Mirrors and Chains

My head hangs a little as I look down at the dark ground. The first thing I notice is fog curling at the edges of a mirror in front of me, reflecting my old faux-leather combat boots. Behind that small one sitting on the ground, is a floor length mirror reflecting all of me. Beside those mirrors are rows and rows of mirrors encircling me. As I slowly turn around, utterly bewildered, I can see every angle of myself. It’s dark all around what I assume is a room, but I can’t really see where walls would be. It’s all just…darkness? Something like a spot light is shining directly down on me, as if I’m in some teenage clothing store’s dressing room. In fact, that thought brings a flashback to when I was fourteen standing before a mirror not so different from the one in front of me.

In the memory, I was at a local mall with my aunt shopping for new, trendy clothes for my first day at a public high school. I was transferring from a Christian private school, and I was terrified. This was my first time to even try on clothes at a store like this. A dimly lit teenage clothing store with paper thin models in swim suits, loud music, tight-fitting clothes and perfume clouds seeping out of the main entrance. I knew this wasn’t me, but I also knew this was the type of style the kids had at my new school. So here I stood with a size small covering me like a second skin. I refused to go up a size because the thought of wearing a size ‘Medium’ formed a knot in my throat and an onslaught of hot tears. I stared at my reflection and hated everything I saw looking back at me. Two years before that I stood in front of another mirror in a bathroom and thought for the first time that I was fat. This night I was at a twelve year old’s Halloween birthday party in which I made my own cute witch costume. I loved being creative, and honestly we couldn’t afford to buy one if I wanted to. My hair had gotten so long and curly. This was a time in my life where I first felt my body changing, maturing, and thought to myself that I was becoming a beautiful young girl. At the party there was a ton of pizza and I was trying all the different types of it because, I mean-do I even need an explanation? Come on, it’s pizza! But this young boy whom I had a crush on sat across from me, and laughed with a friend of mine while I ate. I smiled thinking he was just saying something funny to me, but then my friend yelled across the table, “he’s laughing because of how fast you’re eating!” It doesn’t sound that sinister, but the thought that food consumption could be something that made others look at you funny hooked a twisted self-image into me that grew into a mental prison over time. That night, at twelve, for the first time in my life I went into the bathroom crying. I looked at my reflection, turned to one side, and sucked my stomach in. I remember wondering if I could manage to stay focused on breathing ,in a way that wouldn’t make my stomach extend in and out while also continuing to clench my abs together, for the rest of the night. No more care-free eating, Lacey, for the next seven years of your life. I was caged inside the self-image nightmare with the name “Eating Disorder” branded on my sticking out collar bones.

So there you have it. Mirrors. And here I was again, standing before hundreds of them, big and small, and all around me. Unsettling. Yet this, I knew, was merely a vision. Honestly mirrors hadn’t bothered me much in a long while. Not since, Jesus crouched down and set me free from my eating-disorder prison at age nineteen. That was almost seven years ago now. Having two babies, gaining the weight, and dropping it in a healthy way was so healing for my soul on top of that radical deliverance as well. Now at age twenty six, food is normal, food is necessary, food is healthy, food is down right delicious- most of it anyways. Truthfully, sometimes I eat too much chocolate after my kids go to bed. Nonetheless the thought of running to the bathroom to purge what I just binged does not ding into my mind like an unwelcome fruit fly. No more starving myself or binging/purging. No, you see, that stronghold of fear of man and self-image has no authority over my life any more. As a matter of fact in this vision right now, the woman looking back at me looks rather ticked off. Hair, a blonde curly mess. Eyes, squinted in frustration. Lips curled in a snarl. Yeah. Okay. I see you.

This entire mirror worshipping, self-image enslavement culture, has been breathing down our necks for too long.

In this vision I am surrounded by every angle of myself, with mirrors yelling at me to criticize myself and step into the psychotic appearance mantra. Whether it’s an eating disorder or the deceivingly simple “just worrying what other people will think” continuous mindset, self-image is a consuming god that wants all of your worship. The only problem with it is, you were never meant to be afraid of man. Engraved self-image is what the media vomits over us every second of every day, but it is a deception. And thankfully there is light in this darkness. If you want to see your true reflection, look into Papa God’s eyes. In the vision as I look at my many reflections, I am filled with a holy anger at the familiar lies coming to choke out the freedom Christ intended for every person to have. I sense Holy Spirit here with me. He puts a baseball bat in my hand and tells me, “Have at it.” I’m filled with anger at that the thought of the countless girls and boys riddled with so much anxiety and fear that they can’t even see reality when they look at theirselves anymore. So many young people afraid to dream big and do what they are passionate about, what they were actually created to do, because it doesn’t fit into the duct-taped success box society stuffed them inside. So many people living every day completely consumed with fear of what others will say or think about them if they make one move that goes outside of the cultural norm. Enough is enough. With Holy Spirit’s words I give it a go. I begin smashing every single one of those self-image mirrors until there’s nothing but dust and fog. No more. The war on inaction has begun. No more sitting idly by while the walking dead roam the earth. I used to be a zombie, until the Cure found me. Jesus. Searching for temporary satisfaction, but now I found the real thing. Jesus. Whether it’s freedom to eat a salad or freedom to eat dessert. Whether it’s preaching the gospel on a stage, or praying for a crippled man to walk on the streets. I’m done worshipping my image and being afraid of man. I’m out here smashing mirrors. And it’s so not about me. It’s about God. And what He created us to have. Perfect relationship with Papa God through Jesus. That’s what you call, life, and life abundant. It’s not about me. It’s about you. God so loved..you. Don’t waste another thought in your mind thinking otherwise. Grab that lie and take it by the neck to kneel before the King on the throne of your heart. Jesus. Watch Him crush that slithering snake’s head before your eyes.

As I stand in this place with a baseball bat still hanging from my right hand, something tightens around my neck. It’s a thick chain that you may have seen a dog tied up with. The mirrors are gone, but now this is closing around my neck and pulling me back. I can’t yell and am losing the ability to even breathe. My nails dig into my skin as I try to loosen the hold on me, but I’m not strong enough. Suddenly I see Jesus standing before me. His eyes are wide and looking into mine. As if talking to a spooked child he gently steps toward me and says, “Put your hands down and let me take it off you.” I relent, and He pulls the chain up and over my head with ease. I can breathe again and I have my voice back. Jesus says, “This chain was shame.”

Shame. It chokes the life out of us. It keeps us silent. Shame holds back confession and stagnates change. It quiets a song and extinguishes a warrior’s battle cry. We were created for open fields with hair flowing in the wind. We were created to dance, laugh, love, scream just because we’re happy, run, skip, climb mountains, do the things, enjoy life with God, enjoy life with people, follow God’s wildest dreams, walk in His power and love. This is the garden that we can return to with Papa God through Christ.

I believe the Lord gave me this vision to identify some strongholds hindering the church in this season. Self-image and the fear of man, along with shame. It could look really glittery and religious. In fact it typically is. Jesus called them a “brood of vipers” when they tried to tape good fruit on their rotten trees. He’s after that heart transformation, that freedom from the inside out. But religion also institutes self-image and fear of man as well. It could look like a really bright and fine thing to quench the Spirit and trade in just an inch of your freedom in Christ to submit to the religious norms around you. Like conforming your appearance, your behavior, your words, and dreams to the degree of what’s acceptable by those around you, to the patterns of this world, is really the ‘right’ thing to do. Maybe it is. But maybe it isn’t. And maybe God is wanting you to let Him break through with freedom and release you into a greater revelation of the knowledge of Jesus Christ. No need to fear whatever mirrors surround you. Holy Spirit is with us, empowering us to walk out the fulness of intimacy with God. Maybe He’s offering you a baseball bat today and releasing you to smash some mirrors or empower someone else to smash theirs. Ask Him. Jesus is so present, so willing to take your shame and give you His inheritance. The First born inheritance is no joke, ya’ll! Let’s press in to God and go after walking out the full inheritance package Christ died for us to have. We don’t worship a dead god, no! Jesus is ALIVE. The tomb was empty. We need to quit looking for Jesus at the grave. He’s not there. Life. Life. He came for life. Let’s embrace it. Let’s embrace Papa God, Jesus, Holy Spirit- three in one. Talk to Him about all things. There’s so much He has for you, you only need to look up.


“No more livin’ for the culture, we nobody’s slave”

The Redeemed Tragedy of the Cellist

From side to side she sweeps her bow across the strings. Eyes closed, lips pressed, shoulders hunched forward, and body pulled with the vibrant tug of the melody. She is gripped by the music. Lost, and yet utterly found. This is her place. Here in this creative space, pouring into her cello words that could never be spoken and emotions that language can’t express. The conductor silently swings his baton in precise angular movements, directing the orchestra to surround her song. Together the symphony builds and builds into a beautiful crescendo as the remaining strings take over. Leaning back in a moment of reprieve, she grips her bow and rests it against her right leg. She gulps down the air with steadied, deep breaths as she waits for the moment the entire concerto was written upon. Her moment. The climax, her solo, at the beginning of the final movement. So much history is here in this exact solo for her, so much pain, but there is no time to dwell. She pushes it all behind her and commands her entire being to focus on each individual breath while waiting, listening to the rest of the orchestra build a tower of notes meant for her to jump from. She waits. Suddenly with one sharp swing, the conductor waves his baton and she explodes into motions. Gently holding her bow like a feather as she violently brushes it across her cello, a sound so furious, yet captivating bursts into the atmosphere. Her fingers move fiercely up and down the fingerboard in a dance only she could perform. She has never been more free, never been more vulnerable than here in this place of pouring her whole heart into her cello. So beautiful, so lovely. She becomes the music. The orchestra jumps in and together they create a vigorous symphony movement that captures the entire room. Everyone is touched as she moves as one with her cello. And then so abruptly, you’d thought you had imagined it, her beautiful performance cuts off as strings rip off her bow. The conductor calmly silences the orchestra with a wave of his hands. She professionally addresses the audience with grace, explaining that she will quickly go change the broken strings on her bow and return to finish the movement. With a small bow she smiles and turns to head to the back stage.

Did that truly just happen?
The crowd instantly murmurs.

An announcer speaks over the intercom assuring the room that the orchestra will continue the final movement shortly. Whispers coat the air and the sound of instrumentalists resting their instruments pierce the silence. Everyone waits for her, the star of the show, the star that failed during her most crucial performance. And as if this wasn’t enough, the announcer informs everyone that this is the second time she has broken the strings during this exact same movement in this exact same concerto.

How could this be? Failing so drastically, t w i c e ?

Could she have watered down her performance more so that the strings on her bow stayed intact? Put less emotion in her music to save herself from making the same mistake twice? Was this even a mistake of her own doing, or was it merely a product of bad circumstances lining up like rocks for her to stumble over? So many questions flooded her brain as she swiftly walked behind the stage to her dressing room where she began to efficiently restore the strings on her bow. Eyes followed her exit like darts aimed at a target. Putting all of her internal questions aside, she moved, falling at ease into a routine she knew well. Replacing the strings was one of the first lessons she had learned.

It was part of the art.
A part of the process in continuing to move forward; a process of building and pausing, running and resting.

How challenging it is to reveal this process publicly. Failing for all to see. Especially amidst such a prestigious, black and white crowd with no room for grey areas.

The first time this happened to her she could hardly bear the humiliation. There in the heat of the symphony’s final movement, her passionate creative expression came to a halt as strings ripped from her bow. The failure sucked the breath from her lungs. She knocked over her music stand as she quickly arose to change the strings, clumsily tripping over the hem of her dress while running back stage. She refused the offers of help from back stage employees turning pitying glances her way. That time, she cried silently as she replaced the strings aggressively. Scraping tears away she returned to finish the concerto all mind and no heart. Pouring out of her heart simply wasn’t worth the risk anymore.

After the concert, she remained in her chair bewildered as her coworkers patted her on the back before exiting the room. She wept every night after that for weeks as she practiced the same movement over and over again until the callouses on her hands cracked. Even so she relentlessly pushed herself further still. One thought pounded through her veins.

She must redeem herself.

Make the wrong, right. This continued on an empty stage with just her and her cello every night at a local music hall for months. She practiced and practiced until one night, she pushed herself so hard that finally, she broke. Her fingers bled, and a cry ripped out of her heart. The failure of her performance weighed down on her more than ever before. Caught up in her self-torment the cello slid to the floor with a crash. Throughout her school years and her adult career, she spent the mass of her life striving to be the best cellist, the perfect performer. She sacrificed everything to be the perfect musician that she was today. And she succeeded. She became, one of the most talented, prestigious musicians of her time.

A rose among thorns.

But as she progressed fear of failure also grew along with her as a subtle thorn wrapping itself around her stem, slowly choking the life from her. In this practice session after her cello crashed down, she too allowed herself to slide from her chair and crumble like a cloth onto the ground. It was there in her desperation that another sound penetrated the rattle from all the arrows she threw at herself inside her mind.

A loving whisper, one of mercy and grace.

A voice from the One who gave it all so that she could have room to grow with Him again. He comforted her with His love, and clothed her with His grace. “My grace is sufficient for you.“, He said to her. It was enough, enough of a shock to revive her heart back into motion. Enough of truth to clear out the thorns and give her space to grow. Jesus can handle her failures, she need not fear them. If she allows herself to share in the sufferings of Christ, she will also attain the full resurrection with Him. She must press on. Not to attain perfection on earth, but to attain that which comes from a grace-filled life walking in the righteousness found only in Jesus. Becoming like Him. This awareness that, because of Jesus she was in right standing with God, stripped her from all forms of fear which had once gripped the wellspring of life within her. She wasn’t made to fail, but she had to give herself the freedom to do so if it meant she could grow.

And so, the show went on. This second time around she kept that revolutionary encounter on the center stage of her mind while she restored her bow and eloquently rushed back to the music hall’s center stage. The whispers were hushed but the stares continued. She could not care less. She was confident of one thing. Her right standing with God, and that was enough. Quickly tuning her cello, she nodded to the conductor and he motioned for the rest of the orchestra to begin a few measures prior to where they stopped before. Despite the large audience waiting with dismay before her and the eager orchestra surrounding her, she allowed herself to drift to that secret place once again. Suddenly she was back on that small dimly lit stage sitting upon a worn wooden chair with just her and her cello, only this time she knew Someone else knelt beside her as well. Awaiting the cue from the conductor, she gently hovered her bow near the strings of the cello and felt the pleasure from the One kneeling beside her brush away that nervous sweat that had been beading upon her brow. He wasn’t bothered by her mistakes. He loved to watch her passionately pour her all into this life with a heart abandoned, ever after Him alone. And so her moment came anew. Whether she failed a third time or a thousand, she would keep pressing on because she loved every bit of playing and wanted to let her music shine. To let her process shine the light of a gracious Savior. She closed her eyes and exhaled a breath she didn’t realize she was holding as music exploded once more from her hands. Release. A distant understanding lit like a match in her mind as she killed the vigorous final movement of the concerto so fearfully and wonderfully. She let go of everything in that moment, and yet so skillfully she played nonetheless. It was her many tries and fails that allowed her to do this very thing, to naturally overflow anointing from a place of letting go. Like an evergreen spruce tree she could remain bearing fruit and fragrance amidst the coldest of winters so long as her roots abided in Him. Living out of this secret space filled with grace to merely be and grow with her Beloved.

 “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.  I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:7-14 NIV

Norway

What words could capture the longest week of my life? Not even pictures would scratch the surface of the intensity that is moving a family across the world. Still I shall attempt.

Last Monday feels like an eternity ago. My life in America like a dream I just awoke from. And it’s only been five days since our second plane to fly on that day left American soil. From the moment we arrived at the first airport, the wrong one at that, life has been on fast forward. The little moments were baby steps to get us to the next, the goal being…Norway. That goal made the challenges seem smaller and the chaos feel peaceful. If the Lord was calling us to Norway, then we knew we would make it. As our small plane from London to Norway broke through the clouds in descent, my son was giddy whilst beholding the blanket of white across the mountainous land. I’d never seen him so thrilled. Watching him in that moment, I knew something big changed in our family.

I can’t quite put my finger on the shift. Each of us have transformed into a more brighter version of ourselves. Brenner and I, less anxious and stressed. Isabelle, more independent and tranquil. Lazarus, completely overflowing with joy in every moment. Lazarus being our biggest example of this transformation. Before we left the States, Laz was happy and funny. He was relational and smart. But as Laz ran down that staircase out of the plane and jumped into the first pile of snow he could find, something broke off of him. He became free in a way he never had been. And we let him. He is where God has called him to be in this moment. This newfound freedom we each have is what soul rest is; unlike any we’ve experienced.

Of course, we have felt this rest before with in the cracks of time spent wrecked in the Lord. We’ve experienced moments of rest, sometimes hours or days. But this soul rest is new. There’s something extraordinary that happens when you obey the Lord’s call. Is it a releasing or a grasping? Maybe it’s both. All I know is, by dying to myself completely and living my life for the adventure that is Jesus, I have entered some new territory within my heart that I can’t go back from. And it isn’t so much the place, as it is the promise. Though of course this country is beautiful, breathtaking, really. The promise that God is faithful to complete what He began in me (Phil. 1:6); He has plans for me that are good, to prosper me and give me hope for a future. And even greater than myself, that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. He loves the whole world. Fully loving me and also not only me. Yet still He’s willing to partner with me to testify to the world a love that will move their hearts to believe. It’s the gospel, the good news; that though the world seems dark there is a greater work being done behind the scenes, a light so bright darkness has to flee. Jesus, the road that led us to Norway. Jesus, the truth that expels any lie. Jesus, the light that reigns in a season of night.

February 24th, 2019

The cold doesn’t cut us to the core anymore, the sun has pierced through the clouds, and the darkness is dissolving away. Four days here in Norway, and the peace of God upon us has proven for a fact that this is where we are meant to be. For now. So I say to you reader, be willing. And more than that, do the thing. Whatever that thing that God burns within you is…say, “yes”, take the plunge, go to the place, marry the person, foster the kid, support the ministry. Whatever it is, you know the whisper. You know the tug on your heart. Obey the call. Throw off the bushel over your flame and let your light so shine. Because my friend, there are good works that God has planned for you to do. Your works won’t get you into Heaven, that’s what Jesus did on the cross. However, your obedience to shine your light will show the world who Jesus is through you and maybe just maybe give someone that sees you an opportunity to choose to receive that light as well.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Matthew 5:16 KJV

Who am I? 

Our identity is everything. To get a job, to open a bank account, to drive a car, to travel, to marry, to go to school..literally everything in this world requires identification. What’s your name? What do you look like? Who are you? 

You know what you look like. You know your name. If someone asked you to describe yourself you could easily spew out the details without hesitation. 

I’m Lacey. I am just shy of five feet tall, twenty four years old, with blonde hair and green eyes. No one could convince me that I’m six feet tall because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am not. 

This equally applies in the spiritual realm. Do you want to move forward in your walk with Jesus? Do you want to take the big risks, step out on a limb to follow your dreams for Christ, and run the race set before you with endurance? You must know without a shadow of a doubt who you are in the kingdom of God. If you don’t know who you are then the moment that your identity is challenged by the enemy, you will own the lie that is spoken to you. Just like that your identity becomes twisted and warped by the velvet tongue of the devil. Losing your identity gives way for your assets to be stolen and your credibility stained. Believing lies about who we really are not only holds us back from walking out the holding God has over our life, but it keeps us from cultivating those deep and intimate relationships with God and with people- all of which Jesus died for us to have.

Let me give you an example of what a lost identity looks like.

I was five years old. My parent’s and I were having dinner over at our neighbor’s house. Nearly every time we were at their house my mom continuously scolded me for harassing their dog, but in my child’s mind I didn’t give her advice a second thought. This specific time was no different, and yet wasn’t it so? The adults were talking in the living room while I repeatedly sought out the dog. My intentions were purely honorable, of course, as I simply wanted to love on her- obnoxiously- the way most kids do.


My very first physically traumatic experience enters center stage.

I walked down the dim hallway towards the large Dalmatian, “Lady”. Lady was sitting with her back towards me. Without warning I ran to her and flung my five year old self onto her with a big bear hug. There was an instantaneous bite. The large dog defensively snapped her teeth at me in bewilderment. Just a simple, “back off” move in the dog world, and yet somehow I found that my entire tiny face was trapped within her jaws. It happened so fast. And then the screaming ensued. Oddly enough I do not remember the pain as much as I remember the look on everyone’s face as the beheld the wounds all over my face. I felt ruined. There was so much blood everywhere, I remember that too. And the sheer panic in my parent’s voices as we sprinted out of the house, ignoring the shocked faces, and piled into my dad’s single cab grey pickup. Once we speedily arrived at the nearest hospital, my mom lifted me up out of the front seat and gasped at what she found. Not only was my face near shredded, but I had a gaping hole between my neck and my chin. The pain eased as shock took over and we waited to be seen by a plastic surgeon. I remember my mom made a point to keep me from looking at any mirrors or windows that we bypassed. Yet still as we moved into a new room, I managed to catch my reflection in one. Terrified of my own face would be an understatement. For the first time in my short life, I can recall feeling truly hideous. My identity was captured as shame and insecurity entered into my heart. Thirty-two stitches and a traumatic surgery without anesthesia later, and it was over. But the soul wound remained and shaped who I began believed I was.

Fast forward to a several months and one birthday later, six year old Lacey’s wounds healed and life went on. I loved school but soon found that I really struggled with reading. It took me longer than it took the other kids. So my mom would work with me after school every night. I’d come home from school, sit in my dad’s recliner with the small booklet of short words, try with all my might to read, and just cry. I didn’t have any progress at all. I felt in adequate, like there was something wrong with me. It was tough on a little five year old’s heart who just couldn’t get it.

And then out of no where on one seemingly normal day, a miracle happened. My parents were playing in my room with me, and amidst the playing I picked up a Bible that was sitting within the jumble of toys on the floor with us. I looked at the first sentence and I simply began to read:


In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:1

Even now I can still hear the way my sweet kid voice sounded as I spoke the Word of God with such clarity. I can still remember the way my heart beat out of my chest as I read my first sentence. And I can still see the look on my parents face as they saw me witness my first miracle. In that brief moment following, the hum of silence in the air was electric with awe. It was in that pocket of silence, before my parents flipped their lids with excitement, that I remember hearing God’s voice for the first time. He whispered to me,

Lacey, you are special.

Merely writing out the one word, special, doesn’t quite capture all that God said to me in those four words. Yet my brain can’t quite describe the heavenly encounter so well in human words. When God whispered that to me, I felt more than a thousand affectionate words from Him. Special meant beautiful, it meant I had a purpose, and it meant warm. I didn’t know much about God then, but I knew He was real, that He loved me, and that He’d chosen me. At the very beginning of my life the enemy attempted to steal my identity, kill my confidence, and send me down a path of destruction, and yet in the wake of such attempted tragedy God spoke my true identity in Christ over me. How sweet is that? He does this for all of us- this light in the darkness, also known as the Man named Jesus in whom all truth resides; we only need to have eyes to see and ears to hear.

“and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Matthew 3:17 ESV

Brothers and sisters in Yeshua Jesus the Messiah, receive that identity affirmation from your Heavenly Father today.

Check out my new cover of a worship song that’s ALL ABOUT our new identity in Christ!

Forward We Go

I think it would be an injustice to write on as if two months without any words written from me hadn’t just drifted by like a snowless winter wind. I’ve had the worst kind of writer’s block. And not simply just the sort that keeps you from writing blogs, but even the small tasks of responding to text messages and social media posts have all felt so taxing. Writer’s block is such a mind thing. Which is exactly what I’ve been experiencing. My brain has been so overwhelmed with todo’s and present jobs, opportunities and future ‘need done’s’. And don’t get me started on the heart hauntings of the past. Overwhelmed is an understatement. I have had my artwork to help me process through it all, but my words and my speech lacked the outlet. Outward communication, other than art, has been difficult if not nonexistent. Yet still the Lord has been at work internally-mending and breaking. Mending the old and new soul tears, and breaking off the fears and lies crippling within. The process of sanctification goes on without the standard of outward success one might think. Christ never stopped moving in me just because I felt like I was at a stalemate outwardly. So here and now, I am able to continue on at a spot that isn’t just picking up where I left off but is fully a forward place of newness and mystery. I was never stagnant though I felt it. And that my friends is the beauty of the walk of faith. With Christ, we are not subject to our feelings; we are not prisoners to our own emotions. We are free to feel, free to be still. We are free. And how amazing is it that the times of being still are not even still at all, but are moving us forward with leaps and bounds in every sense. Every breath, every step is progress. It’s all forward movement walking with Christ.

Yesterday an old friend sent my husband and I a picture of us six years ago. Our outward change is clearly evident, but the inward progress from then to now is what would really take your breath away. In the passed six fleeting years, we have been set free from drug abuse, addictions, and immoral living. We have experienced much death and yet also seen new life born. We’ve moved to new cities and moved into new places. We entered into a covenant of marriage with us and the Lord, had children, and started our family ministry as a party of four. All has been progressive, but the heart change has been the most miraculous of all. Christ made His home in our hearts and so much remodeling has occurred. To me, that is to be celebrated above all. The truth of resurrection. The truth of being a co-heir with Christ. The truth that Jesus meant what He said when He promised He would leave us with a helper,His Holy Spirit. That is the evidence of our faith- that Christ would complete the good work He began in us. This is our hope, this is our confidence-Christ in us, the hope of glory! My number one goal for this new year is to remember and stand tall on top of that basic foundation of my faith, Christ’s resurrection power in me.

And so, here we have arrived at yet another year. 2019, the year of our Lord Jesus Christ. And won’t it truly be the year of our Lord? Across the board people are saying, “yes”, to the commission from Christ. Chains are breaking off, relationships are being restored- Salvation is here. Will you jump? Will you take the plunge into the mystery? This year will be a switching from the defense to the offense, a rising up from the timid to the bold in Christ. We, the saints, are stepping into a fearlessness like never before. We are taking new ground and crushing the serpent’s head with a new fierceness, new authority in Christ. Therefore surrender your will, surrender your self, and be willing to be uncomfortable. I sense that 2019 will be a year of miracles and divine power revealed through the saints like this generation has never seen with their own eyes. And through the saints’ obedience of stepping out in faith, there will be a heatwave that rolls across the planet and thaws the cold hearts of man. Open your eyes to see the Spirit move and open your ears to hear His call.

“For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said:
Today, if you will hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion
.’”

Hebrews 3:14-15 NKJV

Cling

The words escape my mind as steam from a hot shower evaporates on a cold winter’s day. Eloquent descriptions of what I view in my day to day appear in my thoughts like a blinking cursor waiting to be moved onward, a pen itching in my hand to be scratched upon paper, and yet the mere thought of acting upon the notion feels so weighty. One second I’m encouraging myself to journal the passing moment’s events, and the next I am resting nose deep within pages of a book. The presence of unwritten words hastily fleeting, yet the ghost of their absence lingering on my skin like a cold sweat. More. Do More.

Even merely describing this inner struggle feels so taxing. Maybe I’ve moved into a new season. Maybe writing has become a different extremity on my body; no longer legs holding me up, but fingers processing the touch and feel of what’s in front of me. Painting has become my release, my brain’s jigsaw puzzle of putting together the pieces of my life-my inhale with Jesus. I don’t know fine artistic technique. I can name historically famous painters on one hand. My artisan knowledge is minimal and maybe that is exactly why I can relax as beauty explodes from my finger tips. I can sit in silence and enjoy the hum of quiet whilst my own naivety births ingenuity.  There are no voices in my head criticizing my every brush stroke, because I know nothing except what I am doing in that moment. Pure innocence, purely child-like, pure faith if you think about it. Untainted by insecurity because there is no degree of comparison. There is no need to be the best, no pressure to get my viewers to love what they see, or even to relate- just pure product of self. Purity. It’s not always beautiful. I often hate what I see and, to my own dismay, I will paint over it or throw it out. But even that doesn’t discourage my creativity, because there is more paper, more canvas, and more paint. I can try again. Though many bumper stickers state it, that isn’t something we often believe. In contrast, we feel like we have this one chance to make it big or one moment to get it right. Failure or rejection in the face of that perfection ruins us. We have an exceeding amount of judgement for ourselves-and others- and yet very little grace. We’re drowning whilst delusional in thinking we are climbing our ladders to the American Dream. Stepping on the faces of those scrambling up with us, money clenched within our fists while elbowing anyone that gets in our way. Upward we climb for success. Success. Success. Success. Outwardly moving forward as a people, all the while inwardly shriveling up like a moth flying too close to a flame. It is a brutal, destructive way of living. If you can even call it life. What does Jesus call life?

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 14:6 NIV

Jesus is the ladder up to the success we’re after which is, relationship with the Father. Jesus is the abundant life we seek. He’s the beginning and the end. The answer to our questions. The answer to our problems. And He wants to do life with us. He wants more than a one hour prayer time slot with us. He wants us to walk with Him, to let Him walk with us. This is more than being a robot programmed to obey God, it’s more than a possession of spirit, this is relationship. The closer to God I get the more aware of my own humanity I become, the more evident it is that relationship is truly what it is all about. Jesus came to give us access to the Father. That is what the goal of salvation is. Relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ is the abundant life, the blessed life we’re after. From that river we can spring outward to reach a parched humanity.

Abba is our deep breath. Abba is our rest. In Deuteronomy 30, God tells us that He gives us a choice every day: life or death, blessing or curse. The choice is ours.

therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 NKJV

I always believed that naivety was a downfall. Now I’m not so sure. There are many scriptures to support that Godly wisdom is a good thing-something to be desired more than the finest gold. I’m not countering that. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Where can we obtain it?Not found in books or speeches, no, this wisdom is found in the purity of an embrace. There is purity in not knowing who, what, when, where, why, or how. There is purity in the mystery; purity in contentment. There is purity in clinging to God and allowing His gentle yoke to teach you His ways.

Do you have children? If so, then like me, you have seen a new facet to the word ‘cling’. Both my son and daughter cling to me many times a day. However, my favorite moments are when they come to me with arms opened wide, I sweep them up into my arms, and they go fully limp against my chest as they cling to me in a warm embrace. This is what the Father desires from us. To run to Him with outstretched arms, to release a sigh as we rest our head upon His chest, listening to His heart beat while He holds us in His arms. This is vulnerable. It takes courage to let it all go in a shuttering exhale and find something new in the rest.  Still it is here, this warm embrace with Him, where life resides. It is here that I find myself, in His arms; with no expectations, only love. That love is what moves my hand in carefree strokes across a canvas. It’s what drives me to type these words despite my desire to read the next chapter in my book. You see, I must tell you about the love of the Father. The love that brings life from death. The love that moves mountains, and heals diseases. This love is more; therefore, we do not have to be. Hear His whisper to you now..

Stop your striving, child, just be.

 Enjoy the milk and honey found in His arms as He walks you through life. His goodness will move you to be like Him. Cling to the Father and breathe. 

Open your Hands

Like a knife slicing through butter, I stepped out of my house and into the crisp yet somehow damp with humidity morning. It’s not abnormal for Texas to provide such paradoxical weather. I clomped over to my car door and noticed a butterfly perched on the handle with outstretched wings. Instinctively I froze and gently eased my hand in front of the butterfly. It slowly placed one spindly leg after onto my hand. Time seemed to pause as I held the butterfly in the palm of my hand. Every now and then the little guy (maybe girl?) would flutter its wings as it explored the newfound territory. I tried to put him on a nearby shrub. but he was quite content to sit on my hand. The moment was so beautiful. Still I was itching to grab my phone out of the purse slung on my arm to catch a picture. At the same time I didn’t want to scare off the butterfly with my movements. I forced myself to wait and be in the moment. Yet the ridiculous internal battle raged on. After several agonizing minutes, I slowly maneuvered my other arm and pulled out my phone for the picture. As I looked through my phone’s screen and readied myself to take the photo, the butterfly fluttered away.

Of course there was a lesson to be learned in this for me. As I watched the butterfly float away on the thick air, I immediately heard the tender whisper from Abba, Father, “Don’t be distracted with holding onto things- I will provide more tomorrow.” My desire to take a picture of the beauty in my hands was birthed out of my want to hold on to the moment for longer than the fleeting minutes I thought it would be. I knew the butterfly would not stay there forever, and I wanted to keep the moment. I wanted to show my kids, show my friends, maybe even put a pretty quote on it and feature it in a blog. Whatever my good intentions were, the thoughts of physically hanging on to this beautiful encounter were distracting me from the moment itself. And not only that,  but my obsession put a damper on the beauty of the fleeting gift that the visit from the butterfly was. You see the gifts, the moments, the people, the material possessions, part of what makes them so special is that they are momentary. From a macro level of viewing this in my own life, I will not be on this earth forever. One day this body will die and become new with Jesus. In the grand scheme of eternity, my time here is short. Therefore I want to run as fast as I can in pursuit of my forerunner Jesus. Even if it means falling and scraping my knees. By grace, I rise and press on. Following every God-given dream, saying, “Yes”, to every calling, and passionately utilizing ever gift planted by the Lord within my soul. I want to love deeply out of the wellspring of love crashing into me from the Lord. To bring Him glory from my surrender, to make Him known through my life. His voice guides me on, “Come, child.”

If you are new to my blog, then you don’t know that my family is planning to become full-time missionaries and are moving to Norway in March, God-willing. There are so many baby steps to even getting the change to take this giant leap of faith. There is a daily surrendering to the Lord’s ability to accomplish the task of provision and endurance for us to get there. And despite the challenge, it has been amazing for our family. Our faith is swelling, our flame burning bright, and our family is becoming closer to God and one another than I thought possible. Yesterday started out so well, and then something in me shifted. Granted, being on the phone with an internet company for an hour and a half to troubleshoot a work issue probably played a role in my mood. But regardless, a heaviness began to fall on me. I knew why the entire time but I fought it. I had just had a crazy intensely miraculous week. Every day was full of stretching and miraculous provision. So much good. And still, I was tired. “Rest, child“, the Lord whispered to me over and over again. I fought it. I was frustrated with my relationships for a list of conjured up reasons, angry that my voice was hoarse and I couldn’t even sing to worship my way out. I was tired. I was desperately hanging on to every thing but the Lord. I cleaned my house and posted pictures of my couch on the internet to be sold for our missions fund. Not long afterwards my kids asked to build a tent, and I obliged. I began to rearrange the very furniture that we planned to sell in my living room and I built the coolest blanket fort around. In that action, I even thought to myself that I would miss having the furniture that our family had made so many memories with. As any parent probably knows, the next request from my children came as no surprise, “Come hang out in our tent with us, Mommy!” Isn’t is so like our children to cry out to us the very things our souls cry out to the Lord? I crawled inside the plush fortress like a swaddled giant and at last the Lord beautifully wrecked me. Wrecked my walls, anyways. “Open your hands“, Abba whispered.

Surrender the plans, the future, the giftings, the possessions, the people. Surrender the moments. Surrender my life. Every day the Lord wants me to have open palms. This is the same posture that allowed a beautiful butterfly to rest on my hand. Open palms to release what I have already obtained and to receive new, fresh manna. Not to grip on to things so hard that I have no room for newness. God wants you and I to live with open palms to constantly receive His fullness, His beauty, His goodness. We cannot create eternity, it has already been written on our hearts. We need only to lean into Him, giving up ourselves, trusting that He is enough, and receiving all that He has for us. So open up your hands today. Give up your life. Give the Lord your good and your bad. Trust that He will provide you more. He is a good Dad.