Category Archives: Devotions

“The Dance….”

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I often share this message when I share my testimony.  And as I lay awake last night, I feel as if this story is for the world to hear.  It changed my life because it showed me the depths of God’s love for me.  I believe it can change someone else’s life who questions if God loves them.

The story of “The Dance” started like this….

For many years, I was a single mom to three little ones.  I was everything to my children.  During these years, it was often that I wondered if I would ever be married again.

There is nothing like being single.  However, I don’t think that I was the average single mom.  I didn’t desire to date anyone.  I really liked being by myself.  My previous life was chaotic and at the doorstep of Hell.  So, the quietness that I now experienced, was welcome.

However, there were days where I longed to have a man tell me that I am beautiful.  Or for someone to take me out to dinner.  I wanted to go for a walk with someone, and talk about life.  I wanted to stay up late on Christmas Eve and wrap presents.  I missed companionship.

There is a sting to being single.  I felt that most at any departure.  I wanted a husband to drop me off and pick me up at the door to the church….instead of lugging a baby on my hip across the church parking lot and telling my boys to stay by my side.  I felt the sting when I left other family’s homes and I wanted someone to drive us home.  I felt the sting most when I was tired of being everything.

I had claimed Isaiah 54 over my life….the Lord had showed me early on that He was my husband….and I claimed Him as that man.

“Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame.

Don not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.

You will forget the shame of your youth

and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.

For your Maker is your husband-

The Lord Almighty is his name-

The Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer;

he is called the God of all the earth.

The Lord will call you back

as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit-

a wife who married young, only to be rejected,” says your God.”

Isaiah 54: 4-6

How could I argue with this scripture?  It came to me one night when I felt the weakest.  I fell to my knees at the side of my bed with a handful of bills in my hands and my bible in the other.  “Who are you God?”  I wept.  And He showed me this.  I opened my bible up directly to this page.  I had to keep wiping tears from my eyes to be able to read the words.

When I said He was my husband, I felt like the warmest, softest blanket wrapped around me.  He, God Almighty, was my husband.  He loved me more than anyone.

Years later, I was laying in bed and I asked God to show me how much He loved me….and He showed me “The Dance….”

I saw myself in the most glorious dress my eyes had ever seen.  I sparkled and I was absolutely stunning.  I radiated, light shined all around me.  My hair was pulled back and my face was flawless.

I entered into a beautiful ballroom with windows from ceiling to floor.  Light beamed in through these intricate windows.  The room was empty.

And then there was God Almighty.  He was there to dance with me.  Just me.  No one else was there.

He was majestic and much too large to fully hold….I could not clearly see His face, and my hands could only rest right above His forearms.

He began to dance me around, faster than I had ever known.  He would twirl me and spin me and LAUGH.

It was His laughter that I will never forget.

His laughter was deep and SO FULL OF JOY!!!  He was laughing with delight in me.  I was His favorite.  He made me feel as if He could have danced with me all day.

Then a line of men showed up and they would ask God if they could “cut in”.

“NO!”   God’s voice boomed, His arm would come down between myself and each man…all the while He wouldn’t remove His eyes from mine.

Around and around we would go…..and the laughter never stopped.

For years, I have tried to describe this laughter.  I am fully convinced that if I could adequately describe this laughter, then there would be no more suicides.  People would know the jealous kind of love that He has for us.  They would know that only He can provide the love that we need.

Beloved, He is jealous for you.  

You.  

As is you are the only one He created.  

His delight is in you.  

You make Him spill over with laughter.  

You make His sides hurt from laughing.

God made such beauty out of this story in my life.  For this is how I met my husband, the greatest Man of God I have ever known.  The Lord told me that John was my husband.  At first, I acted like a child and put my fingers in my ears and made enough noise not to hear.  He told John that I was his wife, and that he was to lay his life down for me and my three children.  When John told me this, I heard the Lord again say that John was my husband…..and then the next thing that happened gave me chicken skin….

John began to laugh.

Loud and deep.  I gasped.  

My God, My God…..God had put His laughter in John’s belly.

“I will love you through John,” God said.

The laughter that I had tried to describe to people for so long was in John’s belly.

I was silent.  “What’s wrong?” John asked.

“What did you just do?”  I stumbled out.

“I laughed,”  he said.

“Do it again,” I smiled.

And I just listened.

This story never loses its power.  I cry now as I type this and marvel at His great love for us.  Don’t doubt God and the promises He has spoken to you.  He loves you…enough to dance with you.  Like you are the only one in the room.

And when you are too weak, be His little girl and let Him carry you.

Perhaps my favorite dancing feet.  Thank you Lord for Uganda.

“When God is Silent….”

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I was reading a devotion this morning by Oswald Chambers in “My Utmost For His Highest”.

The words pierced straight through to my heart….as I’ve wondered lately…

“God, I’m not hearing you….”

Yet,  I know that He is present.

At times, I’ll say, “Where are you God?”

And I hear, “I’m right here.”

He is right beside me….all the time….He never leaves.

That’s the beauty of God.

He is always near us.

I am learning to love His Silence.

It means He is about to give me a deeper revelation of Himself.

My greatest times in this journey have been the words that I have heard God say, having no doubt it is His voice….

“Uganda”

“Darkest place in the world”

“Go to Gulu

“I’m calling you to be an Anna”

Right now in my life, I am praying through certain things that I need answered.  I’ve asked for clarity, direction….I’ve asked for a scripture, just anything.  Yet, I am not getting the answer…

But a quiet whisper, “Wait…”

Sometimes I feel like a child….”That’s it, God?  I don’t want to wait.  I want to know now.  Can’t you just part the heavens and tell me what to do about this?”

Wait….”  I hear that right in my ear.

It is the invitation to His Silence.

But I’ve found that to be very exciting…..

If you asked me what is my favorite sound in the world, I would say this..

“The silence of snow.”  I love to watch it fall.  I love to go outside and not hear the snowflakes fall.  I don’t hear anyone walking through it….Its as if the Lord has put a blanket upon the earth and tucked us in to rest.

Next on the list, would be hearing our dog settle her tongue in her mouth as she curls up to go to sleep…(I’m laughing)  What if we all did that?  She does it 3 or 4 times and finds the perfect settling in….and begins to snore shortly thereafter.  Its a sound of rest.

There are plenty of “momma” things I love to hear….Anderson laughing so hard that he falls onto the floor.  Avery walking out the door to go to school and hearing his footsteps stop from a run to a pivot….he’ll climb back up our hill and give me a hug….without either one of us saying a word.  I love to hear Ellie tell me she needs a “Tupper-warey” bowl to put her crayons in.  I’ve yet to correct her.  These are the precious sounds in my heart.

They are all quite simple sounds…..They are peaceful….

As is His Silence.

Beloved, if you aren’t hearing an answer to your prayer today….take hope.  He didn’t go anywhere…..He’s right beside you.  You are in a place where He is going to give you a deeper revelation of Himself and His love for you.

Praise Him for the silence.

Praise Him for the sounds of peace.

I leave you today with this devotion that I began my day with…

May it bless you as it did me….

God’s Silence— Then What?

When He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was —John 11:6

Has God trusted you with His silence— a silence that has great meaning? God’s silences are actually His answers. Just think of those days of absolute silence in the home at Bethany! Is there anything comparable to those days in your life? Can God trust you like that, or are you still asking Him for a visible answer? God will give you the very blessings you ask if you refuse to go any further without them, but His silence is the sign that He is bringing you into an even more wonderful understanding of Himself. Are you mourning before God because you have not had an audible response? When you cannot hear God, you will find that He has trusted you in the most intimate way possible— with absolute silence, not a silence of despair, but one of pleasure, because He saw that you could withstand an even bigger revelation. If God has given you a silence, then praise Him— He is bringing you into the mainstream of His purposes. The actual evidence of the answer in time is simply a matter of God’s sovereignty. Time is nothing to God. For a while you may have said, “I asked God to give me bread, but He gave me a stone instead” (see Matthew 7:9). He did not give you a stone, and today you find that He gave you the “bread of life” (John 6:35).

A wonderful thing about God’s silence is that His stillness is contagious— it gets into you, causing you to become perfectly confident so that you can honestly say, “I know that God has heard me.” His silence is the very proof that He has. As long as you have the idea that God will always bless you in answer to prayer, He will do it, but He will never give you the grace of His silence. If Jesus Christ is bringing you into the understanding that prayer is for the glorifying of His Father, then He will give you the first sign of His intimacy— silence.

“I praise you Lord, for your silence.  You choose me to hear nothing right now.  You choose me to feel Your warm presence.  You choose me to trust in your silence.  Lord, match my heart to beat with Yours.  I lay my head upon Your chest and desire to hear You breathe.  Breathe on me….and hold me in Your beautiful silence.  Amen.”

“You Need to Buy Some Elephants….”

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Earlier this year, I posted a devotion before I left for Uganda, entitled “Elephants….”

I have had lots of readers post and refer this post, as it has spoken to them and their friends.  I never thought that the day the Lord spoke, “buy the shoes” to me in a sporting goods store would touch so many lives.

For those of you who haven’t read it, I encourage you to in my May posts.

I wrote about how I knew that I was called to Uganda….but I didn’t know how I would get there, or when I would go.  Yet, one day the Lord told me to “buy the shoes”.  As an act of faith and obedience, He told me to buy some hiking shoes.  I did.  But it wasn’t without questioning if I really heard the Lord.  It was so difficult to be asked by the clerk when I would be going to Africa, and all I could say is, “I don’t know.” 

I didn’t even know about CURE International then….and that two years later I would go to Uganda.

When I checked out, I saw that the name of the shoes are “Elephants”.   The Lord said, “You only find elephants in Africa.”  It was affirmation, that this was me hearing His voice.  This was my act of obedience and my belief that I would be in Uganda one day.

He was right.  Here are my elephants hiking Mt. Elgon and Sipi Falls.

As I’ve seen this story speak to so many people, I have one particular person in my life that I want to share about…..she’s buying her own elephants….so to speak.  Her name is Kelley.

I didn’t know Kelley very well at the time I asked her a question.  We were riding in a car somewhere and I asked her if she was planning on having any more children.   I didn’t know why I said that….in fact, I felt bad when it came out of my mouth….like, didn’t I just ask someone a very personal question??

She replied that her and her husband want to adopt a child.  Wow.  I was surprised.  She told me that they had not begun the process, but she has known for a long time that the Lord was calling them to adopt a little girl.

I loved that the Lord had given her a vision of this child.

She shared that she hadn’t acted yet on what she believes.  I told her this….

“You need to get her room ready.”

“Really?”  she turned her head and looked at me, “I’ve felt for some time that I’ve needed to do that.”

I told her about buying some elephants and how I felt so crazy.  I told her about another friend who had adopted a little girl from Thailand and how they prepared her room for two years….they even moved during that time and prepared her another room, all before meeting her or knowing when they would get her!

“I’m gonna do it!”  Kelley said.

That same week of the conversation, Kelley was getting her baby’s room ready.  She even sent me a picture of the baby’s quilt!

Kelley and her husband have completed adoption classes now, their home is ready….they are waiting…..with expectation.

She even has a verse for this journey….

“And the Lord answered me, and said, write the vision, and engrave it so plainly upon tablets that everyone who passes may be able to read it easily and quickly as he hastens by.”  Habakkuk 2:2

Kelley’s vision has been challenged.  Even in her adoption classes, she was encouraged not to have a vision about what type of child she would recieve.  The comment bristled against her spirit as she knows the Lord has given her heart the desire for this daughter.  I invite you to read Kelley’s blog at  www.mylifesongkb.blogspot.com.  The Lord put an angel in her adoption class the night her vision was challenged.

I loved being with Kelley at the Yellow Daisy Festival in Stone Mountain Park yesterday.  We were eating lunch and she pulled a beautiful frame out of a bag…

“I bought this for my baby’s room,” she said.

“I love it!”  I smiled.  The frame was great….but I really loved her act of faith.

I cannot wait to meet her new daughter!

I challenge you today to act on what you believe.  What has the Lord called you to do and what is your act of faith?  I heard of a woman one time who was about to lose her home.  She laid down on the floor and cried out to God to help provide for her to keep it.  She got up and began to plant flowers outside of her house.  People would question her as they knew she would be losing her home…

“No, I’m not losing this home.  I’m asking God to provide for me to stay.  If I packed boxes, I’d be acting against what I believe.  Instead, I’m going to plant flowers…..I’m staying,” she proclaimed.

What do you need to do today? 

Plant some flowers?

Decorate a baby’s room?

Buy maternity clothes?

Or, perhaps you may need to buy some elephants. 😀

“The Kingfisher Devotion for My Team….”

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CURE’s GO Team Uganda 2011 has now been home for about 3 weeks…

I still miss everyone!

While we were at the Kingfisher Resort, on the way out of Uganda, I was to share a team devotion the morning that we departed for Jinja. However, I got so sick, that I couldn’t get out of bed. Kasie sat next to my side and prayed for me to be comforted by ministering angels and for my body to be healed. She left me in the hut and went to breakfast…

The last thing I could do is think of eating. For this image kept coming to mind….

I still get nauseous looking at him looking at me looking at him….

So, I stayed in the bed, locked in the hut, while the team ate breakfast. I so badly wanted to share the word that the Lord had given me.

But, I never had the opportunity. We drove to Entebbe that afternoon and I was still weak and sick.  Thanks to Meagan for capturing the moment….LOL!

What I had to share was wonderful. I had prepared it the night before. The Lord had shown me that I was to encourage each and every team member with my words. His desire was for me to edify them with praise. He had even given me the perfect scripture….

“….encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”  1 Thessalonians 5:11

I was sad that I never got to share this. I tucked it away in my journal and since I’ve been home, I’ll read the thoughts of what I was to share from time to time.

I even thought about publishing the devotion on “Mighty River”…but then I thought, ‘no, the girls have moved on….nobody misses everyone like I do….no one longs for Uganda like I do….in fact, if I publish it, the team is gonna laugh and say,

‘Shannon, you gotta move on…you gotta close this chapter…’ 😀

Afterall, isn’t it time to focus on the GO Team Uganda 2012?

But the Lord said to write this and publish it for these girls….

His word will not return void here…

These words of encouragement are doing no good sitting in my journal.

What I know that He sees in these ladies is meant to be spoken out.

And now the world can read it….

I got affirmation to publish this last night after I recieved a text with a picture of this….

Underneath this picture from Ashley M, it said,
“Yeah I’m missin it….”

I smiled so big. She felt exactly the same way I do!  I am missin it too!

I sit down with a cup of hot African tea every afternoon and think about Uganda.

I’ll pray for the faces that come to mind.

And then I got a card in the mail with some pictures from Emily. She sent me pictures of how the women reacted when I was showing them how to put on makeup! She wrote on the back of the picture

I loved watching the joy on their faces as you told them what ‘true beauty’ was…”

Her beautiful card made me cry. She said, “Thank you for being an amazing team member. You really showed me how God can take the struggles and weaknesses of our hearts/lives and make them our most beautiful qualities. Your testimony was beauty in the rawest form. Watching you minister to the mommas was a privilege. Thank you for your hope and faith in “your Husband”. Love, Em”

My heart was so touched. It is amazing who God touches when we obey. What she saw me share that day wasn’t my plan. It was His.  Emily was encouraging me!

These two gestures of love yesterday let me know that I do indeed need to publish this….

So, beautiful women of CURE’s GO Team Uganda 2011….

Here is what the Lord wanted me to share with you on the morning that I was sick…Some of us were ready to be home, some of us quite frankly wanted to stay in Uganda forever…

The time is now to share….and I’ve had fire shut up in my bones to publish this…..and rivers of living water!

“My Kingfisher Devotion….”

I want to encourage each and every team member that you were divinely appointed to this team. You brought a quality that no one else had. I believe that He opened my eyes to the beauty that He sees in you….

Kasie. Whenever I say your name in my home, my little Ellie sings out, “Kasie Lake, Kasie Lake, everything’s better with Kasie Lake.” Oh how true that is! Kasie, I love that our spirits connected before we even met face to face. I love that the Lord gave us the same visions. How powerful! You have such a presence about you…its PEACE. You are a peacemaker….a violent peacemaker, just like Jesus, you do whatever it takes to bring peace to a situation. You are not a peacekeeper, showing weakness, but a mighty peacemaker. I love that! You blessed me by intently listening to every thought, concern or opinion. You lean in to hear and absorb. I saw you do that with mommas, doctors, team members, waitresses, etc. You care about people….no matter the outward appearance. You are strong…nothing moves you. Your testimony is one of the most powerful ones I have ever heard and is proof as to why nothing moves you.  I loved walking the streets of Uganda with you and asking you if you see the womens faces like I do…the total sadness….when I asked you what it was, you said, “its called hopelessness, Shannon.”  God had already spoken that word to me.  I will never forget laying on a twin bed with you and sharing earbuds to listen to a sermon together.  I love that the Lord called us together to lead a team back next year.  I know that He is calling forth mighty warriors for the kingdom.  My favorite memory of you will be eating with you at the Boma and picking your teeth for you!  I am truly like your sister, huh?

Mandi.  You are a woman that can do anything.  I loved watching you do whatever is needed.  You have a servant’s heart.  The first time I met you is when you interviewed me for this team.  I loved hearing about your adventures that you’ve been on around the world.  I remember praying for you and thanking God for your adventurous spirit and your desire to meet the people that He has created all around the world.  On this trip, I love that you had whatever we lacked….bugspray, snacks, drinks, etc.  You looked out for all of us.  You always kept the back of the team in order…you knew where everyone was.  I love that you have a strong hand to correct where needed.  You have a gentle firmness.  You are a great leader.  I thought about your upcoming marriage on this trip and wondered if Rob grasped how blessed he is to be getting a woman who will drop everything and just “go!”  I love that everything you were asked to do you did with a smile….whether if it was cleaning, cutting meat, making chipottis, or buttering bread with me.  My favorite memory of you is racing you to see who could butter the most bread the fastest….yes, you won!

Sam.  You truly are Pocahontas.  I seriously thought you had an airbrush tan for Africa.  Ha!  (She is Indian…I asked.)  Wow, Sam…where do I start?  You are such a talented nurse.  You always knew what to do everytime.  I loved to watch you engage with people.  You truly care about what everyone is saying.  Your heart for the people of Uganda is huge.  And they love you too.  Its as if they say, “we need her”.  I saw that with Momma Jackie.  She waited for you to return for a year.  I loved seeing her call your name out in the dark and run into your arms.  She is a picture of “hope rising in Mbarara”.  She was waiting with anticipation.  You have touched many lives there.  I believe that you are just beginning in this part of your life.  I can’t wait to see or hear about your husband walking right beside you in your call.  It is a beautiful thing to see.  My favorite memory of you is definitely Momma Jackie….she’s a part of you.  But on a lighter note….I’ll never forget hearing you throw up while we ate breakfast one morning….and then coming out of the bathroom like we didn’t hear a thing….we heard it all!!!

 

Lena.  Lena, Lena, Lena. I have to say that I admire the courage you have to go to the other side of the world at such a young age…you just graduated from high school!  Never would I have done that at your age.  I love the way you say what is on your mind.  You have a confidence about you that your age is never a factor as to if you can or can’t do something….you’re going to do it anyway.  I love that we shared a room in the beginning and you took the initiative to just start reading the Bible out loud to me and sharing with me your favorite scriptures….as well as preach me a sermon about it!  I love the way that you played with the kids…it was as if you could sit in their presence for hours!   The Lord has truly gifted you at such a young age….I can’t wait to see the woman that you will become.  I believe you will be powerful.  My favorite memory of you is….well….always hearing, “does anyone know where Lena is?”

Ashley R.  You are such a cheerleader….always poised.  😀  I love that you are so funny!!  You made me laugh so much.  You brought a ray of sunshine to us and to every child you were around.  I loved to see you interact with every child.  You got right down on their level and looked them right in the eye.  Your eyes just light up with His love.  I loved hearing you preach to the women….I loved being your last minute prop-girl to help you complete your message.  You had such peace in your voice as you delivered.  My absolute favorite memory of you is hearing you scream from the room next door because you had a frog in your toilet!!  Your eyes were bigger than saucers when we ran out into the hallway.  Good thing you had Ashley M to catch the frog….

Ashley M.  Talk about a mighty tower….you don’t fall!  If I stood face to face with God Himself and He told me that I could only take ONE person back with me…who would it be?  I’d choose you.  I don’t say that in a negative way to any other team member….it is because a person like me needs a person like you.  You are so leanable….and I love to lean.  You can handle anything.  You show no weakness.  You faced the highest mountains and the biggest odds to be on this trip.  The devil has tried to take you down with sickness and defeat and every time you stand up taller and shout, “I’m coming back!”  I praise God for you!  I loved sitting with you in an abandoned dormitory while you slept with a fever.  I felt so bad for you, I killed bed bugs crawling around you and gasped when I watched a mouse crawl up the wall next to you….you didn’t flinch.  I loved watching you with the children….especially Robert.  He had such a love for you.  I think that he’s like me, he notices the leanable people too, and he felt safe with you.  I loved turning my fish towards you every night at dinner, so he could watch you.  Thank you for the sweet note and fish charm in my suitcase when I came home.  I wear it because he makes me laugh.  Thank you for telling me that you love to hear me pray….that is the sweetest compliment ever.  My favorite memory of you?  Ha!  Its when I took you as my bodyguard to go get water in Mbarara and the man scared us outside in the dark….we ran fast and screamed louder…..but you made me face the guy and tell him why we were so scared!  Girl, you are crazy!  I can’t wait to take you back next year….you excellent frog catcher, you!

(Yes….this is the perfect Christmas card picture!!)

Katie.  You make me laugh thinking about you!  I had the best time laughing with you in your room in Mbale when it dawned on me that we could never room together.  You forgot all of your snacks at home and everywhere I went, I left my jacket.  We laughed knowing that we need people to take care of us.  You told me that you’ve accepted that you are that way, and I told you that I like the way I am….but we’d never make it together.  I loved doing make-shift workouts with you.  Lunges in the school room, no problem!  You are a great encourager.  I loved waking up to you and Ashley R playing African music as loud as you could at 5:30 am to work out.  I really loved watching you play soccer with the kids at the clinic.  I loved when you broke out the hands games during dinner one night….what fun!  Everyone loved you!  My favorite memory of you is this….wall push ups in the early morning in Mbarara.  Praise the Lord that Meagan didn’t get a picture of the bench sit-ups!  You have encouraged me to do a triathlon next summer.  Katie, you will do great things in life….He has big plans for you!

Emily.  Lady Di.  Your smile just captivates me.  It intrigues me.  It never fades.  I never heard one complaint from you.  You always laughed and smiled.  You see God in everything.  I love that your keepsake from Africa is a large yellow water container.  You said you were going to write a verse on it….I’d love to know what you choose.  I will never forget you holding baby Benita’s head up for me as I held her body and cried.  You joined me as I prayed for the child’s healing.  Your hands seemed like Jesus’ hands touching her head.  I kept telling you that I was sorry I was taking so long, worried that you weren’t strong enough to hold her head.  You kept reassuring me that you were fine.  You could have stayed there forever, I felt your heart.  I loved watching you play with the kids and laugh with them.  You really do look like Lady Di….its almost scary.  You light up ministering to people.  Em, my favorite thing about you is something you said to me…you took me off guard….I had you hand out my crosses to the 50 people standing to “carry your cross”.  You came to me when you were finished and said this…”thank you for letting me be a part of that.”  Your humility was beautiful…I didn’t know what to say.  It still leaves me speechless.

Meagan.  I know I’ve written a lot about you on this blog….and so has your family, I love them!….So, I may repeat myself.  Oh, how I love Meagan!  Before this trip, I felt a connection with you and I hadn’t even met you.  I think that I realized it when we traveled to Mbarara and you were sick.  I love that I was by your side when you fainted and I could guide your head to the ground.  I loved that I could help take care of you.  I loved praying with you through the night in Mbarara.  I loved talking about your parents and family and home.  You are always so sweet….but I really loved when you broke out the Bon Qui Qui immitation in Mbale while you painted your toenails green!  Ha!  I never knew that side was in sweet little Meagan.  I loved that there were times when you would just walk up and hug me for no reason in the world.  It reminded me of one of my sons at home…he does the same thing.  I love your eye for the beautiful things of the world…you have a way of capturing images the way God sees them.  Your heart is beautiful.  You are wonderfully talented.  I love you dearly….and miss you greatly.  And I love that you had your 21st birthday with us!

I want all of you ladies to know that without you, this trip would not have been a success.  I love that we could share the deepest thoughts and emotions with each other.  Our lives and experiences and just who we are intertwined with one another and made a beautiful masterpiece to express His love to the women and children of Uganda. 

I have no idea what His plans are for you next….but I know they will be full of courage and honor and strength.  I know that all of your days are laid out before Him.  You took a step of obedience to enter and complete this mission.  My life is forever beautified because I got to know you.  I take something from each of you….and its qualities that I would like to be more like.

I love you all….and I hope that every person you encounter in your life will be touched in the same way that you touched me….

For you bring the presence of Christ with you….

You bring hope…

Good bye sweet friends…

Amari, forever and a day….

Love,

Tumusiime

“Ye, have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit shall remain:  That whatsoever you shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” John 15:16

“Don’t Deny Me…”

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It has been a wonderful week at the sheep farm…once again. Lots of rain and a slick pasture, gave me bit of a chuckle as I’d watch the sheep run down the hill to get to the feed bowls…they’d run and know exactly when to put the brakes on in order to slide the rest of the way to the bowls.

I love when the Lord speaks to me while I tend to this little flock. Sometimes I’ll just look at them eat or graze or lie down and ask Him to reveal something more about how much we are like sheep.

This week He showed me patience with this flock….and how much He loves our patience. One of the sheep has been not been herself lately….”Cotton Candy” is her name. The only way I could describe what was wrong with her is to tell her owner Chris, that she just wasn’t being as ‘cotton candyish’ as normal. He knew exactly what I meant….

Every time I bring the feed, she is the first one trying to knock me over. Addy, the sheep dog, generally herds the sheep away while I dump the feed.

I fill five bowls, but all the sheep try to get their heads into three bowls….pushing each other out of the way….

All the while 2 full bowls lie waiting.

Patience. If they would have waited, they would have seen I had a small feast for one. The most patient would have gotten the choicest bowl.

Instead they chose to continue nudging each other out of the way and fighting for food.

Isn’t that just like us? We think we have a better way.

I wonder how many times the Lord looks at us and tenderly says,

“If you would have been patient, I had the very best waiting for you.”

And then there is this rooster on the farm.

 He’s so beautiful, quite majestic actually.

I love to look at him….from afar….he and I are not the best of friends. I’ll try to get a picture of him to post before we head out this afternoon….if he doesn’t chase me down first. He’s so very mean….he chased me out of the pen the other day and still tried to peck at me through the fence.

But here is what I know about the rooster.

The Lord speaks to me most about him….

I’m about to change your thinking for the next time the rooster crows….

Before the crucifixion of Jesus, Peter was told by Jesus that he would deny him.

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you. And all the other disciples said the same.” Matthew 26:35-36

Jesus goes to the garden of Gethsemane to pray. He took Peter with him.

“Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed….

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping, “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter.” Matthew 26:38-40

How would you like to have been Peter? First Jesus tells you that he knows that you will deny him, then he takes you away to pray with him….and you fall asleep?

Jesus is later arrested in the garden and taken to Caiaphas, the high priest.

“What do you think?” “He is worthy of death,” they answered. Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Other slapped him and said, “Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?” Matthew 26:66-68

My Jesus.

My King.

They spit on the face of my Savior.

I am typing this and tears run down my cheeks. Can you imagine? Do you love him like this? Do you feel what I feel for this man?

There was a time in my life when I had to endure hell. Every time I was challenged about what I believed, the Lord told me to keep quiet. He showed me how to pray….I would say this as I endured,

“Lord, remind me how you were spit upon. Remind me. Let me see your face as you were spit upon.”

I endured. I prayed.

His disciples had let him down. They fell asleep while he wept and cried out to God.

 Peter slept.

And now Peter was about to deny Christ.

“Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said. But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said…..

“Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them…

“I don’t know the man!”

Immediately a rooster crowed.

Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.” Matthew 26: 69, 70, 72, 74-75

Peter denied….and at the sound of the rooster, he remembered.

Several years ago, a friend told me she was praying for her son’s healing and at night she would go into his room and pray for him while he slept. She said the craziest thing would happen….

Every time she stepped out of the doorway, a rooster would crow from one of his toys.

I prayed about the significance of that rooster crowing and I told her that I felt like the Lord was reminding her to pray with big faith….”don’t deny that I can heal him.”

But the Lord really spoke that to me, for me.

Ever since then, every time the rooster crows, the Lord speaks to me as he did Peter.

When I hear the rooster crow, I hear…

“Don’t deny that I can do this.”

“Don’t deny that I am Healer.”

“Don’t deny that I love you….more than anyone.”

“Don’t deny where I brought you from.”

“Don’t deny that I am the Great I Am.”

“Don’t deny that I am your Defender.”

“Don’t deny that all this will be for My Glory.”

“Don’t deny that you hear my voice.”

“Don’t deny that you are my Beloved.”

“Don’t deny that I am your Deliverer.”

“Don’t deny that I have called you.”

Don’t deny that I will complete what I have begun.”

“Don’t deny Me…”

“Don’t be like Peter….don’t deny Me.”

When I spend time at the farm. I have a constant reminder from a beautiful rooster.

Sometimes he crows in the middle of the night.

Sometimes when I wake up.

Sometimes all day long.

One of my friends said, “Couldn’t you choke him for crowing so much? You know…he’d make a great dinner!”

“No,” I reply smiling, “I need him.”

Let me encourage you today to hear the rooster crow.  Ask Him to bring a rooster nearby to remind you.

Don’t deny that He will do what He says He will do.

“Abide in Me….”

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Several weeks ago, I listened to a message about “abiding in Him”. It has stuck with me so much, that it has become a new prayer for me to pray. I daily ask for the Lord to remind me of the word “abide” as the first word I hear every morning. Here is the passage…..

John 15
The True Vine
1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

My goal here isn’t to re-tell the sermon, for the Lord took this scripture and made it real to me.

Jesus is telling us to abide…to remain, to stay in Him. Jesus didn’t teach us to have a “quiet time”. He didn’t say to meet with Him once a day. No, this is a sweet, tender passage from the very heart of God. He wants initimate relationship with us all day long. He wants continual conversation. He longs for you to call out his name.

You see, He is quite in love with you.

I used to read this passage and think that it was a picture of God and He would cut things out of my life and I would be bare and lonely and waiting for new fruit to grow. I didn’t see the passionate love here….until now.

Every season of fruitfulness is followed by a season of pruning. Every season of fruitlessness is followed by a season of production.

Beloved, He never abandons the branches….that is you.

You see, during the pruning, He lifts you up. He supports you as He repositions the branches. Much like a weak branch tied to a stake, He repositions the branch so that it doesn’t get choked out. He desires for you to lean on Him. Let Him be your strength.

In this dry season, we feel like we don’t hear Him. But that is when the Vinedresser pays even more attention to those not bearing fruit. He is carefully tending you…and sometimes He sets us all alone to do it. Has He removed you from a relationship that chokes you out of what God is calling you to do?

Fruitfulness only comes from abiding in Him. Fruit happens because we are drawing off of the fruitful One. Only what is born in abiding is of kingdom value.

And abiding in Him is done through continual prayer. This is where you will find the call on your life from Him. He wants continuous flow and relationship with Him.

When we abide in Him, we will know that every pruning will be followed by fruit. It is a cycle.

I used to have a sadness when I felt the pruning…but He’s given me a deeper revelation of Him….

The pruning is the evidence of my abiding.
Evidence that I am His Beloved.

I am often asked why I would want to go to Uganda to minister to the people there. It seems so strange….to the world. But to me, it comes from abiding in Him.

Only in abiding can you hear a whisper of the Savior’s heart.

“Abide.”
There are days when I write it on my hand…
so I can inscribe the continual reminder upon my heart…

Abide in Me.

“Oh Lord, remind me to abide in You. I desire a continual relationship with You. I want to know Your voice better than my own. Breathe the word “abide” in and out of my lungs. Your ways are so much better than mine. When I stand before you Lord, I don’t want to bring a barrel of wooden fruit that the fire will burn. I want real fruit. Fruit that comes after the pruning. Lord, for every season of pruning I will give You praise. For every season of production, I will offer my fruit back to You. I choose to abide, Father. It means that I carry the heart of God…and I am carried in Christ. Thank you for the work of the Vinedresser.”

“The Great I Am”

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Last night I went to bed listening to this song. I am so moved by this. In fact, I don’t have the natural vocabulary to share what my spirit feels when I listen to the words.

I had asked the Lord to give me new words to pray yesterday.

And this is what He showed me…

That He is the Great I Am.

“Lord, You are “I Am”. You are here with me right now. I need you RIGHT NOW. You are not “I was” or “I will be”, but You, God, are here now. You are the Great “I Am”. You are present. Even as I wait, You are here with me now. You wait with me. You hold my hand and say, “we’ll do this together.” I bow in worship and tears stream down my cheeks as I sing these words to You, Father. There is no one like You. For every dark night, you are light. For every cold path, you are warmth. You hold and orchestrate every victory in my life. You love me. Me. You, the Great I Am, love me! My life is Yours, Lord. I am marked and nailed to the altar of the One I love, the Great “I Am”.”

I wanna to be close close to your side
So heaven is real and death is alive
I wanna hear voices of angels above
Singing as one

Hallelujah holy holy
God Almighty Great I Am
Who is worthy
None beside thee
God Almighty
Great I Am

I wanna be near near to your heart
Loving the world hating the dark
I want to see dry bones living again
Singing as one

Hallelujah
Holy holy
God Almighty Great I Am
Who is worthy
None beside thee
God Almighty
Great I Am

He’s the Great I Am Great I Am

The mountains shake before him
The demons run and flee

At the mention of the name
King of majesty
There is no power in hell
Or any who can stand
Before the power and the presence of the Great I Am
The great I Am the Great I Am
The great I Am the Great I Am the Great I Am

Great I Am
The Great I Am The Great I Am
The Great I Am the Great I Am the Great I Am

The mountains shake before him
The demons run and flee
At the mention of the name
King of majesty
There is no power in hell
Or any who can stand
Before the power and the presence of the Great I Am
The Great I Am the Great I Am
The Great I Am the Great I Am the Great I Am

I have to say that this is one of the most powerful worship songs that I have ever heard. I’m posting the lyrics…read over them again and let them saturate your soul.

No power in hell can take you down…you may think that your situation is beyond help, but I’m here to say,

“You’ve got the Great I Am standing right beside you. He goes before you. He loves you so much that He died for you.

He wept and bled for you.

You can’t even wrap your brain around how much He loves you. Take your eyes off of your situation and walk in the power of The Great I Am!

Trade your staleness for His fire.

He’s worthy!

He longs for you to lean on Him and rest in Him. He longs for you to turn to His face and wrap you in His arms. When you think there is no hope for your circumstances….He already has the answer.

I pray that you know Him like that today. I pray you walk in the victory of the Great I Am!

I pray that your sorrow and hopelessness and questions are turned into a song of praise from your lips today.”

“Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.” Psalm 33:1-4