Citizenship of Uncharted Territory

CITIZENSHIP – I woke up this morning with the word “citizenship” in my head.  It was as if someone…Someone was yelling it at me.  It was so clear and loud, I almost leaped out of bed and yelled it.  Although, I laid there awake and still…waiting on the rest.  Most of the time, I will jump out of bed and go write it down but this time, I laid still and waited.

As I laid there the Lord showed me everyone walking about the planet and no matter where they were, they had a floating flag above their head.  There were some (flags) that glowed and some did not.  I kept hearing the word “wanderers.”  I immediately thought, “Ah, those who’s flags are not glowing are wanderers.”  I felt a correction in that moment, and He began to point out how even those with a glowing flag, were wandering.  Why was that?

The Lord then brought me to “adoption” and partnered it to citizenship. We are adopted (glowing) into the citizenship of Heaven.  

“But [we are different because] our citizenship is in heaven.  And from there we eagerly await [the coming of] the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who by exerting that power which enables Him even to subject everything to Himself [not only] transform [but completely refashion] our earthly bodies so that they will be like His glorious resurrected body.”

~ Philippians 3:20-21

Each person was his or hers own nation or colony.  We are all nations and there are some nations that have even been discovered and adopted but yet…are still wandering.  There are “glowing” (adopted)…yet wandering nations.

‘ When you were few in number, of little account, and sojourners in it, wandering from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people, he allowed no one to oppress them; he rebuked kings on their account, saying, “Touch not my anointed ones, do my prophets no harm!”‘

~ 1 Chronicles 16:19-22

This is your season of adoption.  No more sojourning!  In your season of discovering the lay of the land, He has protected you and kept you from harms way.  He has allowed no one to take you down because in this season, He has prepared you to walk confidently in what He has called you to do!  He has prepared you to walk confidently in who you are and Who’s you are. 

“You keep trying to chart out your journey by comparing one map to another. This is uncharted territory, that was created specifically for you!  It is time to stop wandering from nation to nation, because I have made each nation in it’s own light and I am your only Compass.  The lay of the land within each colony is completely different, you cannot expect the same journey as another!  

You have been a radiant, glowing nation!!  Although often times not seen it or felt it.  IT IS TIME!  It is time for you to understand as I understand, see as I see, feel as I feel, speak as I speak…to LOVE as I love!  It is time for you to “RISE UP, OH NATIONS!!!!  As I have called you!  You are My anointed ones, journey into my extravagant love and unmerited favor!  I love you so!!!”

Season of Shift

There is a shift coming. If we are not postured for it, we will miss it and yet not even know we missed it.  His divine presence, His Shekinah glory is hovering, just as it did in Ezekiel…waiting on His church to respond to His very visible presence…His glory.  

He is waiting to take His church into a new time (an indefinite progress).  “New”…meaning, never seen before.  Something that is NOT created by man.  He is waiting…hovering to take His church into a deeper awareness of Him.  A deeper awareness of His immeasurable excellence…His righteousness…His holiness. There is a posture to take to receive this shift.  It is a posture of willingness and obedience.  A willingness to pursue a knowledge of Him that some see as unattainable for themselves.  A willingness to make Him our main Priority in life.  To be intentional and where He becomes a very organic part of our life.  Where He begins to harmoniously fit together in life, as a necessary part of a whole…making His people whole…bringing reconciliation to holiness amongst His people. 

This willingness & obedience is not governed by time, emotions, circumstances, prior commitments, or seasons.  This willingness is an abandonment of all pride, be it in the form of self preservation, fault-finding, superficiality, defensiveness, desperation for attention, or even presumptuous thoughts.  

He has brought His people into a season of slow…a season of solitude…anonymity.  A season some crucial players are not understanding because they are too busy and feel if they stop doing, nothing will get done.   When it is in this season, the Lord will reveal all that He will do in a state of our true surrender.  This is not a slowing of just doing, but a slowing of the mind.  He desires to teach us how to track our thoughts.  A surrender of the mind and thoughts.  He desires to give His people new sight.  We are going into 2020…that is 20/20 vision…a year of new sight….clear sight of themselves and those around them.  

He desires to reshape and redefine the culture of the church.  Where the culture is thick, it is one He did not authorize.  It is a worldly culture that has manipulated it’s ways through the doors of the church, where it is no longer recognized as wrong but chalked up and laughed off as being just the way things are. The phrase “boys will be boys” comes to mind.  When raising boys, they do things that while might be inappropriate at times, the world says are just part of being a boy.  Although, they do things naturally that can be inappropriate or rough, does that mean as parents we disregard, do not address or correct just because the world has defined that behavior as part of being a boy.  The parent has the option to reshape that culture and to teach how to treat people within their home.  To hold their son to a higher standard, a holy standard…set apart. To teach what is good and right and true in the eyes of God.  ——>Ephesians 5:1-21<——

I heard…“My people continue to set up idols in their heart.  They keep toying and playing with sin, yet at the same time wanting to be a men and women of God. They go through rituals every Sunday putting up a false front, yet they have false idols in their heart.  Anything put before Me is an idol…ANYTHING put before Me is a god.  I am waiting on you to abandon all idols and approach the mercy seat.”

He is a patient God.  He is a jealous God.  If we do not take the posture to respond to Him, His Shekinah glory will depart and His hand will lift.

We rise when we kneel. We go to that new level…not the next level…a new level…one never obtained before.  We are to go from glory to glory…strength to strength. 

God is a generational and relational God…His Word is written generationally and relationally.  I might suggest, He is trying to get us to look at how the culture in areas has impacted the church generationally and relationally.  To slow down an see the pattern, address generational curses and blessings as a whole but as individuals as well.  These are the very things that ignite legacies and destinies with His people.  It is an unearthing  and understanding of a deeper identity and awareness within.  It is a teaching of self awareness and an awareness of His presence.

Clear Vision

 

Church, could it be that in our season of wait, we have just not?  That the Lord has actually had us, the church body, in a very long season of wait but we have just not had the health to feel or vision to see it?  We have allowed ourselves to be so overcome by busy-ness, doing, and going at such a high rates of speed, that our sight has been blurred and our health has been compromised?  That in the moments we have felt an increase in heart rate, or what we thought was excitement and eagerness, it was actually a warning sign that something unhealthy was happening?

Could it be that our eagerness for what or who is next has trumped what God really desires us to wait on…only prolonging this season of wait?  Only prolonging growth, and I don’t mean in size.  In our eagerness to fill the spots that were empty, we have promoted or self promoted, when God did not authorize that promotion.  Those spots weren’t meant to be filled with what man put there.  Those spots weren’t actually empty, they were filled with something so divine, that it could be seen or understood by man.

Maybe we saw the potential for leadership and mistaken it for the character of leadership?  

In the past, we have been to the Great Physician and had our examination, insuring that all the moving parts are as they should be.  Functioning and operating like a fine oiled machine.  Now we are afraid to take it before the Physician, we are in denial of what’s really happening.  We are afraid to get the not-so-excellent report back.  All the while, the appearance on the inside is not what it looks like on the outside.  

Have we done the FULL examination of our body?  What’s the condition of the heart?  Maybe it’s not beating at full capacity or as healthy as we thought?  Is there an undetected murmur? An irregular heartbeat?

Have we had an examination of the eyes?  Are we squinting just to get by with same prescription we’ve always had.  We are leaning in just enough to make out a form of what we think should be there and going with that.  Has our vision been so blurred?  Has it been so blurred that we have possibly missed something or mistaken something for what isn’t?  Maybe we not seen what truly is ailing us.

Church, the Lord is giving you new vision…He is slowly revealing His 20/20 vision.  He desires to give you that new vision.  He is and has been  speaking to a blurred vision.  He is allowing you to see what has been blurred or missed…what has not been Kingdom vision…or the heartbeat of the Kingdom. Posture yourselves!  Go to the Great Physician and allow Him to give you new spectacles and a healthy heartbeat!  

 

 

 

 

Who Champions You for Change?

First, take 3 minutes and 28 seconds to listen to this. Then scroll down. (If it doesn’t load the first time, refresh your page.)

If only so many of us weren’t so scared to position ourselves in one of the most vulnerable postures there are…admitting our loneliness. I feel like, in that admission to loneliness, we are finding our cure…by putting the fear of rejection aside and confiding in a friend. We are finding a friend amidst one of our most deepest secrets and most vulnerable positions.

Do you even realize?

The case could be, that the realization of loneliness has not set in.  So if you were to accept Shawn’s challenge to the audience, and pick three main people that you do life with, could you?  Better still if you struggle to identify them, then ask God to show you who those three people should be.  Shawn is not just saying this to benefit the ones hearing it, but to benefit those surrounding us.  There are people out there longing for meaningful relationships, but don’t know how to find them, grasping at whatever comes their way.

 

We all long for meaningful relationships yet, are we willing to sacrifice what it takes to get there?  Are we willing to risk rejection?  What is your motivator for relationship?  How do you see the people you want relationship with?  I am not talking about relationships that are skimming the surface of your world or Facebook feed.  I am talking about the types of relationships that are real and raw.  By real and raw, I don’t mean emotion-filled, drama drowned, exhausting relationships that foster stagnation; however I do mean spirit-filled, peace seeking, healing, not afraid to dive deep and talk about change, type of relationships that foster growth.

What about growth?

champions, change

Here’s the thing, if you don’t have people that you are willing to be completely vulnerable with, you won’t grow.  Who challenges you?  Who champions you for change?  You won’t grow, until you are willing to talk about what needs to change.  Change must occur in order to grow.  In order to have change, you must be willing to loose something and you must be willing to evaluate the past.  Without those two things, there will be no growth.  Growth is change.  The word “change” scares people, because of the loss of whatever it is that is normal for them.  When you know something needs to change, there is a grieving or for some, even a fear of loosing whatever will be lost.

 

We tend to gravitate towards things that are familiar and predictable. We do this because we know, deep down, that change does not happen without loss.  Loss does not happen without pain. No pain no gain!  The sense of loss can be so overwhelming, the mind does not even focus on what is gained in the process.  The thought of the process, scares the daylights out of most.  We are tempted to run, as if we could outrun it or run away from it.  This is why people choose to avoid and numb their pain.  The fear of facing it overwhelms them to a point of stagnation or digression.

 

The thing about change is, we not only experience the loss of something, but we are left actually feeling lost and abandoned, possibly even rejected.  We are left trying to grab hold of anything stable or familiar.  It is as if we are floating there, grasping at whatever we can.  It is in that moment, that we have a choice of how we will deal with the pain that comes with any type of loss.  What is our perspective in those moments of reeling over that pain, feeling as if we will fall apart if we look at the things that are deep within us?  Eventually, the things that are deep down inside will rise to the top.  How willing are we to embrace this pain that comes with being so vulnerable?  And in the end, what do we grip onto to stop  (what seems to be) the endless reeling over the thoughts that come with the loss and pain of change?  In this moment of choosing to face change or not, we are truly at the cusp of our most vulnerable posture.  It is here, where most people stop.  It is here, where most allow the fear of pain to take over.

What do you have to gain?

See, your threshold of pain will determine you growth.  In other words, the amount of pain you are willing to deal with, will determine your level of growth.  Your growth to being vulnerable is your gain.  What you gain with being vulnerable is real relationship…real connection.   Just as Shawn said in Jesus’ most vulnerable moment, through His Spirit, He connected us to the Father in a real way. A most tangible way, that is eternal and everlasting.

threshold, pain, growth

 

It is right in the middle of this messy process…vulnerably shifting through the pain and loneliness, that if we allow our Creator to come in, He will fill our deepest voids.  He desires to be our first and best friend…our champion!  Think about it, no one could identify more with being vulnerable. “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3)  While He was on earth, He had to have experienced loneliness and rejection from people, at levels we cannot even begin to imagine.  Just as He desires for us, He turned to His Father first and every time, even throughout the years of being surrounded by His disciples.  He wants to be the One who fills our voids of loneliness. These deep voids are filled, not as a result of spending time in His Word or prayer, these are voids filled by Holy Spirit tapping into the deep pain and heartache in our lives.

 

There are areas of our vulnerability that even our closest friends won’t reach.  If we desire to continue to grow, there comes a point where we cannot afford to look to others to rescue us from the changes that need to take place.  We have no choice but to turn to the One who created us.  It is a posture of freedom and solitude.  A posture to which you let go and allow Holy Spirit to do an inner inventory of the things inside you that you did not even know existed.  A place that only He can reach and reveal.  He is the only One who knows the depths of us.  He knows us better than we know ourselves.  Without Him, there will always be a void.

 

See, He comes in and begins to flush out the void that we have filled, by numbing or avoiding the things we need to face.  That void is packed full of unfulfilling pain, fear, anxiety, competition, rejection and all those other little things that keep us from truly connecting with others.  Once He flushes out that void and He begins to fill it with His love, we are able to truly connect with others.  We are able to see ourselves the way He sees us and in turn, we begin to see others how He sees them. He created us for relationship with Him first and community, second.  We need Him before anything, so that we can then offer our best to others.  We need Him first because on our worst days, we need to be able to go back and see ourselves and others the way He does, through His vision, not ours.  Seeing what He created them to be, rather than seeing them in their struggles.  If we desire to see as He sees, then we don’t look at just the potential, but destiny in others.

 

We should be going after the idea of being loved by Him, and in turn loving ourselves; instead of chasing down the idea of being loved by people.  It is in the discovery of His love for us, that we begin to see our own destiny and the destiny of others.  It is only when we truly see and love ourselves the way our Creator does, that we can really love others to the capacity they need and loneliness is no longer the motivator for relationship.

Share Her Story

I was recently asked to write an article for Share Her Story.  This is a website that was created by a group of incredible women, to express through the extraordinary stories of regular women, how incredibly loved and valued they are.  Please take time to go check out “Share Her Story.”  Also, check out and like the new Facebook page for Straighten My Crown!  Here is the article below, I hope you enjoy and I look forward to discussing it!  Love you guys!

 

“OVERRIDING MY PASSION”

Growing up I was often described by those that know me best, as outspoken, passionate, and sometimes even dramatic.  I am not the quietest and most meek of women. I also have a difficult time withholding the truth from people, so I tend to speak with realness and truth…some might call that bluntness.  I have often been told I am intimidating and carry a presence of confidence with me that makes women (and men) scared of me. Those things are the last two things I want people to see or pick up on when interacting with me.  Confidence has been a journey for me and I have never gotten to the point of being fully confident in myself. Although, by His amazing grace, I have gotten to the point of complete confidence in God, which makes it so much easier to surrender myself over to Him day after day.  I have learned that is the only way I function at my best…when He has all of me. The times I don’t surrender all of me, are the times when conflict comes.

As a child and young woman, (just like anyone else) I had a process to dealing with conflict or just relational issues in general.  For example, my mom and dad always impressed upon the importance of Ephesians 4:26-27, which says “’Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”  I understood early on, why this was important. This is not only talking about going to bed angry, but letting time pass in anger. Staying in your anger towards someone or something, leaves the door open for the enemy to inject other feelings and emotions into the equation. So staying angry even as a child was something I was very conscious and aware of.

As a teenager, it was not that I would stay angry for long but rather that I was quick with my words and passionate about my message.  I found that conflict would escalate quickly, because of my passion, not to mention my unbridled issue with lack of humility. The older I got and the more I experienced in life, the more I became a expert in the subject…whatever subject that may be.  I knew it all and had been through it all, or so I thought. I mean good grief, by the time I was 21 years old, I had given birth to my first child, bought first house, bought my first car, and was battling a very unstable and volatile marriage to a alcoholic and drug addict.  It was not long before I was a single mom, putting myself through night school. It was due to what I was accomplishing through such a turbulent and volatile season in my life, that I thought I was expert on every subject. When talking to other women in similar positions, I began to take this “put on your big girl panties” approach.  This was the beginning of my passion overriding my compassion. If other women I encountered were not performing from a standpoint of victory or “I can do this”, it would eat me up. Often, as a result, the more passionate I was on subjects, the more I would intimidate or blur over my intended message. One of the hardest things for me in life, has been learning how to balance my passion and compassion.

Experiencing the cross, brought me to a whole new subject matter.  It has been a game changer. Understanding the cross, has made me a completely new person.  I am madly in love with a compassionate God. Although now, there is the issue of my passion for God overwhelming my delivery of compassion for people.  The more He reveals to me, the more passionate I get about the freedom that comes with that revelation. Each time, I experience a whole new level of freedom and want to share that with others.  The balance of allowing God to tame the passion and provide the compassion is an intense process. The times that I have realized the passionate message I am trying to get across has resulted in hurt for that person, has brought me to tears.  It absolutely breaks my heart to know that the result can go against every one of my intentions of building them up and encouraging them to be the strong woman I know they can be.

When I fell in love with Jesus, His passions very quickly became my passions.  His compassion on the other hand, has been a bit of a challenge to obtain. I had to learn that without an understanding of His love and compassion towards me, I had an underlining competition with others, a fear of rejection or an offense that would come in.  There was a serious fear of man. My fear of living up to man’s standards and even my own standards, was greater to me, than living up to God’s standards. I realized I was not developing deep, lasting and meaningful relationships because my perspective of others, is mirrored by my perspective of myself.  I was looking at others through the same lens that I was looking at myself with.

God wanted me to see myself through a completely different lens…a heavenly lens.  He wanted me to operate from this lens of grace and love with every word I spoke and every action I took.  God wanted me to see myself how He sees me…with a heavenly perspective. I realized that if my words for myself are not laced with compassion, love and grace then it defeats every point of the cross. It is the love and grace that Christ brought to the cross that empowers us to walk from wholeness, speak from wholeness and operate from a standpoint of wholeness….to operate from HOLINESS.

One morning He began to speak to me about His creation.  He told me that when He created me, He simultaneously created His Kingdom purpose in me and that is what He sees in me.  He then revealed that this applies to all His children and this is how I am to look at His children…my brothers and sisters in Christ.  To also keep in mind, our life is a journey of Him molding and shaping us to expose that Kingdom purpose.

He wants our words for others, to begin to peel away at the layers of the shell that contains this Kingdom purpose.  Our words, should build up and edify others to shed that old skin and reveal the new. Because the enemy loves to inject that underlining competition with others, that fear of rejection or that offense anywhere he can with women, it is important that we be very intentional with our words.  We also have to be willing to receive reproof. The Bible says in Proverbs 12:1, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.”  I know what your thinking…”OH, well since the Bible says my friend, who did not accept my wisdom is stupid, let me just give her a call and tell her that even the Bible says she is stupid!”  No my dear, that is not the case. It also says in a couple of chapters later, (in Proverbs 15: 1) “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but hard words stir up anger.”

In Philippians, Paul points out that Euodia and Syntyche (sisters in the church) who found it difficult to love each other, needed “to settle their disagreement and be restored with one mind in our Lord” (Philippians 4:2-3).  To get our point across, our words should not always be disguised in tough shell of passion and urgency but laced with love and compassion for our sister’s growth. While some of our relationships are awesome, refreshing and challenging, often times there are those that are difficult, exhausting, stretching and sometimes even draining.  It is in those difficult moments, even moments of conflict, that we are to put on the spectacles of God and look through His lens. It is only through those lens, that our passion for the subject no longer overrides our compassion His people. It is through those lens, we obtain balance of the passion and compassion of Christ.

Alice Brown

ALICE IS A DAUGHTER OF THE KING, WIFE OF ALMOST 10 YEARS, MOTHER OF A 18 YEAR OLD, 8 YEAR OLD AND 3 YEAR OLD…OH AND 2 GREAT DANES.  COUPLED WITH HOMESCHOOLING HER CHILDREN, SHE IS CURRENTLY IN HER LAST YEAR AT WEST COAST BIBLE COLLEGE AND SEMINARY. SHE WAS ONE OF FIVE GIRLS WHO GREW UP IN CHRISTIAN HOME. SHE IS PASSIONATE ABOUT HELPING PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND GOD’S HEART FOR THEM, GROW IN THEIR INTIMACY WITH HIM AND GIVE BEYOND THEMSELVES. IN SPECIFIC, HER HEART IS TO SHOW WOMEN THEY CAN WALK IN FREEDOM AND THE EMPOWERMENT THROUGH HOLY SPIRIT, TOWARDS A LIFE OF SUCCESS AND NOT DEFEAT.  SHE ENJOYS STUDYING THE WORD OF GOD, JOURNALING AND WRITING FOR HER BLOG:  HTTP://WWW.STRAIGHTENMYCROWN.COM. 

Follow The Leader

In studying Paul’s Prison Epistles, the one concept that impacted me the most was actually something I had heard multiple times, but had never grasped the magnitude of it.  In one of the articles I used in my research, the author lists “7 Principles to Lead as Jesus Led”.  Seeing this title, I immediately thought, “oh, this is for me!”  He pulled from examples throughout the New Testament for each principle.  But the one principle that captivated me the most and quite frankly took my breath away, was his first principle listed.  “Jesus humbled himself and allowed God to exalt him.”  That one statement, though simply put, holds so much extraordinary power behind it.  Then he followed with an explanation from Philippians 2:5-11, and reading both the ESV and Message version, I continued to be blown away at this thought.


The Message version of the Bible challenges us to “Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself.”  Think about that for a second.  Is that something we can even begin to comprehend?  To be honest, I think some of us are narcissistic enough to think we could grasp the depth of that challenge.  It goes on to simply explain “He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all.”  Ok, so lets break that down.  Here we have the SON OF GOD…the Son of the most illimitable, unfathomable, immeasurable, incomprehensible, incorruptible and immaculate GOD.  He is equal to God…one with God and Jesus does not use that to His advantage.  Can we honestly say, we wouldn’t? 
Go ahead, put yourself in His position for a minute.  Here, I tell you what, I will go ahead and put myself out there….I can’t even begin to imagine myself in that position.  I will be real, I cannot even begin to grasp that level of humility that Jesus took on, therefore I honestly don’t think I wouldn’t use it to my advantage.  

 

As I have mentioned before, the past (now) two years have been a very long and difficult journey of vulnerability, humility, and down right getting real with God and others.  It was not something I just decided to do, God squeezed it out of me.  I will say on my behalf, I had to be willing.  I had to get to the end of me.  Even still, I have had to continue to practice dying to myself on a daily basis.  I realized real quick it was going to get messy whether I fought it or not, why not do some healing and gain some freedom in the process.  The thing that blows my mind is, Jesus knew who He was.  He also knew what His purpose and calling was.  Yet the perfection in His willingness to humble Himself and be obedient, was unwavering.

 

The amazing Word goes on to say, “When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.  Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.”  Jesus followed His Father’s will rather than seeking out approval of man or a position.  For Jesus to know He had equal status to God, and for Him to not take advantage of His status, setting His privileges of deity aside and taking on human form, then becoming a slave, boggled my mind more so than it had before. This concept, that He humbled Himself to live and die in the most perfectly, obedient and selfless way, serving others His entire life, shatters any concept of perfect humanity.  We, as humans try so hard to maintain Christ consciousness; to be obedient and selfless day to day, yet in the midst of turmoil and persecution, He did it so perfectly and willingly. He saw greatness in humbly serving.

 

Now, let me be clear, in no way am I saying that Jesus gave up His deity.  He knew Who’s He was.  In the ESV version verse 7, states that “He emptied Himself”.  Some people have interpreted this to mean that He gave up His divinity or that He was divine up to a point.  It is quite the opposite.  It meant He put the advantages of being divine aside in order that God could be in Christ in order to reconcile Himself to the world (2 Corinthians 5:19).  He did not think of being equal to God as something to take advantage of or use on His behalf.  It is not as if He would use His divine power to make His life or the process of dying on the cross, easier.  It was that He saw his equality to God as a commitment to becoming human, enduring such tribulation, and dying such an excruciating and humiliating death for us…His children.  It was symbolic of who God really is….a God of self-giving love.

 

The point is this…the God who does not share His glory with anyone else, shared it with Jesus.  Because of this, Jesus, the One from all eternity was ‘equal to God’.  So Jesus’ life, from incarnation to death, cannot be looked at as if He stopped being God but as the absolute perfect display or expression of the true God.  A perfect example of a leader to follow.  In this moment, God revealed the blueprint to His original plan for our interpretation of Him and His love for us.

Which brings me to my final point…

You want to understand God’s love for you and how He sees you?  God created you, knowing the plan…the calling He had for you.  Even in the ugly moments, He saw your purpose, who you were.  He did not measure His love for you by those moments, He still looked at you and saw purpose….His purpose.  He knew/knows your potential and is constantly presenting you with opportunities to step into them.  Your goal is to see everyone, including ourselves from His perspective….from this perspective….a heavenly perspective, which is only revealed through the very nature and heart of God.

So every time He looks at you, He sees not just purpose but His purpose.  He always see the positive in you.  This is how we have to choose to look at ourselves if we want heavenly perspective.  This is who we are….Who’s we are!  Does that make sense?  In other words, that moment of simultaneously creating you and your purpose for the Kingdom, He defined you!

The Anticipation of the New Testament

The Old Testament anticipates what the New Testament explains.  Even though they are separated by languages, cultures and centuries together the two are one story – the story of God and how He made us, how He loves us and how He sent His Son to save us.  Looking at Romans 8, it holds the essential passages containing the tools needed to the process of conforming to the image of Jesus Christ.  Paul’s objective was to encourage the Jews and Gentiles in the faith.  To teach them that righteousness comes through faith, through a lifestyle of faith.  That we received grace through obedience of faith, therefore glorifying God for His mercy in our journey to obedience.

God is referred to as the Father, first of all, because once you become a believer, you have a new standing before Him.  While unbelievers are offspring of God, only because He created them, they have not received the Spirit of Adoption (vs. 15).

When someone believes in Christ Jesus as his/her Savior, his estate goes from condemnation to a privileged sonship.  This new standing gives all believers  the legal right and spiritual privileges of sonship or “heirs to God and joint heirs with Christ” (vs 17).

This relationship soon emulates a lot of the same characteristic of the relationship with an earthly father and family.  Starting with the birth of a new child, the child finding comfort and relationship in the father, the father’s care for the child, the father’s discipline of the child and then it even carries over into receiving new brothers and sisters.  The Father-child relationship  with God is solely grounded on Christ’s sonship (vs 17).

There are a wealth of gifts and blessings that come within the New Testament but salvation and sanctification are the most rewarding.

I’m The Stupid Mom

I find it so appropriate that this picture came up in my Facebook memory feed this week.  It is hard to believe that this was so many years ago.  He was so little.  This was a moment in my single mom days (which were some of the most difficult days and years of my life) where my little Calvin was not sharing.  I took the opportunity to guide and instruct my child. I wanted to give him the tools and techniques to appropriately and lovingly deal with the situation.  Even in that time, (of being so far from God) my parents had instilled in me such a godly foundation, I remember instructing him according to the Word.  It was not perfectly according to the Word but I mustered up whatever instruction I could recall my parents giving me in my time of not sharing as a child.  I look back on that time now, and I am so very thankful that even in my time of pushing Him away, God supplied wisdom.  He dug into the depths of me and pulled out the tools and techniques parents put in me.  

The past three days, I have been working very hard on sewing my first dress from a pattern I purchased. What I had envisioned and what I created where nowhere near the same.  I had envisioned finishing the last stitch and holding up to see something similar to what my master seamstress of a mother had created. It was not.  My disappointment was overwhelming.  Because I knew the techniques for sewing pillows, clutch purses, hand bags and other things, I thought I could sew a dress.
In that moment, I would have given anything to pick up the phone and call her to receive her guidance and direction on where I had gone wrong with the pattern. I would have asked what techniques and tools I was missing.  But I couldn’t.  There is a strong chance she would not have the answer now, let alone know who I am.  There was a time when my mom sewed almost every dress I wore as a child.  They were beautiful.  She made dresses for all five of her girls.  Nine times out of ten at least two out of the five of us matched or wore the same dresses.
For my sister’s wedding, she made her beautiful wedding dress with amazingly insane bead detail, in addition to some of the difficult bridesmaids dresses.  Then in the same summer, she made around 4 more bridesmaids dresses for my other sister’s wedding.  She was an amazing seamstress.
 
Although my mom is not physically gone, there is a part of me that has begun mourning her. As I watch this horrible disease (Alzheimers) take over the mind of my amazingly creative and wise Momma, it has brought me to some realizations I wish I would have reached earlier on in life.  I have always said, I have no regrets because all the extremely difficult things that I have walked out have built character and brought me running back to the arms of my amazing and loving God.  Although today, as hard as this is for me to admit, I have realized I do have one regret.  That regret is not savoring every moment, every word, every bit of guidance, correction and instruction from my parents. There were times when I thought my parents were being foolish and stupid to the ways of the world.  I thought because my parents tried to instruct me in a godly manner with a foundation in the Word of God, that they did not know the things I was facing in my life and the world.  There were times when I thought I did not need the tools and techniques they were trying to give me. Oh, what I would give to call my mom and dad to just talk, just to get their input and guidance.  Now that I am in seminary, I would give anything just to call my dad to discuss and dissect the Word of God, family, and life, like he tried so many times to do with me and I just did not care enough.  Now that I am married to the most amazing man on the planet, what I would give to receive my mom’s guidance and instruction on how to be the amazingly wise and godly wife like she was.  If I called her today, I would have to remind her of who I was time and time again before even getting a question.  I would have to reassure her that it was ok that she didn’t know I was her daughter.  I would have to tell her where I live at the very least 15 times in the conversation, before ever asking her advice.  Then once we would establish who I was and where I lived now, the vicious cycle would start all over again.  All the while, my heart aching to hear her wisdom, instruction or just her comforting words I know she would give if she had control of her mind and memory.
Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.  Proverbs 19:20-21 
As difficult as this season is, there is an amazing and incredible aspect about all of this.  TIMING.  The timing of all of this is amazing to me.  It’s how God knew when I would need these tools and techniques in my parenthood and wifehood. To paraphrase my brother-in-law (from a discussion we were having about parenting to a teenage (almost adult) who is not receiving direction from me well), “You are entering season of being the ‘stupid parents.”  At first I was taken back by that statement.  I had to go home think about it and process it. He was right, we are. As much as I don’t want to admit it, we are in the season of being “the stupid parents.”  I am the stupid mom this season.  My son…the same one in that picture, is now 17 years old.  He will graduate this year, hopefully early.  Since we have made the huge shift of moving to a total different state, he has struggled in receiving the instruction, guidance, tools and technique I have tried to give him.  He has been blessed with some amazing opportunities here that most 17 years, not to mention most adults, would never get the opportunity to do.  He has wanted to make this transition on his own and in his own way and as much as I would want to give him the freedom, he is not quite ready.  I feel such an urgency to squeeze the last bit of knowledge I have for him before he goes into the world.  Of course as a parent, I want to pass on what I did retain from my parents and spare him the pain of what I had to learn on my own, the difficult way.

 

This morning before he headed to his awesome new job, I sat down with him and explained “the dress” to him.  I explained how even at the age of 39 year old, I thought I had the tools and techniques I needed to make the dress and to make it with excellence.  But I had to admit to him, I did not.  I had to admit to him that I did not listen to my mom the multiple times she tried to show me the techniques of sewing clothing. I thought since I had sewn a pillow, I knew how to sew a dress.  I pointed out, yes, I know how to sew but sewing a dress is not the same as sewing a hand bag.  I may not have had to ask my mom for direction on how to sew a pillow or a hand bag and I may have figured out on my own, with the tools I did take from her instruction, but there was more to her instruction that I missed.  If I would have listened to the whole instruction.  If I would have received all that she had for me, maybe I would not have waisted the material, the thread or my time and efforts.  Maybe I would have the technique I needed to sew the dress well.

 

This “stupid” dress I sewed, allowed this “stupid” parent the opportunity to ask her son to find a balance in receiving my guidance, my instruction and my words, so that as his mother I might spare him from the some of the regret and remorse that might come from time and effort waisted.  In that brief opportunity, I looked up at him, through my tears and he saw my pain, he saw my urgency, he understood what I was trying to say.   He stopped me and said with a sweet voice “I am trying to find that balance mom.  I love you.”

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:14-17

Just as I have with parenting him, I put my heart and soul into this “stupid” dress and it may not have turned out like I thought it would but I love it.  Just as my son is, the dress is a beautiful reminder of the tools and techniques mom made such a huge effort to engrain in me.   I guess in that sense, the dress is kind of like a metaphor for parenthood.  Just as I will continue to sew on the dress to improve it, I will continue to sew into the lives of my children.  I will watch my children go through life and praying they heard me.  Each prayer, will be a stitch into in the fabric of their life.  I will continue praying that they will take the tools and techniques this “stupid” mom has passed on to them and hold tight to the foundation I worked so hard to lay for them.  Because just as mom wanted for me, in the end, I want them to say, I have no regrets.

 

Can I Just Be Real? Please?!?

I must say, this past season has been a pretty intense, very tough but absolutely amazing all at the same time.  The transition from one season to the next was gut wrenching to be completely honest (which I usually am).  It consisted of hearing some difficult things about myself, some untruths about myself and my intentions, even enduring people seriously letting me down, but also experiencing the leadership in my life expose their love, grace and deep desire for me to understand His heart.

I also learned a pretty serious lesson, I needed to wait on God to build a trusted and wise counsel in my life.  I needed to stop trying to MAKE friends happen in my life. I needed real friends, that were REAL.  I mean, who doesn’t?

So obviously, I was in transition and well…I felt very strongly God was not just moving me into the NEXT thing, He was moving into a NEW thing.  That being said, leaving that season, I was SO HUNGRY to know Him on that next level.  In 1 Corinthians 2:7, Paul explains to a “secret wisdom” to the church of Corinth.  I wanted a double dose, triple, no quadruple dose of that “secret wisdom” so badly!

The difficult part was, to know Him on that next level or to pursue that NEW thing, I had to make time with Him…alone.  It seemed next to impossible to find time to do so.  Being a mom of 3 in a house with one bathroom, I am lucky if I get to go to the bathroom by myself or even take a shower without a child barging to sling the curtain wide open to ask me for more goldfish.  Heck, starting just this one blog post has been an act of God in itself, not to mention the other posts.  (And I say that in all seriousness)  In addition to that, I am currently in seminary and I made the commitment to separate my (seminary) study time from my (God) study time.  How in the world was it going to be possible for me to seriously dive in and get to know Him more?  Of course, it was clear I needed to get alone.

So then, God stepped in.  Here I was already feeling friendless and lonely, craving….practically starving for meaningful, articulated, educated, adult conversation. It was obvious to me, He was bringing me into a season of SOLITUDE! Seriously?!?!

For 4 years or so I was forcing myself into vulnerable situations, trying to friend others, and exposing some of my inner most difficult trials in life. I was just hoping to find that one thing that would truly connect me to her, I had yet to find her.  In fact, some of those vulnerable moments came back to haunt me.  This was before I understood the power of vulnerability.

Despite how difficult it was for me to muster up the courage to share my past, it may come at a cost.  I knew that in order for me to connect, I would have to be seen….really seen.  The thing about this was, I discovered that at the core of vulnerability is the possibility shame, fear and struggle for worthiness.  Although, it can be the birthplace of joy, love, creativity, mended relationships and more.  If I shut vulnerability down, I will be shutting down the chance of all the things it can birth.  This was difficult because the cost was causing me to question the love I thought I had, my sense of belonging and feeling worthy of any connection…even with God.   I had to continue to be willing and courageous to share this part of me, without any guarantees in return.  Psssh….I can honestly say, after the very vulnerable season I was previously in, I really was not motivated to go back.  I WELCOMED this season of solitude He had for me.  I did not need anyone….I had God.  Let’s do this!

So to recap, lets just be real for a minute.  I was 50 pounds over weight, exhausted, frustrated, lonely, and really suffering from a negative self image at this point.  Being the heaviest I have ever been in my entire life, questioning whether I was worthy of pursuing any connection, in addition to the calling I knew I had on my life, and I was wondering why I had not established any deep and meaningful relationships in my church over the past 4 years.  I needed a renewal of my heart, my spirit, my soul, and mind….I needed a renewal of my motherhood, my sisterhood.  I was determined to FORGE AHEAD! I am tackling this!

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ~Romans 12:2

So I decided to really break things down.  I knew that I have a creative mind, and that I tend to compare myself, my career, my performance (day to day) to other’s. Being creative, I would base my worth on my performance in my career, being a mother, wife, sister, etc.  I would even carry it as far to say, I was comparing my calling and my relationship with God to other’s.  I was even comparing my quiet time with pictures posted on Facebook and Instagram, of my friend’s tabletop spread at your local coffee shop, or heck their own kitchen/house (which seemed so impossible) along with the perfect cup of cappuccino, a beautifully written leather-bound journal and their highlighted bible.  All the while, reviewing in my head (while my “littles” are chasing each other through the house (screaming) with highlighters and permanent markers), “if only I did not have to wait until night to study for school. I could go to bed early, get up early and get my time with Him”.   I wanted SO BAD to grow in a deeper relationship with Him but I knew it was not my season for that tabletop spread.    I was really in survival mode every single day.

Little did I know…it was not “I” who was tackling this…it was my Father, Who was tackling this.  He first gave me a deep desire to tackle my weight issue along with a desire to eat healthy again.  I live at the base of a small 1,621 foot mountain.  God told me to climb that mountain.  So with the cooperation and help of my teenage son (BLESS HIM FATHER) watching my two Littles, I started with running up that mountain everyday.  This soon after turned to walking up that mountain everyday…my knees just couldn’t take it.  Walking 1 mile, turned to 2 miles, then 3 miles, then 4!   The first month was difficult.  I wanted to quit, I did not want to go but forced myself.  I felt Him pushing me harder and harder the more I did not want to go.  It began to get easier and easier.  Not because it hurt less or somehow the climb up the mountain became not so steep but because I soon realized He was facilitating time with me.  He was creating a uniquely designed and orchestrated time with Him that my heart so desired.  This was not one of those beautifully designed, Instragram, tabletop times.  It was going to be one of those ugly, sweaty, difficult, grueling and messy times that I may or may not post to Instagram!

Once I identified this, IT WAS ON!  I asked Him to do an inner inventory like I had never seen.  I wanted more of Him at any cost.  He began to speak and I would listen.  If I did not hear anything, I would listen harder.  This did not make this time easier by any means but I was ready to be pressed and stretched.  I wanted to grow.  If you’ll do what you can do, He’ll do what you can’t do.

Physical Obedience Brings Spiritual Release!

The first thing I did, was learn how I hear His voice…how to “listen harder”.  I even took Havilah Cunnington’s Prophetic Personalities Quiz and Course, which was amazing!  Was I a Feeler, Hearer, Knower or Seer?  After nailing down that I function in all four spiritual personalities (heh….I have multiple personalities), with my dominate personality being a Knower, I started practicing.

Soon after learning just how I hear Him, He very quickly revealed just how serious my issue of “FEAR OF MAN” was.  He told me comparison breaks down creativity or just brings it to a screaming halt and if I did not stop, I would not continue this uniquely designed journey.  There was no way I was going to let that happen but I did not fully grasp HOW to have victory over this “fear of man”.   With this realization, I then knew, I would stay right where I was in my spiritual growth, if not decline, as long as I did not claim victory over these things.  I needed to get a grip….actually, I needed to let go.  It was so clear, He told me to let go and let Him, then to show myself some grace and to treat His daughter well.  He then put things in the simplest terms for me one day.  He simply said, “Your fear of man is the opposite of the fear of Me…completely contrary to what I want for you.”  He then asked “Who are you trying to please?”  THERE IT WAS!!!  I was making it so hard, but it was so simple!  I decided right then and there that in everything I do, I would ask “who am I trying to please?” The thing about it is, if I am striving to please Him, I can’t loose.  He is Sovereign. He defends me when and if I need defending, loves me when I need loving, straightens me out when I need direction.  I just need to yield to Him.

As I continued to walk day after day, rain or shine, mile after mile,  tear after tear, He began to unfold so much and renew my mind AND the pounds started coming off.  Why do we renew our mind?  To know God’s will.  We want to know His will because it promises complete fulfillment and effectiveness; and that is what I was after.  I wanted nothing more than to be in His will.  Only the spirit of God can communicate with your spirit in such a way that it leaves you with identity, intimacy, purpose, love, and grace.  Until we get really good at understanding His spirit and how it is talking to our spirit, we will always live from the outside in.  I am still learning, still practicing but understanding more and more everyday.

Perfect & Unconditional Love

The neatest thing about all of this is, I now understand truly finding my identity in Him.  Through His love for me!  I am His masterpiece, His greatest work of art.  God does not create crap, He creates beauty.  Seeing myself through His eyes gave me the image of who I am.  It has taught me how to see others through His eyes.  I see my sons and daughter differently.  I see my husband differently. Everyone! His heart is for us to see us as He sees us.  To see His grace for us.

The Bible teaches that God loves us perfectly or unconditionally. His perfect love is not based on our perfection or anything except Himself.  God is Love ( 1 John 4:8). He always loves us, but often we don’t receive His love because of guilt about our past and wrong doings. We are supposed to be conscious and aware of God’s love and put faith in it.  I even had the words “The Love I know is unconditional” tattooed on my wrist years ago, yet I was continually questioning if God’s love is perfect and unconditional.  All because of one moment when someone I love and respected looked at that tattoo in disdain.  When I told them it was referring to God’s love, they gave me a look of disapproval and let me know they thought I was wrong. From then on, because of my fear of man, I was not putting faith in His love for me. WELL…NO MORE!  There are not conditions on His perfect love.  His love for me is what defines me, not my story.  The best part is, I can say with every fiber of my being, I don’t have any regrets…NONE!  I have seen so much redemption in my life, I have come to truly love my story.  It’s a really good one, but I may be a little bias.

The truth of the matter is, vulnerability is what brings us to connection.  Whether it be to other human beings or the Living God.  The possibility of pain in the process of connecting is so worth it.  Not only do you prosper with new and deeper relationships but you develop and receive a deeper wisdom for love and life.  We cannot truly love others until we truly understand not only HOW MUCH we are loved but HOW we are loved.  Perfectly and unconditionally.

Why Is God Punishing Me?


We all know the story of Job, we heard it growing up in Sunday school.  Job looses everything at the hand of satan, with God’s permission.  Job goes through a major transformation from a trusting and faithful man of God to growing in complaining and self-righteousness.  In this transition, Job makes 3 complaints: 1. Why doesn’t God hear me?, 2. Why is God punishing me?, and 3.  Why does God allow the wicked to prosper?  So lets address these complaints.

He Hears You!

First, God hears you.  Isaiah 30:19 says as soon as He hears our cries, He answers it.  We just have to listen.

God Doesn’t Bring The Bad Stuff!

Second, God does not bring the bad stuff into our lives, that’s the enemy’s doing.  In the case of Job, the enemy had to get permission to mess with him.  Satan made the point with God, that nothing bad ever happens to him. With all of Job’s wealth and blessings, of course he would fear God and be completely devoted to Him. He argued that if some real trials came Job’s way, he would curse God to His face.  God, then told the enemy to do what he will to all that Job has but do not lay finger on the man himself.  God knew this would be a test of Job’s devotion to Him.  The question was, would he turn to God for comfort and direction or turn away in blaming Him, in bitterness, self righteousness, and self pity?

The Wicked Don’t Prosper For Long!

Third, when the wicked prosper to any degree, it is short lived as stated in Job 36:5, “But if they disobey, they’ll be cut down in their prime and never know the first thing about life. Angry people without God pile grievance upon grievance, always blaming others for their troubles. Living it up in sexual excesses, virility wasted, they die young.“  If we are out of His will or in disobedience to Him, then we are out of His umbrella of protection, this is when we hit the storms in our lives.  This happens because God will not control human nature. He gave us free will, He will not force our hand.  He will invite us into His affections although it is our choice to go there.

In the end, He wants us to stop asking “why?” and start asking “what?”   What does He want us to take from this experience?  How did we grow?  He is looking at the whole picture of eternity and He is not threatened when humanity steps in His way. No matter what, He has a “backup plan” to our poor decisions and He continues on, in His original plan.  In the end, it will all work to His glory and our amazing story because  He is sovereign.