Don’t Retreat!

It is short. It is sweet. The message I sense the Lord has put on my heart for the church today is:

Don’t retreat!


The world is very united in its suffering right now. Every nation is affected by this virus and every person experiencing the consequences of its spreading in one way or another. Here in Norway we have been under a national quarantine for about sixteen days now. As I wrote in my previous entry, All that is shaken, the virus suddenly changed everything about this season of life for my family and I all in one weekend. The impact hit the hardest that first week of quarantine. Yet as the days marched on without restraint, everything settled into the stillness of my Rock and Refuge whom had never left my side. I began asking God, “What are You doing in the world, and how can I join you?”. This took my eyes off myself and the immediate situation before me, lifting them instead to the One seated on the throne higher than it all. There was this endlessly rich sort of rest that He was calling me and many others into. It’s the kind of rest the quiets your soul while simultaneously awakening your spirit into action. This revelation came as I read through Hebrews 4. A perpetual state of rest, that we should’ve already been living in. In this rest you not only receive, but you have a burning inclination to give. It is here that you find a love that can’t be contained. A love that hits your core so deep and spews out like a geyser hitting the sky. This is the yoke Jesus offers to trade us for in Matthew 11:28. And from the outside, this kind of love looks a lot like raising a flag while running to the front lines of battle. This kind of love activates you. But only if you believe it.

So today, if you hear the voice of God, will you harden your hearts?

The enemy seeks to kill, steal and destroy. But Jesus, the man and express image of God, He came to give us life and life abundantly (John 10:10). We can easily get this twisted and completely pervert our view on the character and nature of God. When the foundation is on unsteady ground, the whole house is unsteady. We need to know who God is, and then we will want to make Him known. Because He is just that good.

I sense the Lord is raising up heroes in the faith. Men and women of valor who have hidden themselves in the shelter of the Most High, and yet are shining so brightly that the whole world can see. They are rooted and established in the love of Christ, and still they will risk it all to carry that love to ends of the earth. They mourn with those who mourn, all while the joy of the Lord bubbles up and strengthens them within. They still themselves when they must be still and yet their lamps do not go out at night. They rest and yet they fight with weapons not of this world.

As I prayed into this, I saw a picture of an American flag with blood dripping off the ends. I sensed from Holy Spirit that this was because the flag no longer flies stagnant on a pole in front of cement walls, but it is carried into battle. I believe the emphasis wasn’t solely on the U.S., but was a message for the church as a whole. The vision went on as I prayed. While many in the world began to retreat from the enemy’s advances, these mighty men and women of valor screamed to their evacuating brethren, “Don’t retreat!” The fear was tangible as thousands ran away from the frontlines of the battle. All the while these heroes in the faith raced forward, towards the front lines as they continued to plead those two words, “Don’t Retreat!” with their fellow countrymen. And if this is starting to sound like a scene from The Patriot that’s probably because Holy Spirit was inspiring relevancy through it. The men and women of valor grabbed their banner, Jehovah-Nissi The Lord-Our-Banner, and ran head on into the enemy’s advancements. As the fleeing soldiers saw the courage and tenacity, saw the Spirit in these heroes, they began to stop running away and turn to follow suit. They were weary, beaten down and close to defeat from fighting a losing battle and yet in that moment as they saw the faith driving their brethren, they chose to believe again. The moment that decision of belief was made, Jesus met them on the battlefield. I saw Jesus kneeling before the weary soldiers and washing the dirt off of their faces. Lord brought rest on the battle field simultaneously as they pressed on the front lines. Soon there were too many to count of the brethren hastening towards the enemy lines that there was no longer a distinction between hero and retreater but they were all one, spearheading the enemy together. And of course from there, we know the end of the story already.
We.
Won.
Read that again. And again. The battle was won. Not because of our own strength or for our own glory, but because of Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith. He is the FINISHER. Ya’ll! The gospel of Jesus Christ is the POWER of God unto salvation for EVERYONE who believes, to the Jew first and then the Greek (Romans 1:16).This is not blind faith, this is real, activated, nation-catalyzing faith!

During this time in history I charge you heroes to stir up the Spirit within and rise up in faith. You have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love and sound-mind (2 Timothy 1:6-7). I feel the Lord asking those of you who have begun to retreat to stop, turn around and pick up your Banner named The Lord. Repent and be refreshed as you believe in the Truth. We have been liberated that we might through love serve others (Galatians 5:13). We must unite not only in our sufferings, but in the reality that is our victory. Press in! For the joy set before Jesus, He endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the Father. This is the same One that we are following after. Raise the banner, rally the troops, and run into the frontlines; the Way has already been made. God has equipped His children for such a time as this because it is to the GLORY of the Lord. The victory is already written.


My Journal

An excerpt from my journal..


October 18, 2018

Today is Brenner and I’s fourth year anniversary! I love him so much. More and more every day. Last night I tossed and turned most of the night. I was so tired, but I couldn’t sleep. My mind was racing. We spoke to ****** yesterday and they were quite discouraging [in regards to our missionary decisions]. Doubt, fear, worry, and anxiety riddled me. Then I finally heard the Lord tell me that He is The Sea Splitter, that He makes a way where there was no way. I saw the sea before us part and the Lord surround us fully. Yesterday I also had a vision of Jesus lifting me up and putting me on His shoulders: Shepherd and lamb. I began a painting of the split sea today.

Exodus 14

The Lord leads them [the Israelites] to a dead end. Though this position may look foolish to peopleGod uses “the foolish things to confound the wise” [1 Corin. 1:27] and from there they [onlookers, enemies] will know that YAH is Lord. Those in bondage will attempt to keep us in bondage. But who the Son sets free is free INDEED [John 8:36]!

When the enemy [oppression] draws near, lift your eyes to YAH. Draw near to Him alone.

“And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.'” [Exodus 14:13-14]

God’s response to them [the Israelites’ fear]: GO FORWARD. You lift your rod and stretch out your hand to divide the sea before you. You have authority to act, and I will respond with my power.

The Angel of the Lord, Jesus, is before and behind us. We are hemmed in [Psalm 139:5-6]. 

Moses stretched out his hand by faith over the sea and God caused the water to part. He moves when we move.

The Lord fights for us.


I wrote that at daybreak yesterday morning. Later that same day I got into a car wreck that honestly could have been avoided had I been paying closer attention. I turned too sharply on to a road and side swiped another car. I was completely embarrassed by the mistake, but mostly I was convicted. Pay attention. That was more than just advice in the moment from a Father to His daughter’s flooded brain. The Lord wanted me to hear a deeper message in those words. He wants me to be more aware of my surroundings in the spiritual realm as well as the physical. I am constantly “driving” around life, if you will. Constantly making decisions, going here, going there. And the enemy would love nothing more than to distract me. Recently those distractions have looked like fear and worry, and sometimes even seemingly “holy” tasks. This is why aligning ourselves with God is so important. The enemy is looking for an empty house to enter. When we, instead, fill ourselves up with the fulness of God (Philippians 4), there is no room for the author of confusion to spin lies.

The Lord is faithful, and He is good. He reminds me where to look and what I am being called to. Despite the impossible tasks before me, He is able. I will not be afraid. One battle strategy being that I will prayerfully journal my way through this life. Not for God’s sake, but for my own fragile humanity. Because in my intense emotions, I can forget what He said. I can be distracted. But the Word of God never returns void. I am standing on His promises today. And pray that you will to. So suit up, fellow warrior. Let’s not be naive to the warfare going on around us, and let’s also not be afraid. Instead let us boldly chase the lion and conquer it. The victory is ours. And though we may physically feel cornered and surrounded by enemies, this is an illusion. The true reality is that the Great I AM is hemming us in. He is behind us and before us. We can boldly obey the Lord’s command, lifting our hand before the impossible with the authority of Christ, and He will split the sea. Go forward in faith. He is there.

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.


You ready for this?

It has been almost an entire week since my family has prayerfully locked in on to the exact place we will begin our full-time missionary journey, received acceptance into the organization, and basically jumped off a cliff into the unknown. How are we going to get  funding? Who will partner with us? What does life overseas look like for a young family? When will come back? Will we come back? After four years of marriage and both of us resisting the call into missions, we have finally obeyed the Lord’s call in this area. After many, many months of praying, at last, we have peace and clarity in this specific decision for our family. Even though we firmly know this decision is founded on what God has spoken to us and His peace; still, to others we are doing something crazy by selling our belongings, raising up a team of partners, moving to Norway to begin our journey of going out to all nations to love people like Christ loves us. We have several times joked out loud about how crazy that sounds-even to us. It doesn’t make sense to a lot of people. A few nights ago I had my first moment of panic, feeling the weight of all that must be done to prepare-the questions I shared with you at the beginning of this post. And in that moment of doubt, fear, and wrong thinking, I heard the Lord so clearly whisper into my racing mind, “You are my child”. It took all I had to repeat over and over, “I am a child of God”; quickly my mind was soothed like a spooked baby and I fell asleep.

Rejection was always a fear of mine. I’m sure most of us have a middle school memory like mine: I’m standing amidst a group of kids, waiting for one of the team captains to excitedly choose me to be on their team. I bite my nails as I hope to be chosen, but the choosing doesn’t come. I’m just not good enough in the team captain’s eyes. There were many times that I didn’t get picked; therefore I was put on whichever team was leftover at the end. I was a leftover. And it stung, that small form of rejection. I began to feel the need to prove myself, to prove my worth. I became a beast at volleyball and cheerleading. I was a performer and I had an audience to please.

Taking the roots of rejection in my life back even further, I wasn’t raise by my birth parents for various reasons and circumstances. I praise God that after a while, those relationships have now been reconciled tenfold. But regardless of the ‘why?‘, as a little girl with curly blonde hair, that feeling of being rejected by them still rooted in me and effected every decision I made. I wanted to be loved. I wanted to be deemed valuable to people so that they wouldn’t leave me. I spent my youth striving to be accepted. Which as you can imagine or have probably experienced yourself, brought on all kinds of chaos in my relationships.

In fact this was something I just revisited last Saturday. That morning my mom, who parented me, brought over my birth certificate to be processed with our passport applications. I unfolded the old piece of worn paper, and noticed that I actually have no father listed on my birth certificate. Legally I am fatherless. Although I was blessed to have been raised by an amazing dad whom loved me though he wasn’t bound to me by blood, and though I was able to spend a brief few days with my birth father overtime before he passed away, still…the pain of having no earthly father claim me on the day I entered this world was like ripping off a scab.

Praise be to God that this particular scab was covering a wound that was already healing underneath. Although it stung to be removed, there was fresh pink skin underneath that scab just waiting to be exposed to the air and light. The scab needed to go, and this time I didn’t stay in that sad place of rejection. I didn’t go down my own mental path of destruction. Instead I saw the rejection for what it was, an invitation for me to accept God’s truth. I do have a Father. I am a child of God. And more than just being one child of many children. I am His child. His girl.  The one whom God sent His Son to die for. The one whom God raised to life with His Son on the third day. This Father-daughter relationship is way more intimate and personal than merely being a kid standing in a group waiting to be picked. This love is way more detailed than the word typed “unknown” near the place where a father’s name belongs on your birth certificate. No, no, this is an endless pursuit of love, an every millisecond of every day, for all eternity kind of love. The “I choose you” even at your worst kind of love. The love of God is personal, specific, tailor made just for me and just for you. My Father is not unknown. My Father is, He always was, and He always will be. There is nowhere I can go that He will not be. There is nothing I can do that He will not steadily guide me in. My Father doesn’t forsake, He doesn’t forget me. He isn’t misleading, He isn’t hesitant. My Father has a plan, and it is good. My Father knows me and loves me. My Father goes before me, and walks behind me. My Father surrounds me, and no weapon formed against me will prosper. I am a child of God. That is my status, that is my promise, that is my identity.

That kind of revelation makes our family’s move to Norway feel like a walk in the park. That kind of security in your identity makes man’s opinions of you invalid. My God has spoken. And what His word does not return void. The truth of God is strong and firm, a truth I can stand on forever. Nothing is impossible for a co-heir with Christ, we need only abide in Him.

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another” (John 15:16-17 NKJV)


The funds to go out and love on the nations will come from God because He is God and He is our supplier. Even though Norway is across the world, there is no where I can go that God is not there. He will not abandon us there or anywhere. I’m not afraid to free fall into the unknown. Because the ‘unknown‘ really is not unknown. And that’s what I’m beginning to see.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:1-3 NIV)

Nothing is unknown to the One True God who created literally everything. Friend, I encourage you today to release your fear. Maybe it looks like a middle school team captain sneering at your wobbly knees. Maybe it looks like obeying the Lord’s call over your life into a destiny you deem impossible. Fear is a spirit, and it flees when the love of God comes crashing in. I pray the Lord totally wreck your walls and strongholds holding you back right now as you read my testimony. You are chosen. You are loved beyond measure. You have a purpose and a calling. Now, jump!

“But as God is faithful, our word to you was not Yes and No. For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” (2 Corinthians 1:18-21 NKJV)


Chair of Hope

Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.” (Proverbs 31:10)

During the service at our church this morning, this scripture came to mind as Brenner and I sat beside my dear friend who had two of her children clinging to her. Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.” (Proverbs 31:10). Powerful stuff. . The word ‘virtuous’ in the original Hebrew text is  חָ֫יִל (chayil) which means army, band of soldiers, able, mighty, riches, strength. Knowing that full definition, brings this scripture to life even more. The way our world has portrayed the image of women is one of lesser being, weak, and inferior. But here we see the call for a virtuous woman, a mighty woman, a woman who is a force to be reckoned with both in strength and riches. Women of God, this is us. This kind of virtue can not be mustered up from one’s own strength; how could one person also be an entire army? It almost sounds like a paradox. But with the Lord of hosts, we can be both. Take a look at Psalm 18. By God I can run against a troop of soldiers. By God I can leap over a wall. Now, I typically wear skinny jeans. It’s just my preferred choice and who knows? At age 24, maybe I’m still stuck in my Myspace and Paramore punk fashion days. But no matter what I’m wearing, there is no way I could just stare up at a wall and leap over it. However, with the help of our Merciful Lord, gracious and compassionate to the skinny jean wearers like me, you bet your bottom dollar, I could jump over that wall. Whether you take those verses as literal or spiritual strength given to us from the Lord, the promises are still true. The Psalm goes on to say that God is a shield to all who trust in Him, that our Lord is Sovereign God and a rock.

 “It is God who arms me with strengthAnd makes my way perfectHe makes my feet like the feet of deer, And sets me on my high placesHe teaches my hands to make war, So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have also given me the shield of Your salvationYour right hand has held me upYour gentleness has made me greatYou enlarged my path under me, So my feet did not slip I have pursued my enemies and overtaken themNeither did I turn back again till they were destroyed” (Psalm 18:32-37 NKJV)

That’s incredible. That is virtuous, a promise from the Lord of hosts to those of us who would place our trust in Him. As the Lord makes us virtuous and set up for battle as we see here in Psalm 18, what man or devil could stand against us? The answer is none. My dear friend sitting next to my family at church this morning is a virtuous wife. Her value truly is exceedingly greater than rubies. For many years now, she has attended church with her children and without her husband. Her husband has yet to place his faith and trust in the Lord, though there are a troop of us saints that are praying him in. Still regardless of who stands with her, she stands tall on the foundation of Christ and teaches her children all about the one true God who gives her strength. Already a great deal of people in her family have witnessed her steadfast, virtuous faith and have turned their lives over to Jesus Yeshua the Messiah. She carries the light of Christ with her everywhere she goes; that light is pursuing and eliminating all darkness that would dare step foot near the holy ground beneath her feet as she walks hand-in-hand with the Holy One. The next verse in Proverbs 31 is an amazing turning point as well:

“The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain” (Proverbs 31:11)

There is no gain, no inheritance greater than that which comes from salvation through Jesus the Messiah.

My dear friend’s kids refused to go to Sunday school class this morning, and so did my little Laz. Still we all sat on the front row as one big family and worshipped God with our kids. As I sat beside her and saw her littles laying across her lap or sitting at her feet, I noticed an empty chair popped up between us. In the juggle of having three young children wiggle and giggle through a church message, a seat was made available between my friend and I. In that moment I thought it coincidental, but as I type out her testimony I see the hope. That chair is a promise for her family that her husband will have no lack of gain.

Today the Lord wants you to see the chair of hope sitting next to you as well. What is the mountain in front of you? The thing that makes you feel so small, and so impossible? Friends, I tell you that as you put your trust in the Sovereign Lord, you are equipped with everything you need for the challenge. Abide in Him, let Him fill you with steadfastness and strength.

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Check out my new worship cover and pray for my family as we have recently been accepted to a missions school with YWAM in Norway!

 

 

The Feast of Tabernacles

Last year I shared a little bit with you all about Sukkot, a season of drawing near to God as He draws near to us. This is my favorite Biblical festival. Every year the Lord does amazing things with and in my family during this time! This is day two of Sukkot and God has already moved mountains for my family. My husband is so on fire for the Lord, I can’t even describe how amazing it is to witness. My kids are loving being out in our sukkah (temporary dwelling) or more technically, our tent set up in our back yard. Camping out in a tent in your backyard, doesn’t seem glamorous from the outside looking in. Who would willingly choose to endure mosquito bites and Texas humidity when they have a perfectly good air-conditioned home? We are those seemingly crazy people.

Why, you ask? When we take the leap of faith to come out in nature, set up a temporary home, and expect the Lord to show up with us, He does. Every time. This is our fourth year to do Sukkot, And each new year is even more miraculous than the last.

Our very first year to celebrate Sukkot was in 2014, and it was just Brenner and I. We were in the middle of planning our wedding which was only two weeks away, and I started feeling really bloated and sick. We were living with my mom, Stacy, and stepdad at the time. Stacy had pregnancy tests on hand and encouraged me to take one. Five tests, several lines and plus signs later, and they all showed the same result: I was pregnant. I immediately fell into condemnation. All of the voices of shame and rejection flooded my mind. That’s the real reason they’re getting married. What a sinner! She’s not a real Christian. And so on. Every lie pointed to my pregnancy being a mistake, and even deeper, to me being a mistake. Honestly, yes, it was sinful for us to not wait until our marriage to be intimate. The Lord commands us to wait for marriage to have sex for a reason. Wait because of all of the pain that can come with wholly giving yourself to someone outside of marriage that you were never meant for. Wait because there is miraculous value in a covenant between God and man. Wait because God is good and His plans are good. It’s true and I don’t deny it. The sin was a mistake, but the little baby in my belly was not and neither were we. Believing that truth took a lot of time spent dwelling in the grace and mercy of the Father and a great deal of life spoken over us from my team of encouragers. God redeems even the worst of the worst like me.

Now that we got that out of the way let’s get back to my family’s first Sukkot. We found out we were having a baby. Rewind to the year before, I laid on a doctor’s medical table and heard the words, “you had a miscarriage”. At eighteen years old in the heat of my dark past, that sent me off the deep end. So fast forward back to finding out I was pregnant again, that fear was a steady pulse in my heart. Still, because of my relationship with Christ, I let the joy flood me and was excited as Stacy took us to a pregnancy center to receive a free sonogram. Again I found myself on a table with eyes filled with tears as I refused to search the screen any longer for a missing heartbeat. Again I heard the words, “you had another miscarriage”. It shattered me, but this time I had my future husband and my reconciled relationship with my mom to speak truth and hold up my broken pieces. I signed the paper stating that I had a miscarriage, prayed with the nurse that took care of me, and left feeling empty. We got back to their house and my family instantly went to battle for me. They prayed life over me, rejected the death report and spoke life over me. They believed, and that helped my unbelief. Later that night the nurse who took care of me at the center called me. Her alias can be, Cher. Apparently Cher took my number off of my paperwork and called me personally. Which is totally unheard of, and still I’m so glad she did. I’ll never forget it. Cher sounded almost frantic as she immediately asked me if I had gone to the E.R. to have the miscarriage removed through a D&C. I told her about our choice to believe life over the baby and that I hadn’t gone to the hospital. Cher was so overjoyed because she said that she just didn’t feel peace about the miscarriage. Cher felt like it was wrong too. Wow!

So we set up an OBGYN appointment for the next business day, which was 4 days later (note: The story of Lazarus in John 11) and we prayerfully waited. Brenner worked late nights at Walgreens and I spent time with God and my reconciled family in their sukkah as we waited. Before I knew it I was laying on a new table with a new doctor, staring at a ceiling because I couldn’t bear to witness my empty womb again. Yet this time I heard the room gasp. Stacy cried out with joyful tears as the Doctor countered my worst fear and told me that my baby was alive. My shattered heart both healed and burst a thousand times in one moment of joy. That was a day our lives changed and has continued to since. One miraculous Sukkot, one beautiful covenant marriage, and two children later, here we are on year four. By the grace of God, our lives just get sweeter ever day. What a blessing it has been for my family to celebrate the Biblical Hebrew festivals. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is faithful! I wonder where we will be next year?

Here are a couple of scriptures that will shed some light on Sukkot, The Feast of Tabernacles:

“Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the LORD.” (Leviticus‬ ‭23:33-34‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John‬ ‭1:10-14‬ ‭NKJV)

  • In this one, the word ‘dwelt’ actually means ‘tabernacled’! So cool! Jesus was actually born during Sukkot! Powerful stuff!

“And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, on them there will be no rain.” (Zechariah‬ ‭14:16-17‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

  • I love this one so much because it shows that we will all be celebrating Sukkot with the Lord after He returns!

“Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.””(Revelation‬ ‭7:15-17‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

  • This is our hope! This is what Sukkot foreshadows, our joyful expectation of what’s to come!

Whether you celebrate the Biblical festivals or not, I pray that you would draw near to God as He is drawing near to you in this season and expect miracles from the Miraculous One! Be blessed,

Lacey


Want to learn more about Sukkot and your faith in the Messiah’s Hebraic roots? Check out this great resource!

A Wretch Like Me

Failure.

That seems to be the most recent lie fighting to claim the forefront of my mind. Failure as a mom. Failure as a friend. Failure as a human. Failure as a follower of Christ. The standard I have for myself gradually creeps up so high, whether by my own expectations or by the words I have warped from the people around me. Despite the intentions of criticism and advice, it doesn’t always feel constructive. Especially when you are an overcoming shame puppet. I used to feed off my own mental self-destruction prior to surrendering to Jesus. Shortly after true salvation and marrying Brenner, I decided to read and then destroy all of my old journals from middle school to college. The common theme throughout each journal was hopelessness. Yet a small glimmer of the light of Christ still shined through the dark cracks. Back in those times in my life, depression and anxiety ate me alive. After a time I didn’t really want to leave that pit. It became comforting to never hope for anything, to never be let down. But see I was missing one small whisper, one massive truth..my hope was in the wrong things.

In the present, my flesh still constantly fights to place myself on the throne of my life. Though I wouldn’t say this at first glance, when I dig to the root of my shame and fear, the root of feeling hopeless or feeling like a failure is this: I can easily idolize myself and other people. Though I should have no other gods before the One True God, I can easily place other things before Him and sugar coat the sin by calling it a ‘prioritization issue’ . It’s a sin nonetheless, and confession and repentance are needed for real change.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 ESV)

Now I’m sure by now you’ve just had several sharp intakes of breath and you’re either relating one hundred percent or your trying not to judge me. That’s okay, I’m just sharing my heart and it is a broken thing. But it’s being made whole by the God who rebuilds the ancient ruins (Isaiah 61:4). He is creating in me a pure heart. I started praying that consistently over myself  two years ago. In the beginning it sounded sweet, it sounded like I would feel pure and righteous as God was doing it, pink skies and fluffy white clouds. I’m sure there was an angel baby floating somewhere playing a harp in that imagination.  But as He has truly began to shine truth and love into my innermost being, I have never felt more dirty. I have never felt more small than as the sheer weight of the glory of God has entered into my hovel of a soul. Not because God’s judgement has pierced me and minimized me due to my sin. No quite the contrary, I recognize my own faultiness, my own finite humanity because it is only in these broken weaknesses that I am seeing the depths of God’s love for me and the extreme heights of His strength. He is creating in me a pure heart. With every speck of dirt removed He is telling me I am loved, that I am worthy of this love. He is reaching the deepest, lonely glaciers of my soul. I see the speck in my own eye, first. This is helping me to love God, myself, my family, my friends, strangers, and my enemies more genuinely. Love is coming out of the destruction, a temple for the living God is being made out of the ancient ruins. Again, I will confess that my mundane mind can not make sense of it. Still His grace is sufficient for even that. Jesus tells me that I’m not a failure, that He has chosen me (Ephesians 1). That He has made me righteous. (Romans 3:22) I can’t be both a failure and also righteous. I chose Jesus.

Every time I let God in a little deeper, every time I release clenched fists over all He’s given me to gain a posture of open palms, every time I surrender myself to His plan, every time I say yes to Him, I am transformed. The journey can feel like a back and forth emotional/physical/spiritual roller coaster. And it is when we look horizontally, as Paul said,

 “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15 NIV)

Which is why a few lines down, Romans 8, tells us there is no condemnation for those of us who live in Christ! We must keep our eyes fixed on the vertical, on Jesus. We are dying to our flesh and living by the spirit. That is what this roller coaster is. And God doesn’t just throw us to the wolves, He chips away the dirt and grime over time. He takes away the shame of our sins completely. Like the white shirt I wore in hopes of my toddlers staying tidy, but they’re kids and tidy just isn’t happening realistically yet. Lazarus came up from behind me, jumped up and “Hulk squished” me. That white shirt was soon marred with whatever substance was on his hands. God tells us that even then, He makes us white as snow.

I am becoming more like Jesus. I am learning to trust Him, to love..truly love. He is faithful to complete the good work He has begun. So now I face the chaos with hope, I tell the wind to “Be still.” And when I don’t have the strength to sing the words, when praise takes everything in me to conjure up a note, still there He hears my silent rock of a heart’s cry and He responds with a melody that He sings over me. He is love. He is better than we know, His love, deeper than we realize. It feels intense, because it is.

Amazing Grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost
but now I’m found
was blind
but now I see.

Thank you, Lord, for Your love. It is enough. You are enough. Be my compass today, Be my peace. You are Jehovah Shalom (The Lord my Peace). Make me whole with, Your shalom peace. I pray this in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.


This song “P E A C E” covered by Amanda Cook has been renewing my mind daily over the past week. Check it out!