2011 opened with a whisper and continued on kitten’s feet through most of the year. To look, you’d think not much was happening. My journals are full of jots and tittles but few lengthy conversations. It was as if we were on pause. Still, there was a massive shift in Mike’s life.
Mike had always run from the words missions or missionary as if they were contagious. “I am not a missionary,” he assured me more times than I can count. He said it whenever I mentioned travel to foreign countries or any ministry outside of church walls.
While I prayed his attitude would change, because I felt we, he and I together, had a call in some way to missions. I didn’t know when or where but felt it was the real deal. So, Mike surprised me with his response to a dream he had in 2010.
In the dream, he heard the name, ‘Belize.’ “Do you know where Belize is?” he asked one morning. I opened my computer and pulled out maps and information for him. Later, after seeing his continued interest, I purchased a book about Belize for him to look over.
In September 2010, I headed to Pennsylvania for a Feast of Trumpets celebration. While I was gone, Mike got online and filled out paperwork to get his passport. Now that sounds pretty standard for we, who use the computer every day. For my husband, this was miraculous. He always looked to me to help him do anything other than email. There was something new stirring in his heart.
Before I got home, the passport arrived, and he put it in the safe. He didn’t tell me about it until later when he said, “I feel like I am supposed to go there. I’ve always wanted to see the Mayan ruins and that area is full of them. I’d like to find a Bed and Breakfast on a farm or something like that and rent a car, but don’t know how I’d afford it.” We researched but couldn’t find anything that met his criteria or our bank account.
In October 2010, Mike and I went to Florida to care for our grandchildren. Our son Brett, and his wife went for an anniversary trip to Ireland. We had a perfect time with the kids.
On the last Saturday of our visit, their church held an International Celebration. Their congregation had people from many nations. The leaders asked each person to bring some food typical of their nation. Everyone also came prepared to give a short talk about their country.
We ate fantastic food and then the people got up to share. We were enjoying hearing their stories when a young man stood up and said, “My name is Mark, and I am from Belize.” Mike and I looked at each other in shock.
When it was over, Mike went up to talk to Mark. After some general get acquainted talk, Mike told Mark that he wanted to go to Belize. “I want to see some of the ruins and try and find a Bed and Breakfast on a farm there,” he said. “I want to see how they garden and raise animals. Do you know anyone who could help me?”
Mark smiled, “Well,” he said, “my parents live on a farm and they love to show people the ruins. If they say you can stay with them, they will provide all your transportation and food. The only expense you’ll have is to chip in on the gas.” Mike was dumbfounded.
To make a long story much shorter, it took several months of phone conversations and planning. In Belize, nothing moves fast. In the end, Mike flew to Belize, round trip for about $200. Our son Brett was able to get some perks from his employee status with Southwest. Mike stayed with Mark’s parents and had a marvelous time. He toured many of the ruins and got to see how they farm. Plus, the pastor of the church in Belize asked Mike to preach on Sunday. So, his ‘missionary,’ status changed a bit. He was the only white face in the congregation that day, but he thoroughly enjoyed it, and they did too.
2011 graced us with an addition to our family. On April 25, our daughter Sarah gave birth to our last grandbaby, Kaelynn Grace. Sarah had some medical concerns with her pregnancy, but Mike and I had offered many prayers. God carried her and Kaelynn through without any problems.
The only struggle that year, was an internal one, in my heart. I was worshiping with Church of the Harvest on Thursday nights. The Holy Spirit was alive and active. Then going with Mike and Mom on Sunday to Stockton, where everything felt stale. It was becoming more and more difficult for me to go in love. I found myself critical and unhappy. My journals showed.
August 7, 2011, “Heading to church this morning. Leaving at our usual 7:45 and home sometime around 2:00.
Abba, You see my heart. It’s full of self-pity and so wanting to be with You and You, alone. I’d rather stay home with You than going to church.
This part of my life is robotic. I’m going through the motions, but my heart is absent. I vowed to follow through with my commitment to honor Mike, but even he is saying, “You don’t have to go.”
Abba, I need to know Your heart on this matter of church attendance and participation. Do You want me there?
What is Your purpose for my attendance? Help me understand Abba. I don’t want to be rebellious. I want to know I am representing You. I need Your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, etc. Apart from You activating these in me, I am a failure. Lord, what is Your will?
“I have come that you may have life and have it to the full,” He said.
Abba, I believe You. Still, church attendance at Mike’s church doesn’t feel like life to me, but rather death.
There weren’t any answers that day. Heaven was quiet as I continued to wrestle with my life circumstances.
Over the next few weeks, I waited. Then in late August, God bombarded me. He brought scripture, Facebook posts, and a YouTube teaching. Together they opened my eyes to the work of the deceiver who was trying to shut me down and throw my destiny in a ditch. Once I saw the truth of what I was dealing with, I realized God did want me to continue attending church with Mike. There was still work for me to do there, and I wrote in my journal. “If I am a carrier of Your Presence, I must go where You send me in joy, knowing You go with me.”
Again, the door opened for a teaching assignment. The adult class was in need. With opened eyes and a changed heart, I volunteered to teach a class. We would discover the meaning behind the parables of Jesus when seen through Hebrew eyes. My depression turned to desire, and passion stirred again to dig into His word and find more of Him.
The Parables Class was a huge success. We all learned a lot, and there was little conflict. I was grateful.
2011 ended much like it began, in quiet. I wasn’t sure what 2012 held, but I was still hoping for some breakthrough in the church department.
As I read my Bible on January 11, from Deuteronomy 3, the words troubled my heart.
“Then I pleaded with the LORD at that time, saying: ‘O Lord GOD, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your mighty hand, for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do anything like Your works and Your mighty deeds? I pray, let me cross over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, those pleasant mountains, and Lebanon.’ “But the LORD was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me. So the LORD said to me: ‘Enough of that! Speak no more to Me of this matter. NKJV
After all these years of waiting for Your words of prophecy, Father, don’t let me blow it. I want to see Your victory up close and personal.
“Have no fear Beloved. What I’ve said, I will do, and you will be there to see it, touch it, and taste it. There is nothing I will withhold from you. Do not fear.”
“I know it seemed as if the game was drawing to a close but it’s only the first half. I have plans beyond your imagination. Let go of doubt and enter into the land of opportunity. Promises are waiting and plans I’ve only let you see glimpses of will come in 3D and HD as this year unfolds. 2012 will set this house in order—My order—Your joy will be full, and Mine will be ecstatic. Oh, what joy awaits Beloved. Oh, what joy awaits.”
Later, on January 19, 2012, He gave me a vision of Yeshua. In my journal, I recorded:
I see Yeshua and I walking along a trail in the woods, beside a flowing river. The river is full but not turbulent. It looks placid on the surface, with few ripples, but it’s deep and unstoppable. Yeshua sits down on a big rock and invites me to sit as well. I take a smaller rock at His feet, and we watch the river together.
“Remember the river we saw the other day, rough, fierce, turbulent and forceful?”
“This river is even more powerful. Looks are deceiving. Sounds are deceiving. Listen Beloved.”
I listened and realized that the roar of the raging river was missing. There was a continual whooshing sound, almost like wind, but it was not threatening.
“This is the river of Truth.” He said. “It is powerful and it is unstoppable. It flows without sound but overcomes all that may try to stand in its way. The river we saw before was rough and choppy because of the boulders in the water. But, Truth removes the stumbling blocks. Truth dismantles all that would direct its path other than to its goal. Truth accomplishes its purpose. Truth cannot return void.”
Lord, what does this have to do with me? Why are You showing me this?
“Because I’ve put Truth in your mouth. It will remove stumbling blocks and barriers for My river to flow unheeded. This valley needs my Truth. Though it doesn’t look fierce, it is unstoppable, and it is coming through you.”
This word humbled me and made me more aware of my need to keep the right heart attitude. To carry His word of truth was a tall order.
When we walk in God’s assignment, one of the most important things to remember is to stay in step with Him. He reminded me of this on February 9th.
I was weighing options about how to write the material for a class I was leading for the women in Valley Springs. Direction is what I needed. As I pondered different approaches, a vision opened in my mind.
I recorded it in my journal. Lord, this morning I see You sitting on our porch swing in Missouri. The wind is blowing, and it is early summer. New green leafy trees sway, and dandelions with shiny yellow heads bob in the tall sea of grasses. Harold’s tractor is turning the earth in the fields below, forming rows for planting. The skies are blue, and barn swallows swoop and soar in the breeze. Blues and browns reflect off of their wings in the sunlight.
“It’s an easy day,” said Yeshua. “Come and sit beside Me, Beloved.”
I take a seat and pull my knees to my chest with my feet on the swing. I am about eight-years-old.
“Beloved, I know you’ve planned to press on into the next lesson today, but I want you to rest. Enjoy the day. Be with Mike. Catch up on laundry. Straighten your office. Put the last class away. Clean bathrooms. Be with Me as you go through your day. If it gets pressed, remember this swing and Me here with you. I am with you always.”
Yeshua, my flesh wants to jump into the teaching. There’s a battle within to keep me from letting go of my plans. There is tension like I am holding back horses that want to run. Given the slightest opening, I sense they will break free.
“There is something to receive in the waiting Beloved. Perspective, choice. All will be clearer with the waiting.”
I pondered the vision and opened the Bible in my lap. Psalm 27:11-14 leaped from the page. “Teach me Your way, O Lord, And lead me in a smooth path, because of my enemies. Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries; For false witnesses have risen against me, And such as breathe out violence. I would have lost heart unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord! NKJV
Again, He underlined His request with His Word. All I could do was say, “Lord, I will wait for You.”
A couple of weeks later, in my spirit, I heard Him calling me.
As I answered, an inner vision opened and I saw Him coming out of the gate of a walled garden. I ran up to Him and asked, “What is it, Lord?”
“I wanted to see you Beloved. I wanted to see your smile and your eyes full of love for Me. While your physical body is aging, your spirit is young and vibrant, full of joy. I came to see you and remind you that I love you. I came to tell you that My plans for you are good and your future is full of promises that will be fulfilled.
He is laughing. His head was thrown back, laughing, full out. “Oh, the enemy is in for a big surprise Beloved.” He said. “I wrote My plans for you and My children before time began and the party is about to begin.
“Oh, what joy awaits My children. What the enemy means for evil, will be for much good. Good beyond all you can think. Rest in My love, Beloved. Rejoice and sing for the days of the enemy are counted, and they are passing quickly.
“Don’t concern yourself with end-times or whether you will still be on earth when I return. Don’t occupy yourself with these things. Spend time with Me. Rejoice in My love and trust me for the future.”
The year continued with more teaching assignments. God gave me many more prophetic words for the Body. But for Mike and I, there wasn’t any foreseeable move to oneness in church affiliation. Even though it had been years, I remained believing. God was going to bring His word to fruition.
On April 22nd, He gave me a vision that encouraged me. In my vision, I saw myself on a massive ocean liner. In my internal dialogue, I’m saying, “I want to see grass and trees, flowers and hills, not ocean. But I trust You. You are my Shepherd.”
“Lets’ stand on the deck, Beloved. The wind is strong, and the ocean is vast in all directions around us. No land in sight. Do you see the sea, Beloved?”
Yes, Lord. What do You want me to know? Understand?
“That the sea appears to be endless and yet, there are boundaries beyond your view. There are thriving trees, plants, food, shelter, beyond the horizon.
“Life sometimes looks like the sea—an infinite, flat, colorless plane without hope of change. But don’t let appearances fool you. I am always leading you in triumph. Always. You are moving toward the shore. The promises are there in bold relief, tangible, trustworthy. My word is TRUTH.
“Enjoy the journey, Beloved. You haven’t lost. Life is not as it seems. Give without regret. Believe, trust, step out, beyond the flat, meaningless round of days lies a land of promise. Taste and see that I am good and a rewarder of those who put their trust in Me.”
My hope was stirred again.
As the year progressed, more and more evangelism was the thrust of Kevin’s teaching, and many in the Body were responding. I celebrated the new salvations and breakthroughs. Still, I felt like a second-class disciple.
I sat in silence one morning, my heart disturbed, when I heard, “What are your concerns, Beloved?”
That I’m not doing all, You have planned for me to do. I am concerned that my teaching is not enough. A voice inside keeps telling me I need to be more in the community, interacting with others and the poor.
“My ways are not your ways, Beloved. Some are called for individual tasks and must not try to do the tasks of others. Your mission, your purpose in My plan is to teach, to share My truth. You can’t do everything, nor are you called to do everything. My grace is sufficient for the task assigned to you and no more.
“Rest in My will, Beloved. All that has been is preparing you for what is coming. Your times are in My hands. No fears, Beloved. Rest in My love.”
As we stepped into summer, a new door opened, one that Kevin and Genevieve had been knocking on for several years. A place to meet for Sunday services in Valley Springs. Our little town has few buildings sized for group gatherings. Still, by God’s grace, the Veteran’s Hall was available. Another church had been meeting there, but they found a more permanent setting.
Our first meeting was on July 1, 2012. I was excited. We had thirteen people in attendance and Holy Spirit was there to greet us.
The next day, God spoke a puzzling word of warning.
“Will you abide Beloved? No matter what appears? Will you trust Me in the face of conflicting evidence? Am I trustworthy?”
Yes Lord, by Your grace I will abide and trust.
“War against your mind is coming. The outcome of victory is already determined. There will be oneness, peace, joy unspeakable and wholeness in ministry. It will feel like a sweet spot homerun. Watch and pray and believe. I have not left you comfortless. Look to Holy Spirit to meet your every need. He will. He has orders to do so. Call on Him while He is near.
“Rest in My love, and you will see all things unfold in a victory. Not man-made but heaven sent. It’s not about doing. It’s about being. Be Mine and watch Me work.
“Mike is up against a wall. (In my mind’s eye, I see him facing the wall with his nose against it.) The wall isn’t going to move, not one iota. He is going to have to follow Me to overcome the wall to turn around and go another way. Everything in him is at war about this. His pride, his identity, his hopes, and dreams are all on the line. Pray for him. My grace is sufficient.
“Speak comfort, not rebuke. Build up and encourage. Mike needs support, and in Me, you can provide it.”
Mike continued to war with his thoughts and convictions. His church world headquarters made a decision. They decided to honor gay marriage. And they decided to open the door for gays to be priesthood members. Mike knew his Bible, and there wasn’t anything in it to support this decision as coming from the Lord. He’d been disturbed about other points of their doctrine, but this was the last straw. He couldn’t gloss over it. I did my best to keep my opinions to myself and trust God.
On July 29th, when I got home from church, I told Mike, “Kevin asked me to preach next Sunday.”
“Good,” he said. “Because I already decided that I am going with you next Sunday.” His decision to go to church with me would be the first time in three years Mike had attended any of our meetings. And, going on Sunday meant he was choosing not to go to his church. I saw his choice as a breakthrough.
Mike went to that service, and much like me in 1986, he never returned to regular attendance at his church, even though he still preached there on occasion.
He found people at Church of the Harvest pursuing God’s word and His will. That date was August 5, 2012, seven years to the day that Linda came to pray for us at our home in Missouri.
We were crossing the threshold of a new beginning. We had twenty-seven years of sitting alone, at two different churches. Now, we were finally together. There would still be bumps in the road. Our opinions would not always be the same. God would continue to chisel away on both of us. But in the next five years, our lives would change for the better. The oneness God promised would begin.
When I started writing these chapters in August 2016, my intent was to take it right up to present day. But, as I noted in this blog, Holy Spirit is my editor, and He’s prompting me to stop here. I could write another fifty to one hundred pages about the past five years. But you don’t need weight training lifting my book around. So, for now, I will say, “It is well with my soul.”
God has other writing assignments waiting in the wings. I have more life experiences to share and a new project revealing the character of Yeshua. God reveals fresh insight to me every day about Who He is through Hebrew Alephbet studies. I want to share those insights with you. They will change your life. You will not only discover who He is, but who you are.
But I needed to write this one first. You need to know the ‘who’ behind the things you are reading. You need to see that I am a human being with weaknesses and strengths like any one of you. And, you need to see how much He loves us and is willing to meet us in the messiest of places and draw us back to Himself. I pray these stories opened your eyes to the goodness of our God, our Abba.
At seventy-two, you would think I know Him well. But He still, surprises me with His love.
~~ How About You? ~~
My story is a witness of God’s faithfulness to those who trust and wait on Him. Even when life looked like a burnt meal or an unraveled sweater, He stepped in over and over to redeem and transform. His love carried us over when many others would have left us to languish in the ditch.
No matter what your story, or how much of a failure you may feel is in your life, I am here to tell you, just whisper His name. He is right there with you. Whether it looks like it or not, He is leading you in triumph. You too can discover the worth of trusting Him and waiting for His timing.
I love this verse out of Deuteronomy 31:8
“And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”
With God’s continued grace, these stories will be in book form soon. I will keep you posted. Thank you for your comments and support.