Part IV – THE END – or is it really just the beginning?
Truly, I don’t understand why the rest of this is to be shared. Since it is on my heart to share it, however, I will. If it is only meant to be shared for one person to read it and get something from it, then it was worth it. Actually, if no one gets anything from it, it was still worth it because I am being obedient in writing it. So, if it is only about my obedience, I’m okay with that, too. As you read on, understand I am only sharing what God used to get MY attention to make me realize how I have been coming up short in my walk with Him. Now, on to Part IV. . .
Then came Friday, June 26th and the Supreme Court’s ruling. When I saw the breaking news on my phone and read their decision, it wasn’t only my heart that felt broken. I felt completely broken on the inside for our country, for the lost souls, for so many things. It was as if someone flipped a switch inside me and all I could do was cry. In fact, I did cry outwardly a little, but I was at work, so I had to try to keep myself together. I wanted to cry out to my Father loudly; but, I had to do my best to keep calm. I wanted to get somewhere and pray in earnest; but, I could only lift up silent prayers at the time.
This feeling of brokenness stayed with me the rest of Friday on into Saturday and Sunday. To be honest, I am still feeling it, although in a different sort of way. Now it’s as if it is there just enough to remind me how serious things truly are. If this decision is what it took for God to get my attention and make me realize how I had been neglecting a major part of my responsibility as His Child, it worked. I will never be the same again, I know that. I never want to be the same again!
I could not shake the feeling that I needed to be in the altar, crying out to my Father for forgiveness – forgiveness for my laziness in my prayers. Sunday morning I didn’t want to attend ‘just another church service’. I wanted to spend the time in prayer – and that’s what I did. The church we attended Sunday morning has a prayer room that is open during the morning service for anyone to go in and pray. I spent the worship time in the prayer room. I didn’t know what I was supposed to be praying for, specifically. I just started praying and asked Him to show me. In fact, I prayed Jeremiah 33:3 again, asking Him what it was He wanted to show me. I began praying for the service going on in the sanctuary, I prayed for lost loved ones and then I began to pray for my husband and myself. We both have a tendency, every now and then, to let the enemy ‘beat us up’ about things we did in our past and allow ourselves to fall for his lies about how we can’t be used by God because we aren’t good enough or smart enough or because of our past. Suddenly, I was praying against those spirits of confusion, doubt and self-condemnation, telling them they had to go in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth and asking God to replace them with His Spirit of order, clarity and virtue. Recognizing we don’t get our identity from our past, but we get our identity through His Son, Jesus Christ! I then began to ask Him to give me scriptures to remind us WHO we get our identity from and the thought came to me, ‘just get your Bible and see where it falls open’. No, I didn’t want to get scriptures ‘by chance’ – I wanted to “know that I know” the scriptures were the exact ones HE wanted us to meditate on. Like the way He led me to Jeremiah 33:3 last week and reinforced it to me over and over. I wanted to know with that kind of knowing. I prayed a while longer and then I felt I was released to go back to the sanctuary for the last few minutes of the service.
And, BAM! There it was – EXACTLY what I had been praying about. (Just a note here: The service is not ‘wired in’ to the prayer room and, while I could hear the preacher talking, I could not understand anything he was saying.) It absolutely blew me away when I walked into the service and heard him speaking on our identity and the fact we get our identity from Christ! He was giving and reading scripture and talking and, suddenly, I realized this was exactly what I had just been asking for and, “I need to be writing this down!” I even took a picture of the slide that was showing on the screen:
Needless to say, I came away feeling absolutely energized by Him and what He had done in me that morning. I have no idea where He intends to take me on this journey. I only pray I can keep up – I don’t want to lag behind Him and I don’t want to run ahead of Him. I just want to be right by His side, in step with Him and doing what He calls me to do – whenever and wherever that may be! Oh! And how cool is it that He also put this picture back in front of me this week – one I made a while back and very fitting for this particular time:
While this is the end of this ‘series’, it is far from the end of what He has started and is doing in me. I have no idea what might be coming next; but, rest assured, if He tells me to share it here, I will. Even if it’s just for the practice of being obedient to Him and is meant for nothing else, I will share.
I wanted so much to write about it that very day. I wasn’t able to – not only because of other things needing to be done; but, because I had no idea how to put it into words. I asked Him to help me get it down, so I wouldn’t forget and so I would have it to look back on later, as I felt He was going to begin to do more and more and I wanted to remember when and where it started. He never gave me the words to write about it, though, until today – four weeks later – and I’m still not sure I did it justice. I only know I felt it was time, because I had so much more to add now. I had no idea it had already been four weeks since my “unquiet, quiet time” until I sat down to write and looked in my prayer journal to get the date. I truly was thinking it had only been a couple of Sundays ago.
On Sunday, June 21, 2015, He led me to a verse I had already been praying quite often lately. I felt Him leading me to focus on praying that verse more. “Ask Me and I will tell you, Frank & Kathryn, remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come” – Jeremiah 33:3 (Yes, I have learned to always personalize the scriptures – especially when I am praying them). A little back-story here: My husband and I have been praying scriptures for God to show us what He wants to do about our house situation. We discovered we have Chinese drywall and it seems to be the culprit of keeping my husband so sick with his sinuses, etc. We know God doesn’t intend for us to live in a house that keeps either one of us sick, so we have been praying and asking Him to show us what we need to do. Jeremiah 33:3 is one of several verses He gave us to be praying through all this.
So, when He led me back to that verse on the 21st, I thought it was because maybe He was getting ready to show us something about the house situation. Now I’m not so sure that had anything to do with it. On Monday, June 22nd, He reinforced that scripture to me – remember, in Part I, I shared that I write the time down when I begin to write in my prayer journal. I think you could look through my prayer journals, covering the last few years and you would never see a time entry the same as the one last Monday morning, June 22nd. When I began to write in my prayer journal, I looked at the clock on my computer to get the time and it was 3:33 a.m.! WOW! I knew that was no accident or ‘coincidence’ – I don’t believe in coincidence. I believe in GODincidence!
On Tuesday, June 23rd, He reinforced it again when I merely glanced down at my “miles left on this tank of gas” gauge, as I do from time to time and it read 333!
I tell you these things to share why I had truly been focusing on praying that verse and to share with you, when you pray in earnest and you are truly serious about what you are praying, GOD LISTENS!!! You may be thinking He wants to show you something about one situation, yet, He will use that to get your attention and then answer your prayer by showing you something entirely different!
Tomorrow I will share with you what happened next🙂
Remember me saying how I try to be EXTREMELY quiet during my quiet time? Even as I began to pray, without writing, I was trying to pray quietly; but, that didn’t last long. I had my elbows resting on my desk with my hands up to my Father, praying and praying, thanking Him and thanking Him. I began crying and began to roll my desk chair further away from the desk, while keeping my elbows on the desk and my hands in the air, until I could no longer sit in the chair. I found myself on my knees, weeping uncontrollably, and crying out to my Father. Even that wasn’t enough, before I knew what was going on, I was stretched out, flat on my face before my Father. I knew I was no longer in control. All I could do was weep and pray. I have no idea what I was praying – no, I wasn’t praying in tongues, or at least not what most would consider praying in tongues. I know I was saying “Thank You, Jesus” over and over; but I was also hearing deep, guttural sounds and I have no idea what that was all about. I was praying and weeping from a place deep within my soul like I’ve never done before.
I would come to a place where I wasn’t weeping and I would think I was done. I can even remember thinking during those times, ‘I’m going to wake up the whole house. The dogs are going to start pitching a fit to go out, Frank is going to get up and wonder what is going on in here (remember, I was supposed to wake him up at 6 and I had no idea what time it was); but, I had no control over what was going on and, remarkably, I never heard the dogs make a sound. It was as if they couldn’t hear me. The minute I would start thinking those things, I would start weeping from that deep, deep place again. I could sense God was saying, ‘I’m doing something in you. I’m starting something and I’m not done yet. I will let you know when you are released.’ I didn’t hear that in an ‘audible’ voice, just felt it in my Spirit.
Later, I was still lying on the floor and the weeping had subsided. Then I began to chuckle a little bit until I was laughing – yes, LAUGHING! – and I heard my Father ask me, “Do you remember?’”
“Oh, yes, Father,” I answered, “I remember. I remember it well,” and He held me in His lap again, with His arms around me and allowed me to laugh and laugh again, just like He did a few years ago. (You can read about that here, if you haven’t read it before)
Not long after that, He allowed me to move to a sitting position. I was even able to reach up and open the door to the office, but I couldn’t get up just yet. I heard my husband up and taking care of the dogs; but, I still couldn’t get up from the floor. I felt…….I really don’t even know how to explain what I felt….spent and, at the same time, refreshed and renewed. Still a little confused, not knowing exactly what had just taken place. I know it’s hard to understand; but, it was a feeling of knowing and, yet, not knowing at the same time. I knew one thing for sure – God had done something that morning and, I believe, it was just the beginning of far more to come.
You would think that was the “end of the story”, right? Not yet – stay tuned for Part III🙂
I come quietly out of the bedroom, easing the door closed behind me, and walk as lightly and gingerly as possible through the living room, past the doggy crates, so as not to wake them, as I make my way to my office. Once safely inside, with the door closed behind me, I turn on the light and get my devotional book, Bible and prayer journal. I always read my short devotion and then proceed to start writing my prayer in my journal. Keep in mind, I am always striving to be as quiet as I can – even when shuffling the books around, so as not to wake the husband or doggies.
The morning of May 31st was no different – until I started writing in my prayer journal. Some years back, I began writing the time down when I start my prayer and, this particular morning, I can look back and see I started writing my prayer at 4:46 a.m. I didn’t need to wake my husband up until 6:00, so I knew I would be done in plenty of time. But God……….He had other plans for me that morning. My prayer started out normal as usual, just thanking Him for different things. As this was the morning my husband would be giving the message on Life Row (yes, the Chaplains call it Life Row, not Death Row), I also began praying for him and the service he would be involved in later. I wrote a fairly lengthy paragraph and realized I could not write anymore! I felt, in my own words, from my entry that morning, “my heart is about to burst open right now!” I had to put the pen down so I could just continue to pray and PRAISE Him without writing. That’s when it happened.
Stay tuned for Part II – coming tomorrow🙂
Today I was asked to find a poem for someone about Christ rising from the dead. So, of course, I went to Google and started searching. I found some nice ones, some really good ones, but they weren’t about Christ rising from the dead. After reading a few, I heard something and tried to dismiss it. Something – or should I say Someone – was telling me I could do this. I could write something, if I would just get quiet and listen. Search the scriptures and listen. So, I did – search the scriptures and listen, that is – and before too long, it was written. Little did I know it was only the beginning of something my Father wanted to show me.
I wanted to attend a Communion Service tonight because, frankly, it has been a while since I’ve taken Communion and I felt I needed it. I have to be honest, I believe this is the first time I have ever felt I needed it. Don’t get me wrong – I always love it when I get to share in Communion, but I think it was always just something I do because I’m a Christian. Yes, I know it is something to be done very reverently and in the right manner and attitude, but, at the same time, even though I thought I was partaking in the right manner and attitude before, I now know that I wasn’t. Do I feel ‘condemned’ about that? Absolutely not! Why? Because God knows my heart and He knows I was not aware of what I had been doing – until tonight. Tonight, He revealed to me something huge about my relationship with Him. It hurt me to realize what I had been doing and yet, even in His correction, which I was ready and willing to accept, I could feel His deep, deep love for me.
What is it that He showed me about my relationship with Him? He showed me, as much as I love Him and as much as I thought I had been honoring Him, I was wrong. He took me back and showed me I had become a little ‘too comfortable’. Yes, He loves me and yes, He tells me I can come to Him at any time with any problem, big or small; but, He also reminded me I still need to keep my awe and reverence for Him intact. I can’t let myself become so comfortable with Him that I forget what He did for me. How He sent His ONLY SON to die for ME! His Son didn’t just die for me – He died a horrible, gruesome, cruel death and He would have done it even if I had been the only person on earth!
Lately, I have started hurriedly reading through Bible passages, just so I could get done and say, ‘I did it! I got my Bible reading done! WOO HOO!” I get up on Sunday mornings and go to church because it is the ‘right’ thing to do and because I do enjoy worshipping my Father. However, even in that worship, I find my mind so easily drifting to other things and not staying focused on my Father. I know that is a tactic the enemy uses on many of us, but I am only speaking of myself here, because I am responsible for me. What I’m saying about me is I don’t even think I can blame my lack of focus on the enemy. I am the one who seems to have forgotten Who it is I am worshipping and how worthy of my awe, reverence and total focus He is!
All I could do tonight, as He was pointing these things out to me, was cry. I shed many tears of sorrow in the realization of what I have been doing. The whole time He was showing me what I needed to correct, He was also loving on me and, as I asked for His forgiveness, He was lavishly giving it, just as He promised He always would.
I know the change won’t happen overnight. My loss of awe and respect didn’t happen overnight. It was a gradual change and one I didn’t even notice. I will be asking and seeking Him daily to help me regain that which I let slip away. I know He will be patient with me and help me regain the awe and reverence I lost.
All this because someone asked me to do a seemingly simple task. One thing I’m learning is to do my best to be aware when He is trying to get my attention. He got it today and then gave me that feeling of urgency to attend Communion tonight, where He knew I would be still, quiet and ready to listen to Him.
I was reminded, yet again, of this blog I wrote back in 2007. I had no idea it had been that long since this had happened to me because it is still so fresh in my memory. I still can not let myself use this word to describe anything, unless I am talking about something God has done or talking about God Himself. I decided to share it here so y’all can read it and let me know what you think about it. I originally posted it on a website that no longer exists.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
AWESOME – Really? Are you sure?
Wanted to share something with everyone tonight that the Lord put on my heart a while back. The way I use the word “Awesome”. Now, please read everything I have to say here and don’t get your back all “bowed up” and get mad – I’m just sharing what the Lord spoke to MY heart – no one else’s. But I just wonder if some out there may be like me and never really stopped to think about it. I know I hadn’t until one day I was saying something was “Awesome” and man – I felt my spirit quicken immediately!!! It was like “Really? That’s awesome? Are you sure? Do you realize that you talk about what an ‘AWESOME’ God you serve and how ‘AWESOME’ God is? Do you realize that you are now saying this thing you just called awesome must be as good as God? WHOA! Did THAT ever get my attention! Now, I’m gonna be honest – as I always try to be – I have slipped a couple of times and caught myself saying or about to say something or someone is ‘Awesome’, but then I remember what I felt in my spirit that day and I immediately change it. It’s easy to change when I’m online and typing but it’s harder to catch myself sometimes when I’m actually talking. But I’m getting better about it. It really quickened my spirit to think that I would give anyone or anything down here on this earth the same status that I give my Lord and Savior! My Father! He is truly AWESOME!
Anyway, just thought some of you might want to think about that – it’s really scary to me how flippant I seem to be sometimes when talking about my Father. I am really trying to become more conscious of this – Yes! He loves us! Yes! He cares about us! But He is still, after all, GOD! And He deserves more respect than anyone or anything that I know on this earth.
What do y’all think?
I spent my first day in jail Monday, January 26, 2015. The difference between me and the ladies already inside? I would get to leave at the end of the day and they would not. I was a first-time participant in an event called ReNew Hope through the We Care Program. (Those names are in a different color so you can click on them and learn more about each)
I was nervous, not scared, as I did not know what to expect. I only knew I wanted to be able to go in and encourage these ladies, share the love of Jesus with them and, hopefully, be a small blessing to them. I’m still not sure if that happened or not, but God certainly used them to encourage me, share the love of Jesus with me and bless me beyond measure!
Monday, I told the other ladies on our team, since this was my first year to participate, I didn’t want to talk with anyone “on my own”. I was not even sure if I’d be going back on Tuesday, depending on how Monday went! Needless to say, I went back on Tuesday and again on Thursday. I didn’t go Wednesday because I was going into a different place Wednesday night and wouldn’t have been back in time. More about that later….
I am so accustomed to using the Bible app on my phone, I didn’t even think to grab an actual Bible on Monday before I left, even though I knew I wouldn’t be able to take my phone inside the jail! So, all the other ladies on our team had Bibles and I had nothing😦 I thought, ‘Oh well, no big deal, I’m gonna be pairing up with someone anyway, so it will work out okay’ and it did. Almost immediately, ladies were talking with us and they were so excited we were there. Some grabbed their own Bibles and they were noticing many of the ladies on our team had lots of notes in their Bibles. They asked, “Is it okay for us to write in our Bibles?” I remember telling more than one lady, “YES! Of course! Write in your Bible. Make yourself all kinds of notes as you’re reading and the Lord is showing you things where you’re reading. Write it down!!” As I was saying this to different ladies over and over, I felt the Lord asking me, “So, why don’t YOU do that anymore?” Yes, I was definitely convicted of not using His actual love letter to me, His Holy Word, the way I once did. I went home Monday night, got my Bible out and put it in a case to carry with me Tuesday. On Tuesday, He reinforced His message to me about His Word when we were allowed to visit with the ladies in what is called the lockdown wedge. One of the ladies there had just received a brand new Bible from the Chaplain and she was holding on to it for dear life. She had it clutched to her chest and had the biggest smile on her face. She was so happy and proud to have a nice Bible. She said she had never had one like it before and she didn’t even want to put it down. That scene touched my heart in a very deep place! Since my experience there, I now carry my love letter with me to church and I am beginning to use it at home, too, as I once did, instead of the app. The app on the phone is nice and I do still use it – but I’m getting back to using my “hands-on” Bible the way I should!
Tuesday we were able to visit with ladies we had not had time to visit with on Monday. I love how God always connects us with exactly who we need to connect with. I was able to share a very, teeny-tiny part of my testimony with one of the ladies. Another volunteer shared her testimony and I felt I needed to share that one small part of mine. I knew God was prompting me to share with her because she was experiencing many of the same things I have experienced in past years.
Something else I learned on Monday is GOD CHANGED MY NAME! Our team leader was sharing the story of Zaccheus and how God knew he was in the tree and called him by name and told him to come down because He was going to eat with him that day. She told them the wonderful thing is God knows their names, too, and He knows exactly where they are. I was thinking about that Monday night after I got home and God showed me, while He did not change my name from what my parents had given me when I was born, HE most definitely changed it from my nickname back to my given name because I am no longer the person associated with that nickname. I am becoming the person He always intended me to be and that is why HE changed my name. You can read more about the meaning of my name change in my story here.
Wednesday was the day I planned to stay home so I could go into Holman Prison Wednesday night for the service there. For those who don’t know, my husband is an Asst. Chaplain at Holman through the We Care Program. Some of the other wives had chosen Wednesday night as the night to attend service there so, of course, I wanted to go the same night🙂
OH! I have to add this side note here: One highlight of Wednesday had absolutely nothing to do with ReNew Hope – well, in a round-about way it did, I guess, since it happened at We Care Headquarters – but I was able to see a friend I haven’t seen in a LONG time and it was so wonderful to see her! She has been and still is in the process of fighting breast cancer and all that entails, so say a prayer for her – God knows who she is😉 She is doing GREAT, by the way, but all prayers are appreciated🙂
Now – back to the evening service at Holman. What an experience that was! There were TWELVE visitors to get checked in – five in the music group, two that were speaking, wife of one speaker, three wives associated with We Care and the photographer/videographer – and it was very different from how the ladies team had been checking in at the jail! We all signed in on the paper log at 3:46 p.m. By the time the Warden had entered all the information and fingerprinted us all in through the computer, it was 5:02 when we were receiving our visitor passes and the service started at 5:30. The men were already in the chapel waiting for service to begin. As we walked in, several of the men were in prayer. They were praying for the service and for individuals. We went in and sat on the front row as we were asked to do. Sitting there, listening to the men praying also touched a special place in my heart. Hearing one man in particular praying for individuals and calling them by name, well, it brought tears to my eyes. Going through our day-to-day lives, we can find ourselves thinking the men and women in prisons and jails don’t matter. We can almost let ourselves believe they are of no concern to us, they did something wrong and they are where they should be. We couldn’t be more wrong! Father, forgive me, if I ever start to feel that way, and remind me and others these men and women are someone’s sons and daughters, possibly husbands or wives, fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers. They are PEOPLE with feelings and emotions and regrets, just like I have every day and you know what? Jesus died for them the same way He died for me and I need to remember to love them with His love the same way He loves me!
The service was great and the time was over before we knew it and it was time to go home – or at least back to We Care Headquarters for another delicious supper prepared by those wonderful We Care ladies!
Thursday, back at the jail, was very nice. We were able to re-visit ALL the ladies we had seen during the week including the ones in the lockdown wedge. It was such a blessing to speak with them again. By Thursday, I also knew I would definitely be doing this again next year and, in fact, had even begun to think of others that I want to invite to join us!
It was a week of growing in the Lord and listening to Him and allowing Him to change the way I see a lot of things. While I shared two of the biggest lessons He taught me this week, there were many other lessons He taught me, also. Some may not be quite as ‘big’ as others, but certainly just as important. It most definitely made a change for the better in me and I pray I will continue to be teachable.
If you are interested in getting more information about how YOU can be a volunteer next year, be sure to click on the links in the first paragraph of this post or, if you want to ask me any questions about it, please do so. Feel free to leave a comment, if you are interested or have questions. I would love to speak with you about what a rewarding experience it is!