Coming very soon…

Hi everyone! I’m excited! My book is very close to being published; waiting on a proof copy of the paperback to arrive. Once I see it’s just how it should be, Divine Encounters…will go live on Amazon KDP (eBook and paperback), Kobo, Barnes and Noble Press and Google Play Books. Here is a sneak preview of the cover and blurb.

When it is out there and ready I will publish again with the links.

I can’t wait for her to be out in the world, doing what she was meant to do!

What do you Want?

“What do you want?” It’s a generic question most of us likely hear at least once a day, isn’t it? Maybe we are the ones asking.

It’s something I ask myself when plans, relationships and circumstances do not line up with my hopes and plans or when something blindsiding pops up and I don’t know how to react.  

As I let this question simmer and swirl in my brain, I realize that what I long for most I already have in Jesus. I already have it. Read those words again. This goes further than the physical wanting of food, water, and clothing. This question is begging and pleading with us to go deep on this one. You know that place; where putting words to the emotion, need, and longing is almost impossible; yet it is there and desperate to be heard. I believe this feeling is purposely put there by God to draw us to Him. It keeps us seeking Him because we know, on that deep, beyond words level, that we need Him. We may not be able to put words to it, but our souls know Him and long for everything He provides.

What is it that you long for most and feel like you don’t have? Is it security and safety? To be heard, known, and seen? Do you feel anonymous in a big, wide world? Do you want to know you are loved unconditionally and looked upon with eyes that adore every single fiber of your being? Do you want to know that you have a purpose; that you are NOT an accident?  Maybe you need to know you have worth beyond your wildest imagination; or perhaps you crave order and chaos in a world that is wildly out of order.

You have all these things! You are safe and secure. But, at times it is very hard to believe that. Things do not always work out in the ways we plan, hope, and strive.  Jobs are still lost, loved ones still pass, friendships still end, children still make choices that break our hearts and disease still knocks on our doors.

This is where faith, trust and hope live; in the parts of life that make no sense, are chaotic and frightening and hurt. This is where even the tiniest shards of belief must reside. Belief that nothing touches you, His masterpiece, without it first being filtered through His scarred hands; hands that were scarred to seal you to Him, to make eternal life with Him possible. He does sees you. He hears you and knows your every thought.

Zephaniah 3:17 tells you that “The Lord your God is in your midst; a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”

What time, tender care and attention God took, as you were created, and the breath of life was breathed into your lungs. It is His breath in your lungs. You have a purpose. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jesus can bring order, calm and peace into every situation. During the greatest pain and confusion life throws at you, He is right there, offering you His love, offering you Himself. His wisdom is available, as is His peace, if you ask Him.

Think deep about what it is you think you don’t have, what it is you long for most, and ask Him to show you that you have it. It may show up in unexpected, surprising places that delight you and bring you joy once you see that you have all you need because He is more than enough.

Nostalgia

It’s going to be another hot day, so I’m up early.  I head to the patio and warm coffee comes with me. There is a slight chill, oh so slight, but I can feel it on my skin.

There is something vague and wistful in the way the air feels this morning. The hint of the warmth that’s to come, mixed in with that slight chill. It feels so familiar.

It’s the way the light is coming up over the apple tree, shadows from the branches falling just so on the green grass and touching the edges of the 3-tiered fountain. The yellowy-white light pulls at my memory; I’ve seen this light before. I know it.

I hear it in the way the finches, bold blue jays and grey titmouse call and chatter. Fuzzy squirrels scampering and digging in the grass and garden tug at something hovering in my mind.

The scent in the air has a subtle, comforting, reminiscent quality to it that dances on the fringe of memory. It’s happy and calming; stirring up a sentimental longing and wistful affection for something… Is it a specific memory or snippets of various memories stirred up by the sight, sound, scent of this peaceful morning? I wonder…

Sitting here at the pine table I allow my thoughts go where they will.

The scent in the air, the light and the creature sounds call up memories of my grandparents’ house in Lakehead, CA. I loved this place! It was nestled in and around pine trees with squirrels and birds galore! I recall the warm, safe scent of those pine trees, the dusty earth, and bubbling excitement of walking through the wooded area to the little market with my grandma. Exciting!

In the warm afternoons, the blue kiddie pool was set up in the backyard under some shady pine trees. Buckets, cups, Barbies, and various other toys made for a fun and easy afternoon. I think time stood still for a bit. My grandma sat in the shade on her 70’s era lawn chair with a sweating glass of sweet tea and chatted with me. Always the safe, old, lovely scent of warm pine and earth.

I remember the thrill and exhilaration of hurtling down a big hill near their house in my little red wagon with the pine-y wind in my face – what a memory of freedom and adventures. I looked forward to the summer-night strolls to visit neighbors and see a few deer as we walked along. Pleasant and friendly.

The sound of scampering squirrels on my fence reminds me of hearing pattering squirrel feet run over the roof of their house and my grandpa’s garage in the early mornings. The garage was a wonderful place. It was full of gadgets, boxes of nails and rakes, the fishing gear, and all sorts of fun things to play with and examine. It had the distinct smell of cars and a tangy scent of oil and gasoline. Order and routine, everything in its place.

I can smell the fishy, earthy, watery scent of Lake Shasta where my grandpa, my Dad and I spent many hours on his boat fishing and motoring around the lake, stopping in the small, quiet coves to cool off and swim. Even in the summer heat, there was the distinct lake chill that danced above the water. Dinner of fresh caught fish back at the house gave me such a warm, cozy, homey feeling. We sat and ate on the enclosed porch at the picnic table, talking and laughing about the highlights of the day. As the adults talked on into the summer night, I would drowse and day dream.

Yes, these are cherished memories. Interesting how a subtle scent on the air, a ray of sunlight and nature sounds have the power to trigger the mind and bring these memories flooding back.

I wish I could go back to relive those parts of life to recapture the feelings and sensations. Happy memories of pleasant times where life seemed simpler, sweeter, and not so complex. I often feel this way around the holidays as I look at old pictures of my family gathered around a festive table, carving a pumpkin, or sitting by the Christmas tree.  When I look at paintings of the holidays in times past, there is a wistful, yearning feeling of wanting to be there. Nostalgia.

Life can be chaotic and unpredictable. I wonder if our adult brains unconsciously seek out the sights, scents, and sounds of those times where things were ordered, reliable, safe, and predictable. I think God wired us to treasure and preserve those moments. We can pull them from our heart-memories as a comfort and break from the monotony and loneliness of life. Blessings.

I think I will pray that nostalgia visits me often, like an old, dear friend; full of comfort, comradery, and memories to make me smile. What a gift!

Look to the Clouds

The summer morning is warm with a brilliant, Robin-egg blue sky. The warm dirt under my young back is soft, yet bumpy with divots, small rocks and tamped down grasses. It smells comforting, earthy and old. It feels safe.

The air is warm and a bit close, broken up by the occasional snippet of breeze, that lazily puffs over me in my earthy spot; grasses and wildflowers tossing and bobbing as the breeze slips through them, forcing movement on this indolent summer morning.

I fancy myself a cat; lazy, snooze-y and hidden from view; yet spying and aware of all that is going on around my little nest.

There is a Blue Jay, raucous and naughty, dipping and darting as she looks for her breakfast in the oak trees. She is not afraid of disturbing the more stately Robins and Sparrows that are seeking out their morning meals. The birds do not notice me in my lair and continue about their morning business; or maybe they do…

A variety of ducks and some Canadian geese glide by on the rippled water of the canal just a few feet away from me; blackberry brambles and other sticker bushes guard its banks like stubborn sentries. You can get through to the water, if you dare to pass through them. Brave creatures have carved paths under and through these sentries, to make their way to the water and safety. Their dens are cozy and well protected. Easy access to tiny fish, frogs and maybe crawdads.

Ah! There is the distinctive splash of the muskrat, slipping through the cloudy waters of the canal. His path can be traced by following his bubbles, as he searches below the waters for his breakfast. Routine. Safe. Ordinary.

Looking to the sky from my child-sized hollow in the summer faded grasses, I notice the white, marshmallow-like clouds floating past. They are fascinating! Some are huge and billowy, while others are small, wispy and seem to vanish or meld into bigger clouds nearby; as if swallowed up.

Imagination has free reign while cloud watching. My mind can wander and make up all sorts of fantastical stories. I see one cloud that at first glance, is just big, fluffy and non-descript; but then it emerges; a boat with a crooked, tilted mast and a scraggly, wispy sail. Peeking over the side of the boat, is a horse’s head and strange looking bird. What stories that boat has to tell! Another cloud is almost perfectly round, except for one edge that has a thin, feathery tail wafting off to the right; like a child’s balloon rushing off in the wind on exciting adventures.

Breaking up the daydreams, the sleek, black cat saunters into my grassy hideout, curious and nosey; casually attacking a random leaf, sniffing around my hideaway; demanding pets and chin scratches. Having determined a spot near my head as acceptable, she settles in for a drowsy rest, as the warm morning is becoming a hot, summer afternoon. The shade is moving with the shifting sun, flooding my little earth-nest with a bit too much heat and light. Maybe it’s time to get the sprinklers out, as another dreamy, lazy, hot, Northern California summer day plods along into the next one.

Summer as a child was pleasant and predictable with routine, yet full of adventure by the canal behind my house. Lovely memories of feeding ducks and meeting the new ducklings each summer, picking blackberries and making pies, cobblers and jams, taking long walks along the grassy, wildflower laden paths near the canal bank. It felt joyful, exciting and new; yet familiar and safe in that familiarity. I recapture bits and pieces of those feelings, when as an adult, I revisit the canal and all its creatures, scents and sounds, as I relax and observe from the patio swing or from the lone bench nestled under an old oak, with a blue wind chime tinkling; ducks, geese, river otters and muskrats going about their business. The familiarity soothes and calms. Tilting my head back to feel the sun, I allow the warmth to penetrate and loosen the chilled, hardened, practical places my adult mind has created. Sometimes life forces that on us, just to survive the onslaughts of life. Peering up through the gnarled, old branches of the oak tree, I see clouds. Puffed, billowing, white clouds and I remember my child-self lying in the tall, warm grasses, surrounded by the stout wildflowers and nosey cats. Content and care-free. I remember the day dreams and simple joy of seeing life, nature, and me in the cloud shapes, imagining the Creator with his paintbrush, delighting me with adventures and laughing as each stroke of His brush changed everything. There is peace and contentment for an exhausted, stressed, adult mind, when I simply look to the clouds and allow that child-like joy and imagination to have its way for a bit, and laugh with my Creator as He fills the sky with Himself.

Angels

Have you seen an angel or had an experience that’s left you full of wonder, mystery and so profoundly moved that you know you’ve encountered one? I would love to hear about it!

I absolutely believe angels exist. I believe we encounter them and their divine presence, as they carry out their God-ordained work among us, more often than we realize. We can miss these carefully orchestrated encounters because we are not actively looking for God’s presence, work and movement in our lives. The awe inspiring encounters that we do see and witness, are often minimized to chance and circumstances aligning and planets and serendipity. We are a busy, self-reliant and proud species, we humans. Admitting that Someone greater than ourselves keeps a close and constant watch over our every move, breath and encounter is hard to swallow, when pride slithers in and whispers that we don’t need anyone or anything. We’ve got this all under control. The idea that God already knows and has breathed into existence every single thing that we will encounter, in every moment of our lives is almost too much to bear. It is much easier to be fanciful and think that WE have actually done, seen, figured it all out.

Psalm 91:11 and 12 – “For He will order His angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.”

What might an angel encounter look like, feel like, be like? It won’t always be phenomenal, historical, widely broadcast and visible to multitudes of witnesses. It won’t always be a cast of heavenly hosts singing and welcoming the Savior into the world. But it is still divine, miraculous and history making for the one encountering an angel sent by God.

Maybe it looks like an accident that absolutely SHOULD have happened, but somehow, miraculously did not? Or it could be an encounter with a stranger that is so precise, needed, timely and perfect that there really isn’t another option, except for an angel encounter or a God-move that uses a common human to fulfill a divine plan. Perhaps someone shows up at exactly the right time, provides aid and kindness and completely disappears before a word of thanks can be offered; no one else saw or encountered that person, but you and it’s truly beyond explanation; but it isn’t, is it? God commands His angels to be all around and about us every single place we go. No, they are not God and are not to be worshipped, but they are commanded by God. They are about His business in our lives. That brings me comfort, despite the fact that bad things do still happen. Not every sad, tragic, frightening thing is kept from us and that is beyond what I can explain. But, God knows and He sees and He filtering, constantly, everything that touches us.

Several years ago, my son and I were driving on I-5 toward Redding, CA. All was fine and low-key until it wasn’t. A car passing us suddenly lost it’s entire drivers side wheel. It shot straight in front of our car, bounced and flew backwards, heading directly for our windshield. We were in the fast lane, 70 mph +/- with a guardrail to the right and the swerving car with the missing wheel to left. In slow motion, I watched in terror as that wheel was shooting straight at us. At the absolute last moment, it veered completely opposite it’s trajectory path, physically impossible, as if something with an incredible amount of force pushed it, and the wheel hit the guard rail and totally stopped, no injuries to anyone. My son and I would surely have been killed or gravely injured that day, had angels not intervened and brought that spinning tire under God’s control. The divine among us.

Another time, a casual walk in the park suddenly became a very frightening encounter with a stranger intent on harming me. The man and the danger were circumvented and not permitted, as I felt Jesus telling me exactly what to do and say and physically felt His command and His angels’ presence blocking the man and event that was meant for evil. These are but two of the angel encounters, big and small, that I have experienced in my lifetime. Some encounters were meant just for me that spoke volumes and changed everything. Luke 4:10 – “For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; “

I have had angels and their role in our lives on my mind, since Advent, Bible verses and Christmas carols, all speaking to the presence of angels and the encounters with humans over the centuries. It hasn’t stopped, you know; these angel and Christ encounters. I believe they are happening all over the world, all the time, in the mundane and trivial; the frightening, life threatening and the funny; the lovely and the tragic; the victory and the joy. A smile, a kind word and actions from strangers and the opportunities we are given to entertain angels, as we carry out Jesus’ love for others. Hebrews 13:2 “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”

Eyes open, hearts receptive, ears listening. The divine is all around you.

Why Are You Afraid?

We’ve arrived at the last recalibrating question in this 4 part devotional series, so let’s dive right in! Our question today comes from Matthew 8:23-27 (NLT): “Then Jesus got into the boat and started across the lake with his disciples. Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” Jesus responded, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then he got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm. The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!”

Why are you afraid? This is the question and it comes from The Quest written by Beth Moore.  We are all created in His image, but in unique and distinct ways. This is true with what we fear. Our fears may differ, but we are all afraid of something. Fear comes in many forms; fear of the dark, of being alone, of spiders and snakes. We fear the unknown and the known; strangers and sadly, even our own families. Some of my fears are not physical or tangible things; such as the fear of not being enough and that I will never be safe. Sometimes I fear the gifts God has given me – I’m afraid of feeling too deeply and being too sensitive; I fear discernment because of what I might see or feel or discover.  Sometimes we are afraid of being afraid! How fearful we anticipate being can keep us from ever doing the thing God placed in the essence of our being to do.  Fear, like sin, crouches at the door and desires to take up residence. Fear plots to rob us of any joy we find in life, in our callings, in our relationships; especially in our relationship with Jesus. Do we fear that He really doesn’t love us unconditionally? That there is that ONE thing we did, that just can’t be forgiven? Do we fear that He has favorites and we are not one of them? Do we fear that perhaps He isn’t enough and then we fear our own fear and our own unbelief?

Fear is a consummate robber, always watching, waiting, and pouncing on our insecurity, every drop of unbelief and every crumb of crumbling trust in God. Fear is a major hurdle for me personally. Until I began to look deeper into what was holding me back, and at what was keeping me paralyzed in a cycle of unhealthy patterns stuck on repeat, I had no idea how all-encompassing and crippling fear truly is for me, and maybe for you, too.

This quote from Beth Moore in The Quest is an eye opening visual of the fight between faith and fear. “Fear and faith fight for the same space. Each is territorial…think in terms of your soul being a house and Fear and Faith are knocking at your door. Each desires to occupy expansive square footage in the house of your soul…Any square foot or inch where Fear abides in your life is the precise ground Faith exists to occupy. Fear and faith cannot be roommates. They will not coexist. The one assigned authority automatically elbows the other off the space. Fear can’t stand on a carpet of faith…if you find your fear, you can always know where to send your faith.”

I love this and am typing it in bold – “Write a question mark at the end of the Welcome on your doormat then decide who and what get to come into your house!” I have been taking this idea with me as I go about my day. We get to choose who and what we let into our house/soul.  We decide. We get to send forth our faith, to any space currently occupied by fear, and evict it.

Pour out the fear that has taken up residency in your heart, mind, and soul. It doesn’t have to come out in perfect sentences, because He already knows and wants you to tell Him. This is where the divine exchange takes place. Right here in raw and open conversation with Jesus. He is waiting to exchange your fears for faith, hope, love and joy.

Psalm 23:4 – Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.  Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.

Joshua 1:9 – This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

What Are You Seeking?

John 1:38a says, “Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?”

When was the last time someone asked you what you wanted, besides the barista in your favorite coffee shop? I mean really asked you and wanted to hear the answer? Close your eyes for a moment and picture Jesus, sitting across from you, looking intently into your eyes, asking (insert your name here) “__________, what are you seeking?” How would you answer Him? Would you, in a panic, try to use your arsenal of Christian-ese, to impress Him with a lofty, holy, righteous answer? Would your mind go blank, because maybe you aren’t sure what it is you are seeking? Like me, you might want to blurt out, “I’m seeking You, Lord!”, but are we really? We may deeply wish that He was always our deepest desire, but if we are completely honest, sometimes He isn’t.  He is not impressed or fooled when we answer Him with what we think He wants to hear. Jesus can handle our honesty and already knows the real, raw, nitty-gritty answer.

What are you seeking? Is it to feel safe? Wanted? Accepted? Do you want to be known and seen? Are you seeking rest, because life is hard and you are worn down? Are you seeking a soul-mate or a good friend? Healing? These are all good things to seek; human things that humans need, desire and crave. Jesus knows this and doesn’t reject us for wanting them. The thing is, Jesus use these worldly, human desires to bring to us what He knows we seek most. It’s Him. Even if you don’t know it, feel it or believe it, it has always been Him.  In Jesus, the void is filled. In Jesus, we find meaning and value, safety and rest, healing, joy and peace, a best friend and an eternal soul-mate. I think that sometimes our most powerful testimony, is that what we were seeking, we ultimately found in Jesus.

So, what is it you are seeking? What does your soul crave? Tell Him and trust Him with the desires of your heart. I truly believe that whatever it is that your heart and soul seek, above all else, will ultimately be found in Jesus. Always. He is enough.

Psalm 38:9 (HCSB)

Lord, my every desire is known to You; my sighing is not hidden from You.

Psalm 27:8 (ESV)

You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”

Jeremiah 29:13 (ESV)

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.

Traditions

With the holidays in full swing, I have been thinking about traditions and the place of importance they often hold in our lives.  It made me stop and wonder why? There are holiday traditions I definitely look forward to and work hard to make happen, just the way I remember them. Beginning in November, I feel that twinge of anxiety, mixed with great anticipation about how Christmas “should be.” That last part, “how Christmas should be”, becoming my focus. It brings with it a whole lot of expectations, which often lead to feeling disappointed and let down, because things rarely go as planned, right? My tightly controlled ideas of how things will be, how people will act and the expectation that everyone feels the same excitement, rarely come to pass. Someone gets sick, finances are tight, the weather does not cooperate, kids grow up and don’t react the way they used to, it’s a no burn day, so the roaring, cheery fire doesn’t happen, cats destroy carefully wrapped packages and the list goes on and on of things that sneak or blast their way in to our well controlled plans for the perfect holiday.

I have expectations of yummy goodies baking all season in the kitchen, making my house smell festive; I imagine Christmas parties with good friends filling the house; I dream of evenings spent by a warm, cozy fire with my family, pets, hot drinks, movies and all the warm fuzzy togetherness we can stand; a night of hot cocoa, while driving around looking at festive Christmas lights with everyone loving every second of it, with not a fight to be had. This fantastic list goes on and on, of things that are wonderful and exciting and lovely, but not very realistic. These expectations leave NO wiggle room for life or messed up plans or teenagers who don’t want to drive around looking at houses with lights on them.

I asked myself why I get anxious, letdown or sad if things don’t play out the way I expected. What will it mean if none of these traditions I hold on to, with such a white knuckled intensity, come to pass?  Interestingly enough, the first thought that came to mind was “it won’t be safe.” Safety. I can see that. It makes sense in an odd sort of way. Feeling safe is something I have always craved. Remembering back to my childhood Christmases, everything felt predictable, controlled and orderly. It was safe. Secure. All wrapped up tightly. I knew what and who to expect, when and how to expect them.  It was all lovely and predictable. I’m certain that things didn’t go perfectly all of the time; plans were changed, people got sick and life disrupted, as it often does, but as a child, I don’t remember any of that. I remember feeling safe; protected and wrapped up in traditions, knowing that my family would be surrounding me, we would have festive meals and there would be baking and delicious smells; there would be the anticipation of Christmas Eve candle light services and carols and everyone smiling; there would be lights on our tree and evenings spent sitting in the glow of those lights. The anticipation of Santa and listening for reindeer filled my heart with joy and wonder and predictability. What great memories. I love them. There were things in my childhood that were not happy and safe. Christmas and traditions held such importance, because I knew that during the holidays, I would feel safe and things would be predictable and in control. I wonder if that holds some truth for all of us? Do traditions give us predictability, safety and the feeling of being in control in an otherwise unpredictable, uncontrollable life? Is that why there are such feelings of letdown and depression for some, come Dec. 26th?  Unmet expectations? Things not ending up as planned? People not behaving the way we had hoped?

Maybe this year will be different. Can I shift my focus to what is in front of me and embrace and enjoy it, allowing something new to become a great memory, instead of relying on what happened in the past to happen again? Can I celebrate Christmases past, yet open my heart to the here and now?  I want the season to be about gratefulness, focusing on what I have and the season of life I’m in; finding peace in that. I want the season to be more about Jesus and the joy of knowing how safe and loved I am. God came to Earth, in the flesh, to be part of my world, to bring me everlasting life. The King of Kings, the Prince of Peace, Almighty God, Warrior, Lover, Savior – He came for me. He came for you. How’s that for feeling safe! Come, let us adore Him!

Call Upon the Lord

Call Upon the Lord

The song Call upon the Lord by Elevation Worship has been on repeat for a few weeks now (lyrics below).  I cannot get enough of it. I play it over and over again. Its theme will never get old, out dated, or worn out. Call upon the Lord and He WILL rescue and save; He WILL bring peace and healing.

“We need no other hiding place. Our hope is safe within Your name.” This is so beautiful. When we are tired, worn out or weary, Jesus is our hiding place.  His covering blocks out the noise, chaos, fear and uncertainty that the world relentlessly shouts. In His presence, we don’t have to listen to it. Our hope for safety, to be rescued, for healing and restoration, for receiving forgiveness and offering it to others, is all safe with Jesus. He won’t crush our hope; He restores it.  He won’t dash or mock our dreams; He planted them inside us and expands them and opens doors that only He can; He doesn’t withhold and punish; He died in our place, so we could have life with Him forever.   The hope and faith that He hears me, sees me and knows me; every single situation, wound, heart break and victory, which fashioned me into who I am, kept me hanging on through some heavy trauma and pain I have experienced.  Knowing that what He began He WILL sustain; knowing that Jesus has a plan and purpose behind my wounds brings hope. Those wounds are now scars, because of His healing.  I’m not anonymous, forgotten or forsaken.  In fact, I am so deeply known that I am free! Jesus’ name heals.  He alone is strong enough to save. There is power in the name of Jesus.

At His name “every enemy will flee, as we declare Your victory!” Jesus is our victory. He defied death, defeated the enemy of our souls once and for all, and He offers life to all who call His name. He is right there next to you, as you read these words. He is the breath in your lungs, the beat of your heart. There is nothing about you He doesn’t already know. No secrets with Jesus. He sees you; He sees me. He alone breaks down every stronghold we erect to protect and wall ourselves away from pain. He knows why those walls were erected. He was there. He watched us build them. The pain you and I try to hide with our walls, break His heart. Your walls probably look different than mine. A wall could look like pride, arrogance, self-reliance, fear, needing to be right, promiscuity, coldness, being shut off from others, sarcasm, humor, obsession with our looks, weight and appearance, and the list could go on. Jesus knows better than we do, why we felt we needed those walls.  He waits to be invited into our lives. He is a gentleman.  He doesn’t force Himself. Jesus will meet every need we have, even that niggling, ever present pricking, that we don’t fully understand; He does. He is enough.

In my own life, I have experienced healing and restoration from things so broken and devastated, I honestly never thought any of it could be healed or restored. I heard Jesus speak to my spirit and say words so similar to these lyrics, “RISE! Your shackles are no more, for I (Jesus Christ) have broken every chain!” He has, He did and He continues to do it. I found freedom.  Those lyrics mean so much to me. I am not sure I can accurately describe the beauty of it, the freedom, the peace and safety that I feel way down deep. I’m not sure it is describable, honestly, because we have all walked different paths and experienced different wounds,  but let me assure you, once you let go and allow yourself to experience His healing, you will never be the same. Yes, you will come face to face with pain, disappointment and fear, because that is life on this planet. But know that Jesus is right there with you, as close as your next breath and will cover you with peace that passes all understanding, if you allow Him in. If you ask Him, He will give you wisdom and guidance to navigate everything life will throw at you.  He will take your ashes and give you beauty, He will give you joy for your sadness and change out that robe of heaviness for a light and lovely garment of praise. It really is supernatural, and guess what? It’s a gift!

I would be honored to hear your stories of Jesus’ saving, healing, shackle- breaking power in your life, if you would like to share.

“I will call upon the Lord, for He alone is strong enough to save….”

Call Upon the Lord by Elevation Worship

We need no other hiding place                        All of the heavens and the earth

Our hope is safe within your name                Announce the fullness of your worth

This we know, this we know                            This we know, this we know

You promise never to forsake                          And every enemy will flee

What you began you will sustain                    As we declare your victory

This we know, this we know                           This we know, this we know

I will call upon the Lord                                     I will call upon the Lord

For he alone is strong enough to save           For he alone is strong enough to save

Rise your shackles are no more                        Rise your shackles are no more

For Jesus Christ                                                      For Jesus Christ

Has broken every chain                                       Has broken every chain

Jesus’ name will break every stronghold

Freedom is ours when we call his name

Jesus’ name above every other

All hail the power of Jesus’ name

He is speaking. Can you hear Him?

Have you ever heard the comments, “God is closer than your next breath?”  or “God is always speaking to us?” Do you believe that? Have you heard that “still small voice” speaking to you?

As I sat outside on the patio this morning, my mind started wandering. It drifted through past conversations I’ve had with friends about this very thing. How does God speak to me, to you? Is He? How will I know if it’s God? I don’t know that I have the right answer, but I have a lot of thoughts about it and wanted to share what’s on my mind. I hope in the comments, you will share your thoughts and experiences as well, since we all have something to teach and something to learn.

There are those who have audibly heard the voice of God; an actual voice they heard with their physical ears. I’m not one of them. I would love to be, but I’m not; at least not yet. I believe that because our Creator made each of us in such unique and specific ways, we can’t say there is only ONE way to hear our Father’s voice.  We all interpret life and what we see, hear and feel very differently, according to our gifts, abilities, personalities and physical make up. It makes sense that we would sense our Creator’s voice in many varied ways.

Others in my circle of friends, hear His voice through very specific and detailed dreams and visions, where God is clearly showing them something important about life changes that are going to happen, the direction certain relationships are going, how they need to proceed in a certain area of their lives. I hear God this way, too. Not daily or even weekly; not in a consistent, regimented way, but He has spoken to me this way. When I was first dealing with the possibility of breast cancer, God gave me very detailed and specific dreams about it, so that I would know some of what was coming. He knows me so well, that He knew I would need this preparation; an advanced warning, so to speak.  It was a tremendous blessing to me and I am so grateful for the dreams He gave to me. It showed me that He is involved in every single thing that He filters through His hands and allows to touch my life. He knew cancer was going to be part of my story. He gave me some advance notice, because He knows how I operate. This is love.

Nature is one of the things in life that I love the most. I crave it. It is an essential part of my being, of my make –up. I feel the most alive and in touch with my Father when I am outdoors. My senses come alive and I am captivated and touched by all the sounds, scents, sensations. I have had my deepest times of communion with God, while outdoors in nature; whether it is the forest, a meadow, a trail I’m hiking, sitting on the beach or puttering in my own backyard. It isn’t an audible voice I hear, but it’s what I sense; like a spirit deep knowing that He is there and He is speaking. The brush of a gentle, playful breeze that cools my neck and ruffles my hair tells me that He cares, is always and ever-present. I hear Him speaking to me in the pounding surf and lapping waves; fear and wounding are drawn out and away in the swell of the waves as I pour out to Him all that is in my heart. The peace and awe that fall over me in the midst of the Redwoods; that glorious scent of pine, ancient growth and strength remind me of His power and creativity; that He has everything planned out that concerns me and mine; it isn’t necessarily safe and predictable, but it is good and right and promised. Sitting outside under the stars and the moon, I feel His majesty and His Lordship cover me like protective wings. He created what I see above me which is hard to comprehend, but He also created me and loves me. To me that feels so safe; I am protected and fiercely guarded. My Father’s eye is never off of me. His eye is never off of you.

Maybe you don’t believe that you have “heard” Him speak to you, but I challenge that. I really do. He speaks all the time to His creation.  Keep an open heart and open ears.  Slow down and allow yourself to hear Him. Ask Him how He wants to speak to you. I promise you He does. He has words for you and so much wisdom He desires to pour into you. But our Father God is a gentleman. He waits to be invited.  Will you let Him in?