Sunday, June 23, 2019

The Resiliency of a Woman's Soul

For almost a half of a century I have belonged to a particular group. In my opinion (and I  believe God wholeheartedly agrees with me), a very special group
...a set apart group....  a God created group.

A profoundly hated group.

Within the most recent of years, my eyes have been opened.... painfully so, never to shut again, through my story and the many stories of others who belong to this group.... to just how vehemently hated we are.

Perhaps it is at the intersection of my giftings and the pain I see most clear; for understand, the hatred towards this group is nothing new.

Long I have known of the hatred, both personal and otherwise, but as of late, individual story after individual story floods my awareness.... and a force equal to,
NO - exceeding said hatred, arises within.

"ENOUGH," He declares.

Silence, resolution, peace, resolve follow.

Allow me to explain.

The level of assault globally upon women stays in the (comfortable) outer awareness of most people, until it comes home.  And it ALWAYS comes home.

If you are among women, you know this to be true. Be it physically, emotionally, and/or spiritually, we are accosted without mercy, relentlessly so.  We are vehemently hated, and the mission is simple: render us debilitated.

The attacks can come from outsiders, but the most vicious attacks often come from the human vehicles closest to her.

As I said, there is nothing new under the sun. A simple glance into human history leaves even the strongest stomachs sickened.

Ever since our creation our degradation and destruction has been aggressively sought at the hands of human pawns. BUT the heart of this writing is not to highlight Satan, his cronies, nor their intentions, but rather the wondrous...and I do mean WONDROUS .... resiliency of a woman's soul.

Too many times throughout my personal history to truly number I have found myself wondering if I would pull through yet another attack.  In my early adult years, I recollect crawling into bed whispering to my Father, "If You want to take me home tonight, I would welcome that" -- only to have my eyes open in the morning, declaring to Him, "Well, I'm still here; let's do this thing!"

I smile now with Him at the resiliency He has built within me through the YEARS.

I have seen it time and again in many a sister-in-Christ.

Women in Christ do not quit....  
Women in Christ do not retreat....

The resiliency of  a woman's soul is NOT found apart from Him.  It simply isn't.
HE is Vision to those who seek and seek and seek yet again.

But greater still....

HE is Victory to those who rise and rise and rise yet again.


Understand: I am not talking about circumstantial victories. To be frank, I have found those to be the lesser victories.  I am talking about the paramount core victory.... the victory deep within a woman's soul.... an unshakable victory ... the identity victory.

Song of Solomon 6:3 declares: 
"I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine."

The enemy's numerous attacks upon my life have yielded a force to be reckoned with because through it all my vision and my giftings became crystal clear because my identity became crystal clear.  

THIS is the power we have through Christ.

We do not quit....because He does not quit.
We do not retreat....because He does not retreat.

I had an appointed conversation with someone earlier this year where I declared, from deep within my soul:
"I KNOW who I am in Christ, and I am going with Him." 

Dear  sisters-in-Christ, take whatever is going on in your life right now to God. Petition Him for greater vision, greater understanding that exceeds ...that goes beyond... life's circumstances.  Know your enemy is not human form. This is a tough one because often those we hoped would love us well are duped into hurling the sharpest of arrows, but again... look past the human vehicles... and take deadly aim at your one true enemy... the one who seeks to use life's circumstances to debilitate you. Allow God to rise up bring confidence... to bring wisdom... to bring His supreme power to bear; He will -- I am nothing special that He would not do for you what He has done for me, as He declares, "Enough!"   

Glory!  I recall the first time I heard Him make such the decree.... blissful silence ensued.

I'm so very thankful God reigns supreme.
I am indeed my beloved's, and my beloved is mine! 

Celebrating the wondrous resiliency 
of a woman's soul because


If you do not know Jesus Christ as Savior AND Lord, 
I pray you come to a saving knowledge of Him
and began a new way of walking today! 
A resilient walk... a victorious walk... in Him!


Monday, June 17, 2019

To Africa...and Beyond; Part Two

As I sat in the airport, by my gate, my parents emailed, "How are you feeling?"

"Two words come to mind: surreal and peace. As I sit here, I am so aware of His presence."

Of the many lessons He has graciously taught me over the years, one of the most significant is that my intellect, that is my ability to reason and to think, is to be -  at best - complementary to my faith, never used to override my faith.

Too many times the temptation comes and the bait is taken such that our thoughts or the opinions of others override His whisper. For me, I knew I had heard Him; a journey to South Africa was the next step for me so much so I considered it a done deal the day I booked my ticket. Not going was never an option.

A little over thirty hours, and I landed. God's provision of grace and patience was with me with every passing minute, including ten and a half hours of the eleven hour flight from Paris to South Africa where I sat unable to get up (hello!?) because the fellow in the aisle seat was dead to the world!  Have mercy!  (And God did! I'm telling you my ability to sit in that seat for ten and a half hours was a test of the will, but greater still a miracle... and I don't use that word lightly!) Amazing and notable even to me, I was not anxious nor weary the whole of the trip there.... it still astounds me as I think back on it!  Though, I did welcome the gift of going horizontal in a comfy bed after those thirty one hours.

The first couple of days Valerie and I went around visiting various aspects of the topography.  Even now, I struggle to find the words concerning all that surrounded me.  Massive mountains met massive prairies and massive prairies met massive oceans, both the Atlantic and the Indian.

One particular day we were coming down out of the mountains and Valerie had mentioned we would be coming upon a huge beach. Sure enough, as we made our way,  my eyes were fixed on an expansive beach, more specifically though the tiny, yet discernible, specks that came into view.  Those specks were people!

In the scope of the massive landscape all around me, here were specks, almost imperceptible, and yet the Spirit, being so very alert within, highlighted the absolute fact that God not only sees us specks, but loves us AND chooses to inhabit those who are willing! That is a miracle of cosmic proportions!

I have never felt so small, yet so set apart, in my life. Awe struck.... completely awe struck!  Please take a moment and mediate on the Spirit's indwelling miracle that salvation bestows upon us. I am forever grateful.

Apart from Him, it is so easy to think too little or too highly of ourselves. With Him and under His tutelage, the proper perspective of "self"  is a lesson not easily grasped. But having been created in God's image, we are significant.... significant to the Most High to the extreme point that He sent His Son to die and then triumphantly rise again. But please understand: HE is the Element that brings justification to our significance.

Apart from Him we are dead unto sin and can do nothing..... absolutely nothing....of eternal value. (John 15:5)  The flip-side to 'nothing' however is Jesus' words (John 14: 12-14) that those who believe in Him would do even greater works than He. Clearly, in Him, we have significance.  Again, proper perspective of self is not a lesson easily grasped, but well worth embarking on the Spirit's education on the matter!

One of my greatest delights was attending a small gathering of believers at a home one evening.  The most notable observation to me was their radiant JOY in the midst of great trials.

Not a single one of them was exempt from traversing difficult terrain, and I do mean DIFFICULT.  The host and hostess had just picked up a newborn, not even a week old, abandon by the birth mother because she could not afford to keep her. Heart-breaking to hear the persistent cries of the baby girl wanting to hear the familiar heart beat and voice of her birth mama to no avail, but what blessed patience that couple displayed as they used every method at their disposal to communicate their love and care for her.

Then there was the precious sister in the Lord.... a nurse... who was awaiting news of a possible return of a tumor behind her eye, but all she could talk about was a pending transport of thirty something patients to a new hospital; her joy and excitement tangible as she talked about the need for road closures and police escorts to get it done over the coming weekend.  Clearly, she lived to serve, not be served.

Then there was the single mother... her story of God's faithfulness over the years should be put into book form for all to read, having lost husband (the "love of her life") and son in a horrible accident... yet answering the call to dedicate her life to counseling others through life's hardships with tangible JOY.

I could go on.  Three other stories come rushing to my remembrance, but the blanketing point remains with me as it did that night: God had indeed filled them to overflow by His Spirit with all hope and peace as they leaned into Him as their hope and their stay. (Romans 15:13)

Each of those siblings are forever imprinted into my heart and will serve as everlasting reminders of God's faithfulness in the midst of hardships!  What an incredible, sustaining Father we indeed do have!

You know, I was asked in the weeks leading up to my pilgrimage, "Why Africa?"   I had no concrete answer apart from "It's where He has asked me to go. Perhaps it's a simple matter of obedience."  And that was all I in fact had to go on until I arrived.

Do you all remember me sharing  my long walkabout when He asked me to walk to the airport?

Certainly He has in my past asked me to do things without reason, but remember what I said at the beginning of this post?  One of THE greatest hurdles man must master is to bridle, under the power and direction of the Spirit, our God-given ability to reason and to think.

Reasoning is a powerful gift, but a dangerous faith killer IF not harnessed and submitted under God's authority. 

I didn't need a reason to go to South Africa apart from His request.  But He did indeed journey with me there and met me every single day with life-confirming words and clarity of purpose.

I pray for each of you reading this right now.  No matter where you are on your life's journey with God commit to growing, commit to being stretched beyond what is comfortable, beyond what is known.  I have long since said, "A close walk with God is utterly hinged to our obedience to Him."

Be the child that obeys 
without asking, "Why?"

I can testify that the reward is indeed great!

If I walk off into the sunset with my Lord one day, it will be my greatest JOY! Sincerely....

Journey on, dear siblings; journey on! ♡

Thursday, June 6, 2019

To Africa....and Beyond; Part One

For me, but certainly not for God, this all began in January of this year, when I stood in my office at work with the compelling thought, "Put in for vacation. Make it the last week of May."   I remember even pulling out my Google calendar and thinking, "No, I always take vacation the second week of May, right after the kids are done with school/university."

"Not this year," I heard the Spirit say.

So, I put it in "ink" ---
"Deborah, vacation May 25th - June 1st"

And in truth, I didn't think anything more on it at the time.

Come February, my daughter was preparing to study abroad (summer) as part of her college education and had to apply for her passport.  Once again, the Spirit spoke up, "Get yours prepared."  What?  Graciously, He repeated, "Get yours prepared."  Somewhat stupefied, I did as He asked. Short of His request, I didn't have a reason, and He didn't give one.

All the while my mind was keen on knowing why.

My "vacation week", turned out being midway through my daughter's study abroad program, and I innocently thought, "Oh, You're going to let me go visit her!"  But every time I went online to check airfare, the Spirit clearly said, "No."  I stopped trying the doorknob after a few times.

At the end of February, the grace at work began to lift.  And I found a job listing I felt perfectly suited for (that included a good bit of travel.... ergo the need of the passport, right, Lord?), so I applied.  The short of that is the Spirit said, "No."  I stopped trying that doorknob, too. (Passport "mystery" still at hand.) However, He did make it clear I was to resign my position, effective date birthday (beginning of June), as Director of Human Resources; a position I had succeeded in and a position my boss/owner was not wanting me to resign from.  The day I handed in my notice was surreal. "Care to share what You are doing, God?" Silence.  Keep in mind, I did this with the full knowledge we still have kids in college!

In April, the Spirit said, "Africa."   Excuse me?  "Africa."   You want me to go to Africa?  "Africa," He said for the third time.  Mind officially blown.  It had been an exasperating four months to my humanity for numerous reasons, but THIS.   Curious tidbit between myself and God:  I have told Him since He first captivated my heart, "You can send me anywhere ...but Africa."  Yeah.... point taken.

I know distantly two people in two different countries on the continent of Africa.  As the Lord saw me weigh this, I heard Him say, "Valerie."

So on April 22nd, I wrote Valerie a private message through Facebook.  I knew Valerie because I had attended church with her some seventeen years back before she moved to Africa, but I didn't know-know her at all.  I can only imagine her thoughts as she read my note that started off, "Val, hold your breath while I try to lay out something not even I know in full...."    But that same afternoon, she called me, and we spoke for an hour.  The end conclusion:  I was heading to Africa at the end of May for reasons not known to either myself nor Valerie.   (Thankful for saints such as Valerie who also hear the Lord and obey without needing His reasons explained.)

I remember hanging up from talking with Valerie and bracing as I looked up airfare AFTER committing to Him, "Africa it is".  At this point, I knew there was no point of reason I could offer that would dissuade what He was so clearly laying out.

The airfare, that I secured that afternoon, turned out to be completely covered by my vacation pay. Gobsmacked. Valerie reports that in her seventeen years of travels to and from the States, she has NEVER heard nor seen airfare for the price I paid, stating the lowest she had ever managed was $500 OVER what I paid.  One could say it was another sign in the right direction, but at this point, the need for 'signs' had long since passed. (There is a song near to my heart I think on even now as I write, "Don't ever let me lose my wonder..."   And thus far, He hasn't. ♡ )

On one weekend in May, I sent my daughter off on a plane for her study abroad.  The following Friday, May 24th, I worked my last day as Director of Human Resources for Chick-fil-A. And on May 25th, I boarded a plane... to Africa.

(To be continued.....)

Psalm 40
"God Sustains His Servant"

I waited patiently for the Lord;
He turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
He set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in Him.
Blessed is the one
who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.
Many, Lord my God,
are the wonders You have done,
the things You planned for us.
NONE can compare with You;
were I to speak and tell of Your deeds,
they would be too many to declare.
Sacrifice and offering You did not desire,
*but my ears You have opened*;
burnt offerings and in offerings you did not require.
Then I said, "Here I am, I have come - 
it is written in the scroll.
*I desire to do Your will, my God;*
Your law is within my heart."
I proclaim your savings acts in the great assembly;
I do not seal my lips, Lord, as You know.
I do not hide Your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and Your saving help.
I do not conceal Your love and your faithfulness
from the great assembly.
Do not withhold Your mercy from me, Lord;
may Your love and faithfulness always protect me.
For troubles without number surround me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails within me.
Be pleased to save me, Lord;
come quickly, Lord, to help me.
May all who want to take my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin 
be turned back in disgrace.
May those who say to me, "Aha! Aha!"
be appalled at their own shame.
But may all who seek You
rejoice and be glad in You;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
"The LORD is GREAT!"
For me, I am poor and needy;
think on me, Lord.
You are my Help and my Deliverer;
You are my God, do not delay.