Possessed by Hope

POSSESSED BY HOPE

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1 NKJV

Hebrews 11…known to many as the “faith” chapter. It plainly tells us what faith is and then goes into a long list of those who walked in faith before. Personally, I love the Passion translation of this verse.

Now faith brings our hopes into reality and becomes the foundation needed to acquire the things we long for. It is all the evidence required to prove what is still unseen.

Hebrews 11:1 TPT

Faith foundational to our relationship with the Lord. In fact later in Hebrews 11 verse 6 says:

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”

It is impossible to please God without faith? Well….crap……no pressure. What is faith then? How do I get it? I so desperately want to please God. How do I get this faith that it speaks of in Hebrews 11? If FAITH is the substance of things HOPED for….then maybe we start with hope. Hope is in desperate need and short supply with in the world today…and in my particular country where there is an election going on and news that spouts off untruths and a bleak future….hope is very hard to come by. HOWEVER, I am a follower of Jesus. Maybe….just maybe….we are to get our hopes up. Maybe just maybe, as a follower of Jesus, I have a reason too hope when others don’t. Maybe, just maybe there is a long list of people who walked in faith after verse 1 because when we read it we get our hopes up. We can then say, if God did that for them…then He could do it for me.

The word used for hope in verse 1 is epizo in the greek. It is a verb that means to expect or trust for something. It requires action…..activation. DC Talk said “Love is a verb.” (I am TOTALLY dating myself)…well so is hope. Hope is a verb, and we must be intentional to have it.

Blake Schellenberg a speaker who talks of Heaven in Business is quoted saying, “He who has the most hope has the most influence.” I had never heard this quote before until I heard Bill Johnson quote him just last week at a message he gave at my church conference. He then went on to say many things about being “possessed with hope” and a “prisoner of promise.” Call me a thief, but I am stealing it….honestly, that is what this whole blog is about. Gleaning…taking hope from others who have hope filled stories and putting them in your bag of hope. Then you build up that bag of hope until you have faith.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Hope is so very important. Is there someone that you can sit with that has a great story to share about how they went through the fire and yet they kept hoping…they never walked away from the Lord…they stuck with it? Is there a person that you can sit with and ask them about the miracles the Lord released in their life? What battle are you facing? Sit with someone who faced the same giant and glean their hope. Let their hope and breakthrough be yours until it IS yours.

Have you heard “Don’t get your hopes up.” I have. Often it it me saying it to me. I say it to myself in order to protect myself from disappointment and failure. What if God WANTS me to get my hopes up? What if I chose to think of getting my hopes up as filling up my hope bag with words of hope that I gleaned from others? What if I got my hopes up that way? What if “getting our hopes up” is collecting hope? Don’t have any deep theology to prove it…it is just a image to meditate.


My prayer…Lord, may we all be POSSESSED WITH HOPE. So possessed with hope that it manifests the SUBSTANCE of Faith. Lord, give us stories of hope that we can steal and keep in our bag of hope….and keep piling it on so that we “get our hopes up”….. until their breakthrough becomes our breakthrough. Lord, you alone are our source of hope. Our hope is in you alone Jesus.

Now….go steal some stories of hope. Get your hope bag filled up. Get possessed with hope.

Expect the Opposite : A word of hope for Easter by Kyle Adams

It was a while back when I began to see a theme woven into everything I heard the Lord telling me during my morning quiet times. It seemed as though he was emphasizing a principle of opposites. The first shall be last, and the last shall be first. The humble will be exalted, and the proud will be humbled. We are at war, not with flesh and blood, but with powers and principalities.  It is a spiritual battle, and there is an opposite and greater spirit to combat what is oppressing us. With all this in mind, I began to ponder what God was trying to tell me.  The fact is, God can receive the greatest amount of glory from our mindset when He achieves the opposite of what we have come to expect.

If you have read our testimony in the “About Us” section, you’ll know that I grew up with a very grave struggle.  Where I had come to accept that I was less of a man, God parted the waters for me, led me through, and proved to me that I was actually more of a man. The principle is that simple. But it’s that difficult to grasp.

God brought about a huge revelation to me in January of this year with the quintessential New Years verse:

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
Isaiah 43:19, NLT

Usually we stop there for the great expectations of all the new things God will do in the new year.  This year, however, God prompted me to read on.

I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
Isaiah 43:20, NLT

I was immediately reminded that some of the greatest events in the Old Testament include the parting of the Red Sea and the wandering of the Israelites in the dry wilderness.  But here in the new thing, God is making a pathway through the wilderness instead of through the chaotic waters. Here He is creating rivers in the dry land instead of cutting dry land out of the sea. He is doing an opposite thing!

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As I write this, we are approaching one of my favorite holidays. Ah, who am I kidding, the holiday I am currently celebrating is my favorite holiday because I love celebrations. I was raised in a family dedicated to tradition, and believe it or not, I married into a family even more so. To make life even sweeter, Megan and I have adopted Jewish holidays as our own as well.  And why not?  After all, we are adopted Jews, right?

As the country anticipates Easter morning, we have already been celebrating Passover with family prayer gatherings and a Seder in place of our weekly Shabbat. Matzah and charoset, feasts and wine. And then we would usually continue on into Easter morning dressing up in our nice clothes, going to church, taking pictures enough to fill an entire album. We would usually meet friends and family and gather for more feasting of roast beef and lamb and send the little ones out on an egg hunt. We celebrate!

Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the universe, Who has given to us holidays, customs, and seasons of happiness, for the glory of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, the Light of the world.

We are celebrating the Passover, the Feast of Freedom, the commemoration of the night the death angel passed over the faithful. The commemoration of the time that God turned the Children of Israel from slaves into free men. Slavery to freedom. He did an opposite thing in one mighty act.

But this year we will have to do things differently. We won’t be seeing our families face to face. We won’t be worshipping corporately in a building, though the Church has not been diminished. And we won’t be eating roast lamb. But we will still be celebrating, and perhaps we will have even more to celebrate once this is all said and done. We are experiencing an unprecedented time, something that nobody alive on this earth has ever experienced. There is probably not a person on the face of the earth who has not heard of the Coronavirus, and if they have not suffered from the virus itself, they have been locked down in their homes with everyone else in the world.

During this time of many unknowns where the world is in flux and many are living in fear, I have begun to notice some things. Families are together. They are eating dinners around the table and going on walks and getting exercise. Siblings are forced to realize they are and have always been very best friends. Churches are still gathering in force, some streaming services and many gathering in virtual meeting rooms. We have begun to value the important things like extended family members and friends we have come to take for granted. We are acting responsibly to ration our supplies and food, though in this house we call it savoring. We are valuing life more than death.

Who would have thought it would take a virus to heal us? Instead of infecting us, it appears to be healing us. There’s that principle of opposites again. What the enemy meant for evil, God meant for good. And let’s not even mention the corruption in our country and across the globe that is getting exposed through all this. The altars and poles are being torn down as we speak.

All during the midst of a global pandemic.

I have great expectations for this pivotal time in space and history. You see, I am pressing in for the opposite of what I have come to expect…and in many cases have come to accept. I am praying that those that are in slavery will be set free. I am praying for the lost to be found and the sick to be healed. I am praying that this virus will pass over us all for the greatest Passover in history.  And I’m not just praying for this, I’m expecting it.  After all, God showed me in no uncertain terms that he was doing something new, and not only that…but opposite of what has come to be.

If this post finds you fearful or anxious, hurting or sick, or missing your loved ones…I invite you to press in to the awesome power of God who can, in one breath, insert life into a dying world.  Who can part waters into dry pathways and send springs of water into the dry wastelands.  Who can speak, and in one sentence dispel darkness with light.

…forget all that–it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
Isaiah 40:18, NLT

Happy Easter, everyone. May you feel the presence of the Lord in the…opposite…you have ever felt Him before.

Shane & Shane – Lord of Hosts

What If?: A poem. A prayer. A Good Friday Gleaning. by Megan Adams

What If?

Lord, what if it lifts?

What if we woke one morning and the virus was gone?  What if, POOF!, it vanished?  What if it was no more?  What if people who went to sleep with a fever woke without one?  What if those positive with the virus rested at night and tested the next day negative?  Like it never happened.  What if this went worldwide?  What if people just walked out of hospitals?

Lord, what if it lifts?

What if there was such a great global healing that it would only point to YOU Jesus…because your heart alone could do such a glorious beautiful thing?  One drop of Your blood alone could do it quicker than a thousand years of medical science could.  What if there was such a flood of healing to wash over the planet that it washed away Cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzeihimers, Depression, Heart Disease, and even Gout?  What if there was no disease in the world that could hide from your healing presence?  What if there was such a great wave of healing that it crashes over us that the doctors, nurses, and medical staff get a much needed sabbatical rest after the lifting?

Lord, what if it lifts?

What if the blind eyes are opened?  What if those who have poured themselves over and over the scriptures and “logically” could not find the truth in Your word could see it?  What if those who professed to be atheists have dreams of you Jesus?  What if they woke up?  What if all people of this earth dream of You?  What if every man, woman, and child no matter their age, race or religion woke up…woke up to you Jesus?  What if everyone could see and know the truth that YOU are THE WAY THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE AND THERE IS NO GETTING TO THE FATHER BESIDES THROUGH YOU?  Lord, what if the lies that confuse the world about the truth of who You are just evaporate?

Lord, what if it lifts?

What if, the darkness is shattered?  What if demonic forces that have held so many captive were demolished?  Lord what if people actually see that their true self is found in you and not what they determine their identity is?  What if the idols of which we read about in the Old Testament, that are still being worshiped now…child sacrifice, Baals, Asherah poles were all torn down…and perhaps by the very people who worshiped them blindly?  Lord, what if we woke up and the millions that have been enslaved by wicked puppets returned home?  What if those wicked puppets who would try to train…no manipulate the world into their puppet show were caught?  Exposed to the masses.  What if every hopeless wicked threat they seep out was crushed?  What if You took the head off of all these snakes?  Lord, what if we woke and this darkness was gone?

Lord, what if it lifts?

What if, Your Bride comes together as you prayed for us before you died?  Because we are apart…we are dismembered.  Jesus, what if You mended us together in our sleep?  What if this is the time for us to see Your prayer come to life?  What if Lord we were all one as You Lord are one?  What if we fully realized the words you spoke, “that they all may be one, as You Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us.”?  What if in this great unity we see Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, Nazarene, and Presbyterian hold hands?  What if the world could see this and know YOU Lord sent Jesus?  What if we sit in the truth of your love and not empty dogma?  What if we only sat in doctrine that causes us to come into YOUR glorious presence and not shame, fear, abuse, or retreat?  What if Your Bride rises up and fights?  Not against people, no, but what if we fought against lies?  What if we tore down strongholds?  What if we rose up against the evil dark spiritual forces of this world?  What if we woke up and interceded in tears for those who are blinded to lies?  What if we were the first to forgive and even wash the feet of those who betray us or persecute us….like You did with Judas?  Lord, what if we walked with such a fragrant aroma of Your Presence that its sweet perfume draws other to You?  Others who have not know You.  What if now is the time we get to manifest that love that You love us with?  What if we release miracles?  What if we were Jesus with skin on for SUCH A TIME AS THIS?  What if any garment of fear, pride, religion, shame, fake identity, insecurity, or false humility that keeps us, Your Bride, Your children, from walking in Your glorious power were stripped off of us?  What if we danced naked before Your Presence Lord, like David did?

Lord, what if it lifts?

What if, the apple of Your eye, Israel, saw that You, Jesus are THE Passover Lamb?  Lord, what if they took their rightful place in this time and stood on the hill and shined as a beckon of hope for all the world to see?  What if your chosen people humbly saw you Yeshua?  What if the scales that have kept your chosen people blind just fell off their eyes?  What if they ran and rushed to the Presence of Yeshua this day?

Lord, what if it lifts?

Lord, what if?  What if it just lifts?  In a Breathe.  In a moment.  In a blink of an eye.

Lord, what if it lifts?

 

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On this Good Friday I also want to highly…HIGHLY recommend setting aside some time this day to listen and meditate on the presence of the Lord by listening to Steffany Gretzinger’s new album Forever Amen. Make sure you listen to it in order as well.  Here is a link:

Album | Forever Amen (Official Album Lyric Videos) Steffany Gretzinger

 

When We Lay Down Our Expectations: Gleanings from Palm Sunday by Megan Adams

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Photo by Dominika Roseclay on Pexels.com

When I was a child thirty some odd children were crammed into the front lobby of the small United Methodist church that I attended. Each one of us held a small palm branch that we waved excitedly as we marched proudly down the center church aisle. This was sometime in the late 80’s to early 90’s, so just imagine the girls with their ruffled ankle socks, flowery dresses with ribbons wrapping their waists, with nice large bows holding back their poodle permed hair. The boys wore dress pants, pastel button up shirts, and suspenders.  Mothers and Sunday school teachers lined us up, and we all giggled with excitement as we laid our palms at the front of the church by the altar rail in front of our parents and all the people we loved most.  It was Palm Sunday, a day of joy and expectation of all things Easter. On this particular Sunday it was my birthday, and it promised to be a great week. And it was.

I loved Palm Sunday as a child!  Did you?  Now, the denomination that I was raised in did it RIGHT.  It was beautiful to see all of the little children chattering with joy and waving their palm branches. We were a part of something really special.  Today, I wish I could see that more often…

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This morning I am taking some time to reflect on Palm Sunday and let it carry my thoughts on the entire Holy Week–including Passover.  When I read the Palm Sunday story I am drawn in yet haunted by something. What begins as a moment of celebration for the coming king of Israel soon becomes a story of a great falling away of the very same people who professed to believe that Jesus was the Savior. And I have to ask myself…why?  How could they lay down before Him palm branches and their own garments only to betray Him in the most cruel way less than a week later?  They sang songs of wild praise out of one breath and shouted for His crucifixion out of another.  How could they betray the Savior, and when did they change their minds?  And if they, the ones who had seen His face and His miracles and who worshipped with reckless abandon could betray Him…could I?  Do I?  How? 

I will try my best to explain what I have found, but I am no expert or trained theologian. I am, however, a curious daughter of the Lamb, and I want to understand. Or at least ask and wait for understanding.

The account of the triumphal entry is in each of the four gospel books, but for today I will use Luke.

Luke 19:36-42 New King James Version (NKJV)

36 And as He went, many spread their clothes on the road.

37 Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, 38 saying:

‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”

40 But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent,the stones would immediately cry out.”

Jesus Weeps over Jerusalem

41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.

I highlighted the word disciples because it is the only book in the Gospels that refers to those praising Him in the triumphal entry as disciples. John says in Chapter 12 verse 17, “Therefore the people, who were with Him when he called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness.” (emphasis mine)  Many of the people that were on pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover had seen what Jesus had done for Lazarus only days before. It was they who had created a buzz in Jerusalem on whether or not Jesus would come for the celebration.  The Pharisees had already begun to plot his death but wouldn’t move forward because of the uproar that would rise from the people. The were a united people, an expectant group hopeful for a Savior. So, what happened? I know that they had the expectations of Jesus riding in gloriously to fulfill their political expectations of freedom from Roman rule.  Could they have decided in just a few short days that Jesus would not fulfill their expectations?  Did they fear the political leaders?  Maybe a little bit of both?  I stumbled on this:

Matthew 27:20 New King James Version (NKJV)

20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus.

They were obviously very easily persuaded.   Perhaps, they allowed the chief priests and elders to speak so loudly and more often about an untrue character of Jesus that it began to sound true.  Could they have succumbed to the clanging voices of the pharisees in order to stay relevant?  Perhaps, there were many in the crowd that did not want Him to be crucified but did not speak up for fear of the crowd mentality?  Hits a bit close to home when I think about the clamoring voices of modern media machines that would like to shape America into their cultural ideology, calling our spiritual leaders narrow-minded and obsolete. They label those that hold to the biblical worldview of marriage, sex–the whole spectrum of issues–as bigots and hateful. When something is repeated often enough, people generally began to accept it as truth. That is an echo chamber. Perhaps, they were in their own version of an echo chamber of false accusations about Jesus that they easily laid down their palm branches. And instead of declaring Him their rightful king and Savior, they raised their fists and shouted for His crucifixion.  Whatever the reason is, I am not quite certain. It is probably a mixture of all of the above.

But I have a longing to ask the Holy Spirit: do I have any expectations of you, Jesus, that I need to lay down?  Is there anything inside of me that isn’t based in the truth of Your Word?  Do I have a shallow faith that is easily swayed?  Do I have certain expectations that I wanted you to fulfill, Lord, that were not fulfilled the way I thought they should be, and it has hardened my heart? Are their even small expectations that I need to lay down?

I know for certain that there are some little expectations that I need to lay down in a time such as this–not that they aren’t important. Are you like me, and sometimes it’s the small things that can annoy you the most? Sometimes the small things bother me more than the big things because they can easily get under my skin. Here are a few: because of the quarantine my son may not get to have that Pre-K graduation; I will have to delay even longer to interview for that perfect job opportunity; Easter plans with friends and family will not be the same traditions this year; my kids may miss some things educationally; and my house might be sanitized but it will not be perfect.  Case in point, this is the cute little kids art gallery that will cover my upstairs walls during the entire quarantine:

 

I am all too familiar with having a beef with the Lord because He didn’t answer prayers the way I expected.  I expected my marriage to be a perfect love story from beginning to end–especially after those trying single years I went through.  Nope.  I would learn that the Lord DID answer my prayers…but I died in the process and the end result was much more than I had expected.

So, as we go into Holy Week, I come ready to lay down all of my expectations.  But remember, not all expectations are bad.  When the people shouted “Hosanna!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!  The King of Israel!”  They had GREAT and GOOD expectations however influenced by their own visions, coupled with an easily swayed faith. Many of the expectations that we have are great and good.  What I want to lay down before the Lord is how I think it all should play out.  I like to have it all planned out for the Lord, drawn up in my mind in biblical proportions, every loose end tied up nicely. All I want him to do is sign off on it and print it out.

We are all coming to the Lord right now with prayers bursting with our own expectations on how the Lord is going to move. But the great question is, will we still follow Him if our expectations of how those prayers should be answered do not pan out?  At this time in our history there are many words have been spoken over this current season. There is a RESET happening. There is an AWAKENING on the horizon.  I believe them.  I put full faith in those prophetic words.  What I lay down are the expectations that I may have on how it will all play out.  I know that the Lord is doing a new thing. What new thing He will do, I can only have a small idea.  Just like in the Old Testament, I see the tearing down of Asherah poles, altars of Baal, and idols of a culture. I do expect that in the end, it may look similar. I do expect some shocking things to be unearthed and terrors to be grieved, but I do not know exactly what it will look like.

Honestly, I can not answer that until I am face to face with it.  What I can do, is take my expectations to the Lord.  Pray.  Believe and ask in bold faith.  Then put all of my expectations in HIM.  You see…Jesus is Lord…he is the Forever Amen…HE is the period at the end of the sentence…He completed the picture.  I don’t know the exact details of every situation that face me. None of us do. But I CAN put full faith in Jesus and have expectations that HE WILL MOVE.  He WILL do something amazing and good.  He is moving even when I don’t see or understand it.  He is the miracle worker…the waymaker.  I can believe that no matter what we all face this week and the next few weeks that it will be a good week…a very good week.  Even if there are terrible things that happen this week, and the earth shakes…the Lord is moving and answering prayers. He sees the big picture.  I do not.  I choose to lay down my expectations and pick up the one expectation I want to have right now, and that is Jesus.  So I wave my palm branches to the Lord in praise and say, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!  The King of Israel!”….and as I wave my branch I will plant my feet and ask the Holy Spirit to cover me and my family with the whole armor of God that we may not waver in our proclamation and that we will still shout “Hosanna!”…even if it isn’t what we had expected.  It is going to be a great week.

 

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, I come to you humbly recognizing my human tendency to wonder and set up my own expectations and plans.  I set my full expectations and faith in you Jesus.  Continue to blow and breath on me Holy Spirit to ask…and keep asking…..because you long for that intimacy and I know you are for us and long to answer our prayers and see breakthrough for your children.  But I align my heart to not waver should things not turn out the way I think that they should.  I will not walk away.  I love you.  I praise you.  I ask that you would have mercy on us all and let these dark times pass over us and our families and our communities around us.  We place our expectations in You, Your Word, and Your voice….when You speak that is the rock we shall stand upon…that is what we will proclaim.  You are Hosanna!!!  You ARE EMMANUEL!!!  We sing Hallelujah to the Lord for to you alone Jesus are Lord and to You alone we sing praise!

Songs to meditate upon:

The Blessing with Kari Jobe & Cody Carnes | Live From Elevation Ballantyne | Elevation Worship

Steffany Gretzinger – Forever Amen (Official Lyric Video)

Refiner (feat. Chandler Moore and Steffany Gretzinger) – Maverick City Music | TRIBL Music

Leeland – Way Maker (Official Live Video)

“I Want to Know God…Not My Idea of God.”: Coffee with Stacy Durham

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Last month, I set up shop in the back room of Roots coffee house in North Richland Hills not really knowing what to expect from this coffee gleanings but I knew it was going to be good.  I was there to have coffee with Stacy Durham.  I really didn’t know her from Adam but I met her once at a brunch that my friend Erin hosts.  (The greatest brunch EVER…and where I steal a lot of people who I glean from….so…shout out to Erin for hosting!!!)

I sat there waiting after I set up the camera and then made small talk with the woman whose booth I wanted to steal…and eventually did.  My spirit man began to get excited.  What did the Lord have in store for me today?  What would I get to glean?  What was she like?  Then Stacy walked in and came straight back with a big smile on her face and gave me a hug.  Honestly, she shifted the room people.  She was like a big fat hug walking into a coffee house.  I knew that my world was about to be turned upside down, and I was going to be hungrier than before.

Stacy is a Pink Impact coordinator for Gateway church on the central campus, a zone leader for Pink groups, an intercessor, and recently wrote an article for Studio G magazine entitled “Overflow”, which is amazing.  (Yes…the majority of the women that I have met with go to Gateway.  In all honesty, I could have an entire blog filled with JUST the women of Gateway church to glean from; However, I will branch out…eventually.)  She is the mother of four and has been married to her husband for 16 years.  Another fascinating thing is that I learned Stacy graduated from my alma mater West TX A&M University the same day that I did…however, she was with all the science majors and I was with all the fine arts peoples.

Now, I have to state a disclaimer before you watch this video….I am not a videographer nor will I ever profess to being one.  I also do not have the sound equipment that I need…just yet.  So, try to have some grace as you watch the video for the sound is poor but the conversation is rich.  Honestly, I wish that you could feel what it feels like to sit next to Stacy.  There is tangible peace that only someone who has been in the secret place with the Lord can walk with.  I left there completely stirred up and wanting more intimacy with the Holy Spirit.  I have every intention of meeting with her again, because now I have even more questions!  That is a great gal to have around…one that stirs up your relationship with the Lord, and leaves you wanting more of Him.

 

 

 

Me:  Okay…so if you could have coffee with anyone dead or alive…

Stacy:  That is a loaded question.

Me:  I know…I was actually thinking about it myself…thinking could I answer this?  No, that’s why I have this blog.

Stacy:  So you are putting it on other people….I see what you are doing. (laughs)

Me:  …so who would you have coffee with?

Stacy:  Well there is a plethora…you know that.  I could say anywhere from Abraham to….

Me:  You could do one dead and one alive.

Stacy:  I think it would be fascinating to sit down with C.S. Lewis, and here’s why.  I think his writings are phenomenal.  My freshman year of college at Hardin Simmons, my professor had recently lost his wife to cancer, and he changed his whole curriculum that year and said, “The required resource for this semester is Mere Christianity.”  So, we had to read Mere Christianity and write all of our papers on it.  As a freshman, you aren’t really all that focused, and I was really trying that year to saturate myself with the Lord…even at 18.  I knew there needed to be a shift.  I had been a believer since I was 6 but I hadn’t ever really….known Him.  The first quote I ever read of C.S. Lewis was “I want God, not my idea of God.”  I remember that resonated with me because I thought…that’s it! I have an idea, but so do a lot of people.  I just don’t want any ideas any more…I want God.  I knew I was on a different track and I knew that he (C.S. Lewis) was going to be instrumental in taking me there.  Although, it is hard to digest some of his writings except for his imaginative side…Narnia and all that…but his actual writings are so deep.  It is like he thinks from 80 different angles.  What I appreciate about it, and why I would love to sit across from him, is that I feel he takes into account all people but he has no fear of man.  He had no fear of man.  It was like he could hear everything but always direct it back to this foundational knowledge of Who God is….despite of what even he himself thought.  It just fascinated me.  It began really a journey for me after reading that year and understanding what that looked like.  You know in Proverbs it says “the fear of man is a snare, but the fear of God is safe.”  I realized that there were so many areas of my life that I feared man…really probably every area.  I was so concerned about man’s opinion.  You know (in regards to) council. Asking people for their advice and confirmation are two totally different things.  One is driven by the Spirit of God and the other is mainly their opinion….sometimes driven by the Spirit of God.  I was really concerned about man’s opinion and when you are listening to that it is too loud to hear the whisper of God.  I always just found him, as I read, so fascinating by the security in what he did know.  I think I would sit there for hours…I think I probably wouldn’t say more than two words.  I just find that so rare.  I find that our perspective is off in knowing God and what people think of Him….they are two different things.  So…that was my answer for that one.

Me:  I love that!  He is definitely on my list.  Okay, so…tell me about finding God and not just the idea of Him.  What is your love story?

Stacy:  I came to the Lord when I was six at a Clowns for Christ conference.

Me:  (geeky laugh….I am so on board with this!!)  That’s awesome!!!

Stacy:  Which is really indicative of my personality.  No actually, I’m very “bottom line”….I like to have a good time and lace things with joy, but I also have very little wiggle room when it comes to knowing God because He is pretty straight forward.  I think that His grace, mercy, and His goodness and kindness, all of the attributes that make Him so phenomenal and so sovereign, allow us to come in how He made us, but at the very same time, don’t allow for wiggle room on Who He is.  It’s this big opportunity to be in one accord because He has not changed and we can come with our own oil, like the woman in Luke.  So when I came to know Him when I was 6 it was a legit scenario.  I don’t remember a time where He was not the Lord of my life, I just lived a good portion of my life, into my twenties, not having much interaction (with Him).  It was more about knowing and less about the heart.  I had a lot of checklists and I did them well.

Me:  Oh yeah! ( I am in agreement from my own experiences with this.)

Stacy:  Yeah.  Right?  So in my teenage years He began to parent me, and even that was hard.  It was hard to see an unconditionalness like that, maybe due to different circumstances in my life.  To see unconditional…to hear unconditional….when you aren’t accustomed to hearing that….it’s hard to hear it.  So, He began to really parent me.  We started a lot in the old testament because, honestly, I could relate more to a God like that.  When we got down to the heart of it and it became like “despite you…I love you.”  That was hard for me to digest.  I went into college with that mindset.  I didn’t actually know the Holy Spirit.  Like, you know Him, but understanding what it means to allow Him to filtrate through you, on you…in spite of you….was not something that I had surrendered to…just because I really didn’t know what that looked like.  I didn’t know that there was so much more, but out of His graciousness, it wasn’t thrust upon me.  When I got to college I became really infatuated with this. I really read a lot of books….but He kept telling me that these (books) are great but….it is the glory of Lord to conceal a matter and it is the glory of kings to search it out.  The writers had searched it out and written great books on it (Holy Spirit), but now it was my turn to search out what God had concealed for me.  These books were a really great asset but it was really pointing back to……get back here (references her Bible).  So I did.  I just needed to understand the nature…I needed to know God…not my idea of God….and I had a lot of ideas…from people who I had seen.  When you are young, and you know Him at a young age, you correlate Him to a lot of different people.  I correlated Him to some people who may have not all had healthy attributes.  I always served the Lord throughout high school…tried to make strong bold stands, but a lot of it was more based on works than on heart change.  There is so much grace for that. Would I do it differently now?  Yeah.  I loved people but everything was so black and white…and there is a goodness to that, but people could have felt, when they were around me, that they weren’t doing it correctly.  I regret that…because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  What He began to teach me…line upon line…precept upon precept…is that when we come into Presence, (we) Psalms 73 “When I entered the sanctuary of God I knew their demise and I realized I was a beast before You…as for me it was good to be near God.”  What we need to realize is that when we host Presence there is no explanation needed. That contact that He makes with people just by having your body there is sometimes all that ever needs to be done.  It creates an atmosphere that the change we want to happen, but we can never facilitate in our humanity, He does it…with our children…our spouse…with others.  When we drop fear of man, it doesn’t matter what other religion or belief we are around, we are in Presence and He will guide all truth in that.  It really became less on me and more on Him…in my weakness….He was so much stronger.  I never wanted to embrace my weakness…I wanted to fix it.  Children will help you see that you can’t do it.  I taught (class) a couple of weeks ago and, I joke, that when I walk in from teaching my kids are not lined up clapping.  Dinner is not ready.  You know what I am saying?  Someone is naked and there is a frog loose somewhere.  Someone is arguing and no one has thought about lunch because no one is going to prepare it.  I, like, picked up Little Caesar’s on the way home.  There is a reality there, and what He told me was that the ministry that takes place behind your four walls will always dictate what happens out of your front door.  So outside your front door, if there is not this saturation in this secret place with these people that He has given you, then you don’t have anything left out of your overflow to give outside your front door.  It really should be drops here, and drops there (from overflow), but the majority of the ministry that takes place…and I firmly believe this as moms…is inside your fours walls.  It is not always pretty.  Honestly, the greatest ministry we have is when we are apologizing.  We just sat down with our kids last night and said “do you think we have ever done this (parenting) before?” …No.  Okay…good…we are all realizing that there may be fifty things we try and only one of them works out…but this is new to all of us.  He guides us into all truth and He parents better than any of us!  So…(moving on)…I was a preacher’s kid…which says a lot.  I just didn’t find freedom until I was in my twenties.  I was a pretty bound Christian.  Bound by rules. Bound by legalism. Thought to be loved it was performance based.  That shifted a whole lot in my perspective when I realized that there isn’t anything that I can do to make it better…to make Him love me more. We know that, but I am shocked at how many people don’t digest that truth.

Me:  Oh yeah.  It’s hard to digest.

Stacy:  Very hard to digest.  It is hard to disassociate from conditional love, which we really see a vast majority of here on the earth, and associate it with something we have never known.  We won’t know it unless we digest it.  We won’t know it unless the Holy Spirit guides us.  We won’t know it.  It is impossible to grasp that.  We don’t operate in that here…well really…most of the time.  So, our kiddos were a big shift in how I viewed things.  I think any mom would say that.  Nobody is a natural mother, some have greater tendencies, but none of us really know what it is we are doing.  If we don’t get this unconditional love concept down, then what will happen is that, we will mark down all the ways that we didn’t qualify and we will discount ourselves.  By the end of the day, we will start off the next morning behind.  (But) when goodness and mercy follow, and mercies are new every day, and joy comes in the morning, then we have started out the next day more ahead than we were the day before.  So, there’s a beauty, to this fact, of what I read after Christ came….the one on one.  When the woman brings her oil and she crawls up to His feet…she puts her hair down and she is just crying and washing Him.  Although I would see myself as a Martha…inside I am really her (the woman with the oil)…that’s who we all want to be…right?  If you remember in the story, someone says something about her…maybe Peter…and He stares at her (the woman with the oil) and talks to Peter at the same time, and He doesn’t ever take His eyes off of her.  He says…”this woman, she doesn’t have anything yet she brought me everything”…and He is telling him (Peter) but never taking His eyes of her.  He is so captivated by her.  I remember reading that and thinking….I feel like that in my heart…but I want that to be my life.  I want that to be my posture….all the time.  I want Him to be so captivated by what I bring to His feet, because it is nothing of what I could muster up or perform in, but it has everything to do with “this is everything that I have.  Here I am.”  It takes a while to get your heart there…it just does….because our perspective has to change in so many things, and we have to lay down so much of our self.  So…that is kind of my journey.  Fast forward to where I am now. So, my husband left for 156 days one year and my two oldest were one and two.  We lived in McKinney. We were going to Gateway. We were as plugged in as we could be and we were so very very broke. One car.

Me:  Ah…we have one car.

Stacy:  That’s just awesome, right?!  And he was in Malaysia, in this particular business where we were self-employed, and that country opened up so he decided to take this business there.  He was holding on to it for dear life, and I just wanted a change, but he just wanted to try this to see if it would work.  He would go for 7 weeks and come home for 2, and go for 7 weeks and come home for 2.  I was just very alone.  I don’t have any family in this area.  I was 26.  I remember someone gave me some CD’s called “Intimacy with the Holy Spirit” by John Bevere.  I remember watching them every night and thinking that there is something about this that so resonates with me, although I have no clue what it is.  I read “Drawing Near,” the book that correlated with that (CD) series, and I really began to eat (the bible) for the life of me.  I ate because, A. I didn’t have an appetite…it was just hard, and, B. because there was nobody to come and make it better.  I don’t remember that time as being hard though….I remember that time as having an encounter.  I call it the quiet season but really it was the freedom flood.  It was the first time I ever encountered anything intimate with God…in all those years of knowing Him…20 years of knowing Him.  I moved beyond religion and encountered Him, and it was in spite of my circumstances, which is probably the best way for me…..at probably one of the lowest points.  At one of my lowest points I encountered Him…not at a high point.  I’m not sure I would have seen Him otherwise.  So…it was phenomenal.  He (Monty) came back and I had really been…(I think we over use these terms)…like filled with the Holy Spirit. I just released myself to that part of the Lord.  I just knew that there was more…there was a saturation…an interaction that I don’t have with You…and I want it.  Reading scripture became different. Understanding what it means to host the Presence of God became my main focus.  It was just about “how can I empty more of myself so that I can make room for Him”….which will be a journey until the day I die.  It is just understanding that my presence walking into a room doesn’t make a hill of beans difference, but when I enter the sanctuary of God…everything changes.  When I come in…Isaiah 61…the Spirit of the Lord is upon me….and He can move and ebb and flow…..and He chooses to do it through humans all the time and it never makes sense to me, but He does.  The more that I surrender to it the more change that can happen…so it is less of me and more of Him.  As we grow in the Lord, we find out that the things we try to accomplish…even with what we are doing…we will gradually begin to rely more on self as it becomes easier…more predictable…and less on Him.  Then we find that over and over again, where things felt like we felt Him there, we feel (Him) less and less…. and it’s because we have allowed our humanity to step back in.  When you stay in Presence you never rely on self…or rarely (you do), and if you do, He will remind you…just like Elijah on the side of the mountain…don’t listen to the earthquake…don’t listen for the storm…listen for the whisper.  It is just tuning in your ear to it (the whisper).  It makes all the difference in the world.  That is where I am at…that will never stop.  My hope is that we can transfer that information.  This is not about how well you do it.  This is about how much you need it (Presence), and how much you host Him…..and allow Him to rest on you and through you…..and really just let yourself move out of the way. But don’t grab fear of man…because fear of man shuts it (saturation of Presence) off.  All of the sudden, I am concerned about what they think and I am having a hard time hearing.  It is not because He is being tricky.  It is because the Holy Spirit rests like a dove…it is very fragile.  Bill Johnson has some incredible teachings on that.

Me:  Oh…I saw that one…I love that one.

Stacy:  So, good!

Me:  The one where he is walking very carefully.

Stacy:  Yes!  I could totally not do it as much justice as He (Bill Johnson) did.  That concept is so profound…and it is not because he is trying to be cruel.  It is just the opposite.  He (God) has to maintain an amount of sovereignty for who He is…not who I think He is.  For Him to saturate an atmosphere…saturate a room…it has to be based on who HE is and not on who I am.  That is probably my biggest heart cry in this season and will be in every season forever.

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Me:  So, that is what is on your heart right now?

Stacy:  I turn to this scripture…Luke 10…and we have all read it.  You know “the seventy returned with joy saying that even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’  He turns to them and says “I saw Satan fall from lightning to the earth”…He’s like, let’s be clear, if anybody has seen anything with demons…I’ve seen it.  “Behold I give you authority to trample upon serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemies and nothing by any means shall hurt you.  Nevertheless do not rejoice in that the spirits are subject to you but rather your names are written in Heaven.”  Perspective shift.  Yes, hosting Presence creates authority…but that is not the end of the story.  That whole concept was intended to change hearts in masses. But our focus should not be only that we have the authority but that we are all going to eternity…which is happening…which is real.  That is where we rejoice! This stuff (referring to casting out demons…etc.) it comes with the territory.  It is great, and we are so happy about it, but what we really rejoice in the Lord in is that we have hundreds and thousands that will not perish after they die.  So, just shifting that perspective, because I think that we can really get caught up on stomping scorpions…in having authority…when it’s just part of Who He is.  It is about maintaining that gratefulness, at the depth of it all, because it takes the pressure off of me being something and it keeps it on Him being Savior.  That would be it (what’s on my heart) hands down.  Yeah, we are never going to parent perfectly….we are never going to do our job perfectly….none of that is going to happen unless we sit in Presence.  He is always concerned about our heart.  He is always concerned about shifting our perspective to this (points to Luke 10) perspective.  He is always concerned about us staying in Presence.  That is where healing flows.  That is where life comes.  That is where forgiveness comes.  That’s where knowledge comes. That’s where wisdom comes….in Presence.  Shockingly, we try to do so much of it outside of Presence.  If we can’t shift that around it is exhausting.  It is so exhausting.  As moms especially. I may botch the atmosphere of my home…but I can also turn it around and take authority.  That’s the beauty of it.  I can ask forgiveness and I can walk in humility and we can shift it pretty quick. And my children watch when I choose to not lay down and take it in the spirit.  I am pretty sure not much more will motivate them than watching their parents say…(shakes head no)…I may have botched it once…

Me:  …but I’m not going to stay there.

Stacy:  Yeah!  I think it was John Maxwell that said “a wise person learns from their own mistakes, a wiser person learns from someone else’s mistakes, but the wisest person learns from someone else’s successes.”  You know…sure, we are going to learn by botching it…but the beauty of the Holy Spirit is that we get to watch Him operate and speak to our kids hearts in ways that we can’t even talk to them….and everyone can walk away knowing God better.  I’m always amazed that what I tried to say to them 16 days straight, He said it to them in a matter of minutes. They’re amazed that they got it and that they grew just a little bit more, and all of us are amazed by the Presence in our home…staying saturated.  That is how He works.  Then nobody gets the glory for it, but His stare stays on us because He is so fascinated that we would choose to say “You get to rule this camp! It’s out of my hands…and it’s Yours.” (Because of this) our children will walk in Isaiah 61…the spirit of the Lord is upon me…and they will walk in that knowing that there isn’t anything that they cannot do when He says “Who do I send?”….and they answer “Me! I’ve got it…because I have the fruits of the Spirit in me.  I can bring joy and gladness to those who are in despair.  I can heal the sick with my hands…because You are in it…You are on it…You are saturating it!”  Their boldness will be…..well, I can’t teach them that.  It just makes a difference…THAT perspective change.

Me:  Man, that’s so yummy…I love that.

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My Gleanings

  • When we are concerned about man’s opinion and when you are listening to that, it is too loud to hear the whisper of God.
  • I want to know God, not my idea of God.
  • What is it that the Lord has concealed for me that I need to search out?
  • The ministry that takes place behind your four walls will always dictate what happens out of your front door.
  • If we don’t get this unconditional love concept down then what will happen is that we will mark down all the ways that we didn’t qualify and we will discount ourselves.  By the end of the day we will start off the next morning behind.  When goodness and mercy follow and mercies are new every day and joy comes in the morning then we have started out the next day more behind than we were the day before.
  • Jesus stares at the woman with the oil and never wavers in His gaze.
  • How can I empty more of myself so that I can make room for Him?
  • When you stay in presence you never rely on self.
  • Listen for the whisper.
  • For God to saturate an atmosphere…saturate a room…it has to be based on who HE is and not on who I am.
  • God is always concerned about our heart.  He is always concerned about shifting our perspective to His perspective.  He is always concerned about us staying in presence.  That is where healing flows.  That is where life comes.  That is where forgiveness comes.  That’s where knowledge comes…that’s where wisdom comes….in Presence.
  • A wise person learns from their own mistakes, a wiser person learns from someone else’s mistakes, but the wisest person learns from someone else’s successes. (And this little gleaning is yet another reason why I do what I do.  Have coffee with wise women and learn from their mistakes and successes.)

Seriously….SERIOUSLY!!!  This stuff is good!!!

It has taken me almost a month to get this gleaning typed up with all the summer busyness, but it has allowed me to take some time in my thinking and really chew on it.  I am challenging myself to take these gleanings to the Lord.  Now I ask Him…what do you say about this?  Holy Spirit, can you show me what this looks like in my life?  Lord, can I host presence…heal the sick…set the captive free…and cast the demon out all alongside changing diapers, cleaning toilets, and kissing boo boo’s?  What does that look like?  What He is showing me is amazing, and the atmosphere has completely shifted in our home.  The air is ACTUALLY cleaner…not kidding.  I want more!!!

I challenge you to do the same.  What does all this look like in your life?  What is the Holy Spirit saying to you?  What did you glean?  Then…take it to the Lord…and just wait and see what He does.  It will draw Him in like a moth to a flame.  He is after us…relentlessly with His love.  He WANTS us to KNOW Him…not our idea of Him.  He WANTS us to host His presence.  He wants us because ultimately our greatest joy is when we completely give Jesus our hearts and our names are written in Heaven.

“I’m here, I’m here…I’ve got you through this”: Coffee with Christie Penn pt. 3

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This is the last post of three of my coffee with Cristie.  It has been an amazing journey to glean from her.  Over the last couple of weeks I have read her book, typed up almost an hours worth of video footage, and let the Lord do a beautiful work in my heart.

In the first post I said that I was having a hard time with the message, and came out with the gentle nudging of the Lord.  After the last post entitled, What is an evangelical feminist?: Coffee with Cristie Penn part 2, there were interesting responses.  I’m not here to cause waves and strife…I’m just here as a vessel, and not from Cristie…but God.

There is a beauty in knowing who we are, whose we are, our position, and then taking it and seeing what God can do.  When we get out of His order and take things into our own hands….things get messy.  I know from experience.  I WAS AN EVANGELICAL FEMINIST.  Yup.  I said it.  Not proud of it, but that is what I was.  I nagged, judged, mothered, emasculated, and criticized my husband.  Before Cristie even set pen to paper for this book the Lord had already started to do a work in my heart on this, and to start treating my husband like the King he is….before he was walking as one.  I then swung to the other side (as I was walking in a spirit of religion) and almost became a door mat and would even say, “Yes, sir” when we would have a disagreement.  I would never let my voice be heard.  The Lord, directed me back to the middle with Him.  I was to listen to the Lord, pray, and speak when He said speak.  I would voice my concerns if we were going in a direction that didn’t seem right, but then chose to not nag him afterwards.

Then…about two years after I decided to start walking in my position (It was clumsy I admit)…our house shifted.  The Lord asked my husband to make a huge step of faith that was critical to our family and could potentially hurt many other people in the process…including me.  He stepped out in faith, and I followed.  A small portion of what The Lord revealed to Kyle is that he needed to “leave and cleave”.  He was to leave the life he had known for 38 years…a life of evangelical comfort and particularly in the church he grew up in and NEVER thought he would leave.  The Lord told him to go, and leave the familiar….so he did…immediately.  We left, and started getting healing as a couple and family.  Were people hurt?  Yes.  Was I hurt?  Yes.  Was it scary?  Yes.  But my husband was starting to step into his position….and it was amazing to see.  Cristie says it later in this gleaning and it is the reason for the title, but God was saying to me, “I’m here, I’m here…I’ve got you through this.”  Kyle would not have been able to make that decision if he wasn’t already beginning to see and realize his role in our marriage, the kingdom, and as a family.

Today, we are still both learning how to walk in the God-given roles we have in our marriage.  Kyle and I are this united force that compliment one another, and in the presence of the Father.

So…all that to say…this gleaning has dug down deep.  It has been painful at times and has even caused me some angst and anger; however, in the end my heart is brimming with joy.  I will always be munching on these gleanings from this point forward.

Cristie, thank you.  Thank you for being obedient to write this and labor over this word from the Lord.  It will go out and it will change lives.  The Keys of Truth are…true….risky…beautiful…gentle…yet bold and when a word comes from the throne room it can’t be stopped.  It will land on soil, and create life.

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Our last Coffee Talk

Me:  This is a huge message.  How do we get that out?  One person at a time?  How has the response been?  I want to go with a banner and just tell everyone. How is the Lord wanting you to…besides the book?

Cristie:  You know…I am in the place of waiting.  We were paying somebody to do social media…they’ve told me as in publishers….because we self-published because our pastor recommended it.  I’ve had publishers and people say….okay…now the baby’s been born it’s crying and you need to get it attention.  That’s been the hard thing.  What part of that is mine, and what part of that is God?  At what point are you self-promoting?  I hate that part.  Right now…we are waiting on God to move.  We have had two conferences, but they are extremely expensive, and right now it’s just me.  The topic, if we can get it out, I think there is a great interest and desire for it.  Right now…we are just praying that churches will grab onto it…that churches will have conferences…or that we don’t have to do that on our own and that people will invite me to come and talk about it.  We just need to let Him do what He will do but we need to make sure that we are doing our part, so this is a good opportunity so…thank you.

Me:  Well thank you for being obedient to write it, and exposing yourself.  God is so good.  That’s the last thing I want to ask you….Can you tell me about Jesus?

Cristie:  Oh my goodness….well I grew up in a church where it was liturgical…

Me:  Me too.

Cristie:  I remember going to a play at Easter and I had a horrible attitude…and truly it took me….I began to see Jesus when I was pregnant with my son.  I was an interior designer…had my own business…and three months before my due date I went into full blown labor and was on my back until he was born.  Both pregnancies were like that but the second one was a breeze because I knew Jesus was there.   I did not know who He was, and now that I look back I truly see the Lord Jesus.  I was on the sofa at my parents house He had his knee on my chest His hands on  my shoulders and His forehead on my forehead saying, “We have got some work to do before I give you this baby.”  No bible.  Nobody around me telling me the gospel….but the Holy Spirit began to hover and speak just like He did over the water you know?  I began to listen.  I ended up having him a week early…c-section…had never had surgery in my life…thirty years old…brand new baby.

Me:  I was thirty as well.

Cristie:  Awesome…in a lot of ways it’s awesome.  I was like a ship without a compass…still at that church…way too entangled with my family…way unhealthy….in every way…dependent on them…performing for them.  But God…that’s what I mean…He’s so gracious.  When our son was 2 there was a widow that we would save up all week to let her watch him on the weekend so we could go to a movie and she invited me to her church to watch an Easter play.  I told my husband that I would take one for the team…they are going to do that alter call thing…it’s going to be awful.  So I went.  This guy came out…obviously anointed to play the part…300 people are singing…and there’s chickens and goats on the stage, and he starts walking through the people and I start crying.  I don’t know that Jesus.  I cried all the way through.  I cried for hours when I got home….did not know what happened to me.  I didn’t tell anybody.  My husband would have thought I was crazy.  My family would have thought I was crazy, so I just carried it, pondered it, and labored over it.  The next Easter came around and I took about 20 people with me.  And for three years a friend of mine kept inviting me to a non-denominational Bible study, and one day she said I am going to ask you again.  I said if I go you promise that you will never ask me again.  I got in.  I went and bought a Bible.  I started going and every week.  I would move forward and forward every week just when the teacher prayed.  When she prayed I took more notes than when she taught.  I couldn’t believe that she could speak to the almighty like that.  After one semester I got a phone call about praying to be in leadership, and you have to ask your husband.  I went in to ask him and he laughed because…we don’t pray…I don’t pray…whatever.  I went through that.  Learned how to pray…was forced to learn how to pray.  The last day of my bible study was my mother’s funeral.  I found myself missing the last day of class and sitting in the church I grew up in.  It was so amazing to see how God prepared me and positioned me…made my faith real…revealed Himself to me through His word.  My first year of Bible study was the life and letters of Paul and I remember sitting there thinking….I’m Paul.  I think I am a Pharisee.  I am churched and religious but I have not a clue who Jesus is.  That is how I fell in love with Jesus and when I fell, I fell head over heals in love.  The amazing thing is that growing up in that denomination I heard all the time…well it’s Trinity…Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…you’ll never understand it so receive it and go on, and just keep doing what you are doing.  I look back now and I see all three parts of the Trinity in my life and it didn’t all come together until I saw who Jesus was because it is only through the blood of Jesus and that He died for me that I am going to get it.  I was afraid of God…He was judgmental and up there.  Then up through Bible Study Fellowship I met Jesus….

Me:  And then the Holy Spirit is just the weird one that nobody talks about.

Cristie:  Yes….it’s true.  And really it’s been since going to Gateway that I understand all of those parts, and thank God for pastor Robert.  It’s been a true journey, and I can’t imagine my life without Him.  The crazy thing is that before I even knew Who the Holy Spirit was and what His personality was like…He would whisper to  me back in the beginning.  I would say that I am scared to death…I am going to have to choose between my family and you.  I would hear Him say…you’ll make the right decision.  I can’t even let myself go there…I can’t even imagine myself not being so entangled…I didn’t know it was a bad thing….with my family.  I really thought this would kill me…but it didn’t.  If anything it was a rescue so that I could stand up in my identity and understand who Cristie Penn really is because I didn’t know.  There are so many stories with my family that could be another book…I shutter to even think about that process again…but even things like when they named me Cristie when I was born.  They had been married ten years before they had me.  They had prayed to God for 8 years to have a baby and then they had me and my dad said…”It is not Christie…it is Cristie.  It won’t have an ‘h’ in it.”  Sitting at a Gateway teaching hearing pastor Robert say…it was Abram and Abraham….Sarai to Sarah….and it was the H of the Holy Spirit that breathes life, and I am sitting in that room going…It’s not Christe…it’s Cristie….He tried to take the “h” out of my name at the hospital when I was born.  The bottom line is that God named me and He will have that “h”.  He will have it.  For a while I signed everything with it, and one day God said, “Now that you know, it doesn’t matter.”  Isn’t that amazing?  Through the whole thing it is like…I’m here, I’m here…I’ve got you through this…you may think it is going to kill you but it is not going to kill you because I’m here.

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My Gleanings

I will make this brief but my gleaning from this part of our coffee was at the very end where Cristie discussed the “h” missing from her name, and how the “h” is the Holy Spirit breathing life.  Abram to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah was God renaming them.  He was there in the details even from her birth, even though the enemy wanted the breath of God out of her.

What about me?  What has God named me?  Where has He been in all the details of my life?

What is your name?  What about the details of your life?

 

 

 

What is an evangelical feminist?: Coffee with Cristie Penn part 2

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I wanted to get this out a week ago, but the Lord has really let this word dig down deep into my heart, and I am ever so grateful.  Plus, the schedule has been a little crazy this week and I have been in my car more than normal….giving me less time to write but more time to think and glean.

This is the second part to my coffee date with Cristie Penn where we continue to discuss her book, Keys of Truth: God’s Design for the Sexes.

We touch on the following questions in this gleaning:

  • What is an evangelical feminist?
  • What are some of the lies women believe?
  • Reactions from other women and men that Cristie has been able to share these truths with.

Me:  In the church, what is an evangelical feminist?

Cristie:  It is a Christian who can even be very mature…there is a book written by Sarah Sumner, I believe…and I quoted her in the book and she describes it very clearly.  I was like…I think I was one.  It was like Jesus was all I could need.  The Lord asked me, “Well, Cristie, what man can compete with that?”  I was like…but He is all….and He said, “It is not good for man to be alone.  Jesus is not all you need…I never expected you to be alone by choice.  Unless you are pushed there like John was or Paul.  If you are pushed there, I will be enough and I will sustain you.”  In our world, we need people, and especially male and female to come together because only together are we a true picture of what God is like because of His feminine side and His masculine side.  He is clearly a male and clearly a warrior but He has the nuturing heart that our culture has confused on both sides.  What I mean by that is that evangelical Christian women  don’t even know that they are doing it.  I didn’t know that I was doing it.  It’s because we are all products of our environment.  They are women in the church that don’t really believe that they need a man, and sometimes it masks itself in this picture of what a Christian man is that is so perfect that no guy could ever come close to meeting that.  I have spoken to a lot of women who have said, “They are just not.  They are just not.  They are just not…all these things.”  I am just sitting there thinking to myself, “Well, you aren’t perfect either.”  You know?  You just need to look for a man who is chasing after God even in his imperfection.  They are usually very independent women.  Our generation raised them (points to herself) because we were.  I also reference in the book James Dobson from Bringing Up Girls and Bringing Up Boys and he sites the 60’s.  Which is interesting because my generation was in school in the 60’s, and Dobson quotes in there how the feminist movement went from pediatricians to attorneys….school counselors, elementary teachers…in our generation we were taught how to change a tire by ourselves….anything you can do…I can do better.  Anne Get Your Gun…

Me:  I do like that song.

Cristie:  I started thinking about all the things that I heard growing up.  So we were kind of in that…and there is nothing wrong with a woman knowing how to fix a tire.  I talk about that in the book.  I knew every tool in my dad’s garage, and that is beneficial.  It is NOT beneficial when you throw men under the bus like I did.  I would say to my mechanical engineering husband…I know what a wrench is…I know what a screwdriver is and I can do this myself.

Me:  You don’t need to tell me.

Cristie:  YES!  I can move that sofa…I don’t need your help.  And that’s in the church, and we don’t even know that we are doing it but we are doing it.  I have heard people say that, “I don’t agree with you.”  I say look, I don’t know it all…I’m telling you that I was the poster child…He picked me to give this message to for a reason.  I had a lot of unlearning to do.  That is another thing that I’ve learned with our church and with freedom and all of that…there is just so much room in our heart…if we think that we know something and we are unwilling to unpack that or release that…and let that out of what we think we know…if we continue with what we think we know we will never know anything else. So sometimes we have to unpack what we think we know, remove it, and make room for God to bring the real truth.  There was a lot of that struggle in even my receiving these truths because I had learned a lot of things that were true but were not true.  I learned many of them in church…many of them in Bible study.  Wash his feet and be silent.  Wash your husbands feet figuratively, pray for him, and just serve him and he will come to Christ.  Well there is some truth in that but God also says speak the truth in love, and if you are not speaking the truth in love then you are eventually going to become angry, hateful, resentful, and bitter.  That is exactly what I had done, so you need to speak the truth.  You need to not cover yourself, protect yourself, because that is a way of wielding a sword.

Me:  Wow.  What are some of those lies?  You had mentioned some earlier.

Cristie:  The first one was that I didn’t need anyone but Jesus.  The second one was you need to protect yourself because He is not going to protect you.  You need to not just be a perfect woman on the outside but a perfect Christian woman.  That’s like a double dose.  Isn’t that big?  It’s like….oh I can’t be angry because Christians aren’t angry.  Well excuse me…Jesus got angry and cleared the temple, so righteous anger that is not personal.  Jesus knew that they dishonored His father.  Well, I can speak righteously in anger when something in my home dishonors my father.  But that sit-quiet-and-wash-his feet thing was a big one.  Pray hard enough and he will come to Christ.  With regard to my family….just be Jesus to them, they will see Jesus in you and they will come to Christ.  Well, it’s not about me.  God showed me that I was on a tight rope and that it was long enough to span the Grand Canyon…I am walking in front of you Cristie backwards.  Keep you eyes on my face.  Do not look behind you to see if your kids are coming, your dad is coming, your mom is coming, your sister is coming, your husband…you keep your eyes on my face.  I will draw them to myself through your life but it doesn’t have anything to do with you.  So that was another lie.  I need to perform so that they see Christ and they come.

Me:  Kind of making yourself Jesus?

Cristie:  Another one was…find a scripture, claim it, pray it, and believe it’s already done.  Well there is some truth in that, but it may not end up the way that you prayed it would.  Your dad may disown you and your family and leave you because of your faith…but it doesn’t mean that God is not still God and that He is not on the throne and that He is not working in it.  It may be a rescue and not you being rejected.  Like finding a scripture and claiming it…it’s not over until its over.  It’s over when He says it’s over.  He knows that big picture.  I was queen at finding a verse and claiming it and expecting it…but God is the one in charge.  I am all about the Word of God but I am about the whole Word of God in its entirety and as the Holy Spirit speaks to you and prepares you.  ‘Cause He will, as you know, Megan.  He will prepare you.  He will whisper things to your heart that may be really scary, but He will prepare you for the next thing if you will just stay in the Word and continue to press in on Him.  It’s an amazing thing….how He speaks.

Me:  That is awesome.  So now how many years have you been walking in this?

Cristie:  Probably…in its in entirety…..5.

Me:  5…the number of grace.

Cristie:  That’s amazing!!

Me:  5 years.  How are y’all now?

Cristie:  We are sooo good.  The thing is that we are friends and not just married.  We are best friends and partners…we are on the same team.

Me:  You are in one accord?

Cristie:  Mmmhmm (yes)

Me:  Like…it’s not just a fairy tale…it really can happen.

Cristie:  When you least expect it when you just focus in on your place.  We can’t pray someone in…against their will.  You know I will say this….in every horrific thing…things that you think are going to kill you…like what happened with my family…the flip side is always there…meaning that even though we watched my dad’s rebellion cause so much pain…the best news is that we all say what rebellion does.  We all saw what rebellion looks like when it gets older.  I believe that our adult children are who they are in large part because of watching the destruction of rebellion in one person’s life.  I think Keys of Truth came out of me when I finally knew who I was apart from the performance, apart from the expectation of anyone else in our life.  When I got to go to Japan and share this on a Sunday morning from the pastor’s pulpit…and then in Japan because they work so much…they’ll stay longer in the afternoon for a whole other session and they stayed.  I learned that this message…the pain and the answer…is global and universal.  Every time I get to teach I ask the Lord to teach me something new in the process of the teaching so that I know that it is Him speaking and not me.  When I was in Japan, I was standing on the platform and I had this picture in my mind of a man standing with a women here and her head was in his chest…buried in his chest…like there was something so frightening around her that she couldn’t even look.  His left arm was around her shoulders and she had her face buried here (in his chest).  He was not  looking at her but he had his sword drawn in his right hand against the enemy.  When I saw it I said it to these people in Tokyo…I said that I believe that every female was created for this position and every male was created for this position by God.  Now whatever we have walked through in life may have changed our belief about our position but would you agree…ladies in the room…that this is your most comfortable position?  And even in Japan where there is little to no emotion expressed outwardly…every woman’s head started going up and down and they started crying.  I thought to myself…that is what I have now.  That is what my heart longed for…that is what I was created to desire.  Yes, I want to be a mom.  Yes, I want to create beautiful things.  But the truth is at the end of the day that is the safest place.  That is the safest position for me.  Then I began to realize that it’s because he is being the good Father to us…he is being the good Shepherd to us.  That’s a picture of what God is.  It’s also a picture of what God wants His boys to be.  His men…to be.  At the end of that message I realized too that the only way a man can take that position is if a man has first sat in the lap of the Father to understand that He is loved and has been given that power…given that authority because He is yielded to the Father.  When Keys of Truth first started we were in worship in Bible study in our house and there were a lot of men in the room.  I put this in the book too…but it goes back to that picture that I just talked about…I felt the Lord say open your eyes and look around the room.  We had the lights down low.  There were probably 45-50 people in this room upstairs…men and women.  I opened my eyes…the women faded…and I saw each man’s face in worship.  Although they are not worhipers as easily like we are they are standing there in that position…what I call the athletic position…feet apart hands down and the paper in their hands…and I just saw that regardless of what they were doing with their bodies they were in a position to receive because they wanted to be everything the women in that room needed them to be….but they didn’t all know how.  So during that evening, God said that I needed to see them the way that He saw them…oh and by the way they are far more afraid of failure than any woman in this room knows.  That was step one when this all got started when my heart and my spirit opened to what God was showing me.  He also showed me at that time in that class most men do not give themselves permission to take off their dented dirty armor…lay down their sword and crawl up into the lap of the Father, and that they needed to be given permission to do just that.  If women start seeing this position (sword drawn to the enemy) and then that position (in the lap of the Father) that he is no more than a little boy who needs to be held by the Father…nutured by the Father…spoken life into by the Father…that they need that.  Again that tight rope thing for us as women.  He is just a boy inside who still wants to prove that He is worthy of your affection, but He is also a warrior who was created to war for you and he has to understand both sides of that in order to be whole.  So when we as females walk in that and understand that…we can look at him as a little boy who is trying to climb to the top of a mountain to prove it…we can speak to that.  Like you are so strong and I know that this is hard right now but you will make the right decision for us.  On the other hand…that you are a warrior and you will defend me and I have to submit myself to God in order for you to prove it.  So when you start keys of truth the vulnerable part is not necessarily being able to trust that man who has maybe not yet been trustworthy but to trust God by taking your position and letting God work on him…in his.  Let me just say…I wasn’t in mine for a long long time and God didn’t give up on me.  So that’s what I see now in Don.  It is so much better than I ever even thought it could be.  It doesn’t mean like I was telling you earlier…it doesn’t mean that you aren’t gonna have traps set.  You’re gonna have triggers that make you want to act like a fool like you did before…but we can be used as bait for one another because of the commitment we have and the love we have.

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My Gleanings

Okay, I have to narrow in on the whole “Evangelical Feminist” issue.  I was one.  Still to this day I have to expose lies and break them down so I do not stay in that pattern of thinking anymore.

I mentioned in the first part of this gleaning with Cristie that the Lord had been asking me to take steps of faith in my marriage to Kyle and submit to him.  Sometimes that was just me keeping quiet on certain things and not nagging him.  I believed some core lies in my life like Cristie mentioned.  He isn’t going to be able to do this so I need to take the burden of this family.  You will be considered a weak woman if you show your pain or let a man do everything.  I can do anything a man does if not better.  There was a LIST.  There was even a prominent woman in my life growing up who said “Megan, never trust men all they want to do is get in your pants.”  So…I didn’t.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I craved their attention.  I had crazy, mad crushes on boys and desperately wanted them to be my knight in shining armor.  Remembering back on my junior high days I remember having a huge crush on the boy who lived across the street and doing anything possible to get his attention.  I would invite him over to play basketball…beat him at a game or two….and then he would leave.  After a while he stopped hanging out with me.  I was confused…and crushed.  Now I have a clue why…I kept emasculating him….plus a slew of other reasons.

So fast forward my life to entering into my marriage with my husband, Kyle.  I had…actually we both had core lies that we believed about ourselves, our roles as a male or female, the positions we had in marriage, and many…many unhealed wounds to boot.  SO…it was toxic at times.  I can tell you from my part that I emasculated him countless times just by nagging him and not letting him take the lead in our household.  Cristie defines this word in her book:

Emasculate

  1. To castrate.
  2. To deprive of strength or vigor; weaken
  3. Deprived of or lacking strength or vigor; effeminate

To deprive my husband the opportunity to show his strength and vigor emasculates him.  When I say “Honey, why are you doing it that way?  Let me do it.”  It emasculates him.  When I say “No, I got this.  I don’t need you to do it.  I’m strong enough.”  It emasculates him.  Sometimes I have been known to lovingly suggest a direction we may need to take the family and it is received well, but if I have to wait too long for Kyle to move on it I would do it myself, or I would nag him until he did it.  It emasculated him.

Cristie goes on in her book to say:

Since the 1960’s and the birth of feminism, the line of distinction between men and women continues to be blurred.  Many are confused about what manhood and womanhood are; therefore, many parents don’t know how to develop it in their children.  Unfortunately, it was the misunderstanding that manhood is ‘to be above’ womanhood that caused so much pain and pushed women to fight for feminism in the first place.  Now we may have swung the pendulum too far in the other direction.  Freedom comes when we realize the truth and accept that men and women are different by design and complement one another.

“Complement one another.”…I heard the other day from one of the pastors at Gateway, who works with couples that are in the midst of marriage difficulties, speak on the beautiful picture of a marriage and how it is a reflection of our oneness with Christ.  In the class I attended she explained how when Adam was created He had the full reflection of God’s image in Him, both the feminine and masculine side of God.  When the Lord made woman and pulled us from man’s rib there was now a piece of Himself missing.  He awoke and felt a void, and when the marriage union is at its purest form, it reflects our oneness with God and the unity of His image.

Male and female are equal in the context that we are God’s children, temples of the Holy Spirit, disciples, prayer warriors, teachers, and light bearers of the Kingdom; However, we are different and have different roles to play.  I choose to look at my femininity as a super power.

Did you know that nothing on this planet would be born unless a woman birthed it?  We speak life.  A few weeks ago I heard my daughter introduce herself on the playground to a few other kids.  She said, “Hi…my name is Zoë….I speak life into people.”  IT’S HER SUPER POWER.  We always try and remind her why we named her Zoë and that she speaks life into others.  That goes for all of us and especially women.  We speak life…should we so choose.

Cristie explains the design of women by God in her book as the following:

WOMEN ARE DESIGNED BY GOD TO BE COLLECTORS (BEAUTIFIERS), CONNECTORS (NURTURERS), AND SUPPORTERS (QUEENS)

I choose to GLEAN and WALK in the fact that these are my super powers.  I am not ashamed of them and I will no longer compare them to the super powers, role, and design of men.

Now….I must work on my superhero costume.

Keys of Truth: Unlocking God’s Design for the Sexes: Coffee with the Author Cristie Penn

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Last month I was blessed to go to a small ladies brunch group….THE GREATEST SMALL GROUP EVER….and hear Cristie Penn talk to us about prayer over coffee and some kind of oatmeal berry yumminess.  At the end of our time she disclosed a small bit of her book Keys of Truth: Unlocking God’s Design for the Sexes and I wanted to know more, so I asked her to have coffee with me.  I also bought her book and have been reading it at night…amazing….and life changing.

I stalked her website ( http://www.keysoftruth.org ) to find out some more information on my friend and this is what I discovered:

Cristie Penn is a wife, mom, and teacher with a passion to communicate God’s truths about how our unique gender differences are not weapons for war but rather tools for teamwork that should be celebrated. The vision for Keys of Truth was birthed from Cristie’s 36-year marriage, the adventure of raising her son and daughter, as well as teaching and sharing biblical principles in small and large group studies throughout the past two decades. In recent years, God has sharpened her focus on the dysfunctional interactions between males and females of all ages in families, workplaces, and personal relationships. Her passion is to help these dysfunctional relationships move from frustration to partnership where the love of Christ abounds between the genders.

In this first part of three gleanings from Cristie we go over the following:

  • Who would she have coffee with dead or alive?  
  • What drove her to write her book?
  • What IS God’s design for the sexes?

 

 

Me:  If you could have coffee with anyone dead or alive who would it be?  And you can choose one dead and one alive…I will give you that.

Cristie:  The person that is dead that I would like to have coffee with would be…my mom.  Because she passed away when I was 36 and when she passed away my family was mad at me because they thought that I had left our church and they thought that I was fanatical so I think that it would be her because….people will say “Does it break your heart that she was mad at you when she passed away?” and I say..No.  Because the only issue we had was my faith and who Jesus was.  So now I am no longer a disappointment to her because now she knows who He is.  So NOW I would love to have coffee with her.

Me:  After being with Jesus…YES.

Cristie:  So that will be the person that’s dead…the person that’s alive…to keep from being too churchy…this is the truth…I would like to have coffee with Joanna Gaines.

Me: YES (I think I said yes…but it really sounded like a happy chirp)

Cristie:  From Fixer Upper.

Me:  YES!!!  I KNEW YOU WERE GOING TO SAY THAT!!!

Cristie:  And maybe even Chip but for sure Joanna.  Because when I was writing the book, I wrote them a letter because they encouraged me from a distance that I wasn’t crazy, and to continue on writing about what they really personified in their relationship and in the way they are working….even in the way that they treat their children and all that.  So I would really love to have coffee with her for sure, and then the way that she lives out her faith in such a way that it is almost like incognito.  What I mean by that is if you are walking with Jesus you see Him in it or if not you see something that is very….

Me:  Just beautiful.

Cristie:  It is almost intoxicating.  The following that they have because of that show and God being in every part of what they do, the way they treat people that are chosen…the way God’s multiplied and magnified that show all over the world…I would love to talk to her and say…Does this seem like a dream?  How do you balance everything?  I think I could learn a whole lot from her.

Me:  Yeah because she is not just restoring homes…she is restoring people.  I have been ministered to so many times watching that show.  I’m like….it’s my heart…the Lord is restoring my heart.  It is just so good.

Cristie:  I love everything about it.

Me:  I love it.  So…when you do get to have coffee with her will you invite me?

Cristie:  Yeah…we’ll just go.

Me:  Yeah….I went to Magnolia Market too…I love it.

Cristie:  What an awesome thing for Waco!

Me:  Oh…yes!

Cristie:  Our daughter and son-in-law went to college there…and I am like what an amazing thing for that little city.

Me:  That is their vision too…they want to redo Waco…

Cristie:  Flip a town.

Me:  YES!  They knew that that is where they wanted to establish roots and they said let’s really affect our town.  Let’s restore it.

Cristie:  What used to be beautiful…

Me:  Yes, and let’s be a part of that change.

Cristie:  It makes everyone want to live there.

Me:  Yes!!  I have thought…

Cristie:  Me too!

Me:  Several times.

(If the vision of Chip and Joanna Gaines is not correctly stated above…someone please arrange a coffee date for me to have coffee with Joanna, so I can get it all cleared up….oh…and Cristie too!!!)

Me:  Okay, the main reason that I asked you to coffee is because of your book Keys of Truth: Unlocking God’s Design for the Sexes.  I know a little bit about your story and you write about it, but tell me again vocally…because it helps me to hear…what drove you to write this book?

Cristie:  I would say pain and believing in my heart that God had more for my husband and me that I had yet discovered.  That was probably half of it, the other was having done ministry for over two decades with women…bible study in Bible Study Fellowship and then in our home and churches.  Leading and training facilitators knowing that no matter where women are on their journey that there was pain…confusion…and for lack of a better word there was lacking.  There must be more…God must have intended more for me and my husband, and for a model to my children that I have yet recognized.  I saw that for years I felt that it was just me, so I would try to be the “perfect Christian woman” and play this part because if I did it like a T bar and listed all the ways that I was blessed on one side…that far out weighed this lack.  So I would justify that by saying…look at what all God has done…I should be happy.  I should be happy now.  But I wasn’t….I really had this sense of loneliness.  God showed me that it wasn’t just me but that it was almost every woman that I knew that had come through our home.  Probably 600 women had come through our home in 13 years.  I saw the same countenance that they had…what’s wrong with me…and I believe there could be more.  So over time we started doing a study with men and women and God began to show me that men were feeling the same thing.  It didn’t matter where we came from, it didn’t matter our spiritual maturity…it didn’t matter what denomination we came from men were feeling the same way.  As Christians I think we kind of just push it back and keep on keepin’ on  thinking that when the kids are grown and out of the house we will come back together and we were in that season and we were okay, but we were not living the life abundantly like the Word says.  God started showing me….and we had been to a lot of conferences and I am sure there are pieces of every conference we have ever been to woven in there somehow.  What He began to show me was that I was praying so hard for Him to change Don but what He wanted to do was change this evangelical feminist in me that I didn’t even know existed.  Over time He began to tell me simple simple things like…how often do you think something positive about your husband but you don’t verbalize it?  How many things a day does He do for you and you just think that’s just his job and this is my job?  Did you tell him thank you for taking the trash to the street and bringing the empty trash receptical back?

Me:  I have to text him that and say thank you.

Cristie:  Yes, they are little bitty things.  You think they are so strong but they need to hear your affirmation because to a man gratitude is such a big part of his love tank…where validation is for us.  I started doing those little things, and because we are so opposite in our personalities not just because of our gender but in our personalities…he wasn’t real communicative so after about 6 months of doing these things he stopped walking out of the room in the middle of a conversation because he wasn’t engaged or listening because his brain was somewhere else.  As a mechanical engineer running two companies with all these things on his mind it was really very hard for him to stand and listen to me for very long.  I started doing these little things and doing what we talk about in the book “hero language” just speaking life into him and being grateful for things he began to stop not hearing me and would turn and look at me.  The next step was when he started not just paying more attention but I could tell his heart was more open and he felt….what he would call attacked…even though I didn’t view what I was doing as attacking…he viewed what I was doing (in the past) as an attack.  We talk about in the book about being hunters, and warriors and kings.  He is a warrior and if I wasn’t perceived as immediately being on his side he thought he was being attacked.  There were a lot of things that came out of that and then about 6 months he said, “I don’t know what you’re doing, but I feel like a guinea pig with benefits and I like it.”  I thought it was so subtle and simple because it is but he began to open up his heart and be more receptive because he felt like he didn’t have to compete anymore, and I didn’t even think that I was doing that.  So…it was pain in my life and pain in other people’s lives and so when those processes started working and those ideas started coming to life and growing legs and beginning to be applied to our world.  I thought this is probably just for me but it was my husband Don who said I believe you need to write a book.  Now to many couples that may not seem very odd but in our life it was extremely odd because he had never encouraged me to do anything but be a wife and a mom and I did ministry on the side as long as it didn’t effect our life and our home, so for him to say that he was willing to invest a lot of money to start a ministry, to pay to brand a ministry, to begin social media, to pay someone to do that, to let you go write this book, to get a graphic artist to do the cover, to hire an editor to edit it….it has become much bigger than I ever thought it would be…if I had known I probably wouldn’t be obedient.  God put it on my husband to encourage him to encourage me to keep this ball rolling.  I believed in the message for me but I truly didn’t believe that it was broad enough for anyone else until he pushed me to  do it and we have done two conferences that we have hosted ourselves and that was how I was kind of testing God to see if it really was real because I really didn’t believe it…I really thought that it was just for me.  At those conferences to see men stand up in a microphone and say…more than one…that they graduated from seminary and they are in tears saying that they have never heard this…why have I never heard this?  The generational cross over from my generation even some of my friends parents that they want to have it and then the next generation….and it’s your generation, the generation behind me that I feel convicted about because of what we’ve passed to you.  I feel like that is why the Lord has given me a heart for the next generation because I feel like we need to do something to rectify what we’ve passed down even though it feels like turning the Titanic around.  It is a long answer but in so many ways multi-faceted but God is so multi-faceted.  He never works in one area at one time.

Me:  There were so many questions that just came to my mind.  But let me ask this first…what IS God’s design for the sexes?  If you were to take it and say…listen…this is the message that I am burdened for the next generation…my generation…if you were to say…you are having coffee right now with the next generation and you were to say…listen, Megan, take this message and YOU spread it now….what would you say it would be?

Cristie:  I would say that it is so simple, but the gospel is simple and we make it difficult.  We all make it so much harder than it is.  I would say simply that we all know that men and women are different, but rarely do we know why.  I believe that God has not only shown me the grief in His heart about the confusion but why.  I think that He did it because He took half of Himself and half of Himself and put both together to make a whole.  I believe that on purpose He created females to have voids and males to have voids and the simplicity of it that you could benefit from and that we could all benefit from is that He put the voids in the female and the voids in a male so that the voids of the male fill in the voids of the female.  He (male) can’t feel totally whole until he is providing for and protecting females in his life, and we can’t feel totally whole until men are filling in the voids in us.  Ironically, He created men with a need to give what He created in us a desire and need.  So it is what we call in the book a zipper effect.  It grieves me because a lot of single women will say…so you say I need to be married.  No, not necessarily.  When we drive down the highway and it is a stormy day or snowy day in the mind of a female we are considering that what if something should happen what male in our life would be able to come and help us.  We don’t want to admit that that’s what we are thinking because that is not really politically correct and it is not good to seem weak like we need men but we do.  So whether it’s a brother, a dad, an uncle, a coworker, a neighbor, a brother in the faith we need men in our lives and men need women.  God said it is not good for man to be alone.  Adam had God, but God said it is not good for him to be alone.  You need a companion and a helper.  It was the divine design to make us need one another, and I think what has happened in our culture that breaks my heart is that in the 60’s the pendulum swung from the abuse of women being pushed down and being discarded.  The pendulum swung to this fear based off “I will not need a man because it is weak”, and now what breaks my heart for your generation…and especially single women is that they feel shame when they admit that they need a man but yet that’s the way they were created.  So they walk around with this secret that was God-designed in them.  They walk around with this secret and try as they may to be men…which is impossible and exhausting…they feel defeated in so many ways and it was never God’s intent.  On the other hand, men have the desire for women they find it emasculating to admit that they need a woman, so they try and pretend that they don’t.  So there is this inner conflict and, what I would say, a distraction from really looking at God and what He designed…embracing that and trying to figure out what that means in your life…what that means in my life.  It’s hard to raise children in that atmosphere.  In many cases the masculinity of a man hasn’t been nurtured and called forth.  Men have been told that I want you to be more emotional…I want you to be more sensitive…it’s sad to me because these swords that they are supposed to have in their right hand seem offensive to a lot of women so they just drop it.  Then the women are like…well you are not going to protect me so I am going to protect myself and then the women become the enemy.  It is just really sad to me, but we aren’t defeated.  We just need to know the truth, take our positions and let the people around us take theres, and if they don’t take their position they may not be healthy enough to at that time.  I think that we have enabled them…on both sides.  Guys don’t open doors for women or treat them like the queens that God created them to be and then the men  walk around defeated because they really don’t know what they are supposed to do.  It’s sad because now I get so irritated when we go to a movie and you just see all the trailers for the next movie and it is not just that women are emasculating men but now men emasculate each other…and it’s funny…it’s supposed to be funny.  And if we don’t feel like it’s funny because it doesn’t bare witness in our spirit we think something is wrong with us, but there are so few movies that have people in the position that they are supposed to be in….it is just in our culture.  It’s sad but we are not defeated.

Me:  It’s not over till it’s over.

Cristie:  That’s right…and it’s not over until HE says it’s over.

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My Gleanings

Peace has not come to me very easily as I began to work on this gleaning.  I felt uneasy in my heart…my will was rearing up.  Even now, I have had to take some extra time to get into worship and the presence of the Lord to ask Him why.  Why do I feel uneasy?  Why does working on this make me a little grumpy?

This is the answer:

Because you are scared of the message.  You are scared of what it means for you and what it means for others.  Things must change.  Things must go deep to take root and until the bad thinking and old ways of doing things are uprooted then new life can’t be planted.  Take a risk, trust Me, and begin to fully walk in the way I designed you to be. 

It makes me uncomfortable because the Lord is calling me to go deeper in a word that He has been planting in my heart for the past few years now.  That word is that…I needed to submit to my husband.  In Ephesians 5:22-33 it says for both spouses to submit to each other in some sacrificial way.  In our marriage the Holy Spirit was calling me to make the first move…a step of faith.  It was a risk that He was asking me to take.  Submit yourself to Kyle and see what happens.  I have been walking in it, but I need to go deeper.  I will go into that journey a bit more in the other parts of my gleanings with Cristie…perhaps…but now I want to focus on my discomfort, and fear of this message.  Our discomfort is a signal to draw us to change and not to ignore it.

In my journey I began to change the way that I spoke to my husband Kyle and used “hero language” as often as I remembered.  “You are the strongest man I know.”  “You are a stud.”  “You are amazing.”  Thank you for this…thank you for that…however great as that was…the way that I saw and treated him wasn’t correct.  I saw that he was the leader of our household, but certainly not a warrior or king.  If he wasn’t walking in the ideal of that yet…instead of speaking life into him and calling it out…I would judge him and become frustrated.

We talk about in the book about being hunters, and warriors and kings.  He is a warrior and if I wasn’t perceived as immediately being on his side he thought he was being attacked.

My husband Kyle is a warrior, hunter, and king.  I must SEE him in those positions already, step out in faith, and treat him as such.  The more I treat him that way…the more he will fully step into those roles.  I can’t just speak life into him and use “hero language” I must TREAT him that way too.  

Lord…help me.  Seriously, these next few gleanings are going to do a number on me….and I couldn’t be more excited.  It is a beautiful weeding process.

“…if I am loving you, I’m loving Jesus”: Coffee with Jill Anderson pt. 2

For fair warning this is the second part of my coffee gleanings with Jill so if you want to hear her powerful testimony go catch the one before.

Anyways, this gleanings is the last one and we discuss the following:

  • How does she see God?
  • Where do you meet with God and practice His presence?
  • What is the greatest lesson she has ever learned?
  • What season she is in?
  • Can she tell me about Jesus?

So much depth and wisdom in this gleaning, so enjoy.  Oh…you may need to go grab some coffee because it is long…but fun.  I could listen to Jill for hours.  She always makes me laugh, and then nails me with a truth from the Lord.  I love being around women like that!!!

 

Me:  How do you see God?

Jill:  That is something that I have really struggled with.  It is that one thing where I get into a self pit; it’s because of my lack of understanding who He really is.  My mom does the ancestry.com kind of stuff…kind of quirky about it.

Me:  It is a little bit addicting.

Jill:  Or a lot a bit.  Part of her Christmas present was to get another year subscription but to the world one.  You can only go so far in America.  So…we talk a lot about how when the Bible talks about when you are faithful to me you will see it through a 1,000 generations.  So…we look back at the goodness of the Lord, and they were believers, they were believers, they were believers.  Through our family we can see that.  We can see generation after generation, but in that I also see the depth and understanding of who God is.  I see where my grandparents were.  They knew as much as what their parents were to them and what was revealed to them of how to be parents…how to love…how to teach their kids.  And so I look at where my grandfather was on my dad’s side and I look at my dad…my dad is the youngest of three brothers.  It was like…you got in trouble…you had to go out and get your own switch.

Me:  Oh yeah.

Jill:  If it was too small you got the one on the refrigerator…which is NOT the one you wanted.  My grandfather was never shown how to show affection to his boys.  He didn’t know what that was.  My uncles went through so much…went through the Vietnam War…there was so much that they went through.  They are all literally all carbon copies of each other.  They look like triplets…except for my middle uncle who is darker skinned….it is really creepy how much they look alike.  My dad and my uncles all had girls…what are you supposed to do with that?  You didn’t even know how to have affection with your father and now it’s like….I don’t even know what you are (talking about the girls).  David and I are sponges.  We want to know everything about parenting…everything about marriage…everything about spiritual healing…everything about the Holy Spirit…I wanna know it all.  I’m like give it to me…give it to me.  So all of the things that we are learning…that is when all of the things started to come together of…oh my gosh…my dad never had the tools to understand what I needed as a little girl.  He didn’t understand that like I needed his words and his actions.  I needed him to be different than what he was because I never got my value…he never spoke into me “You’re beautiful.”…”You’re wonderful.”  So even now at 33…which I just realized a couple months ago…that I have been 33 this whole time.

Me:  I am about to be 34…how old am I?

Jill:  Me too…I thought I was about to be 33.  I was like shut up it’s half over…I will be 34 in May.  Sorry…little rabbit trail.  Anyway…here I am at 33, and it’s hard for me to receive what the Lord says about me…because I never had that relationship with my dad.  My dad and I are working through that and have come so far from where we were.  I have to retrain and believe my spirit and tell my soul to just shut up.  I can see the Father…as of this last year…when that song came out “you’re a good, good Father.”…I was like…mmmmm….this is my anthem.  I can just sing it over and over and over and over.  I am washing my mind with…He is good…He is good.  He is for me.  You know?  It has been in this last year that like…why do I set myself up thinking I don’t deserve this awesome thing.  That I don’t deserve this…I don’t deserve that.  You know?  It has been in this last year that I am like….HE IS SOOOOOOO GOOD.  He is so for…Me, and so for my family.  It has completely changed the vocabulary in our home….to start speaking differently about ourselves to change the atmosphere of what we believe.  We believe our voice more than what we read or what someone else tells us.  If I am not telling myself…you are worthy…you are righteous…then I am not going to believe it.  It has been really sweet.  I was telling you this a while ago…that I have read “Practicing the Presence of the Lord” so many times…it is a short read so it is real easy…but it is like I am living it.  I am doing it.  I am hearing Him about anything all the time….where before it was…everything needs to be perfect and in its place…okay now open the heavens and come and speak.  You know?  But now it is like this awareness of the presence of the Lord always being there…always in me.  It is learning to stand in the power that is really inside of you.  It’s just different.

Me:  Where do you meet with God?  You said that you have coffee with Jesus every single day, but…I know you are practicing His presence….when did that shift honestly?  Because I am still in that position where the heavens part, everything is still, no one is awake in the house and it’s quiet…and if it gets disturbed in the slightest I feel a little out of control.

Jill:  It is being aware of the power that is inside you.  I know that I control the peace in my home.  So if it feels chaotic it’s me.  I’m not stopping.  I’m not breathing.  I’m literally not allowing the peace of the Lord to be in our home because I am being selfish.  That’s what turned it around for me because I realized that….I was selfish and that is why you get angry at your kids.  Your children are 4 and almost 2…okay?

Me:  There is going to be peanut butter on the couch.

Jill:  They are gonna be crazy.

Me:  There is going to be pee on the floor.

Jill:  There is…..I have boys.  I mean for real…or in the trash can…but whatever.  I was like…that’s a different sound…doesn’t sound like the toilet….mmmm….it wasn’t…but you clean out your trash can a lot more.  Really,  it was me realizing that it is my job to be the priest of my home.  I went through every door post in my home with the good oil, and I was like “This is my home.”  So me…and when I say me I say me and the HS that lives inside me….me as a Levite…this is my post.  This is my duty.  They didn’t get a day off.  They switched out but they did not get a day off.  They lit the incense every day.  They did the sacrifices EVERY DAY.  They didn’t stop.  They kept the fire going in the temple 24 hours a day, so the aroma could go up to heaven.  So home….is the temple, and I am the keeper of that place.  That means that everyday in every room, and I have to make space for His presence.  That means that I have to stop being selfish.  I have to stop being impatient and I have to stop wanting things done my way.  I have to let it go.  If it takes my four year old 45 minutes to eat a sandwich…it needs to be okay.  To me it is not okay because I am like we have nap time…we have this…I am a schedule kind of a mom.  You know?

Me:  Oh yeah!

Jill:  And I’m just like…why?  Why does it matter?  He just wants to tell me a story….and I have to keep reminding him to eat the sandwich.  Just keep goin buddy…you got this peanut butter and jelly.  When I started realizing what my real role was in my home and the power that the Lord had given me in my home.  I stopped living this…I’m falling apart I am all disheveled…I can’t get through life….because that’s not who the Holy Spirit is.  He doesn’t go through life feeling like He is barely holding on.  So why am I acting like that?  Once I just allowed myself to just get out of the way it was almost like….what the Woods talked about….you know the circle of the Holy Spirit, Jesus, and the Father.  It was like once I stopped being selfish I was like…get me in the circle.  I just want to be in the circle.  I just want to go round and round and be a part of them together.  I started to feel the peace of the Lord in my skin.  I’m like….I’m good.

Me:  I want that…that’s awesome.

Jill:  It’s so weird.  I mean I still totally screw up all the time.  Last night was BAD…..but you know…His mercies are new every morning.  I can apologize to my kids.  I apologize to my kids ALL THE TIME.  I’m like…mommy let anger in…whew…I’m sorry….forgive me…because I have disturbed the peace in my home.  My son said….mommy it made my heart sad when you were mad but now it is happy.

Me:  I love Wyatt.

Jill:  I know.  The Holy Spirit speaks through him to me.  Mom you make my heart so happy.  He says that because that is what we talk about.  We talk about things that make our heart happy.  We talk about things that make our heart sad.  We talk about how we treat others.  To hear him say that means….it’s getting through.  He is putting those pieces together of what actions do to your heart and not just oh I feel this way.

Me:  I was going to ask you about your friendship with the Holy Spirit but…that’s good.  It just oozes out of you.

Jill:  You know last September I reread “The God I Never Knew”.

Me:  That book changed our life.

Jill:  …with new eyes.  It was totally like…huh?  I already read this.  I don’t ever remember reading any of this stuff.  I read “Truly Free” right before that.  Have you read that?

Me:  YES!

Jill:  That’s good….don’t read it at night time….in the dark.  Not that you could read in the dark.  It’s intense and amazing.  I think that having that understanding and then going through and reading “The God I Never Knew” it was so different than anything I had ever thought before.  It was like once you start to understand more of the Holy Spirit…it was like…what is there?  Without the Holy Spirit in everything what is there?

Me:  You just show up.

Jill:  Right.

Me:  You just show up.  You go through the motions.  You sit in the same pew you have sat in….you have nothing.  Because that is all you have power for….you only have enough power to show up to church every week and sit in the same pew.

Jill:  Because that’s just about you showing up.

Me:  Oh girl…I could….

Jill:  I know.

Me:  So.  What’s the greatest lesson you have ever learned?

Jill:  Oh my goodness…maybe I did need the questions before.  I don’t know because I feel that in every season of life you go through a refining process so in that season…that is the greatest thing you have ever learned.  I feel like we are always evolving…we are always changing.  In this season right now….I’m selfish….it is an awareness of the selfishness of my life.  The greatest lesson is that I control whether or not I live in selfishness.  I choose to live by the Holy Spirit.  I get to make that choice.  My kids don’t make it for me.  My husband doesn’t make it for me.  I make it…every day.  So every day is an opportunity to wake up and not be selfish….to not care that I had to take a cold shower because my husband took all the hot water.  You know?  Because I could carry that till noon or one o’clock.  It’s like really?  Really?  That’s your day?  You are going to let that rob you of the goodness and joy of the Lord?  The other lessons that I have learned have just become a part of me.  It isn’t like I could tell you years ago I learned this and it is so amazing…it just changed who I was…so now I just AM different.  Does that make sense?  So now I know what I am walking through but those other things are just the journey.  Does that make sense?

Me:  Yes.  That is it.  The beauty of the season is what you are learning.  He is reshaping you, washing you, chiseling you a little bit more in this season.  And you are in a season of staying home with the kids.

Jill:  Yes.  He would show me what would look like if I didn’t stay home and then He was like…don’t you see this is where I want you?  Yes.  Good, then I am going to saturate you with contentment.  I am so content…it is not even funny.  With everything….with EVERYTHING.

Me:  This is my last question….can you tell me about Jesus?  Because you see a different part of Him than I do.  You have a different relationship with Him than I do, so tell me about it.

Jill:  I feel like…this is totally…it will sound like whatever it is.  I feel like Jesus is to most people the most tangible out of the Trinity.  Jesus saves us, and yet to me…I have such a connection to God the Father and such a connection to the Holy Spirit…but I am always like Jesus who are you?  It is like so much to attain to…so much to get to.  I’m trying to think about what the Lord and I were talking about this morning.  I wrote a poem about my old friend called Shame.  I wrote a poem about how I had this friend and it ends with how I met my best friend.  You know?  And He was like this saturated light that came over everything and revealed so much and it plays into my testimony.  I’ve had to really work through what intimacy is in a way that I’ve never understood intimacy before because I see Jesus as my lover…as my husband…as like…you know…He’s my man.  Because of false definitions that I had in my life for so long there is just a lot more of redefining that always has to happen.  When I became a Christian it literally sounded disgusting to me when people would say “Jesus is the lover of my soul.”  I was like…don’t say lover.  I was like Jesus is not the lover of my soul…because what you think lover is and what I think lover is…you don’t want to know my definition.  It is like understanding that in a different way to where it is like where I want to know what pure intimacy is.  I want pure love.  I want pureness and goodness.  That is what Jesus brings.  Every day I am like…Who are You?  Who are You?  I know that my understanding….until I am at the gates of Heaven…will not be there to understand the magnitude of the three dudes, but I know that Jesus is my teacher.  It is almost like Jesus is you.  He is the person that I interact with.  He comes to me through you to take things away from me to love you because if I am loving you, I’m loving Jesus.  There is stuff about who you are that I don’t understand.  There are things about people that you are like…hmmm…I don’t really get that.  That’s Jesus.  He is the people that come in and out of our lives…He is the ebb and flow that through my interaction with you I start to learn more about Him, and that takes the vail off of my eyes in areas…my judgement.  Jesus is in everyone and I always have an opportunity to meet with Him…to love Him…to bless Him.  Even today I was like Lord, how can I bless Megan?  Because I know that if my heart is intent to bless you I will bless Him….so it’s like I’m gonna love Jesus, so I am going to love you so hard.

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My Gleanings

Okay…this:

 It is almost like Jesus is you.  He is the person that I interact with.  He comes to me through you to take things away from me to love you because if I am loving you, I’m loving Jesus.  There is stuff about who you are that I don’t understand.  There are things about people that you are like…hmmm…I don’t really get that.  That’s Jesus.  He is the people that come in and out of our lives…He is the ebb and flow that through my interaction with you I start to learn more about Him, and that takes the vail off of my eyes in areas…my judgement.  Jesus is in everyone and I always have an opportunity to meet with Him…to love Him…to bless Him.

Until 2015 after 33 years of life I had never heard of the term “Being Jesus with skin on”, and ever since a pastor at Gateway told my husband and I that term I have heard it repeatedly.  Here it is again.  When we give room for Jesus to manifest Himself in us then we get to become “Jesus with skin on”.  I want that…daily.  When I love on my kiddos…I am being Jesus with skin on AND I am blessing and loving on Jesus.  In the Word you can find it in Matthew 25:31-46:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy[a] angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

44 “Then they also will answer Him,[b] saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

The week or so after I had coffee with Jill I heard an interview with Steffany Gretzinger (One of the worship pastors for Bethel Church, and someone who I would LOVE to have coffee with.) and in it she said something to the fact that she loves the gaze of her husband and that whether it is in the privacy of their home or in a large crowd…she is always looking for his gaze.  She then compared it to the Lord.  She is always looking for Him…for that gaze.

That was it…after these gleanings I started praying to find His gaze and that it would rock me to the core.  It didn’t take long at all.  I found His gaze in the eyes of my husband.  Later my daughter was hugging on me and grabbed my face and looked into my eyes.  She said, “Mommy, I see myself in your eyes.  I’m in there.”  The Holy Spirit then whispered…”That is how close I am to you…you can see your reflection in my eyes if you are staring back.  Even if you aren’t…I am still that close.”  Jesus was skin on through my husband and my daughter.  Now I look for that gaze where EVER I go!!!  Can I be “Jesus with skin” to others?  Can I bless Jesus by blessing them?  Who will be “Jesus with skin to me”?

And this gleaning:

Really,  it was me realizing that it is my job to be the priest of my home.  I went through every door post in my home with the good oil, and I was like “This is my home.”  So me…and when I say me I say me and the HS that lives inside me….me as a levite…this is my post.  This is my duty.  They didn’t get a day off.  They switched out but they did not get a day off.  They lit the incense every day.  They did the sacrifices EVERY DAY.  They didn’t stop.  They kept the fire going in the temple 24 hours a day, so the aroma could go up to heaven.  So home….is the temple, and I am the keeper of that place.  That means that everyday in every room and I have to make space for His presence.  That means that I have to stop being selfish.

This has done wonders in our home!!  We are the ones who make room for the presence of the Lord in our home or not.  We are rulers over the domains we are given.  If we invite in the presence of the enemy or let our flesh control the environment around us…then it will be chaotic and destructive.  If we make room for the Lord, then the atmosphere will change and peace and love will reign.  Making room now is a priority in our home.  Even when guests come over we pray over our home and declare that the Lord will be glorified and any words that curse us, glorifies the enemy, or curses God Himself are NOT allowed in our home.  Our home feels different now, and people who normally have shown great negativity in the past are far more subdued in our home.  His presence changes everything.  Everything.