A Double Portion

My former husband was a good man and a believer, but he was in bondage due to strongholds and ancestral sin.  He died a premature death that was stamped with the enemy’s trademark.  The enemy of our souls would have my children carry this shame and pass it down to their children.  But Jesus “shamed the shame” when he died for us, who were the joy set before him, as he endured the cross.  (Hebrews 12:2).  My children and I defeated his plans through the cross with love and forgiveness, but there’s more to this story.

My son….my son.  He was the last one in his generational line to carry the family name.  When his father died, Steven gave up walking in the world and gave Jesus both of his hands, renouncing the ancestral heritage of bondage.  In the past eight-and-a-half years, the Lord has transformed him into a tremendous man of God.  He and his precious wife Jennifer resolved to raise up a new standard and raise godly children.  A son was born, a “junior,” who carries his father and grandfather’s name, and then a sweet daughter followed.

And now just ten days ago, twin sons were born.  When Steven and Jennifer found out the twins were boys, the Lord immediately gave me this Scripture, Isaiah 61:7.  Instead of shame, they are receiving a double portion, two more sons to carry on a godly legacy.

Instead of your shame, you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace, you will rejoice in your inheritance.  And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.

Benjamin was born first in a smooth and uncomplicated delivery.  But little Thompson’s birth was difficult and traumatic.  Then Jennifer had complications due to blood loss.  Her blood pressure became dangerously low, and she had to be given transfusions the night of the births and again the next day.  It seemed that the enemy was coming against the victory that had been won and the legacy the Lord was giving them.

I traveled back home to Texas yesterday after being with them for the big event.   This morning I have been sitting with the Lord, reflecting on all that happened.  And I clearly heard from the Spirit, “The purposes of God cannot be thwarted.”  Searching the Scriptures, I was filled with joy and thankfulness as I read the following verses from Isaiah 14:24 and 14:27.

The Lord Almighty has sworn, “Surely as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.

For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him?

Yes and amen to the word of the Lord!  Welcome, Benjamin and Thompson! IMG_2936 Your legacy is a story of restoration, a story of the goodness of the Lord who redeems us and is so generous, ready to rush in the moment we say yes to him.  As your grandmother, I bless you in the name of the Lord our God.  And I declare in the name of Jesus that you, along with your brother Lane and sister Kennedy, will be mighty in the kingdom of our Lord.

Jesus, I am truly blessed among women.  Thank you for your love, mercy, and grace to my family.  You are the Faithful and True.  I love you.  Amen.

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Come With Me

It’s New Year’s Day, and maybe it’s just me, but the passing of another year is always bittersweet.  I’m so thankful for the time I’ve had, but somewhere in my soul is the cry, “Am I missing it?”  I have written much about searching for who God created me to be and not knowing my place now that my children are grown and as I’ve moved away from my entire family.  And yet I sense this is only the beginning of what the Lord has for me.  As I prayed this out, I heard the words, “Come with me and be my love.”  I searched the Scriptures and was led to Song of Solomon 2:10-13:

My beloved spoke to me and said, “Arise my darling, my beautiful one, come with me.  See!  The winter is past; the rains are over and gone.  Flowers appear on the earth, the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in the land.  The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.  Arise, come, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me.”

And I know this is my word from Jesus for 2016.  For He is THE answer. He is the only one who can quiet the unrest, the longing, the ache.  In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength.  Unless our eyes are fixed on Jesus, there is only the grasping of what we can find here to fill us.  There is a desperation to find our next “fix” whether it’s food or entertainment or Facebook, where we sometimes “put ourselves out there,” hoping to be affirmed by the “likes” and the comments, so that the ache will be assuaged for a moment.

We were created by God to need Him, and the enemy of our souls knows it.  And so we are bombarded with temptations and lies to buy into, so that for a brief moment, we can feel alive.  But that’s just it–it’s only for a moment.  For the world and its lusts are passing away, but my Word will never pass away.

Lord, help me.  Yes, I want to come with you.  I know you have saved me for eternity, but I need to be with you now.  There is no one else who can give me life here.  Let me hear your voice over the din and clamor of this world.  Jesus, I don’t want to miss you now, here, in 2016.  I sat with my mother through the night when her life slipped away, so honored to witness her passing, but seeing the finality of life here on earth.  I have buried a husband, seeing all that consumed him vanish in a moment.  To be near my last breath and know that I have missed you is my greatest fear.

But He gives us more grace.  “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one.  Come with me!”  Jesus, help me come!  Thank you for the new year.  Help all of us, those who are called by your name, to come.  Amen.

 

Where Are You, Christmas?

Where are you, Christmas?  Why can’t I find you?  Why have you gone away?  My world is changing, I’m rearranging.  Does that mean Christmas changes too?

Eight years ago, I experienced my first Christmas as a widow.  The season of raising children, celebrating holidays with family traditions, and living in that comfortable rhythm of life was over.  I struggled to find my equilibrium, held in the loving arms of Jesus.  My children were a tremendous support even though I know they felt as displaced as I did.  Then Christmas of 2009, I seemed to be at my lowest point, as over time reality had descended on me like a fog.  That’s when I found the words of the song that Cindy Lu Who sang in “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” so fitting.

Where are you, Christmas?  Do you remember the girl you used to know?  You and I were so carefree; now nothing’s easy.  Did Christmas change or just me?

The Lord spoke to me that Christmas in the words of the prophet Isaiah, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”  Isaiah 43:18-19.  And in February 2010, I met Mark.  We knew immediately God had brought us together.  We fell in love and were married four-and-a-half months later.  The new thing had begun!  The Lord has us on quite an adventure together with our ministry calling and our move to Texas in the summer of 2014, leaving children and grandchildren behind.  Only the Lord could make that happen.

Christmastime often evokes feelings of happiness and sadness at the same time.  Now in 2015, I’m thrilled to be in our new little house in Waco.  But the last several days I have found myself emotionally in a similar place.  “My world is changing, I’m rearranging…..You and I were so carefree; now nothing’s easy.  Did Christmas change or just me?”  Still searching for my place.  It was easy to know my place during the years I was a wife and mom, a court reporter, and then a Nana.  I probably didn’t even have time to reflect on it!  I think in my heart I keep looking for what can never be again, isn’t supposed to be.

The truth is life is change-we can’t stop time.  To everything there is a season, as is written in Ecclesiastes.  As I sought the Lord, he showed me a new aspect of the well-known Scripture, Luke 9:23-24.  “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find his very self.”

Whoever wishes to save his life….what does that mean?  The Lord showed me that to try to preserve that which makes me feel safe is trying to save my life and keeps me from being with him in the present.  What does it mean to “lose my life for his sake”?  He showed me it means to let go.  To let go of anything I look to from the past to make me feel okay.  To deny myself by giving up control, which is really only the illusion of control, to the only One who will save me and continue saving me.

Truly, feelings of loss and the ache to fill that void is at heart a yearning of what is complete and perfect love, and that is found only in Jesus.  Losing my life means taking every thought, every feeling of sorrow, every ache or yearning to him and letting him replace my natural emotions with the supernatural fruit of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.

So the answer is no, Christmas hasn’t changed.  Christmas has never been about comfort and traditions or the things of man.  Christmas is about the birth of a baby, the Christ child, the Savior, the hope of the world.  And the more I press into him, the more the past will lose its power to steal my peace.  Jesus, fix my eyes on you, the One who knew me in my mother’s womb, the One who knows me now, the One who knows who I will be when I am made perfect on the day I see you face to face.  Thank you for patiently loving me while I cycle through these emotions again.  Thank you that you continually are doing “a new thing”!  Help me to step into all that you have for me in the present.  Amen.

 

Birthday Reflections

 

Tomorrow I will be sixty years old.  I think I’ve been contemplating this birthday ever since I turned 59.  And now that it is here, I’m still struggling to come to terms with it.  Sixty today isn’t old, but it’s like the “young part” of your older years.  I’ve been saying the struggle is not about facing my own mortality.  I’ve been lying.  It is about that, and so much more.  Have I lived well?  What about all the wrong choices I can’t go back and change?

We were blessed with a beautiful new grandson this week, and over the next seven months, we will have three more. That will bring us up to nine!  And while I’m excited and happy for all my children (and proud), I’m wondering if it’s possible to be a part of their lives, especially with the distance in miles.  Will I even to see them all grow up?  Will they even know me?

It’s sobering to consider these things, but at the same time it’s oddly freeing.  The thing is we should always examine our lives to see if we are living on purpose; in other words, living intentionally.  For me that means putting God first, seeking him, sitting at his feet, and inviting the Spirit to take control.  I know this is why Jesus says we have to die to self daily.  He knows our propensity to take back our own lives and be our own gods.  And I’m not very good at being my own god.

So yesterday I had some special time with the Lord to talk about my birthday.  I saw myself swimming in the ocean, deep under the water, struggling to get to the surface so I could breathe some precious air.  It was taking every ounce of energy I had to keep swimming.  But then I heard the muffled sounds above the water and saw light begin to filter through.  And as I redoubled my efforts to make it to the top, suddenly strong arms reached down and lifted me out of the water.

I knew the Lord was giving me a picture of my struggling to carry weight that is not mine to carry.  And as always, when I turn back and look at him, he comes for me.   There were some tears in my time with him.  There was truth spoken, some of it hard to hear.  And there was grace, much grace.  “Let go.  Trust me with those you love.  I’ve got them.  Your husband needs you.  Someone needs to know me through your writing.  I have so much for you in this new season, my daughter.  I want you to be a light for me.  Let go, and then you will be able to truly love.”

Last night I had a wonderful birthday dinner with my man, a beautiful evening in every way. Today I will share a family birthday party with my 11-year-old granddaughter with food on the grill and cake and a sea of toddlers running around the backyard and splashing in the kiddie pool.  And I will get to hold my new days-old grandson.  I could not be more blessed.  Awwwww….now I can breathe.

Thank you, Lord.  I surrender to you…..again.

 

Only A Moment

Only a moment ago, I was a young bride of 20 with my dream of being a wife, mom, and homemaker laying at my feet.  It was the start of my journey into life as an adult.

Only a moment ago, I was carpooling, making a family dinner every evening and hiding Christmas presents that would be from Santa. Those were such sweet days. There was a security in the rhythm, knowing exactly what I was supposed to do and be. I’ve been longing for that rhythm ever since, but it belongs to the past.

Only a moment ago, I became a career woman, finding out that I really did have what it takes to “make it in the world.”  Yet having a divided heart, it wasn’t really me. And so the internal conflict surfaced: “Who am I?” and “Why am I not following my own heart?”

Only a moment ago, my children went to college and struggled to be independent. Then one married and a granddaughter was born, and my heart became vulnerable to this new one to love.

Only a moment ago, I was widowed suddenly and tragically. And then every plan, every preconceived idea of what my life should look like, was thrown overboard. And I searched and I searched, held closely in the arms of Jesus, to find my equilibrium.

Only a moment ago, five years actually, God brought me love again. And then He quickly brought an additional four, soon to be five, grandchildren. And my heart became even more vulnerable as I was blessed with so many more to love but wondering, “How do I do this well?”

And now at this moment, in just a month, I will be sixty years old. How is this possible, Lord? Inside I feel so young. And I’m still searching, asking the question, “Who am I, really?” and “What am I supposed to do?” Life is literally rushing by. I want to get this right.

As I pondered these thoughts today on a morning walk, I felt the Lord very close. With my headphones on listening to worship music, taking in the blue, cloudless sky and feeling the slight breeze stirring, I knew. It has and always will come down to God and me. He is the one who formed me in my mother’s womb. He will be the one who closes my eyes in death and carries me into eternity.

So I will keep asking Him these questions until my heart is satisfied. Doesn’t He invite us in His word to ask, seek, and knock? I know I will never find myself apart from Jesus. And I feel peace…..if for only a moment.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, it will be opened.  Matthew 7:7-8

 

Simplicity

I haven’t been writing regular posts in a while.  I’ve been praying about whether to renew my Little Potted Plant account, whether I really had anything to say that anyone would want to read.  But I think that’s part of the process I’m in with the Lord right now.  I’m still in transition from moving away from my family and, in some sense, have been going through a grieving process as the reality of it has settled in over the past few months.  

When I first began this blog almost two years ago after my sweet mother’s death, I said I wanted to “just be real.”  My purpose was to discover who God created me to be.  And I think I started to make my posts a little “preachy,” as though I needed to teach a point with each post instead of just sharing my heart.

So now I want to try again.  I just want to share, hoping that somehow what I write will touch someone else who needs to know they are not alone in how they feel.  And as always, I want to invite others to find the answers in our very faithful God.  So here goes! Thank you for being here with me.

 

March 24, 2015

I went for a walk after dinner with Mark and Chloe, our little bichon frise.  There was a cool breeze, the grass was green, birds were singing–spring at last, and with it the sheer joy of being alive with all of my senses heightened. Thank you, Jesus!  But if that wasn’t enough, we came home to a magnificent sunset visible out our back windows.  Contentment.

There was a time I was focused on making my home beautiful–nothing wrong with that. It’s part of being a woman, and it’s important.  But now my eyes are being opened to see God’s beauty.  While once the paint colors on my walls were a primary focus until I got them just right, now the colors of the sunset are what capture my attention.

A few short years ago, I became fascinated with the subject of simplicity.  I read books, did a group Bible study from a book entitled “Abundant Simplicity,” and started following a couple of Christian blogs on minimalism.  I never knew back then that I would be whisked away from Arkansas to Texas, from a roughly 2000-foot, well-appointed home to a little duplex with carpet and white linoleum that is reminiscent of my earlier homes “back in the day.”

But the Lord knew.  And more personally, the Lord knows me.  Yes, his plan was to move us to Texas to establish our ministry.  But he also cares about the personal details.  He knows what my heart needs, and he is so generous.  He knew I would be captivated by shade trees and sunsets and a park right beside us to walk and time to think and to just…..breathe.  It is a place where distractions are few, and my eyes can gaze on what I need most.  And what I need most is Jesus.

Sometimes the Lord’s plan seems so painful, like moving me away from five, almost six now, grandbabies.  But that’s where trust comes in.  He created me for himself, just as he created you.  And I know that whatever that looks like, it will be the best, for he promises to work all things for good.  I can’t see all the changes that are surely happening inside of me as he draws me closer, but I know that he is doing something in me that needed to be done in this place.  I know the process is not over, nor will it ever be completed on this earth.  But I am a little closer.

Thank you, Jesus, for giving me the grace to say yes and the courage to follow you.  Thank you that you have a plan for our children and grandchildren as well, a plan that is unique to each of them.  I pray for them and for all who may read this post, that they will know you and understand that you are concerned about every detail of their lives.  I pray that we will continually say yes to you, so that we will truly live.  Amen.

An Invitation to Dance

A new year, a fresh start!  Jesus, I’m so glad to be alive, to have this chance to walk with you this year and to be on this adventure with my wonderful husband.  Thank you!  A new year always bring hope.  Resolutions are made.  The focus is put on the future, as it should be.  There is an innocence about us that believes this year really will be different. Then sometimes, when the first mistake is made, all of our expectations come crashing down.  The problem is described in this wonderful quote:  “Everywhere I go, there I am.”  I’m still me.  Alone, I am needy and helpless.

David says in Psalm 4:3, “Know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him.”  Even if I can only say, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner,” I know my heart is in the right place and that He hears, for only good soil produces the fruit of repentance.  Let me say that again, for I sense the Spirit is leading:  Only good soil can produce the fruit of repentance.  (See Parable of the Sower, Matthew 13).

“Good soil” is not evidenced by being sorry for failing in some way, like the self-inflicted, demonic-led pain I experienced a few days ago, falling in “the pit” again.  This type of sorrow is completely self-focused and is based on lies.  But it is hard to get “self” out of the way when your natural life has been built on good works!  Sinning grieves your heart because you have failed, and you can’t face the shame and the thought of your own unworthiness.  This was the same sorrow and shame that drove Judas to suicide.

Godly sorrow is the pain you feel for knowing you have grieved the heart of God.  It is rooted in truth.  The truth is if we belong to him, we are declared worthy because He is worthy.  This is what Peter experienced after denying Jesus.  He was sick at heart at the enormity of denying the One he loved so much, and because his focus was on Jesus, he was able to be forgiven and restored by Him.  Peter’s heart was good soil.

Lord, this is what I ask for in this new year.  May I see all things in relation to you, for you are the center of all things. Sometimes I feel so immature as a believer, yet you tell us to come to you as little children!  Holy Spirit, give me the mercy of your conviction so that I will operate in truth and keep my focus on you and on our relationship.  I know that is when I can sit at your feet and be lovingly restored.

I’m seeing the skin of a snake that has been shed.  I sense that the Lord has taken that skin, that layer of my heart that the enemy has held captive, and has torn it away.  And the place that has been torn in my heart is now the circumcision that must take place so He can have all of me.  “Know that I have set the godly apart for myself!

Wonderful, merciful Savior, you hold my heart in your hands.  All of life comes down to this:  What do I do with you?  You knew me when I was formed in my mother’s womb.  I came from you, and I will return to you.  So what do I do with you in the remaining time I have in this life?  As I pray, I feel the slightest butterfly flutter of my heart, and I hear the words, “Dance with me.”  Yes, Lord, with your leading, I can do that.

To my husband:  Because of the way you love me no matter what state I’m in–happy, sad, angry, or full of shame–I’m understanding at a deeper level just how much Jesus loves me.  Thank you for loving me with His sacrificial heart.  How blessed I am to have you as my bridegroom and Christ as my bridegroom God!  I love you desperately.

As this new year begins, reflect on these words by Sarah Young in Jesus Calling:

“I, your Prince of Peace, long to pour Myself into your neediness.  My abundance and your neediness are a perfect match.  I designed you to have no sufficiency of your own.  I created you as a jar of clay, set apart for sacred use.  I want you to be filled with My very Being, permeated through and through with Peace.”  (December 31)

The invitation of a lifetime awaits.  May God bless you abundantly 2015 as you dance with your Prince!

The Greatest of These is Love

I wonder if faith that hasn’t been tested is truly genuine faith.  It’s so easy to think casually about faith when you think you don’t need it—when everyone is healthy, finances are in good order, relationships are stable.  But then something happens that threatens your little secure world, and you are thrown off balance.  It’s not that you don’t trust God, but you don’t understand what He is doing, and you’re not sure how to lay hold of the faith that you need.

So I have been doing just that, wrestling before the Lord about how to lay hold of that faith.  Mark and I are going through some testing in the area of our provision.  I want to come out of this testing, as it says in the first chapter of James, mature and complete, not lacking anything.  I want to get it right.  But that has the scent of performance in it, that old bugaboo that comes back to haunt me.  Then God in his kindness showed me there is something greater, something right in front of me that I’m not seeing.

Everyone is familiar with “the love chapter,” I Corinthians 13.  I had even memorized it at one time, but I haven’t understood the scope of it.  I can do many good things for God, but if they aren’t motivated by love, Paul says nothing is gained.  He says if I have the faith to move mountains but don’t have love, I am nothing.  Those words penetrate the soul, and they have gotten my attention.  I see that faith and love are inextricably connected, that faith is the fruit of love, loving God and believing that God loves me.

How could I have missed this?  Since the Lord told me that what is coming next in my life will require greater faith, I have been diligently in the Word, wanting to learn everything God has to say about it, as if I could learn how to possess it.  But then the realization came over me like a flash of light–I have already been through trials much harder than this one.  When my former husband died, it came out of nowhere.  I didn’t study about faith to prepare for it.  All I had been doing was pursuing God and loving Him.  When the time of testing came, the faith was there. I was able to stand because I knew my God loved me.  All the faith I needed in that moment Jesus supplied.

I could not have moved to Texas and left my precious family if I didn’t believe God loved me and would work it all for good.  Was it hard?  Of course, but not as hard as I thought it would be because God met me here.  Yes, I do miss them, and sometimes I’m sad, feeling like I’m missing out on my grandchildren’s lives.  But that doesn’t happen on the scale that I thought it would.  The Lord has given me what I need most, Himself.  He is everywhere in my life as He was (and is) in Arkansas.  He is in my new friends, our life group, our church, and my marriage, knitting Mark and me together in a deeper way.

I don’t think I have ever truly grasped this truth about faith.  I have had a distorted view. I have been searching out how to have greater faith, and God has shown me the answer is greater love.  I was overcome with emotion as God revealed this to me, just at the thought of how much He loves me, that He actually chose me to be his child. There is no reason that I could know this except for God’s grace.  I can honestly thank God for testing because I know He loves me, and He always proves Himself faithful.

I know as I get up from this writing and go about my daily business, my passion in this moment will fade, but the truth of what God has shown me will stand.  And now I’m burdened for my sisters and brothers out there, many that we see in our home for ministry, who don’t understand how much God loves them.  Oh, the mercy of God, to open my eyes and give me His heart for others.

Thank you, Lord.  I say yes; tenderize my heart for your children.  As I am learning to abide in you, my oasis, let your love flow through me to those you place in my life who need to know your love.  Jesus, I don’t have the words.  I just ask you to keep me on your path, the narrow path that is rooted in your love.  Amen.

But now these three remain:  faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love.

Happy Anniversary to Shawn and Matt

Today, September 28, 2014, is a very special day.  It is my baby girl’s seventh wedding anniversary.  Shawn and Matt are the “oldest married couple” in our family!  Mark and I, my daughter Susan and Chris, and my son Steven and Jennifer all were married in 2010.  I have had tears in my eyes as I’ve looked at their wedding pictures on the computer this morning.  They are still young, but they looked really young in those pictures, yet they handled the trial our family walked through with maturity and wisdom.

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If you have kept up with my posts, you know that my former husband died six weeks before Shawn’s wedding, just a few days after we had bridal portraits made. She was the one who found her dad after a frantic call from me while traveling home from out of town.  My son was with her at the house, but she was first on the scene.  I have so much pain still at the thought of it.  Twenty-three years old, happily doing all the things soon-to-be brides have to do, and then a tragic interruption.

My future son-in-law Matt, just 23, was a tower of strength.  I know he doesn’t think of himself that way.  He must have been crumbling inside, but he took care of his bride.  And if that wasn’t enough to handle, he stepped up and was strong for me.  I saw in him then the strength and faith in God and compassion that makes him the man he is today.  They have had some very rough places in their marriage.  They suffered a devastating miscarriage a few years ago that opened the door for the enemy to wreak havoc in their lives with depression and all that goes along with it.

But God restores.  May 23, 2013, the Lord blessed them with beautiful little Emma.  And although they have the same day-to-day problems all couples do, they have learned to rise above them.  As I said in my last post, the outcome of all trials if we look to God will be greater faith.  Actually, James said it first–lol–but I have experienced it personally (James 1:2-4).  Jesus said in this world we will have tribulation, but to take heart, for He has overcome the world!  The grace he gives us to overcome cannot come from anyone but Him, so our faith becomes more real and solid as we face trials in Christ.

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So with love and joy in my heart, I want to wish Shawn and Matt a very happy anniversary!  Thank you for your love, care, and compassion for me as I walked through the fire and then through the years of trying to find where I fit in the life of singleness.  I know that you put your own pain aside to be there for me when I needed you.  We have shared so much, but I won’t write about it all.  (Moms tend to embarrass their children, you know!)

I pray for you Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians, Ephesians 3:14-19:

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in you inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God!

Love you so much!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Have Found My Oasis

Where do I begin?  I haven’t written in quite some time.  Of course, I journal most every day.  But I’ve been waiting….waiting on the coming oasis that I wrote about last time.  And I have found it!  Oh, the inexpressible faithfulness of God!  How to describe it….you must experience it for yourself.  It is for everyone who knows Jesus.  But testimonies we hear of others build our faith, so I will be obedient to continue to tell my story.

One year ago my daughter Shawn and I were able to attend the Woman Conference at New Life Church, my home church at the time, in Conway, Arkansas.  It was amazing.  Lisa Bevere was our speaker, and I remember her main theme centered around being courageous in Christ.  It was the first time we had worshiped to Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) (Hillsong United, 2013).  And I remember clearly during the chorus, the Spirit spoke to me. The chorus of Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) is this:

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders,                                                                Let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me.                                               Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander,                                                              And my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.”

As I worshiped with all my heart, the Spirit spoke to me and told me something was about to happen in our lives that would take great faith to walk through, but that He would be with us.  When I returned home that evening, Mark was sitting on the couch starting at the T.V.  He doesn’t watch T.V.  It was then he told me he had gotten a call from our Christian financial broker.  Having made a commitment to diversification, he had violated his own standard without our knowledge and made an unwise investment decision, and our money, along with that of the other investors, had been stolen.

We had been living on the interest on that investment to fund our ministry, Hope Preserved, since 2010.  When the Lord called Mark to this ministry, He told Him that He would have to leave his job, but that He would provide for us.  A couple of months later, his department where he worked downsized, and he was laid off.  We tried to wisely use what funds we had, and they were sustaining us. Now what we had to live on was a limited amount of money in savings and a small rent house which we soon sold.  But God said He would provide, and He is reminding us to exercise our faith in His promise.

This happened before we had ever been called to Waco, first to teach a ministry workshop (that came a couple of months after this), and then two month-long visits earlier this year to do ministry and continue to seek God’s will.  We were led to Antioch Community Church, and taken in warmly, invited to lunches and people’s homes and finally settling into an amazing life group of Christ-followers.  Through much prayer of our own and prophetic words from various persons, both in Waco and Arkansas, it became clear we were to move here.

God was leading us here to Waco to plant this ministry in a spiritual climate where we are learning humility and sacrifice and community in a way we hadn’t experienced. Precious, broken people continue to come for help, more than we can handle, but the Lord has brought someone forward who wants to learn the ministry and take some of the load.  We are able to bring some of these persons in need to our life group for prayer and words of encouragement, and our comrades are always ready to help.

Now exactly a year after the Woman Conference, Mark and I attended the World Mandate Conference hosted by Antioch Church at Baylor University.  Since we have been at this church, we have learned about God’s heart for the nations.  I am truly seeing that there is a world past my front door in middle-class America, a world for which Jesus suffered and died.

Worshiping at World Mandate with thousands of others, the Spirit reminded me of His faithfulness throughout my life. It was like a video playing in my mind of all the times the Lord had been there to sustain me, from my childhood through raising my children, through the death of my former husband and the years of widowhood, through the move to Texas and the difficulty in leaving children and grandchildren.  I was moved to tears.

And then as we began to worship to Oceans, and the Spirit spoke to me again. What did the Spirit tell me?  He said something like this,”You thought your life was winding down. Everything you had envisioned yourself doing has changed, and you haven’t known exactly where you fit in.  But you have only begun to live, really live, for me.  I love you, my daughter, and I have chosen you to be a part of my great adventure.  It will take great faith, but I will be with you. You need only to stay close to me.”

I have been walking toward the oasis, my dead branches cut off, fruitful ones pruned back, waiting on the Lord to show me what it is.  I have found it.  It is Christ!  He is the vine, my life source (John 15), and I am soaking in His Spirit.  You may be thinking, “Didn’t she already know Jesus?”  Yes, of course.  But He is showing me there is much more for me ahead, more than I could have imagined.  And I don’t have to figure it out or worry about it.  All I have to do is abide, live connected to the vine.  When we are connected to Him, the ultimate outcome of every trial will be greater faith.

Jesus, yes, I understand.  I get it, and with your help every day, I will surrender.  How could I not?  You are the lover of my soul, and you are faithful.  Forgive me for trying to make my life work in my own strength.  Fill me with your Spirit.  Submerge me in your love.  I want nothing more than to live for you the rest of my days.  I won’t try to figure out where we’re going or what we’re going to do.  I simply want to abide in you.  Rest and peace.  Freedom.  Life abundant!  Yes, Lord!

God bless you, and thank you for reading.  I know it is a very long post!

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful…..I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain (abide) in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:1-2, 5.