What the storms reveal

Journal entry February 27, 2019

It was a Saturday and my friend shared with me a link to a podcast she had listened to. The podcast was about physical health and spiritual health. I listened to it that night and about halfway through the podcast the speaker, Susie Larson, said something that grabbed my attention. I rewound the podcast and played it again this time writing the quote down in my notes.

The storms reveal the lies you believe and the truths we need.

I don’t normally listen to these type of podcasts, only because they cannot hold my attention span for more than 10 minutes, but this one was pretty good. About the quote, it was safely tucked away in my notes and I wasn’t expecting to reread it again anytime soon.

The next morning was Sunday. I was sitting in church and our pastor was sharing out of the book of 1 Samuel about the story of David. Pastor Chris Dillon said something that sounded familiar.

The crises of life reveal the functional saviors in our hearts

I wrote it down in my notes next to the quote I had taken the night before. They read to me as similar.

I don’t know why but these two sayings lay alert in my mind. Perhaps they were purposely placed in my path like two arrows piercing my thoughts one right after another not allowing me to divert my attention until I’ve given my full consciousness to their meaning.

Morning Ponderings

Journal entry February 13, 2018

This morning I opened my eyes and Penelope and Jason were already up and about and I could hear them stirring in the kitchen. I looked at my phone and it was after 8 o’clock. I had slept in. The sand under my eyelids made it hard for them to stay open. Jason popped his head in the room to see if I was awake yet. “I don’t want to get out of bed today,” I said in my poor-me-voice. Jason smiled and asked if he could make me my favorite tea. I plopped my frizzy head back onto the pillow and lay staring at the ceiling listening to Jason filling up the pot for tea.

“Ugh!” I grumbled at the thought of our well water system here at the house. We have been seeing a bit of sediment coming out from our pipes.

“Why God?” I was staring beyond the ceiling now. “Why would you move us here with water that could possibly harm us? Why couldn’t we just have normal pipes like everybody else?”

Immediately the story of Elijah came to my mind.

1 Kings 17:

2 Then the Lord said to Elijah, 3 “Go to the east and hide by Kerith Brook, near where it enters the Jordan River. 4 Drink from the brook and eat what the ravens bring you, for I have commanded them to bring you food.”

5 So Elijah did as the Lord told him and camped beside Kerith Brook, east of the Jordan. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat each morning and evening, and he drank from the brook.

....

I wonder if Elijah said or thought “Eew God, really? You’re having a scavenger, an unclean bird bring me meat, a carcass from a dead animal? That’s what your going to feed me with? Meat that possibly has parasites? Bread that is delivered from a beak of a scavenger?”

Or did he thank the Lord and put his faith in the fact that this was provisions from the All Mighty Maker of the heavens and earth and trust it would not harm his belly/body?

Verse 5 didn’t say if he questioned it. It just said he did as he was told.

While God was using his servant and prophet Elijah, He could have put him up in the nicest hotel and fed him the fanciest food. But he didn’t. He sent him to live in the wilderness to drink water from a brook (that eventually dried up) and wait for ravens to bring him meat and bread.

“Do you know what a brook looks like that’s is drying up? Looks like our well water,” I laughed at my own snarky joke.

God didn’t make Elijah’s circumstances smooth and easy while Elijah was doing The work of the Lord. Why?

When I lay there thinking about myself in Elijah’s situation it stressed me out. Could I have been in that situation and have been faithful?

Am I in a situation similar and I complain about the water I have to drink and how difficult my life is right now? I am no prophet and I haven’t been commanded by God to live in this particular house, but I have been commanded as a Christian to “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”

As God’s ambassador, am I faithfully doing his work or have I stopped to complain about my life asking God to make it easier for me?

Can I say to Him, “Give me any assignment Lord and I will put my whole trust in you, for your kingdom Lord!” Even if it didn’t make sense to me or fit in my comfort zones. Even if was afraid.

When I say to Him, “Use me.”

Would He say to me one day, “I tried to but you complained too much that the mission was too hard for you. You asked me to take you out of the mission field.”

Here I am late in the morning waking up in North Carolina. I’m out of my comforts. I live in a mobile home that has strange smells sometimes. I miss my family, my mother. The water is wonky. This is where God has me at this moment in time. Can I serve him today without questioning or complaining?

An Old Lump Of Coal

Journal entry February 2, 2019.

Some nights after reflecting upon my day, I throw up my hands and say “why am I like this!” I am convinced that there’s no hope and I’m set in my ways.

I want change.

Not for life all around me to change.

I want my actions, my thoughts, my heart to change.

Once in a homeschool group one of the moms shared that she struggled with a certain sin in her life and she kept praying and pleading with God to remove this sin out of her life. She shared that He hasn’t answered her prayer and she wondered why. She was praying in God’s will. Certainly God wouldn’t want her to sin anymore. So why hasn’t he answered her prayers? This bothered me too. Why? I struggle with sin in my life too. My fleshly desires make me feel guilty and unworthy of even praying and talking to the Holy of Holies. Why doesn’t God just remove my sin in my life once and for all and I would be done with it? I want to move on and become an unselfish and loving person not a person who is led by fleshly desires.

I’m reading this amazing book right now called Victory Over The Darkness by Neil T Anderson. I wish I would have read this book years ago.

Growing up I have always been inspired by the Helen Keller story. In this book, Neil shares the story about the amazing woman who was Anne Sullivan’s teacher. She was unselfish and loving. Without this woman there would be no Anne Sullivan, without Anne there would have never been Helen Keller.

Neil says,

What does it take to be that kind of Christian? What is needed to move us beyond our in inconsequential selfish, fleshly pursuits to deeds of loving service to God and others? What was the essence of Christian maturity that motivated Anne Sullivan’s benefactress to such a significant ministry?

First, it requires a firm understanding of who you are in Christ. You can’t become like Jesus unless you are his divine offspring. You have to be grafted into the vine because apart from Christ you can do nothing. John 15:5.

Second, you must crucify DAILY the old sin-trained flesh and walk in accordance with who you are in Christ and be transformed by the renewing of your mind, Romans 12:2.

Third, it requires the grace of God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace Romans 6:14. We cannot live righteous lives by human effort based on external standards. Under the covenant of grace, we live by faith according to what God says is true and the power of the Holy Spirit.

...

Crucify DAILY. Daily. Daily! My sin trained mind was corrupt for years before I decided to walk in the spirit. With the help of The Holy Spirit I can renew my mind and overcome the patterns of my flesh. There is no instant maturity when I decided to walk with Christ. Why would I think that I could have instantly what I want without the lesson that went with the growing pains and the time and pressure it takes to grow into something new.

“The progressive work of sanctification, however, is only fully effective when the radical, inner transformation by regeneration is realized and appropriated by faith.

As a new Christian you were like a lump of coal, unattractive, somewhat fragile and messy to work with. After time and pressure, however, coal becomes hardened and beautiful. Although the original lump of coal is not a diamond, it consists of the right substance to become a diamond. Right now, you are a diamond in the rough, but given enough time in and pressure, you will be like a diamond, revealing the glory of God.”

Neil T. Anderson

.... 

Must write these things down. Must not forget them.  

Burdens

Journal entry November 21, 2018

I just don’t want to feel today. But instead I am knee deep in thick muddy emotions. They pull me in deeper and I cannot wade myself out.

Oh boy I didn’t know that when I dreamt about the word burdens that I was going to, in the following weeks, be challenged with such heavy burdens.

I almost wonder if sometimes my dreams are meant as a warning to me so that I can begin to prepare myself mentally and spiritually for what lies ahead in the weeks to come.

Writing down would be difficult all the things that broke the camel’s back today/this week. But these strands of bad news, closed doors and broken things weigh like bricks on my heart while I tread through my mud pit of emotions. In my wallowing I hear self pity whispering his lies and I recognize his familiar words. He knows when I am tired. When I am sad. When I’m in my pit of emotions. I’m blinded by tears and fears and this whirlwind, his lies are like arrows to my heart, wounding me even deeper.

I don’t understand when things take the appearance of blessings and turn out to be burdens. I don’t understand what’s happening right now just like I couldn’t understand my dream about the burdens.

All I understand is that I have a Father in heaven who knows my future and it is for the good of his kingdom and I am honored to let my life be whatever he makes of it and to use it however he sees fit. I am happy to be your servant Lord! Don’t let me complain that this mission field is too hard for me. Make me strong against the arrows and lies of my enemy. Only make me stronger that I might serve you harder.

My brain is mashed potatoes and I cannot write any eloquent thoughts down tonight.

All I can do is repeat over and over:

Psalm 62:5-8

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.

Truly he is my rock and my salvation. He is my fortress I will not be shaken.

My salvation and my honor depend on God. He is my mighty rock, my refuge.

Trust in him at all times you people, pour out your hearts to him. For God is our refuge.

 

Never going to bring it up again

journal entry November 17, 2018

This morning I shared my dream with an elder woman from our church.

It didn’t go well, she didn’t listen and respond intentionally like I had anticipated. I wanted answers. I wanted to be rebuked or consoled that things like this happen to everyone. Maybe she didn’t understand me. She didn’t rebuke me or console me, she just told me she had no idea what I was talking about.

Embarrassed and frustrated, I promised myself not to think or speak of my dreams ever again. I had been praying about what to do with these dreams and this final attempt to reach out to someone to help understand them sealed the deal on my feelings. “It was a confirmation from the Lord that I shall not even think about my dreams or let them bother me, especially never to tell anyone about them, they mean nothing!” I thought to myself.

Then tonight, before bed I read in our nightly family bible study Genesis chapter 37, about Joseph and his dreams. How he told his brothers about his dreams and they hated him for it. Even his father who loved him more than all his other sons even rebuked him. Maybe nobody understood him.

Really? What? Do? I? Do? Now?

I am starting to feel like insomnia would be better.

I am frustrated and overwhelmed. I just wish I could talk to someone about this without them giving me a look that I’ve completely lost my mind.


 

Dreams

journal entry November 4, 2018

Help. I’m being swallowed up by this dream world. I am having a hard time telling apart which thoughts are my dreams and which are my memories of events that have taken place in my past.

My eyes are tired. They can see things during the day and they continue working throughout the night too. Under my eyelids lights flicker and continue to tell stories of beautiful images that look and sound so real I can feel strong emotions in my sleeping body and words are prominently clear and certain in my brain.

They challenge me. They worry me. Who makes up these stories? Where do they come from? Does it even matter that these images seen under my eyelids will be seen again with eyes wide open?

I mean things could be worse. I could have insomnia.  

Apprenticeship

Journal entry October 21, 2018

“"I know the plans I have for you," announces the Lord. "I want you to enjoy success. I do not plan to harm you. I will give you hope for the years to come. Then you will call out to me. You will come and pray to me. And I will listen to you. When you look for me with all your heart, you will find me.” Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11-13‬ ‭NIRV‬‬

About 10 years ago I would have never asked God to teach me to love him or to teach me to have a real relationship with Him. I didn't know how to do that. I thought the way that I lived was just fine. I thought the way I believed was just fine.

When I look back at the years I spent living for myself and then eventually in suffering with both Jason’s illnesses, I think of myself as a young, wandering, ignorant youth. When I came upon this difficult time in my life, my husband’s illnesses, it was like I became an apprentice and learned everyday new and difficult things. Everyday I got up and repeated them over and over again. I had no choice but to be faced with learning a new way of life. I prayed everyday for our situation to change, for it to be removed and to go back to a normal, comfortable life but there was no answer from God. I didn’t know it then but I was learning a new way of life. The repetition of calling out to God, praying constantly, searching for scripture to find out who this God really was, was forming a habit. It was teaching me new skills for a new life that I would use later. It was almost like I was being refined.

Kind of like salt.

After being mined, it’s not perfect. It’s not ready for its purpose. Salt goes through a multi-step process to remove contaminants, foreign matter, and less-than-ideal crystals. After all that, leaving only the purest, cleanest and brightest colored Ancient Ocean Himalayan Pink Salt available, leaving intact the rich mineral content for which it's loved and prized. (Some words taken from the Saltworks website)

I was learning to call out to God. I was learning to depend on His strength and not my own. I was learning to speak to God and to wait for His answer. And while I waited I was learning to look for Him with all of my heart. Daily I was so eager to hear from my master. And when I found Him, I heard from Him and it was like discovering a treasure.

Thank you Heavenly Father for giving me those apprenticeship years of learning. They were not easy but I treasure them because I found you. Thank you Lord for giving me a purpose in life; to take those years and turn them around to further your kingdom.

“Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. ‭‭

Isaiah‬ ‭58:8-9‬ ‭NIV

———>> I used to meditate on these two verses during those difficult times when Jason was ill. They never made sense to me then but I knew they were meant especially for me and the time I was going through.  

It is well

“So come and empty me

So that it’s you I breathe”

The process of sanctification

The process of being emptied

It’s only painful if you hold on.

Being empty hurts if you remain empty and think often of the things and ways you once had.

Oh how it’s so easy when you let go and let Christ fill you with all things new!

Bursting with joy. Overflowing with thankfulness. His love and grace flows down onto me and fills my cup.

 

quotes from song, Christ In Me - Jeremy Camp

Respectful and Sincere

journal entry September 21, 2018

When I lived in California I never felt a passion or burning in my heart to share my faith with others. My friends were just who they were. I accepted them and silently respected their beliefs.

Since I’ve moved here I have made friends with and met a handful of Buddhist people. I don’t challenge them or try to force God on them. But I see people so differently here. They are lost. They are all so sad and lonely. They are trying to find something but they don’t know what. My heart hurts for these people.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading. I just finished a book by Ravi Zacharias called the Lotus and the Cross. It’s about Jesus and Buddha having a conversation together in a boat. It was really good. I tell you. I didn't know anything about Buddhism or Gautama (the man who became Buddha) and I still don’t know enough but it was interesting to read the difference between the two beliefs in such a gentle and easy to read story.

The story was about a woman who was a Buddhist. She was dying of AIDS. Her body was withering away. She was lost and hopeless.

How do you tell a Buddhist person whose body is withering away and dying that Jesus loves her? You can’t just say, I’m praying for you, she doesn’t believe in prayer. You can’t say Jesus loves you, she doesn’t believe in Jesus. What would you say to her?

It just so happens that I now face this very same predicament. I have a friend that I’ve known for over a year now. She’s a Buddhist and her body is withering away with cancer. What little time she has left on this earth.  I have been sharing with her about God and I even gave her my Bible. She listens. I so want her to feel the peace that I feel. I want her to know the truth that I know! I want to share with her the good thing that I have found!

“One day we will all find out that being respectful and sincere does not give us the license to be wrong.
Truth demands investigation and commitment. Our conclusions must be in keeping with truth that can be tested. To be handcuffed by a lie is the worst all imprisonments.

May the God of all truth lead you to the truth that sets you free indeed.”- Ravi Zacharias

Anna

journal entry September 20, 2018

She called me crying one afternoon. She had just left her friend’s house and was on her way to work.

“I’m scared. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m just as scared as everyone else.” She was talking about her dying friend that was on hospice and would go any minute ... But I know my mom, her love is bigger than her fears.

I often think about my mom. All of the little things that she did for others. It was just typical mom when she brought a meal to a new mother, cooked and cleaned for a friend that was ill, and sat ever so patiently by the bedside of dying friends; reading to them, holding their hands, looking into their dying faces, then driving to work a full 8 hour shift. I never thought twice about it. I never questioned these things. I just figured that she was a social person.

Now that I’m grown, I feel the urge in my heart to care for my friends that have needs. I now see that these were no little tasks that my mother took on. How brave she is for looking into the face of a lifeless body. How strong she was for keeping our house clean and to do it all over again for another house. With four children in tow, it was pure joy to do these things for others and she did these so effortlessly and never once complained. Now that I am far away, I realize that she’s not here to do these things, I need to do them. I have a dying friend that needs Jesus. I have a friend that just had a baby and could use a meal. I have friends that are ill and need a listening friend.

I’m scared. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m just as scared as anyone else... My love needs to be bigger than my fears.

“You purposely allow us to be brought into contact with the bad and evil things that you want changed. Perhaps that is the very reason why we are here in this world, where sin and sorrow and suffering and evil abound, so that we may let you teach us so to react to them, that out of them we can create lovely qualities to live forever. That is the only really satisfactory way of dealing with evil, not simply binding it so that it cannot work harm, but whenever possible overcoming it with good.”- Hinds Feet On High Places, Hannah Hurnard

My mom’s friend passed away. My mom was there to hold her hand as she left this world of suffering and entered into heaven’s gates.

My mom continues to love others. She doesn’t stop. She shows me how. I am overwhelmed with gratitude to have her as my mother.

Psalm 127

Journal entry September 9, 2018

Yesterday I read psalm 127 in my daily devotional reading.

It was about how children are like arrows against the enemy and whoever has his quiver full is blessed.

This was the second time I heard this passage this week. The first was when a friend of mine came over and mentioned she has some friends who believe that having many children are like a command that God gives to us women. (I have another friend that lived with the Amish for a while that said this was also what they believed).

Regardless whether or not it is really a command, that’s you’re own interpretation, I could see how children could be like arrows against the enemy if you raise them up to serve God. I could see how having your home (quiver) full of children could be so joyous.

Halfway reading through the devotional I stopped and cried. I have one child. My house is quiet and not filled with laughter or fighting. My mobile home is small and cannot accommodate a large crowd. I am 38 years old and the grey hairs on my head remind me of my aging body. My c section scar reminds me of a time when I needed my family near me and how far away I am from them.

I felt terrible after I read that devotion. It just never happened for us! I cried. Jason was always sick! I was shouting at this point. I took a deep long look into my past to see where maybe I went wrong and could have possibly popped out more children. There were no windows. Jason had cancer. Once in remission I got pregnant with Penelope. When Penelope was 2, was the perfect time for me to get pregnant again. But Jason got sick again. Then when he got better we were in the middle of moving here across the country. I retraced my steps again to see. When we first got married Jason was healthy but I was busy climbing the corporate ladder. Something I thought I was supposed to do to be successful. Successful; something I thought I was supposed to be. I wasn’t walking with Christ then. Oh Lord please don’t punishment me for the rest of my life because of my sin before I walked with you. Don’t punish Penelope with loneliness for my sin.

All day long I thought and I thought. Perhaps I could get pregnant now? Perhaps I’m not too old? I felt sad. All day long I prayed.

Last night I dreamt that I was with 3 friends; M, T and C. We all wanted to get pregnant. We met somewhere and it was a Wednesday. One of the women pulled out some tiny pieces of paper and read aloud that friends T and C could not have anymore children because they have something called “Peaks”. They were very sad! Then we 4 ladies met again later in the week. I was curious to see if I was pregnant yet and had my hopes up high. Friend M again unfolded and read the new tiny slips of paper. Friend C could not have any more children and wait... there’s a correction, it is Lorraine who cannot have anymore children not Friend T. She read my name! Oh no! This was sad news. I took a walk by myself and tried to figure out my new diagnosis called Peaks.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Am I crying for the things I cannot have? Discontentment?

What is “peaks”? Mountains? The furthest point I could reach/go? Age?

Lest I Forget

Journal entry July 5, 2018

It has been some time since my last journal entry. Sometimes I want to give up writing in my journal altogether. I am embarrassed of my thoughts, dreams and all my questions. But I realize that I need to go back and reread my spiritual journey to help me remember because I (like all Christians) am cursed with “spiritual amnesia”.

A few weeks ago I watched the Ten Commandments movie with Penelope. There was a scene when the children of Israel were up against the sea and the Egyptian soldiers were on their other side ready to attack. God opened up the sea for his people to cross, and in the film they ran across holding all their belongings. Some, with the weight of their possessions stumbled and fell, some dropped things and ran back to grab them, meanwhile the soldiers were racing toward them in their chariots.

It seemed so burdensome to me to watch this scene but it reminded me of how I am so like them! In my haste in life I hold onto things; my earthly treasures, hopes, desires, my pride, things that bring me comfort and here I am; crossing the sea or the flooded river Jordan or escaping my enemies.

Coincidentally at the same time I am reading a book; studies in the book of Joshua, my dad gave me called Victorious Christian Living by Alan Redpath.

Here’s a few excerpts from the book that really struck a chord with me, Alan writes;

A few years ago in England at one of our great yearly missionary meetings, a missionary returned from China was giving her testimony. She said that before she went out into the mission field a friend of hers said to her, “what on earth are you going to bury yourself in China for? You’ll never stand the climate, you’ll be dead in six months.” Cheerful advice to give a missionary! But the missionary turned to her friend and said, “my dear girl, I want you to know that five years ago I died. When Jesus called me to China, I bowed my head at the cross and died to everything except God and China.”

And I happened to know that this girl died to the possibility of a husband, a home, children, to her family, comfort, pleasure, luxury, all of which were within her grasp.

Now, I imagine that many of you have visions of some great project that you are going to do for God, but you are always planning a scheme and thinking out a method by which you can win souls to Jesus. Very good, but it is only second best. God‘s best for you is to die! For God has nothing else whatsoever for the most refined, educated, business man or woman, or on the other hand, the most profligate sinner. He has nothing for any of us, out side of Christ, except judgment and death; it must be Jesus only! The thing that God is calling on some people to do, people who want to do big things for him, is to die with Jesus.

What does the cross mean to you? It would be well to pause and ask ourselves that question. Before God raises his people to victory, to the glory of his kingdom, he takes them down, down to the bedrock depths of Jordan. He asks them to be willing to die, for, said the Savior, “except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abide it alone but if it die, it bring it forth much fruit.” John 12:24.

Let the Holy Spirit apply this question to your heart: “have you died with Christ?” Have you died to your reputation? To your point of view? To your self-esteem? Died even to some of the precious normal, natural things of life, but which are not God‘s will for you?

[After the Israelites crossed the river Jordan, they reached a place called Gilgal] Gilgal is a place of resurrection, but it is resurrection only in the measure in which it is remembrance. It is life only in the measure in which it is death. It is victory only in the measure in which I have been humbled. It is triumph only in the measure in which I have gone down with the Lord Jesus to the grave.

My spiritual amnesia takes over...  

This morning I was in our office looking for something and I came across a notebook from a very pivotal time in my spiritual journey. It was a notebook from a class that Jason and I took at our church we attended right before we left Egypt... errr um I mean California. I strongly felt that God did not want us to leave California until we had taken this class. It was called Rooted and God used this class and the group members in it to strengthen us spiritually for the big departure.
I flipped through the notebook and saw my own writing on the inside cover. I wrote these words at the very last day of the class ...

IMG_4447.JPG

Hinds Feet

journal entry May 17, 2018

I just finished reading the most beautiful book called Hinds Feet On High Places by Hannah Hurnard. It’s about a young woman on a spiritual journey to “the high places”, not to heaven but sanctification here on this earth. She was cripple, ugly and her name; Much-Afraid suited her well. She asked the shepherd to take her to the High Places and to make her feet like hinds feet.

My mother read this book to me when I was a child. I didn’t understand it then and I’m sure there were many nights where I fell asleep to the sound of her voice as she read and I missed out on a few pages. But I remembered this book had a special message.

Now that I am grown and live hundreds of miles away across the country from where I grew up, the story in this book seemed to call for me. I would hunt for his book at every thrift store and used bookstore that I walked into. It was like a needle in a haystack. But then one day, there it was. I was looking for it. It was lying face up on the bottom of a bookshelf of a thrift store next to a little sign that read Free Books. Something in my heart hurt when I picked up the book. Like a little prick in the tender muscles of my quickly beating heart. I could hear my mothers voice as I read the title quietly. I immediately was eight years old again and lying in her bed along with my brother and two sisters eagerly awaiting and listening to the story. My eyes were filled with tears as I put the book safely inside my purse. My heart throbbed.

Before moving here I was very afraid. I was afraid that God would not be here; all the way across the country. It seemed so far on the map. So far away from everything I was comfortable with. So far away from all the people I loved. From the people that loved me. I remember praying so many times over and over again, “will you be there God?” I know it seems like such a silly question to ask the creator of the universe because He really is everywhere. But I was so afraid of this move.

“Will you bear this too, Much-Afraid? Will you suffer yourself to lose or to be deprived of all that you have gained on this journey to the High Places? Will you go down this path of forgiveness into the Valley of Loss, just because it is the way that I have chosen for you? Will you still trust and still love me? Asked the Shepherd.

Since I’ve moved here I have been on this spiritual journey. I see God gently shepherding me along. But the pain of missing my mom, dad, brother and sisters have brought days of sorrow. And when I question why am I here, I remember the dark path that led me here when I held the hand of suffering while Jason battled with cancer and sickness.

On the first day of her journey the Shepherd gave Much-Afraid two companions as guides. They were veiled, scary looking creatures and their names were Sorrow and Suffering. Much-Afraid was afraid of these sisters and shrank away from them. But they were strong and she eventually learned to lean on them to help her get through the Valley of Loneliness, the detour in the desert and the challenging slopes when her own two crippled feet couldn’t take her there. At the end of the book, (spoiler alert) a long and difficult journey and upon reaching the High Places, this is what Sorrow and Suffering said to Much-Afraid:

They shook their heads. Oh no they laughed, we are no more Suffering and Sorrow than you are Much-Afraid. Don’t you know that everything that comes to the High Places is transformed? Since you brought us here with you we are turned to Joy and Peace.

Again they shook their heads and smiled as they answered, “no we could never have come here alone. Suffering and Sorrow may not enter the Kingdom of Love, but each time you excepted us and put your hands in ours we begin to change. Had you turned back or rejected us, we never could have come here.”

It didn’t take me long to finish reading this book. Upon reaching the last page, I closed the book and my eyes at the same time. Fat, chunky tears splashed down my cheeks but they were not tears of sorrow. “I see it!!” I half whispered.

The Humanitarian vs the Christian

journal entry May 16, 2018

Ephesians 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.

Growing up in church I’ve heard all too often “we are the light in the dark world”. Now that I am an adult and I live outside my parents Christian house, made my own unbeliever friends, have come inside and outside of the church circles, In my confused mind I observe both believers and unbelievers. Sometimes I cannot tell the difference between the two except one group of people are more cleaner cut and live much safer lives than the other. Are we really all that different?

How can our lives as Christians be radically different than others?

Sacrifice

If Christ wants us to die to self/pick up the cross/empty ourselves, why is nobody doing that? Why aren't Christians a living sacrifice?
Are we not sacrificing enough? Am I not seeing it? Should I see it? If I don’t see it how can unbelievers see it?

Say we have two people; an unbeliever and a believer.

Both live sacrificially. Both take time to feed the needy/poor/the unloved and both stop what they are doing to care for their family/sick child. Both give of their incomes to charities.

One is doing it out of worship to the Lord. The other is doing it because it’s a humanitarian cause. (Or they’re just a nice person)

Both have made sacrifices in their lives.
What sets them apart from each other?
Of course God knows and maybe other Christians can see it. It’s really inside the heart. But what I’m asking is how can other unbelievers see these two people and see a radical life for Christ if both people on the outside look the same?

What happens when sacrifice looks the same? What happens then?

Reverence

I admire the Holy Spirit. I have a deep respect for the living God as my Heavenly Father. I communicate daily with my master the good shepherd. How can unbelievers see that without stepping into my own personal prayer closet?

How can others see Christ in me and say “Hey she’s got something that is different, She is different, I want that.”?

Is it wrong for me to desire unbelievers to want what I have? I feel their eyes watching my every step and I want to point them to Christ but I don’t know how. If I’m not to worry about these things then why am I here?

How can they see Christ in my life?

Fruits of the spirit

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness and self-control.

I have a friend who is kind, patient, loving and gives a lot of herself. She cares for the needy in her spare time. She’s always volunteering at shelters. She is a mother that is gentle, patient and nurturing to her children. She is also an unbeliever.
If I’m to show her Christ in my life, how could she look at my life and see something she doesn’t have.

Galatians chapter 5 goes on to say,

24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Could they really tell? Could unbelievers really see someone who has crucified their fleshly desires and want that for their own selves?

I am surrounded by unbelievers, witches, humanitarians, the lost, more than ever! My heart breaks for these people. And I know Christ has already brought salvation all they have to do is hear it and believe and it’s not up to me to save them all. Christ has already done it all. But my heart is heavy for all these people. I feel like they are all watching me. We are living side by side together. They see me. I say I am a Christian. What do they see? Do I have anything that they want? Do I live any differently than they do?

Nancy

journal entry May 10, 2018

My phone rang last week with an unknown number. I don’t typically answer unknown numbers but I did that day. It was Nancy. She said that she had just pulled out of the oven a coffee cake and was wondering if she could bring it over.

Nancy’s husband passed away about a month ago and Jason had the privilege of meeting Charlie. They had a real connection as he was once a woodworker and they lived in a converted school bus while they traveled around sharing Christ’s love to wandering hippies. So as you can imagine Charlie and Jason had lots in common and lots to talk about.

Nancy and Charlie also remind me of Keith and Melody’s ministry that I read about in the book No Compromise. Their hearts for God and their love for the lost are radical and nothing like I’ve ever seen before in Christians.

Nancy’s cake was still warm and every crumb was sweet and delicious. She sat in our kitchen and shared about her adventures of reaching lost souls at the taboo rainbow gatherings and how she plans on getting the ol bus fixed up so she can go out again.

I see her devotion to continue to share about God’s love and something inside me is awakened. Her life and love for the lost moves me.

Christy

journal entry May 8, 2018

I met Christy at a potluck about a year ago. She lives in India and was visiting and staying with another friend and came to the potluck. We met over the delicious Indian dish that she brought called Kitchdi and she was kind enough to share her recipe with me.

Almost one year has passed and I had just finished reading No Compromise by Melody Green when I ran into Christy at church last weekend. She was visiting again for a short time. This woman loves like the way I saw in the Ministry of Keith and Melody Green. I have been heavily intrigued by people who so love others without hesitation and without walls. Although she doesn’t consider herself a missionary, she spends her life devoted to sharing her love for Christ and sharing about his gift of salvation to the lost spiritual seekers and wanderers who come to Nepal.

She stopped by to drop off her homemade chai tea yesterday and she stayed to chat. Christy has such a beautiful story. Her husband passed away two years ago when his cancer returned. She continues to travel with her two young daughters in India to bring word of the Good News about her savior to others.

Tonight I gathered with a few friends in a Yeshu Satsang!Yeshu is Hindi for Jesus and satsangs are worship gatherings typically done in India. Christy led us in worship songs and played her Indian instrument. It was very beautiful. Very moving. I loved the simplicity of the songs. The English translation was given to us also so we could understand what we were saying. I loved the basic words of praise and to repeat it over and over made song worship a whole new expression to me.

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Reggie

journal entry May 1, 2018

 

Are you willing to be changed completely, Much Afraid, and to be made like the new name which you will receive if you become a citizen of the Kingdom of Love?

 - Hannah Hurnard, Hinds Feet On High Places

 

Today a wall came down. Something big happened. I may have head lice because of it but I don’t care, I’m radiating an energy that is not of my own strength.

I walked through the grocery isles filling my shopping cart with everything we needed to last us for a week. I’ve spent more than I should and splurged on a few items. Penelope danced around me and hung illegally onto the back of the cart. I pushed the heavy cart onward and through the checkout. The cashier seemed distant and irritated to be there, I gave her my best smile though I had a canker sore on my bottom lip that screamed agonizing pain every time I moved my mouth.

We walked out of the store with all of our abundance in tow, Penelope skipping beside me. The noise from the wheels of the shopping cart were clanking along. I hardly noticed and almost didn’t hear a small voice saying, “excuse me miss...” then trailed off into a mumble. I looked down towards my feet and there on the sidewalk, leaned up against the same building that housed enough food to feed 10,000, sat a filthy man. His eyes lowered and his mouth moving.

Was he talking to me?

The shopping cart halted.

I leaned in.

Again he said with his eyes to the ground, “Excuse me miss, I don’t mean to bother you....” his words trailed off again.

“I’m sorry I can’t hear you.”

His eyes lifted and met mine. And there, I looked into his leathered black skin, browned spotted teeth and matted hair, my own brown eyes searched past his yellowed eyes and into his round brown pupils. Our faces now close as I stooped down to hear him better. He dropped his eyes to the floor and put his head down quickly again. Shamefully and with all the zero dignity he had left in him asked, “I’m hungry, do you have anything to help?”

“What’s your name?” Came a voice that sounded like mine and came from my own lips but I wondered as I heard it whose it was and where it came from.

“Reggie,” he looked up once again.

He had a name.

Reggie.

“Hello Reggie, I’m so happy to meet you, I’m Lorraine and this is my daughter Penelope,” I said as I pointed to a stunned little girl who wondered also where her shy, introverted mama went.

I stuck out my hand to shake his just as he raised his arms to give a hu.... oh wait. Whoa there. Our gaze unlocked and I looked away remembering my old self. My old self doesn’t like hugs. I’m uncomfortable. My self. My uncomfortable self likes to be comfortable. Comfortable.

He shook my hand and we stood talking for a bit longer. I gave him some change and told him to buy something to eat. He was on his own two feet now, almost as if by the smile I was giving him it was enough to feel human again. He smiled and even made a little joke to Penelope.

Then he did the strangest thing. He raised his arms once more. Without thinking I went in. I raised my arms and wrapped them around this stranger. Then I had a burning desire to tell him, “Jesus loves you Reggie.”

“Say it” said the desire. My lips glued shut. In my hesitation the hug was over and we both went our parting ways.

Upon returning to the car and after loading Penelope and all the 7 reusable bags of groceries into the car, I sat. Stone faced on the way home. I blew it! Ugh! My mind raced back to the scene. Why couldn't I just have said it? Why am I so slow to act? I was afraid. 

“Oh God,” cried my soul, “I’m sorry that I am not who you want me to be! Make me strong like hinds feet to be set upon the high places so that I may serve you!”

I lay in bed tonight still thinking about Reggie. It’s raining tonight. Was he comfortable. Was he safe and dry under a roof of his own? Was he fed today? Did he know Jesus loved him? How many people passed him by today and told him that he was loved? Did he know he was loved?

When I first moved here I wrote in my journal (Learning To Love and also in The Thorny Seed That Led Me To Grace) that God was breaking me and showing me how to have mercy for others. Three years ago I would have scowled at beggars. Two years ago I was quickly throwing change at them then running off. Last year, I spoke a “Hello” to homeless strangers. This year a wall came down. A barrier was broken and I loved like the way God sees ME: past my ugly and right through to my brokenness and full of shame.

God is doing a work in me. Now He takes me beyond the comforts of my self-centered self slowly and so gently. He changes me from being much afraid and is teaching me to speak.

Can You See Him

journal entry April 25, 2018

My six year old daughter asked me, “Mom have you ever seen God?”

I straightened myself in the driver’s seat and looked at her through the rear view mirror. Memories of my life back in California jogged through my mind.

I was at a place where I was begging for healing for my husband and for a radical change in both our lives. I felt change was coming but I couldn’t see it. I knew Jason was slowly healing but was I sure? Or was I just being too hopeful?

“When I think back when we lived in California ... no baby, I never saw God.” I started.

It wasn’t until I moved here, miles and miles away from all that I knew where I needed to feel alone. I needed to feel helpless and small. I had no crutch. I was broken of my pride and most of my earthly possessions were no longer able to block my view and hide me in their deep. It’s here where I threw myself into God’s strong and sovereign arms. I was able to learn to walk with him instead of being carried. Once I surrendered my all, my hands were empty, my schedule empty and my view cleared. I see his goodness and his grace and mercies everyday as he peels back layer and layer of what the world hardened me into.

“How come we can’t see him?” Penelope cut through my thoughts.

“I see God now, He is everywhere!” I rejoiced, “When we lived in California I didn’t know how to see God, I didn’t know where to look. God wants us to believe he is there without seeing. Just like the wind. We can feel it, we can see it’s power, and we can even hear it.”

I looked again through the rear view mirror at her. Her light green eyes were looking out her window. I wondered if she even heard me or if her mind had wondered off. Maybe she was looking at all the green pastures that we drove past. Maybe she was looking for God.

Break My Fallow Heart

journal entry April 22, 2018

It was Saturday night, our quiet home was tidy, all the dishes were washed and put away. Penelope was asleep and Jason was plugging away at his latest YouTube upload on the computer. I went into the bedroom to do some reading and then my usual Saturday evening prayer time.

I have been reading one of Charles Finney’s writings, on his lectures in revival.

He was preaching about Hosea 10:12; "Break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till He come and rain righteousness upon you"

Fallow ground is ground that was once tilled, but has since gotten hard and unusable. Before it can receive seed, it needs to be broken up and made soft again. To break up the fallow ground of our heart we need to examine our motives, actions and state of mind very carefully.

Many people never seem to think about doing this. They pay no attention to their own hearts, and never know whether they are doing well in their walk with the Lord or not - whether they are bearing fruit or are really barren. - Charles Finney

Finney goes on to say that the reason why there are some fruitless Christians in the world is because their hearts have hardened and one way to soften it is by confessing sins that you may have not yet repented of.

I started this Saturday evening prayer routine a while ago when I started re-attending church in my adulthood. What I’m about to confess is an embarrassing sin; almost every Saturday night I pray that I would be able to focus my attention during Sunday morning service toward worshiping, listening and allowing the Holy Spirit to move. I prayed Saturday evening for my heart just like I have been doing for the past couple of years that I would not be distracted by the machine of it all.

Then the next morning it was Sunday. I walked into church, sat in the pew with Jason and it hit me. One of my unconfessed sin was my heart for the church. I really dislike church! My heart was fallow! It had hardened over after God worked so hard to do his work in me four years ago when Jason had gotten sick.

I grew up going to church. We were always there. If there was a service, we went. My parents were very involved in various ministries in the church I grew up in. Sometime around high school I saw the “machinery” behind the church. The business side of the house of the Lord  really turned things off for me. It was kind of like when you were a kid seeing an amazing puppet show, you believed that they were real and could talk and walk all by themselves and then shockingly only to discover that the puppets weren’t really alive but thrown in a box and the puppeteers counted the profits, cursed and the same show was done over and over again to different children different towns. The magic was gone for me. I realize now as an adult that church needs consistency and I mistook that as conformity, to be run effectively and professionally as possible in order for it to last longer than just a magical gathering of wows and smiles. There is no magic in church. I pray that Penelope never believes that, but will see the Holy Spirit and his awesome power alone.

While I was praying that I would stay focused during church service and not let me be distracted by what I know or think what was really going on “behind the curtains” that I didn’t realize that I never addressed my feelings for the staff, the building, the members and the way things are run. My 18 year old self, wearing black fishnet stockings, rebel creeper shoes, a vintage dress and Amy Winehouse style black eyeliner crept up on me and I grumbled in my pew. I left the church when in college because I felt that “they” didn’t get me. (I’m laughing as I type this) but believe it or not here I am twenty years later and I and still dealing with this unconfessed sin.

As I’ve been going through this burning desire to bring others to Christ, I thought about inviting some of my homesteading, homosexual, witch-y friends to church. “Ugh! Church just doesn’t get us misfits! Don’t fall for the machine.” I mumbled under my breath. That’s when I heard myself. Oh no! I’ve been carrying around this sin for 20 years and it’s hardening the soil of my heart. I can’t bear any fruit until God breaks me. Come break my heart O, God! 

I immediately prayed that God would forgive me and teach me to love the church, the building, the staff (who I so terribly disliked), and all of the precious members the way He loves them. I am so wretched it’s a wonder God even allows me to even step foot into his house of worship.

God is so full of redeeming grace.

Portion Control; What nobody wants to hear

Journal entry April 8,2018

After my last post about my battle with temptation and self seeking identity, I was given another verse about the word "portion". I quickly looked up that word and it's biblical meaning because it's not a common word in today's vocabulary. It means to have an inheritance from the Lord. My portion or inheritance should be a reminder to me that whatever happens in this world, I have this possession that surpasses all trials, tragedy, and difficult seasons in my life.

Psalm 73:26My flesh and my heart fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever

I constantly write here about giving it all away, surrendering myself to God and my possessions should be few and minimal. I am so willing ... but this world (my temptations) tell me that I would lose my identity, I would lose popularity and I would not be prosperous.

I fear a lot about what others think of me. When I look into a mirror a reflected self looks back in grey hair and flawed skin. I hesitate to invite people over and when I do, I constantly apologize for our old, crooked mobile home and joke about my out of fashion rumpled clothes.

I think we as Americans are afraid to look poor.

When we first moved into our mobile home, I was afraid that people would realize we were poor. Why is being poor something that nobody wants to be? Its not popular to purposely choose a life of "going without" or out of our comforts.

But what if this is a place where God wants me to be? This is where he placed me for this season of my life. "No way!" You say, "God promises to bless us."

We all want what we see on the media arts and what others boast about as being "#blessed". But what if that's not the type of blessings God is talking about? What if it's the kind of blessing that is unseen and He really does want us to live a life of sacrifice and selflessness?

I read this quote from Leonard Ravenhill, “The early church was married to poverty, prisons and persecutions. Today, the church is married to prosperity, personality, and popularity.”

I know my life is very "#blessed."  My persecutions are nothing compared to the early church and I've never been to prison. What is it that my nonbeliever friends are seeing me as on my social media, when they come to my house or meet me in person? Do they see all my #blessed life possessions? Do they see that I love my self image and my easy life?

I have been guilty of exploiting my gifts. What does it look like to be content with the Lord as my portion?

What if others saw my love for Christ and my love for others? What if they saw that my Christ, my God whom I worship was worthy of losing myself to and happily sacrificing my comforts to worship Him and glorify His kingdom?

Our Heavenly Father gives to us good gifts just like any good father loves to give his children gifts. But I cannot hold onto those good delicious dried fruits (referencing "Night Parables part 1”) and keep them all to myself. They were always meant to be shared.

Peter 4:10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.