Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dream: The Wolf on Wallstreet

So I was trying to wake up from a nap and I was stuck in this place between sleep and wake(sleep paralysis) and this is when I experience the supernatural world sometimes. This person(it seemed) was massaging my neck, trying to help me wake up, and I was thinking wow, this feels nice. So, I asked the "person," who are you, and angel? It said no, I am not an a. I said, well are you Jesus or Satan? The person said well, I guess I am neither. Well then what are you.... a demon? Weeellllll, the person said, I guess you could call me a type of demon. Then I asked again, are you Satan? Then the person responded, you either have to love me or hate me. Well, are you Satan? Because I hate Satan. The person responded, well, God put me in this world to become a sort of Satan. So, I yelled at the thing to get out of my house in the name of Jesus, and that I loved Jesus with everything and that nothing could stop me from loving him...our bond was unbreakable. As the thing was leaving I was shouting at it with all that was in me with some scripture verses. I remember saying, Jesus said He is the way and the truth and the life and that no one can come to the Father except through Him. I realized my words were echoing into the town I was living in, because the door was now open. I realized I had been scared for the gospel to echo from my mouth into the public, but what I was saying was the Truth, and I knew there was power in my words...and it felt good, like a release, to finally blare the truth to the dying world. I seemed to now be in a city, in a very nice flat. The locks on the glass doors were electronic, and I was trying to lock them...and peering up at me from the bottom of the front stairs, which were quite long, was a wolf. I was a little scared he would come back in since I couldn't get the doors locked, so I pushed a button that I thought might unlock them if they were in fact already automatically locked. After I pushed the button, of course the doors unlocked, so the wolf came running up the stairs, and before it got to the door, I opened the door and threw my hand out in front of it and said something like the power of Jesus is mightier than and bear or wolf or bull, and can break any stronghold. The power that was coming from my hand stopped the wolf about five feet in front of me, and it threw the wolf back on the street.

"For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds." (2 Corinthians 10:3-4)

I woke up, very out of it, got some food, and started recalling the dream. I was thinking to myself, what is this thing that God already put in the world, that would become some kind of antichrist. I had to either love it or hate it. OHHHH...money.

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money." Matthew 6:24

Then I was thinking about this beast that tried to enter my house a second time....the wolf I saw on the street at the bottom of the stairs. I was then reminded of the movie, The Wolf on Walstreet, that I had reluctantly watched with some friends a couple weekends ago. I could barely sit through the entire movie which was all about greed, selfishness, drugs, adultery, and the love of money. So, then I concluded that "The Wolf" on Wallstreet was not actually a person, but money. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Grace on Evelyn St.

God is faithful to teach us about himself...and for me, he has been teaching me about His grace lately. I mean, I have a pretty good understanding of what grace is...like the head knowledge of it. I would describe it as the undeserving love and protection...and the ultimate grace being the saving of our souls through God revealing the light of the knowledge of His glory through the face of Christ.(2 Corin. 4:6). But the heart knowledge came very recently...or maybe it was more the apex of gaining it. I was asked to do a jewelry project with two ex-prostitutes, which is what the world would call them, but I call them rescued victims of sex trafficking. Because there is just more to it than that they just up and decided to sell their bodies to make money one day, because they were extremely lascivious and "trashy". Not usually the case at all. More than not there is child abuse in their past, physical, sexual, it doesn't matter...their parents sucked to say the least. They may have been neglected, not shown their worth, not taught about their all-loving father in heaven...basically treated like a prostitute...used, devalued, treated like an animal. So, they fulfilled this other-produced prophecy. 

I learned before I arrived that day that I would be meeting with two women at  the place where they were housed by the organization to help them rebuild their lives....both of them Caucasian, 29-year-old women...so the similarities began. I started our session by opening up about my past to help them feel more comfortable and at ease with me...because I didn't want them to feel like I was coming in as some Bible-beating hypocrite to tell them the Truth about their sinful past and how to be a "better person"...like me...not! Because this is not AT ALL where my heart was upon accepting the invitation to meet with them... 

(Sidenote: I began a relationship with the founders back in Nov '12 at an anti-human trafficking dance, and then in February of this year I began a jewelry cause as I call it, in which I would donate personalized hand stamped bracelets to girls and women who had been rescued from sex trafficking. "Adorn Her with His Promise. Giving Her Worth. Hope. Freedom." I donate one bracelet for every bracelet sold. It is the Jeremiah 29:11 verse using their name. I truly wanted to give these women a gift of hope using God's words spoken to them personally through something they would value that would make them feel valued. As I reached out to them to offer the bracelets, a door further opened to spend time with the girls making jewelry and doing crafts.)

My heart in working with these women was to allow God to use my story, which involved a sinful past, particularly involving sexual sin...and sharing with them God's redemption story in me of his mercy, love and forgiveness and the new life He has given me in the past 3+ years. I particularly wanted to inspire them to get into God's word, and show them the revelations that God has given me through simply opening up the Bible. ("For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Hebrews 4:12.) 

Basically, I wanted them to know what I have now come to know...and that is the freedom that comes from living a life in Christ. I learned about their lives up until this point, we shared similar struggles with relationships and men...and just life in general. I shared a handful of scriptures that helped me during my time of need, and we made some awesome pearl wrap bracelets! In which they did a way better job than me, and were much quicker to finish as well! lol. I promised to come back sometime within the month, and I felt that they enjoyed the fellowship as much as I did.

(Since then, I did a jewelry class with about 6 women at a program that offers life skills in which they attended. And, of course "jewelry making" is a life skill!! ;) I am now designing a signature piece for the organization (BY GOD'S GRACE!), and have the honor of making two special necklaces for these women...one of them is having a birthday on June 6th.)

Back to this thing called GRACE....OH MY....as I left their house that day, and felt God's presence...especially as I passed Evelyn St. and Evelyn Pl.(which is my deceased daughter's name...and the first time I had seen her name on a street sign)...and as He spoke to me on the ride home and as I came back to my beautiful home, provided so graciously by God...and my parents....I thought I am not any different than these women...and as I told my mom about my day, it came to me that...I most UNDENIABLY would be exactly where they are and where they have been by about two degrees...or two decisions...and by His Grace alone I am not. 

I have NOTHING without his grace. I don't have my hands to feed myself, I don't have parents who took me in after all my horrible decisions. I am homeless, with a baby, maybe taken in by an organization like this to live on Evelyn St. I was so overcome by this knowledge of his grace in my life that it simply brought me to my knees and to tears of thankfulness for the grace that he has given me...which is less than some and more than others are given, but not by my own deeds or skills or choices. For instance, I am only given the ability to learn because he chose to give it to me...to the degree that he chose to give it to me. I was born in this country by his grace. I was given the parents I was given by His grace. 

And the point, that I now understand better, is that I am no better than the woman that can't walk in Africa, that scoots around on the ground in her own feces, that knows maybe a handful of words, that most likely will never have the opportunity to read the Bible...I mean wow, HIS GRACE! I get it way more than I ever did...and it is only by His grace that He would show me and allow me to understand in the way that He did. Understanding his grace is very humbling...it leaves one in a sheer place of thankfulness for our undeserving blessings and gifts. And that is His plan, to position our hearts to receive the Kingdom of God here and now, and for eternity. (And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3). He desires to bring us into greater likeness with Christ every day to more accurately imitate the love of God to others, so that they may come to know Him through us; and to prepare us for our entrance into heaven, so that we may be found spotless and blameless before our Maker. "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless." Ephesians 5:25-27

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Here's the truth, without eyes from God, we think we are better than other people and we believe that we accomplish and have things by our own means....we say, I did this, or I have this job, or I went to this college, or I climbed that mountain, or we made this beautiful child. You are nothing and have nothing without God's provision and grace. And I pray for everyone reading this, that you receive the heart knowledge of God's grace over every single thing in your life, about who you are and what you have...so he can lift you up, and so that you can see, understand, and humbly receive God's grace daily, growing in intimacy and knowledge of Him daily.

Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble."
Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4:6,8-10

When we think we are better than another person it is a lie straight from the enemy. (By the way, I can only write about this, because I have been guilty of it in the past, and still struggle with it.) In this, we are affirming to ourselves and to the world that we are who we are and have what we have by our own means...we take credit for it, and do not accept that it is from the hand of God himself, by His grace alone. (She doesn’t realize it was I who gave her everything she has—the grain, the new wine, the olive oil; I even gave her silver and gold. But she gave all my gifts to Baal. Hosea 2:8). If we did accept that it was from God alone, why would we think we are better than someone else? Well, we wouldn't, because we would know that God could have easily chosen that life or status for us, and so we would simply be thankful and humble about who God has made us to be and what he has given us, and not project on others a greater than or less than attitude. More importantly in this is that when we do not accept that we are given everything by God's grace, we are not able to show God's love...which is pure and without fault or judgement...showing no favoritism.

"My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?" James 2:1-5

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4

And with this false mindset people are not able to know God through us...because we are living under a lie that is of the world, and accepted by the world, but is actually very far from the actual truth of what God has established to be true...and that is that we are all that we are, and have all that we have, only by God's grace.

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

More Scripture:

"I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck..." Ezekial 16:11 (I hope to write what God has spoken to me using this scripture soon...)

Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?" Romans 9:21
(By God's grace, I have only acquired "common use" grammar and writing skills...I know)

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
 Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
 rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
 And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death
        even death on a cross!

 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:5-11

Hosea 2:14-23---LOVE THIS!!

But then I will win her back once again.
    I will lead her into the desert
    and speak tenderly to her there.
 I will return her vineyards to her
    and transform the Valley of Trouble[b] into a gateway of hope.

She will give herself to me there,
    as she did long ago when she was young,
    when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt. When that day comes,” says the Lord,    “you will call me ‘my husband’
    instead of ‘my master.’[c]
 O Israel, I will wipe the many names of Baal from your lips,
    and you will never mention them again.
 On that day I will make a covenant
    with all the wild animals and the birds of the sky
and the animals that scurry along the ground
    so they will not harm you.
I will remove all weapons of war from the land,
    all swords and bows,
so you can live unafraid
    in peace and safety.
 I will make you my wife forever,
    showing you righteousness and justice,
    unfailing love and compassion.
 I will be faithful to you and make you mine,
    and you will finally know me as the Lord.

 “In that day, I will answer,”
    says the Lord.
“I will answer the sky as it pleads for clouds.
    And the sky will answer the earth with rain.
 Then the earth will answer the thirsty cries
    of the grain, the grapevines, and the olive trees.
And they in turn will answer,
    ‘Jezreel’—‘God plants!’
 At that time I will plant a crop of Israelites
    and raise them for myself.
I will show love
    to those I called ‘Not loved.’[d]
And to those I called ‘Not my people,’[e]
    I will say, ‘Now you are my people.’

And they will reply, ‘You are our God!’”

Friday, December 28, 2012

Keeping the Sabbath Holy in the Backseat of a Cop Car

It was not by accident or mistake that I got to take a trip in the backseat of a patrol car a couple weeks ago...in tears, as we usually are when we are in the hands of the law. God is so purposeful and faithful as our teacher, but it isn't always without pain or fear. I was on my way to work when...

Well, let me back up to the night before. I was on my way to JoAnn's, and at the last minute I realized I needed to be in the right lane to turn. Something told me to just get over, but I was only a few feet from the light, and it would have been a little difficult, so I decided to just go in the back way from Steve Reynolds. As I sat at the light, a few cars back in the left lane, I saw a young girl walking on the sidewalk to the right, turning right on Pleasant Hill. It was dark outside, maybe 8pm or so, with a purse and a backpack on. She appeared to be High School age. I immediately thought I should stop to make sure she is okay, that she doesn't need any help. After learning that many girls are trafficked after running away from home, and are usually picked up within 48 hours by their predators, I realized that this could be unfolding right before my eyes, or moments after. And if I don't stop, who would be the next person that stops for her? Someone to help her or someone to hurt her?

I couldn't turn right at this point without making a huge scene and causing people to blare their horns at me, so I just went straight and pulled into JoAnns from the back. I started to feel guilty, so I went straight through to the front and looked on Pleasant Hill the way the girl was headed. I didn't see her for some way, and realized she either made it to her destination or someone picked her up. So, I just pulled on Pleasant Hill and u-turned back to JoAnns. I couldn't stop thinking about this all night. I prayed for her, and just promised that I'd do whatever I could to stop next time if I saw a situation that looked suspect. I can't remember when it was, but it was either that day or the day before that I had seen a young female with an older man. By the differences in their appearance, I had no reason to believe they were related, and the age difference was stark. She didn't seem to be afraid or uncomfortable, but I just didn't feel right about it. I didn't have time to do anything. They were leaving the gas station as I was coming in. So, all I could do is just pray for this girl. As I do think prayer is important in the fight against human trafficking both locally and abroad, I believe we need to be true advocates in all sense of the word. If we see these situations, we need to act. Stop and inquire, call in a license plate, etc. It sounds crazy, but if over *200 girls are being commercially sexually exploited each month in Georgia, and if what they say is true that much of this is going on in the suburbs...it is happening right under our nose. You may be pumping gas, minding your own business, and one of these pimps stops with one of his girls on the way to a hotel to get a soda or to fill up. It happens every day. (*Figure from A Future. Not a Past.)

God has opened my eyes to this issue in a way I almost wish he hadn't. One way to prevent sex trafficking in the future is to mentor a child, who is at-risk to be a pimp or a victim of CSEC (Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children) one day. A common thread among pimps and victims is that they did not have a positive role model growing up. They also might have experienced sexual abuse, not reported and dealt with properly, and maybe just general neglect and a lack of love in their lives. We can also help by just keeping our eyes open, not going to and from in this world, ignoring everyone around us, pretending we have no power to help, make a change, or prevent crime and abuse. That's what you do by the way, maybe not you specifically, but the majority of the population just minds their own business, selfishly handling their own personal errands and tasks for the day...not open to helping a stranger or someone in need. It is a disgrace. And I am absolutely guilty of this at times as well. 

Well, you say, sometimes there are setups where young women lure people to their broke down car and then out pops her boyfriend from the trunk who forces you in the car to mug you, rape you, or kill you. Oh geez, really? I mean be careful out there, sure, especially if you are a woman alone, but do not use that as an excuse to never help strangers. I pray before I help someone, and I know that the protection of God is with me. And if I die, trying to be Christ to a stranger to possibly share the good news with them, then so be it! Christ was mocked, rejected, tortured, whipped, stoned, and hung on a cross, baring our sins. But we should "rejoice that (we) participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that (we) may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed." Peter 4:13. I cannot afford to sit on the judgment seat of Christ and say, well, God, I didn't help your people...I didn't help Jesus...because it was a little too risky...I could have been hurt. “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’(Matthew 25:45). I will not look into his eyes and tell him NO...hopefully ever again. My story is coming, I promise.

"Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life." Revelation 2:10

"I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who can kill the body and that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after killing the body, has the power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him." Luke 12:4-5

So, the day after I saw the girl on my way to JoAnns, I was on my way to work and ran out of gas in Johns Creek. By the way, this is my second day to work at a seasonal job, so you can imagine my state of mind. It is a Sunday, and I'm already feeling guilty about missing church, ignoring the Sabbath, and working instead. I ran out of gas simply because my gas gage doesn't work, I know, winner :) And, yes, I calculated my mileage with gallons, etc., but thought I had a little extra from the previous fill up...and obviously I didn't. I managed to pull over on the side of the road, and did what I'd always do...call mom and dad. Dad is volunteering at church with his phone on silent, and mom is watching my nieces. She goes to load them in the car to find out my bro and sister-in-law didn't leave a car seat. UGHH. Ok, so I asked her if I should just wait for dad to get done serving. Maybe another hour. No, I will be too late to work by then. Then I asked her if I should just walk to the gas station as I see many people doing, and she said, "yeah, that's probably your best bet at this point." It was only maybe a mile away. The whole time I'm praying I don't get hit and die, unless it's his will, and that God will send someone to help me. I had been praying for him to send someone to help me as I sat in my car for about 5 minutes after deciding to walk. I thought maybe someone would stop, as I had once done for other people. 

No one stops, so I get out to walk, trusting God has this figured out somewhere along the way. First of all, it is so awkward walking down the street by yourself, where there is no sidewalk. I am scared I will get hit by someone texting, so I try to walk far from the street in the grass. Then I have to make it over a bridge with a VERY small shoulder...if you can even call it that. I wait until all the cars have passed and I jump up on...practically the railing of the bridge where there is some concrete. All these cars pass me, and not one of them stops. I wonder if I got up on the railing like I was going to jump, if anyone would stop for that. I mean, you would think SOMEONE might wonder why a young women is walking on the side of a street, not to mention, they have just passed a car pulled over with the emergency lights on. The whole time I'm walking, I'm thinking about this girl last night and many girls that are really in need...she is scared, alone in this cold world, wondering if anyone notices her...if anyone will stop to help her. On my way, one lady stops, I think to ask me if I'm okay. She just sits in this empty parking lot with a homeless shelter pick-up truck in it for a few seconds as I walk towards her, she looks at me, and then just pulls back onto the road. I imagine she is thinking what I was the night before...should I stop to check on this girl? She seems like she is okay. I don't want to seem strange and offer to help her...she's probably fine. Oh well, I will just keep driving. 

Then I pass a Catholic Mission Church who is conveniently having an outdoor picnic or something. I figure I am almost to the gas station so I won't bother them. They are so engrossed in what they are doing I don't even think they saw me. I mean, I'm sure they don't want to be inconvenienced during their planned festival to help someone in need. I get to the gas station...thank GOD I have money. So I buy the little gas can, go to fill it up, and think, surely I can find someone here that will drive me back so I won't be even later than I already am. I have called work by now, of course, to tell them what is going on. I see a lady, maybe in her 60's and ask her very politely if she could drive me to my car about a mile up the street. "No," she says, "I can't" and won't even look at me. I had said to myself that I would just ask women, but as I look around, all I see are men. I am baffled to say the least that this woman says no, that now it is like this point I feel I need to make...like, WILL NO ONE help me?? I just can't believe it. I walk up to a guy in a BMW SUV. "Sir, would you mind driving me to my car a mile up the road, I ran out of gas." He just says, "No." Okeedokey, next person. A couple in a van, "No, I'm sorry." Now, the first lady starts yelling at me as she sees these people say no to me, and says, "Go talk to the attendant, that's what they're here for!!" in a mean and agitated tone. Nope, I'm on a mission to see just how cold and cruel our world really is. I mean, am I not allowed to ask a stranger for help? What is the gas station attendant going to do? Call me a cab? The next guy I ask says, "Well that road is down that way and much further than a mile, are you sure? Me: "No, sir, it is the other way and only about a mile up. I just came from there." (duh). Anyway, so he says in a mean tone, "Well, if you hurry up, I have to go pick up my daughter from Sunday School." Fabulous, a real nice "Christian" man. So, I am like panicking at this point, thinking he is my only option, trying to "hurry up" and get my debit card swiped, entering my pin as fast as I can to then fill up. 

Then a cop car pulls behind me, "Are you Christine?" Me: "Yes, sir???" Guy from across the way yells, "Hurry UP! I gotta go!" The cop says to me, "Do you know this man??" Me to the cop: "Can you take me back to my car?" Not sure if even he will say yes. He says sure. I yell back at the man that the cop is going to take me. Cop asks me again, "Do you know that man??" "No, but I asked like 5 other people if they could help me and they said no." (OK, it was 3, but it felt like 5.) Tears of relief are welling up in my eyes that my helper has come. Policeman: "oh, well that's nice...did you know you left your lights on and your purse in your car?" Me: "No, I didn't realize I left my lights on, but yes, I left my purse because I didn't want to carry it." I had my debit and license on me. I thought I might be a target walking down the street with my purse on me. Of course, I guess I could have put it in the trunk, but wasn't really thinking someone in John's Creek is going to pull over, steel my wheels and try to break in my car in broad daylight. Policeman: "Well I came looking for you because something just didn't look right." Thank God! He answers prayer! And, this cop might have saved me from more than we know. See, God's hand was in me leaving a strange scene behind with my lights on and purse in the passenger seat...oh and my wallet hanging out as well he said. He then proceeds to tell me how there are all kinds of crazy people out there and I could have just called them. They handle much bigger problems for people then just taking someone to get gas. 

I finish filling up and he opens his back door for me to get in. First ride in the backseat of a cop car! Honestly, it made me want to cry even though I didn't do anything wrong...partly out of just knowing I was safe, that I could let my guard back down...the whole experience was just very emotional for me. Doesn't everyone cry the first time they ride in the back of a cop car? Did you know that the seats are this really hard plastic? I sat down as my cell phone crunched in my back pocket. When we got to my car we laughed as we both tried to figure out this gas can for like 5 min. It was really complicated, maybe a 5 year old could have figured it out quicker than us. Finally we figured it out, got the gas in the car, and went our separate ways. He was a very nice man and gave me his card to call him if I was ever in this situation again. I tried to hold it together, but I basically had a meltdown on the way to work, just thinking about how bad it felt to feel like I needed help from a stranger and no one was willing. Rejected one by one. I thought about all the people out there that really need help. I mean, the reality is I could have just walked back to my car with my gas, and would have been fine. 

But what I think is that God really wanted me to experience this, to feel the pain of those that are in need in the world, and can't get anyone to turn and help them. I don't think it was an accident that neither of my parents could help me that day. I could have called a friend, but I didn't want to bother them on a Sunday for something this stupid. I grew up fairly sheltered and always "taken care of." I've always had someone to call when in need. I thought about a young women who didn't have any family around, and maybe no money to get gas...what does she do? I guess she calls the cops or ends up getting picked up by a pimp. Isn't it sad though, that we can only count on a paid public officer to help someone in need? Where are the Christians, Oh Ye Christian nation?! Oh yeah, they are on their way to church and don't want to be even later than they already are, or they are in rush to pick up their child from Sunday School, clearly not attempting to be part of the body themselves. It made me realize how it wasn't as important that I missed church that Sunday, as it is for me to BE a Christian every day...like I needed someone to be for me that day. The reality is, many Christians passed me that day on their way to church, but they didn't want to be late for Rudy Vaughn's, "Emmanuel." 

Matthew 25:31-46
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” 

1 Peter 4:12-16
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Spared by Her Goodness

The Christmas season is a very sentimental and emotional time for many...and more this year for me than every before. As I grow closer to Jesus, and behold just what God has done for us in sending himself in the flesh...as a little baby, I am just overwhelmed with gratitude and filled with awe. Losing my baby has brought me into a deeper heart knowledge of God and His love in allowing his only son to be sacrificed for all that would believe in him. Celebrating Jesus as a "baby" at Christmas makes it all the more emotional, naturally. Many times I felt that Evelyn was sacrificed for my life. Symbolically, I see her as a little Jesus to me. The reality is I led a very sinful life prior to Evie's entry into my life...which began long before I gave birth to her. See, God knows us before we are ever born, and in a sense, I believe our children are known to us in a deep place before they are ever conceived. Maybe it's the love that grows between a man and a woman prior to having children, or for instance, the discussion of baby names before a child is on the way. Evie was named a few short months before her life essentially began here on earth.

As I have read stories in the Bible about child loss, and in some instances as a result of sin, I have naturally concluded at times that this is why she died...because of my sin. Only yesterday I had this discussion with a group of friends after church. One man in the conversation assured me that her death was not result of anything I did wrong. I have been told this many times, but how can I not think that when I read the exact opposite in the Bible? I do know that God disciplines those he considers sons and daughters, and it is out of his love for us, to make us more like his son, Jesus. There are also very real consequences to sin here on  earth. Sometimes I think that Evie was taken home to be with her heavenly father to spare me of a tough life as a single mother, but mostly I think it was for her to be spared of the complicated and possibly dysfunctional life that she would have had, given the dynamics between her father and I. Maybe she was not sacrificed at all, but was spared and blessed...with my life being the sacrifice...of having to carry the weight of her absence for the rest of my life.

I prayed a lot about this that afternoon, because bringing this up again stirs up a lot of emotion and anxiety for me. I was kinda dozing in and out of sleep as I do often during prayer, and many of you are probably thinking oh yeah, that happens to me too! And having narcolepsy makes this a very often occurrence for me. Sometimes I hear songs or words during this dozing time, in an very real, audible way. Auditory hallucinations are a symptom of narcolepsy...upon sleeping or waking..."half-asleep" states as I call them. No, I don't just "hear things" walking around in broad day light! I feel God has only used this disorder in a way that allows me to hear him and grow closer to him through it. God can speak to all of us, to our hearts, our minds, in dreams, through scripture, through people, and even audibly sometimes. What I hear from God during these times of waking or dozing are not random. Moreover, there are only a handful of times I have heard from God in this way and I can back it up with what cannot be considered coincidence.

Yesterday as I was dozing off in my prayer time, I heard "kings," which caused me to wake up fully. I immediately thought to read in Kings. When I got to the chapter, I just started reading where I landed...and began reading the story of Jeroboam and his son, Abijah. Basically Abijah gets sick, so Jeroboam sends his wife and the child to the prophet, Ahijah, to find out what will become of the child. This is the same prophet that told Jeroboam he would be king. When she arrived, Ahijah(prophet) told her that because Jeroboam had not been like God's servant David who kept all the commandments, and who followed God with all his heart, but instead did more evil than all who came before him, he would bring disaster on his house. Abijah then said to her, "When your feet enter the city, the child shall die. And all Israel shall mourn for him and bury him, for he is the only one of Jeroboam who shall come to the grave, because in him there is found something good toward the Lord God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam." 1 Kings 14:12,13. The way it is stated makes it seem as if this child is the ONLY one who gets the honor of death, because of his favor with the Lord. The footnotes in my Bible say, "Sometimes God takes the life of the righteous to spare them from evil." It references Isaiah 57:1: "The righteous perishes, And no man takes it to heart; Merciful men are taken away, While no one considers that the righteous is taken away from evil. He shall enter into peace..." The footnotes here say: "We will never know until heaven how many godly men and women have died early in life as a result of God's grace. He takes some home so that evil things might not touch them."

I know that by God's grace he led me to this scripture, and I now feel I have the answer for my daughter's death...one that is good enough for me, as I will most likely never fully understand her early death, because God's ways and his thoughts are so much higher than ours. I feel after this I will no longer focus on her death as a punishment for my sins, but as a sign of her goodness, that by God's grace he would spare her from the evil that could have hurt her in this world. And for that, all I can say is "Hallelujah!"

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

An Unlikely Rainbow

As the months and now years have past since Evie began a new life in heaven, many of mom's that I grieved with have started new chapters with their "Rainbow Babies." The rainbow is the baby that comes after the storm or the loss. 

" 'Rainbow Babies' is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn’t mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope."

Without the immediate hope of starting a new chapter with my own rainbow baby, God somehow gave me strength and peace in spite of that reality, and allowed me to share in their healing. I felt lifted out of the storm with them in seeing the joy and the life in their eyes, watching them through their pregnancies, and then seeing their healthy babies when they arrived. Inspired by rainbow's Judah Courage(brother to Bella Grace in heaven) and Scarlet Noelle(sister to Lainey Grace and Evelyn Juliet in heaven) I created a new product for my Etsy store, Rainbow Signs. In making this bright and colorful gift for these babies and their parents, I felt God speaking to me that I was also entering a new chapter, the "rainbow chapter" in my own life. Because a baby is probably the closest comfort a mother can get after losing her child, however not a replacement of the child that is gone...it is natural to think that rainbow "baby" is the buzz word in the baby loss community. For me, God has many rainbows in store for me, but just not a rainbow baby in the near future, unless you hear me tell of the miracle child conceived by the Holy Spirit! ha! I am hopeful of the rainbows in store for me, and I will be patient for my "rainbow baby," because God's timing is perfect.

Saturday I spent some time with sweet rainbow, Judah Courage and his parents at his baby shower, where I was so blessed to be able to give away my first Rainbow Sign. I left the shower and got a little turned around, so I stopped in a turn lane going into a neighborhood and pulled up the GPS on my phone. As I was looking to see where I was by the street names, I saw that I was directly in front of Rainbow Circle. I was shocked, but not too much, because God is able to do anything! I took out my phone to take a picture of it, and then proceeded to turn around. I began looking at my GPS again to notice that there was also a Rainbow Dr. in that neighborhood as well. I thought that was interesting to I looked back at the entrance and  noticed the neighborhood was named Rainbow Estates. I'm not sure how I missed this when I was first taking a picture of the street name right in front of it, but I think this is how we are with many things in life. We are so focused on what we want to see or what we are looking for, that we miss what is right in front of us...what has been there all along. I began processsing this thought, and felt God speak to my spirit, that he was giving me a rainbow, but just not the one I was looking for...

That night I got a call from a friend of seven years that lives in India. He had been trying to reach me for a day or so, and we finally caught each other. This is someone who I have always found easy to talk to and no matter how much time had passed between talking we could always pick right back up. We have been saying for years now how I was coming to India to visit, or he was coming here to work. I also joked with him that when I came I wasn't going to tell him beforehand, and was just going to show up at his work one day. He said, no I couldn't do that because he would need to plan some places to take me. SOOO...when we talked Saturday, he asked me how far I lived from Duluth, and I just said casually, I dunno, maybe 5 minutes. He said, Oh good, because I am here in Duluth....WHAT?? Well, actually I didn't say anything...speechless...and paralyzed, literally. Thank goodness I was on the couch! He kept saying, hello?, hello?....then he finally just hung up and called back. LOL. So I immediately went to see him and he made me sit on the couch right away, because I warned him I may have an episode and not to worry if I collapsed. I have cataplexy which causes me to become paralyzed with any heightened emotion (laughter, sadness, excitement), and if I'm standing when this happens, it basically looks like crumbling to the ground...I don't just fall straight over.

The first evening we hung out and talked about life, his wife and new baby, etc. He made the comment that while his son is learning all new things in India, he is here learning all new things here. He has never lived outside of his home with his parents and siblings, never cooked, nor left India. I was just so excited to take him anywhere. So, we went to Suwanee days and sat at a coffee shop for a while. He came back to the house to meet my parents and Max, and witnessed a little bit of a game of Taboo between my parents and their friends. I can't explain the joy at the thought of getting out again and doing things, the simple things, as we discussed all he had hoped of doing while he was here. It was so funny because the other day my good friend and I were just talking about how I needed to try to get out and "live" again...and how I felt I was really just not there yet, but admitted I felt God pushing me out of a life mostly in isolation. I even prayed for someone to help me, because I just didn't feel like I could do it on my own. All the while during my first evening with Om, I was not really connecting the dots on the timing of his move...this blessing that was before me.

I was so excited at the thought of being able to experience some of these "firsts" with him during his stay in the U.S.! I woke up the next morning and thought about what a blessing it was that God sent him at this exact time in my life, but also what a sacrifice for him to be missing out on time with his wife and new baby to gain new work experience in the U.S. I am immensely excited to be his aid around this side of the world for a short time, and I also can't wait to spend time with both his wife and son when they arrive. We talked about how old the baby would be about the time they planned on traveling here, and he talked about getting to be a child again when his son is moving around and playing....he said, you get to be a child three times in life...your childhood, through your children, and then through your grandchildren. This guy has so many amazing insights! This reminded me of my grandmother talking about how amazing it was to see through my eyes during my first trip to Disney World. She says I just marveled at tinker bell coming out of the castle, and the look in my eye was something she will never forget. She was living through me on that trip...and feeling that same joy with me in those moment.

To have a rainbow baby, means to move from the storm of loss towards hope in new life, experiencing all the happiness and joy of a new baby with all of the child's "firsts" in life...while still remembering the storm, and at times being painfully reminded of those firsts that you didn't get to experience with the child that has passed on into a new life in heaven. I know that God has many rainbows in store for my life...but today, I am thankful for the rainbow that came all the way from India, my friend Om.  He has given me a chance to be a child again, and through his eyes, I will also marvel at all the "new."

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Miracle-Exodus 31

I title this miracle, because it truly is a miracle. I have received a handful of "miracles" from God after I gave my life to him, and I cannot wait to share them all soon!
I will not die but live,
and will proclaim what the Lord has done.
The Lord has chastened me severely,
but he has not given me over to death. Psalm 118:17-18

But as for me, it is good to be near God. 
    I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; 
    I will tell of all your deeds. Psalm 73:28

My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge. Psalm 71:15

I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonders. Psalm 9:1

After losing Evie, I struggled to find purpose in my life. I was in this weird place, because I had prepared for so long to be her mother and to take care of her, and when I lost her...I knew I was still her mother, but she was not here on earth for me to care for anymore. I knew I was called to go deeper into God's Word, and I knew that I enjoyed using my creativity. I had started my business with Premier Designs Jewelry, and I had also begun making what I now call "Jewel Boards." These are framed jewelry organizers. 

It was really on my heart to start making something in wood. I wasn't sure why, but it had become a strong desire of mine. I also knew that I wanted to make something for parents that had lost children. I was feeling very confused for a time about what God really wanted me to do with my life. There were times when I felt He wanted me to give up everything and go to India to work with women and children...and although I do still feel this is in the future for me, I didn't have peace that "now" was the right time. I know that it will be in my future in some way or another, whether it is full-time mission work, a ministry of my own, or short-term missions. I am leaving that up to how God continues to shape it into my life. For now, I am fundraising once a year at Evie's birthday through the "Jewels from Heaven" benefit to benefit ministries in India. This will be our second year. 

But what about the rest of my time? What am I supposed to do? I asked God...I begged Him, actually, to tell me why he created me. I said, "God why did you put me here, what is your purpose for me?" I was crying out from my woundedness, feeling like my purpose in caring for my daughter was stripped from me...so I was desperate for God to respond. I had felt "Exodus" jump out at me for some reason prior to this prayer. It was on something I had near me at that time. After the prayer, I began reading my Jesus Calling devotional, and one of the references was in Exodus. I, now, really felt God was telling me to read in Exodus. So, I opened up to Exodus and just started reading wherever I landed. This is what I read...

Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills  to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze,to cut and set jewels, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. Exodus 31:1-5

AHHH!!!! Really??? This is why I keep talking about this amazing God that has found me! Because He speaks to us in such a personal way, and only by His grace, direction, and favor can we live our lives for His glory...which is the best life available to us. Out of every single verse in the entire Bible...this is like winning the Mega Millions. There is not one verse that is more fitting and perfect for God to speak to me on my purpose...what He created me to do. For those of you that have read, "My Jewel" post, you would also understand how it is even more crazy that the word 'jewel' is used in this verse...of course it would be...

I, then. felt peace about moving forward with my idea for making something in wood. Soon after, God gave me the exact vision for what I now call "Angel Signs." These are wooden wall hangings with a child's name, and a quote on another board, connected by ribbon and hung by ribbon. I had a strong desire for Evelyn's name to still hang on my wall, but in a way that memorialized her and was respectful of the loss. It was painful for me to see the bright, polka-dotted letters that once hung above her crib. So, I make the Angel Signs in a soft gray, with either light pink, blue, or cream lettering and ribbon. I am selling these on Etsy as well as on an online memorial boutique. So far, God has blessed me to touch the homes of 18 families. I hope that one day it will be thousands! God will continue to shape and mold me all for His Glory...and they will know that it is the Lord that has done this.

Check them out here! Angel Name Signs

I will make rivers flow on barren heights.....so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the LORD has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it. Isaiah 40:16,20.

The Lord is righteous in all his ways
    and faithful in all he does. 
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, 
    to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him
    he hears their cry and saves them. 
Psalm 145:17-19

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Storing Up Treasure in Heaven

The more I am in tune with eternity and heaven, naturally the more I understand how short life is. There are many scripture passages that speak to this, but why is it so hard for us to let this truth sink deep into our spirits? We rarely think about our death, and that it is imminent...given how short our lives are. He says our life is but a breath...and that we should simply enjoy his presence each moment and rest in the knowledge and joy of our salvation...that we will spend eternity with the Father, and the angels, and our loved ones who are saved...in a real, physical place called heaven. God says we should not boast about tomorrow, and that we are just to live and focus on one day at at time...because it has enough trouble of it's own. We are not to worry about tomorrow.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34

Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow. Psalm 144:4

You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath. Psalm 39:5

I am beyond blessed to have the experience of the sweet girl that changed my life and my eternity, my daughter, Evelyn. What a jewel she is. God took the only thing I ever truly loved, and he brought it to himself...pulling my heart and my attention to Him along with her. He has blessed me with eyes that see and ears that hear...spiritual wisdom through the Holy Spirit and the Word. Eternal pleasures at his right hand, he has bestowed upon me.

But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. Matthew 13:16

Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." John 20:29

You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11

By his grace, I get it. I know why I'm here...for the most part...and I know in my soul what matters and what doesn't in this world. I know I'm going to heaven...and God has given me such a real experience of what heaven is like through dreams and other's experiences in books...so that I could grasp it...and live in a way to yearn for it, seeking to glorify the Lord with my life, and to want the best there is to have when I get to heaven. We will all give an account of our lives before God...

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will confess to God.’”
So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad" 2 Corin 5:10. 

God's word says, "Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys." (Luke 12:33). And in Matthew, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal." (Matthew 6:19). After I lost Evelyn, and by God's grace, He gave me the desire to live this way. And I'm not there yet, but He continues to mold and shape me to align my life with this calling. Possessions became meaningless to me after I lost the precious life of my daughter...all the baby stuff...everything was meaningless, everything was there...but she wasn't. I started giving things away, and I knew in my heart that he had taught me a lesson in his Truth that few are ever blessed to learn. He is preparing me for the most glorious plan He has for me...to glorify Him...in living not for myself...and it is the only way. For now, I have been called to create the opportunity for others to build treasure in heaven along with me, through a benefit near my daughter's birthday, "Jewels from Heaven." Last year, God's presence showed up in a big way, and we will continue to pray for him to be glorified this year. Please pray with me over this night, Friday, October 26th, 2012, and I hope some of you will come out to support the cause...TBA. It will be a fun night with good food, live music, silent auction, and raffle in honor of Evelyn and other children in heaven! Thank you to all that supported last year!

God has done so much to grow my faith in Him in the last two years since I lost my daughter...as the Living God....that speaks and works in a real way, and He has not stopped revealing things to me since I fully gave my life to him. God is faithful! I hope to be writing all these stories soon, since I am a little behind with all the moves and changes God has been making in my life. Thank you all for your prayers over my life as I seek God's will and heal from the greatest loss of my life. Bless you!