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”

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

Message of Ashes

Your feelings of impurity, humiliation, filth and worthlessness are all ashes that Jesus died for. He died to trade the ashes of your past, present and future in exchange for His radiant beauty.

I have sang the sweet words “beauty for ashes” in worship many times. I have prayed those words over people crying out to God for deliverance, “trade your ashes for Christ’s beauty!!” I’ve prayed that great exchange from Jesus to myself many times. But today it was as if the words became a little more tangible; the Word of God cut into my bones a little deeper.

This morning I was reading about burnt offerings in Leviticus. The priest would perform the offering and then take the ashes of the burnt offering out of the camp (Leviticus 6:11). There was no reason why this stuck out to me, except that the Holy Spirit wanted to teach me something. I tried to read on, but the word ‘ashes’ became a ringing bell in my head. Therefore I proceeded to use my favorite biblical study tool, a concordance (through biblehub.com) and look up the root meaning of ‘ashes’. As I read that this specific Hebrew word, דָּ֫שֶׁן or deshen, means ‘fatness, ashes of fat, abundance’, I wondered if the same version of the word was used in the ‘beauty for ashes’ scripture I knew and loved:

To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”” (Isaiah‬ ‭61:3‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

To my amazement, the word for ‘ashes’ in the Isaiah passage was different from the Leviticus one. ‘Ashes’ used here in Isaiah 61 is אֵ֫פֶר or epher, and it is used in several other scriptures meaning: ashes of the red heifer which was an offering for purification, ashes put on the head as a sign of humiliation, ashes representing contrition (self-reproach, repentance), ashes for mourning, ashes meaning filthy or loathsome, ashes meaning worthlessness, sorrow and distress (all taken from Brown-Driver-Briggs). Wow, isn’t that powerful? These are the ashes Jesus wants us to give up to Him so that He can exchange them for His beauty, the beauty of the Bridegroom! Your feelings of impurity, humiliation, filth and worthlessness are all ashes Jesus died for. He died to trade the ashes of your past, present and future in exchange for His radiant beauty. That’s astounding. That kind of pure love makes no sense to the human mind, but it doesn’t have to because God just is who He is and does what He does despite our level of understanding.

I very briefly studied out this message of ashes before going about my day. Around mid-afternoon I found myself in a situation where my past sins and mistakes were being kind of..rubbed in my nose. A conversation that was intended to be redemptive, forgiving and freeing, had felt shaming, accusatory and enslaving. A list of mistakes I made (4 years ago and very early in my walk with Christ) were being thrown at me in detail and it hurt to revisit those dark places in my life. I could literally feel the spiritual cuffs of my past being clicked onto my wrists and ankles and could hear the enemy’s excitement that he had captured me again…but God.

God wouldn’t have any of that, no sir. He caught me as my mind tumbled into that pit and He fought His way out with me in His arms. After much prayer, repentance and seeking His counsel, I saw the situation for what it really was: An invitation from Jesus to trade my buried, old ashes for His fresh and new beauty. Jesus wants to be the king of my entire heart..not just some of it. Even the most dark and infected spaces within me-especially those places. The devil wanted this conversation to harm me, but God used it to take me back into that sinful time in my life and totally annihilate that darkness with His glory light! His light always overcomes the darkness (John 1:5). Instead of wearing those past sins and allowing shame and regret to control my mind in that moment, I allowed Jesus to take those ashes of humiliation and give me His beauty-His grace, His mercy, His love, His peace. These are the things I am called to meditate on. Not who I was then, but who I am now in Christ Jesus! Today is the day of salvation and today I am sold out for Jesus. God is renewing me into the image of His perfect Son, Jesus. I’m not perfect, but God is and He will complete the good work in me that He started.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6 NLT)

Ask God if there are any ashes you are still wearing on your head in humiliation or despair from past regrets or present mistakes. If you’re feeling worthless, shamed, impure, or filthy there is an invitation from Jesus to you. An invitation to trade all of that pain and heartache for His beauty and resurrection which can be received through accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior and surrendering all of yourself to Him!

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews‬ ‭12:1-2‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)