Journal Entry

Some things are better said through journal entries.

April 16, 2015

“Oh Lord my God, Lover of my soul, the great Potter who takes this lump of clay and molds it into the vessel you desire to use and work through.  Great God Almighty who causes me to humbly bow down and fall before You in awe and wonder at the great and mighty and magnificent work You have done for this child of Yours.  Father God who loves and disciples me because of Your love for me and Your desire to see me walk in right relationship with You and with others.

Lord, forgive me for the unintentional sins I have committed.  Cleanse me from my hidden faults.  Keep me from willful sins and do not let them rule over me. (Psalm 19:12-13)

Lord thank you that your Word ministers and connects and resonates with my spirit and soul and mind and body as I enter Your presence and seek Your face.  Lord, thank you for your faithfulness to forgive my sins and cleanse me from all my unrighteousness.  Thank you for guiding me in the paths of righteousness not for my sake but for Yours alone.  Lord, thank you.  Thank you.

Forgive me for my ungratefulness.  Forgive me for placing my priorities and schedule and to do list above Your divine works, wonders and will You so desire to manifest in my life.

Lord, take me and continue to spin me on Your potter’s wheel so that Your works begin to be seen through this vessel and not Alicia’s.  Lord, may the works of my hands, the meditations of my  heart, the words on my lips be holy and pleasing to you.  May everything that I do or say be only what the Father has told me to say or do.  May I be so in step with You Father God, that people would have no doubt, that my children and husband would have no doubt, that I am Your child and that I love You and desire to walk in obedience to Your commandments.

Lord, help me to pray more for my husband and children with tears so that I might reap shouts of joy at the answer to those prayers (Psalm 128:5).  Lord, help me to pray more for those in my family and the church body.  Lord, increase my love for Your children so that my heart becomes more in line with Your heart for them.  Teach me and show me how and what to pray for them.  Help me not to just mention their name and let the Holy Spirit pray the rest, but place Your words on my lips that I may join You in praying for all Your children.

Lord, Your word says, “Though one goes along weeping, carrying the bag of seed, he will surely come back with shouts of joy, carrying his sheaves (Psalm 128:6).  Lord, may each tear that is shed bring about shouts of joy for the salvation and work You bring about to glorify and honor Your name…the great I Am.  God of Wonders beyond all galaxies, You are worthy.   Thank you God.  May you be exalted and lifted up Lord Jesus. Amen.

I know this might be a little old fashioned, but the truth is eternal.  (Just put your boots on, grab your hoe and pitch fork, and dig in.)  May we bring in the sheaves through the tears we shed on our knees before the Great God of the universe who seeks to save those who are lost as well as those who have strayed and lost their way.

Life When You Fast and Pray

This week our church body called for a one week period of prayer and fasting as we prepare our hearts to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord.  This is not the first time for our church and yet it was a first for many in our church body as well as for this particular season of the year.  Each member was encouraged to fast from whatever it was God was calling them to and then meet at the church at 6:30 p.m. for soup and 7:00 p.m. for prayer.  Little did we know God was eagerly waiting to uncover the plans He wanted to share with us this week to demonstrate a taste of His power and might and name!!  I wanted to share with you just a small glimpse of the mighty God we serve and His continued desire to draw people unto Himself.

Monday:

My heart was not that prepared as I awoke on Monday to enter into a time of prayer and fasting.  We attend a homeschool co-op on Mondays so my day is pretty preoccupied with teaching and making sure the children have everything they need for their classes.  Well, right out of the starting blocks I pull into the parking lot and Dawson says he doesn’t feel good.  I turn around and he is green!!  I tell him to lay down in the back seat and call Scott who has to come pick him up.  One of my first prayers is to cry out to God for healing and protection over the rest of the family not to get the stomach bug that is going around.

Later that afternoon some of the board members begin to follow closely on their computers and phones a high speed chase in the Spring area.  We begin to make preparations for if we need to go into lockdown.  Lord, protect us and protect all those innocent people he is driving so dangerously around.

And if that wasn’t enough to have to pray over and through I am headed home and right before I get to my subdivision I pass an abandoned gas station that I have passed a thousand times.  The Lord turns my head just in time to see a young girl get turned out of a vehicle crying and clinching her pillow.  As I drive away, my eyes move to my side mirror and then to the rearview mirror as I witness the vehicle drive away and the young girl walking aimlessly and hopelessly around.  The Lord moves on my heart to see if she is okay, I tell the children I have to do something and I turn my vehicle around.  I pull into the gas station and find her sitting on the curb.  I ask her if she is okay and if she has a way to get home.  She tells me her boyfriend just kicked her out and she has a house but doesn’t feel like walking.  She is clenching her pillow and has a cigarette lighter in her hand along with a key chain.  Her appearance makes it hard for me to feel safe that I can just load her up and take her with my children in the car, but I told her I would see what I could do.  I get back into my car and call my mother-in-law to see what she thinks and she sends my father-in-law.

In the meantime, her boyfriend comes back and she screams profanity at him and then comes over to the driver side window as I am still on the phone.  She tells me that she is going to make her boyfriend drive her home and never speak to him again.  I told her I would be praying for her and asked her name…Brooke.  She said thank you and then went and got in the car.  The boyfriend pulled his vehicle up to the other side of the gas tanks and then got out of his car and began walking around the parking lot pretending he was looking for something.  After a little bit he picks up a useless piece of wire (as if that is what he was missing) and then got back in his car and took off.  At which time my father-in-law showed up.

Please note that my heart was beating out of my chest the whole entire time, while at the same time feeling like we were doing what we were suppose to be doing.  Even though it was TOTALLY out of the norm for me to do such a thing, I believe God wanted that boyfriend to know that there are people watching him and that God will hold him accountable for his sin that he may think he is doing in secret.  In addition, I feel Brooke needed to know that someone was watching out for her and that the God of the universe desires to love and protect her in a way that this world can not do.  I have yet to pass the gas station without lifting Brooke and her boyfriend to the Lord and pleading for God to send salvation their way.  What is even greater is that I will sometimes hear my children pray out loud for protection and salvation for Brooke and her boyfriend as we pass .  Thank you Lord.

Already physically tired from the day at co-op and then to have this crazy encounter, I was really tempted not to go to church and join in the fellowship of soup and prayer.  However, after seeing Dawson was doing better and quarantined at my in-laws, I loaded everyone up at the last minute and headed to church.  What a blessing awaited us as we join with more people than we have ever had on a first day of fasting and prayer.  The stories that were shared about how God worked in each individuals life point and give glory to a God that is not dead and still working.  We left there refreshed and singing praises to the one and only true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

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Tuesday:

I awoke Tuesday morning with my heart in a much better place to continue with the prayer and fasting.  With a stomach bug going around and the long day we had yesterday, I allowed the children to sleep a little longer to rest their bodies while I spent a little more time in God’s Word.  The rest of the day went pretty smooth and normal until about 12:30 p.m. at which time our internet went down.  (You have to understand that over a week ago our internet went down and they had to temporarily fix it to allow us to have internet while they replaced a main underground cable that had been damaged.)  So seeing that it was down I told the children the internet wasn’t working and decided I would not worry with it for now.  However, God had other plans.  Not 30-45 minutes later I received a text from Scott saying that AT&T would be at our home in 45 minutes.  Now when was the last time your internet service went down and in less than 2 hours they come to your door WITHOUT a phone call!!  Only God!!

The young man, Joshua, came in and quickly discovered the issue.  In the meantime, he mentioned how his grandparents use to garden as well as how he reads the bible to his 6 year old son every night.  (He also has a 2 month old son.)  After various conversations, my daughter asked him if he and his family had plans for Easter.  He told us that he had to work.  He proceeded to tell us that he has had to work every holiday with mandatory overtime.  He said he was sorry to say that he had not been in church in 2 years, but that his mother takes his wife and children every Sunday.  He has been with the company for 3 years and used to work for another company, but it required 70-80% traveling.  One time he had to be gone for 7 months and only had 4 days out of that 7 months that he was home.  He came home and his son immediately ran back to his mother.  That is when he and his wife decided it would be better for them to take a pay cut than to have children that did not know their father.

Before he left I asked him if there was anything that we could pray for.  He immediately said yes.  His wife, Patricia and her mother, Liset, were having trouble in their relationship.  Liset had come to stay with them to help with the new baby, but their relationship had become strained.  Just that day, Liset left on the terms that they would never speak again.  Joshua said his father had recently passed away on somewhat similar terms and that he was trying to tell both of them that it was not worth it.  So my children and I gathered with him in a circle in our living room and my oldest son and I prayed for him.  Afterwards he remarked that it had been a long time since a family had prayed for him and that that is what families should do.  He was very thankful and I know God brought him to our house for such a time because He is the one that made the phone call!!

Ready to join the church body for soup and prayer the children and I head to the church.  Again, a night of blessing awaited each person who walked through the door.  Stories of God’s faithfulness in demonstrating His glory in the lives of His children abounded.  After closing in prayer together, one of our church members called Scott and I over to meet someone.  His name is George.  George tells me, “You don’t remember me do you?”  Unfortunately, I didn’t, as I have a hard time remembering things like that.  He proceeds to tell me that back in December he was at Wal-mart and he saw me standing there talking to a lady about Silver Springs and somehow that encounter was impressed upon his heart.  Crazy!!  Earlier that night I had prayed with a lady that God would allow us to have such a presence of the Holy Spirit within us that even as we pass by people they would sense the power of God.  As I went home, God reminded me that there is always someone watching you whether you realize it our not.  The testimony of God’s love and character is demonstrated through us everywhere we go.

But that’s not the end of the story for George.  Scott and several other people stayed and talked with him.  And before they leave the church for the evening, George surrenders his life to Christ!!  Come to find out he was the gunman who was at Tomball Regional recently.  His son was on life support and they were about to pull the plug when he told them that his son squeezed his hand and that he was alive.  His son is now home and still recovering from the stroke.  All things are possible with God!!  You can’t make these things up!!

Wednesday:

Yesterday morning began with a text from a friend whose grandmother was headed to the emergency room because of a severe asthma attack.  It was then followed by another text informing us that our former foster daughter was unconscious and being rushed to the ER with low blood sugar.  That was to be followed by another phone call from a friend whose co-worker was headed to the ER for his 2nd seizure in a week.  God was making it obvious it was going to be a day to pray for hospitals, doctors, physicians, nurses, families with loved ones who are sick, and individuals who are sick with no family.

Later that afternoon we received an e-mail from a dear missionary and his family who are having to make some really tough decisions and asked for prayer for wisdom, discernment, and direction.

Praise God that as we gathered once again for soup and prayer, God’s power and blessing was upon His people.  We shared His miracles, praised Him for the great God Almighty that He is and joined our hearts in unison again as we cried out to Him.  This time we had almost double the number of people praying with over 60 people there.  Hallelujah!!

What an amazing three days it has been.  As I reflect back upon the work God has done over the last three days something has just dawned on me.  Just a few days before leading up to the fast, God laid on my heart a question I felt Him leading me to focus on during this particular fast.  The question is: What does Jesus want me to ask God the Father for in Jesus name?

Oh how He has been faithful to answer.  Each day He has brought an encounter before me that has brought me into His presence to seek His will for the situation and give Him the glory.

So Lord, today…

“What do you want me to ask God the Father for in Jesus name?”

 

God’s Testimony-Bringing Dead Bones to Life

I realize that for most bloggers, the first blog post of the year is suppose to be the traditional look ahead to 2015, setting goals, resolutions, etc.  In addition, it should have been posted on January 1st!!  However, I still haven’t even sent out my Christmas Letter!!

While I am currently working on our family’s end of the year letter, (which may not come out until next year), I have really felt led to begin the year with God’s testimony of how He works through His children.  What you are about to read is the testimony of one of His children that was shared at the Queen’s Feast held on January 8th at our church.  It is a testimony of one of His children hurting and in pain and how He takes her through the valley and reveals His love and hope to her.  It should take just under 15 minutes to read the whole thing.  There are no pictures or fancy fonts, just the beautiful words on the screen giving testimony to a God who never leaves us or forsakes us.  A God who brings dead things back to life and uses them to bring greater testimony to His power.


“The hand of the Lord was on me, and He brought me out by His Spirit and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. 2He led me all around them. There were a great many of them on the surface of the valley, and they were very dry. 3Then He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”

I replied, “Lord God, only You know.” Ezekiel 37:1-3

As the Lord took Ezekiel and placed him in the middle of a valley of dry bones, I would like to take you on a journey and set you down in the middle of my own life tonight. Last year I stood here and encouraged all of us to let it be the year of Christ in our lives. I encouraged us to immerse ourselves in the word of God and allow it to deeply penetrate so much that Christ would be all that was in us. I challenged us to ask ourselves the question, “What is one area I saw Christ in my life today?” Yet by the end of March, I did not feel like my life had any of Christ in it. The surface of my life was nothing but dry bones and the only thing echoing out of those bones was:

“It isn’t worth it.”

 “I’m tired of hearing the same thing,

expecting different results only to be disappointed again.”

 “I’m done.”

I felt like leaving everything. God, my husband, my family, everything. It’s not that I had anywhere to go or that I wanted to leave, there was just nothing left in me to give and my bones had been licked dry.

 4He said to me, “Prophesy concerning these bones and say to them: Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!” Ezekiel 37:4

But, it was in that valley that some friends were led by God to pray for my family and me. They refused to allow Satan to take out another believer even despite resistance from me. It is at that point my bones began to slowly move.

5This is what the Lord God says to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you will live. 6I will put tendons on you, make flesh grow on you, and cover you with skin. I will put breath in you so that you come to life. Then you will know that I am Yahweh.” Ezekiel 37:5-6

Through the prayers of friends, the words of a couple who knew all to well where we were at and were we had been, and the work of the Holy Spirit, God told me that I would live again and that I could come to life. He also showed me that the main barrier to living again was that I did not trust Him. I really wanted to know what the outcome was going to be and I wanted to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this time around it would be different. Could God really promise me that? The reality was that if I could not trust Him in the beginning then I would never be able to trust Him in the future because I wanted to be in control. Os Guinness in a book titled Be Still, My Soul: Embracing God’s Purpose & Provision in Suffering states it this way ever so clearly:

“If we don’t know why we trust God in the beginning, then we will always need to know exactly what God is doing in order to trust him. Failing to grasp that, we may not be able to continue trusting him, for anything we do not understand may count decisively against what we are able to trust.

If on the other hand, we do know why we trust God, we will be able to trust him in situations where we do not understand what he is doing.” (38)

So I asked God half-heartedly to help me to trust again; to help me to breathe again even in the midst of numbness and hopelessness.

7So I prophesied as I had been commanded. While I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8As I looked, tendons appeared on them, flesh grew, and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. 9He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man. Say to it: This is what the Lord God says: Breath, come from the four winds and breathe into these slain so that they may live!” 10So I prophesied as He commanded me; the breath entered them, and they came to life and stood on their feet, a vast army.” Ezekiel 37:7-10

The process of releasing control to God is not easy. It is slow, noisy, and the rattling sound will drive you crazy as the bones begin to come together because of course they couldn’t just be laying next to each other. Noooo. They have to be so scattered that it takes forever for them to find their way back. They are scattered everywhere. However, after the pain of the bones finding their way to one another, the tendons appear, flesh grows on them and skin covers the once dry bones. Over the last nine months I have slowly begun to trust God a little bit more and in so doing have begun to trust in my deepest relationships. But even as I cautiously took a breath here and there, I would hold it and wait to see what was going to happen around me. Were things going to change?

11Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Look how they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope has perished; we are cut off.’” Ezekiel 37:11

As I held my breath and looked around, I realized that I was not the only one holding my breath. Everyone is dried up. We have lost our hope and we are alone. So God what is the answer? Here I was trying to see it. Waiting to see the change I wanted to see, but it was not coming. Sure, my slain body is walking around now and God has even begun to allow me to pray and pray breath into some of the dry bones around me, but there was still something missing. I was not fully breathing. I was still waiting to see the dry bones most dearest to me walk and talk the way I felt I needed them to. So I held my breath again, and guess what, they didn’t. And when they didn’t respond the way I thought they would, the same flood of emotions that overwhelmed my spirit earlier in the year came flooding back into my mind.

“It isn’t worth it.”

“I’m tired of hearing the same thing, expecting different results only to be disappointed again.”

“I’m done.”

Words I had begun to believe I would never here the sound rattling out of my bones were echoing again; coming out with more rage and anger than my physical body could contain.

My greatest fear coming into tonight was that I really felt like I needed to be able to tell you that if you pray for your husband or future spouse, your job, your children, grandchildren, or any other worldly thing that may appear dead to you then great things are going to happen and God is going to do exactly what you pray. But how could I tell you that when I wasn’t seeing it in my own life.

God had already given me part of the answer in this passage as we read how Ezekiel carried out the command God had given him. As Ezekiel began to prophesy and the bones began to move, he stopped. God had to tell Ezekiel to continue with the prophesy He had given to him. It was only then that the bones became alive. So we can’t stop praying after our bones and the bones around us begin to rattle. It will hurt, but we have to pray on.

That part, as hard as it is to move through, was easy compared to the breath part. You see, while it is hard for the bones to be put back together, it is even harder to watch the bones get life and then do some of the same things they did when they were dead!! It was this reality that began to play out in my own life. My trust in God went only as far as if the bones were going to talk, walk, and dress the way I wanted them too. When that didn’t happen hopelessness began slowly creeping back into my bones, because I knew I could not leave, but I still felt like I had no place to go. I definitely couldn’t tell anyone that if they continued to pray over the dry bones in their life that everything would eventually get better because it hadn’t. I felt helpless because I knew I couldn’t tell you to leave your family. I can’t tell you leave your job. I can’t tell you it’s just a stage your child is going through as disaster strikes over and over again in their life. I can’t tell you that your brothers and sisters are not going to fight with you again. I can’t tell you that your children or spouse or friend will be okay if they go overseas on a mission trip. I can’t tell you that the pain of losing a loved one will ever go away.

I can’t.

I can’t.

I can’t.

It was tearing at my soul and that is where I found myself crying desperately for an answer to be able to give to you as well to have one for myself. Through the all to well-known numbness and hopelessness that came to rest upon my bones once again, I cried out to God. And even though the first two days of this year’s journal pages are probably unreadable for the human eyes, God is so good and so big that He, in His absolute love for me, gently met me Friday night in my bedroom to bring me face to face with the one and only answer He was going to give to me as well as allow me to give to you.

I didn’t really want to read my bible so as I looked around the multitude of books that are in every nook and cranny of my house, especially my bedroom. I asked God to tell me what He wanted me to read. I picked up a book given to me by a dear friend a couple of months ago and opened it to where I had left off. Are you ready for this?…

Chapter 3

Introduce Hope

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Hope? Really? I continued on.

“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus cried from the cross (Matthew 7:46). [The author states:] Jesus understands how we feel. Even He, the Son of God, asked “Why?” of His Father during a dark hour of His own life.” (Swindall, 39)

There I was in a dark hour of my own life, and while it was nowhere near the place Jesus was, I was comforted by God to know that Jesus knows every bit of pain and hurt and disappointment I was experiencing. I kept reading.

“…biblical hope is wrapped up and discovered in the person of Jesus. It is not merely a feeling but a tangible substance we can obtain only through the Lord. “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:5 (Swindall, 41)

Did you hear that? Hope does not disappoint us. Bones may disappoint us by not walking and talking or dressing the way we want them to, but Hope never does!! Hebrews 6:17-20 states:

“Because God wanted to show His unchangeable purpose even more clearly to the heirs of the promise, He guaranteed it with an oath, 18so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us. 19We have this hope as an anchor for our lives, safe and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain. 20Jesus has entered there on our behalf as a forerunner, because He has become a high priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.”

Wow! How comforting those words were as I read them. God cannot lie. We can strive for hope and that hope that is set before us is Jesus Christ, the anchor of our lives. We are safe and secure in Him. The author went on to say…

“Our hope is in Him, through Him, because of Him. If your hope has been wrapped up in a relationship, in your career, in your future, in finding a spouse, in finding success, or in anything the world offers, then your hope anchor has been dropped into the wrong ocean.” (Swindall, 41)

When we discover our dry bones walking and breathing and not doing the things we want, then our hope anchor has been dropped into the wrong ocean. Our anchor must remain in Christ Jesus as we pray on through the noise, rattling, and breath that comes into the bones around us as well as our own.

So the second part of the answer of how to deal with bones when they begin to walk, talk and dress opposite of what we want to see is to grab hold of the anchor of hope in Christ Jesus alone. Not in the hope that some day these bones will behave or do what we want them to do. No. Instead, we have to choose to take hold of the anchor of hope in Christ Jesus to bring glory and honor to God the Father in however He chooses to allow the bones to move and breathe.   When this happens we realize that now we are truly breathing without holding our breath.

12Therefore, prophesy and say to them: This is what the Lord God says: I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them, My people, and lead you into the land of Israel. 13You will know that I am Yahweh, My people, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14I will put My Spirit in you, and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I am Yahweh. I have spoken, and I will do it.” This is the declaration of the Lord.” Ezekiel 37:12-14

So here we are…a bunch of dry bones. And yet, the graves are going to open. God is going to bring His people up from them!!! We will know that He is Yahweh!! He will put His Spirit in us and we will live!! God has spoken and He will do it!!

We must continue to pray life into our own bones and those around us.

We must seize the anchor of hope in Christ Jesus alone to do what He says He is going to do.

And when the bones come to life and stand to their feet as a vast army, we, our family, our church, our community, and the world will know Yahweh, the Great I Am and the power of the blood of Christ Jesus His Son who has already entered the inner sanctuary on our behalf as our hope and anchor.

As we move into our prayer time, I want to ask that we take a moment to individually go before God and ask Him to help you to learn how to live again. Ask Him to help you to learn how to trust Him even with the small bones of your life. Let Him breathe into you.

While, God can and sometimes does meet your needs by Himself, He often uses other people to help breathe for you when you can’t seem to find your breath or when you get the wind knocked out of you by one of those bones not behaving the way you wanted it to. We need those other dry bones scattered around us to help us stand to our feet as that vast army.

So I want you to take just a few minutes with the person next to you and ask them to pray for you by name. If you don’t know their name, then find it out and then pray for them. You don’t have to know details about their life right now, but you do already know the truth as Ezekiel pointed…the church are those dried bones lying alone and without hope. Pray for breath to be in their bones, for hope to return to them, and for their aloneness to be taken from them through the power of standing with the vast army created from the graves God is opening tonight. For God has spoken and He will do it!!


 

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