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I Will Run

psalm 119-32

What does it mean for God to enlarge your heart? The Hebrew word for “enlarge my heart” here is “rachab” meaning “to make large; to open one’s heart to instruction; to be spacious; wide; spoken of meadows; a heart that’s expanded with joy; to make room for Him; to expand borders…”

I asked my fifth and sixth graders what they thought it meant yesterday. “It’s like when the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes after he learned the true meaning of Christmas.” Then we had a great discussion about the things that cause our hearts to “expand with joy”. “When I hold a kitten…when I score a goal…when I forgive someone or when I feel forgiven…” What makes you feel like your heart is “enlarged” or expanded?

VV (Vanessa’s version) = When I open my heart to Your instruction, and make room in my life for You, You will expand my borders (my sphere of influence) and I will run free, like in a wide open meadow. And I will finish MY race with joy.

In the film “Chariots of Fire”, Eric Liddell said, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” Fill in the blank for you: “When I _______________________, I feel God’s pleasure.” This is what expands our hearts too. Proverbs 18:16 says “A man’s gift makes room for him, and brings him before great men.” In other words, when you make room for God and His instruction, He will cause you to walk in your God-given purpose and give you supernatural favor.

Secretariat was a triple crown winning race horse that broke records and inspired the film “Secretariat.” After Secretariat’s death, they did a necropsy to examine what made him different. They found that his heart was literally almost three times the size of a normal horse’s heart. God enlarged his heart and he won race after race.

Father, I pray for grace to run the race set before me and to finish with JOY. Help me make room for You and your instruction. Enlarge my heart so I can run.

faith, Purpose, Uncategorized

Begin With the End in Mind

“LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered—how fleeting my life is.”                                  —Psalm 39:4

You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, non apologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside. The enemy of the “best” is often the “good”    —Stephen Covey

One of the most powerful exercises I have experienced at a conference is to imagine that I am at my 80th birthday party (another variation is to imagine you are looking in on your own funeral. I prefer the birthday thing, but do whatever works for you 🙂 You imagine thatthere is going to be someone from each area of your life who will be speaking at the party or funeral. There will be someone from your immediate family and someone from your extended family, a friend, a co-worker, someone from your community, etc. In the exercise, you are to imagine what you would want them to say when it is their turn to speak and then write it out. This exercise is a great way to determine how you want to live today and what choices and decisions will help you become the person you imagine your family and friends describing. This exercise will also help you to discover your core values, or the things that are most important to you.

What are your core values? I rarely find people that can answer this question with any real clarity. When we allow our lives to be guided by our values, we feel happy, fulfilled, and a deep sense of connection with God and others. We also know that when your behavior is out of alignment with our core values, it creates a deep disturbance in your mind and spirit that can lead to lack of passion and loss of energy in your life. If you have never taken time to ponder what values are most important to you in your life, now is a great time to do it and I can help!

Step One: Identify Your Core Values. First, review and circle or write down the values listed below that are important to you. Be sure to trust your instincts. You can always eliminate it later if you decide it isn’t a fit. Don’t add values to your list that you “think you should have” or “want to have.” This list is about what actually matters to you. 

Core Values: authenticity, achievement, adventure, authority, balance, beauty, boldness, comfort, compassion, community, creativity, contribution, courage, dependability, determination, education, equality, fairness, faith, family, freedom, friendship, fun, growth, happiness, health, honesty, humor, influence, inner harmony, integrity, joy, justice, kindness, knowledge, leadership, learning, love, loyalty, meaningful work, openness, optimism, passion, patience, peace, pleasure, poise, popularity, power, privacy, recognition, reputation, respect, responsibility, safety, security, service, spirituality, stability, strength, success, status, trustworthiness, truth, vulnerability, wealth, wisdom (circle yours)

This list is certainly not all-inclusive, so if you think of one that you do not see here, add it! Two of my main core values are not on this list—prayer and purpose. My personal mission statement is to inspire, encourage and motivate others to spend time with God (prayer) and to find and fulfill their unique God-given purpose. When I am doing this, I feel like I am doing “me”—I feel content and at peace with myself and others. When I am not doing this, I feel anxious and out of sorts. At this moment, I have five different requests being made of me that are not related to my mission or core values. They are “good things”—things I might enjoy doing or even be good at, but I know if I say yes to these “good” things, it could ultimately mean saying no to God’s “best” for me.

Luke 4:42-44 tells one of my favorite stories in Scripture because it portrays Jesus saying no to a “good” thing so that He could say yes to the Father’s “best”. Look it up and ask God to show you His “best” for you!

Step 2: Write positive action statements incorporating your top 5 or 10 core values. These statements should start with “I am” and when you read it, imagine what it would feel like if this were already happening. This creates a healthy tension that will ultimately spur you to take action. So, for instance, one of my core values is “influence”. A positive statement might be I am powerfully influencing others through my writing and speaking. (Hey, I’m walking this one out right now! 🙂 Another is “education”—I am passionately teaching tomorrow’s leaders and developing curriculum for students who will be world-changers and history-makers. Now it’s your turn. Two of my mom’s core values are education and literacy. She received messages last week from a parent saying how she had increased a love of reading in her son. Another student posted on FB that my mom made her more confident in reading aloud. So. . . begin with the end in mind.

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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!

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Here I am Lord Send Me

It’s important to realize in this passage that before Isaiah was so enthusiastic about signing up to be God’s messenger, he had an encounter with God’s transcendent BEAUTY which caused him to recognize his sinful humanity, confess it and receive forgiveness and redemption. Intimacy through worship and relationship MUST come before service if we are to have grace for perseverance and not burn out. It is only through fiery passionate love for Jesus that we are able to (and even WANT to!) sign up for the most challenging assignments in the Kingdom. He has called us to grand adventure–a LOVE STORY set in the midst of a great battle! There will be tremendous adversity and even devastation as Isaiah saw but he also knew that LOVE “Immanuel ‘God with us'” (isa 7:14) would have the final say. \m/,

Prayer, Uncategorized

Striking the Ground

indian center art

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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First Youth Nations Conference

First Youth Nations Conf

Henry and Sandy

We are making plans to attend this conference that my Brother Henry Mena and his amazing family are hosting in Banning, California. Part of our ongoing mission is to “train up forerunner messengers from the place of night and day prayer” and we long to see an army of First Nations Youth ARISE! We need to raise $1,000 in the next few days to secure travel reservations and $1500 more by April 15th. Please partner with us (click on donate button below) and make a tax-deductible donation here to help send us to the Morongo Reservation to cry out for Revival in Native America! “So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.” \m/,

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or mail donations to: Frontier Missions, P.O. Box 374, Coweta, OK 74429

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A Christmas Gift

A True Christmas Story…maybe even a Christmas miracle?? This picture was taken Christmas Eve just months before our daughter Maegan went “Home” to heaven and four years before my Daddy Vann (I was named after him) died and went “Home” on Christmas Day 2000. This past week we decided to sell a sofa for extra space and Christmas money so we posted it on the community fb page for IHOPKC (International House of Prayer in Kansas City). When I saw the young woman’s name was Megan who was interested in the sofa, I told Jeff I felt we were supposed to give it to her and although we could definitely have used the money, he immediately agreed. The young woman named Megan was visibly moved when she and her husband came to pick up the sofa. She said “you really have no idea what a huge blessing this is for us…we just had a baby 9 days ago…” They told me they had read Maegan’s story on my blog site (vanessavancleave.com–click on “Maegan’s story”) and were deeply moved. Her husband seemed equally as grateful and when he shook my hand I realized I hadn’t asked his name. “My name is Van” he said. Huh??…time seemed to stop as Jeff and Savannah (also named after my dad) and I exchanged tear-filled looks. It was almost too much to take. Y’all, we got to give a Christmas gift to a Megan and a Van!!!Truly the gift was ours. #moreblessedtogive #missionarylife#everygoodgiftisfromabove
I am praying for those missing loved ones today…that God will “wink” at you as He did us. Merry Christmas \m/,
daddy and maegan

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Meet at the Knee

Pine Ridge 21 day

We are on day 5 of a 21 day fast to cry out for breakthrough for Pine Ridge Indian Reservation where there has recently been an outbreak of suicides and suicide attempts among the youth. Read the New York Times article here. The article says that “As the suicides began to mount in February, the Oglala Sioux tribe president, John Yellow Bird Steele, declared an emergency on the reservation. In response, the Indian Health Service deployed additional counselors, but many people here say it is not nearly enough. . .” Many ministries are recognizing the spiritual warfare and need for prayer for this area.  We opened Remnant House of Prayer on Muscogee Creek property on February 27, 2010. One of our main mandates was to pray for Native Americans. The Grand Opening date was during Purim, when Queen Esther asked for the salvation of her entire people group, the Jews. February 27th was also the anniversary of the Siege at Wounded Knee, when A.I.M., a group of Native American activists took over the town of Wounded Knee in protest to the conditions in Pine Ridge and the broken treaties between the U.S. Government and Native Americans.

In Ezekiel 4, God tells His prophet to put a map of Jerusalem in front of him and “lay siege to it. . .  It will be under siege, and you shall besiege it. . .” The word “siege” means “any prolonged or persistent effort to overcome resistance.” Besiege means “to crowd around; crowd in upon; surround: 3. to assail or ply, as with requests or demands.” I believe God is telling us it is time to “erect a prayer siege” at Wounded Knee. Wounded Knee is also the site of the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890, when the U.S. 7th Calvary Regiment gunned down approximately 300 Lakota Sioux. Please join us in prayer for God to bring healing and restoration to this area.

At the end of this 21 day fast, I will join other leaders and prayer warriors from around the country at Wounded Knee, SD for the ANNA Cry, three days of continuous worship and prayer to cry out for breakthrough and the power of death to be broken over Pine Ridge. I need your prayers as we enter into this spiritual war zone. I also need help with financial provision for this assignment. I need to raise $2,000 by May 21st. My goal is to take some One Year Bibles and possibly some t-shirts like this to hand out to youth there. . .it would be a way of “prophesying to the winds” so to speak, a declaration of a decision to CHOOSE LIFE.

alive shirt back.jpg

I recently gave financial gifts to missionaries going to Israel. I wanted to go with them but felt the Lord impress on me, “this is a way you CAN go with them…by sending them…“. I am asking, would you “go with me” to Pine Ridge by sowing into this work of prayer and missions? Please share this with others and pray for grace and protection on our ministry and family throughout this mission.

To find out more about the fast and ANNA Cry, visit www.allnationsnorthamerica.com and click on the video.

Thanks so much!

Night and day until He comes,

\m/,–Vanessa

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Making a Wish

gktw cafeteria copy.jpg

Today is Maegan’s birthday. Hard to believe she would have been 26 today! This picture was taken at Give Kids the World, where we went for Maegan’s Make a Wish trip the year before she died. It was a dream come true for all of us. Unlike many of the children there, Maegan felt exceptionally well that week. I remember writing her name on a star on the ceiling there and that week, truly she SHINED. Jeff and Savannah and I have an opportunity to take a volunteer vacation trip this summer to minister to other families with children facing terminal illness at Give Kids the World. This has been a challenging year for our family, traveling back and forth from Kansas City to be trained and equipped as forerunner messengers, but God’s grace has been on us and we can see Him leading and guiding us every step of this journey. We are looking forward to the summer together but on a missionary budget it is very difficult to take a vacation. Would you pray about making a donation to help us fund this trip so that we can share God’s love and hope with hurting families of terminally ill children? We would leave on June 25th, the anniversary of the day Maegan went HOME to heaven. We need to raise $4,000 to be able to go on this trip. Any amount will help! Please mail tax-deductible donations to: Frontier Missions, P.O. Box 374, Coweta, OK 74429 or give online here through paypal. Thank you so much!

with love and much HOPE,

\m/, Vanessa

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Connecting the Dots . . .

“Hey while praying for you I’m reminded how when the Lord gives a vision sometimes that vision has to die so it can be reborn even stronger to complete the work. Look at all the things I have gone through. . . he birthed it (the vision), it died only to come alive again. But it’s not without a fight. He is able to keep that which you commit to Him. . . hold onto the word of the Lord. . . even if it looks like it will never happen. He will make a way where there seems to be no way. . .” 

This was a text I received from one of God’s “messengers” this month. It came on an emotionally difficult day and I clung to it like a drowning woman to a life raft. The truth is I have had an extremely difficult time “letting go” of the dream God placed in my heart for Remnant House of Prayer—for a 24 hour place of worship, for a forerunner arts academy to train up warriors from the place of night and day prayer. . . especially when I felt so strongly that God had told me to “hold on” so many times. I realize now, though, that sometimes you have to let go of a dream with your hands, while still clinging tightly with your heart. Remember that scene from Titanic when Rose is letting go of Jack? Even as his cold body slips into the ocean, she whispers, “I’ll never let go…” Then we hear the haunting music “the heart will go on…” And why is Titanic the second highest-grossing film of all time? Because it is our story, yours and mine, for while the “ship has gone down” so to speak and all seems lost, our Beloved Jesus has given His life so that we might live and urges us to “stay alive” until He returns to restore all things. And so the movie does not end with death in a frozen sea of despair, but with a ship restored, a radiant bride prepared for a wedding. It gives us hope, does it not?

On Good Friday this year, Savannah had a vision concerning RHOP. She saw “scenes like in a movie” of bringing her toys to the prayer room on 24 hour prayer weekends, prayer walks, learning to play drums, etc. The last “scene” was the last prayer set we had where all the kids were onstage leading the prayer meeting on Aug. 31st. (One year ago today) “You know how sometimes it will say at the end of a show, ‘To Be Continued, then dot dot dot? That’s what I saw, Mom, the words ‘To Be Continued . . . then dot dot dot. . .”

On the same day I received the text I shared earlier, my friend Angela  (remember Angela means “messenger”) approached me before a prayer meeting with a gift. “This is not the box they came in,” she said shyly, “but a dear friend of mine gave me these turquoise rings when I was going through a very difficult time in my life and I believe I am supposed to give them to you.” I had just asked the Lord for a ring to replace one I had lost and the ring that looked like a turquoise flower fit perfectly! When I got home, I kept looking at the other ring and the box, feeling there was a “message” in it. Then I remembered Angela had whispered as she left, “I am supposed to tell you that the woman who gave these to me—her name was Dot” And there it was—the message from God’s heart to mine. “You’re in the dots…” I heard Him whisper to my bleeding heart. It’s still not over. Any time you see that (. . .) in a book or text, it means more is to come. This is His message to you today as well. Remember the dream He gave you? The ministry, the career, the book, the home, the marriage, the child? I love the Message translation of Romans 4, “When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do.

Here is a pic of the rings. . .

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Angela later told me, “He’s also connecting the dots.” Hmm… think of the dot-to-dot coloring pictures we were given as children. The dots looked like a big mess until we started connecting them one at a time to reveal a picture. Like me, you may have to “let go” of a dream with your hands for now, but hold on with your heart because He is making a beautiful picture with your story (HIS story) and well, it’s “To Be Continued . . .”

 

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