The Miraculous – How do you define it?

The miraculous isn’t only blind eyes opened or even the dead raised; it’s so much more than that. I don’t know about you but for me, when that term is bandied about I almost always think of a creative miracle and rarely attribute it to anything else; until recently.

One morning while Paul and I were drinking our coffee, Paul began to describe some of the phone calls he had been receiving at work. There were those he categorized as “crazy, God showed up” type of calls as he prayed and the person was healed, they were even shouting about it over the phone. And then there were the calls where it seemed like the person wasn’t receiving the prayer or even listening, but instead kept interrupting to explain what was wrong with them or their circumstances.

These types of people didn’t receive perceptible healing or breakthrough. Many were frustrated or angry. Whatever it was, they were not noticeably changed during the course of the call. Some people were rejoicing while others were angry and upset.

As I listened to Paul talk about some of these calls, I felt a shift. It was like, hold on a minute: Isn’t the fact that they were bold or brave enough to call a prayer line pretty miraculous? It certainly would have been for me. And, isn’t the fact that they let a total stranger pray for them miraculous too? There had to be some fear issues that they had to overcome. I felt like my box for the miraculous was entirely too small. It was limited primarily to a physical event and that was all. And that did not sit too well with me; it didn’t sit well at all!

Since that morning I’ve been pondering the miraculous and inviting Holy Spirit to give me more revelation on this because it seems that I might have discounted some miraculous things happening all around me that are wonderful and should be celebrated. But yet, it doesn’t mean physical healings and raising the dead are not wonderful things; what it does mean is you and I can walk in the miraculous on a daily basis. I think it’s wonderful when I walk into the grocery store and discover I can love everyone I meet. Is that not a miracle? Sure this is easier when I’m having a great day but it’s possible every day.

It’s a miracle when someone overcomes anger or disappointments and gets emotionally healed. It’s a miracle when we have a disagreement on Facebook and yet we can continue to converse with each other, and no one gets offended. It’s a great and rare thing but it does happen. Did you know it’s a miracle when someone who often is very reactionary, suddenly shows humility and instead of reacting badly, instills order and peace to circumstances around them? That’s a miracle also.

These things may not seem all that miraculous to you but believe me, they are. It’s a big deal when someone gets breakthrough and overcomes things. Change is a miracle. Maturity is a miracle. Even counting it all joy is a miracle! Miracles happen because God steps in when we step down. Of course, we co-labor with Him but it’s not co-laboring if we’re trying to do everything all by ourselves. We have to take all of our ‘already know everything’ and set it aside and let Him show us what He has in mind.

I don’t know about you but I can be fairly stubborn sometimes and don’t want to change. So when I’m changed, it is a miracle indeed.

Something as simple as our joy and trust in an invisible God is miraculous too. Yes, I am aware many have seen Him with their spiritual eyes but seeing God is not like seeing your spouse sitting right next to you. We don’t have to engage our imaginations for that. All we have to do is reach out our hands and we will feel them. With God, it’s not like that and because that’s the case, the angels marvel that we can worship Him and have a relationship with Him without even seeing Him with our physical eyes. They are spirit beings and they interact with God all the time. It is a miracle to them that we can walk in faith for those things not yet seen and trust that God is faithful.

All of our lives are a picture of the miraculous. What may seem to us as every day, mundane stuff, to us is supernatural or miraculous to someone else.

We are not alone in this journey and we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us but we have to allow Him to strengthen us; then the miraculous happens. Let’s expand our miracle box. All of our lives are a picture of the miraculous.

Palace or Prison – Setting Captives Free

I ran across this picture today and it reminds me of a vision I saw once while ministering to someone with parts/alters. I saw a girl in a castle who was emaciated with long stringy dirty blond hair, wearing filthy rags. She thought the place was as beautiful as she was.

She didn’t see what I saw. She saw a palace, I saw a dungeon. I wasn’t sure if this was a place she had built for protection – maybe from something or trauma that happened to her or if it was a prison that had been built by someone else to keep her there.

In this picture, notice that the door is open. In the vision I had the door was also open, but the girl didn’t want to come out of the “safety” she felt in being there – the unknown was scarier than the known. (At least that is what I assumed at the time.)

After listening to the podcast with Daniel Duval the other day and then seeing this picture today I wonder if the girl didn’t want to come out because of a guard or even a booby-trap. Her fear was real. There were things she knew that I did not.

In the end, we did not get her “out” of that prison, but I did see Jesus walk into the cell and sit down next to her and put His arm around her. And that was what she needed at the time.

Through the course of ministering healing or deliverance to people I’ve seen several people in cages and the door had been open – many walked out and were set free – some were not. The rabbit hole is indeed a lot deeper than I knew (know). I believe some were set free simply by the Grace of Jesus while other’s needed a greater work than I was yet equipped to dispense.

However it came about, I claim no expertise in these things but I am a willing student and vessel when God does want me to do these things. And I suppose at the end of the day, that is all any of us can do – be willing and obedient.

I love this journey I’m on! It’s so exciting to learn new things and even to be able to take these things and look back upon some of my past experiences and get a better, more clear understanding of the why or how things occurred.

Painting by Włodzimierz Kukliński

Podcast link: http://bit.ly/1XgkQLg

Revealing of the Sons of God?

Drawn to the light

Do you ever think about those scriptures that say, For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (Romans 8:14) and this one, For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God? (Romans 8:19)

I do, I often wonder what it will look like when the wait is over. I often wonder if I will ever be seen or known as a Son of God.

Last night I (eventually) got a glimpse of one possibility of how it might look. . .

I can’t say it was totally unexpected but when the attack came, I was shocked at how utterly ridiculous it was. Even though I halfway expected something, I didn’t expect what did come.

**********

When you find yourself being attacked you might want to take a step back and see what is really going on. Yes, it hurts when this happens. Yes, emotions rise up, you will want to defend yourself and refute the accusations. Believe me, I know all about it. Actually, I’m standing in this exact spot right now.

In order to see what might really be going on, we have to go deeper. Attacks are often reactionary as opposed to being responsive. The first is emotionally driven and the second is thought driven in their simplest forms. In this case of an attack, we are looking at the emotionally driven reaction.

In order to distance myself from an attack, I have to step back and look deeper to see what might be motivation or cause. (Even if it’s only perceived by them) Often it has more to do with the person that is attacking than the one who is being attacked. And often it has to do with wounds and hurt that have not been properly dealt with or healed.

Unhealed wounds can cause bitterness and negative feelings.

Resentment over things that have happened to us can make us feel like victims and that in turn sometimes causes us to make inner vows that we think will protect us from further hurts.

They won’t.

Well, they will but it will only be for a very short time. Eventually, those vows will become a prison that not only keeps things from hurting us again, they also keep anything good from getting in – like healing! Those wounds will begin to fester and become toxic. This is when seeming unreasonable attacks take place. Unreasonable to the person on the receiving end, that is.

When I was attacked last night, I’ll be honest with you – I wanted to attack right back! I vented, said a few (or several) things that weren’t very lady-like and even started writing out a reply to the person. Thankfully I have a husband who hears from God who advised me to wait, not respond until tomorrow. And also thankfully, I’m wise enough to listen to him!

Before falling asleep I repented for my behavior and outburst of wrath towards this person and asked God to soften my heart towards them because I certainly couldn’t do it all by myself. I didn’t sleep well. The enemy was having a heyday with my thoughts. It was difficult to rein them in but for the most part, I recognized his tactics and told him to stop. Mostly they did.

While drinking coffee this morning, Paul and I talked about the incident more. It was occurring to me that this person was very unhappy and had a very negative outlook on life. I gleaned this not from a place of judgment but from previous conversations I had with this person. Looking at the larger picture, I realized there had been signs that I didn’t recognize at the time.

This person was wounded and expected everything would be a problem, everything would go wrong. They were bitter because they hadn’t been healed. It broke my heart, but in a good way. (Not like when they attacked me. That one hurt, this one hurt differently) We were able to pray blessings and healing over them in a very sincere way. I was able to forgive them and let any resentment or need for punishment fall to the ground.

Yes, I was attacked but at the end of the day, it wasn’t about me. It was about them and their dissatisfaction with themselves. I am still praying for them, prayers of healing and prayers of discovery. I continue to pray they will discover what love is and Who Love is. I pray they will encounter joy and peace and kindness in the most unexpected places.

It’s not always easy to pray for those who hurt us but who said it would be? The easy path is not always the right path to take. The path that pushes us past our comfort zones causes us to take our eyes off our own selves and makes us love stronger, is the one that will bear much fruit. It is the path that will identify us as Sons of God.

The whole world is waiting, you know. The world is waiting for a light in the world to be drawn to – that Light is in you!

(Photo credit ~ https://stocksnap.io/photo/3E6O5228GU)

 

My Eyes Were Healed!

2014-11-29 13.22.01

 

The blind can see…

 On December 2, 2006, my eyes were healed. Although it took me a day or so to realize it, they were healed on that date.

Every year Bill Johnson came to Nashville for the weekend and spoke at a conference that was hosted by two different churches here in town. One night he spoke at Grace Center (church) and the other night he spoke at Belmont Church. In December of ’06, he spoke at Belmont Church on Saturday. We had been looking forward to the occasion for a long while.

To back up a bit, I got “saved” in late February of 2006. It was a crazy year, at least compared to any previous years of my life! I immediately began reading all of Dutch Sheets’ books so I could learn how to pray and maybe even figure out what this “intercession” business was all about. No, that didn’t teach me to pray. I learned a lot but what I really was wanting was to learn how to pray like Paul and some others from the Healing rooms – and that just didn’t happen. (God didn’t want another Paul or anyone else! He wanted me, and I am very different from them.)

After getting frustrated by not learning what I thought I wanted to learn, I started reading everything Rick Joyner had written. I started with the Final Quest, The Call and Torch and the Sword. Then I moved on to all his other books. This was all so fascinating! Where had all this stuff been my whole life??

A couple of months later, I ran out of Rick Joyner books to read and discovered Bill Johnson when I saw someone reading his book, Dreaming with God. I thought, wait, we can do that?? I had to go buy that book…and eventually all the rest of them, too.

Do you see why I was excited about him coming to speak?

We went with a group of people we prayed with each week in the healing rooms. We all sat up front, about two rows back from the stage. As he usually does, Bill brought along some students from the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. They all came up on the stage and lined up. One by one, they called out words of knowledge for the people in the audience. Each time they called out a word, the people it applied to stood up. (It was always more than one person each time.) They called out things like pain in certain areas of the body; they called out bulging discs and even breast cancer. There were so many different infirmities called and so many people standing up. Everyone remained standing until they were finished with the words of knowledge. Then, we would all pray.

I sat in my seat watching in amazement. I had never been in a conference where they did this. This went on for more than 15 minutes when suddenly they called out astigmatisms. The girl sitting beside me stood up and when I didn’t, Paul nudged me to stand up too. I was a little shocked, lol. I wasn’t expecting anything for me – I wasn’t sick and I didn’t have any crazy pain! I stood up and joined everyone else that was standing. Okay, now the students had finished giving out their words. Bill Johnson came back up and took the microphone to instruct us on praying.

“If you are still sitting, stand up. You are the ministry team,” he said. “Lay hands on those around you. Ask them why they are standing and begin to pray; begin to contend for their healing.”

Those that were sitting, stood up and gathered around those who were already standing. A young man who was sitting behind me came over to me and placed his hands on my shoulder and after asking me why I was standing, began to pray. I have no recollection what he prayed but I do remember it wasn’t a long-drawn-out prayer. It was short and over very quickly. I had removed my glasses before he prayed. When he was finished, I didn’t notice anything different about my eyes but I thanked him anyway and put my glasses back on. I think I was a bit disappointed about not being healed but I let it go and began to pray for some others who were still standing.

Kyana is the girl who stood up just before me with the same word about astigmatism was now looking around, without her glasses, covering one eye after another. The look on her face was priceless! She was healed and she was amazed that she could see. Jealousy tried to speak to me but I said no! I was so happy for her. We both did a little happy dance in celebration.

It was an amazing night – with so many healings and miracles. I was blown away.

On the way home, wearing my glasses, I told Paul that it was crazy but I had a headache. I guessed it must have been all the excitement and didn’t give it much thought after that. We tried to stay up and talk about all the cool things that happened at the meeting but my head was getting pretty bad so we turned out the lights and went to sleep.

The next morning I put my glasses back on when I got out of bed because that is what you do when you wear glasses – especially after 30+ years! My head wasn’t any better; instead, it was actually getting worse. I was also noticing how this headache was affecting my vision; it was so bad that I was having trouble seeing with my glasses on. I kept thinking something serious must be wrong with my eyes!

When my eyes got so bad, I went and lay down on the sofa. The vision thing was making me nauseated and I was hoping that lying down would help. Paul came in and was a bit concerned. Then he got a puzzled look on his face, and said, “Why don’t you take your glasses off and see what happens?”

Well because I didn’t want to!

In the past when I went without my glasses very long, I would get dizzy and nauseated. And since I was already feeling sick, I didn’t want to make it worse. He asked me again so in order to make him stop asking me, I took them off… My head immediately stopped hurting! My vision was clear!

I was shocked! You mean to tell me I was healed and didn’t know it so I wore my glasses for a couple more days?  The answer was YES – I was healed and it never occurred to me that my glasses were now the problem!

My glasses, yeah.

I had just paid something like $600+ for my new progressive lenses but guess what? I didn’t even care! I was healed and was doing my very own happy dance.

Maybe God wants to heal your eyes? This is my testimony and you know, the testimony is the spirit of prophecy. I prophesy you shall be healed! You shall be made whole!

Honor – Because we’re honorable

 

Love april 17

When I commented on a post earlier today it made me realize a few things about what I said and it also made me see how much I had changed over the last few years.

I honor people not because they deserve it; I honor people because I’m honorable.

I got to thinking about this statement and what it was really saying. It said, I’m honorable, and can now extend honor because of it. Hmmm

I also thought of loving my neighbors as I love myself. We all know this is one of the major commands of Jesus – Love God and love your neighbor, as you love yourself. But what if I don’t love my neighbor? What if I don’t even like my neighbor? If I find it this command impossible to do, the lack is mine, not theirs.

If I take the honor principle above and apply it to loving my neighbors it must mean that if I don’t love them it’s because I don’t love me – and I can’t give what I don’t have. That being the case, I should back up and find out why I can’t love them. Obviously, there is something that feels unworthy of love in me. This is what needs dealing with before I can love them.

Love is a Fruit of the Spirit and is something that takes a time to grow. If there is no love growing, I need to find out why and get healed.

Walking in the Fruit of the Spirit is healing and allows the (Holy) Spirit to do a work in me. It usually doesn’t happen overnight, it’s often a process. The Spirit will send in others to walk alongside to help you with getting healed. Sometimes it’s a full-on healing session but other times it’s more talking about and processing things to see them in a new light over a conversation, in the midst of a relationship/friendship.

Fruit takes time; it doesn’t simply appear on the branches. Flowers have to come forth and they have to be pollinated before any fruit will set. After that, the fruit will begin to grow but will still have to weather storms and hang on to that branch for what may seem like a long time before the fruit is ready to harvest.  Once the fruit is harvested I now have something I can give away – I can now extend love or peace, for example.

Then I get to grow more fruit.

It works this way with all the Fruit of the Spirit. When I find that I’m being impatient and letting situations frustrate me, I’ve prematurely gotten knocked off that tree branch! The fruit of patience wasn’t fully developed in me.

The more I get healed, the more I learn about my identity – my true identity. When I feel unworthy of love because of something in my past that either I did or someone did to me I really can’t love anyone else because I don’t have any to give. But when I get all that stuff healed and dealt with, I have room in my heart to love others the way they deserve to be loved.

I’m not fruitful in all areas of my life but I have come a long way. You too can measure your own progress simply looking at how you love people who are not like you or how you honor people. This was a little eye-opening to me. I realized the places I couldn’t “do” something were the places I needed to improve on in myself. (Or get healed)

As I begin to walk more and more in my true identity I can become an honorable person, full of love and happiness. It’s a process but progress is good!

 

We honor because we are honorable

We extend love because we are loved

We cry because we now can see the broken ones

We laugh because we have joy

We are kind because we know what mean-spiritedness is

We treat people and situations with gentleness because we have peace

We sing because He sings over us

We give hope to the hopeless because He gave it to us first

We are patient because we trust in Him

We are peacemakers because we have the Prince of Peace living in us  

We are alive because He lives

 

The Fruit of the Spirit is – unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

 

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

Jump – A Testimony

woman hiking aka jump

March 13, 2013, at 11:36 am – revisited February 17, 2016

I ran in the house, pressed my back against the door and sighed, the chase was over. “You’re real, aren’t you?” I asked. The overwhelming love of God enveloped me and I began to weep tears of joy that could not be contained. My surrender had been a long time in coming. I fought against it as hard as I knew how. Thankfully, I did not win that fight.

I was a runner, you see, and had run from all kinds of things my whole life. Running and hiding was just what I did. Why did I run? In my mind, I had already blown it there was nothing I could do or say that would change my standing with God. I was afraid of Him and I knew God was mad at me and because of that, I wanted to stay hidden and as far away from Him as possible; I didn’t want to have anything to do with Him. I was afraid that if I looked at Him, He would see me and remember how much of a disappointment I was, how bad I was and had been. And since that was my belief, that was my reality.

Back in late summer of 2005, I began feeling like ‘someone’ was calling me or pursuing me. I couldn’t explain it nor did I tell anyone, especially Paul. He had gone all Jesus on me and was acting weird and peculiar enough as it was – he was the last person I wanted to talk to about these things. The feeling was a little unsettling.

As a family, we had started attending a Methodist church in the neighborhood. Paul said something to the effect of, “God told me I was to go there for one year on assignment.” I had no idea what that meant other than another example of Paul acting weird and being spiritual, again. My attitude was basically one of whatever; I could have cared less why we were attending.

At this new church, I had expectations of finding new friends and families we could interact with, as we had done at our previous church. We had only been in the neighborhood for a month or so and meeting new people who might live nearby was definitely going to be great. Or so I thought. My first encounter was pretty dismal and sad. There wasn’t much joy at all. The conversations with everyone I spoke with were so negative and full of hopelessness that I actually felt a little depressed by the time I left. Ick! People looked at me as if to say, “Just you wait and see. Things are bad and will only get worse!” No one was simply glad to see us or welcome us in.

My first impression was not great, to say the least. I left that day thinking; I really don’t want to go back anymore. Only bad things happened to these people and they were expecting more bad things any minute. Who needed that? I had enough stuff in my own life!

During this time, Paul spent his Saturday’s praying with a Healing Room ministry. When the adult Sunday school teacher discovered this she invited Paul to teach a few classes on healing. Paul had shared with me about his prayer sessions and the people he prayed for so I knew a tiny bit about the concept, but I didn’t really think about it too much, I wasn’t interested.

Paul agreed to teach the class two or three Sunday’s in a row. I must say, it was a pretty eye-opening experience for me; I can only say wow, what an introduction to spiritual warfare! (And I didn’t even know what that was). What Paul didn’t know was that for every problem that someone had in that room, God was to blame. Apparently, just about everyone was a victim of some sort of accident, illness or family crisis. They blamed God for taking their son from them in a car accident. They blamed God for giving their father cancer. They even blamed God for their financial woes.

All this blame that was being put on God grieved me in a way I couldn’t explain. Even though I was afraid of God and how He might punish me, this didn’t sit well. It didn’t feel right. Have you ever been in a room, trying to teach about God’s love and His desire to heal with a bunch of people who just want to crucify Him all over again? That’s what it felt like while Paul was teaching. A lot of anger got stirred up and Paul was being attacked over and over again.

I’m mentioning this because this is the place where God started waking me up. I began to see a tangible collision of light and darkness with my own eyes. I saw the battle Paul was fighting and began to try and defend him. Verbally that did no good so I began to battle for him in intercession, even though I had no clue that that was what I was doing. I began to cry out for his honor, his safety (seriously) and his heart. I did all this in my head so I wouldn’t be attacked too.

The following week, Paul enlisted some of his friends from the Healing Rooms to join while he tried to teach again. One person got healed while nine got angrier.

Have you ever noticed that victims take no responsibility or blame for anything that has happened in their lives? Everyone else is to blame for decisions you made or decisions you didn’t make. I came face to face with the victim spirit those Sundays and even though I had no clue what it was, I simply couldn’t stand it. I didn’t know that some people become what had happened to them, or that they got comfortable with this identity so much that they would fight to stay there.

These sessions stirred up so many things in me. There was a passion growing inside me that I couldn’t explain. There was also a longing for the things I had been seeing and experiencing to be true. I couldn’t talk to Paul about it because I was afraid he would laugh at me and I would be ashamed, and then I would find out that I was wrong. I didn’t want to share these things with anyone who I thought might dismiss them as silly because as long as they were only mine and in my head, I could hope, even though that was a word I could afford to even say out loud.

After the Sunday school class episodes, one of Paul’s friends tried to connect with me and invite me to a book study they were about to have. I declined because I didn’t feel like it was something for me at all, I wasn’t interested in church. Over the next few months, she continued to invite me; by phone, by flyer, by postcards, email, etc. The book they were going to be reading was Captivating by Staci Eldridge.

Also at this time, in August my dad was diagnosed with throat cancer. This really scared me; he had never smoked a day in his life. It scared me because here I was, a seemingly intelligent person smoking at least a pack a day and enjoying it, thank you very much! It scared me so much that I made a decision to quit there and then. Well, that is when I finished the carton I had just bought, but the next week for sure!

In order to quit, I needed to change other habits too. I found I couldn’t sit out on the back porch, drink wine and read my fantasy novels anymore; all of that was part of my smoking experience. I also realized I needed some new habits and a new place to do them. And yes, I did eventually quit smoking.

The doctors told dad that he needed to immediately begin the chemo and radiation treatments, and he needed both at the same time. Besides the obvious problems this could cause, one of our major concerns was what or who was going to care for mom when and if things go bad for dad? She had been diagnosed with dementia many years before and needed constant care at the time; dad was here sole caregiver. That meant if dad was hospitalized we would need to come and stay with mom. And that was not an easy thing, for many reasons.

Mostly dad had outpatient treatments which allowed him to continue to be the primary caregiver for mom, with us stepping in only on treatment days.

One week, I got a call that dad was put in the hospital because his white blood cell count was dangerously low, due to either the chemo or the radiation, I forget which one. While visiting dad, who was sleeping, I noticed my sister was reading the book, Captivating; the one I’d been invited to read with that group of women. Interesting, I thought. I began asking my sister about the book, trying to be nonchalant, as in an, I’m not interested kind of way, but trying to act conversational instead. She didn’t hear conversational at all! She kept going on and on about how this book really spoke to her and was teaching her many things she never knew. It was even helping to heal things from her past sorrows, she said. That intrigued me because her past needed so much healing; even I knew that.

To back up for a moment here, my sister had also been talking to me about God, almost as much as Paul. This generally led to a much-exaggerated eye-roll on my part and a “Geez people, just leave me alone! I don’t need saving, I’m not lost” as my response. Little did I know!

While on my journey to quit smoking, I had changed my reading habits. That included reading other books besides the fantasy novels which I’d been reading exclusively for over 20 years. When I arrived home from the hospital, I ordered that book from Amazon before I could talk myself out of it. It arrived in two days and when it arrived, I consumed it! I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Could these things be true? Could I have been believing lies all these years; God wasn’t really mad at me? WHAT? I hardly dared to believe this good news. I had to find out.

The Captivating book study was still going on and I knew where it was taking place. During the book study, Paul would go to the same house but instead of taking part of the study, he would go out with Randy (the hostess’ husband) to a local coffee shop and pray for people.

The evening I finally went was a divine appointment.

Earlier that afternoon I had helped celebrate a friend’s son leaving for college by throwing a party at my house. Paul was present at the party for a little while but excused himself to go meet up with Randy to pray for people. Since this was a party I had two or three glasses of wine, as usual, but somehow the party just wasn’t there that day. I wanted everyone to leave, I was feeling this strange pull to go attend the book study and find out about the people reading this book or more accurately, find out about if what this book said was true! As these things go, a couple of friends wanted to linger and hang out for a while, but I kept on feeling anxious that I was going to miss something if I didn’t leave soon. I was feeling so antsy and fidgety.

After everyone had finally left, I rushed to get ready for this meeting. The entire time I had an ongoing argument with myself about how stupid I was being. “They didn’t want me there. They especially didn’t want me there if I’d been drinking!” On and on these thoughts went but there was also a pull that kept right on telling me to go. No, it kept telling me to run!

So I went.

I was so scared when I finally pulled into the driveway I was almost in tears. The lump in my throat was so huge I was having trouble breathing. I took the deepest breath I could and went and knocked on the door. The person who opened the door had a look of shock on her face but quickly changed her expression one of welcoming and hospitality.

I followed her into the living room where there were about 10 other women sitting around the room. They looked as normal as any tea party I’d ever been to and not scary at all. My heart was about to beat out of my chest.

Since the meeting had already started by the time I had arrived, I went in and sat as close to the door as I could; just in case I needed to escape.

And I watched. And I listened.

It was like nothing I had ever seen in my life. These women spoke with an authority and power like nothing I had ever seen in my life. I wondered, who were these powerful women and how did they learn this stuff? I was actually a little bit afraid of them! Power just exuded out of them as they prayed. Then even swung a sword and made powerful speeches. (They were making declarations but I didn’t know that at the time) They prayed like I had never heard anyone pray. There was something about those prayers that felt tangible as if the things they were praying for were being granted, even as they were being spoken. What?

Later, they placed the sword in my hands and prayed mighty prayers over me! I didn’t dare move. I didn’t know what was expected of me but I didn’t want to mess it up. They declared and prophesied many things over me. (I didn’t know that’s what they were doing at the time) It felt good but I couldn’t for the life of me explain why it felt good.

I was shaken and undone at the same time.

Paul walked into the house with Randy before our meeting ended and was quite shocked to see me there. He just smiled and went on into the kitchen, saying nothing. He didn’t even question me when we got back home. I didn’t discuss my experiences with him; I was processing too much to even articulate actual words. My mind was reeling. I wondered, had everything I’d been taught or thought I knew been completely wrong? How could God not be mad at me? No, that just couldn’t be true. Maybe some of these things were true but there was no way ALL of it could be so.

The New Year had come and gone and I continued to attend the book studies, mostly watching and learning. In February Paul, along with a few others were invited to go to Toronto, expenses paid for 4 days. I was still struggling with belief for myself, but I really felt Paul should go for sure. I didn’t know what the Toronto Blessing was all about but knew it would somehow change his life. And, hey, it was free right?!

I dropped everyone off at the airport in the pouring rain and all the while, I was trying to reconcile in my heart and mind to all the things I had heard about God. All my previous foundations had crumbled and I didn’t know where to stand. I didn’t even know what I believed anymore.

It wasn’t really a bad place but it was an unknown one. And walking in the unknown had never been a strong suit either. No, I was more used to knowing exactly what was going on and where I was going, or at least in my own opinion I knew and had no problem telling you either. Oh, the idea of being so wrong is quite humbling and the opposite of pride, which I had plenty of, for sure!

And even more humbling, I felt pretty silly having so ridiculed Paul for his walk with God over those past few years, Ha. BUT, there was no way I was going to let pride have its way if any these things turned out to be true. I was torn, wavering between two opinions, literally. I couldn’t breathe and just wanted to get home!

I pulled the minivan into the carport and ran through the rain to the back door. When I got inside I shut the door behind me and leaned my back up against it, looking into the room. I knew He was there waiting for me, waiting on me. I said, “You’re real, aren’t you?” My heart exploded and when it did…I jumped.

I jumped.

He caught me.