More than meets the eye.

The crowded intersection is full of cars. The drivers are acting as if it has never rained before. Though I can understand that part. It doesn’t rain nearly enough here in the desert. The black car I’m here for isn’t in sight yet. I can neither see the car in the earthly realm nor the soft white light of the soul I’m assigned to protect.

Suddenly I feel that I’m not alone. I look over and see Luke. I’ve never worked with him before, though we have passed each other once or twice on assignments. “Shane? What’s your assignment here?” He asks me. He is scanning both realms for his charge, just as I am. “ The same as yours I Imagine,” I tell him. He smiles at me. “ The man is not to die, or be mentally incapacitated. That’s all I was ordered to do. What about you?” I nod quickly. “ exact same orders, “ I tell him. “Though mine is a woman.”

We both tense as we feel the other side come in to play. We look immediately in the same direction and see The demon. He isn’t ugly, not the way humans believe demons to be. He looks just like my brothers. Because of course, he was one of them at one time. He waves at us before coming over to speak. “Two?” He asks as he laughs. “I didn’t realize we had a couple. My master will be proud of my work today.”

Demons are always this arrogant. They believe that they will win every battle. They believe that their assignments are more important than ours. Angels however have the benefit of knowing that whatever we are ordered to do, we are ordered by the true master. We take that seriously. And we do our work well. The demons banter is cut off as all three of us feel the two souls coming within range.

Ind the earthly realm there is a black car. It’s driving fine. Looks like every other car on the road. In the spiritual realm though, there is an amazing sight happening. There’s silver light streaming from all sides of the black car. It isn’t very strong, but it is bright silver. Luke looks over at me. I feel myself being pulled toward my charge as her silver prayers float up, up, up to the father.

The demon laughs. “She’s praying? Does she think that you can stop this accident?“ The woman isn’t praying to me though. I can’t hear what she saying. I can just see the silver light as it streams up into the sky. The light of her soul is soft. I have seen the light of souls soft and weak, and I have seen the light of souls shine brighter than humans can imagine. This woman believes. This woman knows the father. But she isn’t very strong in her faith. That’s why the light is so soft.

The demons miles. He is stepping toward the black car now. Humans would never see him. Humans see driver of the car start to swerve. Start to cross lanes of traffic. The drivers eyes are closed. He isn’t my charge. He is Luke’s. But I can feel his soul as well. The light of his soul is brighter than the woman’s. But he isn’t praying. He is sleeping.

Suddenly, more quickly than humans could understand, the black car is slamming into another car head-on. The black car is flipping. What I see though is more astonishing than the accident the humans are seeing. The silver light of the girls prayers has turned darkest black. The demon is now laughing hysterically. “She’s praying for forgiveness. They always do that right before they die. As though it would matter at all!“ I know two things that the demon does not. I know that the woman is not going to die. And as the black light of her prayers turns purest white, then disappears all together, I know that her plea for forgiveness does matter. I know that she has been heard. And I see the black light of her sins being completely removed.

Faster than the demon can reach the woman, probably intending to snap her neck, I am there. I pull out my sword, and slam it hard in the demons direction. He skips back away from the light of glory that my sword is flaming with. He isn’t able even to lay a finger on the woman. She won’t have the slightest mark on her body from this accident.

Luke is not as fast as I am. Thinking that I have the situation handled, he is simply watching. In a motion too quick to capture with our eyes, the demon is on the other side of the car. He is slamming the floorboard down and Luke screams in pain as the drivers foot and leg are slammed through the floorboard.

He moves quickly after that. Grabbing the demon and slamming his sword directly through the demons heart. The demon can’t die of course, he is only sent away from here. To toy with some other humans. Luke then turns his attention to his charge.

The man is now screaming in pain. He is screaming out the woman’s name. The woman has stepped from the up side down car and is standing looking shellshocked. I am standing right next to her. I have an arm around her shoulders. She can’t feel me, she thinks that she is alone. She isn’t crying, but silver light is still streaming from her lips. Because I’m standing so close I can now hear what she saying. “ please let him be OK. Please get him out of the car. God please let him be OK. Please get him out of the car.“ she is babbling the same words over and over again.

Luke comes over to me looking defeated. “How do you always do better than I do? She’s fine!” He says to me. I laughed. “I would say dispatching the demon before he killed your charge is pretty decent work for a day.“ he shrugs and shakes his head.

“Can I just say, I don’t understand why we were both sent. They are both believers, but the light that their souls is showing isn’t all that strong. I wonder what it is about them that caught the fathers attention so strongly today.“ I know the answer to this one, but I want to let Luke see it for himself.

The humans have been moving. Someone has carried the woman off to the side out of the street. Someone else has gotten the man out of the car. An ambulances arrived. I hope that the 2 will be in contact with each other. Because I know why we were both sent here to make sure this didn’t end with either of their deaths. Luke and I follow along as they are both loaded into the ambulance. When the woman reaches out, and wtakes the mans hand, all of Luke’s questions are answered!

The light of her soul isn’t very bright. The light of his soul is a little brighter, but certainly not gleaming. But when the two of them are together, the light of their souls shines brighter than any I have ever seen! “Wow! “Live says. “In all my years I have never seen that before.” I nodded. “Yes, they were made for each other. For a purpose that they can only accomplish when they are together. That is why we were both sent. That is why they both had to live today!“ Continue reading

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Just worship

I’ve always been a person who tends toward the darker side of life. For a very long time I lived in the negative. Somewhere along the way I made a choice that it was easier to embrace pain then to try to change who I was.

Last year I made a real and true commitment to follow Jesus with all my heart. Over the course of this last year, I’ve been learning to trust God as the Lord of my life in more than just words. I’ve been growing with God in an intense way. I’ve felt my faith strengthening. I’ve worked to build a real relationship with God through reading the Bible, a commitment to prayer, and attending church as more than just a social gathering.

A few weeks ago I noticed some of my old patterns and feelings coming up. I was unreasonably annoyed with the little things of life. I was frustrated by everything. I wasn’t treating my husband the way he deserves to be treated, at all. I was struggling to just get through the day, instead of appreciating each day for the gift it is. I started to feel extremely anxious in social situations, which is something I haven’t had to deal with in months.

When I’ve felt this way in the past my response has been to isolate. I would stop talking. Sleep as much is my schedule would allow. Not spend time with my family. Stop going to church. Stop reading the Bible, because it’s easier to escape into fantasy books then it is to really try to give God‘s word all your focus. Stop praying. Stop listening to worship music. I would get caught up in the cycle of feeling bad because I was feeling bad.

Once I figured out what was going on, I decided not to do that this time. I didn’t miss a single day of praying. I didn’t miss a single day of reading the word of God. I didn’t miss a single church service. And while I wasn’t always is nice to my husband as I should be, I didn’t shut him out. I prayed every day that God would show me what this was, and help me to get rid of it. I told God that I was tired of going back to the same patterns I’ve been repeating since I was 11 years old.

Wednesday night, my husband was out with my stepdaughter so I had the house completely to myself. I turned up my worship music as loud as it could go and danced around my living room like an idiot. I spent most of that two hours praying for others and not myself. But near the end of my worship time I heard God say to me, “just worship.” I decided to take that literally. I spent time in worship, with my christian playlist whenever I could on Thursday and Friday. Yesterday I went to a women’s conference and during worship time I pretended I was in my living room, or at my home church, where I worship like only God is watching me. I didn’t focus on the 350 other women around me, I didn’t worry about what others might be thinking of me. I just worshiped.

This morning I woke up with a very true and real sense of peace. I found myself smiling at nothing while making breakfast for my kids. I prayed a true thankful prayer to God for his peace, and his joy, and his love. There is absolutely nothing different about my life today than there was yesterday. There is no reason for me to be any happier or on happier. The only reason that I am not stuck in the same depressed cycle I was in three years ago, is because of God. I am learning to trust God, to seek God, and to worship the Lord my God no matter how I feel.

In doing that, God is teaching me that he can use my feelings. I can be an intense person, and that can be a good thing when that intensity is focused on God. I can be an emotional person. And that can be a good thing, when I’m using those emotions to bring others closer to God. I am learning to let go of who I used to be, and the old things that gave me comfort, and hold onto the only true comfort there is in this or any other world.

“Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.”

Psalm 100:2 NIV

GD, OMG

I don’t like the curse word “g d” because I was raised to not use the name of God as a curse word. As an adult that is one of the things I have held to. I will even go so far as to correct others when they use that particular curse word. I was actually feeling pretty good about myself on this front. A few weeks ago my husband brought something to my attention. He made mention of how offing even out spoken followers of Jesus and children of God say “Oh my god.” His comment made me begin to take notice of this in myself and others. I see the name of God used out of context constantly. In books, in movies, even out of the mouths of believers. It made me stop and think before I opened my mouth. I started thinking about who God truly is to me. God is the creator of this universe. God is the author of our lives. God is the center of my life. God has given me every good thing I have. God has brought me out of every trial I have ever faced. God holds my very soul in his hands. I BELIEVE this with all my heart, mind, and soul. Yet I have used the name of God as an exclamation without a second thought. Over and over and over again. I have typed it. I have yelled it. I have whispered it. I have done this without even considering what I was saying. So I’ve made a commitment to God to no longer use his name without the respect, and honor the name of God of the universe should be given. I want to show God respect in every aspect of my life. How can I say I am doing that if I’m just randomly using his name without thought? Clearly, I can’t. So out of my mouth, or my fingertips, the name of God will be shown honor.  

Silence

All my life I’ve hated quiet. When I was a teenager I’d sleep with headphones in and music blasting. I’d always have 1 earbud in with music playing so I’d never risk even a moment of silence. In the last few years it’s been books. I’d have an audiobook on constantly. I’d fall asleep listening to stories because I didn’t want to listen to myself thinking.6 months ago my husband and I started going to church. I hadn’t attended church regularly since I was a teenager, and quite honestly, when I was a teenager church was a social gathering for me. It was the one time a week I could see people my age. I didn’t go to learn Gods Word. I didn’t go to worship or build people up or anything. When my husband and I started attending our church we also started reading the Bible daily. We do this together and on our own. 

I’ve noticed changes in my husband more than myself over the last 6 months. I’ve seen his faith become stronger than I’d ever have believed possible. I’ve seen his calm when over his anxiety over and over again. I’ve seen him become a leader to the kids and I like never before in our relationship.

This week however we’ve taken our bible study time to a whole new level. We run a paper route which means we drive around all night throwing news papers. Yeah, some people still read actual news papers. My husband and I love our job because it gives us about 5 hours a night to just talk. Some of our deepest conversations have been had over news paper bags. The past few days we have been listening to the Bible read in audiobook while we drive. We listen to 4 hours of bible reading then we talk about what we’ve read. I ask questions about what I don’t understand. We share the things that got our attention the most. And something has started to happen to me this week.

Instead of needing a constant distraction I WANT the quiet. I want to lay in bed with my husband and just be thankful for the time to rest. Silence has become a gift, not something to be afraid of. Instead of listening to my audiobooks I want to listen to worship music. I notice the lack of God in the places he should be. I notice the wrongs in myself and I work to make them less. I miss my bible time when I don’t get it. Reading the Bible has gone from something I do out of obligation, to something I’m genuinely excited about doing. Church has become second home for my family, rather than something to be endured on sundays. My prayer life is a constant thing now instead of a last resort in emergencies. I’m beyond thankful for the changes God has been making in my heart. And I’m so excited to see what’s to come.     

What doesn’t work, and what does.

What doesn’t work, and what does.

I’ve always been a different kind of person. I feel things deeply and I have a very hard time letting go of anything. When I was 11 and my family moved from California to a small town in Arizona what I was feeling was incredibly alone. For more than 10 years I tried to find a way to break that feeling. I tried to make myself feel anything else because the loneliness was eating me alive and I didn’t want to be entirely consumed. What I found was a lot of things that didn’t work. I found a lifestyle and an attitude that kept me from disappearing altogether, but in no way filled the empty, lonely places in my soul.CUTTING DIDN’T WORK!

For a very long time I believed slicing myself apart was the only way I could control the feelings that would rip through my head. I thought that lies and blood and secrets and pain were the best I was going to get. I wrapped myself in the identity of a depressed emotional girl and I held on to that tightly. I held my knives and my pain and my scars very close because I believed they defined me. I didn’t really want to be broken, but that was far better than being nothing at all.

STARVING DIDN’T WORK.

When I was 16 I put all the will I had into quieting the part of myself that told me I was UGLY, FAT, NASTY, WORTHLESS. I went on the diet. I pulled all my mastery at lying and hiding to the surface and I stopped eating. I lost 40 pounds within the span of 2 months and I sucked up the approval of everyone I knew. I thanked my parents and siblings and boyfriend when they told me I looked sick. I never told anyone when I passed out on the living room floor. I didn’t care when handfuls of my hair started coming out. None of it mattered. The feeling of being empty because I was starving was far better than the nameless ache for SOMETHING that I’d always had before.

LOVE DIDN’T WORK.

Falling in love with the wrong boys didn’t work. The label of being someone’s girlfriend didn’t give me the belonging I believed I needed. I still felt every bit as lost as I had before, but with the added fear that the boy would leave me. Because of course, I wasn’t good enough for them anyways. Falling in love with the RIGHT man didn’t work. Even when I found the man of my dreams, who has loved me the right way from the moment we met, I still didn’t feel like I was good enough. Why would this beautiful, smart, funny, charming man want a wreck of a girl like me?

CONTROL DIDN’T WORK.

Trying to control EVERY aspect of my life and my families life didn’t make me feel any more at peace than I had at any other point in my life. Budgeting our money, obsessively scheduling our time, and constantly worrying about absolutely everything DID NOT WORK. Those things did however drive my family crazy. I became someone I didn’t like being around. The expectations I put on myself and everyone else were nothing short of impossible to reach. So what have I learned from all of these failed attempts to make myself happy?

IT WON’T WORK.

I will never be able to make myself feel better. I will never be able to cut or starve or control the emptiness away. I can’t make my life or the lives of those I love perfect. I’ve learned that I DON’T HAVE TO. Through a faith that is growing every single day, I’ve learned that no matter what I do to mess it up, God does in fact have a plan for my life. In spite of my flaws and all of my brokenness I am loved beyond understanding. I have learned, and am still learning, that if I let go and trust I will be better than okay. Everything will work out exactly the way God means for it to work out. I’ve learned that even the things I’ve seen as bad in my life were being used for good. I’ve learned that I don’t have to be perfect because I’m already perfectly loved. In all of this, I am finally coming to know PEACE.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

http://bible.com/111/jer.29.11.niv

Surface Christian.

I never would have described myself as a surface Christian. I mean, I have always believed in God and Jesus. I grew up in church and youth groups and the whole thing. If you had asked me yesterday if I had a strong faith, if I was a true believer I would have said yes, and I would have believed I was being honest. I realized today though that I’ve been living my life on the very edge of faith. I’ve been standing on the shore rather than diving completely into the ocean.A couple of months ago my husband and I were invited to church by the man who presided over our wedding. Because my husband and I felt such a genuine connection with this man we decided to check the church out. We had been together for 2 years and while we both have a true relationship with God, life and our circumstances had prevented us from attending church regularly. We went into this church with open minds but not very high expectations. We were quickly reminded of how God works in our lives. 

Every week the message has had something to do with 1 aspect of our lives or another. My husband has totally immersed  himself in studying the Bible and prayer in a way that I’ve never seen him do before. Because of his true desire to become closer to God he has become a totally different person. He has a peace surrounding him that I can’t even believe some days. He has become quicker to pray and slower to react in every situation. Until today however, I wasn’t really getting it. I was seeing the changes in my husband and the strengthening of our relationship because of it, but I wasn’t finding that peace or that closeness in my own relationship with God.

Today I finally prayed. I asked God to show me what it was that I’ve been missing. I asked him to show me why I’m still panicking over every little thing and getting so lost in the stress of life. I asked to truly feel Gods spirit in my heart. And something remarkable happened to me.

As I stood praying in church with my husband and kids I had an experience that I’ve rarely had in my life. I heard a voice in my head that was absolutely not mine. I felt the words in every part of my soul. God spoke to me and said, “I have given you so much in your unbelief. Why do you still doubt?” This statement applies to my children. When I was 18 I had a hysterectomy. I chose at that age to not risk passing the gene that caused my cancer along to my babies. As a result of that choice, I believed I would never have children. In spite of my doubt and worries and stresses, God saw it fit to bless me with a daughter that inspires me every single day, a little boy that stole my heart completely, and an angel baby boy who I want more than anything to make proud.

Today when I looked at these gifts from God that I did nothing to deserve I felt like a fool. I have seen the evidence of God working in my life every day for the last 24 years yet still I’ve held onto my pride. My human nature told me I didn’t need to get any deeper into my relationship with God than I already was. I was on the surface of Gods love, only dipping my toes into what this relationship could be. Today I made the choice to accept this invitation from God. I chose to let go of every single doubt and every bit of my human stubbornness to handle my life myself. Today I decided to throw my arms out to God and dive completely into the Ocean.

Worship.

My boyfriend and I are studying “With My Eyes Wide Open” the latest book from Brian Welch. We’re only on chapter 5 at this point but there is one thing that has stuck in my head so far. This guy was the guitar player for KoRN, one of the number one bands at the time. He walked away from a life of drugs and rock to follow Jesus. Anyone can say that’s cool. I mean really. Who wants to be a drugged up mess? But this guy also walked away from a contract worth millions of dollars because he knew it wasn’t what God wanted for his life at that point. He said no to everything the world had to offer on faith alone. That’s what’s smacked me hardest at this moment. Has your faith ever been that strong? So strong that you looked at what the visible world had for you and you said no. That’s not enough. I want more than this for my life. I don’t think there are many people who have done something like that. This morning I started my day off with my Christian music playlist, the first time I’ve opened it in months. I heard a song that took me back to when I was a little girl and living my everyday in the most real depression. I remember standing in church absolutely alone and singing this song. I remember crying real tears, not because I was sad, but because that was the only time in the world that I didn’t feel empty. I remember I’d stop going to church, I’d stop talking to God, and I’d always feel that same feeling of peace and love when I’d finally go back. This morning in my bed, not a church, I had that feeling again. Not because of the song, but because I prayed when I started the playlist. Asked God to be here while I worshiped. At the start of this book my boyfriend made a joke that’s stuck with me. He said, “we check our bank accounts everyday. When was the last time we checked our faith accounts?” It made me laugh when he said it, but it’s completely true. I’m sure you have a million things to do today. You’ve got kids. You’ve got work. If you’re me you’ve got kids, work, a school paper, and a dog that needs food too. God easily gets bumped to the background because he isn’t going to cry for your attention like your 4 year old or your hungry dog. But I can honestly say at this moment, having started my day with worship, I’m more peaceful than I’ve been in a long time. Studying this book has gotten my boyfriend and I talking about faith more in the last 5 days than we have in the last year. If you give God your time, you’re the one who wins. I’m making a commitment here today to start my days off with God in worship. Start my day in this world right.