At the beginning of each year, I love to take some time to evaluate my progress in each area and set new goals for the coming year.
This year, I was inspired by Gretchen Rubin to write a personal “manifesto”. A manifesto is described as “a published declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government.” It is a little more detailed than the personal mission statement and describes things that I want to be true of my life. We all have a “facebook fantasy self”, as Gretchen calls it. But the key here is to identify and live out what is true for you. Or at least what you WANT to be true of you. In Joel, God says “Let the weak say ‘I am strong.” (Joel 3:10) Words have power. So here is a list of things I want to be true of my life in 2019.
My Personal Manifesto:
- Be Vanessa
- One thing is needed
- There is only love
- Live with margin
- It is well
- Outer order, Inner calm
- Laughter is medicine.
- Remember the tapestry
My “fantasy self” loves to host family gatherings and dinner parties. The truth is that the mere thought of hosting or cooking for a group of people makes me nearly break out in hives. Hospitality is not my gift. What is true for someone else may not be true for me and that is okay. Be YOU.
One Thing is Needed
I love the story of Mary and Martha. Jesus commended Mary because she had chosen the “one thing” or the “better” thing–to sit at His feet and spend time with Him. He wasn’t scolding Martha for serving. Jesus Himself came to serve. The problem was Martha’s attitude and the fact that she was preoccupied with doing things He hadn’t asked her to do. What are you doing that God has not called you to do? A good way to measure this is to ask yourself, “what am I doing that I dread each day?” If He has called you to do it, it may not be easy but you will have joy and feel fulfilled.
There is Only Love
It is something I want to be true when someone hurts me or angers or irritates me. I don’t want to let offense or bitterness take root in my heart because “offense” is from the Greek word “skandalon”, meaning “bait or trap”. Don’t take the bait!Grudges are like poison to my body and spirit.
Live with Margin
If I am running from thing to thing, I cannot take time to be still and know that He is God. I love Centering (silent) Prayer. There’s a great app if you’re interested in trying it! The goal is to choose a word to focus on in silent contemplation. You breathe deeply and when you are distracted, keep coming back to the word. Sometimes you will have a vision or deeper revelation. Other times you will just feel more peaceful and well, centered. I was amazed recently when I led my middle school classes to try this at Forerunner Christian Academy. They loved it! Embrace the silence and “margin”. If you are a creative artist, you will find that often your most creative ideas come during times of idleness!
It is Well
The woman from Shunem’s son had just died (2 Kings 4), yet she kept saying in faith “It is well” until she got her breakthrough. The man who wrote “It is well with my soul” had just lost his business and his family yet carried the unshakeable faith that he would see them again.
Outer order, Inner Calm
I don’t like to admit it, but when my surroundings are in order (and my shoes are put away), I feel more calm. I love the “1 minute rule”—if it takes less than a minute to do (make the bed, put a cup in dishwasher, clear my bathroom vanity…) do it now. Your spouse or roommate will be so proud 🙂
Laughter is Medicine
Feeling down or sick? Look up the principal Gerry Brooks or John Crist on YouTube. Stream your favorite comedy or get your funny friends (or family:) together. A merry heart really is like medicine! (Proverbs 17:22)
Remember the Tapestry
If you look at the back of a tapestry where the artist is stitching, all the strings look like a big mess. But if you could see the other side, you’d see that the artist is making something beautiful. God is the Artist, and your life, a tapestry. It may look like a mess to you right now, because you are in the midst of it. But take time to be still (get the centering prayer app!) and trust Him. He makes all things beautiful in His time.(Ecc. 3:11)
Now it’s your turn! What will be your personal manifesto? You could also have a job manifesto or a family manifesto. I will share my teaching manifesto here soon. Please share some phrases or quotes from your manifesto! I’d love to hear them!
with love and much HOPE,
“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.
*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.
“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!
“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.
To make a tax-deductible donation or join our partnership team:
“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?
“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!