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.

IMG_3539.JPG

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.

Night Parables part 2

Journal entry April 5, 2018

"Not me, Lord! I could never deny you," I prayed, sounding a little like Peter before the rooster crowed.

I surrendered that idol a long time ago. Or at least I thought I did. It was something that brought me comfort during difficult times. But God wants me to seek only Him when I need comfort. When I am tempted and my past idols dance around my mind like expensive Givenchy dresses on the runway, would I be strong enough to look the other way and not give in to sin?

I poured over the scriptures these last few weeks and story of Peter and the night of Jesus's death kept repeating itself to me.

All in the same day, Jesus told Peter that he was to deny Him that night. (Jesus gave Peter a heads up!) Peter didn't believe him. That night, the Bible specifically tells us that Jesus took Peter into the garden with him to pray. He asked Peter to stay awake and pray with him for one hour so that he doesn't fall into temptation. (Jesus provided a way out 1 Corinthians 10:13)

Peter didn't listen. Later that night Peter denies Christ.

I feel like the dreams were my "heads up." Even though I felt no temptation at the time, I trusted and dared not follow in Peter's footsteps to make the same mistake he did.

I have spent the last few weeks in long prayer and pouring into scripture, and during this last week, they came. They came like winds, unexpected, unseen, but strongly felt. Like the winds, they were capable of destruction. Never in my life have I felt such strong temptations from my past idols calling me back to my old ways.

The thing about temptations is it's never greater as when one has made a public declaration of their faith.

Jesus was just baptized (His public declaration) and then was lead into the wilderness for 40 days to be tempted by the devil. Jesus used scripture to fight off the devil's jabs in the wilderness.

I tried to imagine going from baptism to being in the wilderness. Jesus was just about to start his ministry. I'm sure for the average person, stopping to be tempted in the wilderness is not quite what one would have on his mind before heading out, on fire, to do the Lord's work.

Elizabeth Elliot writes in her book, Secure in the Everlasting Arms;

"All of us, I suppose, have at times felt strangely displaced, wondering how on earth we landed in a situation so far removed from that of our choosing."

I stopped, closed the book and made my eyes blink a tightly squinted blink. "So far removed from that of our choosing." Yes. This is exactly where I am.

What tempts me are the things and thoughts of comforts of being secure. Secure in who I am, my identity, and physical appearances. These things could easily turn me away from the path God wants me to be on.

The verse that God gave me to fight this battle is oh so humbling and so fit for this fight;
Psalm 16:5 Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.

When I battle with my insecurities I must remember to be content and at peace with the Lord, and that! That is security!

O Lord, whose way is perfect, help us, I pray Thee, always to trust in Thy goodness: that walking with Thee and following Thee in all simplicity, we may possess quiet and contented minds; and may cast all our care on Thee, for Thou carest for us. Amen.

- Christina Rosetti

Night Parables part 1

Journal entry April 4, 2018

My dreams bother me. They burden and overwhelm me. Even if I try to forget them, they haunt me weeks and even months later. I've come to a point where I've been asking God to interpret my dreams for me because I'm convinced that He is speaking to me through my dream.

Now before you start to think that I am overly charismatic or weird, I must share that it is not uncommon for my dreams to actually happen in real life. It has happened plenty of times. So as this happens occasionally to me, you can see the need for me to understand these "night parables".

As I've been going through this amazing growth in my spiritual life, at the same time, within the last year I have been having vivid dreams at night. There was one about a wolf in sheep's clothing that stole a little lamb away from the line to get into heaven. (Spoiler alert the lamb got away) There was another dream about my dad giving me delicious dried fruit to eat. Then all the constant dreaming about me being at airports.

It's just my brain categorizing information you say? Maybe so. But I cannot stop wondering if God is trying to tell me something.

For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. 1 Corinthians 14:33.

He is the revealer of all things secret and he also grants wisdom to all those who seek it. Daniel 2:21-23. I asked God to interpret the dreams to me. Here is what he showed me;

The lamb waiting in line to get into heaven was me. The wolf disguised in sheep's clothing was trying to tear me away from God or sanctification.

Matthew 7:15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits.

"Who is the wolf Lord?" I asked, ready to X out all the people in my life. We will get to that.

In the dream where my dad gave me dried fruit, I was boarding an airplane. There where bridges to cross to get onto the plane. There have been many other airport and airplane dreams this year, but Let's pause there. Although airplanes were not invented when the Bible was written, the Bible does talk about travel and here is what I felt that God was telling me;

Mark 16:15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.

And the bridges? John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

This explains my recent strong desires to tell others about my Heavenly Father.

But what about the dried fruit?

I had to look around for dried fruit in the Bible as I was not familiar with any scriptures about that. I came across Hosea 3:1 And the LORD said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” 

I have learned that sometimes the people in my dream are symbolic and not literal. My dad was giving to me delicious dried fruit, just as our Heavenly Father gives to us good gifts.

The trickery of idolatry is the turning of a good thing, a gift, into a god thing.

We are worshipers, we were made to worship. Our Heavenly Father  redeems us through the perfect atonement of Jesus (the bridge) from the fruitless worship of idols to the divine worship of his immeasurable  self.

The ravenous wolf in my first dream was one of my idols from my past that I have not yet surrendered trying to steal me away.

To be continued...

The Thorny Seed That Led Me To Grace

Journal entry March 18, 2018


The weeks leading up to the final doctors visit, I felt overwhelmed by my thoughts and worried. Whenever I feel this way I start to need comforting things. I listened to vintage Amy Grant and Keith Green albums that reminded me of hearing them when I was a child and dancing around the living room while my mom cleaned the house. I miss my family. Especially in difficult seasons like this.

It was the night before the doctors appointment and I was lying in bed and I came across a YouTube video of a Keith Green documentary. I urged Jason to watch it with me. He had never heard of Keith Green but he decided to watch it anyway. I half expected him to fall asleep.

It was this film that put a fire in my heart to start loving others like Jesus. I had no idea that Keith and his wife, Melody started a ministry out of their own home! I was in awe that they opened up their doors to so many people. They loved like they had no fear. That shocked me. That moved me. That convicted me.

All this time spent waiting in doctors offices and the flow of new emotions led to and allowed for deep conversation about some of the things that Jason and I had stirring in our hearts.

It challenged me to look at how I spend my time.  What am I doing with all of the gifts that God has bestowed upon me? Am I hoarding them? Am I using them to bless others or am I selfishly keeping them all to myself?

I am a selfish Christian.

Jason and I talked about what it would look like for us to love others the way that our God loves us. Sadly, I realized I had a lot of barriers up against "those people over there" and me. I am praying that God would tear down those barriers.

What are barriers?Barriers are fears; fears of being inconvenienced, being hurt, being laughed at, Not having enough, Being taken advantage of,Not knowing what to say,Of commitment, And a fear of giving it all away.

My hearts desire is to give it all away; my time, my love, my food, my brain space dedicated to praying for others and earnestly pressing into people's lives for Christ's sake. But I hold back fearing that if I give then I will have nothing left for myself. Oh Lorraine! what is it that I NEED left in this world?

The late Keith Green sang in one of his songs that "Nothing lasts, except the grace of God."

If nothing lasts, so why not give it all away? Don't hold back. Recklessly love the way God loves me.

We're Just Here To Learn To Love Him

 Journal entry March 11, 2018

FullSizeRender.jpg

This is the scene that I sat in and stared at for what seemed like an eternity. My husband and I sat on a green sofa, in the office of a breast cancer doctor. There we waited. And waited. I stared at all of the framed awards and diplomas hanging behind his desk. And they stared back at me as if to warn me not to question this man's diagnosis.


While waiting, my thoughts circled 'round and took me to that stubborn place in my brain that I could not smooth over all week; if this turned out to be cancer...


I write all the time here that I am surrendering my all to God. My possessions. My comforts. My time. Why not take what's left of the years of my life as well?


Why should I be so surprised or angry? After all this is not my forever home. After all this life is not mine. Why do I hold on to all I have left after surrendering my worldly possessions so tightly that my greedy fists of will have exhausted me into sorrow and anger?


Could I give it to Him if He asked for it?


Every morning in our homeschool, Penelope and I start each school day by singing hymns. This month we started each day with O Love That Will Not Let Me Go;

O Love that will not let me go,

I rest my weary soul in thee;

I give thee back the life I owe,

That in thine ocean depths its flow

May richer, fuller be.


God gave us life. God gives us free will. The freedom to spend our lives how we choose. The freedom to choose how we spend each hour of our gift of life.


How does one come to that point of willingness of surrender? It's a point of love. It's that moment when we realize that we fully and completely love Christ so much that we voluntarily give to Him anything that he should ask of us.


I closed my eyes in that doctors office, ready to give Him what is so, so hard to give, but instead God blessed me with his grace and good health.


I am truly thankful for another day and thankful to spend them in His service. Let my love for Christ be known to every person I meet and why I love Him so.

 

(Title of this post taken from lyrics "In a little while" by Amy Grant) 

The Whole World In His Hands

Journal entry March 2, 2018

Today is exactly one month before my 38th birthday. Today was also my first mammogram. For many weeks now I've been checking and rechecking to see if that hard lump was still there, and much to my annoyance, there it stood, like a thorny seed embedded into my breast.


Before entering into the radiation room, I took a deep breath, I knew that after this there was no turning back. Once you know, you know. Many women pass through this room daily. Many return home with terrible news. News that would change their lives. While waiting for the technician to call me in, I thought back on a passage I read earlier this week from Elisabeth Elliot:


"The real question we need to face is exactly what a Christian is supposed to do when terrible things happen. There are two choices, and only two: We can trust God or we can defy Him. We believe that God is God, He's still got the whole world in His hands and knows exactly what He's doing, or we must believe that He is not God and we are at the mercy of mere chance."


Would I walk out today with trust that my God knows exactly what he is doing with my life? Or would I curse and ask why is this happening to me? It's easy to say what my response would be without yet being face to face with terrible news.


I didn't leave that office today with terrible news. In fact I didn't leave with any news. I am forced to wait a few more days until a doctor reviews the images.


I am left with the comfort of my faith that God still has the whole world in his hands. 


"Faith is a decision. It is not a deduction from the facts around us. Faith is not an instinct. It is certainly not a feeling - feelings don't help much when you're in a lion's den or hanging on a wooden cross. Faith is not inferred from the happy way things always work. It is an act of the will, a choice, based on the unbreakable Word of God who cannot lie, and who showed us what love and obedience and sacrifice mean, in the person of Jesus Christ."

- Elisabeth Elliot

 

IMG_3066.JPG

Faith Doesn't Grow on Normal Street

Journal entry January 9, 2018

What if I were to tell you that the most beautiful experiences I have ever felt were after I let go of things that I thought that I needed.

What if I were to also tell you that the most difficult and painful challenges I have ever faced were during these beautiful experiences.

My life before I left California was normal (besides the times when my husband was sick). I had a great career, then left my career to have a baby. I lived near my parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, aunts and childhood friends and colleagues. I had no need to make new friends or to introduce myself to a passerby. We owned a 3 bedroom house, stuffed with earthly treasures, and 2 cars to drive wherever and whenever we wanted. My husband sat in his comfortable, 9-5 office job that gave generous bonuses around Christmastime and a handsome benefits package.

This was normal. This was comfortable.

We find ourselves 2 years later here, 3,000 far miles away from all those that I know and love, a simple mobile home roof covers over our heads from tonight's rain that pours down and will later turn to snow, the constant but simple working of our hands to support our family for each day.

It sounds romantic in pictures and on paper: a simple life, a simple home, all the promises of a fresh new start and the keepings of only the things you need to start over.

This uncharted territory was what we signed up for right? Can I tell you, IT IS HARD. It is hard to start over from scratch. There are days when I wake up and look around and I want to shout, "Life was so easy before I took up your cross, save me from this!" I shutter at my own wretched thoughts.

I read this quote from John Henry Newman, "To take up the cross of Christ is no great action done once for all; it consists in the continual practice of small duties which are distasteful to us."

On those days when I am overcome with grief and the pain from missing my family translates into physical outward cries, when I am frustrated because we only have one vehicle, when the house is cold and won't heat up past 60 degrees, and when our hands become tired from daily toil, I am encouraged by 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18,

Therefore we do not lose heart.Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

I didn't leave California to go on this awesome adventure, (although sometimes I do refer to it as that.) I didn't leave California to be recognized as noble. I didn't leave California to live out this romantic idea of throwing caution to the wind.

I prayed that God would lead my husband to lead our family. I prayed that God would pursue our hearts to love Him more. I promised to take up the cross and follow Christ. No matter where He lead me. 

I asked God to change my heart and this is what it looks like. This is the unseen that 2 Corinthians was talking about!

I couldn't grow on normal street. God knows that I need to be pinched and pressed daily by these hard circumstances to expose the every drop of my inward sinful self. Through this pressing, he draws me closer to himself and gives me a deeper understanding of his will for me.

God wants me to be more intentional with my time. He desires me to read his word daily. It pleases the Lord when I have emptied myself and begin to fill my life, my time, my thoughts of Him.

THIS is what he brought us 3,000 miles away to do.

It's hard to grow faith inside your comfort zone.

Take What I Cannot Give

Journal entry, December 5, 2017

This is a follow-up post to The Farmer and His Seeds.

Two years ago, my husband and I sold most of our belongings and moved across the country to live a life more simply and more intentional. For me, it was a spiritual journey of emptying myself of things that kept me from growing closer and having a deeper relationship with my God. I purged the things that gave me comfort, and the things that I felt made me who I worked so hard to become, and things that defined me.

Feeling not quite sure of who I really was anymore and with nothing else to cling onto besides this God, whom I trusted my husband to lead, arrived to this open slate.

Well we're here. We're doing it. What happens after you've given up your possessions and started to follow Christ? What next? This was a question my husband and I kept asking ourselves the first year after arriving to our new home. We seemed to be wallowing around in shallow waters after the high thrill and adrenaline rush of embarking on our new adventure. Life was slow and we were not accustomed to living a life so unplanned and unstructured. I wrote more about this in my journal entry titled Learning to Love.

I am not so satisfied with "that's it". I am not so satisfied with wallowing around in shallow waters. I am beginning to think maybe I haven't given my all? This isn't the end.

I read the most beautiful book and was convicted of these words that I read,
He asks, and He has a right to ask, for all you have and all you are. And if you shrink from what is involved in such a surrender, you should fly to Him at once and never rest till He has conquered this secret disinclination to give to Him as freely and as fully as He has given to you.
Bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. Take what I cannot give - my heart, body, thoughts, time, abilities, money, health, strength, nights, days, youth, age - and spend them in Thy service, O my crucified master, redeemer, God. Oh, let not these be mere words!

- Elizabeth Prentiss, Stepping Heavenward

Just when I thought I had surrendered every material possession I owned that made me conceited, that made me proud of my own achievements, just when I thought I had nothing else, I realized that I was not fully undone. What is it that I was shrinking away from? My layers are thick and come off stubbornly. I have not given freely the things I so selfishly hold onto that I claim are mine, the things unseen.

While reading a book by Elizabeth Elliot, I came across this prayer she shared;

Oh mighty God, we bless and praise thee that have wakened to the light of another earthly day; and now we will think of what a day should be.

Our days are thine, let them be spent for thee. Our days are a few, let them be spent with care. There are dark days behind us, forgive their sinfulness; there may be dark days before us, strengthen us for their trials. We pray thee to shine on this day - the day which we may call our own.

Lord, we go to our daily work help us to take pleasure therein. Show us clearly what our duty is; help us to be faithful in doing it. Let all we do be well done, fit for thine Eye to see. Give us strength to do, patience to bear; let our courage never fail. When we cannot love our work, let us think of it as Thy task and by our true love to thee, make unlovely things shine in the light of thy great love. Amen.-George Dawson

Learning to surrender my thoughts and my time on these earthly days, that are only given to me to be used for doing His work, is going to be a whole new daring adventure. I'm not sure what it's going to look like quite yet but I am determined to see it for myself.

So in answer to our question, no, we have not arrived. No, this is not it. We have not given it all away. We will never be fully emptied of ourselves. There's is always more work to be done. And I will think of it as my true love's task. The job of making unlovely things shine because of God's great love.

Welcome 2018.