An Angel at the IRS

 

Customer service pic

A few years back I encountered an angel at the IRS.

No way, you say? Well, listen to this…

A year or so before the market crashed in 2008 we found ourselves behind on payroll taxes in our family business. If this has ever happened to you, you know it’s so hard to catch back up, much less stay current with the taxes.

I had been running behind for a few months and was in the middle of the catch-up game when I received a letter in mail – a dreaded letter in the mail! It was from the IRS and it stated that I needed to contact them within a few days or they would come in and shut down our business.

If that wasn’t scary enough, they said we owed over $4000.00 and it would need to be paid immediately – seriously? Obviously, if I had that kind of money, I wouldn’t have been behind in the first place.

After freaking out for a bit I called some intercessor friends of mine and told them what was happening. My plan was to call the IRS the next morning from our house instead of the office. Having the intercessor’s cover me in prayer while I talked made me feel much better.

When morning arrived, I told Paul to not expect me at the office for a while because, from past experience, I knew I might be on hold for quite some time. I’d been praying in the spirit all morning and before I picked up the phone to make the call, I remember praying and asking God for an angel. I also asked that my call would be answered within the first few rings and I would not be put on hold.

My call was answered on the third ring. There was a person on the other line, not a computer. I wish I remember the woman’s name but sadly, I do not. I explained the letter, giving her the case number and all the information she required and she asked me to hold while she pulled my file. But before she could put me on hold, she stopped and asked me if I would give her my phone number in case we got cut off accidentally. That was a first, I have never had someone in a government office ask for my number, much less be concerned that we might be disconnected – meaning I would have to start all over again with a new person when I got connected.

I gave her my phone number and she put me on hold. She was gone about 5 minutes, which is a long time to be on hold, listening to some pretty awful music! While on hold, I was praying furiously, if that’s possible.

She came back on the line and said, “There seems to be a problem here.” That made me a little nervous!

She said, “The amount owed is $4,000.00, but the problem is, you don’t owe us that money.” I was very confused.

I told her, I didn’t understand and was somewhat confused. Could she please clarify?

She explained that they there had been an error on my account and I had, in fact, overpaid my taxes. Instead of my being behind like the letter stated, the IRS owed me the $4000.00 for overpayments.

I was pretty much in tears. You can’t imagine the relief and thankfulness I felt. I have no idea what had just happened to turn this around, and not only around, but in my favor!

I thanked her again and again for her time, her help and for her kindness for she was extremely kind and that had nothing to do with the favor I ended up having

As I was about to hang up the phone, she said, “If anyone asks, be sure and tell them that angels DO work at the IRS!”

Anges

 

I could hardly hang up the phone I was weeping so hard. Wow, just wow! God is so good. Not only did both of my prayers get answered, immediately, He even went so far as to turn everything around to my favor.

So let it be known, far and wide, there absolutely are angels that work at the IRS! And if they can work there, they can (and do) work in every situation you find yourself in. Pray and ask and you shall receive! We have not because we haven’t asked. Also, be specific in what you ask for.

 

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Is fear causing us to be problem focused instead of God focused?

Focus

I was sitting here thinking about some things in my life and I had this thought – does God wonder if we will ever quit looking at our problems and start looking at Him? I also wonder if we don’t sometimes make idols of our problems and difficulties. They are so often at the very center of everything we do and that makes me wonder sometimes about God’s thought on it.

If I spend most of my time worrying about problems and focusing on what might go wrong if this happens, or that happens, I would never accomplish anything. I just might have placed all my trust in the wrong kingdom. That’s fear, my friend. Fear wants us to have so much trust that bad things are going to happen that we completely forget who we are. We forget that our trust is in God – and that’s not good at all.

Fear is the number one thing we are warned against in the Bible and I think for a very good reason. Could it be that fear is so prevalent and such a great adversary that we need to constantly be reminded that it’s a lie? And not only that it’s a lie, but that it’s something we need to guard against? Fear not, indeed!

I am also reminded of the scripture that perfect love casts out all fear. How does that work in a practical sense? (I’m all about the practical)

As far as perfect love pertains to problem focus, I think the answer lies in the ability to turn my focus back to God. I need to remember the things He’s promised me, i.e. what are the prophetic words over my life? Once I remind myself of all those things, I can remember His goodness and realize that my trust has been on the wrong things and turn back to Him. Trusting in God is the way to peace and the way to freedom.

If I told my husband I trusted him and yet every time he said or did something, it made me fearful and anxious, I wouldn’t be showing very much trust. No, that’s not me trusting him at all. Instead, that’s me trusting in the bad things more than all the good things that he could do. We need to realize this fear is from the enemy and whenever we engage it, we empower it. Fear that is empowered will stop you and any good you want to do in its tracks.

The enemy isn’t at war with God; he’s at war with us! He wants our eyes looking at our circumstances and our problems so we won’t be looking at God. He wants us looking at all the terrible things going on around us so we can’t see the beauty of what really is. When our eyes only see bad things or potentially bad things, we will never see a solution. We will never go out and BE the solution.

It’s true that so much is going on in our world lately. But when we have wrong focus, this is all we will see. We will operate out of fear and there won’t be any peace around us. Fear is a self-perpetuating thing; the more you operate in fear, the more it grows. The more it grows, the more anxious we become. It will keep growing until the cycle is broken and that can only be broken by putting our focus back on God.

He is our Hope. He is our Prince of Peace.

Let’s remember Love, perfect love does cast out fear. And as long as fear has a foothold in our lives, love is very difficult to achieve – if not impossible.

I have enough things in my life that seem impossible. They aren’t with God, but in my own strength, they answers might as well be on the moon.

With all these thoughts and ponderings, I’m more determined than ever to keep my eyes like flint on Him. When my eyes begin to wander I have to pull them back. I have to give them something to focus on and look to Jesus who has all the answers.

Precepts and Principles…

Paving the road

Principles and precepts are good
But revelation is best

Keep the good
But prefer and protect the best

 

To say this another way…

Sometimes the principles and precepts we operate from in our day to day lives come from the revelation He’s been showing us. That is the case with me.

Just in the last couple of days, I read a snippet of someone’s blog post, and then I had to run out the door, hoping to finish it later. (But didn’t) Later that afternoon while driving in the car I listened to a sermon from Bill Johnson – didn’t get to finish that one either. Yesterday I read another post on Facebook about change that a friend had posted. I did get to finish that one! Yay, and it was very timely.  Later in the day, while driving home from work, I listened to another Bill Jonson sermon, because I couldn’t find the previous one I was listening to. I almost had finished it before pulling into the driveway. (Story of my life, lol)

All of these things I had been “hearing” in the last two days all of a sudden connected and distilled into one principle or precept. That’s kind of crazy if I try and figure out the how of it, but I won’t.

God had done this with me my entire life. He often uses things I’m reading, YouTube videos I’m watching, and even podcast I’m listening to, in order to weave a single principle or precept together, even when I don’t read or listen the entire message. This could have only be revealed by Him, I would have never connected the dots without His revelation and inspiration. This is when I get to say, “Oh, this is that!”

And the journey continues.

We can’t land even here – no matter how great and awesome the revelation was/is. The road moves on and we take these things with us on the journey, because A, we will need them, and B. He said/showed them to us. They are not stagnant monuments unless we make them so. Instead, they are part of the road that leads us to the next decision we need to make in the journey of life.

Principles and precepts are good
But revelation is best

Keep the good
But prefer and protect the best

 Let’s not make monuments out of what God has done, aka His acts. Instead, let’s use those principles and precepts to pave the road we continue to walk on – for certain, we will need something to pave the way.

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

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

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.

Take Time for JOY

Be sure to take time for joy today. You know, those little moments that make you smile in the midst of mundane things. Seek joy out; it’s the cherry on top of your day.

I came into my office to check my email and yes, my Facebook notifications when suddenly Micah jumped up on my desk to join me. He was fairly damp from being outside in the rain so I began to give him a little rub down to get some of the excess moisture off his coat. He immediately began to purr and my heart melted. I scooped him up in my arms like a little baby, which is one of his favorite things, and he began to purr even louder. Within less than a minute, he was sound asleep. Seeing this, I felt joy rising up in me. My computer could wait!

Micah joy

The picture of this little baby kitty trusting me so much that he could completely abandon himself in rest, without a care in the world is a big deal.  It speaks of his relationship with me and how our experiences together have taught him that he can trust me to keep him safe. It’s also taught him that he’s loved unconditionally.

Even as much as this picture illustrates how he sees and responds to me, I think it also speaks of my relationship towards him. He knows I will stop what I’m doing to give him attention, even if it’s to let him take a little nap in my arms. When he comes to me, with all the trust of a child, it melts my heart and always brings a smile to my face and joy rises up. It’s a great feeling. I know that he trusts me and not only that, he expects me to stop what I’m doing and turn my attention to him and his needs. I always know what he wants and do my best to give it to him. The saying in our house is this: It’s not spoiling unless you keep it up! We love to spoil each other and even our pets. Spoiling as is commonly known is not considered a good thing. I happen to disagree; spoiling is about loving extravagantly and loving often. Micah is spoiled and of course I will keep spoiling him because it’s one of my favorite things to do.

My little 5 minute respite with Micah earlier brought me a great measure of joy and knowing that there is more to come, makes this day one of great expectation; the possibilities are huge!

I believe this is a picture of our relationship with God. He loves to stop what He’s doing and scoop us up in his arms and let us rest there, for as long as we are willing to stay. He wants our trust in Him to be complete.

So once again I would admonish you to take time for joy today. When we allow Joy to come, rest arrives too. Our eyes look to the beauty all around us and the cares of the day fall away; even for a moment!

Be in Joy!