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”

I met Peace

Sometimes my life feels so normal and other times, times like today my family’s path becomes so narrow that I can feel the branches on either side of us scratching my arms as we squeeze through. Always fixing our eyes ahead, though. Pressing onward to the light that we can see shining at the end. Reminding ourselves that the open space is sure to come soon. For the joy set before us, we endure.

Earlier I logged on to social media to message family about an urgent prayer request for my husband. We are a family in overseas Christian ministry, and my husband is currently on his first solo trip in a nation in the Middle East. I typed the brief request on my laptop, partially hoping for some sort of quick response to ease my nerves, yet to no avail. And so I began mindlessly scrolling through my news feed simply attempting to not think for a few seconds; mind wandering as the words and images blurred upon the screen. Meanwhile my children continued to talk across their beds to each other in the other room despite me having already visited them four times asking them to be quiet and go to sleep. The kids and I have to catch an early train in the morning to get to the airport, meet my husband there after he flies back from his trip and then we will all fly together to stay in another country for a few weeks. Before January we had never left our home country, and now by the end of 2019 we will have been to thirteen nations, traveling and sharing the gospel of the kingdom. Whoa. That’s wild. I can hardly grasp it myself. A lot.

Peace. Come in with Your peace, Daddy.

Facebook will never meet that requirement for me. Nor chocolate. Or my favorite Scandinavian pastries. And neither can people, honestly. They can encourage us and usher in the Lord’s presence who in return will bring peace. But there’s a Divine flow that can only drench us fully when it comes straight from the Source. The River of Life.
So I sat, waiting. And He came. I knew He would. I thrusted my cares on to Him, knowing that Jesus endlessly cares for me. And His peace washed over me like cool water on a warm day.
For several months now I have been intentionally practicing living in the peace of God. This mission hasn’t been an easy one. I’ve basically offered myself up to be refined and purified. Willingly choosing to become more aware of how much time I spend outside of the pool of peace that was always meant to be my inheritance in Christ. A life without peace becomes so noticeable once you begin actively pursuing the real thing. And that’s what I had, a life without peace. Of course there were countless moments of peace that came and went, but the moment adversity arose I was panicked and desperate.

Help me, Lord. I’m sinking!

I am full of faith. I can walk out on to the water with no hesitation. The moment God calls me to something I jump, “Here I am, send me!”, taking the huge leaps of faith with little flinching. But without the peace of God over me, suddenly the waves would begin to lick my ankles, a panic would rise from my gut to my throat and before I knew it I would begin to sink.

Help me, Lord. I’m sinking!

Moving forward in bold faith with peace that came and went looked like frequent stops atop the sea in order to be lifted out of sinking waters by Merciful Hands. With that I am learning that faith and peace are not the same.

Chaos. Anxiety. Stress. Overwhelmed. These are big words that no one wants to identify with but many are caught up within the endless rotation nonetheless. These are senses of reality that I, now, consistently rely upon the Holy Spirit to not realign with. I am witnessing firsthand that it is possible, to live within the peace of God. This year has been one of overcoming. My greatest fears and challenges have taken place, and within the fire there has been another One standing with my family and I. Jesus has never left our side. He has been glorified through every ounce of victory we’ve had in the trials. Yet I realized that even overcoming all of these crazy, radical things did not organically cultivate a life of peace. Peace was an inheritance I still had a choice to steadfastly claim or not.

All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
And great shall be the peace of your children.

Isaiah 54:13 NKJV

This mission of peace was kickstarted one day when I heard the Lord tell me to consistently pray that scripture over my children. God knows us so well. He knew I would truly receive it if the revelation came through parenting. So I started praying claiming that peace would be my children’s inheritance. Being a missionary child is not your typical childhood. My husband and I’s prayer has been that throughout all of the changes in our journey as a family, the peace of God will remain constant over us. But I didn’t notice until I kept praying and attempting to force peaceful behavior, that I was never really taught by love to receive this peace inheritance from the Lord myself. How then could I possibly train my two under-5-year-olds to live in the peace of God? This was something I needed first. Something I truly longed for. And so I merely asked.

I want to dwell in Your house forever, God. Give me Your peace.

He’s a good Dad, He gives good gifts. Peace is a part of my inheritance in Christ and I claim that over myself. Before long, in the midst of our multiple travels I noticed that long-lived knots began to work out of chest. Thought patterns were molded and transformed in truth. Peace became a Person that I was in relationship with daily, and He also goes by the name, Jesus. Something wild happens when you begin to actually get to know God. As you talk with Him and discover more about about Him, your heart begins to expand with a love unfathomable and your mind renews with a freedom unattainable in your own strength. He is just that good.

My husband has been gone for four days now on this incredible, miraculous trip seeing God move in a new way in a nation that will effect the world. While he has been away, I have had to slow down my pace of life to be able to thrive with my kids. The change of pace has brought rest and also revelation to my life. Living in the peace of God doesn’t mean adversity stops, it just means you have a fortress to live inside regardless of what comes your way. Changing up the kids’ routine by not having their daddy around was a bit of a frenzy those first few days. We fought to remain in peace. Monday rolled around and I dropped the ball in maintaining the peace in our household. Getting them dressed, fed and dropped off at school was rushed because I needed to also lead worship that morning. And my hastiness choked out peace for myself and my son. He refused to be dropped off at school. Screaming and clinging to me when I tried to leave, fighting off his teachers, and completely not acting like himself. I knew I shouldn’t leave him, but I was so upset without fully understanding why. I tearfully put his snowsuit back on and stomped back over with him to our house. In the absence of peace, stress created anger. He was upset. I was upset. I quietly let frustrated tears slide down my cheeks as we sat down on the floor of my kids’ bedroom. I had no clue where to go from there.
Then the Lord drew near, put His lips to my ear, and whispered to me, reminding me of His peace.

Oh right. I’ve been living outside of it again.

I repented for projecting my stress onto my kids and eventually letting anger flood my actions. Following that, revelation swept in. Instead of leading worship for our community, I had an opportunity exceedingly more important in that moment. I excitedly ran to get my computer, returned to his room, and put on some soaking instrumental worship music. I began leading myself and my son into the presence of God. He sat in my lap for a few minutes and we both were still as we let the instruments wash over us while listening to the voice of God. I encouraged my son to ask God if there was anything God wanted to say to him. Fifteen or twenty minutes of quiet worship and little words spoken went by while my son periodically moved about the room, laying down, sitting up, and playing with toys here and there. My son was lying on his belly, rolling his sapphire blue marble across the floor when he said,

“He told me that I need to get peace and then I can go to school today.”

Whoa.

“God told you that?”, I asked while holding my breath. “Yeah.”, he said with a smirk and shrug of his shoulders.

My heart exploded. The reality of that scripture I had been praying over my children was occuring before my eyes (ref. Isaiah 54:13). My children are taught by the Lord and great is their peace. My four year old not only hears God’s voice, but he chooses to live in God’s peace. Not by my control or manipulation, but out of my willingness to provide space for the choice of peace to be made. We laughed and talked for a while; so full of gratitude for the Lord coming in that room, the Prince of Peace Himself coming to meet us in our mess. Afterwards my son felt the peace of God and wanted to return to school. We walked back and attempted to drop him off again. This time I took my time with him. Soaking in every moment that I had rushed through the first time. And the day went on, not ruined by one moment of things not going my way which ultimately resulted in me choosing to sin. I chose peace, and the man Himself came in glory not only for me but for my child. He is just that good. I’m excited to continue on this journey of getting to know God and make Him known.

Things will not always go my way. Like Peter, I’ve given Jesus permission to call me out on to the water with Him. And He responded. He has called me to be with Him, to be like Him. I’m out on the water with Jesus. Sometimes the waves will reach my waist, sometimes the wind will toss me off my balance. Adversity will come. I’m not asking for it, but I know that if I share in the sufferings of Christ then I have a solid hope that I will attain to the fulness of His resurrection as well. To fully know Christ, and glorify Him to the nations. He is Jehovah Shalom. The Lord my Peace.