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Sunday, January 8, 2023

My Word for 2023: Enough

I don't know about you, but I don't think anything describes the start of 2023 quite like this blinking guy meme. Do you remember 2019 B.C. (before Covid) lol? 

For me, 2019 was an exciting wide-eyed time. The last half of the year was an especially bittersweet period of pruning, growth, and revelation. God had showed me during a sermon on October 13th how important writing/journaling was: "Let's get back to that. This is how you bring my Kingdom to Earth." 

He had also made it clear that I should always "be ready." I remember there was one time I had to scramble to find a paper and pen in my purse because I was so overcome with all the things He was bringing to my mind. He was like, "I told you to be ready!" Since then, I've always carried my notebook and pen with me so I can "be ready" any time He chooses to "download" something. Sometimes it's just for me, and sometimes they are things I feel compelled to blog, post on Facebook, or share in some way. In fact, "Your Heart is Where the House Is" is a post from that October 13th sermon, and it continues to be something I think about and revisit often. 

I felt reignited and reconnected with God in a deeper way because I knew He had brought me back to what He had marked and anointed me for. That statement was a commission and I knew it. I was excited to be stepping into my purpose and destiny. Like many others, I thought 2020 was going to be a year of clear vision and perspective. I think we all had high hopes for great things. It was supposed to be the year where I was finally going to get some important things accomplished for God (specifically a book that He had been nudging me for years to put out there).

Now, we've blinked and those three years are gone. Like everyone else, my family and I have had a lot of highs and lows from 2020 - 2022. I don't think very many of us like to remember 2020. In fact, I'm not even going to bother going there lol. The past two years haven't been much better either. It's not that everything has been all bad, but nothing has been the same since Covid and it's made things harder for everyone in so many ways. 

For me, 2022 has probably been the hardest of all. I knew it would be when I got the word "Refuge" as my word for the year. Yet, it was a comforting word at the same time, because I knew that God was assuring me that He is my safe place. I wouldn't have gotten through it otherwise. There's been a lot of hardships, heartbreaks, and way too many deaths/funerals. Though, on the plus side, we were also kept occupied by a lot of celebrations. I can't remember when I've been to so many birthday parties (including my own), bridal/baby showers, weddings, and graduation parties (including my own son's). It's been a very busy year and I'm so glad that I made it through all of that; plus all the holidays and work craziness of December. 

In anticipating and praying for my new word this year, I was really hoping for something that felt super positive, encouraging, and promising. It was on November 22nd, close to Thanksgiving, that I had been journaling about how weary I was from all the spiritual warfare. I was lamenting everything I was feeling; asking God where He was and to please answer me. I know He never leaves me, but sometimes things just feel like dead air. You just need something very fresh and obvious; something that just smacks you in the face to where you know God is saying, "I'm here and I care. I love you." 

As things continued to get busier at work (and harder in my life in general), writing became less frequent than it should have been. Though, on December 6th, I had one of those days where I was writing and was particularly inspired by the daily "Give Him 15" post by Dutch Sheets: The Power of Remembering. Do yourself a favor and check out that post! It will inspire you to reflect not only on what God has done in the history of His Word, but in your personal history (as Dutch described regarding King David). When we testify to what the Lord has done in the past, we are also calling it forth for Him to do it again (watch the video or read the post here for more). I can't tell you how many times these daily posts have been just what I needed and have aligned with what God was already speaking to me (my son and I watch these every day!). Here is just a portion of what I wrote down that day in my journal:  

What is my armor? What are my weapons? This is no time to lower my shield (faith). That is my defense. My offense is my sword (Word of God). I'm in the Word daily, yes. Yet, so many times I don't take the time to go deep or to open those doors and go down rabbit holes. I'm too busy being Cinderella to be Alice; too busy to be curious. Your Word is my greatest weapon; and to use it in prayer. I don't need to war in vain and in the flesh. Battles aren't against flesh and blood. We fight these spiritual battles with spiritual weapons. I really do need to weaponize my prayers with Your Word and praise. This worry and fretting and self-pity and wailing isn't doing anything. It's time to use the Word and to testify and remember!

Even with that revelation, I still couldn't seem to find my word in December. I was frustrated with myself. I felt like one of the many things getting in the way of finding and discerning it was the distraction of being sick. Early in the month, I had battled some kind of cold/sinus junk. I got over it, only to come down with a nastier version on the 16th (and for extra fun, I also had to deal with pink eye in both eyes). In fact, I'm STILL waiting on my ears to be unclogged so I can hear normally. I'm hoping that the prednisone I was given might finally do something. It isn't very easy to fast and pray when you're supposed to have something in your stomach to take medicine (and you're hoping to fuel yourself with decent food and vitamins to get your health and strength back). It has had me feeling weak and like a failure. I had some moments where I thought that I was possibly on the right track and that something "might" be my word, but it just didn't feel like the kind of "aha" like in years past. I didn't want to just grab and settle for something. I figured the best thing to do was just rest and wait. Even if things took longer or didn't become apparent before 2023 got here, I knew God's timing was perfect and not up to me. 

Enter December 31st...

We were at Chris' family Christmas gathering when his Mom presented me with a wrapped gift that looked like it had to be a picture frame. Chris was sitting beside me and she and Scott were in front of me, and it looked like he was getting his camera ready. I had no idea what this could be; I was excited and nervous at the same time. This was obviously something special if they wanted to record my reaction. I tore off the paper and what stared back at me left me speechless and in tears. It was me; kneeling with my sword and in my armor. My gosh, it was like when Alice looked through that keyhole and saw herself and realized she was dreaming. For me, it was a dream come true; and I couldn't believe I was staring at it and WASN'T dreaming! My word was within it somewhere; and I was ready to get curious and go down the rabbit hole like I had longed for! Get ready to dive in with me, folks! 

Aside from what I shared before, there have been many times where I (and people who have prophesied over me) have seen me in armor. In fact, I've had an image of me in gold armor. I'm in a battle stance; fierce with intense eyes and my sword drawn in front of me. My blue/green hair is flowing behind me and there's lightning flashing behind me. I've often thought to myself that if I had the money, I would commission a friend of mine (who is an AMAZING painter) to paint the image for me. Though, I have often debated whether to change the armor to silver (or white gold/platinum, beskar, whatever lol) because I have always preferred it over yellow gold. Yet, I figured gold was considered more precious and valuable, so that's why God had it in my mind that way. At any rate, it was one of those unspoken desires that I don't recall ever sharing with Kathy. There is NO WAY she could have given me the desire of my heart unless God had been the One to tell her (so explain THAT to me, all you non-believers!).

Kathy said that it was after Thanksgiving when she saw this image on Facebook (which, amazingly, showed up in my own feed a few days ago on January 2nd!). She said God told her to paint this for me. She said she felt intimidated by it. In fact, when I unwrapped it, I asked her who painted it because (to my knowledge) she usually did things like florals. When she told me she had done it, I was all the more blown away and in tears. Not only did God tell her to paint this for me, but she stepped out in faith and obedience to do it. Out of love for Him, and for me, she took the time to do something she hadn't done before; because God thought of me and was using her to answer my prayers. She said "yes" to Him. She did a hard thing and took the time to do it; even though she said she was afraid of being able to do it well and didn't want to mess it up. She knew that it wasn't God giving her a spirit of fear; Satan does that. Instead, she tapped into the power, love, and self-discipline that God gives us to accomplish all things through Him. She said she knew I was such a prayer warrior and that this was me. Obviously, it has not be unnoticed by God either. He heard my prayers! He said, "Yes, I see you. I hear you. This is who you are! Remember!" 

I couldn't stop staring at it. In fact, every time I look at it, it just keeps speaking and speaking and speaking! Kathy said she felt Holy Spirit so mightily over it when it was done. There is just no doubt about it. He anointed her in her gift to do what He called her to do. Then, that gift ignited mine. What a beautiful domino effect! Who knows who will now be blessed as they read this! God multiplies! What a magnificent chain reaction! 

One of the many things that hit me when I stared at the picture was that this wasn't my active warrior pose. It communicated surrender, submission, servanthood, rest, and honor. I felt peace. I felt that it was me kneeling to my Commander; and He is pleased. I also felt like even when I feel like a weak and weary warrior, He is still my strength. I can never do it on my own. In my weakness, He is strong and His grace is sufficient for me. Because of Him, it's enough; because HE is enough. As it says in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10: 

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 

This verse is in the context of Paul talking about the thorn in his side. Sometimes, we suffer things that don't go away no matter how much we pray. It's hard for us to understand the whys when we suffer unpleasant afflictions or circumstances. In fact, a recent episode of "The Chosen" addressed this pretty well (watch this clip if you haven't seen it!). Nick Vujicic (the man born without arms and legs), also weighed in on this and explained it just as beautifully (click here for the segment; it's worth the watch if you've ever asked "why, God?"). Joni Eareckson Tada says the same thing.

"Enough." That word seemed to echo in the moment. I had been striving so hard and hadn't felt like I had found my word. Yet, in that moment, it seemed to appear; and not from "my" efforts. He did it. He's enough. He's made me enough. 

I looked on Bible Hub to dive into the verses more. The word for "sufficient" is "arkeĆ³" which is "to assist, suffice." It's also used in John 14:8 when Philip asks Jesus to show them the Father and that it will be "enough." Jesus answered in verses 9-14: 

“Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

The whole chapter of John 14 is full of reassurance from Jesus not to be troubled; that He is with us and that He would send Holy Spirit to be with us. Peace is with us and we don't have to be afraid. He's got us. He's enough. We have it all because we have Him; and He gives us all His power and authority to do even greater works in His Name! 

Up until now, I hadn't had a moment to sit down and process all of this to be "sure" that "enough" is my word. I was pretty certain, but I was taking note of additional confirmations over the passing days so I could piece it all together and see the big picture. On January 1st, I saw these two images in my Facebook feed that included the word "enough" (and were just beyond perfect and fitting!). Then, of course, that warrior image that Kathy had first seen showed up in my own feed on the 2nd. Then, on January 5th, Matthew 6:34 was the verse of the day in the Bible app: "so don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today." Then, January 7th, my Bible reading was in Hebrews 11. Verse 35 really stood out: 

Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection.

This verse triggered a memory from last year when I went to a women's conference. Amazingly enough, this Bible story from 2 Samuel 21:10-14 is something that I also recently read in my Bible plan a little over a month ago. Rizpah's sons were killed and they didn't get a proper burial. She spent her days and nights shooing away the birds and wild animals from devouring them. At this women's conference, Eva Rodriguez was telling us that as mothers, we are warriors for our children and families. We have to chase away the birds and wild animals that are trying to devour them. It must have seemed crazy to everyone for Rizpah to spend all her time doing that because her sons were already dead. But, those were her children and she wanted to preserve and honor them even in death; and she got her wish. I found an article that talks about this story even more. Anyways, we have to be the ones to fight for our own kids, because no one else is going to do it. Even if it's all over (or seems like it's over), we need to chase away anything that tries to devour and take away what remains. As the verse in Hebrews says, we can see our dead raised to life again. I will contend for my children; always. My prayers will chase the birds and wild beasts away from my family. Even if it doesn't look like the battle is being won, I know that it will be. Christ is the resurrection and the life. I know what has been prophesied over my marriage and children. Satan cannot have them! I will war until I can war no more; because I am that prayer warrior and I'm not taking my armor of God off! The painting is on the wall in my living room so I (and everyone in my household) can see it every day and be reminded of my job. 

The final thing that tops it off is when I went back to my 2019 journal to look for the entry that I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Right before that entry were some notes before that. I hadn't put the date, but I assume it was from an Activ8 youth conference message because that's where I got the notebook from and first used it. There are a LOT of great notes written down, and among them are these: 

- A life spent for Jesus will be remembered and last for all eternity.

- "Who do you say that I am?" "Am I enough for you?" 

- Good things can distract from greater things. *I had put "book" in parentheses right beside this one*

- "Yes, Jesus, but..... status (scribe), convenience (bury my father), idols (family) 

- "if I had _____ I would be happy" -----> this is the idol detector.

- Heaven wouldn't be worth it if Jesus wasn't there. He is the price and reward. Is He all you want?          Is  He your treasure? Is He enough?

It couldn't be any more clear to me! In 2019, my eyes were open. I was on the right track. Then, I blinked. We all blinked. Now, our eyes are open again. We have all had to learn what's most important. We have been awakening to the fact that we need Jesus more than anything else and that nothing else matters but Him. All the things that got put on the back burner (for me, it's been the book) should be on the back burner no longer. No more excuses; even if those excuses are "good things". I've done a lot of "good things" for Jesus in these past few years, but they weren't that ONE thing; the one thing that I knew I was truly supposed to do. If I continue to be busy, distracted, or brought down by all the thorns of this world, someone is going to miss out on their Alice moment. They won't get their activation, because I haven't done the ONE THING that I'm supposed to do that will show them who they are. I need to follow Kathy's example. I need to do the hard thing; the thing that I've been scared to screw up. The thing I've thought wouldn't be good enough because I have never done it before and don't know what I'm doing. All the people I have asked for help never have time to answer me. I thought I needed them to advise me because they have walked the path before and can show me how to do it. I've been waiting on them while God has been waiting on me. I've given Him all the excuses because I didn't want to mess things up. Yet, all this time, God was just trying to get me to see that it was just ME He was talking to. He picked me; not them. I'm just going to have to go for it. I don't know what I'm doing, and it will probably be messy and imperfect, but it will be "enough." He proved it to me with the painting. He's the perfect One. We just have to be the obedient one. His grace covers it all. It's enough and it accomplishes what He wants!

Grace and peace to you, my friends! May this truly be a blessed new year! Awakening and revival is on the horizon, and we all have our part to play in that! Like I read today in Hebrews 12:1-3 (and not coincidentally, it was one of the many verses mentioned in today's amazing message at church that stunningly echoed much of what I wrote here): 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Through off all distractions and sin! 2022 and these past few years are behind us! Start fresh, and start with Jesus! Let Him give you new strength! Like Bea said in her message, we need to be good disciples if we're going to succeed in discipling others as He commanded. May that dash in-between 2019 - 2023 be a bridge. I want 2023 to be where 2019 left off, but with the wisdom and growth that came in that dash. It's time to take our places! We are warriors and we can never stop fighting the good fight; especially since we know we've already won! We don't fight for victory, but FROM victory! Jesus already won it. He is enough. We are enough! He's got this and He's got us! God bless you!

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Finding Answers in the Wilderness

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; 
to search out a matter is the glory of kings. 
- Proverbs 25:2

"Did you find everything alright?" That's usually the question asked when you're checking out at a store and the associate is politely trying to make sure you have gotten everything you've come for. Usually, a person's answer is "yes," right? We go into a store with a list or a particular item in mind; and we don't leave until we have gotten what we've come for. Most of the time, we know where something is. We seek and find it right away. Other times, we're looking for something special that we wouldn't typically search for. It may take us longer to find it, but we're on a mission! Even if we don't find it at one store, we keep looking until we finally complete our quest. A seeker's mentality gets a finder's reward.

What about the non-material things? What about the treasure of wisdom that is worth far more than rubies (Job 18:18, Proverbs 8:11)? What about the things that aren't tangible; things you cannot buy, earn, or find in stores? How often do we go on an intentional and purposeful quest for that? How often do we find it when we look for it? 

I have been thinking about this concept because I "found" something that I was looking for. Over the years, I've learned to have that seekers mentality. I know that if I seek the Lord, I will find Him. If I desperately need answers, He will give them to me. That's what His Word says (Deuteronomy 4:29, Jeremiah 29:13, Proverbs 8:17, Matthew 7:7-8, Luke 11:9-10). The "catch" is being "all in". Being wholehearted and intentional. Just like shopping, you're on a mission; purposefully and intentionally looking for something (and not giving up until you've found it). It's also like when we were recently car shopping for my son. Of all the makes, models, mileages, prices, etc. you don't give up until you find the right one. There were moments where we almost settled for less, but a true seeker's heart will be paired with wisdom and discernment. Those are the things Holy Spirit uses to confirm to you that you've found what you're looking for. 

I've "found" a lot of treasure to start off the week! It began Monday morning as I was driving to work. I was feeling extra tired and weary; definitely not ready for a new week. I was praying and lamenting about how I was feeling; asking God, as always, for his provision, healing, and refreshment. I also wanted to know that I was seen and that things were going to be ok regarding Chris securing a new job this week. This is a whole separate story, but basically, I've been feeling that this week was going to be the end of our 40 days in the wilderness (July 8th was when he was let go, so that makes today, August 16th, the last day). I had recently read in Luke 4:1-15 about the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness and was struck by how it started and ended - FULL! Jesus was FULL of the Holy Spirit, and was LED by the Spirit into the wilderness. He was fasting; He ate nothing. HOW did he withstand 40 days of temptation? It was that FULLNESS of the Spirit that sustained Him. He had 40 days worth of attacks from Satan, but He overcame it! After those 40 days were over, He returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit; teaching and healing people. 

I haven't been able to stop thinking about this. You'd think I'd already be content and super excited for the upcoming breakthrough/shift that is on the horizon after everything I've been reading, praying, and fasting through. However, I wanted and needed more confirmation and revelation. Jeremy Avila actually kicked that off a few days ago at Friday Worship Night with "You gotta getta word!" Watch this one! It also includes an amazing word from Roxy where she mentioned Abraham's "yes" to God. If you need a word from the Lord, GET ONE! He'll give it to you if you seek and ask for it! Seriously, go watch that; it'll help you get started (check this out too for more ideas; this series is also great about explaining how to see and experience God more). I didn't even know at the time how much it would factor in with what God would show me!

Over this past weekend, God was busy bringing the pieces together before I even fully asked for it (it's so cool how He does that; He really does know what we need before we even ask...which was something I read in my Bible plan today too!). Saturday night, he even woke me up from a nap with Hebrews 11:1 in my head. 

Naturally, awakening to a verse echoing in my mind prompted me to read Hebrews 11 in its entirety. It's a faith builder full of testimonies of so many in the Bible who walked by faith. Some didn't even see the full promise in their lifetime, but "welcomed it from a distance." The last verses say that together with US, they would be made perfect. 

The full impact of Hebrews 11 didn't come until I listened to Dutch Sheets' "Give Him 15" post. I thought I was listening to Monday's post, but I was actually listening to Friday's post that I had missed but intended to listen to later. In it, he was talking about God's timing and about....Abraham. I was awestruck and blessed, and then I heard "see you on Monday" and realized that I had listened to Friday's (and like I mentioned earlier, Abraham was mentioned at our Friday Worship Night). I couldn't wait to listen to Monday's post, but it would have to wait for my drive home.

In the meantime, I was also exploring two numbers that had popped up on Sunday. One was a total of $15.15 and the other $80 even. Neither one seemed like coincidences. When searching the Bible app, I found the treasure I was looking for in Proverbs 15:15 and Luke 1:80 : 

All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.

And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.

Once again, MORE treasure! Bible Hub has some insightful commentary notes on Proverbs 15:15. It explained how the oppressed/afflicted is a mental state. A cheerful heart and good attitude fuels a person and they can draw upon it and feast upon it. Likewise, someone that lives off of a bad mindset will feast off it and wallow in self-pity. It paired nicely with what I was seeking about the wilderness. Like Jesus, John the Baptist experienced growth, transformation, and power in the wilderness. When they both appeared and started their public ministries, they were FULL of the power of the Spirit. They had been feasting on and drawing their sustenance from the Spirit throughout their time in the wilderness. By contrast, the Israelites did the opposite when they were in the wilderness for 40 years. They had an oppressed and anxious mentality. Their mentality left them powerless instead of powerful. They feasted on negativity and scarcity; hoarding manna and quail to feed their flesh instead of feasting on the Spirit of God. I don't know about you, but I want my time in the wilderness to look less like theirs and more like Jesus and John's. I want to emerge victorious, transformed, refined, and empowered! 

To put the icing on the cake, Dutch's Monday post was about.....Hebrews 11. You can't make this stuff up lol! In it, he talked about agreeing with our brethren in prayer and the synergy of the ages (not just present prayers, but the prayers prayed by those that proceeded us). He describes those last two verses about being made perfect together like this:

The last two verses of Hebrews 11 give us the amazing answer; they did not receive the fulfillment of their promises because God wouldn’t allow them to be “complete” without us. That is incredible! We, today, are a continuation of these individuals’ callings and assignments. The Greek word translated “complete” also means “to finish; to mature; to reach the intended goal.” Think about the ramifications of this: without us, God can’t finish what He began through those saints; what He started through them cannot mature or reach its intended goal until we grab the baton and run our leg of the race. That is mind-blowing!

God gave these individuals promises, but He often didn’t give them timelines. He did not tell them He would bring the fulfillment into their lifetimes, although I’m sure most of them expected Him to do so. The eternal God, who transcends time, speaks promises that are sometimes more reflective of His nature and relationship with time than ours. At times, He makes promises to people, knowing full well He will deliver on those promises through their children, grandchildren, or spiritual descendants. I wonder what I may be finishing for some pastor or teacher from a few decades ago? Or perhaps for even some flag-waving patriot warrior?

I went to Monday night prayer room feeling very "full". I wanted to "getta word" and He more than gave it to me! I entered the wilderness full, led by the Spirit for my/our own good, and I/we are going to leave it FULL; better than when we went in! I definitely feel like I/we will be leaving the wilderness this week and entering into a new season (or ministry?!) FULL of POWER! 

I couldn't help but share Hebrews 11 at prayer room through grateful tears. I also shared about how much the prayers of my grandmothers meant to me. I was told that my Great-Grandma Zerkel would often fall asleep praying for her family members. She would try to get through everyone's names, but sometimes didn't make it. I think about what she might have prayed for all of us and that she would go to sleep with our names and prayers on her lips. Maybe it was something as simple as blessing and keeping us. She always used to write that in birthday cards: "May the Lord bless you and keep you." Keep me? Am I going somewhere? What does that even mean? I never understood it. I didn't appreciate it until recent years when I thought about what that meant as she stuck that birthday wish and a crisp $1 bill in the card. She was a widow for most of her life. She didn't have much, but she loved and thought of us. That dollar bill, and those nighttime prayers, were priceless widow's mites. If a dollar was all she had, she'd at least make sure it was brand new. And those prayers? Still being answered today. He has blessed and "kept" me. I cannot be snatched from His hand (John 10:27-30, Romans 8:38-39).
 
Faith. Transformation. Prayers. POWER! The fullness and sustaining power of Holy Spirit is what gets us through our wilderness seasons. He leads us there to refine and prepare us for what comes after it. I'm ready to "getta word" for what's next as I leave the wilderness in the rear-view mirror!

Grace and peace to you, my friends! If you need need answers in your life, SEEK THE LORD....with ALL your heart! Go on that mission and don't stop until you've completed it and gotten what you came for! Don't waste time grumbling in the wilderness. Draw off the fullness of the Spirit and let it fuel and sustain you! Fast. Pray. Seek. You'll be transformed, renewed, and prepared for the purposes for which He's working all of this out for good (Romans 8:28). You'll emerge powerful and victorious; ready to advance His Kingdom in new ways! The faith and prayers prayed throughout the ages will continue on as we pass the torch to the next generation. May He "bless and keep" us all as we give what we have of ourselves to Him! We're creating a continued legacy; or choosing a new one if it wasn't passed down to us (just look at Rahab who was mentioned in that hall of faith!). God bless and keep you all!

Thursday, July 7, 2022

40 & Fabulous!

Forty is a big number; and an important one. It's a Biblical number; showing up 146 times in scripture. Think about some of the most notable mentions of it. The world was flooded for 40 days and nights (and we remember that time every time we see GOD'S RAINBOW of His promise and faithfulness to us). There's also the wandering in the wilderness of the Israelites. Jesus' days of temptation also come to mind. "The number 40 generally symbolizes a period of testing, trial or probation...the number forty can also represent a generation of man."   

Maybe that's why people say, "life begins at 40." I definitely feel this to be true for me as I reflect back on four decades of life. I've grown; and not just in height or girth lol. I've grown where it counts; in faith and love. I have definitely had storms, desert wanderings, and many temptations and failures. But, I've also experienced God's great redemption and favor as He continues to show Himself faithful even when I haven't been. His promises are always true; and I'm so thankful for that!

Paul said it best in 1 Corinthians 13:11-13

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
My mind and heart has matured; and will continue to do so for the rest of my days. I don't want to think or behave in the frequent foolish ways of a child, but I do want to have the pure heart and faith of a child like Jesus mentions (Matthew 18:3, Mark 10:15, Luke 18:17). I want discernment, discipline, and humility to be continually cultivated in me; and without losing the joy, wonder, fun, and creativity that are those good childlike things that we should hang onto. I want to learn from the past reflections, and look prophetically forward to what I can't see (but can see "in part"). In fact, there are probably nuggets from my past that still aren't "fully known" yet either! But, there will come a day (ultimately in heaven) where everything is clear and "fully known". It's the three things (faith, hope, and love) that "remain" with us throughout this earthly life that give us a picture of what we will "fully know" in eternal life. 

The pictures you are beholding now are a few snapshots of the past; as well as my Rainbow Brite birthday dress of today and my special makeup/accessories lol. That's right, I have no shame. I am unapologetically "extra"....and it's FUN! I have always loved rainbows (and obviously Rainbow Brite). I have also always liked unicorns, Strawberry Shortcake, and all things princess, sparkly, etc. At different stages of life, I've lost my own "sparkle", but have always been restored through Christ. Just like the time Rainbow Brite had to restore colors that were destroyed by the Monstromurk, God has brought back all the hues of beauty back to my life every time the enemy has tried to crumble my world and turn everything to gray and ash. As goofy as 80's cartoons can be (though STILL superior to the junk or remakes/makeovers of her and other favorite 80's characters), I can always see the spiritual truth at the heart of it. Is life always sunshine, rainbows, and sparkles? No. Jesus said we would have trouble in this world; but assured us of the GOOD NEWS that HE has overcome it (John 16:33). We live in a fallen world because of sin, but that brokenness is NOT our final condition! We can STILL have sunshine, sparkles, and rainbows (and spread all that around!) if we CHOOSE to; if we CHOSE HIM and abide in Him (John 15:5)! He who believes HAS eternal life (both NOW and LATER as John 3:16-17 says). THAT'S why I "smile all the time". That's why people call me "sunshine", "mermaid", "smiley", etc. I have that joy NOW, in part, and will have it FULLY in eternity! I'm excited for that day when all things will be permanently bright and beautiful. No more sin. No more death. No more crumbling world, pain, or darkness. There will be a day; and it's coming....SOON!

Grace and peace to you, my friends! Birthday or no birthday, this is a month of turning points, breakthrough, and celebration! I am excited for all God has, is, and will continue to do! Pray, fast, and persevere! It's time for the Deborahs to arise (she served 40 years as a judge, by the way). It's the "until" moment. Insert your name in her words, "Until I, Melissa, arose!" RISE UP, for such a time as this! Take your place! I definitely feel like I'm rising up in my destiny more and more as the final days draw near! Praise God! Amen! 

*SIDE NOTE* I'm collecting 40 items (at least!) for The Salvation Army food & diaper pantry for my birthday this month! See list below for most needed items. Or, if you would like to donate to the "mermaid hair fund" (so I can continue being a "blue beacon" for others and connect/minister/pray with them) you can Cash App $MKCunning and make a note of it. If you don't live in the area and can't bring physical items, you can also make note of it and do a Cash App donation and I'll buy the items and donate them. Thank you in advance for investing in God's Kingdom!

List
  • Diapers (Size 7 ONLY; this is a highly requested size that we rarely get....and my birthday is 7/7, so it fits lol).
  • Baby Wipes
  • Toiletries: Shampoo, Conditioner, Bar Soap, Hand Soap, Deodorant, Razors, Toothbrushes, Toothpaste, Feminie Hygiene
  • Laundry & Cleaning Products: Detergent, Fabric Softener, Dryer Sheets, Cleaning Sprays
  • Breakfast Foods: Cereal, Oatmeal, Pancake Mix, & Syrup
  • Pasta: Noodles, Ramen, Mac & Cheese, Chef Boyardee, Pasta Sauce
  • Baking Items & Mixes: Flour, Sugar, Oil, Cake Mix, Brownie Mix, Frosting, etc.
  • Beverages: Coffee, Tea, Juice
  • Canned Meats: Chicken, Beef, Pork, Tuna
  • Misc.: Peanut Butter, Jelly, Soup, Condiments, Snack Foods