precisely 3:00 a.m., the train would come through, and it’d be SO loud that it would shake their house. Any overnight guests would always comment the next morning and say “How can you sleep through that?!” The old couple would answer, “We never hear a thing.”  Then, one night, the train did not come through, and at precisely 3:00 a.m. the old couple both sat straight up in bed and said “WHAT WAS THAT?!”

Do you get it? It was the absence of the noise that they noticed! Because they’d become so accustomed to the train.  Jesus knew that by NOT saying the last phrase of Isaiah’s sentence, HUGE significance would be drawn there. What IS this significance? My Bible’s study notes underneath Isaiah 61 explain it like this: “Christ ended his quotation at this point because the ‘day of vengeance’ will not occur until His second coming.”

Thirty-year-old Jesus of Nazareth was stepping into his Calling. He was embracing his mission. And FOR THAT SEASON it would have nothing to do with vengeance. He basically was saying ‘hey people of the world, for a pre-set season of time, you get GRACE. You get FREEDOM, HEALING, JOY… you get to revel in GOOD NEWS, you get to live in God’s FAVOR!  ENJOY THIS! ENJOY ME! I’m your Savior.’

And guess what, people of the 21st Century? WE ARE STILL IN THAT SAME SEASON. From the day Jesus shed his blood on the cross, until now, the message is ALL grace and zero vengeance. This All-Grace message was very important to Jesus, and so should it be to us. Vengeance comes…. but later. And God is in charge of that, not us. We wait, knowing that He will make everything right when that “day of vengeance” does finally come.

Why am I writing a blog about this now? Because I’ve been noticing for some time now a trend, even among Christian leaders, on social media and other public forums, where the thing to do is “shred” someone, or “destroy” someone. And if you’re not the one doing the shredding/destroying/obliterating, you’re invited to “click here” to read or watch someone get shredded.  What IS that fiber in our hearts that makes us want to participate in this? It scares me. It makes me think of those synagogue people in Nazareth….acting all proper and religious until their true colors came out and next they were literally trying to kill Jesus. Am I just a mood-swing away from acting similarly? Are you?

What’s the antidote?  Take time to personally soak in the grace He has offered  you.  Every day, lavish your own mind with His favor and freedom. Let the forgiveness that the Cross brings saturate your being down to your bone marrow. Be intentional with this!  Let me personalize this last statement so that this blog doesn’t sound preachy: daily I want to remind myself that it’s a very good thing that I live under the banner of “the year of the Lord’s favor” because if not, I would deserve his vengeance. Were it not for Calvary and Grace, I personally would be living under impending judgment.

BUT I’M NOT!! Because of the words Jesus didn’t say, I live under freedom and forgiveness and grace! May I continually increase in my capacity to offer that same grace to others! No more shredding.

 

 

 

 

*LIFE MOMENTS* 

Sometimes in life you are given a moment. Without planning or expectation, the moment happens. And either right during it, or just a few seconds after it, your brain goes, “THAT was a moment. Mark that down, memory cells, because this is gonna need pondering later.” 

The other day I had a moment like that, with my two daughters who are 12 and 15. It was poignant and tender and heart-tugging and informative and unsought. We were just driving to [another] rehearsal, for pete’s sake! (My kids are involved in Dance and Musical Theater. We drive to A LOT of rehearsals.)                    

We were just two-kids-and-a-mom, driving down a suburban road in the family SUV. We were the very picture of…. normal. My girls were chatting about their 12-to-15 year old lives, just like they always do. And then, as frequently happens, a funny story emerged:   

“Oh Mom did we tell you about the loud ALARM thingy that went off yesterday while we were at the Dance studio?” (They hadn’t.)

“We were dancing and then all of the sudden this terribly loud SIREN thing starts going off!” (I explained to them about how that town has tornado warning sirens and they test them every Saturday.)

“OH! Well, no one knew WHAT it was but honestly mom I automatically thought it was the Rapture!”     Twelve year old sister chimes in, “Me too!” 

And then both of them talking fast and kind of at the same time….

“It sounded so much like a shofar!” 

“Oh my gosh mom I was convinced.”

“Yeah mom and my heart leapt with JOY.”

“Like, we honestly thought, THIS IS IT! We’re outta here!” 

(Their faces are now literally beaming at the memory of it.)   

And then. 

In my car there was an audible PAUSE. 

When they spoke again, there was a completely different tone:

“But then we realized it wasn’t.” 

Their shoulders dropped a little at the remembering of this part. They were re-feeling the genuine disappointment that they’d experienced the day before. The ‘not-yet’ was tangible in my car….that faith-ache we sometimes get on the backside of our spiritual eyeballs. My bubbly, happy, vivacious girls were processing it. 
And then, in about the same amount of time Chevy Chase allowed his family to enjoy the Grand Canyon in “Vacation,” they each drew in a breath…. a hey-let’s-not-lose-our-focus breath… And they said: 

“Oh well. It will still happen! And for now we have THIS!” (We were now pulling up to the Theater where they LOVE to practice for upcoming musicals). It’s so hard to describe, but it’s like they took their palpable LONGING for heaven, and for the thousandth time, temporarily shelved it so they could focus on the ‘this-life’ task at hand. And within a few seconds they were out of the car and in to rehearsal. 

And that’s when I heard Jesus. 
He said, “Do you see what you’ve done?” 

 His tone….and His expression…..were beaming! 

May I take a brief rabbit-trail here? About deepening in your intimacy with Jesus? SO MANY people out there, if they heard the voice of God say “Do you see what you’ve done?”…..would cringe! And assume that God was displeased with them! And wait for the judgment gavel to drop. Because they’ve not been taught to listen for His tone…. to discern what facial expression He is offering with His words! I am here to tell you that THIS kind of intimacy IS AVAILABLE in a relationship with Jesus. And I’m also here to tell you that it is The. Best. Thing. EVER. 

So back to my story. Jesus spoke and said “Do you see what you’ve done?” And He was smiling! 

I knew what He meant. I had somehow gotten my children to ache for Him.  

Somehow, over the many months and years of parenting….. of socks and laundry and field trips and sack lunches, of errands and stress and hilarity and music and supper and hair-trims, of rushing out the door, and church services and sibling rivalry and assignments due….. Somewhere in there they caught a case of Longing-for-Jesus that has soaked down to their core. It’s in the fabric of who they are. And once you catch a case of this, you never get over it. Well, not on this side of things. 
I sensed a beaming “Well-done” coming from my Savior/Lover-of-my-soul. I wouldn’t trade moments like this for ANYthing!! I am like any other mom. I’ve made enough mistakes in my parenting to disqualify me from any child-raising awards that may be offered. But by His grace my children do now ache for Him just like their mama does. And He’s pleased with it!  

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal!”

                             ~2 Corinthians 4:18

Thank you for reading about my moment! I hope that you too are longing for His return. 🙂 

Will the Real Smidgen Please Stand Up

My daughter Sarah has a Blog called ‘Smidgen the Mighty Warrior.’ The reason she has a blog by that name is a gripping and beautiful story. After the heart-wrenching roller coaster ride of four years of infertility, Sarah and her husband Kenan finally were able to joyfully announce a pregnancy! Tears of relief and happiness spilled throughout our large family as we realized God had answered our many prayers. Sarah and Kenan were going to be parents! A baby was on his or her way, to join fellow-baby-cousins and a host of aunts and uncles and grandparents. 
I don’t know if other families do this, but our family gives little nicknames to our expected babies. This baby’s pre-birth name was “Smidge.” During those first few weeks of the pregnancy, as Kenan learned how very tiny their new child really was (Sarah had all the trendy books and apps, showing pictures of embryos, and stating their actual size… like, ‘today your baby is the size of a pea’), he said that the baby was just a little smidge, and that stuck. As time went on, a few of us changed it to Smidgen and we alternated back and forth, calling him/her those names and dreaming of who this baby would be. 

Then came the day of the ultra-sound to reveal Smidge’s gender. It revealed that he was a BOY!! But, it also revealed a significant problem: spina bifida. Smidgen’s spine did not close at the bottom. From his ‘L-5 vertebrae’ down, things were not good. This is a devastating diagnosis, and we all felt grief and shock. It was that classic human reaction… “After all Sarah and Kenan have already been through, now THIS??” 

Sarah asked me, not long after Smidge was born, to write a blog about what this journey has been like from a grandparent’s perspective. I happily said Yes! But Smidge’s story is SO big, and so multi-layered, and so evocative… I froze. I couldn’t write it. But I promised myself and my daughter that I would do it by the time the baby is six months old. Well, that time has come, so here goes! 

No parent wants to watch their child receive devastating news. But that’s exactly where Mike and I found ourselves last February. And it was a double punch, because not only were we watching Sarah and Kenan grapple with the diagnosis, that was also OUR much-loved little grandson in there, not forming normally. My heart ached for my daughter in a way that no words can describe. 

But then. Something happened. MY little warrior decided to fight. 

Let me tell you about Sarah Peasall McGuffey. She’s not very big. She tells people she’s “fun-size,” like those little Snickers candy bars. All of her younger siblings are taller than she is. Truth be told, she could just as easily be called Smidgen. But her physical stature is NO indication of her strength, or zest for life, or the size of her faith in God. And the day that she decided to wage war against spina bifida, and apply her faith to the baby’s diagnosis, someone should’ve just gone right then and notified the Sickness & Disease Department of Hell…. “hey you’re not gonna win this one.” 

One of the first things Sarah did was to lengthen the baby’s nickname. No longer just Smidge, he was Smidgen the Mighty Warrior. And she christened her new Blog the same thing. Twenty weeks before his birth, we started calling him victorious, a fighter who beats the odds. My daughter believes the Bible in Romans 4 where it says we can be like Abraham, and call things that aren’t, as though they are! Our whole family believes this, and we base our lives on it.  

 Sarah did a few more smart things. She created a team of like-minded prayer warriors, including our whole church, and also a Facebook group, which she named… you guessed it…”Smidgen the Mighty Warrior.” Now LOTS of people were praying! Here’s a picture of one of the many prayer-times we had at church:   

Next Sarah did the thing which I feel is the number one key to victory for their story… for anyone’s story… She turned to God’s Word. There were LOTS of doctors appointments, lots of tests and scans, and many trips home in the car after hearing doctors and specialists give their reports. 

“There will most likely be swelling of the brain and head.”

“He’s missing four vertebrae and a tailbone.”

“He will likely be damaged neurologically.”

“His body is making too much spinal fluid.”

“His kidneys and bladder won’t be able to function.” 

“As for muscular/skeletal issues, the areas affected are his lower legs, feet and ankles. He may never walk.” 

And for every single one of these reports, I watched my child dig in her Bible and find a specific scripture to pray, a nugget of God’s Word to apply, that would target that very weakness and turn it to strength.

She and Kenan prayed these out loud over Smidge, diligently! They shared the scriptures with the prayer warriors and we prayed them too. This whole journey is documented in Sarah’s blog. 

While digging in the Scriptures one day, Sarah found the baby’s name! From the beauty of Isaiah 61 where God is describing a future people who are strong and righteous on the earth, Sarah and Kenan felt drawn to this: “They will be called Oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.” And so it was decided. My grandson’s name is Oaks. 

He was due in late July, and by April, thanks to ultra-sound scans and MRI’s, we were already able to see miracles happen. Like, a whole new vertebra formed after we started praying. With spina bifida, the further down the spine that the defect is, the less severe the life-long medical issues will be. At their first scan, Sarah and Kenan saw that L-5 was not formed. It was noted on their chart. One month later, at their next appointment, the doctors were puzzled that Smidge’s defect began at S-1! Their doctor-brains said “huh, we must’ve miscounted last time.” But our praying hearts knew the Truth: supernatural healing was taking place! 

Because Sarah has done such a fabulous job of documenting all the miracles and special God-moments regarding Smidge’s development and birth, I will resist the temptation here to recite those stories again. Instead, I will skip to the first time I was ever with Oaks McGuffey. He was born around lunchtime, but it was 9:00 p.m. before I was able to see him. And let me just say, it had been a rough day. My precious child had undergone surgery to get this baby here. I’ve already written a blog about this… it came pouring/tumbling out of me just after my first grandbaby, Jack, was born. Do people not realize that the maternal grandmother is in a category all by herself as a family gathers at a hospital to await the birth of baby?? Everyone else has their focus on the new baby, but the pregnant woman’s MOM?… she’s empathetically enduring suffering for her child!! I’ve been through this process three times now; I know what I’m talking about! And on the day of Oaks’ delivery, that suffering was compounded by Sarah’s being forced (due to hospital policy) to be completely away from her newborn. It was honestly too much to bear. She was in pain from her C-section and lying in a bed in a completely different building from the NICU, where Oaks was. My mama heart was split in pieces. I wanted to clone myself so I could be with them both! By the time I got my chance to slip into the NICU, it was late, lights had been dimmed, and few people were around. I firmly believe that God set up the scenario that I am about to describe:

Not long after I first entered Oaks’ NICU room, “few people” turned into “NO people.” I was alone with the miracle. I was alone with my grandson. The one I’d thought would never even BE….(remember there was Infertility); the one I had thought might be severely disabled… But here he was…. Beautiful.  

  

It’s astounding to me how many profound and OPPOSITE emotions a human heart can feel simultaneously. I was overwhelmed with joy at seeing him. But my heart ached that he was in there by himself, far away from his mommy. I ached for him and for her. Knowing that it wouldn’t be good to succumb now to waves of sadness, I chose to do the same thing Sarah had modeled for us throughout her pregnancy… I chose to praise and worship our God. I laid my hand on Oaks and I began to sing to him. I sang Kari Jobe’s “Forever.” The whole song was in my heart, but only the chorus would come out of my mouth.

We sing Hallelujah 

We sing Hallelujah 

We sing Hallelujah

The Lamb has overcome. 
Over and over I sang this to Oaks. His fussing stopped and tears of love and gratitude and worship ran down my face. To this day, this song wrecks me. If it comes on the radio, I am instantly taken right back to that very moment, where I got to touch a miracle, the fruit of our hopeful prayers, the fruition of promises clung to, God’s word manifested in a glass bassinet. A baby facing a (God-simplified!) spinal repair surgery, and soon to be carried home to live life as a healthy person, a very strong planting named Oaks. You may notice that, at this point in the story, I’ve stopped calling him Smidge. 

That’s because Smidgen the Mighty Warrior was a little mama with a belly full of staples and sutures, lying in a hospital bed a mile away from her baby. Would she stay there long? NOPE. In record time, the real ‘Smidgen The Mighty Warrior’ stood up. And she came to her son, despite the pain, and nursed him and prayed over him and whispered healing scriptures in his ears…. A sound he was WAY already accustomed to!  

Without this small-framed warrior, Oaks’ story would be different. He is strong and healthy because of faith in God, belief in His Word, and prayer. And she led us there. 
The aged apostle John said “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3John 1:4) 

Truth is a PERSON, named Jesus. The same Lamb that I sang about to Oaks on his first night. Sarah and Kenan’s entire fight for Oaks’ health was and is based in Him! 

Old apostle John, I couldn’t agree with you more!!

Appalled at America, Actually :/

It has been three months to the day since my last post.  I never do that on purpose, btw. But it’s cool when I glance at my calendar and realize the coincidence.

SO. THREE MONTHS. That’s a long time and I didn’t mean to be so… un-prolific in my writings. But here’s the reason for my delay. (aside from the fact that my life is insane and I have almost no free time to think coherent thoughts and then type them.)

My writer’s block was caused by my being appalled. At America. At Americans. At American Christians.

Appalled:  “being greatly dismayed, horrified.”  My last blog post was entitled ‘Appalled at Planned Parenthood.’  And I am, of course, still appalled at what they’re doing in the abortion industry. I mean, really, WHO WOULDN’T BE?

But the lack of response to my outcry, and the outcries of others, the lack of attendance at planned protests, the mediocre response to this issue on social media… THAT is equally appalling. I know, I know….SOME did respond. SOME are passionate and willing to take action on this issue. I had fourteen beautiful, passionate, articulate people show up at the Outcry that I planned. But we had contacted HUNDREDS. That’s a low percentage, folks.

Not long after our Outcry at the Tennessee State Capitol, I just happened to be listening to a podcast one morning while I was sorting laundry and doing house work. A conservative Talk-show host and author was being interviewed about his thoughts on the Planned Parenthood videos and what impact they’d have on our culture. This guy said something that stopped me in my tracks. He said that the information being revealed through these undercover videos was horrifying and macabre, but that the vast majority of Christians and ‘pro-lifers’ out there, while initially appalled at what’s been going on, will NOT CARE ENOUGH TO TAKE ACTION. He said that Americans will not really truly care about any of the issues making headlines now… until they go to swipe their debit cards and the cards no longer work. 

I literally felt punched in the gut. Like a very uncomfortable TRUTH had just been spoken. Have we grown that shallow? That self-absorbed? That narrow? I’m concerned that for 99% of the Christian, pro-life, church attending, Bible believing population, the answer is yes.  Oh we can press a “Like button” on someone’s FB page, or even post a comment, ranting and venting our feelings about certain issues. But that is not the same thing as an OUTCRY… not the same thing as taking action to force a CHANGE.

As soon as the talk-show host made that statement, I had a vision, of sorts. In my mind I saw a lot of people that I know… Christian friends and acquaintances… just a random assortment of people. And I saw them each in a variety of settings… the gas station filling up their car, a restaurant having dinner with their family, out shopping at Target or some other retail place…. And I saw them each swiping their debit or credit cards to pay for their purchase, but a complete system failure, a total breakdown of our economic system, had suddenly and without warning occurred and these people’s cards wouldn’t work. They couldn’t get their stuff, their food, their gas. In my vision, you know what they did? They CRIED OUT. They became panicked and irate. They yelled and screamed at the INJUSTICE OF IT ALL.

A halt in the steady flow of conveniences and personal luxuries prompted a nationwide outcry of vehement and gigantic proportions. Why? Because we want that stuff. We need that stuff. That stuff MATTERS to us.

May I ask, why didn’t the aborted babies matter that much? What about the ones born alive and then murdered on the spot? Why didn’t the sanctity of marriage matter that much? We can SAY that it mattered, but let’s face it… Actions speak louder than words.

For three months I’ve thought about those debit cards that suddenly didn’t work. For three months I’ve really deeply pondered what that guy on the podcast said. I write this blog tonight simply to break my silence, and say that I don’t have any profound ideas or solutions to offer… But I do have a strong prayer in my spirit, for my self and for my nation, that God will make us less selfish, and more prone to act on behalf of others, even if it requires great personal cost.

Prayer is powerful, and I will keep praying this. Will you join me?  “I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” ~Jesus  (Matt. 18:19 and 20)