Thursday, November 14, 2013

God is Faithful

The short of this blog is the news that Matt received a phone call yesterday, totally out of the blue, from his doctor office saying that his surgery, the one originally scheduled for May that was denied multiple times, has now been approved and is on the calendar for the beginning of December!

You might assume that is why I titled this blog “God is Faithful”… it’s not.

The better part of this entry is talking about WHY God is faithful and how it has nothing to do with this surgery.

He is faithful whether I see it, experience it, or know it.  So it is not because it looks as if Matt will be having surgery that we are saying He is faithful.  He has proved to us over and over again His faithfulness in the midst of our terrible physical circumstances.  We know that all of our prayers (that also means your prayers), our fasting, our being anointed by the elders was not for nothing.  He is ALWAYS moving.  He is ALWAYS doing something.  Most of the time it is in our primary existence of the spiritual world, with it sometimes manifesting in to our physical world.  What has been incredible is that because we have chosen to trust Him through the heartache, pain, and agony, He has given us eyes to see Him in ways that haven’t manifested in our physical world, glimpses of His glory that is currently happening.  There has been such freedom and breakthrough for our own spiritual formation and for MANY of those around us too!

If we get a phone call tomorrow saying, "well, insurance retracted their approval and no surgery can take place", we STILL say God is faithful.  We have been challenged even further to not be swayed by tides of our circumstances in this physical world, but to trust that He is always moving in our lives, He is always drawing us near, He is always furthering His perfect kingdom through us if we let Him.

How do we let Him?  By trusting Him NO MATTER WHAT!  Jesus is our rock!  If we stand on Him then we will not be shaken!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Legs Like Twigs

The last 2-3 weeks have been extremely difficult for many reasons.  Tuesday it seemed to come to a head.  The song on Bethel Music's new album Tides sums it up quite accurately:

The wind and waves surround me
And I'm tossed, feel like I'm drowning
I am tired, I am weak
I need You here with me

'Cause I can feel the rising tide
But I don't have the strength to fight
I feel clouded and confused
I need you here with me

Yesterday I made a clear choice to only let the Lord protect me.  This means not retreating in an effort to protect myself, not taking the easy road and false comfort the enemy would provide, nor numbing myself with my own false comforts as to try and control the chaos by ignoring it or pushing it away.

This morning I spent time with the Lord outside on my deck.  This is what He spoke to me:

You are strong
You are strong because I Am in you
Rise up again in your authority
Rise up again in your authority
Stand on the solid ground

This verse Psalms 40:2 came to mind: "He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.  He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along."

I then immediately saw a little bird land on my deck railing.  It just stood there looking around trying to decide where to go next.  I noticed it's legs since the last thing spoken to me was to stand on solid ground.  It's legs looked like little twigs.  It made me think that not only can I stand with weak, twig-like legs, but that it's almost preferred...

Here's why.

If the bird's legs were heavy little masses then it would no longer have the ability to fly -- to soar so high in the clouds.  So if I'm willing to stand up on the solid ground knowing that I will feel every bit of vulnerability in my frail legs, that is faith (trust in the Lord).

And if I have faith (trust in the Lord) to stand then I will soar on wings like eagles.

Getting up now.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Day of "What Now?"

Today:  Matt was denied treatment.  The doctor said he couldn't find anything wrong with him (by only looking at all the tests that have been done this past year).  He can't explain why he has so much back pain, numbness/nerve damage, and other symptoms I won't share.  When the doctor said he couldn't explain Matt's pain, and that there is nothing we can really do, it took everything in me to not break down in tears while he was still in the room.  When we got to the parking lot we both felt kind of numb, disoriented, and confused.  We didn't know what had just happened.  Were we just completely shut down?  Does he even believe that there is something wrong?  WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DO NOW?  WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

A couple weeks ago, a friend asked what I thought about our suffering with all these messages about God's heart for healing and not seeing any relief or answers to our prayers for Matt's healing.  I really appreciated this question, and I believe it's a question we all have asked or wondered at some point.  Let me share what I told her, and add a little more.

1. I trust God's character.  I know His heart.  I know that He loves us and wants the best for us.  I know He hates that Matt is suffering this excruciating pain.  I know His love for us is endless, relentless, and never failing.

2.  We've surrendered our lives to Him, to His kingdom, and His glory!  This surrendering means we don't get to choose what our lives are going to look like.  We follow the Holy Spirit's leading through this life, and as we do that we actually become MORE of who we are made to be.  We were not promised a life without suffering.  In fact, we are told to expect it.  The difference is how we choose to endure the pain and suffering.

So we are going to suffer regardless if we trust in Him and surrender our lives to Him or not.  Today when we got in to the car and started for the 4 hour drive home (stuck in traffic) we made a choice.  We chose not to ignore our feelings, but instead chose to embrace the pain.  We cried.  We yelled.  We threw our hands up.  We asked many questions, including the infamous "WHY?".  We cried some more.  Our choice was to do this in the Lord's presence.  We told Him we had no more fight left in us.  We were done.  We chose not to turn our backs or find relief in something else.  We left that place with no hope. But because of the God we serve there is always hope.

He brought us comfort.  No answers, just comfort.  He exposed some demonic lies, and brought a little more freedom to our hearts.  At first Matt felt bad for the waste of a day, but we were quickly reminded that we got to spend the entire day together, shop at our favorite store (REI), eat three meals out (uninterrupted), listen to 4-5 hours of worship music, and pray together.  Comforted.

We still don't know what we are going to do from here.  We still feel directionless.  This battle now seems bleak and impossible.  But because of point number 1, I know the truth of His Word that He has sent many in to IMPOSSIBLE battles that were VICTORIOUS so all would know His power, glory, and goodness.  This brings me back to point number 2.  We've said yes to Him using us to show the world His wonderful character.  If that means going in to impossible battles that can only be won by Him then so be it.  Right now, I believe, He is showing a great deal of people through us how He comforts us through the Holy Spirit; How to allow the Spirit to walk with someone through the pain and through the trials of suffering.  I love teaching people practical tools in walking with God.  So what better way than to teach them by showing them what it actually looks like through my own life? What better way to show how to build trust with God then continuing to walk on roaring unchartered waters without knowing where you are going, but knowing He is trustworthy enough to keep going further in to the unknown?

So.  What now?  We wait for the Lord, we wait expectantly, and in His word we do hope.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Ocean of Tears: Finding Shore

Over a year ago, we were given a word that I wrote a blog about titled Ocean of Tears.  In this vision we had cried an oceans worth of tears, but they brought healing to those who jumped in to the waters.  I had assumed that we had cried an oceans worth of tears prior to that vision.  I was VERY wrong.

If you're reading this you probably know most of what we've gone through this past year -- both Matt and I suffering horrible back pain, denial of surgery for Matt, the possibility of Matt having cancer, trying to raise our kids in the midst of it all, etc. I'd say in the span of three months I have cried more (from physical pain, emotional heartache, the possibility of losing my husband and best friend) than I had in our previous 10 years... and that's saying a lot.  It was definitely enough to fill an ocean.

What's interesting about this though, is that I was also walking out upon the waters of this ocean; I walked away from the safety of my boat/land (whatever metaphor you like) further and further in to the powerful presence of God.  He called me out upon these waters and I trusted Him -- well, more like He gave me the faith and courage to walk these waters.  I followed His voice.  I didn't know where I was going or what it was going to look like.  All I could see was a vast ocean.

Today that changed.

The same person that spoke that vision over a year ago shared a new development.  As I was deep in these waters, there was now shore all around me; boundaries, borders, a focusing in on some specific purposes God has for me.  I was so blown away by Jesus, yet again.  I was already so filled with just being able to be closer to my heavenly Father through walking these deep waters -- as in, pursuing His presence was enough reason to go out upon the waters, but He still is giving me more!  I don't know what that is going to look like specifically, but those specifics, I believe, is the shore I'll be stepping on to shortly.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

14 Years and Counting

As I sit in my disasterously messy house, with my kids asleep, as well as my husband from his pain medication, I can't help but feel extremely overwhelmed with love.  Tomorrow is our 14 year wedding anniversary, and although it's not quite a "significant' year (20, 25, etc) it's our most important one yet!

The phrase "marriage isn't designed to make you happy, it's meant to make you holy", or some version along those lines, is very true!  Our 14 years of marriage have been extremely difficult.  We have not been one of those couples with the easy road.  BUT I am thankful nonetheless.

I was taught a long time ago the word "happy" comes from the word "happenings"... which is another word for circumstances.  If you're married then you are well aware that there are many circumstances within a marriage that are not happy!  So there MUST be a better goal; something that is beyond our circumstances to aim towards in a marriage.

Holiness.  To be set apart.  Unfortunately, our tendencies work against this which produces:  idolatry, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, divisions, and more of the like.  But what if we were led by the Holy Spirit within our marriage?  Then we would see: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), and self control.

Like I said, our marriage has been filled with difficult circumstances.  So how can I sit here and say that I currently feel love, joy. peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control towards my husband?

-- In the beginning of our marriage, during 9/11 (Matt went to New York to minister to the broken) the Lord began to show me that my husband belonged to Him first.  I needed to let go of him and trust him in the Lord's hands.  That was hard, but I've been letting him go and trusting him to the Lord ever since.

-- Through our difficult times I trusted myself in to the hands of Jesus.  I let Him past my walls to heal my own heart; to comfort me in my brokenness; to pull me out my own shame; to release the enemy's grip on my life; to speak to me my true identity; to reveal my true beauty.  (I watched my husband do the same.)

-- The more I trusted, the more of myself I've surrendered.  And this year more than most, I have fully surrendered all that I am and all that I have -- which includes my husband.  I look back at the first lesson of letting go of him when he went to go serve, to this year's lesson of being willing to let him go for the rest of my life.  Both times felt just as hard, but what was increased this time was my peace in it. Why?  I believe because my trust in the Lord and His character is deeper and further than ever before.

It gets better.

The more I trust, the more holy I become, the more His Spirit is present in and though me to touch the lives of others -- to show the Father's character to more people than just myself.  With the first lesson of letting him go, the audience was very small.  This last lesson of letting go the audience has become world wide.

I've surrendered my marriage to Him.  He has made us both more holy.  We are both filled with love, joy, peace, etc in the midst of our continued suffering.  Now this doesn't mean that we don't FEEL all the anguish of these circumstances!!!  But because we choose to do all of our crying/sobbing/weeping at the feet of Jesus, when we are finished (because we can't shed another tear), we are left with His Spirit to provide the love, joy, peace, etc. -- you get the idea! ;-)

So I look back to our 14-year-younger selves and barely recognize those people.  I love who we have become, and are continuing to become.  Because we are both more rooted in the love of Christ than ever before, we are overwhelmed with love for one another --  the kind of love that brings tears to your eyes because really, you are being touched by the Father's love through another human being.

I love you Matt Bram.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Grateful In Every Season

I know each season is special. I've come to see this. I used to always be looking ahead to the next thing that was going to happen or dream about the escape of the situation I was in.


There hasn't been one season of my life where God has not shown me some amazing part of Himself, and subsequently, a part of who I am--whether a part to burn away, or a part of my identity to be revealed. My circumstances, no matter how pretty and wonderful or ugly and devastating they are, doesn't determine whether or not I'm in "God's will" because He is with me in every season. It has come to the point where I appreciate every season I'm in and even mourn a little when I transition to a new one. This is because I've tasted a new part of Jesus, a new depth of His glory that has forever changed me! And although I still get to take this new treasure with me in to whatever new season comes my way, I know that the season I'm leaving was unique--even the most difficult and trying seasons are special to me because I learn new parts of God that I might not have ever learned at another time in my life.  This new depth of glory that I experience transforms me and changes my countenance to be more like His.

Of course, this doesn't mean that I'm full of joy through every season, but it's in wrestling with my emotions and running to God's presence in my anguish and despair, or my confusion and fear, or my doubt and disbelief, or my rejoicing and happiness that I experience new parts of Him--more life giving meaning in His name.

Transitions from one season to another are a little more difficult sometimes, and almost feel like another season in and of themselves. As I get comfortable in one season then it seems it's time to move on to another. One truth, though, that seems to help me transition from the known to the unknown, is that no matter where I end up next, His love remains the same--a constant firm foundation that I walk and rely upon. As I leave one season for the next, my very understanding of that truth deepens, like roots further in to the ground.

That depth, His new found glory, my flesh burning away and beauty being revealed, makes every season and every circumstance so worth it and so special that I don't want to waste a moment of it complaining. I choose gratitude.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Faith To Stand

I've given my life to Jesus. This is not a secret. These past few years He has really taken me to a deeper understanding of what this actually entails. I've surrendered my entire life to Him--for His glory. My physical body, my mind, my soul, and my spirit are His.

This means a few things: 1. He loves me exactly the way that I am. 2. He loves me too much to let me stay the same (healing, growing, etc.). 3. He will use all parts of me to bring His kingdom and His glory to other people so that they might experience His goodness.

So when He calls me forth, out of where I currently am, it is scary because it's the unknown. Even though I don't want to stay where I am, it's comfortable because it's familiar; I know how to function (sometimes in my dysfunction), and simply, because it is safe here.

But the more I get to know Him the less of this safe life I want. I've gotten to know certain parts of Him in this safe zone, but it leaves me thirsty for MORE of Him. So thirsty, in fact, that it outweighs my fear of the unknown. The mystery of Jesus draws me further away from the shallow waters to take the risk and enter in to the deep--the deeper waters which also include His presence, His glory, His grace. This risk of deeper waters can only be done with faith--trusting in the characteristics of God that I've already experienced and knowing that I've barely scratched the surface of Who He is.

Processing through this (leaving the safe zone for the unknown) and knowing that I'm still holding on to some of the fears that I have, a new song has entered my music library. I've been listening to a song called "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)" from Hillsong United's new album Zion. It is helping me, in worship, to ask the Lord to lead me out; to walk further away from my will and closer to His.

I've asked for this. I've traded my prerogative for His, knowing that as my Creator, He knows ALL of me--my pain, my sin, my deepest thoughts, my heart, and my potential. I trust that when He leads me to walk on the deepest waters, where my feet will fail to hold me up, my faith is what will stand me up to walk further in to the unknown--which will only carry me deeper in to His presence.

I hear you, Jesus. I'm stepping out.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Sneaky Attack: Apathy

People ask me how my Christmas break was.  My easy answer is, “I got to sleep in a lot.”  That was one of the few positives I could think of.  Now, nothing really major happened in those two weeks (except for not having a water heater or washer machine for 4 days)… so why was it so crappy?  Short answer:  because of my attitude!

Fruit of Death:

Apathetic: Having or showing little or no emotion; not interested or concerned; indifferent or unresponsive.

This pretty much explained my attitude for Christmas break.  I didn’t care about hardly anything.  I wasn’t motivated AT ALL.  The problem with this attitude is it also left me feeling hopeless.  I knew the enemy was attacking me, and I knew that he was stealing my joy and inhibiting me from blessing others, but the problem with apathy is the lack of caring… I didn’t have any strength or desire to try to fight.  So how do you fight the enemy when you don’t even care that he’s attacking you?


I realized, in reflecting on 2012, that it was one of the most emotionally intense years I’ve ever had (and I’ve had A LOT).  God had purposely removed me from intentional community (for a time) in to a deeper, more intimate season with Him.  I was to rely on only Him this year (not Him through His body).  The summary of this season for me was to cut all unhealthy dependencies I still had on people for my identity and get them only from the True source.  The difficulty with this is it also meant that every “safe place” I had in people were stripped down, chewed up, burned in the fire, refined (pick any metaphor)… they all fit.  By the end of the year, I was tired.  On the other hand, I have never felt more intimate and close with the Lord, but I had stopped spending time with Him towards the end, so I was only aware of my tiredness.  This obviously gave Satan’s minions the perfect opportunity to attack me with apathy.   I hate giving credit to the enemy, but I have to say it was quite a clever move.  Apathy is a close sister to depression, in which your mood is down, sad, hopeless, yet apathy goes a step further in adding the lack of desire to even TRY to do anything about it.  It sucks!

My Plan:

I didn’t have one… remember, I didn’t care?! 

God’s Plan:

Thankfully He ALWAYS has a plan.  In going back to work and being back on my routine, I started listening to sermons again while getting ready for work.  A few days back in to this I was listening to a sermon on Proverbs 18:21”Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it [for death or life]”—Amplified.  Basically, I might spend 5 minutes speaking life (the promises of God) while praying, but then the rest of my day I’m thinking and speaking negative things, which produces fruit of death, which then I speak about how that’s the fruit I’m bearing which then produces more fruit of death and it becomes a vicious cycle.  The Lord brought conviction to me on this, so I decided to try and only speak Truth (even though I didn’t feel one shred of it) to see what would happen.  Well, it only took ONE DAY for me to feel something other than apathy.  The desire that came back to me was not to fight or even to change, but a desire to sit with God again.  I desired so much to be in His presence… something that had left me in my apathy.  I had joy in just having this desire back.  So Wednesday morning I sat with Him.  I didn’t say anything to Him and He didn’t say anything to me.  We just sat together.  An hour later I was at Simpson’s first chapel service of the semester.  In singing worship songs to Him I felt something I had missed:  my Lord’s heart, gratitude for Him, joy, repentance!  We took communion.  Before I could eat my juice soaked bread I cried tears of repentance, sorry that I had given so much time to the enemy’s kingdom and not His, sorry that I hadn’t cared about not building His kingdom, and extremely grateful at the same time that Jesus was NEVER apathetic… not even for a second.  My mind rushed with possibilities of what life would be like had He been apathetic even for five minutes while He walked this earth… and I shuttered at those thoughts… which then brought me back to overwhelming gratitude.

Fruit of Life:

I feel free, full of joy, and full of hope for the future.  I am once again excited to impact this world by bringing the kingdom of God to it.  Even more astounding than this, I came home and cooked dinner!!!  I enjoyed it too!!! (There should be many of you laughing at this right now).

Steps in a Nutshell:

1.     I stopped speaking negative words and speaking the promises of God (even though I didn’t feel them).
2.     The fruit of life started to spring up—with one desire.
3.     I acted on this desire and God’s presence is what changed me even further.
4.     This led to me feeling again—feeling repentance, gratitude and joy! 
5.     Now I’m back to bearing the fruit of life!

Thank you Jesus for knowing just what I need!