3.31.2017

in which i fillet myself like a fish

2 comments
can i step into the confessional here?

how i wish i could actually. in a small, dark booth, my face hidden.  

it's only thursday and the spotlight has been so turned in on me, my character flaws on full display. 

this though, this is easily the most embarrassing thing i have ever written about myself. i feel so laid bare by this one. first my mouth and now this. 

you know that time Peter denied Jesus 3x in one night. he's making me feel better about myself because i'm not the only fool Jesus ever loved.

it is so hard to tell on myself but it feels just, so. necessary. - if for no other reason than knowing that if i behave similarly in the future, he'll make me do it again!  

hard pass, y'all.

ok so, out with it. what am i blathering about?

oh, you know, just my integrity.

what we do in the dark. who we are in the quiet of our minds where nobody knows. when we're alone. when no one has to know.

this week i have been both a liar and a thief.

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i posted an item online to sell and got an inquiry about it. in an attempt to maybe light a small fire under the seller (spark a little FOMO), hands trembling and guilt pounding in my ears (an escape prepared for me!i told him i had another interested buyer.

i did not have another interested buyer.

he pressed me further - have they made an offer?

at this point the only thing that was lit on fire was my stomach, but i continued. "no, they only expressed interest."

lies.

why?? i hadn't done that with anything else i had posted to sell... why now?

i still don't know.

what i do know is that item still has not sold.

if i had to guess, i'd say it is the Lord protecting me from prospering from a lie.

and i'm thankful.

a few days later i was at walmart and had picked up a case of water along with a thousand other grocery items. i got to the register and checked out without realizing that i hadn't gotten the girl to scan the water. i take 3 steps from the register and it hits me.

the water.

i could turn and say, "oh! i totally forgot the water. can you ring me up for that?"

but there's another person already in the process of checking out and i want to avoid the inconvenience. is it really a big deal? it's not like i did it on purpose...

i keep walking. 

i get to the exit doors and there's always someone there to check your receipt for unbagged items. sweet girl scanned up and down my long receipt, up and down, up and down and i let her. my heart is pounding and i'm thinking it's not there - but i've been standing here too long to say that now - so i start wondering how am i gonna act natural if this girl says 'your water is not on here'.... 

eventually she says, "oh there it is."

but it wasn't there. she just didn't want to deal with it.

i walked out.

with stolen water.  

my integrity sold for the low low price of $3.33.

why am i writing about this? 

i have asked myself that - and at first, i wasn't sure except that it felt necessary to tell on myself, to bring my own darkness to light - and in this way, not have my enemy triumph over me.

but also because...

I GAVE HIM MY HEART.

i prayed early in january that he would bring a sharpening - to prune the things in my life that are not beneficial. 

there is an anvil in the earth,
 the sharpening of the Lord. 
i welcome it - 
and i ask for grace.

i gave him my heart. and if he asks something of me i want always for my answer to be "yes, Lord, your servant is listening".



the crazy thing is this really is unusual for me. i don't typically do things like this. i'm not in the habit of lying. we are a family that values honesty!! i'm not a common thief!

(and maybe i say this to release the pressure a bit - an attempt to try to buffer myself against what you might think!)

but this week! for whatever reason, i was both. 

...whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.

i'd much rather expose myself than be found out. i don't know about you.

there was a little expression the adults would say when we were kids. "tell the truth and shame the devil." this is what they meant.

that little stanza in the Bible that lists a few of the things the Lord hates comes to mind.
haughty eyes
a lying tongue
feet that are quick to rush into evil
and in the span of one week, i have been guilty of them all. 

i'm so thankful for paul's words in Romans - how many souls have knelt here and felt known and been soothed by this one passage? 

 It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. 
The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. 
I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, 
they take charge.
I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?
The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. 
He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions 
where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, 
but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.
romans 7:21-25 msg
i don't say "we've all been there" to soothe myself. i am not trying to assuage my own guilt. i feel it keenly and i'm glad that i do because it is proof to me that God is indeed answering my january prayer with an unmistakable, complete YES.

some answers take time. annnd then others come like a swift kick. 

what i feel more than anything right now in all of this mess that has been my heart and my life this past week is such a love for him, such gratitude. 


my dear friend, whom i'd already confessed these situations to, sent me a sweet reminder this morning. a short text from a book with these words:

'be attentive today to God's conviction 
regarding any way in which you are willfully deceiving others or yourself. 
if He shows you an area to attend to, 
be encouraged: God does not 
reveal sin or weakness to mock us. 
God "reveals to heal."'

he likes to snuggle. he wants us CLOSE.
he knows that sin separates and he wants me near him. he knows that separation from him is my utter destruction. he pulls me in close with conviction, puts his finger on an issue in my heart...
gently confronting...
here. 
         this. 
                now.

this is intimacy. that between the two of us, there would be no shadows. 

less struggle. 
more snuggle.
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you wash me in mercy, and i am clean.

i know i am forgiven.

PS: i will be going back to that walmart
 to reimburse them the $4 i stole that day. 




nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. and so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.
2 corinthians 3:18


UPDATED TO ADD: i have paid my debts. i am free. :)


3.30.2017

the door of my lips

2 comments
sunday morning in church the pastor shared with us two dreams that had been given to two of their intercessors.

in the one dream, a person stood before two fields, one in front of the other. 

in the first field, there were six alligators, representing
big mouths.

gossip
criticism
complaint
grumbling
contempt
negativity
murmuring
life-sucking

in the field beyond them was a whale spouting water from its belly, representing the DEEP things of God.

to get to the deep things of God, we've got to get past our mouths.

to get to the deep things of God, i've got to get past my mouth.

James says it like this:

those who consider themselves religious
and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues 
deceive themselves, 
and their religion is worthless.
james 1:26

worthless.

 the tongue is a fire, 
a world of evil among the parts of the body.
 it corrupts the whole body, 
sets the whole course of one's life on fire, 
and is itself set on fire by hell.
james 3:6

a wildfire. set on fire by hell.

not one for mincing words, that james.

and look at the absolute contrast...

"to the one who believes in Me," 
Jesus says,
"it is just as the Scripture has said:
 'Streams of living water will flow from within him'".
Living
Water

can you see that whale? can you see the water gurgling and bursting upward from deep inside him?

in the second dream that was shared, which goes hand in hand with the first, we were given an even clearer picture.

in this dream was a person with worms falling out of their mouth, falling to the ground.

ugh. can you even imagine a more disgusting image?

everything that proceeds from our bellies comes out of our mouths.

will it be worms or water?

can both fresh water 
and salt water 
flow from the same spring? 
james 3:11

words. 
they can be fresh. they can bitter.
they can be Life. they can be Death.

how much emphasis God places on what we say!

and we all know it to be true, don't we? 

so i listened sunday morning, nodding along in agreement. it's so easy when no one is aggravating you, when your flesh is not being poked and prodded, so easy to smile and yes and amen along with everyone else... yes! words have power! words have teeth! we should choose Life!

but then monday comes.
and then tuesday, then wednesday.

and so far you've behaved pretty well, but you aren't angry yet.

then an opportunity presents itself and the line appears in your heart and you know it's there! you see the line so clearly.

in a conversation with a friend, i see it, i feel the strong warning rise up in my heart - mayday! mayday! like the genie in aladdin - i know i'm about to cross over into sin. i recognize the conviction of the Holy Spirit. stop here, Jodie, you're entering enemy territory.

...but i didn't. i didn't stop.
i blasted past His voice straight over the line and let 
worms

fall 

to

the

ground.

worms. 
the lowest level of life. 
they are DECOMPOSERS. 

i pushed my toe - and my tongue - straight into full blown tearing down of another person.

does it matter that my feelings might be justified? do i have a right to feel what i feel? i do. i can feel what i feel and i can take that anger, frustration, and yes, even judgement TO GOD. that is the safe place to bring it. not offering my complaint, fueling a fire, with another person - realizing even in the moment that i am more than likely exacerbating a problem. 

however i may feel in the moment about another person will never make handling it that way okay.

grumbling
gossiping
complaining
criticizing
pulling down
contempt

do i get a pass because the person i spoke of wasn't directly hurt by my remarks?

i don't.

what matters is that i used my mouth for evil. i dishonored. i sucked life. i tore down. the words i spoke were set on fire by hell. they were Death. not Life.
they were Bitter. not Fresh.
___________________________

i WANT so much the DEEP things of God - but i will never reach that field if i don't WILL myself to be obedient to His voice now. every time.

to be faithful in little so that i can be entrusted with much.

i desire His Voice and His Presence over everything.

but He will not increase what i will not Honor.

i must learn to be 
humble in aggravation
humble in frustration
humble in anger

be angry yet do not sin.

sin feels good for a moment, doesn't it. pointing out "their" wrong, while ignoring the plank of decomposition in my own eye, can feel satisfying. powerful, even. but it's gross sin. 


"it is a great thing to tell yourself the truth." oswald chambers

i must remember that even people i may dislike for a moment are still made in the image and likeness of God and it is not my job to complain and grumble against them - it is my job to bless


through the blessing of the upright 
a city is exalted, 
but by the mouth of the wicked 
it is destroyed. 
proverbs 11:11 

and at the very least, as Thumper's mom said, "if you can't say nothin' nice, don't say nothin' at all."

i must learn to have the feelings -  because we do live in a fallen world and we deal with each other - broken people in different seasons all on our way Home to Wholeness, and feelings are going to come up.... i must learn to have the feelings, and choose humility.

in all of this, i have to learn how to Abide in the True Vine. 
remain
do not leave
keep continually in Him
cling
refuse to depart

to learn to discern + obey the tenor of his voice

and to make no excuse for sin. 

set a guard over my mouth, Lord; 
keep watch over the door of my lips.
psalm 141:3


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UPDATED TO ADD:
immediately after writing this, i talked with that friend i'd spoken with and i apologized. i repented for having said too much. it was humbling - but it also felt good to make it right.

2.22.2017

the art of integration

1 comments
i'm fraying at the edge. 

you ever feel like your entire life is colluding against you, fighting to keep you from the More of God? 

even my own children can feel like an obstacle. maybe i should include them more in my spiritual life but it feels counterproductive because i'm certain that at first they will disrupt and distract which will cause me great distress. both about the condition of their own souls and more selfishly, because their foolishness is keeping me from entering in. their noises and not taking it seriously, too much for my untrained flesh.

but they must learn.

and so must i.

but maybe i should've raised them better - to value and cherish the things of God. they've been to church but that's not enough. our home culture, has it been steeped in God? how much of heaven have they met here? how much of the supernatural realm has been made common to them - the prophetic, angelic activity, signs + wonders, healings, miracles, dreams! why should they not know these things?

I assure you: 
The one who believes in Me 
will also do the works that I do. 
And he will do even greater works than these...
John 14:12

i have neglected so much in my own spirit that naturally through my fallow years i failed to pour richly into them.

i had no overflow. my own wineskin, shrunken. dry.

and now here i am wanting so much more for myself, so hungry, wanting more and more and more of God and every responsibility pulls on me - feels like something standing in my way.

i know mothers who do this well - manage both their own hearts and the hearts of their family. these things shouldn't be exclusive of each other but it is a skill i am still trying to develop. how is this done? i want for my kids to love and serve God... and more still! that they ENCOUNTER him regularly. i want them brought up in the culture of heaven. i want to introduce them to God and to help them learn to walk in his FULLNESS. 

i want them to learn to cultivate their own gardens well. 


i want to leave a spiritual legacy because i truly believe nothing i can do will matter more.

... and also, i want to have the time to learn and develop the same things in myself.

ever wish you could step out of your life? cross over into another dimension where all you do is BE with God? i do. my heart loooooongs to sit on the steps of my soul with him - and there are ways for me to do that - in the quiet, in the secret place, in the times that i sacrifice sleep to have a moment with him.

the struggle is that i want to STAY there, and transitioning - leaving that space, re-entry into my life - is so jarring.

so i'm trying to learn the art of integration.

[in-ti-grey-shuh n]
behavior, as of an individual, 
that is in harmony with the environment.

it can be hard to start a new family practice, can't it. it can feel clunkyawkward. but as i'm writing i'm thinking, maybe in the same way that i schedule my own time with God, i need to incorporate into our days a time that we set aside to all gather together, to worship and listen to teachings, to sit and soak in God together.

i suppose i've talked myself into the next step, haven't i. when i sat to write, i just felt fretful. troubled. but it seems a direction has presented itself and i feel good about that. i guess i just needed to talk it out. 

Your ears will hear a word behind you,
 "This is the way, walk in it," 
whenever you turn to the right or to the left.
Isaiah 30:21

we're all growing from faith to faith to faith -- i know that leaving where i was and moving on toward where i'm going is going to be new. i'm going to a land he will show me, and while i can look back and see where i might've done better, i am not discouraged. i know that my Redeemer lives. 



2.14.2017

my revival

2 comments
as each year wraps up, i turn in and ask God for a word. 
a theme for the upcoming year, 
something he is breathing on, 
a work that he wants to do, 
a space he is he guiding me into. 

i can be a little slow about seeing it at first, usually feeling like i'm getting NOTHING, when what's more true is that i'm just not picking up on the crumb trail and seeing where it's leading. a word will surface and i'll not see it. it'll come up again (and again) in conversations, in something i read, in a message i hear and finally...


 *gasp! eyes bright* THAT'S MY WORD!


i'm a quick study. 


this year, my word holds so much weight for me because it takes me back to a heart space i forsook long ago. as i was still seeking and looking and praying, twice i came across this thing that beth moore said. 


i only had to read it once to know that she was talking about me.


“You will watch a generation of Christians – 
OF CHRISTIANS
 set the Bible aside in an attempt to become more like Jesus. 
And stunningly it will sound completely plausible. 
This will be perhaps the cleverest of the devil’s schemes in your generation. 
Sacrificing TRUTH for LOVE’s sake. 
And you will rise or fall 
based upon whether you will sacrifice one for the other. 
Will you have the courage to live in the tension of both
 TRUTH & LOVE?”

the tension of both indeed. 


i had lost my courage, lost my way - no longer knowing how to do both - maybe not knowing how to do either.


but this requires some backstory, so let's back it up to almost the 1900s.


october 1, 2000

i got saved. invited to a church service by the cutest little 5yo. (whom no one could refuse). she happened to be my new boyfriend's niece - i said yes and agreed to go but simply because i was trying not to look bad in front of the church people. i was just trying to mind my manners, y'all. i'd been to church before. many, many (so many) times - wasn't really looking forward to it, but i was willing to bite the bullet for appearances. you probably already know how this goes. i sat in church that night and i cried and cried and cried, and at the end of the service i saw myself walking to the front of that house and i said yes to God. i had no idea what i was saying yes to but it felt so right.

so much for being impressive, i thought, i'm a mess.


but God changed me. and I. LOVED. IT. 


i didn't know how much i wanted that.


my relationship with God, my pursuit of God, meant everything to me then. i thought it'd be that way forever.



i had no idea a day was coming when i would miss the way that it mattered. 

may 4, 2002

i married that boy.

as soon as we said I DO we were up against hell. i am not exaggerating and i am so thankful to God for what he did before we were married to confirm that we were meant to be together because so many times, 

so 
many 
times...

we had such a hard time merging. 


it's really difficult for me to even tell this story because it's hard to find the language to explain exactly what happened. 



i just know that as young believers danny and i made a lot of mistakes. we wanted so much to please God, to honor and glorify him; we were all about holiness and no compromise which sounds great except that in our immaturity we said and did harmful things - to each other, to other people in our life... stupid things that i wished i could take back... we were awkward, off in our theology in some places and in our delivery in almost all places. those years left me with crippling embarrassment. the pain of falling short...
is there a sting worse than humiliation? 

one day i felt like i could really SEE myself, how i'd messed up, and it sidelined me. for years. it hurt so much to look at. looking back now, i can see where i really wasn't seeing the whole Truth - yes it was true that i was off, and yes i needed correction - but wrapped in the Truth was my own voice and junk and bruised ego... i added to what was True and i drank down a lie. a poison that whispered to me, captured me, led me off as its slave.


it wasn't only what i saw in me, but what i was so painfully aware that other people saw too - the way they had experienced me. it hurt my pride. this has been the hardest thing to recover from.


i didn't bring it before the Lord to help me. i was too embarrassed really to face it head on. i wanted it to just go away. i wanted to change direction. i didn't want to go back to the place and deal with that thing - let's just move on and try to forget that ever happened, m'kay?


i became immobilized with fear though.


fear whispered
what if in your deep, deep longing to return to really pursuing God,
what if you miss it again...
you thought you were doing right then, and you were wrong.
 so, so wrong. 
what if all you ever do is make more messes.
you are not good at this.

+ + + + + + + +


Peter denied Jesus and became the head of the church.


Judas denied Jesus and hung himself on a tree.



they both denied him - but Peter did something i didn't. he swallowed his pride and he leaned in, he decided he would be founded in intimacy, in Jesus' voice alone. he did not let the place where he missed it destroy him or give it the power decide who he was. Judas did though. 

i understand. i know what that tastes like.  

the fear that i would be that person again... i didn't even trust God to keep my feet from slipping...

so one day, 

i quietly broke up with God. 
i mean, i didn't lose his number and give back his sweatshirt - and i continued going over to his house, but i stopped engaging.

maybe you've been there.


i stopped wanting more - 
stomach too full of fear, i lost my appetite. 


i was frozen 

and i was angry.
at myself.
at my husband.
at God himself for letting me make such a fool of myself.
that i had made such a mess of things. i felt like i'd missed the mark (and i had. of course, i had) - so i vowed to be different. 

i believed what i was missing was 

love (because i had been harsh)
compassion (because i had been legalistic, unbending) 
understanding. mercy. (because in my desire to live holy, i got it twisted, and instead began to co-operate with a different spirit. i did not respect the seasons people were in and i somehow got caught up believing that every person i spoke to needed to be won immediately. and instead of being gentle, i pushed.)

so i was going to be THAT instead - loving. compassionate. merciful. ...because then i would be more like Jesus.


// enter beth moore quote chapter of my life//

ten years. for ten years i've lived in and from that place and i did it all in my own strength. of course i did. i stopped consulting what the Word of God said about things. i did life more "organically". ha. gradually, over the last year, i started to awaken to the sense that i didn't recognize myself. i was not the person i wanted to be. i certainly wasn't more like Jesus. i didn't know who i was or who i was supposed to be because who i was before felt all wrong. i was in unchartered territory.


i didn't know which way to go.


thinking about it and waking up in that place left me feeling so lost. rattled. bewildered.


those early years taught me not to trust myself to tell the truth in a way that is both right and good. 

there is so much work that God is still doing in my heart to liberate me.

my desire is to be gracious, yes, but also to speak clearly and not be afraid to tell the truth.


i know that this is True: there is something in me right now that can change the course of things - it doesn't matter what's covering it up. the seed of something amazing is already in my life - i'm not a victim. i'm not a worrier. i'm an overcomer. i am not my worst day. 


day, decade, whatever.


so last year's word was renew

romans 12:1 
renew your mind, renew your world... by the washing of the water of the Word. 

God had begun a work in me - well, not really begun, because he never quit, but we were picking up the thread i had dropped.


life has intimidated me. my own actions have humbled me, humiliated me even, and what grew to mean more to me than loving Jesus above everything else was regret, fear, and dread.


but God is faithful.


everywhere i look i read words that pierce me, words that aren't just information but hope + life + breath

________________________________________________

Suddenly I began to see eagles emerging from everywhere. I saw them arise from the waters where they thought they would drown. I saw them arise from the wilderness where they had thought they had been lost in the darkness. I saw them emerge from the dark storm clouds and ride upon the high winds. I saw them come soaring from the fire that they thought for sure would consume them. Instead of being bound in these places, they began to soar out of them. the fire and the darkness no longer held them, the only fire i beheld was the fire in their eyes.

"Do not let past circumstances hold you bound, for they were never meant to hold you, but to FREE you. Yes, the discomfort you experience is always - I say ALWAYS - meant to drive you upward to My glory in greater measure. Flee the discomfort as you rise to the sound of my voice, directing you, wooing you, and calling you up... 
dana jarvis
_______________________________________________

  i could finally see where i fell off. i thought reading the Word and pressing in hadn't kept me from making a fool of myself (and of God too, i thought), so i decided i could do better at representing God if i just focused instead on loving people. 

and doesn't that sound noble? 


it did to me. 


"forget all of that other stuff - all that matters is that we love. you're a mercy. be merciful."


i felt i'd abused, misused the things of God... but as i heard recently - and it sliced me - neglect is no better than misuse or abuse. 



//they sacrificed the truth for love's sake

but what is love without truth?


i became a city without walls.

He that hath no rule over his own spirit
 is like a city that is broken down, 
and without walls. 
Proverbs 25:28

my fear of deception was greater than my trust in the guidance of the Spirit of God - and so i became subject to that and was again deceived - because we are subject to what we fear, are we not?


walking away from the Word was never going to be the answer because how then do i experience and walk in the fullness of God? how then could i possibly represent the heart of God? if all Jesus ever did and said was what he saw his Father doing and saying - how was i ever going to be able to follow him in that? GOD IS LOVE - but i think i can love people without God?


so this year, 2017, God is calling me back to the secret place




if you know me 
based on who i was a year ago, 
you don't know me at all...


allow me to reintroduce myself.


this is my revival.

the Lord has begun tugging on me to remove things that have been permissible but are not beneficial, so yes, i'm changing. the Kingdom of God is being preached and i'm pressing into it.


so maybe i'll be quieter. maybe i'm less available. i don't really know... i'm still learning what all of this looks like and how it might change my everyday life. all i know is i want to love Jesus. above all things. like i never have before. i want deeper depths, greater nearness. i want my life to be imprinted with the Presence of God. i want to smell like heaven. 


...and because i want that i will lean in hard, and i trust the Spirit of the living God with the rest.

and thus, here is the call to the secret place.