Many many years ago before my fibromyalgia diagnosis, during the season of being sick but not knowing what it was, I had a very detailed dream. I had dreamt that I was in the midst of a storm blazing all around me and in front of me there was a river with someone in it. The person said ” You have to go through the storm in order to get to the river.” Then I woke up. Well I knew I was in the midst of the storm.
Then the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia came and along with it depression. ‘This just was how it was going to be.” (doctor’s words not mine). I began to be so severely depressed that I asked God where my joy was and He said, “you have it you just need to find it.”
In that season I had a great friend teaching me about the praises out of our mouths and our healing. SO I began to praise in the storm, rejoice and look for my joy in all circumstances. I painted this picture representing myself praising the Lord in the storm.
It has been a very long journey and I can say despite my circumstances I have Joy to the full. Praise Jesus!!! But I never understood the river part. What was the river? I put this dream on the back file in my brain for YEARS.
This weekend we were having a prayer and worship weekend with a church that we have been attending for the last three years. God has done some growing in me over this season. Learning to talk out my feelings rather than burying them, stepping out in gifting rather than hiding them and excepting my differences for strengths rather than weaknesses. The understanding that I am ME and that is who I am meant to be. Understanding God’s grace, peace, strength and gentleness in new deeper ways.
Well I tell you during this weekends worship, I was dancing and praising, while sick mind you, and the Lord just filled me with a newness I could not quite yet identify. I knew my healing had come full circle. I knew in an instant that I had the choice to not pick the illness back up. No longer was Fibromyalgia my identifier!!
As I worshipped I saw this picture so clearly and as my husband lead a prophetic drum workshop I opened the floor to prophetic painting as well. I put paint to canvas as I danced to his drums and while I knew the picture represented a new day and a new beginning and that the person was dancing in the river, it hadn’t dawned on me that I WAS THE PERSON. I had come to the river and was submerged. God kept bubbling song and image in my heart for two days.
Sitting in my living room I was looking at the old picture of me praising in the storm and I just got teary eyed. That was the dream, going through the storm and then I completed the picture with dancing in the river. I had no idea the dancing in the river picture was for me until that moment. I then relaized, it had come full circle, I am dancing in the river of God!
“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'”
There is a song I sang as a child. I am posting the lyrics below. This song fits my heart this new day it is so real and so tangible and I am ready for what HE has next!!!
THE RIVER IS HERE LYRICS
Down the mountain the river flows
And it brings refreshing wherever it goes
Through the valleys and over the fields
The river is rushing and the river is here
The river of God sets our feet a-dancing
The river of God fills our hearts with cheer
The river of God fills our mouths with laughter
And we rejoice, for the river is here
The river of God is teeming with life
And all who touch it can be revived
And those who linger on this river’s shore
Will come back thirsting for more of the Lord
Up to the mountain, we love to go
To find the presence of the Lord
Along the banks of the river we run
We dance with laughter, giving praise to the Son
I have a person in my life that does not like others very much. This person is often judging and being hurtful with their critical views and lashing tongue. This person does not have much joy. This person was me.
As I began to reflect on my own self and how there was a season that I was so sick of people. I was so tired of being hurt. I was tired of being used or left behind. I often would tell my husband my new name should be ‘afterthought’.
I had a very long season where I had a hardened heart. I would not let others in. I would smile, but inside I was ice. I would not allow anyone beyond the smile on my face.
I noticed fewer and fewer people in my life, and I was okay with that. I didn’t want anyone there. Others just messed everything up anyway.
Then one day I noticed I had no feelings towards a rather catastrophic event. There was something wrong, my compassion was evaporating as quickly as the people in my life.
I realized in that moment that the joy was diminishing as well.
I had my self secluded in my own frozen shell and even though I was not raw and exposed for everyone to hurt me, I was not living either. I was not sharing, caring, being an example, loving and being loved.
I was loving with condition. I was not exposing my full self.
The Lord told me to stop gauging how I was going to love others, and to let my heart defrost and just love.
Love with no expectation, no judgement, no harshness, and fully without expecting a return.
That moment that I allowed the Lord to completely defrost my frozen heart, I noticed a change. I noticed I was open to Him even more. Now when someone hurts me, I can look at the situation with different eyes. The Lord comforts me, He is my shelter.
I no longer have a fear loving. I can see the same hardened heart in many around me. It often comes from being hurt, rejected, ignored, torn down, or abused in some way. To harden ourselves is the way we hope to preserve ourselves yet we are not producing life when we allow the enemy this ground.
I encourage you, if you hold others at arm’s length out of fear…. it is time to defrost.
If you are cold and harsh because of anger…. it is time to defrost.
If you are so busy judging your brother you do not see the sin in your own life… it is time to defrost.
Why defrost? Because you can not grow and develop if you are frozen and planted in one place. You can not move on, press on, move forward if you are grasping and clinging to winter. Let yourself experience all the seasons of life.
My friend is an amazing baker and decorator, so one day I asked to tag along while she made a wedding cake. Little did she know, besides her amazing companionship, I was looking forward to a few scraps of her delicious cake during the creation process. I was not disappointed.
When she began, she pulled out the layers to the cake from the freezer where they were staying cool.
When the first layer was sitting on the cake plate waiting to be part of a magnificent creation, I felt it was not impressive at all. The flavors may have tasted good but you could certainly tell there was work to be done. I don’t think very many brides would be pleased for just one single non- decorative layer, as their wedding cake.
I watched as my friend piped icing along the edge of the layer and then pulled out some glaze and spread the shimmering red fruit based goodness across the cake. Then she placed on top of the glaze some magnificent raspberries. I know they were magnificent because I sneaked a taste. She took another plane layer of cake and placed it on top of the now covered with berries layer of cake. Pressing the newest layer down firmly and making sure it was even she began to repeat the process of glaze and raspberries.
The layers completed, my friend put a smooth layer of frosting all around the cake. Using her tools to smooth it out and making sure it was completely covered. The frosting layer was so thin, I could see bits of cake showing through and I wondered for a moment if she was extremely tired and just hadn’t noticed. But she picked up the completed white cake with raspberry filling and placed in in the refrigerator and I was not about to ask questions, she was on a mission.
My friend then brought out the smaller cakes for the second tier. These were chocolate and she repeated the layering process but with strawberry glaze and fresh strawberries. Those strawberries were equally as delicious as the raspberries. Yes I had to taste test one of the strawberries as well.
When both tiers were finished, my friend pulled the first tier out of the freezer and began to frost it. I thought, OH, now I see.
She frosted a nice smooth layer that covered the whole cake. She used warm water to smooth the frosting to make it even and remove any bubbles. The finished frosted cake was magnificent in itself. Yet she still had work to be done. On the completely frosted cake she began to etch her design.
My friend is SO talented that when it came time to pipe the decorative design on her cake, she made her own tools because hers had been left somewhere else. She used what she had on hand and piped the frosting design on the cake. I would have thrown my hands up if I was in that situation, not having a clue how to make the tools, but she has the skills to know what to do.
It was an incredible experience watching an artist take their craft in their hands and creating something magnificent out of something that began so simple and unimpressive. It reminds me of the way the Lord works with us. He takes us as we are and begins one layer at a time. As we allow Him to do the work in us, we become even more intricate and perfected by the skills of His hands. He has all the ability, to complete us. He doesn’t have to rely on us and our abilities,even if we don’t have all the right tools in our way of thinking, He is handy enough to use what we have to be His instruments and His work is far better than what we could ever do on our own. We just need to be willing to allow Him to do a work in us.
As I look at the layering of the fruit I am reminded of the fruits of the Spirit. How when God is at work in us and we live for Jesus, we become known by the fruit that is in us. It should be sweet and good and make a difference to the layers within us. If we are not seeing the fruit as God does His work in us, we need to be evaluating, and asking ourselves why.
As God completes the very work He begins in us, it is beautiful and perfect and you can see the work was done by the one with the skill and not something we can do on our own.
This was not the final product, but this is the final picture I was able to take. The day of the wedding my friend placed magnificent flowers on the cake. Wanting to wait until the right time, she waited for the day of the wedding so the flowers would not fall off. Just like our Lord, He does not complete the full work in us until JUST the right time. If we hurry the work, the final result will not be the same, there is prepping and timing for perfection.
Thank you Danielle, for your inspiring talent and for sharing your day with me… and letting me taste cake.
Challenge this day my friends: Allow the master creator, that knows exactly how to design all that you do for perfection, to do the work in you. He knows your layering process, He knows what He wants to see and He is perfectly able to do the work in you. Let your fruit be sweet and bless all those around you with the fruits of the Spirit. Let the world know… yes, that one has had work done by the master.
Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.
Galatians 5: 22- 23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
( New International Version)
The event: Teen night … A time where we encourage the teens to minister one to another and make a difference in each others lives and our schools.
Object Lesson: Lemon Jello was fed to each other by hand while wearing blindfolds.
( the teens pointed out spoons could be painful)
With each ‘attempt’ of getting Jello into their teammates mouth, the receiving teen had to say thank you, weather the Jello made it’s mark or not.
There are times in our lives when we ‘think’ we know how God is going to deliver something to us. We may have thought it through so many times, we know exactly how we will receive it and what it will taste like. THEN we get a wammy and how we thought things would be is not how they are at all.
It can still be good, it is still him, but it is different and we are to give thanks always.
In this same manner, life can throw us curve balls that we never expected, we can be hurt, bruised, torn down and stomped on and even in those times we are to give thanks to the LORD.
The Lord is ALWAYS good regardless of our circumstances. He will ALWAYS meet us, and see us through.
1 Thesselonians 5:8-
In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Challenge this day my friend:
Reflect back on how God has STILL been good regardless. Think on His goodness and GIVE THANKS. In every situation, in every trial, in every joy, give Him thanks!
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to the Lord.
At church today a group was telling us about their experience in India and how blessed they were to have been a blessing. The reaction of the leprous community to touch and respect was heart-moving. The contact with an outsider, meant SO much to them. The man went on to say that even if we can not all travel around the world, there are ‘lepers’ all over our communities, you know the unlovelies… and it got me to thinking.
How many times have I passed by the harried mother that was just screaming at her child because she is so frustrated with her situation, without taking the moment to encourage her? How many children have crossed my path that I have hurried along as they try to talk with me, because I need to be somewhere?
Just recently outside a restaurant a man asked for change and being in a society where a debit card is always used, I truly didn’t have any. Also even if I did I would have hesitated pulling open my purse with a stranger in the dark at ten o clock at night. I went in with my friend to the restaurant and we had a meal. It wasn’t until laying down to sleep that the thought struck me, I NEED TO KEEP MY MIND and HEART OPEN to opportunities… I could have said, “no I have no change, but are you hungry or thirsty, come and sit with us at the table.” THAT would have taken nothing from me truly, and I would have gained SO much.
There are people in our communities all around us, that we could be giving them the only opportunity of light, and joy that they will see for a LONG time. If I pass them by, how many other people walk on by too?
I can feel completely alone in my community of family, friends, and co workers, how much so would a person that is truly alone? We see them every day; in the grocery store, holding a sign on the corner, at the library, or laying in the grass at the park.
I see how quickly it all can fade away, how quickly people come and go in our lives and our situations can change in an instant. This has happened in my own life, we were set up pretty good and then went from much to little, how broken one could become when they didn’t have much to begin with and then lose all that they had? They need us, they need encouragement, joy, and someone to CARE.
Challenge this day my friend: Be aware of the needs around us, both emotional and physical. Can we pay that grocery tab of the single woman in line in front of us? Can we grab the cart and return it for the weary? Can we smile and give a bless you with eye contact and wave rather than walk by with our eyes to the ground? Maybe, handing out water to the sign holder and a protein bar is an option.
It is time to reach out to the Lepers. They are precious in His sight!
Matthew 35: 37-40
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?
When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
With my husband out of work for so long and no prospects really in sight, some days I can literally feel my brain spinning the wheels. I am constantly looking up jobs, thinking about the forclosure sale date, and making sure we are attempting to move forward.
I am finding there is a fine balance between taking steps in faith, because faith without works is dead, and trying to make something happen in my own power.
Most often these days, the Lord is needing to remind me over and over to just rest and wait. Waiting is so not my normal nature. If I ‘think’ I can find the solution, I am going to keep racking my brains and try. If I think I am going to miss an opportunity if I am not looking for it, I am going to keep looking. These days if I let it, my mind spinning the wheels could drive me right into that ditch of despair. I need to be aware of what I am doing.
I do not do anticipation very well; I am the kind of girl that would scrape the dirt off my seedlings in the garden to see if they were beginning to sprout, and cover them with dirt again. I would look in the back of the mystery book to see if I was right. One year I opened all my Christmas packages and re-wrapped them ( I was twelve).
Oh I can handle the woman in front of me in line on her cell phone, not putting her groceries on the belt just fine. I can wait forever and a day for the cat to decide if she wants to go outside or not. However, when it comes to anticipating something good to happen, especially when we are at the limit, I do not do waiting very well.
I do not like this about me. I am finding daily I need to repeat to myself, trust in the Lord, rest, be full of peace, He has it covered! I fully and completely believe there is a plan for our lives and I do not have to know every single step. So finding the balance between getting those wheels to stop spinning for a bit, and to get them moving when it is needed is the trick of this season for me.
Challenge this day my friends: When we want to think things to much, just rest in Him. Know that the plan is already there and we are taken care of 🙂 Trust me, I am completely taking this challenge up often these days. SO very thankful He is always patient with me and let’s me try that again.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.
(New American Standard Bible)