The Holiday Collection Is Here!

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I’m SO excited that my Christmas collection is here and will be growing from now until Dec 15, 2016. Use the code MERRY2016 on my Etsy storefront through Dec 15 for 15% off.

Friends outside the USA, I currently only ship to the US, BUT if there is a print you’d like please message me and I can set you up a custom listing that will be delivered digitally which you can print yourself for a reduced rate. Happy shopping!

Also, 10% of all profits (once we have them) will go to support the children from Iris South Sudan. So excited to be able have a way to support the ones I love there all year long and serve you at the same time. 2017 is kicking things into high gear around here and I can’t wait to share more soon.

A FREE GIFT JUST FOR YOU

christmaslistsqrI fell in love with a new Hallmark Christmas movie called The Christmas List earlier this week.  It kind of inspired my own.  If by chance we share the same list… please feel free to download a printable version for yourself here.

You are so loved!

 

What Pez Dispensers & the Prophetic Have In Common

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I’ve been back in the USA for a little more than 3 years.  Much of these three years has been spent finding my footing again on many levels, fighting ongoing health battles and reevaluating what following Jesus looks like when my mission field is in the backyard of my childhood home.  I’ve also done a lot of watching and praying and sitting and observing and having tough talks with Jesus about what it really means to love and serve and be after His heart.  I follow falteringly.  I walk imperfectly.  I’m always arriving but never fully arrived.

I haven’t said much here beyond spilling my internal journey on a page from time to time.  There has been much on my heart to share but the timing has always been… not yet.  Until now.  I’ll be back in these parts sharing with you more about this messy, beautiful adventure with Jesus unpacking my own culture from a new perspective.

So let’s get this party started by talking about the nature of prophetic ministry it is often approached in the charismatic corner of Christendom.  {For my friends in other streams, this post may seem strange.  But you might find a morsel or two anyway.}

Before I go farther, allow me to say I believe wholeheartedly in prophetic gifting for today as revelatory gifting and not just declaratory gifting.  But I believe all revelation must be lined up with God’s character and His truth as revealed in Scripture.  I believe there is most definitely a place for personal prophetic ministry in the context of genuine community and relationship.  But I believe the chief purpose of the prophetic is to equip the Body to hear and see and know God for themselves.  And I believe there is a ton of bad teaching, poor doctrine and messed up methodology that passes as “prophetic” in many places and muddies the waters.

In the last decade of traveling and being around many flavors within the charismatic streams in the USA, I have regrettably witnessed a fair amount of abuse and a whole lot of manipulation surrounding the prophetic.  I am picking and choosing stories out of order and changing details so as not to reveal identities of those involved.  Because the point is the lesson being learned, not the identity of those involved in me encountering it.

I have been in many settings where a speaker with a prophetic focus to their ministry promises every person in the meeting a “personal word from the Lord” in that meeting or conference.  I am not saying that God never does this.  But every time that I can recall being in a setting where this was the overtly stated or the publicly understood purpose of the meeting, many of the “words” given were mostly mixed at best.

I do count this different from feeling led to pray for everybody in attendance.  Praying for someone does not or should not necessarily create the expectation of an on-demand personal prophecy.

There is such an emphasis of being able to perform on cue in some circles, training in the prophetic is closer to training in divination than genuinely hearing God’s voice.  I know that’s a crazy strong statement.  I am sorry, but if someone puts a business card face down in the center of the room and wants you to “discern” its information, you are being trained to tap into a soulish realm and operate in a form of divination.  You might get right information, but it will be from a wrong source.

Correct information does not mean a spiritually on-target prophetic word.  The spirit of divination can give incredibly accurate personal word.

I have often been in settings where what passes as a personal prophetic word starts out fairly vague and general, often as a little encouragement.  I can see you are so important to God. {And yes you are.  And yes He wants you to know that.  Nothing wrong with encouragement.  But where it goes from there is where things get sketchy.}

Many people who genuinely DO have a measure of prophetic gifting also have very strong intuition.  They can accurately read people and situations and subtle nonverbal cues, often without ever knowing they are doing it.  Intuition is a gift that can be incredibly powerful.  But it can also lead to confusing the issues in someone’s soul with what God is saying about them. I’ve seen far too many unwittingly prophesy out of the desires and emotions of the person being ministered to and call it a word from God.

A “prophetic” word starts off vague as those giving it watch the reactions and cues from the person being ministered to, and then the word gets a little more specific and so on and so forth.  Often without ever knowing that is what they are doing.  But some know exactly what they are doing.  Even more alarming are the places even train people to do this.  When it gets to that point, there is very little difference between a personal prophecy and a psychic reading.

I was once in a meeting where someone on the ministry team gave me a prophetic word that prophesied an event based on my greatest fears in that particular season.  The person prophesied my fear back to me as a thus saith the Lord.  If I had not stepped back, after dealing with the emotional assault that came with it and said, “Hey, God. Um, what the heck?,”  I might have accepted what was spoken instead of breaking it off and canceling any spiritual dynamics that the word(curse) set in motion.

As I’ve been praying about starting to write more from my ministry experience in the last decade, the phrase “pez dispenser prophecy” kept coming up.  I had to look up what a pez dispenser was.  For any of you whose pez knowledge is like mine, a pez dispenser is a small candy dispenser usually with a cartoon or figurehead that flips back to pop out a sugary pressed candy pellet.  It might be sweet, even informative and delivered on demand, but it is pure sugar rather than nourishing substance.  Consume it at your own risk.

I do not see in Scripture a public meeting solely given to all the participants passively receiving a personal prophecy. Sometimes prophesy flowed from worship or prayer, but never the mass dispensed version we have today in some circles that make the “prophet” or the “prophetic ministry time” the central focus.  That makes me wonder if the current model is setting us up for mixture from the start.

I have received some powerful words from others in prayer.  I mean totally pure 100% Jesus promises that are precious. But never in a setting where receiving a public personal prophecy was the meeting’s primary focus.  Ever.

I always take every word given back to Jesus and ask Holy Spirit to speak into it directly.  Show me in Scripture, line it up with His character and ways.  We simply cannot judge a prophetic word based on perceived accuracy of the information itself.  It always has to be taken back to the One Who is the Word and measured by Him and Him alone.

In Tolerance

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It’s the season where the leaves burn bright before letting go.  Before November 8, I had already resigned myself I would need to emulate them.  Let go of any hope of the country of my birth ever being truly what it is called to be in my lifetime.  For the last 8 years I have watched the values and faith I hold dear be ridiculed, accused, mocked, attacked, put on trial and whittled away until I just could not see things ever turning around.  I didn’t dare to hope for change because the president of hope and change had already killed much of mine.

{Update: Yes, I know that this is a very strong statement.  But it is an honest one.  I understand many of you feel very differently and I want you to know I’m simply sharing from my limited and imperfect perspective.  I’m not stating a hard fact.}

I did not want to write this post.  I’m conflict averse and I realize putting this out there in the current climate is a dangerous move.  I will offend some of you.  I might lose friends.  I am subjecting myself to a potential barrage of angry sentiments by those who disagree.  But I can’t not speak.

So let me start by telling you what I voted for.  Not who.  What.  And even if you disagree, please know you are welcome here.  I do not punish friends who think differently by withdrawing relationship.

I voted for a Supreme Court that honors the constitution, not a revisionist interpretation of it.  I voted for the rights of our most voiceless and vulnerable members of society, the not yet born. I voted for the legacy of the first woman president to be one built on integrity and truth. I voted for the Bill of Rights… for all Americans. I may not agree with you but I will always defend your right to have and to voice your own opinion.

I voted for the rights of the states to make decisions about what is right for themselves and for every American to have a place at that table of discussion. I voted for legal and equitable immigration. I believe we are to welcome visitors and immigrants, but we must also live by the rule of law.  That means, if that rule of law is no longer effective in an area, we need to change it, not ignore it.  I believe God created nations to carry redemptive gifts and the current move toward globalism strips nations of their God-given identity.

I voted for limited and appropriate government, that is held accountable for its actions by those who consent to its governance. I voted for creativity and innovation in education, not a centralized dictated curriculum. I voted for parents to have the right to choose what is best for their children and families. I voted for the small businesses and the entrepreneurs who are trying to provide for themselves while serving their communities well.

I voted for solid national security that does its best to protect and serve, while remaining transparent and connected globally. I voted for caring for those who have served our nation putting their lives on the line. I voted for an economy that will benefit everyone with greater opportunity to work and earn a fair wage and pursue their dreams. I voted for the next 40 years.

I woke up the morning after watching the landscape of our nation change overnight with an odd mix of emotions. I can’t say I felt joy. Relief, yes. Gratitude, yes. Joy, not really. Our nation’s gaping heart wound spilling raw pain did not allow for much celebration.

I get it. Millions in our nation now feel some of what I felt much of the last 8 years: marginalized, judged, silenced, mocked and overlooked while facing growing threats to their values and freedom. I cannot rejoice over that. I will not.  This isn’t about winning.  I pray it isn’t because if it is, everybody loses.

Even though we have had our first African American president for 8 years, our country is more racially divided than ever. Not empowered. Angry, hurt, defeated and divided… Real empowerment is about honest conversation and hard choices that help us forge a way forward together. 

What is touted as tolerance is actually a social totalitarianism that flips the tables and promotes the oppressed to become oppressors. I am all for true tolerance. But for tolerance to exist, it must allow dissent. Biblical empowerment is about mutual honor and the maturity to hear one another out, own our stuff and if need be agree to disagree without denigrating or disparaging one another. 

I believe there is systemic injustice and that injustice needs to be addressed. But righting one wrong by “wronging” the other side is neither social justice nor reconciliation. It is revenge.

I believe in honoring, loving, inclusive dialogue, but not at the expense of only one type of opinion being allowed to have a voice. The climate of political correctness that enshrines fear of offense and personal comfort over honest dialogue and genuine learning is a threat to everyone’s freedom.

If we cannot honor the election process that grants us the freedom to voice our opinion, it will not be long until we no longer have that freedom. I would write this regardless of who won the election. I don’t have all the answers but I believe we will find more of them together than we ever will apart. 

I find the way people are responding to the election outcome incredibly disturbing. In the real world, there aren’t social safe places with sanitized language.  In leadership, offense and opposition will come.  I feel we have done such a disservice to the younger generation by not providing the relational tools or emotional resiliency to handle the black and white wins and losses in life.  We don’t always get our way.  Not everybody is a winner all the time.  That is the hard truth that many of us have had to stomach the last 8 years of an administration we deeply disagreed with.

But this country is bigger than one presidency, bigger than one person.  We do not have to be defined by or victim to our circumstances.  We can still choose to live in ways consistent and congruent to our values while honoring those who see things very differently.

I know many think Trump has emboldened hate speech or action. Now I certainly did not and do not approve of some of the rhetoric used in his campaign.  But I think what we see now is in large part the overflow of 8 years of swathes of the country having their dignity stripped (at least in perception), their voices not heard, their finances dwindle, their concerns about corruption in big government overlooked and their rights threatened if they even so much as whispered disagreement to the prevailing political norms.  This is a social wound infected with bitterness that has been festering on both sides for years.  It is no excuse for hateful language or actions.  But it might explain some of the frustration behind them.

Donald Trump is no more responsible for the actions of a few fringe followers than Hillary Clinton is for those behaving badly on her side.  If you fear for your lives or feel threatened, I am so so sorry.  That is not the America I want to be a part of.  But blame-shifting prevents us from getting at the roots issues.  It can no longer be “I’m with her” or “I’m with him” if we want to move forward.  It needs to be “I’m with what is going to be best for America”, honoring the fact we are a diverse pluralistic nation with many perspectives, experiences and differences.

I have as many friends suffering right now as I do who are celebrating. Honestly, I wrestled over the vote and I strongly considered a write in candidate or not voting at all. I did not make my decision lightly.  In a perfect world, we’d have perfect candidates.  We do not live in a perfect world.

For those of us who had their candidate “win”, we need to choose who we are going to be so very carefully lest we become the fulfillment of everyone else’s fears. There is simply no place on either side for anything less than humble, honoring, honest, respectful dialogue that seeks to heal wounds and find solutions.  Together.

The problems are many, the people flawed, the path steep, prayer is more needed now than ever. Tonight I remember and hold on to this:  The early followers of Jesus turned the world upside down, not by their legislation but by their love.

In this turbulent time, may we beloved, go and do likewise.

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Hurricane Matthew

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Friends, please keep us in prayer.  I and most of my family live on Florida’s First Coast which is being threatened with the worst hurricane in this area in over a century.  Please pray for us and all those affected.  It is a storm that has the potential to be serious to catastrophic.  Where I live as well as my parents, it is not under evacuation as we are on higher ground more inland.  But we still face possible issues with trees, power outages, debris, torrential rain and of course potential serious wind issues.  Please pray for us the next 48 hours especially.  I’ll keep you posted as things unfold when I have internet and power. Don’t take chances.  Please stay safe.  Love you all.

How I Became a Green Room Escape Artist

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While I lived in Africa, I traveled a few months out of the year speaking in small to medium conference venues and church settings.  I don’t think I ever made it to the main stage or the big time in the conference circuit.  Around it, yes.  On it, no.  And the fact I didn’t was quite likely God’s enormous protection.

First, let me say thank you. I deeply appreciate any and all of you who hosted me over the years.  I was blessed to meet genuinely amazing and often unsung heroes in the Body of Christ, and even more honored to call many of you friends to this day.  That was and still is one of my greatest joys.

There was however a particularly strange artifact in a sizable number of places I traversed.  A curious anomaly called the “green room” or sometimes the “hospitality suite”.  Now let me say upfront I am so grateful for the service and love offered there.

Usually, I would have just flown 20 hours and spent an additional 10-20 hours in additional forms of transit.  I often was bone tired and sometimes quite ill.  Loving, kind hospitality and a place to find a quiet moment to maybe even grab 15 minutes of shut-eye.  Such. A. Gift.

But I often encountered some other dynamics that just did not factor into my understanding of God’s heart and purpose in having me travel to minister outside of Africa.

Enter bouncers.  Well… sort-of bouncers who’d whisk me off stage away from the often not-so-teeming crowds to grab a snack in the green room and meet all the other speaker-leader people.  I like snacks.  I like meeting and getting to know people.  Sometimes I was exhausted and would have probably just curled up on a patch of floor somewhere and took a nap if given the chance.  People would have thought I was soaking.   Win-Win.

But the whole idea of green room politics. Eek.  Help me Jesus.  I might step on toes here… But the business card swapping, elbow-rubbing, quid pro quo,  I’ll-invite-you-to-my-event-if-you’ll-have-me-at yours was just not why I came.  Building connections with better known speakers to somehow get discovered and become the next ministry sensation was not why I came.  I came to love and serve people, 99% of whom were not allowed in the green room.

And so I became a green-room-escape artist. 

I often said hello if hellos were in order and excused myself to powder my nose (which did indeed get powdered) and just never went back.  I set up coffee dates as God led or just went and grabbed a cup and started chatting with real people with real needs who were my reason for being there.

The most powerful ministry I ever have had a chance to be a part of on the road… Two percent of it, maybe, if we stretched, squinted just right and rounded the decimals up, happened from a podium. 98% happened over coffee, meals, sitting on a couch being real.

I wonder how much ministry on God’s heart in conference settings never happens because as speakers we tuck ourselves away in green rooms.

Jesus, well, He was the ultimate green room escape artist.  People wanted to crown Him king before His time.  What did He do?  He disappeared.  I’m sure the disciples were like, what the heck, JESUS, YOU MISSED the greatest PR platform of Your career. Seriously?!?

But Jesus knew what His Father was asking of Him.  He knew He was already King of Kings so accepting an earthly crown was actually a massive demotion.

If we know who we really are in Jesus, we don’t need popular opinion to crown us or people to promote us.

So if I am ever fortunate enough to share at your event or speak at your church, we need to have an understanding.  I will be grateful for your green room  (especially if it has gluten free options😉 a girl can hope) as long as I don’t have to escape from it to hang out with the people I came to serve.

Cool?  Awesome.  We’ll all go have a coffee together.  Or crash McDonald’s at almost midnight to get ice cream sundaes.  Know this, you are included in His heart and you are forever deeper-than-you-can-imagine extravagantly loved by Him.

Take heart friends, if you’ve never seen a green room, be encouraged.  The REAL action is usually outside of it.