The Meaning of Hope

Rom. 5:5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

I had just told God, “I hate to say it, but I’m kind of disappointed with the way things have turned out.” I didn’t want to complain. I had just spent the last four years carefully watching my tongue and not complaining about anything, no matter how distressing the events were. I was completely caught off guard by what God allowed to happen to us. I never would have dreamed He would let such bad things happen to me. I thought I was above such things. But I had so much pride, arrogance, jealousy, and lots of other nasty hidden things in me that I needed a jolt of reality. I needed to see what was really in my heart.

By the time of my confession of disappointment, I had been thoroughly humbled. But I was tired. My husband was so frustrated and angry about the things that were happening at work and in his life in general. The kids and I were doing spiritual warfare for him every single day. Things were better. We had a stability we hadn’t had in months. But things were still bad. We were cramped. Our house felt unhealthy. Allergies were bad. And we still had no options. We couldn’t do anything to make anything better.

Then I cried out to God. My heart was hurting. I felt disappointed. I knew God hadn’t let us down, but things were still so far from what we had prayed and sown for. I knew He was going to come through for us… but when?

I never asked that. That was Gary’s question. That… and “why”? I never let myself ask those questions. But I had come to the end of my stamina. I finally let out what I was feeling. I told Him the truth about how I felt. And then I opened my Bible. The first verse my eyes fell on was Romans 5:5. “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” I didn’t really understand the whole thing, but I knew that God was telling me to keep hoping. He was telling me that the things we were asking and believing for were going to happen, and that I should not give up hope, because hope doesn’t disappoint. That’s all I needed to hold on to. Hope does not disappoint. That phrase helped me make it through the next three years of waiting for things to really get better.

And one day, they did get better! And they’ve been getting better all the time. We are going from glory to glory. My husband has had promotion and is expecting more. We are expecting great things financially, physically and spiritually. All for His glory.

Don’t give up hope. Hold on to it while you wait. Like a life preserver. And remember, Hope does not disappoint!

Dying to Save Our Marriage

When we first got married, I was selfish. So was he. But neither one of us knew it. We were both Christians. We were both following Christ. We loved each other. We thought we were Christ-like. We were clueless.

I had some issues. So did he. I wanted all of his attention. He wanted to watch TV or play video games all of the time. I hated games. He didn’t care for chitchat. I wanted to tell him all about my day. He was bored by all of my rambling and wanted me to get to the point. The problem was there was no point. I just wanted to talk. He didn’t see the point. It was a vicious cycle.

Throughout our years of marriage, we had several epiphanies. One happened for me when we had been married for 3 1/2 years. I was listening to a song from Robin Hood (the one with Kevin Costner), because we were going to sing it together in a wedding. The song was called Everything I Do (I Do it for You). I was sad and lonely in our marriage because of the reasons stated above. Oh, yes, he was also a workaholic. I was lonely because I hardly ever saw him. He worked late every night that he didn’t go to the gym. I had a baby boy and stayed at home with him all the time. I really resented the fact that the few moments my husband was at home, he was watching TV or playing a video game. I never got any of his attention. And I wanted ALL of it! I felt like he wasn’t meeting my needs at all. I resented the long hours he put in at work, too. I knew that he was trying to get ahead. I knew that he was having problems at work. I knew that he was trying to prove himself in his very first real full-time job, and that it was very stressful. But that didn’t stop me from resenting the time he spent away from me and our son. I stuffed all of my feelings inside, so he didn’t know how I felt. But as I listened to that song, I was suddenly struck by the knowledge that everything Gary was doing, he was doing for me. I was absolutely dumbfounded. It didn’t feel like he was doing anything for me. I felt like he was just doing whatever he wanted to do. But the Lord revealed to me what was really in Gary’s heart. He was trying to do the best job he could at work, hoping to make more money for me and our family. He believed that if he worked long hours and showed his willingness to work and did the best work he could possibly do that he would get a raise and possibly be promoted, and we would make more money. I never saw it that way before. I wanted time with him more than I wanted more money, and I just couldn’t get past that. Money didn’t mean much to me, and I didn’t understand how important being a good provider was to him. But, ultimately, he really was working long hours for me, and the Lord made me see that. Even lifting weights at the gym was as much for me as it was for him. He wanted to look good for me and to stay healthy and fit for me. I had been too selfish and self-focused to realize that, in doing those things, he was trying to let me know how much he loved me.

I felt a little better about things after that. I appreciated his efforts more. But I still felt like he wasn’t meeting my deepest needs. I needed attention. I needed for him to ask me how I was doing. I needed for him to talk to me like a friend. But he didn’t know I needed those things. And I didn’t know how to tell him. I was putting so much of my time and energy into my children that I wasn’t taking care of myself. We had 5 more children in the next 8 1/2 years. I had six children 10 years old and under. And I was doing almost everything for them and all of the housekeeping. Besides that, I was tutoring other children and trying to homeschool my own that were of legal school age. I was also doing homeschool assessments every summer for 100 homeschool families. In between all of that, I had to take classes to keep my teaching license current. As if that wasn’t enough, I acted in a Christmas play and started singing in a quartet. I was a bona fide “Mommy Martyr” to quote Cindy Rushton. I thought the busier I was, the better I was.

About this time, he had an epiphany at a Promise Keepers conference. The speaker challenged the men to do one thing each day to improve their marriage. Gary thought, “I don’t need to worry about that. My marriage is just fine.” Then he said he felt like a spotlight shone on him, and he heard a voice saying, “Your marriage is just fine? Do you really believe that? Your wife is caught up in singing in a quartet and busy with that all the time, and you’re busy working all the time, and you barely see each other, and you think your marriage is just fine?” He said he looked around to see if everybody in the stadium was staring at him, because it felt like he had just been put on the spot. Nobody else seemed to notice anything unusual, so he wiped his brow and thought about what the Lord had just said to him. When he got home, he seemed really serious and said, “We need to talk.” I was in such a state of mind that my thought was, “Oh no, he came back worse than when he left.” I always wanted him to act happy and excited. I hated to see him depressed. When he got down, I got mad at him. But when we went to our room to talk, and he told me what happened during the conference, I knew God was helping us to get this communication thing going. We talked and decided that we needed to do more together. I ended up quitting the quartet. He tried to spend more time with me. We prayed together more often. He asked me to tell him what I was really thinking, how I was really feeling. I still had a hard time with that, because I was always afraid of making him mad. It wasn’t that I was “afraid”. I just hated for him to be mad, and I avoided causing him to be angry at all costs. I assumed that things would make him angry that I know now wouldn’t have. But my desire for him to be happy all the time was so strong that I avoided communicating with him things that I should have.

To make a long story short, we went through some perilous times together, with no one but each other, the Lord and our children to depend on. We had the stuffing knocked out of us. We went through devastating loss and humiliation. But we made it through it together. I found out some more of my issues. Like how I expected Gary to meet some of my needs that only God can meet. I found out during our time in Kansas City that I was wrong to insist that Gary be happy and jolly all the time. I was wrong to get angry at him for not being happy.

Most of all, I learned that I needed to die. I had to die to myself and my desires. I had to turn to God for every need. I had to love Gary and pray for him as if my life depended on it. Because it did! Whatever happened to him happened to me. I was told by a mentor that I should pray down blessings on Gary’s head even when I felt like I hated him. There were times…! I started praying for him in a less selfish way. I started seeing things from his perspective. The Lord helped me to put myself in his shoes and sense the frustration he felt at work. I was able to build him up and encourage him in his efforts, because I got my eyes off of myself and my needs and the things I thought he should be doing and onto what he was going through and how he was feeling. I became a help meet for him in a way that I had never been before. I saw for the first time how talented he really was at technical writing. I became proud of his ability and thanked God for it in Gary’s hearing. I praised his abilities and talents and encouraged him to stand up for himself at work, instead of wishing he would just be content and not rock the boat. I was on his side for the first time. I was in his corner. We were a team working together. I got myself out of the picture altogether. I wasn’t worrying about my needs. I was too focused on his to even think about mine. And as I did this, he gave me more attention. He wanted to hear what I had to say. He shared with me every detail of what he was going through. He started trusting me to take his side.

We both died in a lot of ways during our journey of fire. Many of our dreams died. Many of our concepts died. But in the kingdom of God, life comes out of death. And sometimes you have to die to live.

As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;

10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. 2 Cor. 6:9,10

He Knows My Name

Nahum 1:7 The LORD is good,
A stronghold in the day of trouble;
And He knows those who trust in Him.

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
2 When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you. Isa. 43:1,2

It’s so good to know that He knows us. By name.

From My Journey of Fire Journal – Jan. 12, 2006

We’ve been learning how to live as a family that tries to deal with everything in a scriptural, godly way. Our settling of disputes has revolved around being unselfish and kind. We’re trying to do everything in love. We’re praying about everything. We ask the children what they think about things and how they’re feeling. We’re trying to discover their individual gifts and encourage them in developing and using their gifts.

We’re trying to learn to live all over again. Living by our spirits instead of our souls, by our intuition instead of our minds. Hearing the voice of God, waiting in His Presence. Developing a real, intimate relationship with God.

We like being together, working together. We don’t want to be separated. We believe God wants families to spend lots of time together. Quantity of time is as important as “quality time”. We believe that God teaches us how to build good relationships through families that put God first. We believe there should be an “iron sharpening iron” effect that happens in a godly family. We believe that children raised in this kind of home will be better friends and “neighbors” because of the love and support they’ve received in the home. We believe that love will be the motivation for everything they do, not selfishness. They won’t be searching for approval or significance. They won’t put others down to try to lift themselves up. They won’t go around trying to get their own needs met. They’ll be able to reach out to others.

We want our children to know that God is real. So we put our lives in His hands and only did what He told us to do. We prayed and waited on Him even when it seemed like He was not speaking and He was late. We were willing to look foolish to man in order to obey God. We have let Him prove Himself to us and our children. We have proven that we believe in Him. He has been faithful to us. We have never been forsaken or had to beg for bread. We never had to sleep on the streets or sidewalks of Phoenix! Quite the contrary. We had luxury accommodations!

Our faith has grown by leaps and bounds. We have all grown spiritually. We’ve learned to be more open and honest with God and with each other.

I Worship God Because He’s Worth It

We are to worship the Lord in Spirit and in truth. And the truth is – it’s not about us. True worship is coming to God and telling Him how much we love Him and how wonderful He is. A hymn that gives a lesson in theology and teaches about sin and salvation is not a great vehicle for coming before God and crying out to Him about how sorry I am for my sin and how grateful I am for His salvation.

I love to come to God and tell Him how wonderful He is. I love to feel His presence. When I truly enter into His presence, I usually cry. Sometimes I get goosebumps. I always feel loved and special, like I’m doing what I was created for. This is where I want to be, and I never want it to end.

When I feel my Father smile on me, I am strengthened and enabled to keep on living the life He has given me on this earth. I need that time in heavenly places to make it through the stuff of earth.

It doesn’t matter if I sing beautifully or say eloquent words of praise that rhyme or cause men to admire my poetic ability. It is not about what man thinks of me. It’s between me and my Father.

I worship God every day. Sometimes I can spend a long time in His presence with a worship CD, sometimes just a short time of thanking Him while I’m praying with my kids or praying over our meals. But every chance I get, I tell God how grateful I am for all He has done for us, and I honor and glorify Him for His greatness and majesty and holiness.

A few hymns can take me into His presence, but the worship choruses based on the Bible are the best vehicles I know of to really enter into His presence and feel the Spirit moving on me. I love to worship God. It’s not a duty or drudgery. I would rather worship the Lord than most anything. It’s one of my favorite things to do.

If you’ve never experienced this kind of worship, pray that the Lord would reveal to you what you’ve been missing. Bow before Him and ponder His greatness and majesty and the beauty of His holiness and the mercy He has shown you by making a way of Salvation and reaching out to you so that you could come into His Kingdom. Start out by thanking Him and keep developing an attitude of praise until you feel His presence come upon you. Stay with it long enough to get to a place of leaving the thoughts of this world behind and becoming totally enraptured with your Creator. He is so worth it! And He is so kind and loving that He rewards our efforts to get close to Him and to worship Him by filling our hearts with peace and joy and contentment that nothing else can give us.

When things get tough and you don’t know what you’re going to do or how you’re going to make it, go worship the Lord and listen to what He has to say. Even if He doesn’t directly tell you a solution, He will enable you to keep going until the solution does become evident to you. And He will take away your worry and fear. When you are in touch with the Creator of all things, problems don’t seem so big any more.

Psalm 103:1
[ [A Psalm] of David. ] BLESS (AFFECTIONATELY, gratefully praise) the Lord, O my soul; and all that is [deepest] within me, bless His holy name!

http://www.tangle.com/view_video?viewkey=c455e06ebd06647fc4de

Go see this video, and sing The Revelation Song with Kari Jobe. She will lead you into true worship!

God Loves You – A LOT!

God loves you a lot! He just has a funny way of showing it sometimes.

Years ago, when things were still normal and mundane and fairly secure in my life, I asked the Lord to show me what He thinks of me, how He feels about me.

Since then, I’ve lost my house, my family, my friends, my stuff, my security, my hope (at times), my pride, my reputation, my identity, (in some ways) – basically my normal, mundane, fairly secure life.

I have also had to face the fact that I’ve always been a jealous, envious, uncharitable, judgmental person – OUCH! I’m still catching and casting down those kinds of thoughts.

So, through all of this, what have I discovered about what God thinks of me? He loves me – A LOT! He loves me too much to leave me the way I was. But He also loved me then. You just can’t get away form His love.

How has He shown me that He loves Me? Through prophecy in the Prophecy Rooms at IHOP. How did we end up in Kansas City right next door to the International House of Prayer? That’s where God took us along a very crooked path so that we could have our old foundation dug out and a new foundation put in. Every time I went to the Prophecy Rooms, He told me that He was pleased with me, that I was doing a good job with my children, that I was special to Him, that my children would rise up and call me blessed, that I’m strong and have great endurance.

The people on the Prophecy Teams didn’t know me. They didn’t know I had children, except for the times I took some of the children with me. There was a different group of people on the team each time I went. Yet, they almost always said things about my being a good mother. I needed to hear that SO badly.

Neighbors came by many times and said that God was using our family in that neighborhood. We hardly left our house! It was a strange thing. God used us even when we didn’t DO anything. We just lived our daily lives and prayed every day.

We prayed mightily for Gary during his last several months at B/E Aerospace. He was in constant warfare with spirits of jealousy, control, Jezebel and witchcraft, among others.

His boss and coworkers were doing everything in their power to make him look bad. They stole his work, they belittled him and acted like he didn’t know what he was doing.

Gary was terribly oppressed. It was ALL he could talk about. The kids and I bound those spirits and prayed for him every day.

He finally talked to his superior over his immediate boss and told him he knew how to make the department work better. The man wanted to see Gary’s plan. Gary spent hours working on it. Three other people at work edited it. Shawn and I helped him with some of the charts. He put together a very professional proposal. The boss said he needed more information. Gary realized he just wanted Gary to write everything step by step, so he could take it and implement it himself without Gary. So he didn’t give him any more.

The time for that tribulation finally ran out.

Gary got a job near St. Louis. Before he left B/E, he gave Human Resources and the President an earful. He told them the way he had been treated and warned the President not to trust the boss of the department he worked for.

Gary had one friend in the department who was kind and treated him well. She was a God-send. She saved his sanity. She was the only one who talked to him and was a friend to him. She even had a couple of dreams about our family living on a farm with a big barn. These things encouraged Gary at a time when everything seemed so bleak.

He made many friends among the engineers. They gave him their business cards and said he could use them as references.

Our neighbors gave us a going-away party before we left Kansas City. I’m not much for parties, and we didn’t really have many friends, but I went along with the idea for the kids’ sake. It was nice. I actually enjoyed it!

After the party, Anna found an envelope on our table at home. I opened it and found a check for….

$20,000!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At first, I started to laugh, thinking it was a joke. Then I looked at it more closely and saw that it was real. That was when I almost fainted. I’ve never seen a check made out to me for that much money. It was from somebody at IHOP who wanted us to have a house and wanted to be a part of the blessing on our family.

We were blown away by God’s BIG SURPRISE! We finally got one of those big breakthroughs that we had been praying for.

God is wonderful. He’s amazing. He’s powerful. He’s mighty. He’s faithful. I love Him so much. He has been so good to me. He’s my Daddy. He’s my best friend. I love Him with all my heart.

He gave me a verse for this year: 1 Cor. 2:9 Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.

I believe He really means to bless us BIG. With a big house in the place that will be HOME for us. With all the things we’ve asked for – land, privacy, extra rooms or houses for people to visit us, nature near us, friends, people who believe the way we do, all of the money we need, all of the vehicles we need, good relations with family and spiritual power and gifts and manifestations.

He delivers me because He delights in me. Ps. 18:19

He loves me A LOT! I know that now.