Monday, October 31, 2016

All things new.

Have you ever seen such an in-your-face connection that you don't want to see...?

Yeah. Well this is me. Now.

Every time we drive up the hill to our house I try not to have my eyes land on the obvious...the bright, out-of-place vibrant green hillside.

It's almost November.  Everything is dead here. All the surrounding hills are brown. As would be fully expected.

Then there's ours. It's not just a little contrast...it's bright, in your face green.  It's full of new grass.

Remember a few months ago I posted about the massive fire? Where our entire hill burned to a crisp? All summer it's been jet black.  I mean...not pretty. Black. Burnt.

Now it's full of new life.

I've tried to not talk a lot about it as we drive home. The kids all marvel at it.  Dean does. We all do...I just don't want to talk about it.  Because I know the message applies to everything.

After the death of something...comes new life.

There's been so much "death" in our family lately.  And it's been the hardest thing I've ever 'survived'.  And I know God will make something beautiful of it. I know that because I know Him.  I know that's what He does.  No one can comprehend it. No one can make sense of it and definitely can't predict the final outcome. But if you know Him...you know what He does. And bringing new life into the darkest, most burnt places...well...that's Him.  That's what He does.

And this hill? Brighter than it's ever been in the history of ... ever...stands as a very in-my-face reminder. Something beautiful will come out of this darkness. The old has died. New is coming.





Revelation 21:5
And the One seated on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are faithful and true.” 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Raging Seas.

I woke up a few days ago with the storm of Acts 27 on my mind.

So...obviously...I read it. There was clearly something for me to see.

The Shipwreck

27 On the fourteenth night we were still being driven across the Adriatic[c] Sea, when about midnight the sailors sensed they were approaching land. 28 They took soundings and found that the water was a hundred and twenty feet[d] deep. A short time later they took soundings again and found it was ninety feet[e] deep.29 Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight. 30 In an attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat down into the sea, pretending they were going to lower some anchors from the bow. 31 Then Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.” 32 So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it drift away.
33 Just before dawn Paul urged them all to eat. “For the last fourteen days,” he said, “you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food—you haven’t eaten anything. 34 Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head.” 35 After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke itand began to eat. 36 They were all encouraged and ate some food themselves.37 Altogether there were 276 of us on board. 38 When they had eaten as much as they wanted, they lightened the ship by throwing the grain into the sea.
39 When daylight came, they did not recognize the land, but they saw a bay with a sandy beach, where they decided to run the ship aground if they could. 40 Cutting loose the anchors, they left them in the sea and at the same time untied the ropes that held the rudders. Then they hoisted the foresail to the wind and made for the beach. 41 But the ship struck a sandbar and ran aground. The bow stuck fast and would not move, and the stern was broken to pieces by the pounding of the surf.
42 The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping. 43 But the centurion wanted to spare Paul’s life and kept them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land. 44 The rest were to get there on planks or on other pieces of the ship. In this way everyone reached land safely.

Growing up, I had read a youth book on that storm so it was always a favorite. You know when you have a favorite Bible story...? You know all the details about it? Yeah.

Or not.

I didn't remember AT ALL that an angel appeared to Paul and told him they would all survive.

I did remember that they went through a horrific storm.

But reading that the angel appeared and told Paul they'd all survive...yet they still went through a horrific 14 day nightmare on the sea...

Well that's a big deal.

It was so horrific that the other men refused to eat the full 14 days. Paul however...he had this calm.  He knew they'd survive. He actually knew not a hair would be lost from anyone.  And that carried him through the storm in peace.

We have been very clear. We are in a storm.  THE storm.  God has shown up time and time again. I've woken in the night with the song "good good Father" in my head. I have had friends who knew NOTHING of what we are going through tell me they felt strongly they should tell me a verse or devotional they were reading that God nudged them it was for us. And many times, we have been brought to tears reading them. They were so very applicable.

God telling us...we would survive the storm.

But...not calming the seas.

We are still in the storm.

There is so much light at the end of the tunnel...but it still (for me) seems a long ways off. Can we humbly ask that you pray for our family? All of us. Please pray.

Life has been a whirlwind of events and I have zero doubt that I will look back on this year of our lives and wonder if I really lived it.  Or if it was a fuzzy dream.  Yet forever we will have the scars to remind us...we indeed lived it.

Broken.  Shattered.  Beaten. Barely the strength or desire to 'keep eating while on these raging seas'...yet hearing God's promises over and over. Many times...through you.  The random gifts in the mail from people we barely know. The messages that show up with verses I don't even remember reading before. How could they be so applicable?  Seeing a movie and walking out sobbing because the parallels of our story were so unexpected. The people near and far...rallying around us to do battle with us.  In this storm.

Please, we are once again asking...rally around us with your prayers.  War Room style prayers on our behalf.  Pray that our family would be protected at every level.  That God would part seas. Open hearts to see truth. And set up an army to fight for us.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Open my eyes that I may see.

I read a book recently that hit me right between the eyes. I often hesitate to recommend a book because it really depends where you are when you read it.  For me...this book...at this time in my life...was life changing.

Through the Eyes of A Lion by Levi Lusko.

One of the parts that brought me to tears early in the book was when he said to put the book down and go look at the sky.  I was reading outside, on the deck, at about 11 am.  So...I did. I felt a little odd doing it but...I did it.  And of course...I saw a clear blue sky.

I sat back down to read the book.  He asked if I saw hundreds of stars.  Hmmmm..no.  Not quite.  But then he went on to say that just because I didn't see hundreds of stars...doesn't mean they weren't there.

That's all it took for me. Everything hit me right there.  I got the point. I knew what he was saying and it hit me right where I needed it.

The heart.

Later that night I came outside. I stood on the same spot on the deck and looked up to the same sky. It was amazing. Stars as far as I could see. And I suddenly flashed back to a few hours earlier when I was standing there looking at a clear blue sky.

Same sky. Same stars. One time I saw them, another time I didn't. They were always there.

I ran to get my Bible and read one of my favorite stories.

Elisha Traps Blinded Arameans

Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, “I will set up my camp in such and such a place.”
The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: “Beware of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there.” 10 So the king of Israel checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so that he was on his guard in such places.
11 This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers and demanded of them, “Tell me! Which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?”
12 “None of us, my lord the king,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.”
13 “Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” 14 Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city.
15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.
16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”
17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lordopened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
The angels were there.  The whole time. But until Gehazi's eyes were opened...he couldn't see them. 

In a practical every day way, this helped me so much a few days ago.  As most of you know, I hate to fly. Like...really hate to fly.  But if I can see down...I fly much better. In a cloud? I feel totally claustrophobic and it's ... not good.  Well...we had zero visibility.  And this all came back to me.  Janice...the stars are right there...the lights below are right there.  It's all there. Just because you can't see it...it's still there. And in a moment the sky instantly cleared and I could see above and below.  To all nearby passengers I looked a little crazy as I was smiling from ear to ear (still with white knuckles) looking out the window.  

Then there's the moment where I was trapped.  In a situation so dreadful I've never even feared it.  Yes...it's that bad.  And as I'm hearing the most horrific things said and slung about the room...my heart pounding out of my body...I was trying so hard not to let emotion win...

but it did.

And the tears came and I couldn't stop them. And in this situation, in this place...in this moment... I DID NOT WANT TO CRY.  Over and over and over my mind prayed "open my eyes that I may see". Ahh...to see an army of angels swarming around that room would have changed everything.  I don't think the smile made it to my lips but inside it was actually starting to form in my heart. Just because I couldn't see them...didn't change a thing.  

They were there.

Where are you? I know. Not in the dreadful situation we are in. And I'm so very glad.  I wouldn't wish this on anyone.  But wherever you are...in whatever hard you are facing...perhaps you needed to read this.  

Just because you can't see Him...doesn't mean He's not there.

He is there. 

In fact...He promises to never leave. Never forsake. 

Ever.

Though I was feeling like the plane was out of control and going the wrong direction and all was lost (yes..I know. It's an awful way to fly!)...the stars were still there. The city lights below. It was just a cloud.  It blocked my view but didn't change where I was.  The stars weren't any further away.  

When your life is going awesome...God is no closer. Or to state as well often feel...when you are in the valley of the shadow of death...God is not far away. Heaven is not silent.   In fact Psalm 34:18 states: 
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

I get it.  I do.  I get faith being an active choice.  I do.  But oh to have our eyes opened. And see what's really happening. To see the army there and ready.  

Open my eyes...that I may see.