Returning to Your First Love

first love - take the risk

When Paul and I first met, the only thing we wanted to do was spend time together. Of course that wasn’t really possible, but we took every opportunity we could find to make it happen. When we couldn’t, I spent all the time we were apart thinking about him.

It’s amazing how consumed we were with each other – it was our first love. It was a time where everything else slid to the background and we became the forefront of everything we did or thought about.

When I was in the kitchen cooking, Paul joined me so we could still be together. I had an arm chair in the dining area that fit him perfectly. We would talk about our day but mostly we would simply share about our lives – our hopes and dreams, our disappointments, our victories and even our defeats. All the places in our hearts that hadn’t been shared came out into the open and were celebrated with love.

What was happening was, I was cooking and preparing a meal but my attention or my focus was on Paul. Spending time with him and being interested in his day and really, his whole life. The actual act of cooking was simply one of those things I did without all that much thought, and I wasn’t all that great of a cook back then either. That wasn’t the point. The time in the kitchen was about us spending time together while I multi-tasked and cooked meals but, the main thing going on was the soul or emotion connection; relationship.

We fit together like two clasped hands. I adored the ground he walked on. I was his biggest encourager and his was the same for me.

It was the best of times.

These kitchen conversations continued on after we were married. I began to take a huge interest in learning how to cook. I had no idea how people knew what spice or herb went with what. The only way I could figure it out was to try it. So I started growing and studying herbs. I began devouring cookbooks and trying every recipe that intrigued me.

But that was many years ago.

These days when I’m baking, I’m often somewhere else in my mind. I am physically there in my kitchen but my thoughts are miles away thinking about friends and conversations we’ve had or often, I am thinking about the person who will receive what I am currently baking.

Occasionally, I even have conversations with people who aren’t even in the room. More often than not if no one is physically in the room with me, I’m having conversations with God. We talk about many things. Sometimes it’s me praying and other times it’s not. When I interact with God like this, I am at complete rest; there is no anxiety or worry, I multi-task with ease. With my physical hands I am baking something but in my heart and mind or in my imagination, I am having a conversation with someone I can’t see with  my natural eyes – yet my conversation and communication is as if I can.

When I am in this place, I am at rest. I am comfortable knowing that what is transpiring is real and affects my relationship with God. It is just as real as when Paul is in the kitchen conversing with me – I’m enjoying first love with God.

While in this place of rest, everything that tries to remind me how bad some circumstance is or how dire a problem seems – falls to the wayside. I am in a bubble of protection and love. I am instead consumed with the One who has all of my attention and I believe it all comes down to this:

When Pau and I first loved, there was so much rest when we were together, even though in reality it was one of the toughest times of our lives. When we were together we were strengthened so that when we needed to be strong we would be because there was a history or testimony of a love that could not be shaken. There was a safe place to dwell in the midst of storms.

How do you find rest? You return to your first love, of course. That is where the testimony lies. My first love with Paul is like my walk with Jesus – even more so because in Him I find rest. They are both my safe place.

When I’m going about my day to day endeavors and find myself getting frustrated because the car stalled or the recipe isn’t working out like I thought it would and yet those muffins have to get in the mail, I have to stop for a moment and breathe. I have to listen to my heart reminding me that it will work out – I need to return to my first love and let my focus be there, not on what isn’t going right.

When I was thinking about these things the other day, I realized this was a key I needed to engage more often. I’ve heard the phrase, “Return to your first love” many times but mostly swept it aside as one of those “spiritual” things that I didn’t understand. I would shrug it off and move on because I couldn’t figure out what it meant in context of my life or even in the context of things I was going through at a particular time.

“Return to your first love” I know it’s talking about that time when all of my focus was on Him and this new amazing love we shared; those giddy days of adoration and almost being oblivious to anything else – at least for me. But that was all I knew.

What I didn’t realize until just a few weeks ago was that “first love” was also the seat of my resting place. It’s a safe place to come and let worries and stress fall away. It’s the place where I can labor and not grow weary. It’s the place where I can walk out my calling and not fear the judgments of man. It’s also my lampstand and it’s my great reward.

”He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’ (Rev. 2:7)

When I find myself in situations that aren’t in my control, read most of the time, I need to remember that I have the key to rest and the key to peace. I simply have to enter in and have a seat.

Picture credit: https://unsplash.com/@roy23

When Soaking Was Hard

Branches, soaking

We went to Toronto Airport Fellowship in January 2007 with a group of people from the Healing Rooms here in Nashville. We were there for a week during the leadership conference. What a blessing it was and what an eye-opening experience too.

But that is an entirely different story – I want to tell you about soaking instead.

While we were there in Toronto, Paul joined Catch the Fire Soaking Prayer Rooms so we could have an affiliate here in Nashville. It was a big deal in those days. We would have soaking sessions once a week at the healing rooms on Sunday evenings. We would all bring our blankets, pillows or whatever else we felt was needed to relax so we could soak in God’s presence and experience Him.

Paul (or I) would get a playlist of soaking music that would last an hour or so to help usher us into a place where we could be attuned to what God wanted to say to us. When the “session” was over and the music had come to an end, everyone would share what they encountered or what they saw, etc.

It was always very interesting what other people shared. Many went to heaven and received revelation about things going on in their lives. Others would have angels or even Jesus Himself minister to them. Everyone experienced something. That is except me; I never saw or experienced anything. I couldn’t even be still without fidgeting and changing positions a dozen times or so.

After several weeks of trying to still my thoughts or even my physical body without any actual results, I gave up – I was done trying.  Instead of lying down with my eyes closed, I started sitting up with my back against the wall on my blankets and read my Bible. Sometimes I would be so frustrated I would only pretend to read, those were the times I would get angry and wonder what was wrong with me, why couldn’t I be like the others and see God or have some heavenly experience?

During these frustration times I wanted to quit going altogether but it wasn’t possible. I had to be there because it was mostly women who went to the soaking sessions and Paul needed me there for accountability sake, etc. which didn’t give me much of a choice about whether to attend and didn’t help my grumpy disposition very much – actually it only made me grumpier! Yes I know I was being ridiculous and not exactly helping my “lack of encounter” situation.

About four or five weeks into these soaking sessions, I remember putting my blankets as far away from everyone as I could possibly get. I wanted to have my pity party all by myself, thank you.  Once everyone was settled and Paul had put the CD on, I picked up my Bible and tried to read, having no plan to soak at all. After a few minutes of being so distracted that I couldn’t read, I began to cry – I couldn’t stop. I tried taking deep breaths and physically willing myself to stop but, to no avail. I must have cried silently, with tears pouring down my face for at least twenty minutes or so when suddenly, I wasn’t on my blanket anymore.

I kept blinking away the remains of tears from my eyes, trying to figure out where I was.  And then I saw Him.  He was standing with His back to me. I didn’t see His face but I knew it was Jesus. I began looking around the room and I saw that I was in a large silver and white ballroom with soft, peaceful lighting. Large columns were space throughout the enormous room but I wasn’t looking around too much because my eyes were glued on the scene in front of me…

I saw a small girl – she was dancing with Jesus. She was wearing a pale blue dress with black Patent-leather shoes and was about 2 or 3 years old. She looked familiar somehow but I didn’t know how that could be.  As I said, I didn’t see Jesus’ face but I did see Him from about the neck down. He too was wearing black dress shoes and very formal attire. He had the little girl’s feet on top of his like I’d seen before with daddies and daughters. As they twirled past me, I realized the little girl was me and I suddenly remember a picture of me at that age wearing the same outfit.

Once I realized the girl was me, I was suddenly on my blanket again – back at the soaking session. I then heard the Lord tell me, “See I was with you then, just like I am now. We danced together in heaven and can do it again.”

He had taken my present self to see something that had occurred many years before. Whether it was a vision or I really went to heaven to see Him dancing with me as a little girl, I can’t really say. And it doesn’t matter which it was to me. What mattered was that I finally had an experience!!! I was suddenly crying again but this time, it was out of joy, not sadness. I didn’t share this experience with everyone even though I had been longing to share something but this was too special. I needed to cherish this by myself for a while.

After that experience, I didn’t have trouble soaking anymore or experiencing heavenly encounters. I think maybe I had to get over “me” and simply trust Him and His timing. I needed to not compare or measure my experiences, (or lack of them), with others. He has plenty of experiences waiting just for me.

(Photo found here – https://stocksnap.io/photo/0LKVSMU3AF)

This is the picture of me I remembered while I was in heaven. Every time I see this now I think of dancing with my King.

Ginny @ 2

 

The Courts of Heaven

heaven

I wanted to share something I wrote in my journal a couple of days ago about an experience I had.

July 4, 2016 (Freedom – Independence Day)

Courts of Heaven

Sue offered to take us to the Courts of Heaven on behalf of my sister in law to get a ruling in her case on the issue of cancer.

I had only gone to the courts a couple of times before this and to be honest I wasn’t sure if I was actually there or if it was my imagination. My previous trips had been a fairly large corporate thing and I was more of a bystander instead of an actual participant. Because of being unsure, I was a little nervous about doing it again; not because I didn’t think it was a “real” thing but more so because I didn’t want to screw it up! I didn’t want to be found lacking and somehow disappoint anyone. Intellectually I know that’s crazy and it’s the enemy whispering his lies again but for some reason in my heart, I was still having some concerns. Fear! I hate it. Approval of men and the fear of disappointment – I hate that too.

I prayed about the upcoming session for a bit but didn’t “hear” anything, so when the time came for us to meet on Google Hangout, I just put on a brave face and went with it. Or as I like to say, I jumped!

Sue was leading the thing so I just stopped worrying about myself and let her lead. Paul also was in on the call and since he had gone to the courts more times than I had, I was starting to be at peace. Jesus was there and I kept getting distracted by Him – my heart kept leaping. Since I was getting a little emotional I discovered that I wasn’t “hearing” some things I probably should have. It didn’t matter, thankfully Paul was listening! Father was there too but Jesus had my attention. He took my breath away…

Without going into details, the enemy was bound and taken from the court room. We were given two different scrolls by Father. When we turned to leave, Jesus turned and followed us out the door. Sue mentioned to us that He doesn’t do that very often. When I saw Him coming with us, I heard in my heart, “I’m coming for you, Ginny. You were very brave to do this and I’m so proud of you.”

I hadn’t shared my fears with either Paul or Sue but Jesus knew of them and spoke to me in love. He never once condemned me for being afraid. Instead, He banished those fears and encouraged me with His words to simply trust or jump for he will always be there to catch me every time. I ended up getting a little emotional again… (He’ll do that to you!)

Ginny Wilcox's photo.

Got Fears?

Light presence

I belong to a writing group on Facebook; several actually. In one of the groups, a writing prompt was given asking us to name five fears we had and write about it. That is the reason for a writing prompt after all.

I saw the post the first day it was posted but didn’t respond or leave any comments because, to be honest, I didn’t want to think about fears or the fact that I might have any. As if!!

Today as I was “scrolling by” I actually felt a response rise up in me as I read the prompt again. I remembered an incident that had happened in the recent past and that lead me to other realizations.

Isn’t that always the case? What you may have been avoiding or at least avoid admitting, is something that needs facing so we can get healed. And as is the case many times, someone else has experienced this same thing. When we have the courage to share and be transparent, it has the potential to bless and encourage many.

What I realized while reading the prompt was that I sometimes have a fear of being found out. What I mean by that is when someone encourages me or blesses me or even compliments me, I sometimes feel like I don’t deserve it. I feel like they don’t really know who I am. There’s a fear that they may find out who I am and be disappointed or repulsed by me. Or they may discover I’m not at all who they thought I was.

Those voices can be so convincing!

Of course, it’s absolutely irrational to listen to lies and base who I am on those things but there is nothing rational about fear! Fear is on the outside and when I listen to its whisperings or agree with the lies it speaks, I have allowed it inside.

Fear will lie to me about my identity every single time. And actually, that’s a really important key to overcoming this. When I’m firmly grounded in who I am, fear can’t touch me.

I know that I know, I am worthy and I am who HE says I am…and how can that be anything but awesome? But fear can somehow make me forget all the things I know and convinces me that I need to fear man, to even crave the approval of man – while at the same time telling me that I’m not worthy of even that approval.

Fear whispers that it is man’s approval we need and perverts any affirmations and encouragement we receive from others. We all need affirmation and encouragement and it’s not the same thing as approval, not at all.

When I was planning the trip to NC to go see Praying Medic on the Sid Roth show I had a really hard time with this fear issue. I kept hearing these whispers in my head saying, “What if they find out you’re not who they thought you were? What if they don’t like you? What if they think you’re a fake?” All these things began to swirl around in my thoughts and at times were almost overwhelming to the point I wanted to cancel the trip.

Fortunately, God is bigger than fear. I began to still myself and hear His still small voice wooing me back from the brink of depression (or whatever it was). He began singing over me and reminding me who I am. It was an intervention just in time. I was then able to pull myself up by my bootstraps and ignore those lies. I was able to confess the truth about myself. And I was able to go to NC and celebrate a great friend being celebrated!

I have since discovered that as long as I’m being authentically me, warts and all, I will be fine. People will love me or even like me according to their own will, not mine. And it was a great lesson to learn, and sometimes, re-learn.

When we are able to walk in our true identities, we can allow others to love us and even like us. And we are also able to love others right where they are. None of us are perfect but another thing I’ve realized is this: We tend to show more love and encouragement to others than we do towards ourselves. That’s really skewed because the scripture tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves and that means if we can’t love and encourage us, how can we do the same to them – we can’t. It’s that simple.

The lesson learned is that if we don’t feel good enough, pretty enough, smart enough or whatever enough, we need to tell those voices to depart. Turn around and listen to what God says about you. Quiet those voices and be still. I promise you, you will hear Him singing over you…right, where you are.

Today, fear is far from me.

If you find that this resonates with you, know that you are an amazing person! Are you perfect? Heck no, who is? But you are loved and needed and you have things to contribute that will be missing if you don’t escape those lies. Freedom to be who you are is your inheritance. Let’s walk in that. Hey, better yet; let’s DANCE in that! Come on, be encouraged, and be awesome!

Seated in Heavenly Places

 

stone throne

I’ve been thinking about the verse in Ephesians 2:6 lately, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus“; so I went and read it again…

When I’ve read this scripture in the past, I always difficulty seeing myself seated in heaven; it always felt like a cold harsh place of judgment, a place to be avoided at all cost. Sometimes, if I tried really hard I could see myself seated there. I would be sitting on a dark limestone throne that was so cold I could feel it seeping into my bones. The room itself was really dark and bare. So dim in fact that most of the room was undistinguishable. There was no comfort or peace there, only a sense that I didn’t belong and if I got caught there, I would be punished.

This cold harsh heaven became a place to avoid. And because of that, I never imagined sitting up in heaven, which in turn made it difficult to get a heavenly perspective on my life.

Perspective is what changes when you get further away from something and generally is what’s meant by the phrase ‘get above it’, that and an understanding of our authority and power in Jesus. If I didn’t have a perspective change, there would be no sense of authority, power or particular wisdom to effect change in my life. All I basically had was head knowledge, of this scripture, knowing where I’m seated and declaring it all the time. What I lacked was a true vision or sense of what it afforded me, what it really meant.

This time, after I finished reading that verse again, I began to see an image from my childhood.

The image was one of freedom and joy, where a little girl was free to run and run and run, and dream big dreams until the sun went down and she had to go home. You see, as a child I practically lived outside. I climbed trees, made trails in the woods, built forts, picked flowers and played baseball whenever we could get enough people together. One of my favorite things to do was daydream. Boy could I get lost! I would often be found lying on my back under a tree staring up into the clouds and getting lost in my imagination. I wasn’t always seeing anything with my natural eyes. My “sight” was elsewhere. I daydreamed of my future family and what I would be doing with my life someday. Sometimes I was off on great adventures where I had the starring role and was greatly celebrated for my bravery and wisdom. It makes me smile just thinking back to some of those carefree times.

The image brought a smile to my face but at the same time it kind of made me sad. It seemed so different than where or how I was currently living.  Some days, where I lived was more like the sun had gone down and the adventures had stopped.  Wow! Why was that? I wasn’t using my imagination to see things differently. I wasn’t dreaming up answers to questions in my life. I was too close to everything. I needed a new perspective!

 

wallup.net

The other day, as I was reading a post on Facebook, I saw something new; I saw this scripture in an entirely new light. Instead of sitting on a cold hard throne, I saw myself sitting atop a grassy knoll. Sitting beside me was my best friend. We were looking down toward the valley without a care in the world. Then we lay down on our backs and started looking at the clouds. They were big fluffy cumulus clouds, sailing high above our warm sunny place. I began to describe what I saw in the shapes of the clouds; a castle, a horse, a dog and yes, even a pirate ship!

Wherever I looked, I saw a new perspective; I saw things in a new light and I wasn’t feeling powerless to effect change any longer. The difference, I think was in the rest I was experiencing; I was at ease and was able to let my imagination run free. I was that little girl again!

You see, we were created to freely imagine things, be creative like our Father and to actually create the solutions to the situations going on around us in our lives, and the lives of others. We have the answer, if we will have eyes to see and ears to hear a new perspective that is available to us all.

Nothing had actually changed in my physical life when I was sitting on that hill. All the previous “issues” of life were still down in that valley but being at rest gave me new eyes to see. Patterns began to emerge that I had never seen before, and really isn’t that a great reason to live next to Jesus in the heavenly realms? I learned some things the other day. Here are a few of them:

While sitting in heavenly places (Eph 2:6) I discovered:

New perspectives – leave the mouse in the box vision behind and begin to soar like an eagle.

Things that are far away look smaller – stop glorifying how big the issues of life are and begin to see the true size they really are. For instance: if you hold a piece of paper the size of a credit card up close, all you see is the paper. Once you place that piece of paper further away, you begin to see all kinds of things around it and even beyond it. That’s because if we only focus on that one ‘problem’ thing, that is all we see. It becomes too big to see anything else.

The heavenly realm is a place of peace – When you allow yourself to be seated in heaven, peace will infiltrate your entire being. Those things that cause worry and distress fall to the wayside, thus allowing you to see from a new perspective, which brings me to the next thing I learned.

The heavenly realm is a place of rest – When I’m at rest, worry ceases to exist. I’m free to not only see solutions to issues in my life; I’m free to create them! I was made to create, just like my Father.

When I’m at rest, much is accomplished – Rest is not a taskmaster. No, rest is the fuel that empowers me to accomplish all the things I need to do within a given day. It empowers me to be at peace and walk in joy, even while doing mundane things. This rest comes from above.

When I’m at rest, time ceases to exist – I don’t know the physics about it but I do know this: When I’m at rest, I leave the constraints that time has on me and I can do things that would otherwise be impossible. Yes, there are still 24 hours in a day here on earth…….but who said I had to be constrained to one realm??

This is a place where my imagination and creativity can soar because God raised me up with Jesus and seated me with him in the heavenly realms!

Turn the page…

sleepy kitty

I’ve been on a bit of a journey of late. Albeit an unwelcome one, I did glean a few things from it. And that’s the point of a journey when it’s all said and done, right – to capture some elusive thing that wouldn’t have otherwise been discovered – at least maybe?

So here’s what happened:

On Thursday, as many of you know, I came down with a stomach virus and had to leave work early. I won’t go into all the gory details of driving home in rush hour traffic while throwing up. No, I won’t.  Once I got home, Paul sent out some prayer request on Facebook and as the faithful people you are, you responded in turn. Thank you, for those prayers.

By Friday morning I wasn’t much better which of course may have something to do with the fact I was up all night – maybe. My lack of energy and basically feeling sore all over forced me to be in bed all day, but I did sleep a lot.

When I got up on Saturday morning better – so much so, I thought I could go into work and at least stay for a good part of my shift. I was wrong – back to bed I went, after driving all the way there and back again.

By now, it’s Saturday mid-day, I’m in bed and going bonkers! I don’t feel bad enough to stay in bed but every time I get up I feel out of breath and woozy. My computer, which is a desktop, is in the other room and my phone just isn’t a great substitute for a keyboard for me. I just need something to do!

I went into the living room where we had moved the TV and tried my hand at flipping channels, but that didn’t even work. I somehow got confused about which auxiliary I was using or what channel I needed to be on or something. Either way, I couldn’t get it figured out and only ended up more frustrated; so I went back to bed and took another nap.

When I woke up, I discovered that I’m starving! That’s a sign of getting better, right? Food wasn’t making me nauseous anymore so naturally, Paul and I decided to go out and get some food for an early mother’s day dinner. We had a great time, I was feeling a lot better and of course the company was the best. The food on the other hand was a stupid (for me) mistake – I ordered pizza. Yes, see what I mean?

By the time I got back home I was already feeling very sore in my stomach and had indigestion to boot. Needless to say, I was up all night again. Stupid, Stupid, Stupid. (Not me, but my choices!)

And then it was Sunday, Mother’s Day…and where am I? You guessed it; I’m in bed having a great big pity party because I can’t do anything except stay in bed. I can’t even have coffee…again!

Did I mention somewhere the fact that I never get sick? It’s true, I almost never get sick and maybe that’s why this was such a difficult time. Or, I don’t know, maybe a tough strain of virus!?

But, to explain, this post isn’t to depress you. No, it’s to tell you what I learned from all this. (Smile)

  1. I hate being sick!
  2. I’m a terrible patient!
  3. I don’t do well without food! (It makes me hangry!)
  4. I’m grumpy
  5. No coffee??? I can’t even…
  6. I develop ADD when I have to stay in bed. (Aka, I am so restless!)
  7. I am more stubborn than I knew. (Okay, some people already know this)

But what I did learn was that I really can rest. It’s a work, for sure and maybe that’s what is meant by, “Strive to enter into His rest”, but I did manage to do it. I also learned that listening to Wisdom and not being impatient early in the game is much better than realizing it later and paying dire consequences. (At least in this case)

During those times of restlessness I was whining to God and having a big ole pity party. (I can’t even begin to call it prayer because it wasn’t.) I felt so left out of everything; all alone. I even began to entertain lies about not doing enough, not writing enough, not whatever enough! I was getting really sad and depressed for a while there! Yes, of course I realized those were lies I was listening to but sometimes, I find myself there in the midst of them anyway.

Eventually, God interrupted those voices and I plainly heard Him say, “You don’t need to do anything; you are enough exactly as you are. You are loved right now, right where you are; even in bed being sick. I love you.”

The lies left immediately. I let out a big sigh and had a few tears. He is so good. He was with me the entire time and when I quit listening to lies, I heard him and felt Him near. He didn’t need me to do anything or be anything. He simply wanted me to rest and feel how loved I am. And really, is there a better gift than that?

One more thing I need to mention. I also learned that even in the midst of suffering, I am a very blessed woman.  I was in a warm/cool home of my own, not out on the street. I had many loving friends and family members praying for me. I had a sweet wonderful husband who was always available for any need I had and I even had a sweet kitty by my side the whole time demonstrating what peace and rest was all about. (First world blessings, I say)

I am alive and doing fine, thank you very much. Turn the page…

 

Picture found here: http://www.petpictures.xyz

Mother’s Day and Honoring Women

Beautiful-Butterfly-On-Pink-Flower

Mother’s Day is on May 8th this year and that makes it less than a month away. I have to find a victim, quick! No, really. Let me explain…

My mother passed away 7 years ago and because she has gone on, it doesn’t exempt me from honoring mothers all around me. There are single mothers who need encouraging, spiritual mothers who need honoring, sisters who have forgotten how awesome they truly are or maybe you’re a mother to orphans who simply needs someone to listen to what has happened in your day. The need is greater than we know.

I’ve heard it said that Mother’s Day is only a ‘Hallmark’ holiday and it doesn’t really matter that much but this couldn’t be further from the truth! It matters a lot. No, it doesn’t matter how the world celebrates or even doesn’t celebrate; WE are of a different kingdom and we know how important mothers are, right?!

Mothers are the very first teachers we have and they impart so much with their time, their love and their wisdom. Mothers are our first confidants and the first ones we run too when we are little. Remember those mashed up flowers we grabbed with our tiny little hands just so we could present them to our mommy’s? Remember how she kissed our owie’s away and everything was all better?

And when we are older and our relationships with our mothers were more than a little strained because WE knew absolutely everything and she was only trying to keep us from all that WE knew we could do. Right – even those days she was there; washing our sheets, making us meals and even praying for our safety and for wisdom to “please dear God” land on us! I know I wasn’t the easiest daughter to raise; maybe not the worst but in hindsight, I could have honored her more.

But this is not about regrets! NOPE. This is about loving and honoring the women who have raised us and mentored us. It’s also about those we came to depend on in our time of need. Let’s not let an opportunity pass to honor these great women. And you do realize,  whether a woman believes in Jesus like we do or not has nothing to do with it at the end of the day. Jesus knows her and He loves her well. We should also.

So, my challenge to you is this…

Find someone to honor and celebrate extravagantly this year. Take them to dinner, send them something in the mail, go clean their house or buy them flowers. And most importantly, tell them how much they’ve meant to you, how they’ve spoken into your life. How awesome they are!

And then, come back and share the testimony of how blessed they were by your kindness!

Entering the Kingdom of God ~ from the perspective of the unsaved spouse

leaves

I’ve been walking with the Lord 10 years now.  Who knew He could be so good to me!?

Paul got saved first and I’ve got to tell you, I was not happy about it. No, if fact I was pretty ticked off. I wanted to know who came and stole my husband away. What happened to my “cool” husband? He started acting really weird and quoting the Bible to Chelsea and me and frankly, it only made us both mad. Just who did he think he was anyway? He couldn’t judge us like that! HE was trying to share his new reality but it felt like condemnation to both of us. We didn’t appreciate the change in him at all.

Did this happen to you; did you get saved before your spouse or them before you? It does not make for a happy marriage I’ll tell you that much. When Paul got saved, we were living on the grounds of an Episcopal church in a one-room cottage, as caretakers and grounds keepers. Much of our responsibility entailed installing many gardens and all things landscape.

We were also members of the church and attended every time the doors were open. Due to this; I felt we were more holy than the Pope! I mean, how much more spiritual or holy can you get right?  I would later learn that church attendance had nothing to do with how spiritual or holy you were, much later.

I was also very much into the social aspect of the church because it gave me an opportunity to cook and entertain, which is my passion. This led to me befriending the new caterer who began using the church’s commercial kitchen. I thought I had died and gone to heaven! I had found my tribe.

You see, I always joked around about writing a book entitled, A Day in the Life of a “Wannabe” Caterer; only eat the ugly ones. I lived for cooking and entertaining. As my friendship grew with this caterer, I began to help out and was able to share with her the many things I knew that would be useful in her business. I began helping with the flower arrangements, menu ideas, recipes and even working for free. Of course, I also worked full time during the week in our family business too. Every weekend, I would be up at the church lending a hand and have the time of my life.

I did get paid for my work after a few months, though. We become great friends, doing everything together for many years. We took care of each other’s children, we did charity events together, and we partied and cooked together, vacationed together; we celebrated life the best way we knew how.

And then Paul got saved. . .

That changed everything. He was seriously making me not want to be around him very much. He stopped hanging out with our friends and began going to meetings every chance he got.  We were still members of the Episcopal Church but when not attending a meeting there, he would run off to meetings where he could be around other people like him who were experiencing God. When he’d return from these meetings, he wanted to share and talk about what he’d experienced, but I would have none of it; I didn’t want to feel condemned by his words.

He really was only sharing the awesomeness of God, but I only felt condemnation. I began to find opportunities to be gone when he was home which often meant I was at my friend’s house, 35 miles away.

Our marriage began to suffer and I began to not even care. I felt hopeless. We had always been able to converse for hours and hours and now all of a sudden, we had nothing to say to each other. All he ever wanted to talk about was God and I didn’t want to hear it. What I didn’t know was at the same time that I feeling hopeless and experiencing these things, Paul was also. But, he wasn’t content to let things just drift apart, no! He began talking to God about how He would have to send him a new wife because he (Paul) was so holy and pure now that he simply couldn’t have a wife who smoked and drank and cussed like a sailor. No, he needed a holy wife. (Dang!)

I was already feeling somewhat rejected and not good enough anymore so I’m glad I didn’t know he wanted a new wife! Yes, even though I was mad at him and didn’t understand what was happening to us, I would have been devastated to know what he was feeling at the time. I only learned about this years later.

God told Paul He wasn’t going to get him a new wife but instead, Paul would have to fall back in love with me. Paul needed to start making a place for me in his “new” life. This struggle continued for a couple more years.  In the mean time, we left the Episcopal Church because they began ordaining gay Bishops and although we both had personal friends who were gay; neither felt it represented God at all. When we left the church, we also had to leave the cottage we’d been living in for years and that was sad. The good news was, we were getting our own place and that was a dream come true, finally.

Paul had begun praying in the local healing rooms a year or so before and was now in leadership. He still kept running off to other meetings and conferences while I kept on catering, but now I was working with my brother. We were almost living separate lives, but God was still working on this thing!

This is just an excerpt of the journey but needless to say, Paul did make a place for me. He prayed for me all the time, without me actually knowing about it except things began to feel different. He no longer fought with me or tried to correct anything I was doing. He literally just loved me where I was. And also, by falling back in love with me again, he made a way for me to enter into the kingdom. My offenses began to fall away. God started whispering to me there in that place and I even began to love my husband again.

Prayer works as we know but it also takes honor and respect. When I began to receive that (and I absolutely did not deserve it!), my heart changed. I felt a tangible place being made for me to come alongside my husband. I had no clue what it was, or what it meant. What I did know was that it felt good and it felt safe.

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I pray my story might encourage you to pray for your spouse and simply love them right where they are. We can change nothing on our own, but my Jesus certainly can. Persistent prayer along with respect and honor is a game changer and I know we all need change to happen.

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Note: This post is about a journey, not theological understanding. Many things I believed at one time are not what I believe now. I call it a progressive revelation. That is to say, if something I have shared in this post offends you, stop it; this is not where we land. This is where we have journeyed through. We’ve all come through many things . . . GG

Removing my scales

 

lens

I’ve had some things on my heart lately that I wanted to share. Here are a few thoughts.

Do you ever wonder what lens you see things through? The apostle Paul, Saul at that time, had scales on his eyes that prevented him from seeing Jesus. He saw everything colored by the law and he made it his mission to go about making sure others followed it and punished those who did not. (Christ followers) His scales fell off during his encounter on Damascus road with Jesus. He got a new vision and a new mission.

The lens he previously saw things through was the lens of law and it meant death to many followers of Jesus. Do we have a lens of law and death we are seeing things through? Do we punish others for things they have done to us? Many times we’ve been genuinely hurt by people and we talk about forgiving them and we talk about moving on, but are we really doing this?

We sometimes find it difficult to extend mercy and grace to those who have hurt us. I know I’ve had this experience, many times actually! I would do the ‘Christian’ thing and outwardly say I forgave them, etc. but inwardly I wanted punishment merited out. I never said those words out loud but I promise you, my thoughts would sometimes play out some of these things. Thankfully, Holy Spirit alerted me to this and made me aware that my heart had not forgiven them nor had the wound from it been healed.

This is death my friends! This is not mercy and grace. Yes, bad things happen to good people everyday but good people need to remain just that; good people! What is in our innermost heart and thoughts will be made manifest on the outside through words and deeds.
Do we need our own Damascus Road experience, or at least another one? Jesus is in every encounter we have, every day. Let’s begin to see Him there.
Okay, since I’m an encourager, I want to encourage all of us today (not depress us!) and give some suggestions on how we can clean the lenses that we see things through. I have three things that we can do that I think will help that happen. (If you choose)

**Challenge**

Since we are the Heirs of Jesus, we are His Church and His Beloved (not yet spotless) Bride…..
1) Will we – spend an entire day believing we are sons and daughters of the King? How would that be different than your ‘usual’ day?
2) Will we – go a single day without pointing a finger at what the Church, (through man) has done to us? How would our posture be different if we walked in a place where we were not victims of what had happened to us but simply took responsibility for our own heart attitudes and our lives? (Hear me on this; I’m not saying the ‘hurt’ didn’t happen, I’m asking, what would it look like if it weren’t at the forefront of our minds, coloring our conversations and actions this day?)
And lastly……..
3) Will we – for a single day pause for each person we encounter, long enough to see the treasure that is buried within? Can we see through the pain and hurt they may be experiencing, NOT get offended or be reminded of a previous hurt, but simply love them, right there, right then? When we allow ourselves time to respond instead of reacting, we allow Holy Spirit to speak to us His heart for them. Then we can love because He loved first.

Perfect Love

 

perfect love

ter·ror  ˈterər

noun  1. extreme fear.

Terror – to bring terror through intimidation and fear.

I’ve been thinking on the recent events happening in Paris and even other parts of the world. I’ve also been thinking about the word terrorist, which loosely means to bring terror through intimidation and fear.

It doesn’t take a big man to terrorize someone with a gun. No, that man, or woman for that matter, hides behind that weapon with the intent to use violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, to get their way.

I know this is a very simplistic view but I’m staying with this view for a reason; terror isn’t my focus. Love is my focus. Perfect love casts our fear…. terror.

With all the media outlets spewing s much coverage of what is going on and what they think is going on, I can only believe it is helping the terrorist to spread the terror to even more people. I’ve seen this happening even where I work. Yesterday, they turned the TV channel on to CNN and let it play for a while. All the numbers were listed as expected; how many dead, how many wounded, how many terrorist found, how many dead, etc. etc. While not burying my head in the sand, I did not allow the terror to enter into my spirit. That was not the case for other’s watching. I could see how terror was doing its work; how they were hanging onto every word the reporters were speaking as if this terrorist were on their very doorstep.

After the reports began looping, repeating the same information all over again, I suggested we change the channel and watch some football or something. But even after the news was turned off, the terror was doing its work, having its way; I could see it on their faces, on one person especially. She was terrified that this would happen to her. She felt she had no control over her life and was helpless. I think this is what scared her most. She kept talking about moving away to the ‘islands’ because for some reason this would be safer. There was no comfort I could give her because she was so terrorized that she convinced herself that it was inevitable, only a matter of time. She expected it to occur.

To me, this is exactly the work terror is trying to accomplish, and I think it’s winning, for now. We have to see a bigger picture, a truer picture and not be moved by this spirit.

Just like that day when we were all shocked to hear what it happened in France and what happened the night before in Beirut; it makes us afraid. We need to collect ourselves realize that God knows this is happening, and the reason this is happening is because there’s not enough love in the world. Yes, this is a rather simplistic view, but don’t we tend to over complicate things anyway?

This is about a love deficit and love is what will transform the world. This Love the world needs is a Person and this Person needs to be encountered. These terrorist need love, they just don’t know it yet. Of course I don’t condone what they do, but what they do shouldn’t make me hate them. Nope, instead it should move me to intercede for them.

I believe we all need to look at it this way. I think when these atrocities occur; we should grieve not only for the victims but also for the perpetrators. The focus of our prayers should be that love with fall down on them. That love would overcome their hatred and need to punish others who don’t believe as they do. Our prayers should be that Love would work through us to be the instrument of change the world so desperately needs.

And then I read this……

“After her son committed a horrific crime, Terri Roberts expected rage and calls for vengeance. What she was greeted with instead healed an entire community”

Full article here Forgiven (Follow link or copy and paste into your browser)

This is what Love looks like.