This may be a little too much for some of you.....authentic, beautiful and messy

They sang a song at our wedding about making us more like Jesus...that is still our hearts cry!

Back in June 2013 trouble was brewing...
too complicated to get into, but it was a mess.
Gary and I went away for a quick vacation together.
It was a time of restoration and hope.
We pressed into the Lord together, worshiping and loving our God together.
This has always been the glue, the Spirit has always held us together.
Through thick and thin our love has always stood because at the very center is God.

In the midst of that, the Lord gave me this prophetic word:

Every struggle I have is rooted in the flesh; doubt, anger, fear, selfishness
I must be stripped of the flesh, piece by piece....

Why do you doubt?  Because the flesh can't believe in the Kingdom of God.
Why are you angry? Because the flesh wants no pain and discomfort.
Why are you fearful? Because you want to avoid pain at all cost.
Why are you selfish?  Because you don't trust God to care for you.

Flesh is powerful and can grow back even after is has been cut away.
The Kingdom of God is created for those who are being stripped away of the flesh.
For those who can live devoid of its power over them, who can master it through the Holy Spirit.
The Kingdom is for those who can see how ugly the flesh is, who can bare themselves to the Creator and through force be peeled away of that flesh, that brings resistance to the Kingdom.
The creator will first reveal and then you must choose to cut it away, the fleshly attitudes and expose them not protect them!

To acknowledge it...this is my sin...not self protect...set it on the altar for all to see...

To die to self is my faith journey, the more I die the more faith I have
Could I live as bare bones in this world? 
To let go of all the flesh and live only by my new heart?
To step into the body of Jesus made up not of flesh and bone but of Spirit....
To care more about truth and love than self and comfort?
Dying to self means letting go of all desires, laying them all down and allowing the Spirit to piece everything back together as He sees fit. 
The Kingdom within us, not outside of us. 
The flesh restrains the Kingdom, opposes the victory...the Spirit crucifies the flesh once it is laid on the altar, given freely.
Lay open the flesh, bare it on the altar, recognize and repent
Allow the fire of the Holy Spirit to burn it away.
Flesh is a barrier to the supernatural, peel it away bit by bit...layer by layer.
Then you will walk in the Kingdom on earth, in a new manifestation of heaven.
Then you will bear My image, flesh obscures my image but bare bones reflect it.
Death to self is life.  Your life becomes My life. 
Die more today and every day and find more and more Kingdom.
Holy spirit fire or fire by trial, which will it be? 
This is the Kingdom, the very opposite of the flesh.
Holy Spirit fire, burn away the flesh and bring your kingdom through your purified servants.
Release the Kingdom as they commit to live free of the flesh. 

My husband and I wept and prayed and said to our Lord...whatever it takes Lord change us and mold us, we long to be bare bones.  To be reflections of You, to bring your Kingdom to this earth.  To be those that lead the way and birth the Kingdom into the world.
                                                                 We submit it all.....and we meant it.  

We had no idea what that would look like, the price it would cost.  If you want more of Jesus and less of your flesh it will not be an easy battle.  It means long hours in His presence and torturous hours of battle.  It means acknowledging the worst of yourself and picking it apart bit by bit and replacing it with Holy Spirit qualities.  Its an ugly process and a beautiful process and we said yes.

Life got worse not better.  There is no victory without battle.  No territory taken back from the enemy without a bloody war waged.  God knew what was coming, He always knows.  There were consequences to be paid some were ours to pay and some were not, but like a tidal wave coming straight at you there was no escaping it.  Betrayal and death came to our door, but don't they eventually come to all of us.  We determined to head straight into the pain, waves crashing over us we treaded water and grabbed unto hope only to have another wave crash over us....soon our flesh was worn off in places.  We landed on shore only to find ourselves shipwrecked in grief and there....well, there we climbed up onto the altar again and again and begged for the fire to burn the flesh away so healing could come.

You see when you are dead to the flesh, it can cause you no pain.  Dead people don't feel pain (Im not there yet, think it may be a lifelong process).  There has definately been progress....Holy fire has burned away things in our hearts and lives and the pain has become duller and hope shines brighter than ever.

Self protection was gone, instead authenticity.
Anger was gone, instead humble submission.
Fear, what is there to fear once you have experienced the worse?
Selfishness, is slowly fading away as a burning love for others rules our hearts. 

On the twenty sixth of June we will have been married for twenty one years.  The love of my life, man of my dreams is still my favorite person and Jesus is still the center.  Our battles scars are worn proudly.  The reason they are scars is because the Holy Spirit, the balm of Gilead has healed them.  WE have learned from them.  They are no longer gaping open wounds, they are scars and eventually there will be no flesh left to even hold scars because together we are becoming devoid of flesh and covered in His glory.  Till He takes us home, this is our goal: To be Kingdom birthers and flesh's gonna stay messy but it is also so beautiful and so very worth it.  His Kingdom come....

I AM Jonah

Jonah and I....
I know that storm...the one that you just want to jump overboard to escape.
I know that fishes belly....the one that is dark and unexpected.
The one that doesn't feel like rescue at all, it is just as dark as the storm was.
I know what it is to not drown but still be stuck.
Grief is like the belly of the fish...dark, cold and lonely.

I escaped drowning in the grief only to find myself clinging to hope.
Like Jonah I have been torn between despair and deliverance.
I have not liked the direction my life was taking....I have wanted to run the other way.
Like Jonah, I will not get my way in this situation.  My son is gone, there is no choice.
I could run for days and still not get what I want.

So I sit in the belly of the fish, in the cold dark place.
And like Jonah....I cry out, in my distress.
I will not forfeit the grace that is mine.
I will sing a song of thanksgiving in the midst of this place.
For the Lord has always been my deliverer.

Like Jonah, the Lord has rescued me.
Like Jonah, I sometimes return to the angry place.
Like Jonah, I sometimes forget the great mercy and compassion of the Lord.
Like Jonah, I don't recognize the shade and shelter He has provided.
Like Jonah, I forget how great my God is.

He controls the seas and everything else.
His mercy and compassion never fail.
His heart for the lost is great.
He gives opportunity for all to turn to Him.

He is love, even when I can't see it in the dark places.
He is love, He rescues us all.
He is love, He rescued my son.
He is love in the belly of the great fish and love in the shade of His grace.
He is love, deliverer, hope, grace, peace, redemption, compassion and all that is good.
Jonah teaches me that, as I see the Lord throughout his story.

Like Jonah, I appear to be a lifelong learner.
The grief storms, the waves of fear and sorrow they may toss this boat...
but this time I am singing the song of thanksgiving long before I get into the belly of the fish.
Then He will hide me in the shade of His grace and I will not question His plan.
I will just rest in His shade and soak in His presence.

Like Jonah looked different when he came out of the belly of the fish, I look different now.
In the Spirit I am different; there are lessons learned in this suffering that I could learn no other way.
Grief has left me whitewashed, vulnerable and yet stronger and more passionate.
I am more open than ever to the one who delivers, more hungry than ever for His presence.
Unlike Jonah whose story ends abruptly
                                    story continues as does His grace in it.

I see dead people.....

In the last few weeks I see dead people (well, actually just Justin).
Walking down the street, same height-same build....for just a moment my heart skips a beat.
I come walking out into the living room and I think Justin is asleep on the couch, he used to turn up like that crashed unexpectedly on our couch after he moved out. I see the shape there and my heart skips a beat.
Then I realize it's not Justin its a friend of Lukes.
I wonder why it's happening.
I hear a door shut late at night and for just a moment I am startled by the noise and then I think, he is home.
Then I remember He is not ever coming to this home again.
Sometimes I am afraid I am forgetting what he looks like.
I think he looks like a guy in the movie I am watching and I wonder why do I see him everywhere?
I suppose it is just wishful thinking.
All this loss and pain.
Just a moment of relief, thats what I am looking for....
something fixed, something whole, something restored....hope for a split second that it is all a mistake
The most difficult of circumstances....the loss of my boy,
Compounded by the loss of friends.
Betrayal at a level never before experienced.
Evil words said that can never be taken back.
We keep our mouths shut, God is our defender.
His timing could have been better.
Some rose to the occassion, others sunk to lower levels
but all revealed their hearts, thats what actions do.
Through it all we have learned, I have learned...
It's not my job to fix anything, it's my job to trust God.  Love people and trust God.
I am not the Holy Spirit and conviction is not my job is love.
I am full of regrets and constantlly trying to rethink all that could have been different.
Scenarios, memories, conversations, all swirl around in my head on sleepless nights.
I know love is the answer to it all, I just can't seem to stop the maddening wheel of doubt and questions churning through my brain. What could I have done differently?
The sorrow is bearable most days but sometimes I wish I could just see him again for a minute.  I could just hold his hand, hear his laugh and hug him tight.
I feel so robbed of what could have been, there will be no turn around, no wedding, no grandchildren, no gray haired Justin to help me when I am old.
I am happy for those things in other's lives; weddings and new babies.  But sad too, for what could have been.
Every happy thing is tinged with a bit of sorrow, a reminder of loss.
Maybe I will always see him in the possibilities that could have been.
Maybe I will always grieve the loss of friends that shouldn't have been lost.
Maybe my idealized view of church life will forever be altered but maybe just maybe there is hope for it all.
Maybe hearts will be changed somewhere down the line, religous spirits will be overcome with grace filled hearts and community will mean more than ever before.
Maybe my heart will learn to forgive the largest of offences and in so doing will be set completely free.
Then one of those times when I think I see Justin....I really will because I will have stepped into eternity.  He will be waiting to greet me, of that much I am sure.
In the meantime I will probably just continue to see dead people(some that look like Justin and some that need  life in Jesus).
I will see them through eyes stained with the blood of Jesus and I will try to love them to life because that is what Justin would want.
There is room in this heart for the sorrow, joy and love because hope came to this earth and set us all free from death.  So I choose to live today to the best of my ability in JOY mingled with sorrow.  Making joy bigger by sheer willpower.

Even Jesus had to go through hell....

So I woke up this morning thinking through some things about trials and the good works of God.  I had read Psalms 66 yesterday.  That first part sounds great,  right?  I remembered all the beginning(Make a joyful noise) and ending parts but sandwiched in the middle was this....
          8 Oh, bless our God, you peoples!
And make the voice of His praise to be heard, 9 Who keeps our soul among the living, And does not allow our feet to be moved. 10 For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined. 11 You brought us into the net; You laid affliction on our backs. 12 You have caused men to ride over our heads; We went through fire and through water; But You brought us out to rich fulfillment.                                                     Psalms 66:8-12 (NKJV)
I kept thinking about all that we have been through in the last three years.  It's quite a list.  My husbands heart problem, our middle son shot (wrong place, wrong time), a bit of a church split, our oldest son's departure to heaven, and the list doesn't seem to be stopping.....
We have been in a net of grief, afflicted, people have run over our heads (whatever that means, my interpretation is they tormented us emotionally rather than loved us), we have been through the fire and the water....
Even Jesus had to go through hell........
8 Therefore He says: "When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men." 9 (Now this, "He ascended"--what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)
                                          Eph 4:8-10 (NKJV)
I am not saying I am anything like Jesus, I am simply saying we are being refined.  Why would I think I would get to miss out on the hard stuff?  It is hard and unpleasant but at the same time it is glorious and He has shown himself to be with us in the midst of it.  We are changing through the pain....I don't believe all of it is from the Lord, but He has allowed it for our good and His glory.  I refuse to be bitter, I will be better.  I will praise Him in this place. Sandwiched between all the good stuff, stuck in some hard stuff.  I will celebrate the fire that burns off the yuck of me....The waters that wash off the stench of the world.....

One day, I will say it is glorious.  Right now I am just saying....let the rich fulfillment come today, on this earth in this moment.  Bring your Kingdom Lord even in the midst of the fire and water.  I trust YOU, my LORD.

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