Friday, July 21, 2017

You came. I knew that You would come.

      The other night I had the most incredible dream. As many of you know, we recently moved into a new apartment. But you may not know that in spite of it not being my "dream house," I'm kind of growing to love this new place. It's cozy. It's cute. It has a pool. It has a workout facility. And, praise the good Lord Jesus, I'm no longer having to hike my booty up three flights of stairs to get to it. We also recently figured out that the previous tenants must have been Christians. There's a sweet spirit in this place, and their leftover mail constantly brings in reminders of their missional mindedness and the work they were doing while here to further the kingdom. Now, I know that does not a Christian make, but the peace in this apartment, y'all. That sweet spirit. . .
       I've been doing my best to really sink in here, to decorate, and to make it feel like home. I was never quite comfortable in our last place even though I decorated it, even though we anointed and prayed over it, even though we lived there for an entire year. I was always unsure of the space there. I would wake up several times a night, and only partially slept, always unsettled in my spirit. For the first time in a year, though, I'm sleeping through the night soundly again. And I'm dreaming.
      This particular dream took place in the present; it wasn't futuristic or in the past. It was very real and very now. Jordan, Lilli, and I were standing in the middle of a field--a hay field to be exact. The day was sunny but slightly overcast; nevertheless, it was bright and beautiful, and the grass, rich and green, rolled in the breeze like water moved by a wake. Everyone we know was around us: our family, friends, and I distinctly remember specific faces of those in the crowd. The people who have prayed and stood in faith with us, and those who have been supportive but have also lovingly told us to "be realistic" about our spiritual and ministerial endeavors and call, were all there.
      A man came through the crowd to us and handed us a gold-colored sheet of paper that read "Deed" at the top of it. The three of us looked at each other questioningly; we had no idea what was happening or what the paper meant. Then someone said, "It's yours."
      This man that we do not know--all I remember is that he was bald and wore glasses--bought and gave us a farmhouse and fifty acres of farmland. He was inspired by our ministry and faith and felt led to purchase the property for us. I kept thinking, "But we haven't done anything to deserve such a gift." He gave it to us anyway and was no longer a part of the dream. He left as quickly as he came. There was no debt to be paid; the house was ours, free and clear. And the joy that followed was a kind I'll never be able to describe.
      I never saw much of the house; it was as if it was only in the corner of my eye because I was too focused on God and astounding joy that nothing else mattered, not even the periphery. I held the deed in my hand and looked up to the sky with my arms raised in worship and sang out, "You came! I knew that You would come!"
      As I mentioned in a previous post on Instagram, this song, this particular line, has come to be my theme over the past week or so. I have been spiritually screaming, "Everyone! Look! He's going to do this great big thing! He's going to provide a house and it will be our miracle house!" In my dream, God did just that. But when I proclaimed my message and thanks to Him, it was not in the spirit of an "I told you so," or vengeance, or even vindication in response to those who did not believe along with us. No, my song rang out over those hay fields in praise and awe and hope at what God had done because I already knew that it was done, but now, now everyone could see His glory. He was being magnified and no one could take any credit for His hand's amazing work. He came! I knew He would come! I knew! I knew! I KNEW! Jordan, Lilli, and I saw it from the beginning and now everyone could all see it with us and share in His glory.
      Prior to this dream, I had been wanting to paint something to hang over the fireplace, but I couldn't decide what to paint. I am a huge proponent of incorporating the Word and prayers and Christian quotes and lyrics in my artwork and around my home. They serve as constant reminders for my family and me. I had been praying about what to paint as this would be a serious reminder because this is the focal point of the apartment. When I awoke from my dream, I was in tears of joy; I was beyond elated about God being so glorified, about His goodness and His love for us. You know that awesome cry you have after waking from a happy dream? Yeah. That was the kind of feeling I was still cradled in while swimming in pillows and sheets. I knew then what I would paint.
      Something surprised me more than anything about my dream. I didn't wake up thinking about my house that had been given to me for free. I wasn't excited about proving anyone wrong, or the fifty acres of farmland that I could do a thousand cartwheels on and Jordan could farm for days. I was overjoyed by God being glorified. This feeling was an intense, deeply rooted fulfillment in Him that only lifted my faith and reignited my fire in Him.
      I'm finding that moving forward in God is about better understanding what glorifies Him and that blessing that I receive in return by being allowed to soak in His glory. In that few minutes of REM sleep that God so sweetly shared with me, He taught me that as happy as I may be in my new dream house, that happiness will never amount to the sheer delight I'll swim in when I see that He is glorified through it all. It'll never amount to the joy I'll receive when my "I knew" comes to its full maturity.
   
     
      

Monday, July 3, 2017

Blind Devotion: Bold Prayers and a Psalm of the Griffins

      When Jordan was younger he always said he would have a band called Blind Devotion. I thought it was cool. It represented trusting in the "unseen hand" of God. As we have grown in our walks with Him, we have come to find that there is no blindness to our devotion to God. Our vision is enhanced by walking with Him, and His hand is always visible, therefore a devoted heart cannot and will not blindly beat for Him. Our devotion is based on faith but faith is strengthened through trials, promises from God, prophecies, His Word, and His peaceful presence. When reading the book of Psalm we find that much of it is praise for God's faithfulness and the signs, wonders, and miracles He brought forth in the past. These gave the writers of the Psalms the faith to know that they could ask for help or blessings because they had previously seen God do amazing things for them in the past; why would He not do them again?
      My family and I have been in this boat before. Many times. The waves are knocking us down, the boat groans under the weight of the water, us, and our spiritual baggage that God begs us to toss overboard. Yet God always saves us. Why would He not do it again? Our boat is not large. In fact, it is pretty small. It serves the purpose of getting us from one season to the next; we are not meant to carry spiritual baggage from the previous season along with us. We are to leave it behind us. We only need what we learned. But it seems that I, in my spiritual frailty, always carry the worry, the anxiety, and the lack of faith with me, inevitably slowing our trip. Why must I torture myself this way!
      Yet, God, in all of His mysterious and glorious ways, waits on me. 2 Peter 3:9 says, "The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." Here, He is speaking of salvation in the last days. Does not all that we do in our lives push us toward our calling in Him, which is to share salvation's promise with everyone who does not already know?
      As some of you know, our house we lived in when we first moved to Nashville was sold, and done so practically out from underneath us. We were devastated, to say the least. This house had offered so much comfort and was my dream house, but upon the selling of it, we learned how God was actually saving us from it. The house had more problems than we could count and would have cost us around $50,000 in repairs. While it was magnificently beautiful on the outside, the guts of it, the things unseen, were not so beautiful. The many windows that I loved about the house needed to be replaced. The roof had, maybe, two year's worth of life remaining in it. The HVAC units were calling it quits, and the foundation was so corrupt the entire house was shifting by more than just a few inches; there was a leak under the house that would inevitably result in mold if it had not already and we had previously been on the mold vacation once. That is not a place I want to visit ever again. On top of this, a crooked realtor was in charge of the house's selling and I was terrified to get anywhere near her for fear she would curse the whole place even more. While the old adage says that inside beauty is what counts, we seem to only apply that to people and faces. I believe the statement proves attributable to anything in life, and therein lie the blessings God has for us.
      While this house was my dream, part of my spirit would say, "No, it isn't really my dream house." I felt so ungrateful as if I was smacking God in the face for all He had done for us when He gave us this house. But those feelings of uncertainty were not necessarily my own, but a check from the Holy Spirit: "I want more for you, and this simply isn't it." Sometimes for God to get His message across to us, because we cannot see past our own desires and because we settle, thinking we are not worth more to Him, He will break our hearts to prove otherwise. But in this glorious moment comes new revelation and where James 1:2-4 kick into overdrive. "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness." Now catch this; verse 4 is going to knock your socks off: "And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." (If that don't light your fire, your wood's wet.)
     The Greek for "steadfastness is ὑπομονή pronounced hupomonay. It is also translated as endurance, enduring, patient, patience, constancy, depending on the part of speech. All of these words have to do with waiting, one of the most difficult actions I could ever perform because to me, it is not an action, but a lack of action. I cannot be still in any situation. I even move in my sleep. In James, the word is specifically translated at patience. Y'all know I have the patience of a gnat, right?
      After the selling of our house, which was heartbreaking no matter what I knew about its innards, we moved to a tiny apartment in Brentwood. It is a nice apartment, but it is not my home. We have been unsettled for a year, our things scattered across two states, most of my pots and pans still in a box in the backseat of my car, and our creativity has been stifled beyond belief.
      Again, our place of residence was sold. Out from under us. And by crooked realtors. We found an apartment in Franklin; however nice it is, it still would not be home. We have not signed the lease on it due to the limitations of our current lease on the condo. The whole ordeal, from strangers running through our condo unannounced for repairs or viewings, to the shadiness of Nashville realty has been a disgusting mess of which I want to never be a part again.
      But God...
      I do not rely on luck to get me from Point A to Point B. I rely on God's hand. So often, though, I forget about the "to" in between the two points, the journey, and how His hand is also there, probably more so than at any other point. That place in between is exactly what James is referring to, the reason why we need endurance, patience, and steadfastness. The reason why the lack of action is so imperative. When I am moving constantly, God cannot.
      God gave us a word from two different people, neither of whom know the other. My new friend Nicole challenged us to pray for God to provide a house within three weeks. "He can do it, " she said. "Your past is proof of that." Our family is a walking Psalm and somehow we missed it because we were too busy focusing on rearranging the junk in our boat instead of getting ready to dock. She then prayed over us; having only just met a week before and not knowing everything about each other, Nicole began prophesying over our lives, ministry, and new home, saying things only friends and family could have known about us, some of these prophesies so personal, that they were pillow talk between Jordan and me, no one present but the Holy Spirit. She specifically said, "In this house, worship will be had, people will come to rest in You, God,  sermons will be written and preached, songs will be written, and books will be written." Nicole did not know that I preached. She did not know that I write and that my dream is to be Beth Moore when I grow up. No one knows those conversations that Jordan and I have privately about this deep groaning to write music, and not many people know that Lilli writes music almost daily. (This waiting has affected her in a much different way than it has me or Jordan.)  That sweet check in my Spirit sparked to life as God made it clear we should pray for a house, and I remembered we had not signed the lease on the new apartment. We were in the same position as before when God initially moved us to Nashville. This is no coincidence, folks.
     As I reported the word to Jordan, he replied with, "Repeat that for Rico. I have him on speaker phone." After I finished, Jordan asked Rico to tell me what he told Jordan a week before. He said, "I feel like God's saying you won't be moving into that apartment. I don't know what it is, but I don't think that's where you're gonna be living."
      For the past week-and-a-half, we have been praying boldly for a house. Not a house to rent, but our house that we have been waiting on for all of our marriage, but mainly for the past three years. When we prayed boldly like this before, no one believed God would make good on His promises. In fact, people flat out told us we were crazy, that we needed to be logical, sensible, and think realistically. To me, that sounds like a lack of faith in God, and I do not want that in my boat. Shall we Boston Tea Party this mess? I think so! He came through, with a bang, the day we moved into our house in Hendersonville, as a house, $8,000, and numerous miracles fell from the heavens and bubbled up through his ground. Every heart in His wake was stunned.
      This is my Psalm. And because of my Psalm, others have joined in and their faith has been recharged. Friends are already asking when they can schedule worship nights with us, and my friend Rachel messaged me with a picture of sliding barn doors, something I have always wanted in my dream house, but again, held it close to my heart. She said, "God told us to make you some doors for your new house. What color stain would you like?" How could she have known?!
      Folks, God is not a God who forgets His promises. Nicole reminded me of a verse God gave me one year ago. Recently He was prompting me to write HIS words to me, His message for our family, but I was missing what He was saying. (Again with the rearranging...) Habakkuk 2: 3 says, "For the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end--it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay."
      We are set to move in nine days. I watched this unfold before and missed the signs until after it was all said and done. My assignment this time has not been to get from one point to another, but to wait in the in-between, hoping, expecting, knowing that our next stop is going to be exactly what we have prayed and hoped for, relishing every single moment of the next nine days in sweet confidence that my God is going to perform miracles again. My endurance will be out of this world until time for me to wait and beef it up again. Now I go back to James 2:2 where that testing is proof of my endurance, where the waiting comes to fruition.
      Some of you may be wondering how my dream house has anything to do with faith or ministry. Our dream house is not based on a subway tile backsplash in the kitchen, bookshelves, acreage, or a bay window for Lilli. While I know that God wants those things for us, because He has proven that even the tiniest of important details to me are even more precious to Him, God wants our ultimate dreams to come true inside of this house. The creativity that overflows with a space in which to create, the worship, the writing, the sharing and fellowshipping, these are our dreams and inside of our house is where most of them will come true. Dreams are not wishful thinking or Disney movies, they are burdens placed strategically in those precious places in our hearts that no one can reach except for God. When He calls us, our hearts are filled with promises from Him and those promises are realized in our goals and dreams.
      I had not planned to write about any of this for reasons God had shown me recently; it just was not the time to write about certain things. But today, God has ignited a fired under me and I am not sure I will be able to stop writing. I feel as if the release He promised me a week ago may have been activated. I cannot promise that everything will be posted here, though. God's plans for me are moving forward and I honestly do not know if the blog will be a part of it anymore. I can assure you that you will be reading His words to me soon. For now, I am excited to see what He is about to do in our lives and in yours! I feel total peace writing this!
      God, thank You so much for the opportunity to write and reach people through blogging, Instagram, and every other outlet You've given us, Your children, to commune with one another. I pray that we would all be united in You and that the promises You've fulfilled in the past would ignite all of us to welcome Your blessings, to not withhold our desires and dreams from You, but to present everything that You have laid on our hearts with boldness and expectation, with a hunger to please You through it all, with a passion for reaching our communities and pulling the lost into them so that they may find hope, blessings, love, fullness, and completeness in You. Father, You are so magnificent and wonderful, and Your glory is reaching the ends of the earth. Every eye will see Your faithfulness, God, and every ear will hear of it, and every tongue will sing and praise Your name and worship You. You have never failed us, God, You are the God of miracles, signs, and wonders, and Your hand does not tire from blessing us, leading us, comforting us, and loving us. You will be glorified in everything that is to come, God. We are Your tools and Your workmanship. Have Your way in our lives, Father. We are so blessed to be called Your children, Your precious sons and daughters. We love You, we love You, we honor You, oh, God. In Your name we pray, Jesus, amen.