Saturday, April 7, 2018

What's in a picture...

Get the word out. Teach all these things. And don’t let anyone put you down because you’re young. Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity. Stay at your post reading Scripture, giving counsel, teaching. And that special gift of ministry you were given when the leaders of the church laid hands on you and prayed—keep that dusted off and in use.
1 Timothy 4:11-14 MSG

These verses right here, in the Message translation...these are not mere words on a page, for this next messenger for God. In her early 20's most probably think she's about 15 years old. I did. I honestly thought she was about 15 years old and at the retreat with her mom. I never in a million years would have even considered that she was one of the women that had been given a word to share at the retreat. Can I just be transparent? I am not one with lots of fancy, sophisticated, elegant words. I am simple and I love that God made me pretty up front. I couldn't imagine what this innocent child could share with me on the 23rd anniversary of me turning 29 (my 52nd birthday.) In my mind she didn't fit the "usual" speakers mold. My failure to remember that my standards are not THE standard. That God uses each of us who choose Him and are willing to step out in faith, regardless of who we are. He doesn't look for what we look for in this world...He looks at the heart and He looks for the willing. She just shared her first question and I knew she was both willing and wise. 

I will call her Tiny m. When Tiny m began she asked us if we were editing our lives to fit our "perfect pic" by deleting and changing what we "deem" not good enough and enhancing what we thing is worthy? I can't remember her exact words, but for me she was asking was, "Do you take the time to Photoshop your pics to your life with the exact look you want, before you upload or share them with the world?" I could hear God asking me, "What and who do you place your standards against? Are you looking at yourself through who I say you are, or who those looking through the clouded eyes of their own standards say?" Tiny m shared her testimony about God teaching her about how comparison is the "thief of joy." She reminded us that it's easy to get caught up with others in this foolishness. Creating just the perfect you and life, with the special effects and erasing tool. Creating what we think is the "perfect us" according to what we are taught are perfect. 

In 2 Corinthians 10:12 NLT translation, Paul says, "Oh, don’t worry; we wouldn’t dare say that we are as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant! 

Now check out the MSG translation of 2 Corinthians 10:12...We’re not, understand, putting ourselves in a league with those who boast that they’re our superiors. We wouldn’t dare do that. But in all this comparing and grading and competing, they quite miss the point.

We don't have to try to be like anyone else. God has created each of us unique, unlike anyone else. This is the most freedom filled sentence I have learned in a long time. It speaks to why others have one thing and I have another. It answers why God says "yes" to one persons prayer and "no" to someone else's. If we are constantly focused on what God is doing with someone else or allowing ourselves to copy their path, we will miss what God has for us. Then we are living to be like them, not living the life of abundance God has for us. Instead of appreciating our differences we do our best to be like anyone who we "deem" good to us. The flaw in this is that what we see as good is only the outside, their photoshopped perfect picture. Which is not attainable even for them, without erasing and changing, or posing and positioning things perfectly. Life isn't like that. Life is real. Life is dirty. Life can be hard. In any and all of these truths we struggle and rather than letting anyone else know that our lives are NOT the perfect pictures we share...we hide behind the editing tools. We pretend that we have the perfect life and that we have no flaws, no hard times. The reality is that we all have hard times, we all have wars going on in the supernatural and we are all created for a specific purpose. Trying to live in some one else's made up perfect life, well that will never work. Though we try with all our might, we will never add up to their photoshopped life.

For me this created the painful "recording" of words I used against myself for years. Every time I looked at pictures others would share I would hold my pictures up to them like they were the standard for beauty, or happiness. With the opposite end of the filters I would see my own pictures and only see the flaws, each imperfection spotted instantly and how much I lacked. I found myself "adjusting" my pictures to fit what I called beautiful and happy. I looked at the natural pictures and didn't think they were good enough. Comparing the me that God created for Him, to others He created for Him is like telling God, "you did not do good enough." 

When Tiny m boldly started speaking to a room mostly filled with women that were probably more her own mom's age, any thought of her age, well that disappeared for me. She held herself elegantly, her voice never cracking, as she shared the important messages so many of us forget with the wisdom of a woman who loves Jesus. 

She's in the generation of social media. While my generation was only exposed to the judgement of those around us, they are exposed to judgement from all across the planet, with social media and the internet. They not only get judged on the internet, they also are told exactly what is beautiful, what is acceptable and what they should look like. So while I had a maybe a couple hundred girls to emulate, they have millions. Most of those millions are not natural, they are edited to fit this world's standard of beauty with some sort of photo editing tool. 

Tiny m in her wise words shared one of the most important things I have heard, "Don't say things to yourself that your wouldn't say to another person...if I wouldn't say it to my own daughter, I should not say it to myself." This wonderful piece of truth is so important in the transformation my Poppa God is making in me, my heart and my life. That recording of lies that I have played in my own mind for so many years, the things that people have said to me and I have chosen to let define me. The words of death that I have spoken over myself, for at least 5 decades. Those are lies. Those lies do not define me. Allowing those lies to play over and over are keeping me at war with one else. 

This mighty woman in a young package had just broken through a barrier I had been holding up for years. She reminded me that no one can make me feel any way, that my feelings are mine. It is my choice to look around instead of at God. If I am comparing myself to others and what they have or what God is asking them to do, it's like telling God, "I don't have it and I want it." Like me saying to Him, "look at what she looks like, why couldn't I look like that." Like I am ungrateful for God's amazing handiwork. Like I am saying God's standards aren't good enough for me. When really I am basing my standards on "transformed" pictures of perfection. Pictures that have been softened, trimmed, cropped and even had things added. They are not real. They are just what the person wants me to see. It honestly is just their lack of confidence in picture form. I think some fail to remember, that eventually if they meet these people, they will not recognize them.

So this young woman, this wise young woman, God used to reach a spot in my heart that has needed to be swept out for a long time. I had stopped editing my pictures a while ago, I am a Nona so I have a phone filled with pictures of my kids and grandkids, no room for apps to make me beautiful. I was however stuck in the vicious cycle of comparison. A cycle that kept me living of the world, instead of just in it. God worked through her and shared His truth, He reminded me that He sets the standards, and each of us has to line up with His "plumb line" nothing else.

 In the MSG translation of Galatians 6:4-5 it says it like this...  Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.

"That's pretty clear. Stop looking at others and simply look to God. I will lose every time with comparison." So in this world of instagram, facebook, and twitter...I have to put aside my standards and simply seek God's truth. God created me for Himself, not for any other reason. When others are searching high and low for the next "beauty maker" I will be searching God's word for what makes me His beauty.

Thank you Tiny m for your amazing faith. For a willing heart to stand in front of a crowd of women who were not only strangers, but most of which were old enough to be your mom. You reminded me to speak life to myself, to remember that I don't set the standards for me, God does. You also taught me that age is only a number...wisdom comes when we accept it from God, not in how long we have been on earth. Thank you. 

This wise woman right here shared with the wisdom of a woman who is way beyond her years. God definitely gave me a great word for her in the beginning of  this blog. She is the representation of those verses. 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

even in the storm...His "collector of friends"

I know I left off at the beginning of M sharing her message, but I want to say that since beginning to sit and write about M the enemy has been rallying his marksman and the flaming arrows and weapons of mass destruction have been coming from every direction. I have learned as my relationship with Jesus gets closer and my wisdom becomes more His than mine, that certain things can not come from God. Things like attacks, or sickness. There is NO darkness in God. Where He is, there is light. So when I see the beginnings of the foolish attempts of the enemy and his minions start my way, I step out of the way and stand behind my God Who is the Almighty Creator, the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. I know He has me and He only asks me to be still. I share this because I know that M is a mighty prophet and that my "yes" to God asking me to share His message about His Princess, puts a target on me that otherwise wouldn't be here. The enemy will figure out that I listen to God, not him, not anymore. That doesn't mean he won't still try, and he sure does.

Right now I am doing the "Armor of God" study by Priscilla Shirer. This week is the belt of truth week. Perfect week for it, I have had a couple battles with the enemy already. Until I had a visual of what "girding your loins" meant, I tried to picture a simple belt for the "belt of Truth." The reality it is more like a "safety" belt that the delivery people and maybe weightlifters use to keep them safe from injury. I know that it's name brings an entirely different picture to mind now days, but it's the very first thing we need to go to, to wear or wrap ourselves in, the "belt of Truth." It's the very core of who we are, it's our foundation. It keeps everything else stable. If I don't put Truth on before I look at any situation, I can be manipulated by untruth, or close to truth. Just like Eve in Eden. The enemy uses just enough of the truth to make us believe, the rest is all fluff and junk. This has helped me stand firm through a couple of very painful battles this week. Battles that kept me distracted for a bit and also still, well digging into God's word to find answers to the pain and offence I had chosen to both pick up and then cling to for a moment. Only for a moment this time...that's a step forward.

So here I sit, ready to share a message about M and ready to bring you to my memory and share what God shared with me. Battle weary, but excited to introduce you to this amazing woman. She loved me at my lowest and she loves me now. She has never steered away from truth with me. God seems to have her tongue, or at least her words. She has said some honest things that I may have taken wrong, if I didn't know her heart was buried so deeply in our Savior that it was Him speaking to me. She has walked through things no person should walk through, yet instead of turning away from God or allowing this battle to steal her faith, she came out of the fire shining brighter and loving God more than ever before. 

God gave her a message for friendships and I believe He added more in the months after she was first scheduled to share this message. It blossomed into a message from the Lord about our reactions and actions when He says "no" to a prayer, instead of getting an automatically expected "yes."  My notes are pretty centered on what I know that God spoke to me, so these may be different for you, if you were at the retreat. M if you read this and say to yourself, "what, I don't think I said this?" Please just know it's what God shared with me in your courageous message. 

So she started with that question, "what do you do when you get a no?" My mind wandered and I thought, I think I do ok...but Poppa He will not leave me in that pit of deception. He instantly reminded me of the way I react when someone shares a truth I don't want to know, or hear. I know it's God because there's no condemnation in His voice, even has a tenderness to it. As I watch M share her message I hear her voice quiver at times, but even in those moments when it seems anyone else would be crumbling, she's standing firm in her belt of Truth. Little memories leave little trails down her cheeks at times, and in those moments she knows we all have her, we stand with her, under her, to her side, to her front, above her, all around her, protecting her with our love, God in us and standing guard for our sweet sister. Our prayer is to simply allow her to share the message God has harvested in her. 

At the beginning of the retreat the evening before J and I were chatting before it started and God stopped me on something she said, it was something she was speaking over herself. He stated unedited, "what you speak over your life is what will happen. stop speaking death over your life and speak life into every part." When she finished I shared God's whisper to me and then my new cousin sister, said "yes exactly." For me, God meant it did matter which words I use, it does matter if I want Him to use me in His Kingdom both here and in Heaven. Ouch. Then during M's message He confirmed it when He told me that my life and words matter if I want to speak for, throat punch. He didn't kick me, but He got my attention and it wasn't like I was angry or wanted to make an excuse, I wanted to make the change because that is becoming my hearts desire. I want to speak for God, I want to write for God and I want to live for God...I want others to want Jesus because they see Him in every part of my life. Because of Who He is and Not because I say how much better my life is, because the truth is my circumstances don't matter. Not for my faith. I can't just have faith when times are good, or bad, I need faith every time. 

For me M's word for me was that it matters the words I speak, the way I live, always not just at church. When God says, "no" or "not yet" it shouldn't trigger a toddler attitude in me. I need to be thankful for both "yes" and "no." She shared that this goes when we are seeking love, wanting to be fruitful or in any thing we are asking for. He can see the entire puzzle, we can only see a few pieces.

 When we are sitting on the edge of the bed our child takes their last breath, God knows us and He knows we may need a moment to catch our breath...but He will not leave us there in that moment. He will NOT leave us in that moment. He WILL take us to the moments of joy and memories of laughter and singing...and crying together. He's with us every moment that we are holding our breath waiting to get the answer to another pregnancy test...and He is there in the moment the negative sign comes up...again. That negative sign is NOT the final word, it doesn't mean a permanent no, it may just mean, not now.  M's courage and wisdom were thick with Holy Spirit and they moved many of us...most to tears. M shared her life verse is Jeremiah 29:11 ...I love the MSG translation,

This is God’s Word on the subject: “As soon as Babylon’s seventy years are up and not a day before, I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

What I know is this, she has a pretty rocky path, I believe it's because Poppa God knew she could and would walk it...completely. So when she was sitting at the speakers table of a retreat center, 16 months after Jesus received her oldest daughter and her unborn baby in Heaven, making sure that we knew how important giving God every part of our lives is, God wasn't surprised and most of the people she's "collected" weren't surprised either. We knew that the enemy may have struck a hard blow but M's faith is too big to take. She has the heart for others and the enemy can not take that weapon from her. God buried that deep in her dna, it's her foundation.

As she brought out these verses in Mark 2:1-5

When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. 2 Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, 3 four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. 4 They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus. 5 Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.”

I instantly thought about my circle of was pretty quick I really have mostly social media friends, and my friends who live in Texas, and various other amazing southern states like Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Here in the desert, I have people I know. I have a few very dear people to me, and lots of others I know from my past...but mostly I don't surround myself. I can make excuses but the truth of the matter is that those I had made friends with seemed to move to Texas, or into town, or parts of my state...or we are in different times in our lives. 

Friends that would dig a hole in the roof of someone else's house to drop me in to be healed...that number is very small. While the enemy was trying to distract me with the quantity, God reminded me of the quality...M would dig that hole and not think twice. It's not about the quantity, it's the quality of friends. I need to let God surround me with the ones willing to step in the chaos and speak His truth boldly, without fear of my reaction, because they love like Jesus. They see the parts of me that God has already grown and transformed, they know my deepest desire is to live for God, become like Christ. They don't stop to determine if I am worthy of being healed, or loved they just love me. Not only will they, they would do it without hesitation. I needed to get with God and look into me to see if I would carry their mat. Again the enemy wanted to get in and try to convince me otherwise, but God reminded me I am not that woman anymore. I have repented and moved forward in change. Those holding onto anger or bitterness in the past, well I get to pray for them. Praying for some is the only gift I get to give them. I no longer get to see them, or talk to them. It is still a wonderful gift. 

M headed into the territory of why do some get "yes" and some get "no" to the same prayer...even at this moment my tears are flowing and though I have no idea of her feelings of loss, I know that my own feelings of loss have had me asking this question, many many times in the last 7 years...especially the last couple, so I can't imagine hers or any other parents feeling of losing their sweet child and grandchild. I only know that as God's wisdom flowed her sweet prayers did too, down her face, where Poppa captured every single one. He will use those to pour into her, when she needs them the most. 

She could have stayed in her bed and grieved for her loss, she could have gotten angry with God when other people's prayers were answered with a yes and she got the no. She knew that envy is created when we compare what we are living to what others live. She knew that it had nothing to do with her faith, or how much God loved her. She wasn't fooled by the lies the enemy tried to bring against her. She knew that this hurt deeper than any other hurt, ever. She also knew that God will not let His plans go. We can bury ourselves in the envy, but it will not change the circumstances.

 It can block my view of what God has for me, where He's taking me, if I let it. I need to turn to Jesus and refuse to allow the lies of the enemy to steal my peace. Not just in the wonderful perfect times, but in the times when God takes every single person around you away and surrounds you with people to speak His truth into your life in several other states, but not yours. Then takes T to Texas to work and whispers to me, "shhhhhh, be still." Even the hurt of a parent coming from about 1500 miles away to 30 minutes from your house and doesn't tell you they are in have to find out on social media then have to text to find out. In every single moment, no matter how painful, we have to search for the Jesus. He's there, in the smile of the woman in front of you, in the friend who calls knowing you need to vent and hear truth, even though she's in a different time zone and needs to go to bed. He's there in the words of the worship music. Instead of watching the "show" the enemy is putting on, get on your knees and take it to God. He will bring what and who you need, to bring Him glory and give you instruction to His plan.

At the end of her message I could feel the release. It was thick, Holy Spirit was thrilled. I didn't ask her, so this is just what I sensed, it seemed like M was lighter, freer even. She took God's opportunity and opened her life and heart to sharing His message and growth with us, even through the rivers of tears shed that day.

I love that God brought this mighty prophet of His into my life and I know that she's gonna be an even bigger part in the near future, I dearly hope. She would not let go of what she knew God was giving me to do. She can't deny the desire God gave her to make sure that He is known, it is her breath. 

I love that she is never afraid to share God's truth anywhere we are, she's the same. She is authentic and real and loves God with all herself....from leading her dear family and walking hand in hand with Mr A...moments that are theirs alone that God has been the center of...the cord of 3 strands, M~God~Mr A, the cord is unbroken, stronger even. The storm that the enemy thought would silence MYRRH Ministries, has ignited God's powerful fire instead. He can't get past God's truth with his lies, even if she had only been left with faith the size of a tiny mustard seed, that was too much. Her God sized dream, is still alive and flourishing. Sharing God's love and truth with any one and everyone that will listen...or gets close enough to one of the many friends she's collected as God's "collector of friends."

Monday, April 2, 2018

His "collector of friends" pt 1

One Who Knows Much Says Little...

 Friends love through all kinds of weather,
    and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.
Proverbs 17:17 MSG

This is exactly what says when I searched this verse for the Message version. I looked at this verse in so many different versions in the last few months. God has used it to transform so many parts of my brokenness lately. But for today the emotions are flowing and I am not going to let them blind the message Poppa God wants to share. I prayer specifically to surrender my hands and words to Him. This message is an important one. This one is one I have struggled to get still for, mostly because I have felt unworthy of doing it justice. Today God has asked me gently to sit and give Him my heart. So here I am. Please bear with me and I will do my best to stay focused and also share exactly what God wants to. I will warn you ahead of time that this will more than likely not make it into one blog post, it's too good. I don't want to overwhelm y'all with one super long blog post, so I have already prepared for more than one. God is good, as I type Bethel Music with Kristene Di Marco's "Take Courage" is playing. Here I go.

This beautiful woman right here...this amazing Godly woman. She's one of God's mightiest fighters. She's my M. I have shared about her many times. She's the chairman of MYRRH Ministries. Most of us know her as God's "collector of friends." She chases people for God, I'd like to say though that she's gentle and does run after them for Jesus. She is the one who God shares His first visions of the retreats with. She's a listener, first to God, then to others. She doesn't just listen like most people do. Most people listen to answer, she listens to hear. She hears what God wants her to hear though, it's not always what others are saying. She's humble, she's wise beyond her years. God has asked her to step up for a God sized dream, and He has not just said "ok here you go." No this has been a long time battle. With each season He walks her through, she shares the wisdom He gives her and collects more friends. I can't sit here and act like I talk to her daily, I only know the annual retreat M. She's much much more than the amazing woman I know. This is me being transparent. I do seem to be talking to her a bit more often since T is in Texas working right now. 

I think the word that seems to always come up to me about M is real. Google defined it several ways, the ones that define her...

Real...Not imitation, or artificial but genuine. Having NO imaginary parts

Don't get me wrong, I know how creative she is and she's not lacking imagination. She's just not pretend, NOT one piece of her is anything but authentic. With all the times God has asked her to share an uncomfortable truth with people, she seems to make sure she's completely hearing what God has for her...before she speaks a word, she speaks many to Poppa. This was only the 5th retreat I have been to, there were many more in the books before I joined this band of Saints. Many more people were collected by God's "collector of friends" in too many places to count, prior to her collecting me. Lord thank You for blessing me with being counted in among some pretty mighty warriors for You. 

So,  I shared the entire message on Biblegateway because I loved what it says before the verse itself..."One who knows much but says little." This sentence sums up M. The verse following expands on who she is. During one of the most difficult losses in her life she would NOT hear of canceling the last retreat. I bet she fought herself trying to run up there, just to make sure everything was just as God wanted it...but she was battling for the life of her girl. This was a battle that God knew would take her to her knees...before she would take His Hand and allow Him to help her up. He knew He was calling her daughter and unborn grandbaby to Heaven. While all the prayer requests and the praise that was lifted on this amazing strawberry blond Saint's behalf was spread far across the earth, He knew that she was complete and that her loss would bring pain to many...but He had a plan for her in His Kingdom.

M was unable to come share her message at that retreat. God also knew that she would get to share this word, but He was changing the time and location. I don't know if we can ever understand His complex, yet simple plan. I only know that about 16 months later, M would be sitting in the retreat center sharing her message...the one that opened my eyes to so much. 

As I shared the first morning of the retreat was my birthday. It was my 23rd time being 29. Sorry just had to throw that in there. I shared that I was surprised and blessed to tears by the beautiful sight I woke up to. The day light brought it all to life. Throughout the day I learned that several of the women had been helping M get the decorations up all around me, as I slept. She brought them for me. She started after worship the Happy birthday song and then had them present me with a banner, signed by many of the saints at the retreat. Can I share that in my 52 years the only time I remember feeling excited for a birthday, was when I turned 50. I hosted my own party and collected gift cards, well I tried to collect them, I only got 2. That one paled in comparison to the one I had at this retreat. There's No party like the Holy Ghost party came to life for me...God spoke so deeply into parts of me. I will share more about some of the beautiful highlights of my birthday in the posts to come. This one I really want to get back to God's message. Just wanted to share how much love and how she just exhales it...always. 

The first question in my notes from M's message is this, "What do you do when you get a no from God?" 

The next note says..."lean into M Poppa." 

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Messengers by the light of the fire...

Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”

I said, “Here I am. Send me.”

Isaiah 6:8 NLT

Each evening there was a campfire time. At the first 2 campfires there were some mighty powerful messengers from God. They came to share their battles with us when the sun was long gone and the moon was tiny and high in the sky. The lighting was perfect for the messages God wanted to share through them. It was more of a glow than bright lights. I think that maybe those were the testimonies God had that not everyone knew about. The kinds of messages that were shared by the campfire with the sisters God personally sat on each rock. Some of us understood exactly what God was saying, and others may have had to take a question or two to God before they understood.

The messenger for the first campfire was G. I have been blessed to hear her speak before and I have seen her at all the other retreats I am pretty sure. She is one of the leadership team for MYRRH Ministries. She is a powerful warrior for God!! She's amazing and bold. I look forward to her hugs and hearing her laughter. That night was a different G. She was definitely a messenger on a mission. I listened intently as she reached into some of the most painful times in her life...inside I was in complete unity with God as He whispered, "let it go. you have held onto this for too long, it's time to let it go. forgive them even though they weren't sorry. this bitterness is costing you too much. it's too distracting, it happened you were innocent, let it go my daughter." I felt the piece of brokenness  that I had held onto for about 48 years drop. I was innocent. This was a futile attempt by the enemy to destroy the little girl I was and for many years he succeeded at holding these feelings hostage deep inside my heart, but God. He loves me too much to leave me in that pit of self loathing that I was sinking into. 

After G finished I walked over to her and hugged her. I knew God wanted me to boldly get up and go hug His sweet, brave messenger. With that hug I prayed she could feel His love and how grateful I was for her.

The second night I had my second wind, I had slept and I had woken up in Robin's birthday land...where everyone was happy to celebrate the day God brought me here. I will share more with you about my birthday, but today I want to share the amazing story of God's campfire messengers. The second night was a pretty personal night. It was MJ. I will call this wonderful messenger MJ. She shared a personal story that I hadn't heard. It happened before I came to my first least some of it had.

She shared about losing her and her hubby's bff's...both were lost within less than 2 years. She talked about their relationship and how much she missed them. She then shared the message God had for her...and me. See her friends had asked her and her husband to do something that she accepted easily, thinking that she would never have to actually follow through. This world there are battles that we never think we are going to be in...until we are. I know her story was different then mine, but God intertwined His message in her testimony. A message I have been running from. A forgiving I will never get, that has to be ok. The forgiveness I offer will never be accepted and that also has to be ok.

See for years I promised my sweet grandprincess I would never leave her and that I would always be with her. This promise I have not been able to keep and this has held me hostage to a deep, sharp pain in my heart and mind. I never thought I would not be with her because I love her and would give my life for her. That is still the case. Her daddy's family will not answer my texts and I was threatened with "consequences" if I try to contact him in anyway, ever again. For months I have wrestled with God over this. I have sobbed many hours of heartache at the one grand child that lived close to me a being suddenly ripped away. I have cried for myself and more than that I have cried buckets of tears for her...wondering exactly what they said about me disappearing from her life. I held onto an anger towards them, all of them. But God. He reminded me that I have to forgive them, even when they aren't sorry. The forgiving is for me, not for them. One day she will be old enough to choose, and God will still be in her heart. For now He has asked me to simply forgive them and myself for the broken promise. 

After that campfire I hugged MJ and told her "thank you, I needed to hear it was ok to let go. that it didn't mean I was abandoning her, I only need to wait until they forgive or she comes looking. I have NO choice in the matter of visitation as long as they were still unforgiving I wont see her. and that has to be ok, or it will eat me alive and leave me sitting in this same pit."

The third night was a campfire and a hayride, but I was just ready to hang in the cabin and then the second night of a "prayer circle" didn't end until about 4:30 am and I will leave it at that. For now I want to just say thank you to God's amazing campfire "messengers"  G and MJ...y'all have no idea just how deep the work went in my heart thanks to you both saying yes to God. Y'all are brave and so powerful...warrior princesses for God. Love you both and thank you...oh and more to come about G's hubby, I met him the day God gave us at M and Mr A's house. God definitely picked him up and set him right in my path...J I am proud of you and all you are allowing God to transform in you and your life. I look forward to seeing you step out as God's messenger too.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

"Mary and Martha"

Mary and Martha
38-40 As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.”

41-42 The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”

We were picking up another one of the women at the other airport and had driven around and around a few times trying to figure out who we were there for. I was just talking to Little B about how I could understand that she didn't remember me, we really only saw each other once a year, and this time it had been more than a year. When she called...Martha. I was so excited to meet her all of the sudden, but had no idea why. Holy Spirit knew, He provided the sudden feeling of excitement! Mr A had me ask if she was upstairs or down and she said she was down, so he headed that way. When we came around the corner I told her what to look for and she spotted us right away. I saw her and thought "I don't know her, do I?" No, I didn't know her, yet, but God was going to change that very quickly. 

She got in and we introduced ourselves and I knew instantly that we were going to be good friends. Her love for God was so bold she lit up the day light. God whispered, "Martha and Mary..." Suddenly these verses flooded my mind and I knew God had planned for us to spend this quality time together; both of us in a moving vehicle so neither of us could do anything but enjoy the ride and sit at the feet of Jesus together, at least for the length of the ride. Soon I would understand why. We arrived at the beautiful Lakeview Camp and Retreat Center just as a caravan of the leadership team were unloading. I could barely wait for Mr A to park the car so I could jump out and run to get the hugs I had been waiting for. I jumped out squealing with joy and ran to the group of women I recognized and grabbed each one to hug them tight! My heart was so full and I knew that I was once again "home." 

 I ran back to the car just in time to grab my bags that were unloaded, thanks again Mr A. Martha had just lifted her bags out of the trunk and headed towards the entrance. I told Mr A and Little B bye and I would see them at their house on Sunday. Then I rolled my bags into the office and found Martha with her bags. We stood just chatting about me hoping I could get to a store for some drinks and she also wanted to go for some things she had forgotten at home. Since we were there very early and the team still had to set up we were recruited to help them unload and get stuff set up for the amazing weekend God had for each of us and all of us together. 

Martha was a little spitfire, I don't even know how many trips she made. I had been asked if I could put the speakers table together, which God reminded me I wouldn't have known how to do before I spent that time refurbishing my own tables with Him back in December. I got busy trying to get the 4 legs on this table. The first 2 were fairly easy, but the second 2 I struggled with getting to line up. Jesus brought me His songbird, K and she sat down on the ground with me and between the two of us we got those 4 legs on that table. After getting the meeting room set up we headed over to our cabins. God knew this weekend He was going to plant a seed of friendship and grow that friendship to a lifelong bloom in just these 5 days. 

We were in the same side of the same cabin, so we picked our bunks and picked bunks next to each other. God seems to surround me with understanding people everywhere He wants me. This time was no different, Martha was the most giving, selfless person I had been blessed to meet in a long time. She was bold in her love for God, she was transparent in her struggles and she was created to nurture others. As we unpacked some and got ready to go to the first evening of "Propelling Prayers" we shared about ourselves. Martha was open and wise as she ran around the little nook she was sharing with me. Then without even thinking about it she offered to make sure the bunks all got sprayed with Lysol and mattresses were flipped if needed. I really didn't unpack much I was too excited to get to see all the other sisters God was bringing to this weekend encounter with Him. So I was running around hugging sisters I hadn't seen since the last retreat, or even retreats from years before. Then we all headed out to dinner. I felt like she was my little sister and I had to make sure she was ok. Really God had purposely put us together. 

The first evening was mostly learning about each other and then a camp fire at the end of the evening. I will share more later about the amazing speaker at the campfire. We headed back to the cabin. There were a few of us, one of which was sweet Martha. After only 2 hours sleep the night before, a morning at the airport and then the long day I knew I would probably not be awake very much longer. I knew the girls were going to be up late, but my body was saying, NO! I laid down and put my headphones on. Put on my new favorite Praise list and started talking to my Poppa. I don't know how long it was before I drifted off into sweet peace, but I know when I woke up in the middle of  the night I was confused by the sparkly chaos that I got tangled up in??? I finally got free and climbed out from under my bunk with my flashlight. Then as I tried to quietly sneak between the bunks I ran right into something with my face?? I shined my light and saw that it was a shiny "Happy Birthday" banner...this brought tears to my eyes. I started immediately whispering to God what amazing sisters He gives me. I got back in my bed and put my headphones back on and thanked God for loving me so much. 

First thing in the morning I got up and came around the bunks and there was Martha, she came over and hugged me and said, "Happy Birthday Robin!!" I was still excited by the sparkly birthday everywhere, I squealed "thank you so much!!" We walked together to the breakfast hall and talked about her morning. She had shared she was in college and had to keep her homework up online while she was there. Her laptop had given her a hard time and she had to go hunting for internet. God had blessed her and she was able to find exactly what she needed. I told her how impressed I was and a few tears rolled down her face. She shared that she was grateful and knew this was what God was asking her to do, she was also struggling with some other feelings. Things at the retreat and her other areas. Right then God whispered, "tell her about the Scriptures I gave you for her." I argued that maybe it would be too harsh. I asked God to be glorified in the words and He was faithful. 

I shared that God had led me to the Scriptures about Martha and Mary when I first met her. I shared that Martha was so worried about serving others she forgot to sit at Jesus feet and just absorb all He had for her. Even if she had to take time to do the school work, He wouldn't let her down and if she would just sit for  a moment with Him, He was there, waiting. I hope she got what God wanted her to out of that word. I do know that as the weekend went on, I received many messages from God both from Martha and through who she is. 

The day we headed back to our friends home, we didn't ride together. I was excited to get to spend one more evening with her since our flights left the next day. It was not just us, but several other sisters that had plans to stay with M and her family. We all sat around and talked, shared what God had given us. Sweet Martha was exhausted and she laid down at my feet with a pillow and dozed off. She slept for quite a while and then went upstairs to rest. When she came back down she was rested. We all watched the pictures of the retreat, for a long time. They had gotten some wonderful and transparent pictures of Martha worshiping...Her heart was so buried in Jesus. 

That night we shared a room. In it was a twin bed and a twin air mattress. Martha started to prepare the air mattress to sleep on. I walked over and told her that she was sleeping on the bed, not the air mattress. She said no it's ok. I would not take no for an answer. So she finally agreed. We got into our beds and we shared words from the retreat. God reached right through her that night...He grabbed a part of me and I will never be the same. This woman who didn't know me just a few days before, well she had come to know me. I also came to know her. 

She boldly shared a message from God that night with me, one that I had been running from...until then. There are so many things I could share about this sister God brought me this year. I know this is long, but I wanted to make sure that I shared the impact that God made through this sister, this woman who finally laid down and rested. Since the retreat we have talked on the phone and text several times, God brought her into my life. This was her word in my book of prophesy...

She said she can't remember why she wrote "Teapot" down...but God shared why with me.

Martha I love you. I am thankful for your willingness to share some hard words from God...without any hesitation. You are a beacon...make sure you are taking time to be still with our Poppa.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Headed "home"

Walk with the wise and become wise; walk with fools and get in trouble.
Proverbs 13:20

The night before my flight to Texas I could not get to sleep. I had been fully packed for almost a week, well except the last minute things that had to make it into my check in bag. I was showered, my clothes were out and I was prepared. My mind would not shut down, just kept excitedly going over every detail. The way I would describe it is like the night before going home for the first time in a long time. Only this home isn't some place with the family drama. No this home is like going right up to God's lap and jumping in. It wasn't a fear of flying, or the fear of fitting in the seat belt, no the work God had done at other retreats took care of both of those fears. It actually wasn't fear at all, it was an excitement like the first time I saw my children, or grandchildren. A deep sense of expectation. I knew He had something big to ask me to hand over, I just wasn't sure it what it was going to be. 

I knew that from the first retreat with MYRRH Ministries back in 2013, that God would ask me to lay something down, and then pick something from Him up. I have always dreaded surprises, anything that detours from what I plan, or agree to. I think it's because the surprises aren't always good. These retreats God has taken me to have always got an element of surprise to them. One of the things that God has kept for surprise is what area He's going to dig into in my life. It's not always a painful journey, but it's always life changing. This year I was struggling to figure out what He was going to do in His transformation of my heart. 

I had to be at the airport to fly out by 5:45 am and we live at least 1.5 hours from the airport. I still had to get ready so that was another hour I needed on top of that. Looking at my phone and seeing the time was 1:30 and I had to get up at 3:30, brought in a panic. But God reminded me that I could sleep on the flight. Finally I fell into a deep sleep that felt like...I had just shut my eyes, but the anticipation for seeing so many sisters and experiencing everything God had for us together, was enough to get me up with a bright shiny smile. I was ready on time and out the door in the nick of time. Of course I had given myself plenty of time, with plenty left over. For the first time the trip to the airport only took about 45 minutes so I had almost 3 hours before my flight. Even after checking my bags and going through security, I had way over 2 hours to wait. 

I decided to get breakfast then sit and do my reading for my Bible study. I was still running on the adrenaline rushing through me from the expectation of this retreat. 

While reading God gave me the answer to my question. While I recognized part of it, I didn't grasp just how deep this would actually go...yet. What I did get was the authors reference to a tree being representative of us all on our journeys with God. How the closer we get to God the higher in the tree we go. That's such a great visual. I also loved that she explains that it's almost like a reaching up to those who are wiser, and accepting those who are reaching up for us. Not looking down their noses but reaching down to steady them as God lifts them to the next branch up. 

I knew that He reached through others to help me up, I guess I didn't consider that He would use me to do the same. I had been holding onto a deep lie that I wasn't enough. This lie had been planted many years in my young mind. I had always done my best to please people, not really to please them but to make me feel good. In that, I could hide behind the old child mentality that "I am not enough." I had never felt enough for anyone because God didn't create me to be someone else's Savior. Jesus came for this exact reason. Wow, throat punch there about where that chunk of pride was hiding, right in plain sight. 

I closed my book and looked around. There were so many people. Everywhere I looked. They were rushing here and there, some walking with their faces buried in their phones, while others simply looked at the floor. I realized I was there alone in that airport, God was with me, but I didn't know a single person. Just then Poppa whispered, "all separate even as they are all right here together." I sat there watching these strangers walk by, searching for each one who happened to glance my way. Everyone who's eyes I locked with I shared a smile, if they were close enough I would also speak to. Not many have time to stop and just share a smile and hello with someone. For a people person who had hours to wait, this was an invitation.

I made my way over to my gate. I searched for a seat, first one alone...don't judge I'm just being real here. The gate was pretty full because of a flight before mine. I found a single seat next to a mom with a giggly little guy. He was glad I sat down, or at least it seemed like it in his grin and the giggles. He was climbing up his mom, over and over he would climb up and almost make it to her glasses then she would gently move him back down into her lap; but he wouldn't give up and for almost an hour he climbed up over and over again. We chatted and I learned he was 7 months old. It seems like that time flew by. Before I knew it I was on board and we were up in the sky checking out God's view. 

My plan to sleep on the plane was good, but not possible. I was still too excited to get to Texas. I settled in with the sweet sounds of praise and worship music from Bethel, Elevation and many other wonderful voices gifted by God. The flight was not full so there was a seat between me and the gentleman next to the window. He was watching his phone for awhile, but eventually he put it down and looked at me. I had been waiting patiently. I smiled at him and he smiled back at me. I moved my headphones and said "good morning." He said "good morning." He asked if I was from Arizona or Texas. I explained I live in Arizona, but how I believe God's going to move me to Texas to surround me with people who point me to Him. Then I asked him the same question, he said I live in Dallas. One of my kids lives in Arizona. He shared that this was his first trip since his wife died several months before that. He almost whispered the next part, "I tried to cancel this trip, but my daughter had already paid for it. She wanted to take me to Mexico to get my teeth fixed, she wanted to pay for it and refused to take no for an answer. So here I am." His eyes were sparkling from the tears that threatened to well over, but he still forced a smile. My heart hurt for him, I wanted to take that pain from him...give him God's peace. The only words I could get past my lips at that moment were, "I am so sorry for your loss. I am glad you accepted your daughters help. That is not easy for us parents to do, we always want to take care of our kids. The good thing is that plants seeds of selflessness in them that God will harvest." He smiled and shook his head yes. He went back to watching his phone.

I just cried out to God for peace for him. That He would surround him with people like his daughter that would share the love of God with him. I asked God to lighten his burdens and bless him abundantly. Then I went back to listening to my worship and singing (probably out loud) and talking to God. When we landed he said "thank you." I smiled and said, "God bless you sir." 

I headed out to meet Mr A & little B who were picking me up and taking me to the retreat. I thought we were going straight to the retreat center, but God had other plans...He was bringing His little firecracker too, and we were picking her up at the other airport. I had no idea at the time, but my sweet little sister would speak some mighty powerful words to me...directly from my Poppa God's lips. I did know however that I loved her boldness, her instant friendship and most of all...her BOLD love for God. 

Simply by the way God was starting this day I knew that He would be moving some more mountains in this amazing visit "home."

Friday, March 23, 2018

Heart Transforming...that's what God's doing.

Then he turned to the host. “The next time you put on a dinner, don’t just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You’ll be—and experience—a blessing. They won’t be able to return the favor, but the favor will be returned—oh, how it will be returned!—at the resurrection of God’s people.”
Luke 14:14-16

I remember when God first asked me to accept an invite to my first retreat with MYRRH Ministries back in 2013. I answered without hesitation, "YES." I shared exactly what God taught me at that retreat in about 8 blog posts, you can go back and read them if you haven't had the chance. Since that first year I have been to every retreat they've held. In fact this years retreat was # 5  for me. God has provided the finances and way there for every single year. This year was no different. Not only does He provide for me to go, He reaches out to specific areas of me. Areas that He's already working with me before the retreat. 

I haven't been faithful to share each retreats transforming moments for the last several years. Not that I haven't been transformed in some way, every retreat God has shown up and spoken through sisters who really don't know me that well, if at all. He always has something good for me. From the first one when He taught me that living for Him completely is what He asks for, every area. Even when "christians" try to put God in a box, He's asking me to live out loud and boldly for Him. The next one He gave me freedom from the guilt and heartache of losing my only sister to suicide. As her big sister I struggled with not being there for her when she took her life, but God, He is freedom.  I can finally breathe in deep now when I think about my Sissy. At the third one He taught me about doesn't always look the way that this world portrays it. In fact it looks different for each of us, and that's ok. The last one was probably the most difficult...for all of us, but mostly for the sweet sister that started these retreats many years before God invited me to my first one. 

Her plans were set and she was ready for ALL He had for her and us...even when His plans were completely out of her control. He knew that the name of the retreat would have a much deeper meaning than any one could ever imagine, in fact it was named way before. "Joy comes in the mourning" took on new meaning to my sweet sister that exact weekend, when God called her sweet daughter Home to Heaven the first day of the retreat. When many of us moms of adult daughters were sharing our stories about our daughters walking out or our daughters making bad choices...she was mourning not having a chance to hug her girl again this side of Heaven.

So in all the years that God has been taking me to MYRRH Ministries Retreats, He has been transforming my heart. Each one He reaches into a specific piece of me and shows me the way out of the darkness, into His light. While I have learned to appreciate the love and truth He speaks through these amazing sisters, I have also struggled with feeling like I fit in anywhere else. From the moment I met the first group I have known that these are my peeps. These are women not afraid to live boldly for Jesus, always. These women each have their own relationship with God and they aren't afraid to share some of the deepest valleys He has walked them through. Not to brag about their faith, or strength, no this is the opposite of that. They boldly share their heartaches and struggles so that they can share their "God" moments. This has been a struggle for me in my life. I learn more and more that every area of my life He wants to give me peace and mercy in the chaos...when others are concerned I'm being tricked by a cult, I'm begging God to take me deeper and deeper. 

This retreat was NO different. God surprised me with the finances to pay for the retreat. Then Mr T lost his job. I didn't lose hope, well I did a few times, but God is faithful. I waited patiently, not complaining at all...not really it was actually more of a desperation I was walking around in. He literally dropped the price of a round trip ticket to Dallas to less than $200. I know He dropped it because I checked those flights and prices everyday for a couple months. I was hoping for a huge drop in price and what I was seeing on a daily basis was an increase in price. About a week and a half before the retreat I said, "ok I will check this one last time." As I scrolled down the flights on Southwest, I saw the exact early morning flight I wanted was the ONLY one that was $47...the rest were $300-400. Not only that but I knew that the return flight had to also be affordable, it wasn't as cheap, but the total round trip cost was below $200 with tax. Since the return flight was for the day after the retreat, it also meant I would have an evening to spend not only with my sweet sister, but also with her family.  At that time I had no idea it also meant a few other sisters from the retreat. Each one an important part of God's transformation of my heart. During that time God brought such great revelation, like the retreat was still happening. 

So, I will end this word with this bit of truth from my trip to my last retreat...every one wants to be accepted...everyone wants to be invited...if we only accept and invite those we know we like, or we know are like us...we are missing the entire example of Jesus. Just like the verses Luke 14:12-14 MSG above, our desire should be to spread out and share Jesus with everyone, not just people we know and like. I can honestly say that some of the deepest messages God has given me have come through someone I probably wouldn't know if it wasn't for God. I have always been the "misfit" in the crowd and for years I fought hard against this title...until God reminded me He set me apart for Himself. Now my prayer is that my Poppa can reach through me to every person He places in my path. Not discriminating as this world does, but loving like He does. In this piece of the body of Christ, I am not a misfit, I am just His princess. I won't even try to imagine who I would be if K hadn't been obedient and invited me all those years ago. I am just looking forward to what He's gonna do through me in the times to come. I will keep my ears and eyes open for the women He places in my life and asks me to invite to these heart transforming retreats just like He invited me into. In Matthew 5:46-48 it's plainly explained...

 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. 
Matthew 5:46-48 NLT

I will be sharing more about the "His Agenda: Propelling Prayers" retreat and some of the transformations God did. This was just the much more than I can share right now.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Jesus here we come...

Today my sweet sister sent me a link to a great sermon from Elevation Church, Pastor Steven Furtick, called "Dysfunctional Comfort." I love the relationship that is already like a life long sisterhood, after about 18 months. God gently set this beautiful, smart, and bold sister down in my life at the last MYRRH Ministries retreat, "The Joy comes in the Mourning." That was my 4th retreat and her first. Since then we have talked so many times, we've cried together, shared laughs and also done some hard conversations. This will be our first time being back in the same place though, and can I just share how excited I am. In about 24 hours I get to see my sister and hug her. This last 18 months has not always been easy. We have both had joyous occasions and also heart break, but one thing we both knew we had was each other.

She is definitely a gift from God. At a time when many other people, including family, have run away from me and my struggle with change and control, she stands next to me. She isn't just a "trophy" friend who is just for the good times. She's not afraid to be next to me during the darkest hours of either of our lives. She has boldly spoken God's message to me, even knowing that I may react in anger and possibly lash out at her. She doesn't shy away from the truth God's giving her to share, she isn't distracted by my outbursts. She loves me enough to speak the hard truth and then give me a moment to accept it. She's not blinded by my defensive reactions, she knows my desire is to live for God, all the time. She also isn't afraid to let me share a word with her. Even with the hard stuff, she seeks God's message and trusts my heart is to love her, not hurt her. She's knows how much I love God and she knows how much I love her. 

I can't begin to share just how many amazing sisters God has blessed me with at my retreats. These sisters come from so many different states across the US. The one thing I see that is common, our love for God and to live for Him boldly. Every single year I explain to people that I get to go be myself, live my faith out loud without fear of offending someone. Not that I don't live my faith out always, but they don't look at me crazy and most know me and love me anyway. Many have shared words with me, words that I have never spoken or thought over myself. They see someone I don't see most of the time, or through those who live close to me. They also accept who they see, they love me regardless of me. 

I don't know if I can explain the depth of the love I have for women I see once a year, or sometimes only ever see again on Facebook. I can't explain why I am so comfortable with these women, I can only share that my heart is to live boldly for God, all the time. They have been a huge part of my walk of transformation. This year I am hoping to meet the sweet young woman who hosted the "Biggest Loser" challenge that God used to get me on His path of transformation. I have yet to meet her, her mama is one who has walked me right into the presence of Jesus on many occasions, and both her mama and daddy prayed with me and shared a truth from God with me at the last retreat. I know that this family is a wonderful gift from God. 

So I just want to say, Texas here I come, ready for all God will speak, pour out and usher in at the "Propelling Prayers" retreat. I am coming filled with the excited anticipation of the mountains God will move this year...and all the hugs and love that these sweet sisters bring and share...every year. If you are searching for an annual retreat filled with the presence of God, check out this amazing ministry, 

They are amazing, they love Jesus and they live Jesus.