faith, Prayer, Purpose

What’s in Your Hand?

Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” A staff,” he replied…–Exodus 4:2startamomblog.com Free Stock Image 7

“When Jeff came in here carrying his own vacuum cleaner to clean your room, that’s when I knew he was the one for you….”

This was an ongoing joke in my family for years and my dad loved to tell the story. Jeff had picked me up for a date once and got a glimpse of my catastrophic room. He graciously didn’t say a word about it, but came back the next day with his vacuum cleaner and helped me clean it! 

I like to think that I’ve gotten better over the years, and I’m pretty sure Jeff would agree, though I’d rather you just take my word for it. I’ve been listening to a podcast by Gretchen Rubin and she often talks about the fact that “outer order contributes to inner calm.” I love her suggestion that if something only takes one minute or less to do, do it now.  Because of this “rule”, my bed is made, clothes are hung and shoes are put away (mostly). I still have not found a good solution for the piles of books I insist on keeping near me rather than on the shelves, but we are working on it. Pray for us.

I probably should be ashamed to tell this, but once when Jeff was traveling for work, Savannah (then age 5) spilled something on her beloved blankie. She was crying in her room and I said, “honey, we’ll wash it.” She looked at me incredulously and said, “but d-d-do y-you know how to u-u-use the w-w-washing machine?” I called Jeff right then to tell him how much we appreciated him. 

I remember feeling guilty once when I was working at the computer in the kitchen and he started to unload the dishwasher. I said, “I can do that, honey.” He said “no, you go ahead and write. I can’t write articles and newsletters or teach, but I can unload this dishwasher. Let me do my part, so that you can do your part.” I know, right?

Now his “part” includes serving on the maintenance team at the International House of Prayer Missions Base. Recently he received a thank you card from the guy he said he thought was “the head bean-counter” at IHOP-KC (although I’m pretty sure the guy prefers the term CFO). The card read, “Jeff I want to personally say “Thank You!” for your excellent work in my office remodel. Your smile and happy heart were clearly evident as Christ shone through you and left the presence of the Holy Spirit in this office through the work of your hands and the joyful attitude of your heart… 

What is your “part” and are you walking in it? When God called Moses to lead the Israelites, he felt nervous and ill-equipped, but God said, “What is that in your hand?” In essence, he was saying, “you do your part and let Me do My part. Use what you have and trust Me with the rest.” 

We are in the process of selling our house in Coweta and are hoping to buy a motorhome so that we can still visit family and friends in Oklahoma, but also be able to travel to Native reservations to help establish night and day prayer, while training up warrior messengers. 

I was wrestling with selling the house because for me it represented a sense of security and a place to call “ours”, but God showed me in the book of Numbers how He had given each tribe a portion of land except for the Levites, who represented the priesthood. He said that for them, instead of property, HE would be their “portion.”

Then the LORD said to Aaron, “You will have no inheritance in their land, nor will you have any portion among them. I am your portion and your inheritance among the Israelites. Behold, I have given to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work they do, the service of the Tent of Meeting. (Numbers 18:20-21)

I’m not saying we will never own a place or property, but for now in this season, God is teaching us that as intercessory missionaries, our “part” is to minister unto Him, serve in the House of Prayer, and make disciples of the ones He has given us and the ones He will send us to serve. 

Also, we realize we are living for another day, believing that in the age to come, there will be great reward for every “cup of cold water” given in His name. We will rule and reign over nations! In this age, though, we are in training—a sort of internship, so to speak. So don’t be discouraged if “your part” is not on a stage or in a mansion or on a media platform in this season. Ask God to show you how to use what is in your hand for His glory. And one day, we will be given authority to govern kingdoms. But first we need to—okay, I need to—learn to pick up my shoes. Sigh.

AIDS, Deafness, faith, Prayer

The Real Snow White Knows Sign Language

He who goes out weeping, carrying seed for sowing, will certainly come again with joy, carrying his sheaves.—Ps. 126:6

“I want to go see Mickey Mouse and the REAL Snow White,” Maegan signed while I interpreted for the Make A Wish representative in the summer of 1994….

They had called in a woman who knew sign language to help with the meeting, so they could be sure that it was truly Maegan’s wish and not ours. It was hard to imagine that a parent would lie or hijack their child’s dying wish, but it was pretty clear to everyone that day what Maegan’s true desires were, as she cupped both hands on top of her head to imitate Mickey’s ears. Her eyes sparkled with hope and soon we were on our way.

It would be a magnificent week that we would never forget. We stayed in a lovely cottage at Give Kids the World, a non-profit resort that provides week-long, cost-free vacations to critically ill children and their families. We received the “royal treatment”, with tickets to all the theme parks and fun restaurants at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Universal studios and Sea World. Maegan wore a button that alerted park employees that she was a “special guest.” As soon as someone would see her button, we would be ushered through a private passageway to the front of every ride line. We would also be invited to go backstage and meet the characters at every show. I’ll never forget the look on Maegan’s face when she realized Fievel was writing her name in the autograph book. “He KNOWS MY NAME!” she signed excitedly and I didn’t have the heart to tell her that he had read her button. And then there was the day I heard shrieking from across the room, as Maegan came running toward me, arms flailing. “MOM! The REAL. SNOW. WHITE. KNOWS. SIGN. LANGUAGE!”  Sure enough, the beautiful princess signed, “My name is Snow White. I live in the Magic Kingdom.” I don’t think Maegan’s feet touched the ground the whole week. And what a gift to have a break from the “real life” of IV’s, high fevers and hospital stays. I thank God she felt healthy that week, as I noticed several of the other children did not feel as well.

I spent time back then in the small chapel, praying for Maegan, for us and the other families. As amazing as the resort was, you could not help but notice the heaviness each family carried, and the weariness in their eyes. I wept for them and for us, for the uncertainty of the days ahead.

On the last day, Maegan wrote her name on a star that they would place in the castle of miracles. Maegan lived for two more years after that trip, and I always wondered if we would ever be able to return. In the past 30 years, there have been thousands of stars placed in the castle, but on a recent trip back there, the staff members helped us find Maegan’s star. We showed Savannah around, told stories, met some of the children and again went into the chapel to pray for strength, healing and hope for the brave families battling illness both there and back home.

I opened up the Bible that was near the altar, and it fell to this passage from Psalm 126… “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” When you study it out, the picture is that of the farmer, carrying “precious seed” to the earth, weeping because he is weary, and knows not what will become of the seed once he releases it. The Hebrew word for “bearing” is “nasa”, which means “endure” and to “look up”. The farmer knows not what will become of the seed, but he must “look up” and trust God will bless it and multiply it back to him.

When Maegan died, God spoke to my heart, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it cannot produce a harvest.” Since her death, millions have been touched through her faith God through articles and posts. Now I am working with an editor to have a book published! Part of the “harvest” comes from teaching young people to find their purpose as she did. You take part in “sowing” through partnership and you will reap!

What else could you “sow”? Time in service or mentoring someone? Volunteering at a place like Give Kids the World or a hospital? Maybe you feel like something has been “taken” from you, whether it is in loss of finances or friendship or health. Consider “sowing” it instead. It’s okay to weep and to be uncertain of the future, just as we were years ago. But let your tears water the soil of your heart, as you pray and lift up your eyes to the only One who can bring Growth. He KNOWS YOUR NAME!! Watch for His “Sign Language” and trust Him for a great harvest.

 

faith, Prayer, Purpose

Making Difficult Decisions

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”                     —Isaiah 30:21

“I need you to pray for me because I have a difficult decision to make….”

As an intercessory missionary, I can’t count the number of times I have received this prayer request or some version of it. The pressure is on, a deadline looms near, and you have to step to the right or to the left. Which will it be? Do I take this job in the field I am passionate about and earn less money or the one with the corner office, prestigious title and hefty yearly bonuses?  Should we sell our house and build one or take out a second mortgage and remodel? Should I go to college even though I have no idea what I want to do or should I enter the workforce? Should I start graduate school? Should we have another child? Should we change school districts? Should our kids go to public school or private school or (Lord help you) homeschool? 🙂 Do I retire or keep working? Chances are, you are facing some sort of decision right now, and if not, you will.

I’d like to share the advice I give the people who come to me for counsel and prayer. Savannah is starting to make some of her own decisions now that she is able to drive and faced a decision last week. It wasn’t life altering, but she wanted to know what to do. When I have an opinion I don’t hesitate to share it with her, mind you, but she is getting to the age that she needs to be able to stop and listen to what Holy Spirit is saying, especially in the event that I am not around. She and I have this running joke when I am about to give her my “wise counsel” for a situation. I will stop and say “Okay jot this down. Life lesson #274: When facing a decision, you need to….”  Perhaps these “life lessons” will become a book one day. I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, let me share some with you here.

1) Get alone with God. This isn’t always possible when a split second decision needs to be made. (which is why I rarely ever make split second decisions) Savannah learned at an early age never to ask me something in front of a friend or put me on the spot. “Can we have a sleepover? Can I go to the movies with _______? Will you bake enchiladas for my class party? Can you chaperone the jr high and high school lock-in? (Unless I have an angel visitation, she knows my answer will always be NO for the last one. Some things you just know 🙂 I never allowed her to put me on the spot because that leaves Holy Spirit out of the decision. Our process is that Jeff and I discuss it, we pray and wait and listen and discuss again. There have been times we did not have peace about something that any other time might have been just fine. Perhaps this time a “no” saved her from a car accident or something worse. My friends who know this about me will often ask ask “Will you pray about______?” instead of “Will you_____?

Go to your secret place where you have your “daily appointment with the King” in prayer and Bible study. Go for a walk around the neighborhood or at the local track. In Coweta one of the most popular places to walk is on the asphalt around the perimeter of the cemetery. (Talk about helping you put things in perspective!) Listen to what rises up in your spirit. Is it a verse or image or song lyric? Did God speak to you through a dream? I am grateful we have a prayer room that is open 24/7. There is always live worship and freedom to pace the floors or sit still and listen or meditate on the Word. If your city doesn’t have a prayer room, I recommend hospital chapels. God has met me in many of them. Journal or draw or play your instrument. Hannah poured out her heart at the altar without speaking anything audibly that could be understood. (1 Sam. 1:12-14)

2) Imagine or consider both scenarios in vivid detail. Think about what it would “look like” and “feel like” to step to the right and take the job or make the move. Then imagine what it would be like to step to the left and stay where you are. Consider the two choices and pay attention to what is happening in your body as you visualize in detail each scenario. Does your heart rate quicken? Is it excitement or anxiety? What is happening with your breathing? Are you holding your breath or panting? Did you get a headache or heartburn when you imagined yourself in one of the paths? Did your stomach tighten up like a rock or was it calm?

3) Follow peace. A friend was deciding between two positions and later told me, “I got in my car and felt that tightening in my gut you talked about. I had to go back into the office and ask them to tear up the contract because I realized I did not have peace about it!” A partner was considering retirement and Jeff told him, “sometimes when the cloud moves, and the grace lifts, you have to go too.” God led the Israelites with a cloud of smoke by day and a pillar of fire at night. It was exactly what he needed to hear. Think about your situation. Has the cloud moved? Listen for His voice and follow peace.

Bible Study, Prayer, Uncategorized

S.O.A.P. Bible Study Method

One of my students wrote in her Bible study assignment,   “Gabriel got a message from God because he stood in the presents of the Lord. I need to stop being the presents of the computer and get in the presents of the Lord…” 🙂

This made me laugh out loud. 5th and 6th graders are so…well, honest and direct. During the first few weeks of my Bible classes, I outline the 7 Commitments of a Forerunner (Pray daily, Fast weekly, Live holy, Do justly, Give extravagantly, Speak boldly and Lead diligently) and we always talk about the importance of what I call having a “daily appointment with the King” (Jesus). We talk about the importance of reading the Bible and “listening” to what God speaks to us through His Word. Many of them also go to the Global Prayer Room at the International House of Prayer too because their parenIMG_3965ts are missionaries like us or have moved here to be trained and equipped to establish and strengthen other prayer ministries in the earth. The S.O.A.P. method of Bible study is one of the lessons I share in the first few weeks of school. Thanks to one of our partners, this year I had individual soaps to use as an illustration. (I love when God cares about the details! My friend has a “thrift anointing” and often blesses us with her finds. Recently I got to donate glue guns and popsicle craft sticks to the supply room! A few months ago, she said, “do you happen to have a need for a bunch of individually wrapped soaps?” Why, YES I do. 🙂 I challenged my students to use the soap and when they washed their hands to pray from Psalm 24 “Give me clean hands and a pure heart.” I also asked them to let it be a reminder to have their “daily appointment” in prayer and Bible study. Here is a brief description of their assignment. I have used this Bible study method for years and I believe it will be a blessing to you too!

Scripture—Take today’s Bible reading and read through slowly. Write down the verse(s) God is highlighting to you. Writing it down is not mandatory but I tell my students that there is a “heart to hand” connection and writing it down helps to get it into their hearts. I tell them to think about how when they play their instrument or draw, sometimes their heart is moved. They are skeptical at first, but usually they will come back to me and tell me something powerful God spoke to them as they were writing. Try it! Since a dramatic encounter with God on October 13th of 2000, I have used the One Year Bible for my daily appointment with Jesus. It has a portion of Old Testament, New Testament, a Psalm and a Proverb and can be read in 15 minutes each day. You may have a different Bible reading plan. Many of my students like the YouVersion Bible app. They can take the verse God highlighted to them and make a verse image. There are also several daily Bible reading plans to choose from The important thing is that you do it daily.

Observation—What is God showing you in this passage? Jot down in your journal any words or events that stand out. Are there any truths God wants you to learn? Warnings? Commands? Guiding principles? Often God’s promises have an “if you…then….” Don’t just write down the promise. What is the condition? Record those in your journal. What is the overall message God is speaking to you in this passage? Be sure to record what God is speaking to that person or group at that time. You can make it personal to you (application) but it’s important to look at the context of the verse. What was happening then? Luke 3:4 speaks of John the Baptist, “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the LORD, make straight paths for him.” But it also speaks of forerunner messengers who “prepare the way for the Lord” today. You and me.

Application—Make it personal. How does this verse apply to me today? How does it relate to events in my past? What does it mean for my future? Does God have instruction (something for me to DO—I call it my “marching orders”)? Encouragement? Correction? One morning I was shocked because I had been in an argument with Jeff the night before and Y,ALL…my “word for the day” was Proverbs 21:19 “It’s better to live alone in the desert than with a crabby and complaining wife.” Gulp. Sigh.

Prayer—Pray from the verse. Prayer is simply a conversation with God. Help me to be loving and encouraging (not crabby and complaining). Or why am I crabby? You may find that as you pray over what He has shown you (revelation is God revealing more of Himself and His heart to yours) He will reveal even more of what He is wanting to show you. Consider journaling your prayers. I can’t tell you how encouraging it is to go back and read a prayer and realize that God has supernaturally answered it!

Prayer, Uncategorized

Striking the Ground

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Then he said, “Take the arrows,” and the king took them. Elisha told him, “Strike the ground.” He struck it three times and stopped. The man of God was angry with him and said, “You should have struck the ground five or six times; then you would have defeated Aram…completely” 2 Kings 13:18-19

I can be pretty persistent. Or so I’ve been told. Jeff wanted me to be an attorney because he was convinced that I could persuade any judge, jury or courtroom to “see the light” (read let me have my way) simply by wearing them down with my “persistence” (read arguing my point with someone until they think their ears are bleeding.) Those are his words. I know, right? He can be so dramatic.

In 1999, we had been on the list to be able to purchase a home in Coweta through the Creek Nation Housing program for about six years when I read the story in Luke 18 about the widow and the unjust judge. I realize now the story is about persistence in prayer and about continually asking our King and Judge for justice, which really means making the wrong things right. Justice for a sick body is healing. Justice for addiction is freedom. Justice for lost souls headed for eternity separated from God is salvation. Jesus was telling us to keep asking, keep barging into His Courtroom and pleading for justice—for ourselves, our loved ones and our nation.

At the time I believed my revelation meant that we would surely get our new home if I kept calling and occasionally dropping by the housing authority office to “check on the status of our application.” I left some very kind messages, sent cards and even baked brownies for them (only once because I didn’t want them to think I was crazy.) Crazy or not, my plan worked! I often pictured the woman on the other end of my then daily phone calls turning around after hanging up and saying, “Can someone PLEASE give this woman the keys to that house?!?!”  Ok maybe Jeff was right.

In 2 Kings 13, Elisha was angry because the king was half-hearted in his obedience and quit after only striking the ground three times. Aram means “highness; one that deceives; curse” and I want to point out that the same message to that king is true for us today. Is there a curse of cancer or alcoholism or poverty that has attacked your family or people group? “I prayed,” you say, “and nothing happened.” They are still in the hospital bed, still in prison, still in bondage, still homeless, still poor, still under the influence of deception. Can I tell you something? Pick up your arrows!

God spoke this word to us awhile back concerning prayer for Native Americans. There have been many short term mission trips to reservations, outreaches to boarding schools, and they are good works to be sure. But if we do not continue to cry out to God for justice, we will be like the king who Elisha told to “strike the ground.” We will have small victories here and there, a lost soul saved, a decision to enter drug and alcohol rehab, a decision to choose life. I don’t take that lightly and those victories are definitely cause for celebration, but what if we could defeat these enemies COMPLETELY? What if your family could be completely out of debt? What if your son or daughter could be completely delivered from drugs and alcohol? What if your marriage could be completely restored? What if our nation could be completely redeemed?

There must be a continual “striking the ground” in order for us to see complete victory. That is why I am asking God to raise up night and day prayer on every reservation and for every native tribe. Jesus told of the widow’s persistence in that story so that we might “always pray and never give up.” He promises that our heavenly Father, the Righteous Judge, WILL give justice to those “who cry out to Him day and night.” His next  question in Luke 18, though, is one that pierces my heart.

But will I find that kind of faith when I return? Will I find anyone who is still praying and crying out for justice, still believing in My unfailing love and mercy?” I imagine Him looking off in the distance, wondering to Himself….”Will there still be someone going to prayer at midnight to fight for the girls kidnapped for human trafficking? Will there still be someone asking for the hand of violence to be stopped from domestic violence or child abuse? Will I have a Bride who cares?

As it turns out, Jeff was right. I DID become an attorney of sorts, and so can you. The “arrows” we strike the ground with are our gifts and we petition the Judge through prayer and faith. I strike the ground when I type on this keyboard or play the piano or teach a class. I strike the ground when I cry out for justice in prayer. Next month we plan to strike the ground again for Pine Ridge. What are your arrows? What is the cause God has commissioned you for? It’s time to strike the ground again.

 

 

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faith, Finances, Prayer

Partnering With Jesus: Faith for Supernatural Provision

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“That money is not for you. It’s for her. . .”

It was 2006 and I had been at the altar praying with a single mother about a desperate financial need. At the time I occasionally interpreted for a deaf person who would visit our church and sometimes ministered in song using sign language. As soon as I finished praying with the woman, one of the ushers walked up to me carrying an offering envelope that said “sign language lady”. Inside was a stack of twenty dollar bills and I rejoiced as I got in the car and shared our “good fortune” with Jeff. Then I stopped in mid-sentence. I suddenly had a vision of praying for the financial need and turning to see the usher walking up to me. “That money is not for you. It’s for her. . .” the Holy Spirit nudged me. I remembered the verse in James about not simply praying for someone and saying “be warm and well fed” then walking away if you have the ability to meet their need. So we drove to the woman’s house and gave her the money. That same month I received three unexpected speaking invitations and our “seed” multiplied to over $4,000!

A few years later, God would “nudge” me again to give my car away and walk to our prayer room through the summer. One day Savannah and I were walking to the library and I exclaimed, “Hey—I just realized that I’ve been praying for us to get more exercise and look—God is answering!” Savannah, red-faced and sweating, did not see the humor OR feel the gratitude in that particular revelation. “Well MOM, stop praying that!” I laughed out loud and put my arm around her. These walks gave us lots of time to talk and I shared with her how I wanted her to have her own “history in God” concerning faith with finances. I explained that faith is like a muscle, and the only way for it to grow is if you use it and “stretch” it. She rejoiced with us when, at the end of the summer, we were given TWO cars (one of which we sold and gave the profit to another missionary and the other we are still driving), but she decided she wanted to grow her own faith muscle. She has several cool stories but one stands out to me.

One day as I was preparing to leave for an internship in Kansas City at the International House of Prayer, we were out for a walk (because we wanted to 🙂 Savannah reached into her pocket and pulled out a twenty dollar bill. She shyly handed it to me. “Mom, I already gave my tithe this month but I want to give this to you for the internship and to show you I believe in you and what God is calling you to do.” I teared up and reluctantly took the money, knowing it was probably half of what she had been saving. When we got back home, Jeff (knowing nothing about her seed offering) said, “Oh, Savannah—I almost forgot—I sold your two old bicycles and here is the money.” It was 40 dollars! She looked at me wide-eyed and said, WHOA!

A couple months into the internship, we were feeling financial pressure because of some unexpected expenses. I sat in the prayer room, trying to connect with the intercession for revival on college campuses, but my mind kept going to our financial need. I saw a missionary named Isaac walk past and recalled how I had prayed for his financial need in our small group that morning. Give him your envelope money, I heard. That can’t be God, I reasoned. It was my household and grocery money for the whole month! I received confirmation it was God, then went to the bathroom and took out all of my envelope cash, not counting it but knowing there was over $200. I put it in a card with an encouraging word and verse and gave it to Isaac, who praised God out loud in the lobby. Later that day Jeff called to tell me we had received an unexpected check for $500, exactly what we needed plus I wouldn’t have to fast the rest of the month! (wink) I share these stories to encourage you to “exercise your faith muscle” in the area of partnering with Jesus in the realm of supernatural provision in finances. My point is NOT that we give in order to get money back, but rather to partner with Him in building His Kingdom. And when we release our faith with our seed and God answers with supernatural provision, our hearts soar and we respond as Savannah did, WHOA! God is AWESOME and He loves me and hears me! And THAT will be the point.

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*We recognize that God uses people like you and me to partner with His work in the earth. Would you consider partnering with us in this work of prayer and missions? Our ongoing mission is to train up forerunner messengers from the place of night and day prayer and to help keep a 24/7 sanctuary of perpetual worship and prayer. We currently need 5-7 more monthly partners to cover monthly expenses and $2,000 in special gifts to help with re-location costs during this season of equipping at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. You can mail donations to Frontier Missions, P.O. Box 374, Coweta, OK 74429 or click on the link above. All donations are tax-deductible.

Forerunner, Prayer, Purpose, Uncategorized

Training Up a Forerunner

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Jesus, I plead Your blood over my sins and the sins of my nation. God, end abortion and send revival to America.

It is a prayer Savannah has prayed hundreds of times over the past several years. She even wears a red bracelet with the word “LIFE” to remind her to pray. But on the night before the last presidential election, God showed her just how powerful that prayer can be.

It was November 6, 2012 and I remember being a little concerned about how she would respond if President Obama was re-elected. She adamantly opposed his Pro-Choice position and since she is sometimes  stubborn (i.e. bull-headed) and quick to speak her opinion, (I believe she gets these things from her father, of course) I have had to have SEVeral conversations with her about honoring and continuing to pray for our leaders even when we do not understand their decisions. Sigh.

On election day, she told me very matter-of-factly, “Mom, President Obama will win today but God gave me a dream and showed me how important it is that we keep praying for him. In my dream, he came into our prayer room at RHOP and he was wearing a red suit. (now, a few people, who I won’t name, have interjected at this point in the story, ‘was he holding a pitchfork too?’ These people are a tiny bit angry I think and we should definitely pray for them.) He sat down beside me and as I told him about abortion, he started to cry really hard and he kept saying, “I didn’t know…I didn’t know….” I think God was showing me with the red suit that we need to keep praying and pleading the blood of Jesus over him…” Can you think of the name of a leader today that you can pray for and plead the blood of Jesus over? Do that now.

As I shared last month, our family is being led to enter into a season of equipping in Kansas City over the next few years. We will continue our ministry of intercession and evangelism, and Savannah will attend Forerunner Christian Academy. She recently sent out her own support letter and since I am highlighting the training of forerunners this month, I will share part of her letter here:

. . . While we are there (in KC), I will be attending Forerunner Christian Academy. At FCA I am going to be able to play the drums on a worship team. I will also be attending the prayer room at least 4 hours each week. Forerunner Christian Academy believes it is critical that children learn and interact with Scripture on a daily basis to build proper foundations. Students there study the major themes of Scripture in Bible class every afternoon. In addition, musically gifted students have the opportunity to join a student worship team. The daily worship time creates a context for students to sing the Bible in addition to studying it. I believe God will use this school to help me grow in my studies and be closer to His heart. Part of the curriculum actually includes spending time in the Global Prayer Room worshiping Jesus and studying His Word! My mom and I have visited this school and after the tour and visiting with some of the leaders, we sat in the car crying tears of joy because as soon as I set foot in the building I felt God’s presence and well, it felt like “home”. In addition to drumming, I have a calling to pray for the ending of abortion. At the prayer room at IHOP-KC I will get to exercise my calling by joining (and sometimes even leading!) the Life Initiative prayer meetings each week. When we were there in January, I prayed LIFE over China on the live web stream that is broadcast to 200 nations!

I know I am called to pray for life and to be a messenger who will prepare the way for Jesus’ Return….

If you are a parent or teacher or have any sort of influence on a child or young person, I am praying today for you (and me!) to have God’s wisdom and guidance as we train up and encourage this next generation. The pull of the world is so strong that it will take fasting and prayer to “turn the tide.” Stay encouraged and keep praying!

In order for our family to fully give ourselves to this calling of intercession and training forerunner messengers, we need to raise up a team of friends like you who will “link arms” with us in prayer and financial support. Would you prayerfully consider joining our ministry team? 

We need 10-12 more monthly partners and approx. $5,000 in special gifts to pay for her tuition and moving expenses. We love and appreciate you and will continue to pray…….night and day until He comes!

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Music, Prayer, Purpose

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

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“I saw a beautiful red bird in a cage surrounded by music notes. One of the music notes became the key that unlocked the door…”

I was sharing this vision with a pastor friend and his wife recently after praying with them for their aging mother, Joy. Later when Savannah and I worshipped in the “prayer room” at our house, me on the keyboard and she on the percussion bells, I realized the vision was as much for me as it was for them. Perhaps even it was entirely for me. And well, maybe for you.

We are in a season of raising a support team as missionaries as we step into this new season of ministry. The Lord has directed us to move to Kansas City for the next few years to be further trained and equipped to establish houses of prayer in Oklahoma and to train missionaries who will be sent out to Indian reservations across the nation. We have commitments for half of our estimated monthly budget, but with our August deadline approaching, the Enemy is doing his best to “put me in his cage” of fear and doubt and rejection. The mental attacks have been relentless, but as I sat singing “Holy holy is our God almighty”, I realized it was my own heart that had become “the bird in the cage” and the music notes mixed with prayer were the “keys” that would unlock my Joy and set me free. When we finished I felt like Hannah must have felt after she poured out her heart to the Lord from the anguish of her barrenness. She went away and was “no longer downcast.” (1 Sam. 1:18) Now, it’s entirely possible and even likely that my heart will end up “back in the cage” by the end of the week but at least I know “where the keys are”, which is more than I can say for my car keys most of the time. Ha!

What is your “cage” made of? Perhaps yours is not made of fear, rejection and doubt like mine. Maybe for you it is debilitating grief, loneliness, busyness, unforgiveness, addiction, depression or an unfulfilled dream. Worship and prayer will be the keys to unlock your heart and set you free. It causes tormenting spirits to flee (think David playing the harp for Saul) and it transforms us into a “different person”. (see verse at top of page 1) But know this—there is more at stake here than your own “freedom.”

One of our partners shared a verse with me that has rocked my world lately. Proverbs 15:15 (Amplified) says “All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings] but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances].” When I studied it out, I found that the Hebrew word for “evil” here means “bad, as in bad cattle or bad waters. . . malignant”. The Hebrew word for “glad” is “towb”, meaning good, as in good (fertile) land, a good tree or get this—benign.

These definitions struck a deep chord in me, since I just spent a year worrying (or let’s say wondering, shall we?) over whether or not a lump in my breast was malignant or not. The message or lesson here for me is that since the breast is a symbol of nourishment, my “anxious thoughts and forebodings” are actually the malignancies that keep me from being fully alive and nourishing those around me. Like “bad cattle” and “bad waters” poison others, my doubts and fears poison my own heart, which will eventually affect those around me. Oh, but a “glad heart” is not only benign, it is like a fertile field or tree that yields good “food”, a continual feast for myself and others!

In the film Coach Carter, a student who had once been trapped in his own cage of poverty and racism, quotes this passage to his coach, whose “life song” has somehow entered into and unlocked his cage. . . “We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”  Your “song” is a key. So sing, caged bird. SING

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Prayer, Purpose

What Do You Want?

Friend of God

“What do you want?”

Before that day, he had been a complete stranger. We shared a two hour shuttle ride from Santa Fe to Albuquerque in 2005 and my life would never be the same. I’m still not certain that he wasn’t an angelic messenger, though I remember now that he had said he was a therapist of some sort. He was talking to me about an illumination session that he took clients through to get to the core issues that were holding them back from love, peace, fulfillment.

“That’s the first question of the session… I always ask ‘What do you want?”

As soon as he said those words, I felt like my whole world sliced wide open. It completely caught me off guard because I realized I didn’t know the answer! Do YOU know the answer to that question? That is something I’m very passionate about–helping people find their unique purpose and challenging them to find a way to “walk in it.” That all starts with this one question. What do you want?

Thankfully, the woman in the seat in front of us suddenly turned around and started showing us the greeting cards she had designed with her own art. We passed them back and forth and Tom the Angel would ever so often pause and lean over to show me one, “you’ll like this one…” And y’all, I was stunned because well, he was right! The ones he picked are exactly the ones I would have pointed out and there’s just absolutely NO WAY he could have known that from a two hour conversation. Unless he were an angel. Or maybe Jesus in disguise. Okay, I know, I know.

I used to be a sign language interpreter for the deaf at a mental health center and I remember one of the group sessions when one of my favorite clients confessed, “I can’t read the Bible too much because I start thinking I’m a prophet.” I kept my robotic interpreter face on and continued to sign with my hands but inside I admit it’s all I could do not to shoot my hand up and shout, “I KNOW, ME TOO!” It’s possible they might have kept me over then at that point for “observation” (doing the quote signs with my hands) so it’s probably best I kept quiet in that particular situation. I tell that story in case you are thinking that I’ve been reading the Bible too much and now think I’m seeing angels. or Jesus. But don’t call the psych ward on me just yet because that’s not even the point, people!

The point is that it made me think about how Jesus was always asking people, even the ones whose answers seemed obvious. “What do you want?” or “What do you want me to do for you?” It’s obvious the man was blind. Did He really need to ask that? Or what about the man who laid by the pool of Bethesda for THIRTY-EIGHT YEARS. “Do you really want to get well?” He always looked past what was on the surface…to the heart.

As I boarded my plane that day after waving goodbye to Tom, I realized that no matter who or what he was, God had used him to send a message to my heart. “What do you want?” I sat staring out the window and finally the answer bubbled up from the depths of my heart in a single word. Intimacy. I heard once someone describe the word “intimacy” as “into-me-see”. . . The same messenger who asked the question also gave me the answer. He listened to me and then showed me that he “heard” me. He “saw” me. Into-me-see. That’s what a personal relationship with Jesus is. He listens. He sees inside your heart, then He goes out of His way to show you pictures of His love. “You’ll like this,” He says and then paints the sky your favorite color at sunset. Then it’s your turn and you write Him a poem or sing Him a song. “You’ll like this…” And He does.

Sometimes we have to ask ourselves that question over and over and over again before we get to the true desire of our heart. I once led a workshop where I asked people to pair up and ask one another that question again and again and again. At first we start listing our immediate needs and wants….I want a new job….I want a new car….I want a bigger house…I want another baby….I want human trafficking to end…I want to quit smoking…I want my children to be healthy…I want to write a book…I want to learn to play guitar…I want to write a song that will change lives…I want to be held close…I want passion….I want adventure…I want peace…I want joy….you get the picture.

So, what do you want? I finally know the answer to that question for me. I want intimacy and passion for Jesus. I want adventure. I want to be a great wife and mother and friend. I want to pray and write and teach. I want to love deeply and be loved deeply. I want “face time”.

Take action: Have a friend ask you this question over and over again or ask yourself again and again and record your answers on a sheet of paper until you feel like you have narrowed it down to the “core issue”….the desire of your heart. Imagine if Jesus knocked on your door or sat down next to you on a shuttle today and asked you that question, “what do you want Me to do for you?” What would you say?

Prayer

Marvelous are Your Works

girl and butterflies

“You have a complex cyst, but it is benign. There is absolutely no cancer”

I’ve been thinking a lot about Job lately. About how he was able to say “though He slay me, yet will I trust Him…” during the midst of his trial. Actually it was trialsss, plural. When I read about them I realize that my worst trial on my worst day seems like a hangnail compared to Job’s mess! I personally think it would have been so much more helpful for Job if he had known about the conversation between God and Satan at the beginning of the book, about Satan asking God if he could test Job, but I did not get to vote on the matter. I can only be grateful that the conversation was recorded in Scripture because knowing about it now has been extremely helpful for me. It reminds me that the Enemy cannot touch me unless God allows it and if He allows it, He means to bring good out of it. Job got “double for his trouble” and this is very good news to you and me. Good news like those words I heard this past week.

Three years ago, the doctors found a nodule on my thyroid that needed to be biopsied and removed. It was unnerving, to say the least, but I will never forget the day I sat down at the computer to look up information about the thyroid. A picture of it appeared on the screen with the caption: “the thyroid is often called the butterfly gland because it is a gland in your neck shaped like a butterfly…” Google an image of the thyroid and you will see it! Now, you may think I’m being “kooky-spiritual” here but I’m willing to risk it. My name Vanessa means “butterfly”, so when I saw that image I suddenly imagined the conversation between God and Satan concerning me…”yes, you may test her but the only place I will allow you to touch her is her thyroid because when she looks at that picture, she will hear Me say her name and know that I am in it, that I will see her through it.” And truly He did.

Now, fast-forward to the lump found in my breast this past year. The clinic in Coweta where the “abnormality” was first found does not have a radiologist on staff, so they sent the films off to be read by someone else and we only got to read the report. Remember how last month I told you I was a bit frustrated (i.e., “throwing a fit”) about having to go yet again to have more films made since the other ones were outdated? Well, the specialist also recommended this time that I get “digital imaging” which would have to be done at Claremore Indian Hospital. I had several people praying with me that there would be no lump at all when I had the new mammogram, but it was (and is) still there. But wait. . .

A kind and lovely African American woman in her early 60’s came in to discuss the films with me, and when she pointed out the white spot on the black screen, I nearly gasped. Y’all, the thing is shaped just like a butterfly! I have the films to prove it but felt it might not be “newsletter-appropriate” so you will have to take my word for it. 🙂 The radiologist said, “well, would you look at that…” And just as I was about to completely lose my composure, the fire alarm went off and they had to evacuate the building. I was still in the flimsy half gown and about to panic, when the tech saw my look of horror and mercifully said, “This is only a test. You don’t have to go out like that. You just stay here and wait for it to pass.

As I sat in the dimly lit pink room, the tears began to flow as I thought of the past year—closing the house of prayer, being separated from my family, all the feelings of doubt and uncertainty about the future. And in that place I heard His voice. I believe it is His message to you today as well, so let me be your messenger of mercy like the radiology tech was for me. God says, “This is only a test. It’s not going down like that. Just stay here with Me and wait for it to pass…I AM WITH YOU” At that point, it didn’t really matter what the results would be because I knew He was WITH ME and would go “out of His way” to say my name and send me pictures of His Love. Don’t lose heart. Remember Job. “After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.” (Job 42:10) So, who can you pray for today? I am praying for you!

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