Sunday, November 26, 2017

Flight of a Heron

I am beyond thankful that I do not have many mornings like this morning.

But, let me tell you... the struggle this morning to get up and get going was tangible.

Realizing this as soon as my eyes opened, I afforded myself the "necessity of pause" -- fixing my mind with great intention on God before my feet hit the floor.

"Grant to me vision for today, Lord, and strength to walk the vision," audibly I said out-loud.

I continued to lay there in silence.

Within moments, a picture came to my mind:
I was standing dressed, ready for church.

I thought....okay, so I know at least what to wear.

I chuckled.

There are days, dear ones, are there not, where the mind struggles to engage in "the basics" such as what even to wear?!

I rolled out of the bed, dressed in the outfit He had shown me, and walked down the stairs to take my sweet pup outside to go potty.

Within seconds of opening the door and stepping out, I witnessed a beautiful, large heron flying solo across the expanse of the morning sky.

"Drink it in, Deborah," I heard Him say.

I stood there. Absolutely transfixed.  It was a scene to behold!

"Lord, I want my life to be FILLED with THESE moments."  

He smiled.

As I exhaled, I sensed His complete empathy wrap around me, simultaneously strengthening my weariness.

But why use a heron for His demonstration, I wondered?

He smiled again.

(You do know that God is exacting in His ways.  No such thing as coincidence with Him.)

Herons are rare in my area, so that began to awaken my senses.

What's the "more" to this, Lord?

The student in me, now wide awake, dug in.

Fascinating facts on herons:

- In ancient days, herons were likened to Christ for the following two reasons: 1) they can and do devour snakes; 2) also according to Pliny of Ancient Rome, they are rare birds in that they shed tears, symbolic of Christ and His sufferings.

- Because of its long beak, they were symbols of exploration of hidden wisdom.

- In many ancient cultures, they were revered as messengers of God, and it was considered "bad luck" to harm or shoot a heron.

In avian symbolism, the heron stands for strength, purity, wisdom, determination, grace/calmness, patience, and long life.

There was a great deal of personal application that transpired this morning between Teacher and student, but it is enough to say here:  "I hear You, Lord; I hear You."

He smiled.

The "more" now received.

 A heron's solo flight at dawn....  awe-struck wonder!

"Before long, the world will not see Me anymore,
but you will see Me.
Because I live, you also will live.
On that day, you will realize that I am in My Father,
and you are in Me,  and I am in you."

Do you see Him?
Do you see yourself in Him,
and Him in you?

Take flight!


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Tear the Walls Down; Tear Them ALL Down!

I'm going to preface these two songs with the edification:

Put your rejoicing ears on; hard as it may be for some..... 
and truly even as I edify you to do so, 
I know the depth of difficulty for some of you out there!

Most people look at demolition and see destruction.

Some would say I am odd in that I see limitless possibilities.

I take the stand, "Well, God, let's see what You're going to do with THIS!"

And I mean it.

I place myself upon a near-by knoll as a point of witness....and watch the Master at His craft ....He is indeed unlike anyone who ever has been or ever will be!

Isaiah 61 is a glorious Scripture.... a part of it:

"....(He will) provide for those who grieve in Zion, to bestow on them a crown of beauty for ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of HIS splendor."

Determine to be a part of His splendor.

Today and in the coming days, choose to see limitless possibilities instead of destruction!

Find a knoll..... take a seat... and be a witness to His handiwork as He brings it up out of the rubble using.....

His blueprints..... not yours!

( )

( )

Epic Battle

Angry people fascinate me.

This wasn't always the case.

For one, they used to get on my nerves....EVEN as I was one! Hello! And consequently, the self-righteous carnal part of me, not-yet-dead, wanted to fix them. (Grinning) I know. I know. The irony is tangible! Don't shake your head at me...(grinning wider)..... if you're honest and NOT walking in head-deep self-deceit, you know as well as I know we ALL had or still have these common threads of broken humanity within us.

Have you ever seen a person remove a hem?  How they have to PULL the old threads out?

Yep. The old threads have to go.

Staying on that theme....have you ever had a pair of pants where part of the hem is falling out, but still hanging in there, and the crease somewhat disguises the falling-out thread.... so you try and get away with putting the pair of pants on....only to have your foot get caught in the hem?

Come on, I KNOW I am not the only person to have experienced this vexing state. In the spirit-realm, this person is wrestling....and usually, wrestling far more with themselves than God would ever wrestle with them!  God doesn't wrestle, dear ones. He doesn't have to. He simply speaks...and it is done. We....WE wrestle.... especially when we don't like what He speaks.

(I know Jacob decided to take God on, but anyone going to take the stand that that was a wise decision worthy of following in his footsteps??  Not I! )

It's not that I don't get angry anymore, but there is a difference between getting angry and being an angry person.

Angry people hurt people, and usually hurt them deeply.

I take no offense at this.... as if my experience should be anything less than what Jesus endured or those believers who came before me.

I do however set up boundaries that clearly delineate what is and what is not acceptable. I'm no one's doormat.... and neither should you be.

What makes this fascinating to me is that IF they be a fellow believer, they know in their spirit their actions are hurting the very people they want so badly to love, but to be an angry person....simply put, means the flesh has the upper hand.  Another way to think about this even more clearly at a root level: angry people have a chronic internal identity crisis.   It's what the Bible refers to as the "double minded man."  He is unstable in all his ways.

There is a fix.... but it isn't a quick fix.... and it isn't pretty.

I recently was conversing about the old tale of the two dogs within each of us.... the spirit dog and the flesh dog.  The one we feed is the strong one.  The weak dog has no choice but to yield to the strong dog.... be it flesh to spirit  or spirit to flesh.... there WILL be a yielding.   And consequently, again, good things are going to come OR bad things are going to come.

I have shared in the past that God, many years ago, took me through what I affectionately call my "opposite season."  Absolutely everything I wanted to do, I was required to do the opposite.  I truly do mean everything.  It was an intense season where God killed my rationalization.

ANYTHING that exalts itself above God's will is an idol.

We rationalize the daylights out of this.

"God doesn't really care if I have ____ to eat."
"God doesn't really care if I go to that movie."
"God doesn't really care if I spend $___ on that."
And on and on it goes.

And the on and on part --- that's where we get into some serious trouble because one "God really doesn't care about ________"  turns into an entire mental stronghold of "God doesn't really care about ______" -- and before we know it.... our flesh dog has completely overtaken our spiritual dog.

Now, I'm not suggesting that you try to impose an "opposite season" upon yourself arbitrarily, BUT if God directs you into one..... a word of wisdom... DO IT!   The freedom on the other side is amazing!

Regardless of the method, we ALL have been called to KILL....

"Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature....which is idolatry."  Col 3:5

Did you miss that?  Our earthly nature is equated to automatic idolatry.

"For if you live according to the flesh, you WILL die; but if by the Spirit YOU put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live." Romans 8:13

Who's doing the killing of the carnal will?  God?  NO!  

You and I don't get off that easy!

WE must do the killing to our earthly nature.... that nature that so easily betrays us...and yields death in and of itself upon us.   

Let me make this clear:  you either kill it.... or it will kill you.

You will never know who you are in Christ feeding both dogs.... even by feeding the flesh dog "mere scraps".

You must resolve to starve the flesh dog UNTO DEATH.

Only then will you be transformed from an angry person to a person who can, if needs be, exercise anger.

Powerful difference!

So, the next time you encounter an angry person.... say a prayer for them. You and I were once them....or perhaps you can still identify with them as them.  They are in a literal mad-identity-crisis of their choosing.

It's the kind of crisis a bystander can not solve, so set boundaries if you must be in relationship with them ...and then stand back..... their wrestling match between the dogs is going to be epic....

Nothing starves unto death voluntarily!


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Butt vs Dovetail Joint...Which are you?

My eyes opened this morning, and almost instantly I had three pictures that came to my mind. My Teacher was in the room!

Here are two pictures resembling what He showed me:

The'll have to use your imagination. The picture was a combination of the two different cuts coming together.  Take a moment to visualize what that would look like.  Do you see the holes that are present?  Imagine the disjointedness and the weakness such a coming together would bring!

I know very little about wood-working, but I do know the strength of two pieces of wood coming together is found in the JOINT.  

These pictures I saw in my mind set the student-in-me to blaze.  The more I read up on wood-working, the more the Spirit illumined His point, so here I am ..... both prolific writer and student of life....sharing a bit about this morning's personal lesson.  I have a strong sense you will have a significant take-away in the reading of it.

I found this quote on a wood-working site quite telling: (Hint: Read it with your SPIRITUAL glasses on.)

"Wood joinery is one of the most basic concepts in woodworking. If we didn't have the ability to join two pieces of wood together in a solid fashion, all woodworking pieces would be sculptures carved out of a single piece of wood.  However, with the many varied types of wood joinery, a woodworker has a number of different joints in his arsenal from which to choose, based upon the project."

Taking it further:  

The top picture above is called a butt joint because it simply butts up to another piece of wood; its shape unchanged.  "There is no more basic wood joinery than the butt joint."  Considered to be the weakest joint.

The bottom picture above is called the through dovetail joint. "Of all wood joinery methods, the through dovetail may be the most revered. A classic through dovetail is beautiful and very strong and adds a touch of class to any piece."   Considered to be the strongest joint.

Is your spiritual light bulb warming up?

Take a moment.... honestly assess what kind of joint are you currently?  

A "thorough dovetail joint"..... that has a nice ring to it, does it not?.....capable of being fashioned together with both beauty and strength.  

I mean, really, who wants to be a butt joint?  I get why they called it that, but I certainly don't want to BE that!  

Then I went to the Bible...

Many verses on wood.  Some of the first mentions of wood are in dealing with the Ark of the Covenant and the ark of the flood....BOTH commanded with exact specifications by God. Clearly, long before He set His feet upon the earth as a carpenter.... He has always been a skilled woodcrafter. 

So, I ask you.... are you a butt joint or a dovetail joint?  

Are you in the Master Woodcrafter's hands?   Do you allow Him to cut exact details into you in such a way as to bring strength and beauty to those He fits you with?  

OR are you resistant to change...unyielding to His chisel....conditional....determined to stay a simple, "safe" piece of wood that merely butts up against others, never fitting, never adding strength or beauty? 

I wholly believe it is the Master Woodcrafter's desire to make His children into beautiful "through dovetail joints"!   Ephesians says, "He makes the whole body FIT together PERFECTLY."   When I read those words, taking into account today's topic of wood joints, I don't picture butt joints, but rather beautiful, strong through dovetail joints! 

As I shared a new weeks ago.... I know Psm 119 well, having read it countless times so far in my life.  Here are a few treasured verses out of that lengthy Psalm near and dear to my heart:

"The law from Your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.  Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn Your commands. May those who fear You rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in Your Word."

Don't know about you, but I have spent the better part of my life on God's crafting table...many times wondering, "Are we about done?"   (Believe me when I say, I CLEARLY see Him smile when I say this because He knows I'll willingly let Him keep on keeping-on until He's done!  I desperately want to be among His masterpieces.... and I truly pray you do too!) 

If you honestly assessed today that you are a butt joint, will you bolster the courage to ask Him to TRANSFORM you into a strong and beautiful dovetail?  Yes, it's going to hurt.... Yes, it's going to take humility.....Yes, it's going to take time.....  but oh, can you imagine, in the least, what beauty and what strength there will be when He's done!?   

I sincerely challenge you; dare to put yourself in the Master Woodcrafter's hands with only these words, "May it be done unto me according to Your Word [Your will, Your plan]!"

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Oneness, Wives, & Husbands...Oh, My.

Allow me to set a few essential grounding points to this post before you dig in and begin chewing on it:

1) I am so very mindful that God is right here with me, in me, directing me, according to my obedience.

2) If I had a heart to dishonor men, this would have been written years ago when I was young in the faith and had malice in my heart. On the contrary, I deeply desire my brothers-in-Christ to RISE up and succeed in their place in the Kingdom.

3) I have become a deep lover of truth, and by default, an instrument of light to dark places.

4) I deeply desire to see lasting change come to my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, marriages changed, and families transformed.

5) May God be glorified above all else through this writing, and may evil be pushed back and uprooted.

I sit before this keyboard with mindfulness; an awareness of this oh-so weighty topic I am about to bite off.

This writing is lengthy to be sure, but the topic is not to be lightly addressed.  As you read, may the Spirit nudge you to read to the very end, weighing carefully these words in light of your own actions.  I have no doubt that those who desire holiness in the secrets places will do so.  Those who don't; won't.

To be candid, the appointed time of now has caught me a tad off-guard, having lived privately on the matter for nearly a quarter of a century.

Since stepping out at God's calling from behind my hiding bush many years ago, it has been my heart's desire - and truly, Joy In The Morning's purpose -  to share my life's journey in the hopes that it helps those who come upon it and read it.

This is especially true today.

Brave ones.... hurting ones.... curious ones;
shall we dive on in?

This week my twenty-fourth wedding anniversary rolls around.

In truth, if I could skip this week, I would.  Historically, this time on the calendar demands a lot of energy from me..... to keep my flesh down and my emotions submitted to my spirit as I call my spirit up to blindly navigate the onslaught of painful memories and would-be-raw emotions.  (Before continuing, let me say I am not innocent with regard to the past; I am one of two contributors to both the memories and the emotions.)

I use the phrase "blindly navigate" with great intention.  Nearly twenty years ago, God gave me a vision. It is not a vision that He has to remind me of, for it is seared upon my soul as a compass.  I was standing on a rather large rock on a rough rocky seashore, the waves crashing in. God was standing there with me. Holding out a blindfold, He asked gently, "Will you let Me put this on you?"  With a degree of understandable trepidation, I asked, "But how will I see to step?"  With gentleness, He extended His hand and said, "If you will put your hand in Mine, I will tell you exactly where and when to step. I will be your guide."   Glory.... what a Saviour we have!  Forgive us, Lord, for doubting Your character... for our struggles to believe!  Your love is without measure; it is indeed unsurpassed!

I would not be where I am today had I not chosen to obey that day, setting me upon a path to discover first hand His unsurpassed dependability and love.

This week, my boss (for those of you who are new to Joy In The Morning, I also work as Director of Human Resources and Training with Chick-fil-A) said to me, "You have such a deep faith. It is the thing that drives and directs your life above all else."   I am thankful that is what is most apparent to those who witness my walk hour by hour throughout my work week. To God be the Glory... for He is the Potter, and I am a lump of clay. Can I get an "Amen"?!

That trust... that deep faith... has been forged over time.... split time, I like to say... between the fire and the threshing floor....through storms and experiences so excruciating at times I could hardly breathe; so tear stained, that even at the writing of  this, my flesh squirms and churns at the very remembrances.

But God... oh, how my heart soars at the sound of those two words!

But God is unrelenting, immovable, uncompromising... SO THAT He may perfect you and I according to His will.

Again, my spirit cries out, "Glory to Him alone!"

I have read a book that was given to me at the onset of my marriage by a co-worker at the time many, many times.  I have marked it up and highlighted it through the various phases of my life to date. It speaks to me in ways no other book does, save the Word of God. In many ways, it is my life. Its name is "Hinds' feet on High Places."

The main character, Much-Afraid, like me, was crippled at birth. Early in the novel, the Shepherd comes to her and asks her to go on a journey with two companions, Sorrow and Suffering.

(I want to pause a minute and highlight that word ASK.  That has been my experience. God approaches me with such gentleness and asks if I be willing to go. I cannot imagine denying my Lord anything. I truly cannot, but to have the God of the Universe ... the very One who could stop my heart at any moment.... gently ask  me to participate with Him as He shapes this lump of clay is both humbling and dumbfounding to my finite mind. Understand, that there are TWO responses...yes and no.....and regardless of our selection, He honors it. Oh, how I marvel!)

Through her journey, she is transformed and renamed Grace-and-Glory, and her companions are renamed Joy and Peace.  If you have never read it, pick it up!  You will be blessed in the reading of it!

Here in recent weeks, I was lead to re-read it. The last time I read it was many years ago, and my journey as Much-Afraid was still very much in progress.  As I re-read it this time, however, I heard God say, "Grace-and-Glory, Deborah; and your Sorrow and Suffering is now Joy and Peace."  Mercy.

For me - where I am now in my life - I have come to the end of the book; the part that I can relate to the most.  I am not content to be a mountain dweller - though the view is indeed spectacular (!) -  when I know SO many suffer in the "Valley of Humiliation"..... and are brain-washed to think they must stay there and suffer alone.

The Bible speaks of "the cloud of witnesses."  I not only choose to be among that cloud.... I have been appointed to be a part of that cloud as a member of The Body of Christ.... and as such.... my silence is not an option.

My marriage has not been a marriage derived from fairy-tales or anything remotely similar.

When I wrote the article "Dying Roses" on Joy In The Morning's website -- I was a dying rose. Still am, in fact. When I wrote a few articles back on this very blog about marriage being a "sanctuary of refinement" -- I wrote that from a deep place of knowing just how profound a truth it is.

Many bury such a knowing, and resist its intent, choosing to distract themselves with the family's day to day demands, but deep down... if they be a Child of the King.... they know holiness is God's primary objective within a marriage.... and to get there.... it's going to come with a high price.... much sorrow.... much suffering.....much climbing.

Again -- for those in this place -- hear my heart for you.... YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

Much like Elijah who was reprimanded by God to get out of the cave he was hiding in and get back to the city because he was not alone.... he had 7000 unwilling to bow to Baal  he had not yet discovered.... YOU are NOT alone!  Come out of your cave.... embrace the journey.....embrace the death. You and I serve a God who brings beauty up from the ashes.  In the ashes, I give Him praise!

(As a point of clarity, mountain-top view is my spiritual reality; ashes are a circumstantial reality.)

Through the years, I have written so much on marriage because I am, at the core of my being, both married and a student... a student of God's ways and how those ways plug in and transform human life.

Going back to the concepts of Hinds Feet and Potter/clay... brings my mind to an article I read many years ago about just what all goes into purifying the clay so that it is even moldable.  I don't know about you, but prior to reading that article, I had never given much thought to what all God has to do to you and I long before He ever places us upon the Potter's wheel!  It was humbling to say the least.  I know with great certainty I sure have taken a great deal of God's time just to get this lump of clay ready to be shaped on His wheel! (Thank You, Lord, for Your steadfastness; truly, I thank You!)

So, where am I going with this?  Where's the application?

First, I want you --- particularly my sisters-in-Christ, those who are wives and ex-wives -- to know, if you are in a hurting place, you are not alone.  You have a sister-in-Christ who knows the hurting place well, but you also must cling to the knowledge you have a Father, willing and able to bring correction where correction must come.  As He brings the correction to you and/or to your husband, you are going to have to wrestle your own flesh (hello?!) down to the mat and hold it there until it yields.

Second, I have been brought to a meditative place on this Scripture for weeks now, mostly in my prayer closet:

"In the same way, husbands live with your wives in an understanding way, since they are weaker than you. Show them honor and respect since they, too, are joint heirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered." I. Peter 3:7

How many husbands can say they understand their wives?

Lofty goal (in some cases, Mt Everest lofty)?    Perhaps.

Worthy goal?  Without a doubt... straight from God's lips to your ears!


It WILL take a lot of effort.

It WILL take a lot of time.

It WILL take a lot of heart.

(I pause.  I ponder.  Dare we apply this to ALL of us in the scope of our relationship with God?!  How many of us deeply desire to be known by God and to know Him?  Yet how many forfeit this splendor because we perceive it will require too much in our feeble assessment. Such the forfeit is a fool's folly.)

This scene from "Fireproof" comes to mind:


Husbands, are you willing to do what it will take to get a high school degree?  How about a college degree?

For husbands out there who may stumble across this, seeking help who legitimately want some help in understanding your wife's makeup, let me say this:  IF your wife belongs to God, at the core of her being she wants you to value her as God does.... and as the Word commands, higher than yourself.  She knows in her heart she is beloved by God.  There is nothing He has withheld from her....from you....even mysteries He withholds not. (Job12:22; Daniel 2:22; Jeremiah 33:3)  God is transparent and bold when it comes to His demonstration of love upon His daughters. THIS I know full-well! He made us gals just so. God's mandate is NOT for you to seek change in your wife or grumble at her short-comings, but rather it is to explore her as His creation for you........ your helpmate..... living with her in an understanding way.  Discover her strengths, encourage her to aim higher than she is aiming today, and when she falls...which she will.... grant grace to her, cover her, love her, and move on. THAT'S what GOD does for you and I.  We are to be on the same team in the same cloud of witnesses, glorifying our God. Anything less is sin, and the wages of sin IS death.

There is a branch of my husband's lineage that is notably foreign to the concept of oneness, and observation would affirm that the gift of edification in Christ is equally as foreign. The inclination is towards autonomy with an evident bent to criticize; minimizing God-given strengths while magnifying short-comings. It's truly heart-wrenching to spectate, and simply impossible to stay quiet as a daughter of the King. (Alas, like Paul, I have had a number of stones thrown at me as a result.)

(How many understand you, as a citizen in God's Kingdom, have an obligation (hello?!) to speak up in love, BUT with firmness, when actions of those claiming to be His do not line up with Kingdom principles?  I'm here to tell you, you have such an obligation if you are counted among His Citizens! Silence is NOT an option.)

Despite the warnings, they continue on; and their own actions determine serious harmful affects. No one and nothing else to blame.

Let's remind one another of the Word's admonition:

"He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood will be on himself. But had he taken warning, he would have delivered his life." Ezekiel 33:5

"And when they resisted and blasphemed, he (Paul) shook out his garments and said to them, 'Your blood be upon your own heads! I am clean. From now on, I shall go to the Gentiles.' " Acts 18: 6

God is gracious.  There is not a true believer that will deny that, but His grace does have limits because He is uncompromisingly HOLY.  At some point, the road divides, and one either chooses life or they choose death; BUT THEY CHOOSE.  Many times our doom is of our own stubborn undoing.

The command to husbands is to "leave your father and mother and cleave to your wife."  I do not believe that is a mere physical change of location....but a leaving of past thoughts and familial habits.... and with great determination, forge a NEW path with your wife.... physically, mentally, and GOD directs.

I wrote just weeks ago about "Autonomy vs Oneness."   I know the battle to get someone to break their "code of individuality" so that oneness can come can be lengthy.  The two are truly like light and dark though.... the two cannot coincide.

Let me put this as black and white as I can:

Autonomy = death

Oneness = life

I say this firmly:  men, if you have NO desire to put your autonomy to death, do NOT ask a woman for her hand in marriage.  Marriage is not an add-on to your life. The longer you try to parallel your autonomy with God's plan of oneness,  you will without a doubt challenge, scar, and perhaps even break your wife's spirit in the process. At the very least, you will bestow on her a challenging journey of continuous forgiveness that will potentially wear her soul out before God.

How long will we persist in the fool's folly of trying to make God be gray to suit our perverse ways?

It's the age old sin.  Man was designed to be in submission and one with God... submission and one with his wife.... submission and one with the Body of Christ, but man's fallen nature compels him to rebel with headstrong autonomy; an unwillingness to bend to Him and thus to her... so you resist Him and break her.

God have mercy and forgive us of our rebellious ways!  Transform us into Your likeness, for we are utterly doomed if You do not!

I pray for all couples out there. Oh, how I pray! There is a world-wide epidemic as old as the world itself opposed to doing life as God designed it.  With alarm, but not surprise, we know there are a number of  Satan-dominated stances and cultures whose specific purpose is to batter and beat women into such destitute, used stations in life; where fear dominates and a woman's spirit struggles to stay alive. In addition, there are a number of Satan-dominated stance and cultures whose specific purpose is to hold men in a state of perpetual slumber and stagnation.  Both are truly EVIL.

I go back to the Word.
It is timeless and universal.
It has stood BOLD and  TRUE from the beginning of time.
It stands BOLD and TRUE today.

No matter where you live....
no matter your cultural's status quo....
no matter your personal upbringing.....
GOD says ... and so it must be, "Husbands live with your wives in an understanding way......"

I pray I live long enough to see this mandate become the status quo.

I truly do.

(PS: James MacDonald has a lot of good teachings on marriage. You can pull them up on YouTube or the like. My intent here was to share my heart's burden for marriages as it is on this leg of my life's journey. Take from it what you will! Godspeed...truly! ♡ )