Wednesday, May 30, 2012

a sweaty prophecy

Can you imagine what it would feel like if someone walked up to you and spoke something to you that only you knew was true...something that just you knew was going on in your life, but somehow the other person spoke to that area of your life? What if they said something about your marriage, or where you're struggling to figure out how to raise your child, or how to increase your earnings, or how to make more of an impact in your community...

and then someone came along and had an answer, or maybe at least a partial one, for the areas of life in which you are struggling.

What if we listened to the voice of the Father and then released what He was saying so that we would bring forth encouragement and hope?

It would probably be something like what Paul was talking about in his letter in 1Cor 14:31, and throughout his letters. People would be encouraged - not by a pat on the back or false humility - but by intimate words spoken to their hearts that only the Father could know.

That's happened to me before, someone speaking into my life like that. But never on the fly. Never at a drive thru window, or at the grocery, or at preschool pickup, or at the gym. I'm waiting to be the recipient of such a sweet kiss from the Lord in that unexpected moment, but until I receive a drive-by prophecy, I'm going to become the giver of such good news.

And yesterday I had the sweet honor to give a sweaty prophecy.

I jokingly say that the YMCA, in our town, has an open heaven. You know, an area in which the realm of the heavenlies is so thin that it literally feels like heaven and earth are intertwined and to hear the heart of the Lord is easy. Maybe the Y has an open heaven. Or, maybe both of my children are in childcare and I'm less distracted.

Either way, inside those old cinder block walls, I've had the opportunity to do a lot of ministry.

For some reason yesterday just seemed more fun - maybe that's because the recipient of the news had an eager heart.

After a short run out on the track, I came inside to lift some weights. Now I normally don't go to the "boys' side" of the gym where all of the free weights are, but today I did. And while I was in there, I was so happy. I mean like annoying happy - I was smiling lifting weights and whispering praises under my breath.

My music was good and my spirit was free as the Lord had been ministering to me for the past 10 minutes or so about some burdens on my heart (it doesn't take Him long to free you up, if you'll just let Him talk). As I walked to get some weights I surveyed the room. I spied a few things going on and just asked the Lord "so what's going on with these people today? what do you want me to tell them or release?"

And I waited.

Just like I'd wait for you to talk, in order to hear you, I wait on the Lord. And as soon as I did, I knew what He wanted me to do.

I finished up my workout and headed over to this big heavy-set black man who was killing it on the chest press. (He probably could have pressed me over his chest) And so I just smiled at him and ever so nicely interrupted his set. He smiled and said hi. So I simply asked him if he was a follower of Jesus - and he said yes. He said he has always "believed" in Him but just recently received salvation. So I said, "well, I saw you lifting weights and just asked the Lord what I could do to bless you and I feel like He gave me a word for you...I feel like He said that you're like Ezekiel and that He is asking you to stand the gap in prayer for someone and He will bless what you pray."

He smiled so big. It was like a big 'ole rough guy just turned to putty in my hands. He said, "you know, since I was saved, stuff like this's been happenin' a lot to me." I laughed and told him that I believed that the Holy Spirit was after his heart and wants him to know that He wants more than just a knowledge-based relationship with him...

In a flat minute, that fella, laying inclined on his back with his hands still on the weights, unloaded a good portion of his heart's desires and burdens to me. He asked me so many questions about how to pray - and why bad things were happening in the world - and what were his "rights" to pray for things he wanted or needed when others were struggling - and the guilt he was carrying because he was doing better than some of his friends, etc. ...

And so I answered his questions and prayed for him, we exchanged names, and a few laughs, and I went along to get my children out of childcare.

That was that.

I listened. I obeyed. I relayed. And both of us were blessed.

Today I'm believing that my new friend, Rodney, has an increase of faith and a greater boldness than before.

Why? Because I prophesied about him being important in the Kingdom?

No. Because he actually realized that he IS important in the kingdom. The prophesy was just God's way of speaking into a tender place in his heart and helping him to see that the Lord is always after the hearts of His people - always looking to help us live in the fullness of His son.

So today, I pray that you would have an increase of faith. I pray that wherever there is poverty in your life, you would speak to it and tell it to leave. And that you would just delight in all that the Lord has for you. I pray that you would be released from heartache and burdens and that the joy of the Lord would well up in you so that you would realize that you are carrying the wellspring of Living Water...quiet yourself and listen for the heart of the Father.

practice listening.

we serve a supernatural God. it is only natural that He speak to you in a supernatural way.

Friday, May 11, 2012

mighty. small.

my mom.

i call her mama kay. mamers. mama jama. kay-fa-lay-fa. mom.

no matter what i call her, though, she always answers.

i went to a mother's day brunch at my oldest's preschool, this week, and all of the mommies went around and talked about their own mothers. we said our mom's names and then gave a word (or 3) to describe what we loved about our moms.

it's impossible to describe your mom in one word. moms are just so much.

but my mom...

when she tells me of my birth, she says, "and when you were born, i cried. ...i was so happy you were a little girl."

mom is little.

she's 5 feet tall. that's it. no inches taller.

when we hug, her head is on my chest. i've been known to give her piggy back rides, by force of course, just to hear her scream with fear and giddiness. it is a hilarious sight. go ahead, picture it.

mom has blue eyes, perfectly straight teeth (i inherited the no need for braces teeth from her), a fabulous smile with dimpled cheeks, brown hair (that has never ever been dyed. ehem.), a sneeze that is so loud it will wake you out of a dead sleep with your dukes raised ready to fight, and a laugh that once it gets going, you can't help but join in.

mom is just easy on the eyes.

but just like i tell my loralai when people compliment her beauty, i always remind her that her most beautiful trait is her heart.

my mom's heart must glow. i mean it.

mom is pure gold.

she's a sensitive spirit who delights in making others happy. she's a giver. God gifted her in that.

as i heard one of the mothers at the brunch talk about her mom, she spoke of her in the past tense. her mom died last year. she was the only one out of us all who has lost her mom.

i watched my mom, when i was a little girl, lose her mom to cancer. and then at 25, i watched my mom as she grieved her dad. it doesn't matter how old we are, losing a parent is horrible.

and i know. because i lost my dad. and sometimes i feel like i lost him twice.

dad was caught up in such oppression with hurts from his past and the addiction to alcohol, that there was a long season that we had to just let him go. and in that season, i remember feeling like i'd lost him all together. and then our relationship was restored right before and after i married my husband...and six months later, dad died.

and so as i heard sophia's mom describe her mother, i took a deep breath. and not because i fear losing my mom, but because i know how desperately deep i love her.

i've been called fighsty, determined, courageous, bold, big-personalitied...

and while some of the time those words weren't meant as compliments, i still smile at them all. because all of those are parts of my personality that my mom helped to fan in me.

mom recalls a time, when i was a preschooler, where i would let people walk all over me and take my toys and i wouldn't stick up for myself. i sort of snicker at that, because i've never known that girl.

my dearest childhood friend would tell you that i've had to tame the boldness, at times, but that those qualities about me are the very things that have given me charge and joy in my life.

but they come from a mom who was loving enough to call out what she knew was in me, even when it wasn't showing. she would encourage me in my drawing or painting, or singing, or softball, or friendships...

even as a grown woman, the best place in the world, to me, is sitting with my mom and talking. she knows me. she knows my heart's desires and she continues to press me so that i won't give up on them.

i used to lay on the couch with my head on my mom's lap, while we would watch tv, and she would stroke my hair.

there's something really primal in that. it's like the extension of when a mother rubs her pregnant belly. mothers always want to touch their children - comfort them - reassure them.

one of my mom's sayings that she's said over the years is "it's going to be alright... because it has to be."

she's never believed that things wouldn't be good.

and things plain sucked for a while in her world.

i don't care who you are, unless you lived on Irish Lane with us, you will never know the fullness of what went down.

so take my word or don't, but it stunk.
do you know what, though? never. not once did that sweet little woman say an unkind word to me or my brother about my dad or anyone in relationship with him. never.

i look back at that and just marvel.

she showed the deepest amount of honor for her husband, despite the circumstances. and because of that, my brother and i felt free to pursue relationship with our dad instead of feeling like we had to take sides in a battle.

my mom. Lord that woman is strong.

she may be small, but she is a mighty warrior of the Lord.

when you look at her, you'll think, "she's fun. she's cute."

but let me tell you who she is:

she is the daughter of Carl and Dorcas
she is a mother
she is a servant of the Most High God
she is a talented seamstress
she is a military brat
she is a devoted grandmother
she is a world traveler
she is a a lover of music
she is a closet singer
she is an audiologist
she's a darn good cook
she's a dog lover and makes us watch that crazy dog show on tv, directly following the Macy's day parade
she is a car-ride away in the middle of the night if life gets hairy and you need her there
she is a friend of all seasons
she is a chatty little thing
she is a hoot, i tell you
she's an email forwarder who'll fwd: emails 3 times just because she's laughing and thinks you should too
she's a gardener
she has a green thumb and won't admit it and is obsessed with making her yard "just so" and has therefore dug up plants and trees and re-planted them way too many times to count
she is a sister to a sister whom she hasn't seen in 10+ years but is awaiting her prodigal with open arms
she is a shag dancing fool
she is a mom who never required anything of me other than to tell her the truth at all times
she is a mother-n-law who loves her daughter-n-law as if she were her own
she is a crafty little woman who crochets and knits and needle points
she is an idea-woman
she is always trying a new project
she is never stale, always new, she is refreshing and honest, she is joy and peace, she is sunny days and lemonade, she is a delicious new recipe and a phone call to share and talk all about it, she is in her swimsuit and running through the sprinklers with her grand babes, she is hot tea and not coffee, she is a size 5 shoe (sometimes 6), she is a slow boat ride - not fast (or she'll vomit on you later), she's a dreamer of living on the water, she's snuggly flannel jammies in the winter, and hot chocolate for any special occasion, she's an open heaven and humble, an open book and real...

she's worthy of love.

she stands by me always.

oh mama, if you only knew how loyal you are.

she taught me that i deserve God's best and that it is never ok to bow to anything less.

she will let me experiment makeup and new hair-dos on her just so that we can be together.

she is a living well of victorious living. a testimony of God's grace, perseverance and hope.

she's small, but she's mighty.

oh yes. kay ellen packs a punch.

i am honored that God placed me in her womb.

she is so worthy of my love, because she first loved me.

i love you so, my sweet mamers.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

stretch marks and saggy parts.

yesterday was awesome.

today is awesome, too.

but yesterday was one of those days that i won't forget.

i was gathered in a circle with about 10 of the sweetest, most beautiful women i know. it's what we call "mom's group." it's a group of women who are moms, who love Jesus, and get together once a week to seek His presence, to grow in His will...and to share all things motherhood.

yesterday one of the women testified about a deep revelation that she received from the Lord about her body image. the way the Father came in and redeemed broken places - and opened her eyes to her real beauty - was breathtaking.

from her revelation, the revelation that was only meant for her, the rest of our hearts were changed. and it moved us from a platform of talking about schooling, and discipline, to our body image.

at one point i remember saying something to the affect of: i wish that we could have a runway show where real moms could show what a real post-baby body looks like. or that we could just show each other our deepest scars from pregnancy and get past feeling ugly.

if you're a mom and you're reading this, it's likely that you have some sort of post-pregnancy body change. not all bodies are the same. and some of us never look like we had babies to begin with. but for some of us, our bodies will never look the same.

my body didn't process glucose properly (more on that later), and so when i got pregnant (both times) i got pregnant from nose to toes.

i remember a family member calling me fat.


i was newly pregnant with my firstborn and gaining weight quickly, even without a big change in my diet. a combination of hormones rapidly changing and glucose intolerance, and you have a great combination for weight gain.

and what do you say? "I'M NOT FAT! i'm trying. i'm eating salads and boiled eggs, for God's sake!"

no. you say nothing.

and you shrink away...feeling ugly and fat.

oh my broken heart.

i remember how terribly ugly and fat i felt in my first pregnancy in front of my husband. i wished someone could feel what was happening in my body - the glory and the struggle.

the Lord taught me so much through that pregnancy. He taught me courage and confidence and He also taught me how to guard my heart.

so when we were gathered in that circle yesterday, i heard the heart cries of my friends and it made my heart overwhelm with love for them. but it also made me feel a righteous anger.

how DARE anyone, or any affliction, make any woman feel anything less than incredible.

it was from Mary's womb that Jesus slipped through into the natural world and brought real Life.

mothers are born to be warriors and lovers - just likes Jesus.

so as the conversations mingled and giggles rose, and tears flowed, the first brave friend raised her shirt and said, "see? look!" and she showed what she thought was unpleasant: a softer fuller belly and stretch marks. and then i raised my dress and said, "see? look! it looks like a cat scratched my belly." it does. my belly button isn't quite a belly button anymore and my stomach is riddled with stretch marks.

and then we asked our sweet pregnant friend if she would show us her legs that she was ashamed of. and ever so slowly, she raised her sun dress to show us her legs that are afflicted with painful varicose veins.

and we laughed and cried some more. because really, none of it is ugly.

not my stretch marks, or my friend's, or even the veins. is it ok that our bodies were marked or marred or in pain while pregnant? no. is it ok that our boobs lost shape or size or bare stretch marks, too? no. not really.

but we do. we have physical markers that show that we had babies.

but you know what? SO WHAT!

as we talked through it all yesterday. i realized that it wasn't as much that we have problems with our bodies, but that the enemy has so distracted us from what is lovely and pure and beautiful, that our eyes are deceived into thinking that the only thing that is beautiful is age 15-18.

oh, what a lie.

what a big FAT lie.

so do you know what?

i'm going out on the boat tomorrow with my husband and children. and this woman who weighs the same thing she did before she had babies, but who looks different, is wearing a bikini. and a fun green hat. and sunscreen, of course.

and i will feel beautiful and i will BE beautiful.

i will have my husband's gaze upon me and i will have two little girls jumping on me and smearing sand and sunscreen all over me. and i will pull down bathing suit bottoms to get sand out of the crotch for the big girl, and rip off a swim diaper to change a poop for the little. and i will blow up inner tubes and build sand castles...

and i will feel beautiful.

because My Redeemer calls me lovely.

and i will eat my lunch and feed my little girls and watch my husband fiddle with the boat anchor...

and i will feel beautiful.

because My Redeemer calls me worthy.

and i will reapply sunscreen to my little girls' noses, and the tops of their feet, and i will hand out more snacks and pick up sand-covered cookies, and we will bury each other's feet...

and i will feel beautiful.

because My Redeemer calls me His daughter.

and i will remind myself that i would lay down my life for my children, in a flash. oh Lord, without a thought.

and i will feel beautiful.

because My Redeemer did that for me.

He didn't promise me that my body would be without stretch marks, but He did see me as the one He chose to carry two little girls that He knew I would raise to be lovers and warriors for His Kingdom.

and so i will stand with my sisters, my friends, and i will fight for our identities. and i will lift my shirt one hundred and one times if it will bring freedom to the ones whose hearts are held captive to the lie that their bodies aren't beautiful anymore.

because THAT.

THAT is a big FAT lie.

oh bless you mothers of children who you've born into life and some of you who have born them to be received immediately by the Savior. i pray a deep blessing on your lives. i pray that when you look in the mirror that you would not scrutinize your body, but you would give thanks to the Lord for making you strong and hardy. that you would remember that He made you courageous - persevering - determined - creative - spontaneous - life-giving - nurturing - tender - soft - and beautiful. for you were made in the very image of Him. how could you be anything LESS than beautiful? seal it upon our hearts, Jesus, that we are so sweetly the fragrance of You.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


i think the first time i heard from the Lord, and acknowledged that it was Him, was less of my pursuit of Him and more of His pursuit of me.

a lot of good happens when we're just living, just in the moment, and willing.

the man with Leprosy said to Jesus, "Jesus, if you are willing, make me clean." Jesus said, "I Am willing. Be clean." and the man was healed. (matthew 8)

less depends on our ability to need a willing God.

the question is, are You willing?

when i was about 23, i was in a relationship with a man i thought i would marry. which is why it was pretty shocking that i kept having dream after dream of a guy that i grew up with. i don't remember the details of the dreams now, but i do remember thinking "well? do i have feelings for this guy and just don't realize it? i'm so confused." this guy i was dreaming about was someone that i'd known since i was two. we were in school together from preschool through about our 2nd year in college until he moved away.

and it wasn't just the dreams. i couldn't quit thinking about him. wondering how he was, where he was living, if he'd graduated from school, if he was married...

it was getting to be a bit annoying but i just sat on all of the thoughts because i didn't dare tell my then-boyfriend that i was non-stop thinking about another man.

one afternoon, a friend of mine came by my workplace. she also happened to be a friend i'd known my whole life (we just happened to move to the same locale post-college). and so when she sat down in my office i finally confided in her and said, "listen, this may seem weird but i can't get this guy (we'll just call him Lou) out of my head. i even dream about him. i'm starting to either be worried about him or me." and to my complete amazement she said, "ME TOO!" turns out that she had been thinking about him, too.

we both kind of laughed at the "coincidence" of it all and moved on.

or maybe she moved on. i was the one stuck having dreams.

some time passed and i went with one of my bosses to meet with a client. [this boss was the first glimpse i had into a life that was wild at heart for the Lord. he changed my life just by who he was.]. on our way to our client, we often had talks about jesus. i was such a baby believer then. in hindsight i kind of snicker reminiscing about the questions he would ask - he was always trying to get me to think but in the kindest and gracious of ways without making me feel like a total idiot.

but on this trip he asked me, "so i have a question and want to know what you think i should do. ...there is a woman who is coming to our church without her husband, and bringing her children. her husband is mad that she's coming and is angry at God for deep wounds but the wife wants to keep coming. what should she do?" i said, "well, what if your wife wanted to go to a buddhist monastery? you wouldn't condemn her, you would keep praying for her and hoping that she would see the real joy that came from your life and want to join you."

that was it. conversation done.

but that night, my then-boyfriend was out of town. so i got curious. i called my childhood friend's mom and asked her if i might have Lou's phone number. she willingly gave it to me.

two phone tags later and there i was sitting on my couch talking on the phone to Lou.

we talked about his break-up with a girl he'd been living with and his work...and i sensed kind of a disillusionment about life from his words. and so i just said, "Lou, when did you quit believing in God? i mean, we went to church together, you went on missions...what happened?" he said that he was so tired of christians cussing and wanted to know how a real christian could say "GD" or the "N" word and still stand for Jesus? i sighed. because you know, he has a strong point. it's no good to have christians producing rotten fruit. but so i said to him, "well, if your girlfriend cheated on you and left you, would you lose faith in relationships with women and become gay? ...we all fall short, Lou." and so he started to tell me that he thought that all gods were the same. i listened and found myself saying little to nothing. just listening and more listening until he said it...

"you know, i did find a church that i really liked when i lived in wilmington." "really?" i said, "where?"
and he said, "it was this buddhist monastery..." and i don't know much of what he said after that. all i knew is that every dream and thought was coming clearly together. i knew that THIS was a divine assignment.

and i knew that the Lord didn't want me to say anything in judgment to what Lou was telling me. 

He just wanted me to love him. and so i did.

i did tell him that Jesus said that He was the One True God...but that i understood his hurts and respect his choices but would be praying for him. 

we had hopes of reconnecting again and maybe getting together sometime if we were both in wilmington or our hometown together. but we never did.

ten years later and i haven't dreamt of him once. and i haven't thought of him in that obsessive kind of way.

but i have prayed for him. and i do love him dearly.

and i do know that God is after Him in a deep way. why else would He have pestered me with dreams and thoughts and prepped me for ministry with him?

God is willing. 


He just wants you to be, too.

He will use you right where you are, with whatever abilities and giftings and means of communication you have to transform the lives around you with His Love.

you just have to be willing to listen. 

The sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow me. (john 10:27)