Why I cry when I talk about Jesus…gleanings from having coffee with Jerri Benjamin

11050811_10205827977472237_7599460056503170104_n

First off…Coffee gleanings is back.  After a busy summer and just taking a mental break for a while I wanted to get back in and starting gleaning as much as I can again from some amazing women of God.

I don’t know if I can really put into words how meaningful it meant for the amazing Jerri Benjamin to have coffee with me.  She is strong, beautiful, and wise…nope that’s not enough.  She is an amazing mother and grandmother that we ALL could learn from….nope….still not enough.  Did you know that she raised one of my dearest friends?  Courtney Watkins her oldest daughter (my first coffee gleanings) is one of my dearest friends who has been with me in highs and lows.  She laughs with me, cries with me, teaches me, holds my hand, tells me when I am wrong, and tells me when I am right.  Courtney is my iron…that sharpens iron.  She sharpens me…THAT is a true friend….THAT is how Christians should love each other.  Jerri raised her…..yet that still is not enough.

The most amazing thing about Jerri Benjamin is this.  She LOVES Jesus.  No…she weeps at the very thought of it.  Over the years of being Courtney’s friend and being invited to different family functions and what not, I have observed Jerri.  I’m not a creeper…I just observe behavior.  Let me tell you a story.

A couple of years ago we were invited to Hanukkah festivities with the Benjamin family and over the course of the night I saw Jerri sitting back and thanking God in her thoughts for what she saw around her….her children, grandkids, fellowship, community, food, love, fun, and the work of the Lord in the room.  She was just looking around and smiling but I knew who she was talking to.  Later when she and Gary…her husband…I should have mentioned him earlier.  Gary Benjamin is Jerri’s husband….he is AWESOME too….sorry about that.  ANYWAYS, when she and Gary were talking about the importance of Hanukkah and what it means to us and how it points to Christ, Jerri began to tear up.  She cannot talk about Jesus with out crying.  She is crazy head over heals in love with Him….I want that.  Actually, I have that…and I want more!!

So…I hope that you glean something from the time I had with her last week.  Open your heart and let her rich words settle in there….you won’t regret it.

529528_4921434107292_1704050585_n

Me:  Okay, so I know all…about…your family but I don’t know your story.  Briefly, what’s your story?

Jerri:  When I think about my childhood and where I am from I think about the metroplex as being where I am from because I didn’t get here until…I spent one year here when I was in 6th grade.  Then once I was in 8th or 9th grade we moved here for good.  Before that my dad was a highway patrolman…you know…highway patrolmen get transferred everywhere so I lived in several different places.  We were always in church but when I was in 5th grade my dad gave his heart to God.  He was even a music director and did stuff in sunday school with kids and he was not a believer.  I was with him during all that.  So when we first moved to the Metroplex I was in the 6th grade and he was going to the seminary in Fort Worth.  Then we moved to central texas and that was his first pastorate and then we moved back up here to Shady Grove.  I met Gary here.  Actually he wasn’t going to Shady Grove, but Shady Grove at the time back in 1976-77 had a mission church around lake Arlington.  I met him there.  I went one year to Oral Roberts University and I came back here because I thought I would miss my opportunity with him.  Then there is a whole long story of our courtship and marriage and we got married in 1980….7 months later I got pregnant.  I was a kindergarten teacher at the academy at the church and then when I was pregnant, I stayed home after that.  My life kind of goes along with the history of Shady Grove.  Probably for 15 years I was at home with kids….5 kids.  Really it was hard with 4 but once the 5th one was born…Courtney was basically his mother…no not really, but her and Destiny really helped out a lot.  The 4 of them were really close.  When Landon was born Courtney was not even 6…I had 4 of them under 6.  It was a blur….you know with potty training…it was interesting.

Me:  When did you come to know the Lord?

Jerri:  When I was 5 years old.

Me:  And it was real?

Jerri: Oh yeah.  It really was.  Because my husband he has quizzed me about that many times.  He wasn’t saved until he was 16, and so our testimonies are drastically different.  It was really real it was very real.  I remember it and I’m 56.  We were at a crusade in a big arena.  I just remember…can’t remember who it was…it could have been Billy Graham.  I just remember the conviction of the Holy Spirit and I knew that I needed him.  When we got home I talked to mom and dad and they said that instead of them praying with me that they wanted me to go to my room and pray to God, and ask Him into my heart and say I’m sorry that I’ve sinned….you know…just explained the whole thing.  So yeah…I’ve walked with the Lord my whole life.

Me:  So my next question is….I have a feeling I know how you are going to react, but can you tell me about your Jesus?

Jerri:  Uh…Wow.  (clears throat)  He is…..now you are going to make me cry.

Me:  I knew you would.  I don’t like making people cry but I just know your heart for Him and every time you talk about Him you get teary eyed.

Jerri:  (Collects herself) He is so personal and so real to me.  It is like I am aware of Him all the time.  I can’t always say that is the case.  Cause it is a process, life in Jesus is a process.  It takes years to grow in your relationship with Him and grow in your trust and your confidence that He is going to work it out.  That He will do what He said He would do.  That He is in control.   Just your trust in Him…and the history.  You know?  The history in God and remembering the things that have happened and the things that He has done and rehearsing that often.  He is closer to me than…I can’t describe it….its like…my breathe.  My desire is to glorify Him in everything that I do.  I used to tell the kids when they would leave the house to go out with their friends, and I would say, “Okay, have fun, but glorify God in everything that you say and do.”  (chuckles)  That would be the last thing that I would say before they would walk out of the house.  Glorify God in everything you say and do…because that is what it is all about.  That is why we were put here to glorify Him so that people can….see….and to make them want what we have.  He is my life and I couldn’t imagine doing life without Him…wouldn’t want to.

Me:  Speaking of life, we have desert seasons and then times where we are in the promise land.  In my own personal life I have learned from several of them, and I know that we all go through them.  My question to you is: What is the greatest lesson you have learned in the desert and the greatest lesson you have learned in the promise land?

Jerri:  In the desert even if it feels like He is not there….I know that we know this…of course God is omnipresent and always with us….but He is really there.  And what He is doing in the desert is that He is wanting us to search for Him.  He is wanting us to miss Him so bad that we are willing to do anything to find Him again.  There are times like that in everyone’s Christian walk…you don’t feel His presence…you go through dry times.  You don’t feel like you are hearing from Him.  You don’t feel like He is answering your prayers.  It’s just dry.  But, what He is wanting us to see is that we miss His presence.  We miss Him for who He is to us and not for what He does for us.  We miss Him.  We miss fellowship with Him.  A lot of times people feel like that if they go through a desert time that they have done something wrong or that God is punishing them for something, but that is not always the case.  It is part of our journey.  The main thing is to not to fret and that this is part of the journey and to love Him more for it.  He wants us to yearn for Him.

Me:  And what about the Promise Land?

Jerri:  The Promise Land…..to stay humble.  Because you have a tendency to get a little proud.  So, to stay humble.

425980_4921436387349_793384279_n

Me:  Okay, so shifting.  You are a mother of 5 and I am close to one in particular.  As a mom of just 2……5 I know is a whole other world, but just a word of encouragement to moms.  I know that moms can in these times be discouraged and overwhelmed, and especially if they don’t have women who have gone before them to pour into them.  Is there a word of encouragement or lessons that you could pour into not only myself but also other mothers?  You not only raised 5 children….and they are all alive……but they are alive in Christ….all 5 of them love Jesus.  (Now I’m crying….smhhh)

Jerri:  When I think about it I think….Lord How?  How could this happen?  How could you bless me so much?  I think….for one thing…when they are small like yours.  You are in the trenches.  It is exhausting work taking care of the kids during the day and then not sleeping at night.  Trying to juggle the laundry, cooking,….and trying to keep the house somewhat clean.  Like I said when I had 4 little ones it was really a blur….it seriously was.  I had a woman of God tell me that this is just a season.  See I was wanting to be in the ministry and I also felt bad that I couldn’t spend an hour a day with God like I did before I started having kids….and doing all the stuff that I used to do.  We didn’t really let kids keep us back from doing things that we wanted to do we just took them along.  That took a lot of discipline because we wanted them to act right…so that was hard.  But still there were times that I couldn’t do things.  When Gary was a youth pastor and I had always gone to youth camp with him and helped, but when you have three or four little ones…why go to youth camp because you don’t really get to take part of it anyway.  I would get frustrated because I was always home, and I can’t do the ministry like I used to do.  Then a wise woman of God said…this is your season.  She said You are in a season.  You are in a special season where you are raising these kids.  It’s hard work.  It is a season where you are really putting your focus on  them and not on other things.  This is a season, it will be over soon.  I always used to get mad at older women that would say…oh it will be over just like that you better enjoy it because it will be over so quick.  I would just think…it doesn’t feel like this is quick and this is going to take forever.  She also said that this is a season where God knows the season that you are in and He doesn’t expect you to spend an hour a day with Him.  He knows that you can’t.  He is not upset with you that you can’t spend an hour a day with Him, and then learn to abide in Him.  And It really helped me, and to learn to enjoy it and chill and enjoy the kids.  To just enjoy time with them.  I still tell mothers this…don’t look at the time that you have to get up in the middle of the night as punishment or as a hardship but just as an opportunity to spend time with them….just them and praying over them and bonding with them.

Me:  I’m glad you said that because my son isn’t sleeping through the night.  That is a great word.  I am pretty sure that Courtney has told me that a few times.  Okay, shifting again.  I know that you have a heart for Israel.  I don’t know if you can kind of explain that to me?  Where did it begin?  Why is it important for us to have a heart for them?

Jerri:  For one thing, you can’t read the book of Revelation without seeing the importance of the role that Israel is going to play in the end times.  And so when you see Israel in revelation…its central.  The Jewish people are central…it is amazing.  So you’ve got that but then you’ve got our Jewish roots.  For the first 300 hundred years after the resurrection the church was distinctly Jewish.  All of the disciples were Jewish, of course Jesus was Jewish…the church was Jewish.  We call it Messianic Judaism.  The only thing that changed it was Constantine when he came into power he began outlawing the normal practices that they had done for 300 hundred years like meeting in homes, the services and the way that they did them in the homes….he just changed everything.  Constantine changed everything.  So from that point on is then where Catholicism got its roots.  Even when Martin Luther and his Reformation…he was wanting to bring reformation to the Catholic church and bring it back to biblical principles…but it had already gotten so far away from what it was right after the resurrection in those first 300 years.  So it just got way off….the church got way off.  Just because of persecution with Constantine and the ones after who outlawed anything Jewish.  But when you look back and you go to Israel you are faced with the truth.  Even from the word you see that He (Jesus) took part in all of the feasts.  He even went to Jerusalem for the feast of lights which is Hanukkah…and so did Paul.  He talks about what he grew up doing….it didn’t change when he met Jesus….it just brought more understanding to it, and more revelation.  They didn’t stop doing what they were doing.  Jesus was the Messiah..who they had been waiting for….so yeah….I can’t go back to this one instance where I got this revelation.  Of course it started with my dad years ago when they first started going to Israel,and we even as a church would go to a non-messianic synagogue like once a month and we learned all the Hebrew dances.  We got to be friends with this synagogue and they were not even believers…so it started a long time ago.  I will just never forget the first time that I went to Israel, mom and dad were doing a tour and they asked Gary and I to go and Gary would lead worship at the different sites.  I’m not kidding you…when we were starting to land and the wheels touched the tarmac…I can’t tell you what it did to me….I felt like I was home.  It was just….that’s my roots…thats my people.  I would go back tomorrow to live…except I don’t want to leave all my family.  So….its very important to learn our Jewish roots and what Israel will be in the end times.  I was reading something on Twitter by Bob Sorge and he said, in the end America may not be standing but we know Israel WILL be standing….and how does that affect the way you see Israel?  How does that affect the way you see the end times?  Because it is really true we know Israel will be standing…if people could just get that and the importance of praying for Israel.  People will see it…eventually.

11800346_10206103129030854_5536688989560132795_n

Me:  This is my last question.  For me personally….today…I just want to know what love song Jesus is singing over you lately.

Jerri:  I’m learning to trust Him like never before and allow Him to bring peace like only He can do.  Life can be a bit stressful.  God has been teaching me at work not to internalize stress because I will just take it and not tell anybody, and then it will affect me.  So what I have felt Jesus speaking over me in the last few weeks is to just really be at peace on the inside and not holding on to things.  Don’t worry.  Let it go and not internalize.  He has just been singing that over me…peace.  To be happy and laugh.  That is just a recent thing he has been singing over me.  He is peace.  He wants the communion that I have with him all the time to expand and he wants to show me a new side of himself….a deeper trust that I didn’t have before.

149405_4921428747158_638134176_n

My Gleanings

Well…every time I speak with anyone about the importance of having a heart for Israel it causes me to grow deeper in my love for them.  Remembering our Jewish roots as believers is IMPERATIVE…yup I said it.  We really need to go back and take a look at where we come from if we are to understand God’s word fully and to understand where we are going.  The Lord is never intending the Jewish people to be saved so they can look like us adopted gentiles….we should begin to look a little more Jewish.  Isn’t that legalistic?  Are you asking me to go back to the law?  No.  I am asking all Christians to study their roots.  You will begin to see the beauty and completion of the story God has written.  He is the fulfillment of the law.  He fulfills all of the feasts.  They are His first child and we are adopted into the family.  Let us pray for their hearts to receive this revelation and pray for their protection.  We are family.

The next thing that I gleaned was the following statement, “He is wanting us to miss Him so bad that we are willing to do anything to find Him again.”  That…I mean…that is a love story.  I can just see a movie of war torn lovers who would go through hell and high water to be back in the arms of the one that they love.  That love….that is how we are to long and love our Savior.  Would we do anything to find Him again?  Now….I’m tearing up.

This is where I end.  I cry when I talk about Jesus, and I cry now because I saw Jerri Benjamin cry about how much she loved her Savior a couple of years ago.  Seeing her cry resonated with me, and it started me on a journey to fall in love with Jesus like that.  The journey has been cultivated by many different circumstances and people, but she started it all.  Right now as she is reading this…I bet you anything she will cry just thinking about the goodness of Jesus and her love for Him.  We ALL should be doing a little more crying when we speak about Him.  He is so good….let’s fall in love folks.

“On my worst day…where I fail the most costly…Jesus would still choose to get on the cross for me.”: Coffee Gleanings with my crazy fun friend Erin Sullivan

11402530_10153446158748115_4319254734573689428_o

Oh my, how I love my friend Erin who is full of life and just plain fun!!!  I know her from working at Stonegate Christian Academy (which she is an alumni….when it was Shady Grove Christian Academy.)  She is the daughter of one my colleagues and after meeting up with her a few times while judging at speech tournaments and other places (the grocery story) I knew I needed to be around this girl more often.

She is a foodie too!!!  In fact when she met up with me last week for coffee she had a brisket, potato casserole, and muffins made for me.  I love it when friends give me food!!!  Especially ones that are good cooks.

Erin has been known to write on occasion for Gateway’s women’s ministry magazine called G magazine.  Her bio that she uses for it is absolutely perfect so I asked her if I could use it.

Erin Sullivan works with Gateway’s events team.  She loves breaking into song on a regular basis and wishes real life could be a musical.  She’s single and ready to mingle.  Visit her blog at domesticanddates.wordpress.com.

Everytime I hang out with Erin I get filled up and look at the world in full color.  As a person who has a tendency to just want to be very serious and think of the deep spiritual things all day…I have been told I am a little intense by some people…Erin helps me lighten up and remember that the Lord is for me and loves me oh so very much.

11537622_10153446159023115_5438311556318369899_o

Me:  How are you having your coffee today?

Erin:  I am having an iced coffee because it is hot and in the middle of the day.  I normally have hot coffee on cold days at all times of the day, but on hot days…only in the morning or late at night.

Me:  Then it would have to be decaf.

Erin:  For sure decaf late at night…or hey…let me vacuum my floors at 3 am.  Why not? (chuckles)

Me:  Hey…that’s some good cleaning.

Erin:  That is exactly right!!  I am great at staying up late to clean…I am not great at getting to work on time.

Me:  I will ask quickly so you can get back to work on time.  Okay, if you could have coffee with anyone dead or alive who would it be and why?

Erin:  Well…this is probably a sad kind of answer but it would be my ex-husband.  I would just like to know about his life and I would like him to know about mine.  And aside from us being happy or unhappy together.  I would have loved the opportunity to know about his heart beyond what I knew at that time.  I didn’t value things like that then.  People are so much more broad…so…him.  But that’s kind of sad.  I don’t want people to be like…what a depressing answer!!!………or my great grand dad.  He was very intregal when segregation was still at play in the state of Texas.  He was very influencial with the African American community and really lobbied for them.  I would love to talk to him about what’s happening now with cities and what I could be doing in my life.  ‘Cause he lived his life and he was very influential with people, but sometimes it is hard to just make that first step…or the first connection.  I’m sorry I gave you two answers.

Me:  No…that’s fine…cheater.  Okay…I will start getting into the stuff I really need to glean…because it really is all about me.  And I really need to learn things…so…what are you learning right now?  What is the Lord talking to you about now?  Where are you hanging out in scripture?

Erin:  I am a Psalms girl…all the time.  And unless I am studying something really specific I will always be in the psalms.  The Psalms will always be the first part of my Bible to fall out.  I had to go get a new Bible because the psalms were just falling out…it was also a hard back and I was flipping it open and it doesn’t really work that way….so…um…I love the Psalms.  And in any season I feel that they are appropriate.  You know?  But I feel like He is challenging me to set goals.  I feel like He is saying look this is a season for setting and achieving goals.  I feel like there’s a new favor for me on setting and achieving goals.  And just realizing on really being disciplined with Him and being habitual.  I feel like He is kind of challenging me to go to places that I feel like I have consistently failed.  And I feel like there is new favor to succeed.  I feel a little more challenged…not in a scary way but in a…huh?….what does this mean…kind of a vibe.

Me:  What does your quiet time usually look like?

Erin:  Quiet time in the week is usually at night when I get into bed.  I am not an early morning person.  I am always scrambling to get out of the door.  It is not always successful in the morning.  A quiet time will be with the devotional book that I have, some scripture, and some prayer time.  But I really love when I feel that the Lord is resting over me as I sleep.  I know that it is so awesome to set aside our first part of the day but I think that there is so much of my life that has struggled in sleep and struggled in dreams…and I don’t know.  I love that sometimes I can feel Him when I wake up.  You know?  He was there all night.  He was there with me.  That’s usually on a weekend.  Because I am a lingerer…and I really have to connect with His presence to spend time.  So if I don’t have time to do that then I am not going to have a really great moment.  So on the weekends if I don’t have anything going on I make coffee…I make something for breakfast…and then I have more worship time.  That’s how I connect with God.  I turn on my iTunes list and piddling around and I just say…alright Jesus…I want to welcome you into this space and this moment…and I am bringing you all of the stuff you saw from my week…we can process it now.  Now we have space and capacity to talk about all of it.  What do you want to say?  That’s what my quiet time looks like when I have a lot of time.  Where I can just be…for a while I studied Habbakuk and I really studied what it looks like to rebuild something that has been destroyed.  So I would spend like an hour on Saturday…like I am not a big studier of the Word…but I was reading different versions.  I was trying to get deep.  I feel like I probably wasn’t getting very deep and that everyone else would be like …wow…that’s the most basic…Bible 101.  (Chuckles from the both of us)

Me:  It was sooo deep you don’t understand…You could have written a disertation!

Erin:  I know!!

Me:  Okay…so..one of the things that I love most about you is how you talk to the Lord and how you hear Him so clearly.  So…how do you hear God?

Erin:  Um..well I think the enemy’s greatest idea is to disarm by saying, “Oh, that’s just you.” “That’s just too good.”  “God doesn’t really speak to you.”  So my whole life I struggled with…no I bought into his lie…because it is so subtle and it makes so much sense.  Like…oh no…that IS too good…and it DOES sound like my voice.  Gateway has a amazing classes on hearing God and I had some really good friends that kind of modeled for me…what is a process I can start applying?  Hearing the Lord is like playing an instrument.  It is like working out a muscle.  If I am not using it…I am not going to get better.  If I go weeks without doing it I am going to be rusty when I try and do it again.  I feel like the process God gave me is to silence the voice of the enemy.  So the first thing that I have to do is I tell the enemy that where I am the space that I am in he has to be silent.  And I submit my mind to the Holy Spirit and I ask Him only of what is your kingdom.  God I am bowing low and getting low and I am asking you to come.  I am submitting my mind and I am saying that I am trusting that if I start hearing stuff that it is not me.  Then I bring praise.  Psalm 100 says “Enter with the password thank you.  Make Yourself at home talking praise.”  And I feel like that is such a key if I’m like…not feeling really spiritual…but if I start telling the Lord, “God, thank you that I woke up with a roof over my head.” “Thank you that I woke up in a bed.”  All those things really prime my heart to really connect with Him.  And then I quiet my mind.  What I like to do is get where I can BE…for awhile.  I am in a seated position to where I can not get uncomfortable quickly, and I just close my eyes and I just think about how I submitted my mind to God…I silenced the voice of the enemy…I’ve brought praise…then I just think about the first initial of my first name…for me that is an E.  So I start thinking about that letter E.  That’s telling my mind to be still…it is telling my mind to be quiet.  It is so hard to not think about a billion things at one time.  So I tell myself that this is going to be a moment that we are going to be still and quiet, and that’s a process to get there.  So I just think about that letter and then start asking God questions.  God am I hearing you?  God do you see me?  And I usually have questions from my own heart that I want to bring.  If people are just starting out I like to say to ask questions like, “God if we could go anywhere in the world where would you want to go?”  I like to ask very non spiritual questions ’cause I think sometimes we get very…and I did this….I didn’t think I was hearing the Lord for the longest time because He wasn’t speaking to me a scripture or a biblical symbol or something.  I put Him so in a box…I didn’t think that He would speak to me for me.  And so…I just ask really nonspiritual questions with people of the Lord.  “What do you love to do with me?”  “How do you like to be with me that’s not prayer or fasting or reading my Bible?”  Because I feel that if we can start doing that then we can build a little process and then I can start to recognize what His voice sounds like.

Me:  Now…have there been times when you didn’t hear from God?

Erin:  I think there are seasons of quiet.  I think there are seasons where He does stay quiet but I don’t think that He does that when we are just starting to hear Him.  For a long time I just didn’t really know how to hear Him, so I wasn’t hearing Him because I was saying…oh that sounds like my voice…so that can’t be God’s voice…or oh that sounds too good for me.  So a lot of the times I was discounting what God was saying because it sounded too good…but He IS good.  In my humanity and in my brokenness I would think…that can’t be really You because that is too good for me.  So I think more than seasons of not hearing Him are seasons of where I thought I was not hearing Him.  If I have gone a really long time without waiting on Him…I have to go back and say…Okay…I’m gonna do my little process for myself.  I’m going to take a moment and just be and sit and wait.  And it feels like if you try and run a marathon and you haven’t trained for it…it’s not going to work out…you know?  It just feels like doing something like that.  Where you’re exercising this muscle…I’m not familiar with it…it feels clunky…and rickety…and not as fluid as I wish it was…but fluidity comes with practice.  So most of the time when I feel like I haven’t been hearing the Lord…sometimes I HAVE had Him be silent…..but most of the time it is just that I am disqualifying what He is saying because I don’t think its Him.

1509033_10205345806110718_5834184243008458631_n

Me:  I had a question that just came up in mind…and I think it is a very specific question that the Lord has designed just for you.  I don’t think I will ask this to anyone else.  If the world was your playground…what would just make you sore?  If the Lord was like…go…and you would just go play?  What would be the thing that you would have so much fun?

Erin:  If I could just see everything.  If I could experience everything.  Like I love traveling and I love tasting delicious food.  I think that that is one of the things that God likes to do with me…like I start my quiet time…I make coffee…I turn on music…I usually make a breakfast.  I feel like God is in that with me.  I feel like when I experience delicious food or amazing culture…it is amazing to see God in those spaces.  So…it would be just seeing everything.  If I could see everything…that would be so amazing…and taste everything.  And really live it.  I feel like my life is a kind of exciting living organism…not that other people aren’t exciting…but there is so much to be experienced.  That’s what I want.  So even in seasons…I’ve been thinking a lot lately about dark places.  I was saying I’m thankful for the dark because it makes me value the light.  It wouldn’t feel as deep.  I feel like some people who haven’t experienced some harsh places …that their happy but they don’t know how valuable those happy places are because they don’t know how harsh things can be.  I like seeing the good in really devastating places.  I’ve been able to see some things like that.  Amazing things in horrible situations that make me want to say…okay…I’ll take this…I’ll hang on to it.  It’s valuable.  Not every experience goes that way but that is what I kind of feel like my life is like.  I want to see everything.  I want to experience every culture…in that way…and not just in a tourist way.

Me:  What ignites you for the Kingdom?  What sets you on fire?

Erin:  I think it is connecting people to God’s presence.  I know that for me a lot of times that looks like teaching people to hear from the Lord or operating in a prophetic way.  Because it’s like I get to take…I see it a lot in my small group.  Seeing people really connect  to His heart for them and experiencing the depths of what THAT is in His presence.  You know…it’s not about rules or check lists…it’s about…He designed you to be yourself.  He designed you perfectly to be who you are…a lot of times our biggest hang ups and our biggest places aren’t necessarily where the enemy has a gain or demons are working in you but places where we have experienced pain and we have agreed with the enemy.  And God’s greatest love would be to say, “Hey…there’s this couch in your heart.” …I like to think about it like if my heart was an apartment…and I have this disgusting couch in there.  Its beat up and gross that I found on the side of the road…and that couch represents an agreement line with the enemy in a place pain and a place of hardship.  And God is saying, “Hey…I’ve got this really cute Pottery Barn couch that I would like to trade for you.”  And so it’s just like saying okay…you come and meet me in this place of pain…let’s go back to it….let’s invite you in….and we are going to make this little trade.  God has done that for me over and over again.  It’s like I invite You into this place of deep pain…show me where I agreed with the enemy…and I give you this hideous couch….and you give me this beautiful one.  And my life is forever different.  So I think really seeing people come alive in that way where they are connecting with the Lord in a way that they thought they never thought they could.

Me:  This will be my last question.  Tell me about your Savior.

Erin:  What I love about Jesus…is cause I feel like….there’s this picture that my friend had forever.  It was a picture of Jesus playing soccer with a bunch of kids and He was having the best time.  Yes, Jesus is very holy…God is holy, but I think there is great value to…He enjoys us…He delights in us…like He tells me jokes sometimes.  Like I get real tickled.  I know it’s silly but that’s how He is.  He is so fun.  And He is all about us living in a full way not just…we’re gonna live and read the Bible…but living with people and experiencing life and fullness and He’s provided that for us.  He’s provided the freedom that like every darkest place He would choose us again.  I love to think about that.  On my worst day…where I fail the most costly….Jesus would still choose to get on the cross for me.  And He would do it over and over again and He would redeem my pain over and over again just so He could be with me.  He values me that much.  I don’t think I’m that valuable but He does.  I love that He redeems every piece.  He redeems the darkest piece.  I feel like the darkest places in my life the deepest places of pain He gives them something to make them valuable He didn’t orchestrate them necessarily.  He wasn’t arranging those things for me…but He makes them worth value…when I submit it to Him.  And so I just think you know…there’s so many places where people say, “Well God’s just requiring all this of me…”  When really He’s not.  He’s really just loving you and chasing you down.  And I think one of the ways that I saw that the most is when my ex-husband was dying and we had been divorced and things looked horrible and I had tried my hardest to follow what the Lord’s heart was even in the darkest place…and God was really faithful to me.  I was praying for my ex-husband and I was believing for him and He ended up passing away, and when that happened God showed me all along that He had been chasing him walking totally away from Him as much as He was chasing me.  It didn’t have anything to do with whether or not I chose Him or I didn’t…all that mattered was that God loved us so greatly that He would pursue us equally…if we were chasing Him down too…or if we are totally walking the opposite way…His heart for us is just the same.  I am so thankful for that picture of how He is good and kind and faithful….even if we are not.  That’s not an excuse for anything but it is just a staggering picture of how He loves us.

11390219_10206049771657418_3134970918177881948_n

My Gleanings

I am going to start doing a devotional at night too.  I love love LOVE my morning quiet time…because it is when the house is most quiet.  With a 4 month old and a 3 year old….quiet time is difficult to get unless you wake up early.  But after hearing Erin talk about how she likes to feel the Lord rest over her as she sleeps.  I want that.  The night time has been an issue for me in the past with bad nightmares and fear, so this would just be another step in drawing close to the Lord before going into the next section of my day…sleep.

Now I had already gleaned from Erin months prior her method of listening to the voice of the Lord.  It is very practical and I have heard the Lord more clearly in the last few months than ever before.  However, the question, “How do you like to be with me that’s not prayer or fasting or reading my Bible?”  That is a question that I have never asked the Lord before.  Actually, I have never asked any question like that before of the Lord.  Does He even like being around me when I am not praying, fasting, reading my Bible, teaching biblical studies, etc.?  Yes, He does, but I don’t act that way and I certainly don’t pray that way.

It has been a week since I have hung out with Erin, and the Lord has revealed to me through my relationship with my children that He indeed does like to spend time with us even when we aren’t doing spiritual things.  While watching my daughter play dress up and make believe with her toys He gently reveals to me that that is one of my favorite ways to spend time with her.  When my 4 month old son is discovering his toes for the first time and giggling at all of my funny faces…that is one of my favorite ways to spend time with him…so…the Lord must have a favorite way to spend time with me.  He is personal.  He is my father…my daddy.  He loves me and I will now begin asking that question…Daddy, How do you like to be with me that’s not prayer or fasting or reading my Bible?

My last gleaning kind of made me tear up as I listened back on our interview to type it up.  It is when Erin said, “On my worst day…where I fail the most costly…Jesus would still choose to get on the cross for me.”  Oh my…Jesus loves me.  I know that I have said that several times in my posts but I really can’t get over it.  He loves me….when I repeatedly try and do things on my own, or walk in fear, and distrust Him.  On my darkest day He would look at me and STILL choose to get on the cross for me.  He would do it for me and He would do it for you.

Till next time…Happy gleaning.

“Am I willing to lay it all on the line for Him?”: Coffee with my sweet friend Denise Lee

11407112_10153419305798115_7690783895806944101_n

God is so GOOD!!!  That is how I will start this blog and that is how I will end it because that is the overall message I received after I had coffee (and breakfast) with my sweet friend Denise Lee last Saturday morning.

Here is what you need to know about Denise Lee.  She loves the Lord.  I mean stank face loves Him.  Actually THAT doesn’t even describe her love toward the Father.  She is completely engrossed in Him and it pours out of her.

I know Denise from working at Stonegate Christian Academy in Irving and mutual friends.  She has ministered to the students at Stonegate for years by teaching at chapel and exhorting them in their senior year at their Senior Presbytery.  Denise is a part of the prayer team at Gateway Church where she has ministered to me in a very personal way, and recently she has accepted an administrative position for the European Initiative.  However, one of the most important things that she has done for the kingdom is her one on one ministry to her three beautiful daughters, who LOVE the Lord.  They aren’t just good kids…they are good because they LOVE the Lord.

This interview wrecked me in such a good way.  I am delayed posting it in a time that I wanted to (also do to some technical difficulties) because I want to just marinate in it and let it WRECK ME!!!  This amazing woman’s love for the Lord and her revelation of HIS love for her and all of us is life changing.  I feel so honored to have sat and gleaned wisdom from Denise, and I wanted to honor the wisdom that I gleaned by actually meditating on it and letting it change me.

Denise will be getting a call/text from me on a regular basis because I want and need to glean more.  She has much wisdom to give and I want it!!!  God is so good and His goodness pours out of Denise Lee.  My prayer is that it pours out on you as you read this post.  His goodness brings us to repentance; it did for me after I had coffee with her, and I hope it brings you there too.

11312707_10153419310033115_4886070817341573917_o

Coffee Talk

Me:  How do you take your coffee?

Denise:  I generally take it with cream and sugar.

Me:  Just cream and sugar.

Denise:  Just cream and sugar.  Very old school.

Me:  That’s me too.

Denise:  I didn’t start drinking coffee until Brad and I got married.

Me:  Me too!!!  Okay, if you could have coffee with anyone dead or alive who would it be?  But you have to choose just one.

Denise:  Just one?  You know, everybody always chooses C.S. Lewis and I would love that…

Me:  Would you be intimidated?  Because I would be intimidated…

Denise:  Yeah…um…probably.  Probably.  I would just want to talk about Narnia all day I think…’cause I’m counting on that being a real place.  (chuckles)  But you know I think I would love to talk to somebody like a Corrie Ten Boom who really put everything on the line for others. Those kinds of people are just so amazing to me, that they are really willing to count the cost.  If I ever found myself in that kind of a situation, I want to be one of those.  I don’t want to just be a bystander that’s going along and doing their thing everyday oblivious to what’s going on around them, but I want to be one of those who says…there’s some evil going on and I have a part to play in fighting it.  Willing to risk it all.

Me:  So do you consider yourself a warrior at times?

Denise:  I really want to be.  I think there’s a part of me that actually is, that’s why the desire is there.  But I always think there’s a part of me that goes…can I really do that God?  Would you let me do it? You know?  I may be weird but I really love reading Fox’s book of Martyrs ’cause there’s something about people who are just willing to go…”I’ve got such a vision for eternity…do whatever you want to me.”  It’s when my kids get involved that I have to really have to kind of ratch it back and kinda go…would I be willing to allow THAT to happen to them?  You know?  If I could choose I don’t want to have to suffer but if it came down to it I really want to be one those who goes…yeah I’ll suffer for You.

Me:  Yeah that whole mother card is…

Denise:  It’s a fear I need to lay down.  For a long time I was afraid to pray, “God do whatever you have to do in my heart to cause me to follow you.”  ‘Cause I just KNEW that the minute I prayed that prayer He was going to take one of my kids from me.  So I wouldn’t pray it.  I wouldn’t pray it.  God you love my kids more than I do, and you are a good God.  I know that’s a fear, so I’m just going to trust You.  Yeah…the mom card is big.

Me:  Yeah.  It’s big.  I’m really feeling that.  You feel invincible before kids.

Denise:  Yeah, if it happens to me…whatever.  But you read stories about martyrs and their persecutors turning the tables onto the kids saying deny Jesus or we’ll take your kids.  Well, they didn’t sign up for that.  You know?  But I remember reading a story about a father and a son and the son was like ten years old and they were in a situation like that, and the father was just struggling.  He was so struggling.  His son just looked at him and was crying and he said, “Daddy I could never ever go on living if I knew that you denied Jesus.  Please, please, don’t do it.”  And so he didn’t and they killed his son.  But knowing that that kid would have walked in shame for the rest of his life knowing that…my dad’s God wasn’t worth everything.  So I was like…okay…He’s worth it.  And the legacy that we leave our kids matters.  Whatever the cost.  So that whole idea of legacy is huge for me.  It’s huge.   I want my kids to look back and go…she laid it all on the line and because of it I have a really great inheritance.

Me:  So that’s what you want your legacy to be?

Denise: Yeah!!  Yeah, not being afraid to just live fully.  He lived fully for me and died so… (begins tearing up)

Me:  You hear of those stories going on right now.  Those exact stories…every single day…like in the middle east.  Kid saying, “Please daddy don’t renounce.”  Begging them.

Denise:  Their desire is sometimes…and their vision…and their childlike faith…the reality is, we are going to be with Jesus.  We will be with Jesus.  But we still have such a narrow view of eternity.  I remember listening to a message by…um…Francis Chan.  He had a string just wrapped around the sanctuary, this long, long string and the end of it was on the stage, and this much of it was red (gestures to show me about an inch) at the very end.  He said that even though this string is not infinite it represents eternity and this little red bit of it at the end represents your life here on earth.  In the grand scheme of things your life here on earth is so small but the way that you live it impacts what you see…(referring to the white part of the string)…your eternity.  Just having that perspective of…yeah…this is temporal  but it matters.  It really matters.  So that’s something that really just…resonated with me.  I have to gaurd myself against fear.  We don’t have time!!  We don’t have time to mess around!!!  We don’t have time for fun!!…you know…(chuckles)

Me:  I GET LIKE THAT TOO!!!  I’m kind of a downer sometimes.  Some people are like…JUST HAVE FUN.

Denise: (humorously) Jesus is coming back there is no time for fun.  I just need to calm down.  (chuckles)

Me:  Yes…I am so like that.  Better calm down warrior.

Denise:  Yes, have a glass of wine or something…relax.

Me:  Yeah…calm down.  But we were talking about eternity…how have you met…Actually, I would say that I recently have had my first experience of just seeing the Heavenlies…just in the past month.  For the first time in my life I feel like I miss home.  I miss Heaven.  What is your experience with the eternal here on earth?

Denise:  Wow…that’s a loaded question.

Me:  I’m sorry.

Denise:  Well, when you said that as far as missing home…yeah…and going back to that whole idea of Narnia.  There is just this longing, that longing for eternity.  I don’t belong here.  You know?  I know that I’m here for a season, and I want to…I don’t have a death wish by any means but there is just something in me when I just look at everybody…even in this environment.  They are going through the motions…it really hurts my heart because I know that there is SO much more that we are missing out on.  You know…Jessica got married.  And they had the wedding in Fort Worth and during the ceremony Jessica and John wanted to wash each other’s feet.  That was the first thing that they wanted to do as husband and wife.  Olen pronounced them husband and wife, they didn’t kiss…yet. They wanted to wash each other’s feet.  So you know we had family and weddings bring such random groupings of people together for a day.  We just wanted the wedding to honor the Lord and so it was beautiful when they washed each other’s feet while they were doing that Olen was explaining what they were doing.  He painted the picture beautifully on how they were serving each other and setting the tone for their marriage and laying themselves down and walking in humility.  So after the wedding talking to the ladies who ran the house and watched the ceremony from the back and they said, “That was just so beautiful”.  It really made an impact on them.  The photographer was telling them, “Thank you so much for letting me photograph this wedding.  And I don’t know how many good pictures I got of the foot washing because I was just crying and crying.”  I don’t know if he knows the Lord …I don’t know.  He’s a really nice guy but it made an impact.  And there were people like that that were coming and saying what an impact it made on them, and…  It’s our thing right?  It’s our circle that we walk in…of course, why wouldn’t we want to do something like that?  It makes sense.  We are believers we want to serve each other.  It is just SO FOREIGN to what the world knows and to what the church even knows….as far as to surrender life to the Lord.  God’s not just this free ticket to Heaven but there is just so much more…and…um…I’m not sure how much that has to do with the eternal but the longing that there is so much more….you know….than just, well I’m not going to Hell…there is more than what they realize.  That would be my longing and desire.  That people would just know they are here for something.  So much more than what they could have ever imagined.  I’m not sure if that answers the question.

Me:  Oh you got it, but it gives me another question.  What do you think the Lord has purposed for you to do here on this earth?  What is your particular part to play?

Denise:  Well, It’s interesting.  He is putting me in a position to empower the evangelists.  I know that I have the gift of exhortation.  My favorite thing to do is to breathe courage into someone and say, “You can do this.  You can do this.  Yeah it’s hard.  It’s not as hard as you think.  You know?  Because you’ve got a big God and you can do this.”  I’ve seen it.  I’ve seen it in my kids lives.  It’s more than being a cheerleader and saying, “Oh, you’re the greatest.”  But with a real sense of reality saying this is the truth of what’s going on right now but okay let’s come in and bring God’s perspective into it.  Let’s look at it the way He’s looking at it.  Let’s not look at the situation with our earthly eyes but lets get God’s perspective on this.  Let’s walk in the truth of what He says and not base that on our fear, our woundings, our emotions or whatever.  But let’s really walk in the light of the truth.  A few years ago we were in a small group and it was at the end of the year…and somebody said…I think it was at the Smith’s…I think Anthony said, “I want everyone to go home this week and to just pray and ask the Lord what He wants you to do in the coming year.”  Okay.  So, I did, and it was really clear for me.  The Lord was just like, “Ask questions.  Ask me.  Ask me.”  Okay.  Alright.  He wants me to ask Him questions.  And I started to and it UNLOCKED something inside of me that has…I mean…it was…still to this DAY it hasn’t stopped.  I was never a question asker.  I was always the one in school who if I didn’t understand something I’m not going to ask…I’ll just figure it out.  So, I started asking and it went through every area of my life.  I don’t know about that.  What is that?  It was a curiousity in the spirit too.  Okay Lord…what are you saying here?  Wanting to find out what His heart was on EVERYTHING.  So that really impacted me.  It really has become a part of who I am.  Really wanting to know God’s heart about everything.  That’s where I see myself.  Just being able to walk along side who ever is in my life at the time and just…’cause you know when we are walking through things…sometimes it’s hard because all you can see is just right in front of your face…and just to be able to be someone who takes a step back and say you know…let’s look at this from God’s perspective.  Let’s see what He may be wanting to accomplish in it.  Just to be able to say that God has a plan in all this breathes such hope.  So, to just come along people and say…there’s a purpose in this.  I’m not saying God did it but that there is a purpose in it.  It blows my mind how He orchestrates our lives and looking back and saying I never could have done that.  I could have never done that.  And I never would have because there was pain involved in it and I don’t really care for pain and discomfort…but it wouldn’t have been as beautiful of a story.

Me:  What right now in this season are you asking the Lord?

Denise:  Well there’s a couple of things.  I’ve always asked the Lord…one of my biggest desires is just to ask the Lord to please make me faithful.  I just want to be faithful.  And that’s been a struggle.  But I want to be faithful.  And I…Lord I really want to know you.  Know YOU deeply.  I want you to show me who You are.  I don’t want to just…I’m not satisfied with the surface.  Yeah, I know God and at the core God is good…what does that look like?  What does that look like in everyday life?  What does that look like in the way I view the world?  What does that look like when I read the news?  Or when I just want to hear what’s going on in the world right now?  You’re good.  I don’t want my heart to grow cold.  And if I can always see His goodness at work my heart won’t grow cold.  I’m sure of that.  So I don’t ever want to lose site of His goodness.  I don’t want my kids to lose site of His goodness.  And the other something that I’m asking, probably because of the season I am in right now…I’m a mother-in-law now which is sooooo weird to think about.  I’m a mother-in-law.  When Jessica and John got engaged I started going…okay what kind of mother-in-law do I want to be?  I don’t want to just waltz into this and be like, oh my daughter got married.  What does that look like?  ‘Cause my role is changing.  How does that transition?  So, I’m asking questions like that.  My roles are shifting.  So, not getting stagnant and kind of going along and finding myself at seventy years old and kind of going…I never changed and never adapted in the season I was in.  How do I steward the season that I am in?

Me:  This will be my last question, and we have been talking about Him this whole time but…can you just tell me about your Savior?

Denise:  (almost a minute passes by before she can answer through her tears)….You know…Megan…there are times when I think…Lord…I want to love the way you love.  And then I think about it and I think….can I even handle that?  Can I even handle loving the way that He loves…what would be to my world and my life?  I don’t even know if I could function in the day to day capacity, if I really understood the way He loves.  (Begins crying again)  But that’s what overwhelms me so much…I’m so imperfect…and you know that hymn…prone to wonder Lord I feel it prone to leave the one I love.  Oh God…how can I be able to love you so much but then be able to get so distracted so easily?  Yet, He is never distracted from me…I am just blown away by His loving kindness.  I think about it a lot in times of worship.  There is just something that is in me that just wants to bow before Him as King.  When we went to England…there is something about the monarchy that I love so much…(laughter breaks forth).

Me:  Maybe they will read this and you can meet them.

Denise:  Yes, maybe they will read this and I can meet them.  There is just something…the idea of a KING.  Those moments I am so impacted by who He is.  But then the loving kindness He has as my Savior and my Bridegroom.  It’s overwhelming.  It’s hard to encapsulate.  His loving kindness just blows me away.  Everyday.  That no matter if I have it all together and I’m firing on all pistons or I’m a mess…His heart is for me.  He’s captivated by me.  I don’t understand that, but I sure love it.  I always remember listening to something at a women’s conference and it was at a time when my kids were younger.  And she said, God’s just looking for small yeses.  You guys are moms you have little kids an some days you are just crawling under the kitchen table cleaning up cheerios.

Me:  Or not..

Denise:  Or not.  Or you are stepping on them.  But you just stop and stay…God I just love you so much…and it resounds in Heaven.  He stops what He is doing and spins in delight that in the moment of your chaos you stopped and offered Him a small yes.  That’s the kind of God that I serve…that He knows me in every season of my life.  He knows what I am capable of…and He loves me in the middle of it.  And He also empowers me in the middle of it too.  I struggled for a long time thinking that He was always going…”I’m just so disappointed.  You SO have not lived up to your potential.” …Every once and a while that message tries to take a little spot in my head but not really any more…I won’t let it because that’s not who He is and I am so glad that that is not who He is.  He’s good.  He’s really really good.

1075414_10200745751540123_672316205_o

My Gleanings

Practically, I have gleaned to say little yeses in the middle of my chaos.  The baby spits up…thank you Lord I love you.  Toddler throws a fit….thank you Lord I love you…what is your heart on this.  A solicitor comes to the door in the middle of nap time for the household, rings the doorbell, which sends the dog into a tail spin and barks everyone awake…then after I say I don’t have time and that the babies are asleep…no…wait they are awake now…and He STILL WANTS TO SELL ME SOMETHING……..um….yes….Thank you Lord.  I love you.

My perception of eternity was widened and the impact of how I live down here right now was deepened.  I have always tried to walk with an intention that there IS SO MUCH MORE, but my vision of eternity wasn’t that grand.  We are created to be eternal beings.  Either we will spend it with the Lord basking in His presence and love worshiping Him, or we will not.  The NOT is burning in the presence of the enemy…graphic but true.  I don’t want to dwell on the now because that is not the focus and I don’t want anyone to draw close to the Lord based on fear.  It is just that image of the little tip of red string at the end of a figuratively eternal white string.  The smallest part is so important.  We are only here for what seems like a breath in the Heavenlies, and that’s why we feel so out of place on this Earth longing for the eternal.  Live it for the Lord for He is so so so GOOD.

That brings me to the gleaning that has wrecked me most of all…God’s goodness.  I can’t think or talk about God’s goodness without tearing up like Denise.  He laid it all on the line for me.  Everything!  His life, so that I…ME…Megan Adams…a sinner…can live…truly LIVE.  Here is what I am tearing up about even right now.  In this life that He has given me, am I willing to lay it all on the line for Him?  Is He that big in my life?  Am I willing…brave enough…actually do I trust Him enough to pray, “God, do whatever you have to do in my heart to cause me to follow You.”

You see I was reading in Romans this morning (right now this is my favorite…I change favorite books like a kid changes their favorite color…daily) and there was new life on chapters 5-8 after coffee with Denise.  Specifically Roman 6:3-14.

Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. 13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. 14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

Am I willing to lay it all on the line for Him?  Am I able to ask Him, Lord, do what you need to do in my heart so that I can follow You?  Yes, at least for today.  The answer is yes.  I will have to daily crucify myself to this action… for Him…my love.  He died for me and I want to daily die WITH Christ so that I may live WITH Christ.  That means all my dreams (even the righteous ones…ministry…etc.), my children, my husband, and my heart.  He WILL breathe more life into all of these things than I EVER could.

Lord, do what you need to do in my heart so that I can follow you.  I ask for the honor of being used as an instrument of righteousness for you God.  Get rid of everything in my heart that has not been crucified.  I want to live WITH You, immersed in Your goodness.  Holy Spirit, help me to be bold enough to pray this daily.

Use Your Today for the Next Generation: “Coffee Talk” with Feleceia Benton

11251846_10153872689049689_6934736747281523230_n

So I am a little disappointed in this interview.  Not because of the interviewee but because I wanted to spend a longer amount of time with my friend, but storm clouds cut our meeting short.

This past Monday, Memorial Day, between family fun and looming storm clouds Kyle, Zoë, Levi, and Myself swooped down on our dear friend Feleceia Benton and her daughter Zoe to have “coffee talk”.  I say “coffee talk” because it was really talking over pb&j’s, if I am real honest.

I was super excited!!!  Well, we all were.  Kyle and I hadn’t seen her in like 2 and a half years, and our Zoe girls had never met before to play.  For the sake of this interview Feleceia’s Zoe will be referred to as Zoe Benton and my Zoë as Zoë Grace.

We know Feleceia from theatre….when we used to actually participate in DFW theatre.  We are old fuddy duddies now…meh…and haven’t been in a show for…a while.  Feleceia is amazing on the stage and one of the best in DFW; However, that isn’t what drew Kyle and I in to be her friend.  It was her heart, depth of character, and genuine walk with the Lord.

Yesterday I read her book Lessons from Five Fingers: 21-life lessons from the book of Zoe.  It is a beautifully simple telling of her lessons learned as a mom from her brilliantly fun, beautiful, and fearless daughter Zoe, who is a completely normal kiddo who happens to have Down Syndrome.  This book has definitely left a mark on me, but more on those gleanings later.

If I haven’t bragged about my friend enough here is her bio from the back of her book:

Feleceia B. Benton, also known as Zoe’s Momma, is a Dallas-based songstress and Texas Christian University grad with a BFA in musical theater and BS in Advertising/Public Relations, owner of Zoe Communications Agency, a brand management company, Editor-in-Chief of Elisia Magazine and radio personality at LifeChat Radio on Tha Afterparty Radio.  She’s performed with almost every professional theatre company in North Texas including Dallas Opera, Bass Hall, Casa Manana, Water Tower Theater and Dallas Theater Center, and is an active choreographer and playwright.  Feleceia frequents DFW stages and places that serve brunch things with her little girl, Zoe.

Seriously…you have to meet this girl, and I hope this interview will tide you over until you do.  Here we go.

10854998_803954656318593_7787794249193945583_o

Me: So Feleceia, when you do drink coffee how do you take it?

Feleceia:  I try not to drink coffee coffee.  I just have chai’s…they have caffeine…but less.  So, my favorite chai is a tall half Oprah half regular soy chai at Starbucks with cinnamon powder.

Me:  Oh my goodness, you are one of those people.

Feleceia:  Oh yeah, and it tastes very specific and you can tell when something is off.  It’s just the right amount of caffeine to get me kickin’.

Me:  Wow…so no coffee.

Feleceia:  I try not to.

Me:  Alright, what’s your favorite verse?

Feleceia:  Proverbs 22:1.  “A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold.”

(loud noise from the bathroom)

Feleceia:  Uh oh….I heard the sound of a toilet.

Me: It could be Zoë… (my Zoë..Zoë Grace)

(Kyle comes back in from checking out the matter.)

Kyle:  It is our Zoë and your Zoe is watching.

(we all start laughing)

Feleceia:  That is some bonding!!

(our kiddos begin playing again in the background)

Me:  Alright, when you do get a quiet time what is your typical quiet time like?

Feleceia:  Um…it’s very early.  I usually get up between 4 and 6…no later than 6…sometimes…most of the time around 4ish.  My quiet time is usually pretty quick.  I read that book that is sitting right next to you.  It’s called Sanctuary by David Jeremiah.  It is usually a really quick read, but David Jeremiah knows how to pin you to the core real fast.  So it’s usually that…a little bit of prayin’….A LOT of thinkin’ about the day and kind of meditating and listening on what’s supposed to happen.  I am honestly not a big quiet timer.  I try to get in something the first of the day, but I talk to God all day long…like He is right there.  Sometimes He gets all the nasty words…..like really inappropriate ones that you probably shouldn’t say to the Creator of the Universe…but He gets all kinds of words….all day.  Yeah…so quiet time is not super hokey for me…if and when I get to it, its 4 o’clock in the morning…..a quick read with David Jeremiah…..I usually am listening to a book.  I don’t have a whole lot of time to open a book so audible is a big friend of mine.

Me:  I love that…I need some audible books.  That’s how I read Lord of the Rings.  (“read”)  Alright, if you could have coffee with anyone dead or alive who would it be?

Feleceia:  At this point probably my grandmother that died a couple of years ago.  So…yeah…I was going to make Zoe’s middle name her name because she had the name also of my favorite singer. (door shuts)  The Zoe’s have closed the door…. Her name is Ella.  Ellawese Smith is her name, so I was going to name Zoe, Zoe Ella.

Me:  So your favorite singer is Ella Fitzgerald.

Feleceia: Mmhmm.  So…yeah…me and my grandma.  You know.  When they leave, you are like wait a minute…hey…I got some stuff I needed to ask you about but didn’t.  You know?  ‘Cause you don’t think about asking when you are younger…or older until they’re gone.

18588_10100952032296624_7149799204176156805_n

Me:  What is the greatest word of wisdom that you have ever received?

Feleceia:  Oh…that’s actually a really hard question.  I mean I grew up with a pastor.  My daddy is a pastor, so I cling to a lot of words.  Um…probably a song, “my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.”  It’s what I cling to.  I cling to a lot but that is probably the ultimate.  Those words don’t become reality until you are out here…trying to do it…survive.  Survive.  I look at my parents totally different now than I did when I was growing up because survival is so much harder than anyone could ever really prepare you for.  Yeah…Christ the solid Rock…that’s who I cling to…really.

Me:  Okay, so you are saying you cling to Christ…what is your salvation story?

Feleceia:  Um.  Pretty cliche up until now.  I grew up in the church.  My dad has been a pastor since I was 7 or 8 years old…wait 9.  He’s been a preacher since I was 7 or 8.  So when I was a little girl…about 7…I asked my mom some more questions about salvation and what this whole thing was all about.  She walked me through it.  My daddy baptized me.  I was the first person my daddy has ever baptized.  So, you know all of that cliche stuff…I was raised in it…we did AWANA Sunday school…all of that.  But my faith didn’t become super duper REAL….it started becoming more real in college when I was broke and I couldn’t pay for school and the Lord started to evidence Himself there, but it became real real REAL when Zoe was born.  And not just the beautiful part of salvation like the stuff that people always look forward to but that was the part that I realized that I was like everybody else.  I used to really…(Zoe Benton calls for Maaaaahhh Meeeee)  Yes, my love….

Zoe B.: Maaaaahhhh Meeeee

Feleceia:  Maaaaahhhhh Meeeee….come here.  Come here Zoe Benton…(waits…no Zoe)….okay…it ain’t all that crucial then.  Um…I was the good kid.   I used to wear the badge of honor that I had done it all right.  I was going to do it all right.  Yeah…I was the good kid…and then I wasn’t anymore.  So…yeah…that was my moment…that the Lord evidenced that I was a wretch …that there was no perfection in you sweet baby…you are subject to temptation just like everybody else…you fail like everybody else.  Get that in your brain…you fail.  You will continue to because you are insufficient.  As smart as you think you are… you are actually Nada…nothing.  It’s all me.  So let’s get that straight.  Ta Da!!!  Had a kid.

Me:  And there you go.

Feleceia:  And there you go.  So He proved that first and the past several years He has made what faith looks like very evident of which I am forced to live.  I am forced to trust His word, and forced to go where He says go.  And forced to trust when He says to stay.  Forced to trust when He says to do.  And it’s awesome and terrible.  So…that’s my salvation story.  It was something when I was 7 but it was real when I was 24…..it was super real when I was 26.

1175353_10100384714036964_393409960_n

Me: Okay, so Zoe has…explain.

Feleceia:  Yes.  Zoe was born with Down Syndrome.  Trisomy 21 and also no fingers or digits on one hand.  Down Syndrome we speculated when she was about 6 months old (in utero).  Apparently, one of her kidneys was dilated and the other one was not and apparently that’s a trait of a person who might have Down Syndrome.  So, we went through genetic counseling and they asked me if I wanted to do an amniocentesis…and I was like…Nah.  And they said if that’s the case we will monitor you for the next several months and see what happens.  They monitored her…her kidney went back to normal and they said that everything looked okay and that everything was fine.  She looks like she is going to be fine.  So, I thought she was going to be fine…(seeing that Zoe has her phone now)….and now she is taking selfies…..ready set…bye…So…she was born.  She was 2 weeks late.  She was born at 42 weeks.  They tried to take her out three times….did three rounds of pitocin injections and she wasn’t budging.  So, finally, Sunday, September the 20th I went to Baylor hospital and they said she is coming out one way or the other in the next 24 hours.  So…if she doesn’t come out by tomorrow we are going to do a c section.  So, they didn’t have to worry about that.  They put all of the stuff on me.  They gave me more pitocin….a heavier round that time.  At 6 o’clock in the morning her heart rate dropped at the same time I was having a hard contraction so like 8 people come into the room.  I was out of it.  In 7 minutes or less I was prepped for surgery.  My parents weren’t there yet.  My oldest sister was there and that was it.  And my oldest sister had sworn that she was not going to be in the delivery room, and she did not have a choice because she was the only human there.  I felt them cutting me open.  I can’t see anything.  They wrap her up…show her to me.  And then she was out the door.  I remember seeing her, but it was so fast…they wrapped her…showed her to me…and then she was off to the NICU. I remember her being born with no digits on her hand and saying don’t worry I think they’ll grow.  That’s how I was.  And here we are…5 years later.

Me:  I know that being a mom has changed your life, but how has being a mom to a special needs child changed your life?

Feleceia:  Yeah!  We live triple by faith because we don’t live with anyone…it’s just me and her.  Um…so…It’s different because I didn’t read books to learn about Down Syndrome.  I did that on purpose.  I didn’t want to know.  The best thing that we did was that she started therapies very early.  Speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy…we went through therapy very early so we were able to get on the positive side of a lot of things.  Um…so…it’s different but not that different.  She’s pretty regular.  The neatest thing is that she is a regular kid.

Me:  What do you want your legacy to be?

Feleceia:  Her.  I don’t want Zoe to feel like she has to work at McDonald’s and live in a group home.  I want her to be self-sufficient.  I want her to be able to live on her own, have a family, have a husband, have whatever and to live as normal of a life as possible.  I want her to work somewhere where she’s proud of and somewhere where it feels like it belongs to her.  So, that is 100% the reason why the companies are named after her.  I want them to be hers.

Me:  Tell me about your Savior.

Feleceia:  (chuckles) That’s a big question.  My Savior is very real to me.  He’s not just the guy that hung on the cross…you know?  We lose that story.  It’s really easy to lose that story because it is so distant and so far away.  But if you allow Christ to be real to you and you pay attention to who He was and who He is it’s a lot easier to…..live.  It’s a lot easier to go day to day.  If you watch how He did it…pay attention to it and try your best to do it like that…life is just a lot easier.  We trade it.  I trade my crap life for His awesome one.  Which from the outside looking in could look very weird ‘cause every day I don’t know where my money is going to come from.  Every day.  I live and stay in that space of HOW ARE WE GOING TO SURVIVE TODAY?  I don’t know!!  (chuckles again)  I’ve lived this life long enough to know that He has proved it too many times, so at this point I am too far along to NOT believe.  I’m too far along.  He’s proven himself too much for me to not.  I wish people…I wish…that’s why I try to develop relationships with people because if you didn’t grow up with even the foundation of that then Christ is a foreign concept.  He and Christianity is a mean religion as opposed to a life that makes day to day easier to do.  You know?  We get to rest in something.  We get to rest in the fact that we’re gonna be okay.  Whether we are over here or over there.  We get to rest in the fact that…we good…someday the student loans will disappear.  Who cares?  You okay today?  Good!!!  Let’s do today.  Let’s be good with today.

Me:  What are His loving words that He is speaking over you right now?

Feleceia:  Rest.

Me:  Rest?

Feleceia:  Yeah.  That’s the ultimate.  Not just like sleep rest but…

Me:  Rest in Him.

Feleceia:  Yeah.  You are good…you’ve always been good.  There’s never been a time that I haven’t taken care of you.  Rest in Me.  Am I ever going to get married?  Who’s going to ever want to come into this?  You know?  That’s not total chaos but it is not traditional by any stretch of the imagination.  Who’s gonna understand me?  ‘Cause I am…complicated.  (chuckles)

Me:  Wonderfully complicated.

Feleceia:  I am compliCATED though.  There is nothing black or white about me.  I’m very complicated and my life is complicated.  Most men probably look at me and think…Felecia is ultimate independent woman, and they don’t know that if I could just give it to somebody else and…clean the house, and do homework with Zoe, and make sure you had breakfast before you left?  COOL.  That’s awesome good with me.  And work all this on the side and build it and not stress out about it.  I’m not so overwhelmed with wanting to be super independent career woman as I am with wanting my child to live in a way that is most beneficial for her.  But that’s hard to see from the outside looking in.  ‘Cause I work very hard.  But I work very hard so that she can eat.  That’s it.  It’s complicated.  She has Down Syndrome, but she is the most regular kid I know.  You write that down on paper that your child has Down Syndrome and your child…

Me: Then all of a sudden they get labeled.

Feleceia:  Yeah.  All of a sudden.  You know.  You get to meet her for 5 seconds and you are like…oh…this is Down Syndrome?

Me: Yeah.  Zo (my Zoë) is in there playing with her like she is any other kid.  And nothing.

Feleceia: Yeah…nothing.  Nothing.  She might have some questions later on.

Me:  Probably not.

Feleceia:  Maybe…maybe not.  For the most part…Zoe’s in a regular Sunday school class.  She is a regular kid, but dealing with all that and the concept of life…you know and those other questions…they get clumped in.  But a lot of things are coming back around.  I really feel like I am living in an outer body experience…I feel like I am outside looking in.  So…

Me:  So….overall…rest?

Feleceia:  Yeah.

1929185_1092931092542_1972324_n

My Gleanings (pb&j talk)

When Feleceia said, “Um…I was the good kid.  I had three sisters and they all made stupid mistakes in college and they had all been havin’ sex…and all of that stuff and had made really obvious mistakes.  And I used to wear the badge of honor that I had done it all right.  I was going to do it all right.  I was gonna be the redemption of the Benton children.  (laughs)  Yeah…I was the good kid…and then I wasn’t anymore.”  That hit a chord with me.

You see I was that kid, thinking they were the “good kid” and the redemption of all.  Almost declaring myself Savior to my family and friends around, but then realized I was just like everybody else.  I don’t have the exact same story as Feleceia but the Lord brought me to this realization with a series of other misfortunate events in my life.  We all come messed up to the Father…it is just not okay to stay that way.

I also took away some new wisdom when it comes to leaving your legacy.  Feleceia said she wanted her legacy to be “her”…Zoe.  She didn’t mean it in a helicopter mom kind of way where she wants her daughter to be put on a pedestal and spoiled.  Which are often the intentions of parents who want their children to be their legacy.  Quite the contrary.  She is intentional in using her today for the next generation.  She is building a future and paving a way for her precious child to make the biggest positive impact in this world as possible.

David did this.  Rather, the Lord put Him in position to do this for Solomon.  David wanted to build the temple, and he had all the plans to prove it.  When the Lord told him to not build it and rather let his son Solomon build it, do you know what he did?  He got his feelings hurt and stormed off and threw a pity party for himself that the Lord wasn’t letting him do what he wanted right?  NO!!  He changed his heart and plans and gave them to his son.  Then on top of it he went out and started collecting the supplies and resources that Solomon would need to have in order to build the temple.  After all that David said to his son in 1 Chronicles 28:20, “Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord God–my God–will be with you.  He will not leave you nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord.”  Our intentions as parents should be that of Feleceia and David.  What we do here on the earth and for the kingdom is to pave the way for our children to do even GREATER things for the Lord.  May our ceiling be their floor.

Then there was this gleaning when Feleceia was talking about what the Lord is saying to her right now and that is to rest.  “We get to rest in something.  We get to rest in the fact that we’re gonna be okay.  Whether we are over here or over there.  We get to rest in the fact that…we good…someday the student loans will disappear.  Who cares?  You okay today?  Good!!!  Let’s do today.  Let’s be good with today.”

I have enough grace, faith, and energy to do today.  The Lord wants me to do today.  Not tomorrow.  Not 5 years down the road.  Not 5 years in the past for that matter…our past is a time that we like to reflect on that keeps us away from living in the now.  He wants me to do TODAY.  That is IT!!

My gleanings (her book)

There are so many gleanings from Feleceia’s book Lessons from Five Fingers but I have limited myself to two, and will just quote them straight from her book.  They will speak for themselves and I have nothing to add to them.  All I can add is that you need to read her book!!

“Proving your priorities is a sacrificial act that requires extreme trust.  We can’t get back the missed trips or the missed dinners around the table or the missed custard explorations.  Make the time for your children- there is absolutely no substitute for time.  And they’ll likely like you more in the long run.”

“Your child will pay attention to the voice that cheers for them the loudest, even if it’s not the winning team.  Yell.  Loudly.”

“Treat your husband like the King he is and in turn he will treat you like a Queen.”: Coffee with Courtney Watkins

10418245_10153334273108115_2949936145825468744_n

Yesterday morning I was blessed to have coffee with my dear friend Courtney Watkins.  I tell you what!!  When I met this girl my life changed!!  Courtney and I worked together at Stonegate Christian Academy in Irving TX and became fast friends.  Her heart for Jesus, people, and her family are contagious.

Courtney is married to one of the greatest men I know, Nathan Watkins, and mother of four children.  She has worked for many ministries, including Vision Life Ministries, Shady Grove Church, Gateway church, and NinthHour Ministries which took her to Belgium.

307469_4921422907012_591801000_n

Seriously!!!  I am so happy that I get to share my coffee date with my sweet friend.  I wish everyone was friends with her…and if she had her way…she would want the same thing.  She is genuine, loyal, wise, and beautiful inside and out.  I am not quite sure where I would be right now without her.

So…stopping the mush now, and on with my coffee date with Courtney:

Me: So, this morning how are you taking your coffee?

Courtney:  With a little bit of milk and some agave nectar…thanks to my friend.  (AKA…me…friends don’t let friends drink bitter diet coffee.)

Me:  What’s your favorite verse?

Courtney:  There are so many good verses.  Oh Man!!!  Um..

Me: Or a book?  If you want to just narrow it down to a book.

Courtney:  I spent a season really meditating on Revelations.  I love Genesis and Revelations because I think if you could take those two books of the Bible, and you put em right on top of each other..they are going to give you basically what you need.  Genesis is foretelling like a prophetic picture.  Its telling everything that’s going to happen when He comes again.  I don’t know, it’s just those two books for me are jammed packed full.  The Lord downloads stuff in me from those two in particular.   So yeah, there are too many to name.  There are certain verses for certain seasons.

Me:  What’s a typical quiet time look like for you?

Courtney:  A typical quiet time is…coffee.  I have to have my coffee.  Actually, my quiet time is varied on whether or not I will have music or not have music.  Sometimes I put on worship.  I like to spend some time in worship before I get into the crux of reading and meditating on scripture.  I think it just opens my heart up and I’m able to…it opens my spiritual ears.  Worship is so key for me.  I think it’s probably due to that fact that our family has a Levitical anointing.  I think that worship is the key that unlocks everything.  So I’ll sit down right here..this is my spot..here on this couch.  I’ll pull my Bible out and my journal and turn on some worship and meditate on Him, and then I just start in on my readings.  Sometimes I have an hour, an hour and a half.  Sometimes I have 15 minutes, so as you know you’re a mom, it can vary.

Me:  If you could have coffee with anyone living or dead who would it be and why?

Courtney:  You know on a very personal level…I don’t know if it has any spiritual significance…but I never met my grandmother on my Dad’s side.  And everyone says that I am the spitting image of her.  So I…it kinda makes me emotional thinking about it because I’ve always wanted to meet her and spend some time with her.  She got saved literally on  her death bed.  She was dying of cancer.  I think I would love to get to spend some time with her and get to know her, and see how similar we are.  Um.  That’s a really hard question.

Me: Anyone alive right now that you would want to have coffee with?

Courtney:  Um.  Well let’s see.  You know, I really really really like Jenn Johnson..Bethel…worship leader.  I mean she is incredibly anointed.  She’s a mom and I think that she has a burden for this generation underneath us and I think that she has the key.  There’s something in her that she’s unlocked that…she’s unlocked something of the presence of the Lord.  And I think that I would like to sit under that anointing.  So..I think her and her dad would be awesome too.  She would be amazing to sit and talk to.  It’s hard to narrow it down.

Me:  What is your ultimate day?

Courtney:  I wake up just before sunrise.  Get a steaming hot cup of coffee and in my perfect day I would be listening to the ocean watching the sun rise hearing the ocean waves on the beach.  Hang out at the beach all day, chillin, go and take a nap, come back out, have some food, dinner, that I did NOT prepare….EVER….and watch the sun go down with a glass of wine.  There is no day that is better.  That is the ultimate day.

Me:  What did you want to be when you grew up?

Courtney:  It changed.  I wanted to a professional ballerina because I danced for 9 years.  The Lord changed that course though.  I heard from Him..it was beautiful.  Um.  I also wanted to be an astronaut.  I still would be an astronaut to this day because I absolutely love space.  Um.  Nathan says that I can always be an astronaut…that’s my fall back.  I still have that hope and dream (laughing).  I wanted to be on Broadway.  And then I wanted to be a nurse.  I had this dream of being a nurse when I was in junior high.  I had this thing in me that wanted to take care of people..in a physical sense.  And I knew that my spouse would come along side me and we both together would take care of the physical and the spiritual.  So that we could see a whole person.  Really, any of them I would be to this day.  (giggles)  I really would.  I haven’t really changed.

Me:  What does the word mother mean to you?

Courtney:  Mother is someone who can be that nurturing side of parenting.  I think that the father and the mother both should be nurturing but I think women, by nature, their heart is to nurture and protect and gather their little chicks.  For me, I just knew that discipline was going to be really important, looking after them in a sense of discipline.  I’m not looking at them as a one year old.  I’m saying okay, what are the heart issues the root issues that need to be fixed so that they become a mature and healthy whole adult.  That’s how I disciplined.  You are there to provide the emotional needs…especially girls.  I have three girls.  There are things that  a mother brings that fathers can’t necessarily do and that is that connection of “hey I just need to talk.”  This girl to girl sisterhood.  We are in this journey together.  There are so many facets to motherhood.  Vulnerability is key.  Showing your kids that you can be vulnerable and that you can say you’re sorry.  And I think when they see you as a real human walking this journey just like them, their defenses come down.  And there is a connection you can have with your child that is beyond what you could imagine just by humbling yourself and saying “you know what, I am on this journey with you.  I still struggle with that.”

1377431_10154471254865002_922926335228691042_n

Me:  What does the word wife mean to you?

Courtney:  Wife to me means that you are their helper.  But helper doesn’t mean that you are just the subordinate.  Helper says that you are coming along side and that you are a team.  Anything that the husband is deficit in that is your opportunity to shine.  You help each other.  We are one.  But the definition of a wife is a helper, so at the end of the day I’m there to help him lead us.  That doesn’t mean that I help him accomplish all his dreams and I don’t get to do anything.  I get to help him in leading us.  I’m the behind the scenes.  We make decisions together but I’m helping him.  For him he needs that companion.  He needs that person he can be crazy with.  No reservations.  You’re that safe place.  He trusts you with his heart.  I was taught at such a young age that if you treat your husband like the king that he is, he will turn around and treat you like a queen.  That is the way that God set it up, if we treat him with the honor and respect that he deserves and we show that in our home and with our words and actions…He can’t help it.  His heart is immediately turned to you, and then he is then putting you above everything else.  So you are both getting your needs met.

Me:  What does the word woman mean to you?

Courtney:  I think that we have so much strength that we don’t even know that we have.  We get to bring life into the world.  Males don’t get to do that.  We are carriers of life.  I am so passionate for women.  We have yet to fully grasp who we are and who God designed us to be.  We are made in His image.  We are the image of God.  We don’t fully understand that as believers.  Women…we haven’t fully grabbed what He has called us to.  The fact that He chose women to be carriers of life to carry forth the next generation.  That WE ARE the carriers of life.  That’s so powerful and that could mean so many different things if we dive into it and get that revelation.  I think women are stronger than we give ourselves credit for.  There is something so powerful about a woman who is submitted but yet walking in the calling that God has for them.  We are unstoppable.  That is somebody who can be used by the Lord to do incredible things.  I don’t like it when women put themselves in a box.  I don’t like it when they say, “Oh, I’m a tomboy.” or “I just don’t really like sports.”  We are trained in society that you have to be one or the other.  No I don’t think that’s true.  I think that we can possess all of it.  We weren’t created to be in a box.

Me:  Your grandfather is Olen Griffing, and He wrote a book…which I haven’t read yet, but will….called Legacy Song.  I have an idea of what it is about, so my next question is what do you want your legacy to be?

Courtney:  She put others before herself and she was willing to lay down her life to be uncomfortable for the sake of others.  Not that she was used and abused and people walked all over her but yet her heart for people was so intense that she would do anything to see them come into the kingdom, and to see them walk in their full potential and their destiny.  Nathan and I have both said this.  We want to be the type of people that people write about.  Not for fame but because we were so passionate for the Lord and for His calling and for His plan and His purpose and we were so passionate to see His kingdom released here on earth that…you know…people write about it.  You look at these people in the Bible.  How did they get into the Bible?  Some of them didn’t do anything…they were just at a well.  Lord, I want to be that.  So yeah, I want that to be my legacy…that I loved people and that I loved His heart.

Me:  I know what may happen as a result of this question, but tell me about your Savior?  What is He speaking into your heart lately?  When He talks to you what are His loving words over you right now?  What is the song He is singing over you right now?

Courtney: (begins crying…tears of joy and love.) Um..this is a tough one.  He hasn’t stopped saying this for the last several weeks and I don’t even know exactly why but it just ministers to me every time.  But He says, “You’re beautiful.  And you’re so worth it.”  This week He has been teaching me more and more about His provision.  And He says over and over to me that He cares so much about meeting my needs but that He also cares so much about meeting my wants.  It’s true, and not just on a material sense but on all senses.  He cares about meeting our needs but also cares about meeting our wants.  I can’t ever talk about who He is without crying.  I just cry and cry and cry.  Because He is so so incredibly good.  I think growing up in a Christian home, I don’t think it is anything anyone put on me necessarily, but I knew about the religiousness of the Lord and that He was there to just discipline me.  I felt He was more the disciplinarian more than the Lover.  So what He has been breaking down even still is breaking down those old mindsets.  He says, “Yes I discipline those whom I love, but I’m not who you think I am.  I’m not here waiting for you to mess up so there can be consequences.  I’m not thinking of the consequences.  I’m thinking of my love.”  I mean He is just so good.  There are no words to describe who He is.  And giving His Word to feed us?  I mean THAT’S THE LIVING WORD OF GOD.  It’s breathing.  It’s like every time you open the pages there’s new life that’s given. Whether you feel it or not, it’s going in.  He thought of everything, even His Holy Spirit.

Me:  That’s my next question.  How has your relationship with the Holy Spirit changed your life?

Courtney:  Well, I got filled with the Holy Spirit when I was 8.  I know this sounds crazy but I do remember before 8 being just saved without the Holy Spirit.  It was a radical transformation of my heart when I was filled with the Holy Spirit.  Before 8 I remember thinking…okay….this is it…this is what we DO…alright…I get to pray…and read the Bible…that’s awesome.  But being filled with the Holy Spirit…its…all of a sudden…this is the only way I can describe it…the eyes of your understanding are opened.  Where you couldn’t see…you now can see and its on a totally different level.  It’s the power that enables us, so before we are filled with the Holy Spirit we’re just walking.  Then all of a sudden the Holy Spirit comes and it is the power that enables us for this journey.  The eyes of your understanding are opened and you are like…I get it…I actually get this now.  How awesome is He to leave that for us.  I don’t know how people do it without the Holy Spirit…you just get involved in religiosity because that’s all you CAN do.  I just can’t imagine walking without the Holy Spirit….it’d just be boring.

Me:  Last question, what are you most excited about in your future?

Courtney:  What I think is awesome…and I think this is how we live our lives…I don’t ever know what the next 5 years are going to hold.  Because I think that walking with the Lord is as simple as hearing the voice of the Lord and obeying.  That could take me anywhere…and it HAS.  It’s taken me all over the World.  I think that what most excites me, and I tell Nathan this all the time, is that what excites me most about the future is not knowing the future.  I know in part but I don’t know fully the plan that He has.  I’m okay with that.  We just hear the voice of the Lord and obey.  Hear the voice of the Lord and obey.  He wants to take us to new heights.  Walking with Him is such an adventure.  I also want to see my kids be healthy whole adults.  Walking into their purposes that God has for them.

My Gleanings

Coffee with my friend was amazing as usual and stirred up even more questions that I want to ask her….it usually does.  I glean wisdom from her every time and yesterday there was a great harvesting of it.

I learned the importance of humbling yourself as a parent before your children and to not let your pride stand in the way of helping them to become a healthy whole adult.  As long as your make walking in healing and freedom a part of your life, they will as well.

To treat your husband like the king he is and then in turn he will turn around and treat you like a queen.  Rocked me.  I always try and lift my husband up daily and especially in prayer, but haven’t heard it put in such a way.  He is a King!!  The way we treat our husbands is a direct reflection on how we treat and walk with our Savior the King of Kings….oh snap…I said it.  Are we going to help our husbands with leading our households and catching their vision for them?

Courtney’s love for Jesus is so pure and contagious.  I loved being there to witness such sweet tears as she cried about how much Jesus loves her.  It made me tear up too because that love….that LOVE….is for me too.  We are all worth it, and I will do everything I can to sit in His presence, listen, and obey.

Blessed to have this woman of God to glean from, and do life with.  She is crazy awesome, and a safe place for me as a friend.  Love her!!!

10257804_753185178033204_6840311876449517413_n

Until next time…happy gleaning.