Sunday, April 27, 2014

Embraced in His Love


She knew my name!  She recognized me!  How and why is still beyond me, but she did.  Yes we share a mutual friend, but she and I had never met before.  There has been no personal correspondence, yet as she looked at me, my name flowed from her lips as her arms embraced me in a hug.  Sisters meeting for the first time.  Sharing the same Father.  Part of one family.

Yesterday was a dream come true, and a re-gift from the Lord.  Back in 2011 I was scheduled to attend "She Speaks" in North Carolina, but cancer and chemo took me down a different road.  Plans changed.  Instead of hearing Ann Voskamp speak I was fighting a battle, a battle that required me to remain on the home-front.

Over a month ago a very precious friend extended an invitation to my sisters and I to attend an event where Ann would be speaking.  Excitement was an understatement!  Yes, excitement to see Ann, but even more excitement to see the God in Ann.  Some people wear Him so well.  He is their covering and His light shines through their countenance.  Ann is one who is clothed in His beauty and robed in His righteousness.

She opens her mouth and her heart speaks.  Words not like any I had heard before.  Like a masterpiece painting, her sentences artistically display His truth.  Yes, I can see Him as each phrase is a brushstroke of His design.  Poetic and powerful.  Breathtaking and beautiful.  Words that burn and bore, seeking surrender and sacrifice, longing to be received, believed and lived.

Unassuming, she takes the platform, shrouded in humbleness.  Although she is nervous (or so I've been told), God's power fills her petite frame.  Overflowing with His Spirit, she shares as one who lives the "holy experience" of intimacy with the Lord.  This is who she is.  No pretense.  No mask.  This is simply a girl and her God.  A girl walking so close to Jesus that she is covered in the dust from His sandals as she follows in her Father's footsteps.

She shared seasons.  Opening with Katie's story, a story that has only a month or so ago started to mess with my heart in a profound way, God continued a message to me of sacrifice, trust, adoration, suffering, space, time and revival. I broke yardsticks, welcomed boring, breathed simplicity and worshiped my Father.  It was a day of burning bushes and radical love.

Ann (without an 'e'), has a style that is unique.  A gift.  Her words fall, saturating the ground; ground delighting in the soaking.  The watering flows from a vessel made pure.   Words that are "other world".  The dialect of the King, yet understood by paupers and princes.  Complimenting syllables and sounds singing His melody of redemption and salvation. Lyrical lines captivating His truth and compelling my love.

Honesty wrapped in modesty. Beauty under the umbrella of forgiveness.  Grace.  Always grace.

This is a friend with whom I can envision endless cups of tea on porch swings.  Tables covered in Bibles.  Books and paper with pens poised.  Journal pages covered in heart stirrings.  Silences.  Abandonment.  Listening.  Tears.  Sharing.  Laughter.  Prayer.  Someday we'll have all of eternity to praise the Lord together.

As I've reflected over yesterday I've been reminded of Someone else who knows my name.  Of One who speaks His "Joy" over my life.  I'm a nobody to most.  An unknown to many.  Yet, God recognizes me.  He knows my name.   Did you hear that?  The God of the universe knows my name!  



He looks at me.


Embraced in His love.

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Redeeming a "No"

I knew as I pressed "Send", I was responding from a place of personal fear.  There wasn't any way I could envision myself being able to answer this request in a positive way.  Just thinking of fulfilling this responsibility made my palms sweat and my heart race.  Feelings of disappointing the Lord filled my heart, but I just couldn't do it.

Each year mothers from our congregation are asked to take part in the special Mother's Day Services.  One will read the Scripture.  Another will pray.  It is a lovely blessing being asked to take part.  Several years ago the invitation was extended to me.  I felt honoured to be asked, but the thought of standing on the church platform in front of so many people absolutely terrified me.

I know that sounds strange coming from someone who actually speaks at Women's Events, but it is true.  Most often when God invites me to share at ladies events I take my trusty stool with me and speak from a sitting position.  This keeps the audience from seeing my trembling legs.  Not only that, but I've only spoken to groups of women.  This would be reading and/or praying in the presence of both men and women.  I couldn't do it.  Thinking about it made me nauseous.

Over the past year the Lord has been daily asking me to trust Him more.  He has been asking me to abandon self-reliance and abandon myself to Him.  Recently I told the Lord that if such an invitation was ever extended to me again, without hesitation I would respond favourably and rely on His strength.

I think in many ways the Lord has been preparing me for the invitation to come.  Early February I trusted the Lord as I stood on this very same platform as my role in Women's Ministries required I act as welcomer and announcer for our large ladies event.  Early March I spoke at a ladies retreat for the entire weekend without using my stool.  More recently I've had to fill-in on Tuesday mornings speaking to approximately 150 ladies at our weekly Women's Bible Study gatherings.  Step by step God has been asking me to trust Him and in His strength alone I've been obedient.  Anyone without this disabling fear may not understand, but it has seriously controlled many of my decisions and I've missed out on opportunities to allow the Lord to work through me.

When the phone rang this morning I had no idea what the call was going to be about.  I recognized the number as being our church phone, but was not expecting the request about to be made.  Actually, when I recognized the Pastor's voice on the phone I assumed he was calling concerning something entirely different.  However, within seconds he asked if I would be willing to say a prayer at our Mother's Day service.

This time initial fear collided with overwhelming delight.  So humbled, when by God's grace He offers a "do-over".  An invitation that was met with my "no" years ago, was extended again to me this morning.  There's no guarantee opportunities like this will come around a second time.  Still feeling anxious, but I responded with an enthusiastic "YES".  Immediately I recognized this as a gift from the Lord.  God is redeeming a fear and He alone will help me walk this out in faith.  "He is my personal bravery..."  Hab 3:19 (AMP)

Is the fear still there?  Most definitely.  But so is my God!!!!  Greater is He who is in me.  Praise His Name!

I would so appreciate your prayers as I prepare for this day and trust Him.  May I not live these in-between moments with anxiousness, but KNOW the Lord who has issued this divine invitation will fill me with His courage.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

"G" is for Gideon!

"'s 8am!  I need to have an answer by 9am!  I know You think an hour is a long time, but I've been praying for weeks and I still don't feel any closer to a decision."

This is what I was speaking to the Lord, out loud, as I was getting ready to head to Bible study this morning.  You see, today is the day all our study choices for the Fall must be submitted to the church.  It may seem early, but when approximately 200 ladies attend our weekly Bible studies, books need to be ordered, facilitators put in place and opportunity for sign-up offered before the summer months are upon us.  (I know...we haven't even enjoyed a taste of Spring yet and I'm talking Summer, but it is coming...I promise!)

For weeks now I have diligently been praying for guidance as to which study the Lord desires me to facilitate next Fall.  I had narrowed my choice to five studies from an extensive, pre-approved list that had been confirmed by our pastoral staff.  I prayed.  I listened.  I prayed some more.  For those of you who know me via social media, I threw the question out to you for input.  I asked friends. I listened.  I prayed.

God was silent.

This was so unlike past experience.  Every year as I've been called to facilitate studies, the Lord clearly has given direction and I've had the assurance of being in the center of His will.  I was down to an hour and counting.  I trusted the Lord wouldn't disappoint me, but minutes were ticking by.

Earlier this morning, during my quiet time, a strange thing had happened.  I was reading in Judges 6, the story of Gideon.  Gideon's story holds a special place in my heart.  The Lord used that portion of Scripture the morning of my surgery in 2011 to let me know "you will not die" and that He would "consume all" the cancer.  As I read about Gideon again today I thought, one day I'll do the study of Gideon at the church.  (I'm currently working on Priscilla Shirer's "Gideon" study on my own, and just purchased the DVD kit less than a week ago.)  That thought birthed another question:  Lord, do You want me to do the study of Gideon this Fall?  Do my five choices become six?

As I continued getting ready to head out I said to the Lord, (yes, I spoke out loud again, after all, I was the only one home at this particular moment), "Father You could give direction in so many different ways.  You could even make my cell phone go off with the answer."

IMMEDIATELY my cell phone vibrated!!!  I'm. Not. Kidding!!!

A text had come in from a friend inquiring about Bible study.  She didn't have to go into work today and she was asking if it was appropriate to come and sit in on one of the classes.  Yes, of course she could come.  It is always appropriate to come and learn from God's Word.  I told her to join in our group if she wanted.  We've been a "no-homework" study this past year, (long story), and so our group would be a great one to just slip into, participate and enjoy.

As I finished my text conversation with her, I felt the Lord impressing on my heart the need for our church to offer another "in class, no homework" study.  I was balking this.  Although it has gone well this year and God confirmed in so many ways that this was indeed His plan for the current study I was facilitating (we had ladies in our group who had never participated in a Bible study previously so they were able to learn how to do a Bible study), I'm a homework girl.  I love facilitating a study where everyone comes prepared with their answers.  The text that arrived on my phone moments ago spoke to my heart concerning the need for another study that offers this training opportunity.

Well, if I was to offer a no homework study, three of my choices were instantly eliminated.  Because of the volume of material, there wasn't any possible way to do them "in class" in the 7 or 8 months of weekly discussion time.  Now I was down to a choice of three others.

Thirty minutes and counting.  I calmly sat down at my computer.  The studies being considered each had a DVD component.  I would watch the first 10 minutes of each one and see if anything jumped off the screen at me.  I listened to the first one.  Great teaching, but nothing resonated.  I moved to the second one.  Again, fabulous teaching, but no inner stir.  I moved to the final possible choice.  Suddenly I heard these words: You've been waiting for a green light, for something to tell you to go.  Well, this is it...go, go, go!!!

Guess which study it was?  :-)

Gideon!  The reason I hadn't previously heard from God regarding my other five choices was because not one of them was His choice!  He couldn't choose from a list which didn't include His study.

I instantly felt an overwhelming peace and assurance that this is what God wanted!  Not only that, but I then noticed another friend's post on Facebook.  She said, "Today's letter is 'G'".  Hahahaha...yes it is!

There is sooo much more to this story, as less than an hour later, God also confirmed in my heart that I'll be facilitating an evening Bible study of Beth Moore's, "Children Of the Day".  I'm. So. Excited!!!! But that's another story, for another day.  :-)

Lord, thank You that Your timing is perfect.  Thank You that when we continue to wait on You, we have the assurance of Your hand guiding us. Thank You for the joy of knowing with certainty that we are walking in Your will and Your way.

Oh...and PS...yes, "Gideon" just happened to be on that pre-approved list! *smile*

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