The Empty Box

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I got this prayer box necklace from my aunt years ago and recently it got me to thinking.

Looking at the empty box, I could have worn this as just a pretty necklace over the years, or I could take my prayer and place it in the box, close to the heart. I chose to write my favorite scripture and put it in the box and whenever the necklace moved or I saw it in a reflection I would meditate and believe that word was qualified in my own life.  The empty box did not remain empty.

I use this, as an illustration, to show how we may take the time for our empty box during our downtime. We have spent all day, pouring out our energy and when we stop we are depleted. When we take the time to recharge,  we make choices. Those choices are to leave that box empty, fill it with distraction, or fill it with life.

For a season I found myself filling the empty box with distraction. Such as binge-watching Netflix or spending hours on my social media accounts when I wanted to just ‘chill’. Not before too long it became habitual and without any thought, I pick up my phone first thing in the morning and throughout the day, all day, and mindlessly scroll.
Then there is the other box in the room that grabs my time. As soon as I sit on my couch I would reach for my remote and scroll for an hour looking for something to watch.
Then one day it hit me, did I really just waste an hour (or hours)  scrolling nothingness?

There is a danger for me personally to use ‘nothing’ or distraction during down time. Before too long it becomes same old’ same old’ and if not careful I slip into the melancholy of nothingness and the empty box turns into a life of meh.

Think of your own life, are you working and going home and doing nothing? Is the place that you want to be in 5 years? I ask this because if you are filling your free time with nothingness or distractions, then in 5 years time, you will accomplish only keeping your box empty.

I know this may be an extreme thought, but for me it became extreme. I was created to write, paint, minister and to be present, yet I filled up a season of my life with nothingness and wondered why I was not getting anywhere. It all turned so quickly and without notice went from a few minutes of decompressing daily, into a lifestyle.

I am being exposed here. Not because it is fun to admit it, but because I know I am not alone and my hope is that others will see before the melancholy or time thief sets in. The thief of your time can also be a thief of your joy.

So what can you fill the empty box with?

I am determined to fill my life with things from the Lord through prayer, worship of all forms and pursuit of my future that He has planned for me. I want my empty box to become filled with life. So that I may pour it out onto others and not be running on a nothingness.  So that I may remain young and strong.

Psalm 103:5- He fills my life with good things so that I stay young and strong like an eagle.  

Fight the Battle

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One thing I have discovered with life… there is always something.
There is always an opportunity of one kind or another to fight the battle ahead.

When the battles seem overwhelming our nature may be to retreat. Some of us are fighters and some of us need to learn how to fight. Others are natural warriors that don’t see anything but victory ahead in the midst of it all. This is how I want to fight the battle.

I want to be the warrior that sees their victory ahead of the attack. Just as a good coach, sees victory for his team and focuses on the win rather than the idea of loss, I want to set my sight on a glorious outcome rather than the moment I am fighting the battle.

How do I walk this out? How do I fight the battle, when I feel the onslaught of ‘life’ coming at me from every side?

*RECOGNIZE
I used to bury my head in the sand, instead of looking at the battle head-on. I used to make excuses, and except the battle as just a part of life. Yes, our battles are a part of life, but I don’t have to accept the defeat before even entering the ring. I can’t roll over and just keep getting kicked while I am down. I must stand up and fight not only for myself for all those around me that a defeated outlook or blindness to the situation will effect. If I roll over and am exhausted by the battle, with just a smile on my face, I am affecting my family, my ministry team and others the Lord has placed in my life. It is like a soldier watching everyone get shot around them with a smile on their face that all is fine. NO, it is not fine. It is a battle and I am going in!! This is how we fight the battle. We recognize we are in one!!

Ephesians 6:12- For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

 

*EQUIP and Position

This is the time to take out all the resources in your tool belt! A soldier going to war would not do well if He forgot all his equipment, and just showed up for battle in his shorts and flipflops.
In this same line of thought, a soldier or a team needs all their partners in the battle. Know your team members. Share your heart, let them back you. Know your source of support. This is key to fight the battle. The most important member you can have to back you is the heavenly creator, that has purposed for you to be victorious. He has a battle plan. He has the equipment ready for you to put on and take your stand. Even if all the other team members have run from the fight, you still have that coach pushing you on. He is ahead of the battle. The battle is HIS to fight. We need to ready our ears and hearts to listen and fight the battle.

Ephesians 6:13-18 

The Whole Armor of God

13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

* FAITH
Be ready to fight! Posture your heart in readiness. Walk in boldness that you are mighty in victory. Know that the battle belongs to the Lord and the outcome is always victory. It may not look like it at the moment, but the battle is won, when we are ready to win. When we are ready to fight the battle when we are ready to take ownership of victory. We have won. It does not matter what we are seeing. We see with a different lens. It does not matter what we are feeling, our feelings are fleeting. It does not matter that it all is crumbling and falling down around us, we have a master builder, that is ready to remodel and build fresh and new. The fight in the battle is knowing we have won!

Proverbs 21:31- The horse is made ready for the day of battle,
    but the victory belongs to the Lord.


*CELEBRATE- 

Rejoice in your victory! Be thankful the battle is won. You may not see it yet, well, set your eye on the other side. Celebrate your last victories! See what has worked in your favor. Celebrate how you have come out a victor before in your battles. Your battle does not own you. Your battle does not define you. Your battle is what you walk through and you already have the tools to overcome! Celebrating the one that sees you through, is a mighty weapon in the fight of the battle. Praise and worship, it goes before me. I am equipped and ready. I am the victor and I am seeing the victory ahead! I know the victory may look very different than I expect, but it is mine and I will take it and praise Him for it.

2 Chronicles 20:21- Jehoshaphat asked the people for advice. Then he appointed men to sing to the Lord. He wanted them to praise the Lord because of his glory and holiness. They marched out in front of the army. They said,

“Give thanks to the Lord.
    His faithful love continues forever.”

BE ENCOURAGED WITH THIS ONE : This is how I fight my Battles

COMMUNITY

54730098_10218592822756772_3689364288650084352_o Awakened_arts 

“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much” – Helen Keller.

I had started a very basic purple painted canvas on the first day of spring.
I asked my social media friends, to share what color they wanted on the picture, fully intending to see who matched what was on my mind for the painting. The interesting thing, everyone had a different idea for the secondary color than mine. As I stood and stared at the purple canvas, deciding which color I would pick, the name of the piece came to me, “Community”. 

This painting wasn’t about one or two solid ideas, but about combining the creativity of many into something of beauty. I took each color that my friends had suggested and I thought of them and prayed as I painted their color. I sought where the Lord would have them impact the piece and prayed for individual situations. A few friends had chosen teal, it didn’t matter, as I applied the color again, a new friend came to mind. Another, shared her idea for the technique to add dimension and direction. This was a wonderful example of community, each contributing, every individual uniqueness adding a new depth and detail as we collaborated. 

This piece alone reminded me of how important it is to be in community with one another. I could have said, ew I don’t like that color, it would never look right, but looking at this painting, it needed every single color whether at first, I thought it would belong or not. As I looked at the painting with each layer I was timid to place more colors, yet a sense of belonging came over me as I saw the work coming together. 

You would not know that two years ago, I had my self hidden away, shying away from the world, from being hurt, from being ignored and passed over. I had a horrible sense of my self. I had lost the knowledge of my worth somewhere on the journey of surviving grief and illness that had reared its ugly head like never before and the depression wanted to take over. In the past, I was swallowed by that depression. I cut everyone and everything off and literally wanted to die.

The amazing thing, this time, depression could not stay! While I started blocking people out of my life, there were the solid, the community that would not let me. There were the people who reminded me of who I am. There were the people that pointed out when I was being flat-out ridiculous and that I needed to stop identifying with what I was facing and start identifying on who God says I am. It was my community that picked me up and reminded me how much ground I have gained and even in this hiccup, it was safe to spread my wings and fly again. 

Community: A feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

Romans 12:5-
so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Do I always agree with everything they do? No. Do I enjoy every single personality within my community at every moment? No.  Do I share every single belief and value? No. 

Do I drive people in my community crazy at times? Ah, YAH! 

However, when in the community, despite our human differences we can choose to stay united with a common goal. Intentional to build together, to hold one another up by carrying each other’s burdens and remind each other there is hope in a sea of unknowns.

When the going gets tough, we can be tempted to run from our communities, but all that brings is isolation and loneliness, which in turn becomes bitterness and anger. I think this is why the Lord mentions not forsaking the gathering of our brethren. He knew that we needed far more than to hear our own voice whisper silently to the wind. 

Hebrews 10: 24-25-
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 
not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

 

 

More

33248955_10216228639453667_8634740846178074624_nBy Writing for joy: Instagram @awakened_arts

 

I was at church Sunday and the word that kept rising in my heart for a young man was more.
“More God?” I asked, and he replied in my spirit, “yes, more, more, more.”
God kept nudging me to share and I had no idea this young man was in the process of being taught about coming to Jesus at the moment by another.

I walked up to him and said God wants you to know that you can ask for more. That He wants to give you more. Just as you look at your little baby and want everything for her, this is how the father looks at you. He doesn’t want you to miss out on anything.

I went home and the thought kept pondering in my mind. More, more, more.

Ephesians 3:19-20
And to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do infinitely more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.

Just like this father looking at his tiny baby, our heavenly father looks at us. He wants the best for us, He wants his gifts for us, He wants more for us than we in our human minds, don’t think to ask for. 

I want to walk in my kingdom identity as His daughter, with His inheritance as my stepping stool to launch me into His work for my life. I want to know His love in infinite ways. God holds nothing back from me as His child, seeking Him first, He holds everything to give to me at the right time.

If I walked up to a stranger and asked for the inheritance to his life’s work, he would look at me with disdain and say, “who are you to ask such a thing?” 
But my heavenly father says… “YOU ARE MINE. All you have need of, ask. All that you can imagine, ask.
This isn’t about seeking the savior for what you get..it is about receiving because you have sought Him first and He is yours and everything that that entails. 

So as I say “yes Lord, I will receive your more, more more.”
He answers me,
 Now you have revelation it is time, live your life today by Kingdom standards, not earthly limits! ”

“Yes, Lord!”

Transformation: Fear is a Liar

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This picture came to me as I was worshiping in my living room before a special meeting at church. I had not planned on doing any painting that night, but the song in my head would not leave, “Fear is a liar”. So without knowing what I was painting, I sat and quickly painted my beginning picture. It was the eye of evil staring back at me. My first thought was, I am not taking this to church!
Then the instruction, “How will you look beyond the ugly and make something beautiful?” I knew at that moment this picture was about transformation.  I did not know it was to be mine!

I have rarely done a painting in public, and never with this process, fear tried to grip me. While I prayed and prepared,  the excitement of what God would do, overtook any timidity. I kept singing that song Fear is a Liar, knowing God would be my peace.

As I was packing my supplies the Lord said, ” tonight you will get messy, no brushes.”
It sounded fun and exciting to me but I have absolutely no coordination and fear again tried to grip me. I had to keep singing Fear is a Liar.

I then felt led to put red paint in a spray bottle ( NO idea why). I have never sprayed my paint before and had only bought the bottle for water just a few days before. People will think I am crazy and I don’t even know what to do with it. Fear tried to grip me and I had to sing again, Fear is a Liar.

In this process I was seeing how fast my site can shift. How fast a lie can creep in.

I flipped the painting over and I could see in the eye, a worshiper. I knew my result would be a worshiper but no idea how the transformation was to take place.
I packed my paints, prepared to take everything with me and continued to pray.

At some point in the service, I truly can’t remember where, the visiting pastor from Bethel had said,  “Tonight we are going to get messy. I like messy church!”I truly laughed out loud! She was meaning we are not following our own agenda and it will not look like church always looks, but God had given me an action, to step out of my comfort and my known to let HIM do a work and instructed me to get messy! He confirmed through her exact words what I had heard. Don’t be afraid to get messy.

In worship, The song Fear is a Liar began and a woman with an amazing ministry of sign language was next to me signing the song. I didn’t dare look at her because when she signs I always want to cry, it is so beautiful. So I looked at the painting, spray bottle in a hand and the words began. ” When he told you’re not good enough,” (spray the blood of Jesus over it, this is why red, this is why bottle, the paint dripped over the evil eye. The blood of Jesus covering every lie). When I realized why the spray bottle, I shook with joy. My tears blurred the painting for a moment. I pressed in, praying and obeying.
“When he told you your not right” (Spray), “when he told you’re not strong enough, to put up a good fight” (spray.)
This continued through all the lies, then it was time to get messy. Without really knowing what I was to do, that picture went through a transformation journey.
A worshiper facing the eye, arms raised formed, then swirl of paint and the flames from a fire, more smudge of messy paint, a dove representing peace, the blues were added becoming a river of God washing over her. Then she was gone and an angel appearing to fight. Lastly, she was a new worshiper, covered with the Glory of God, facing forward in the painting, more confident, ready and all of Gods amazing triumph of colors surrounding her, surrounding her in His love, He had covered it all and she was ready to move forward. The enemies lies no longer in her sights.

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I truly wish I had recorded the process. I had no idea the journey the Lord would take me on. The funny thing is, many times, I wanted a paint brush. I wanted to perfect the work. It was not until the next day the Lord allowed me to paint the worshiper, after all, He had revealed and I used a brush. Not until I was ready to submit fully and see the full work He had for me.
It was messy and did not look the way I wanted it to. Just now as I thought about that, the Lord shows me, you wanted to rush the process. If you would have had a brush, you would have gone straight to the worshiper, you would not have seen my blood covering, you would not have seen the dove, the angel, the many glorious colors. You would have robbed yourself of the full work of your transformation. This process was so healing for me. I recognized each lie the blood of Jesus had to cover. I saw the peace covering my head. I saw the angel fighting for my victory.

I feel so humbled as I look at the work the Lord has done in me. How in my own power I would have quickly ‘fixed’ it to look the way I wanted it to look. I would have bypassed all the hard stuff. I may have had a decent outcome but I would have missed the strength, the skills, the courage that had come out of it, there is beauty in the process!

I tell you I truly wanted a brush when the Spirit of God was on me so strong my hands were shaking and I was trying to paint with them. My fingers felt clumsy, the paint all mixed and not perfect. God says…this is exactly what I want. You messy and all, let me do the transformation and remember Fear is a liar!

Here is the song to give a listen: Fear is a Liar

Intentional Connection

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John 14:26-

The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and make you remember all that I have told you. 

Let me start off with this thought… you can not theory your way into changing my heart of what I have experienced personally. You may not believe in the Holy Spirit in such a way, that is okay, but I have EXPERIENCED the Holy Spirit this way, and I will not be convinced otherwise.

The greatest gift is to be able to have an intentional connection with the Holy Spirit.

Where would my relationship be with my husband if I was walking through life, knowing he was there and hearing his voice from a closed door in another room but not have an intentional connection with him? I would be one with him, but not aware of him.
I can hear him trying to converse with me, but no clarity of what is being said. What kind of relationship would that be?

This is how we can walk through life with the Holy Spirit. When we are saved and baptized the Holy Spirit comes and dwells within us. He is our friend, our comforter and hopefully leads us in our walk as we let him. But there is a difference between the Holy Spirit being there and having an intentional connection with Him. He is our face to face encounter with the Father. Our opportunity to hear the Father’s heart towards us.

Just like my relationship with my husband (or anyone for that matter) the Holy Spirit needs and deserves intentional connection. He delights to hear from us. He delights to spend time with us. He delights to speak into our hearts.

So I am intentional, shutting off the noise around me and asking the Holy Spirit, what do you want to share with me today?  He has blown my mind with His goodness and love for me. He reminds me that I am loved and not forgotten. He reminds me of my purpose and call. He is every bit as intentional with me, as I am with Him.

So very thankful for the intentional connection with the Holy Spirit. To be able to say, Holy Spirit, I welcome You.

I am READY

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I am READY FOR my new Season LIFE

 

This week at Bethel Music Worship School, has shaken me in every good way possible. I have been like a sponge absorbing God’s truths and casting off all the lies I have believed about myself and my ministry.
I have grown deeper in my relationship with the Lord and have allowed Him EVERY space in my life, rather than just the one to be revered and held high. YES, He is to be high and lifted up always, but there is so much much more. I am READY!

The second day at Bethel Music Worship School, while we were listening to Bill Johnson speaking, I had a vision of God holding out His hands with Jesus in the palms. I honestly don’t remember what was being taught at the moment. The vision was so clear and so beautiful it beheld my whole heart.
God’s hands outstretched were handing Jesus to me. I heard so clearly in my Spirit, this is my son and He is for ALL your areas of need. You need a friend, here you go, you need a Father here you go, you need a savior here you go, you need a healer here you go. There was no end to the places that Jesus was to fill in my life. I call out I am READY!!!

When I began writing for joy I was honestly at death’s door. I was ready to die. I wanted to die and had a plan to die. In my last cry to God before putting my plan into action I cried out… GOD, YOU PROMISED JOY WHERE IS IT?!?!
In that very moment, God instructed me to seek Joy and I would find it.
I felt shook. I said Ok God I will try this I will seek the FULLNESS of your Joy.
Step by step He pointed out all the areas that my life was robbing me of joy. It has been a good season to see His love and care and provision of the fullness of Joy in my life. Yet, that season has been one dimensional, survival-focused.
I was a baby surviving on milk and God is ready to give me more in the way of nutrition. He met me where I was and gave what I needed most to save my life and bring me back to living. Now He is ready to propel me forward in NEW life and NEW seasons of fruitfulness. The harvest has been planted, cultivated and now I will reap the benefits.
I am READY!

There is so so so much new the Lord would have me share and I am so ready for this wild journey He will be taking me on. This past week at Bethel Music Worship School has been one of the richest fullest life-giving experiences of my life. I am amazed and in awe of my Father all over again. I have come out of the land of the drought and ready for the land of living water. No more will I deny the spirit of God as He moves inside of me. I have been awakened and I will not be silent. I am READY

THIS…  AINT NO STINKIN GRAVE AINT NO STINKIN GRAVE… GONNA HOLD MY BODY DOWN!!!!