DATE WITH JESUS

DATE WITH JESUS

Years ago, I felt this insane craving to be alone with the Lord. I booked a hotel, got the four kids situated, and took off for my 24-hour date with Jesus. I spent my quiet alone time making my grocery list, journaling my thoughts, getting food, responding to emails, and reading a book. When it was over, I was physically refreshed but spiritually dry. I realized I treated my ‘date with Jesus’ as if I were the only one at the table and did all the talking. The second time I booked my 24-hour date with Jesus, I took nothing but my Bible, journal, and a large jug of water. My soul came alive. It was just Him and me, and I left feeling like we had spent a month together on a deserted island. I vowed I would make it a priority to get away at least twice a year.

When I became a single mom, I realized I couldn’t do it anymore because of finances. I heard God say so clearly, “Do not ever let money be a deciding factor between us,” and, in faith, I booked a hotel room on my credit card. Someone graciously took my children for the night, and I had the most glorious time with Him. There was a glitch with the hotel, and they ended up giving me the hotel for FREE. I laughed and vowed once again that I would never let anything stand in the way of my 24-hour dates with Him. Fast forward over a decade, and I am still sneaking away. There is no price tag to put on your intentional time with Him. 

OWN IT!

I have always wanted my twin daughters to share a room, but God told me to separate them and give them their own space. We had so much fun talking about designing their new spaces. Lauren turned her closet into a desk area, and it was gorgeous. Emma walked into Lauren’s room and saw the hours of work, and said, “Oh man, your room looks better than mine,” She went back to her room and undid all of her work, trying to copy what Lauren did with her space. It didn’t work! She was frustrated and struggling a bit. I realized that was such a prophetic word for what God is doing in them. I told her that Lauren’s space was perfect for her, but that Emma needed to own hers and that copying or comparing herself to her twin would only leave her feeling short, frustrated, and defeated. She quickly turned her room back the way she first had it and LOVED it. Isn’t that true in life? We can’t slap someone else’s success on us and assume it fits. Thank You, Jesus, for the way You are parenting with me and aligning their hearts daily to the path YOU have for them.

LET’S ASK JESUS

Ask, “Jesus, if You were here in the flesh, how would You handle my children?” (You may be surprised by the answer).

IT ISN’T YOU

There are two ways to teach a child how to swim – on dry land, where you explain everything to their mind, OR by putting them in the water and giving them step-by-step instructions on how to survive. 

God is inviting MANY into the pool right now and wants to teach you how to use spiritual tools that have not yet been used before. It can be scary for a small child to hold their breath underwater for the first time, but once they trust their instructor’s instructions, they can master the skill and enjoy playing in the water. God wants to teach His children how to master the weapons of heaven so that they can play in His Kingdom on earth.

How many of you have felt a strange heaviness or unique feelings that you know are not you? After posting about what I was feeling in the atmosphere (this constant sense like I was in big trouble. Yet I knew it wasn’t me personally), many of you have messaged me saying, “Oh, I thought I was going crazy until I read your post.” No, no, no, you are not going crazy. God does not allow us to see, hear, or feel things in the spiritual realm just to crush us. Yes, some things are indeed big and heavy, but the purpose of having discernment is for Him to use you on earth. 

So first, if you have been feeling foreign and unique things that you know isn’t you (coming from unprocessed pain, unforgiveness, or offense), pinpoint what it is that you are feeling/sensing. This heaviness feels like _____. Second, ask, “Jesus, thank You for giving me spiritual eyes to see and ears to hear. What do You want me to do in response to this?” Third, OBEY whatever He tells you. He is the Commander of heaven and earth and knows how to lead His people. Your job is not to have it all figured out and understand the big picture. Your responsibility is to obey.

LEADING FROM THE FATHER’S HEART

As I watched the worship team enter the stage one week, I was captivated by this vision. I saw a leader in pre-service prayer ask point-blank questions regarding their purity. He had those who raised their hand in guilt leave and go into another room. I was confident that the leader would declare since those who had admitted sin had left the room, those remaining would lead worship, but the scene changed when the leader excused them to go and entered the room where the ‘guilty ones’ were. He offered a prayer of repentance and an invitation to get right with the Lord in that area. There was great weeping and true repentance. He then said, “Great, you are now ready to lead us in worship.” Legalism and the spirit of religion say only the perfect can take the stage. The Father’s heart says to lead them to Him, and in that place, they are made fit to serve.

THERE IS MORE!

Take a moment and picture how incredible it would be to be in Hawaii. No, seriously. Stop right now and think about a trip to paradise. The mere thought of the ocean mist, bright sun, and warm sand – sounds like heaven. Now, picture yourself on the balcony of the high-rise hotel on the beach. Pretty cool, huh? What if you were to walk down to the sandy beach with a relaxing book and sit under the sun umbrella? How about strolling up and down the shoreline, flirting with the cool waves against your warm toes? Better yet, picture yourself knee-deep and enjoying the waves splashing against your body. Swimming out deeper and jumping in the waves is an experience like no other. If you venture out just a little further, you can snorkel and see some of the most fantastic fish swimming. Still, does the wonder of the ocean end there? No! There is even more! When you learn how to surrender to the mercy of an oxygen tank, you can stay immersed under the water for quite some time and enjoy the outstanding, breathtaking beauty that is not available for those seated in the safety of their hotel balcony. While the mere thought of being in Hawaii right now is a good one, God wants us to know that there is MORE of Himself waiting to be discovered, and these depths in God far outweigh any beauty we may find on earthly soil. The only person to ever reach the vast depth of the Father was Jesus. For the rest of us, we can stay on the beautiful yet comfortable, confined balcony or allow the Spirit to draw us deeper and deeper. No matter where you are at right now, know there is MORE! The goal isn’t to be air-dropped into the middle of the sea and claim that we have arrived. Doing so ill-equipped would be not only dangerous but also foolish. The goal is the JOURNEY! God finishes and completes our faith, and it is our job to allow Him to lead us one step at a time. Philippians 1:6 is your anchor! 

Now, link this analogy to parenting: Can you picture how drastically different our parenting will be based on where we position ourselves? Those on the balcony will have a different parenting mindset than those who parent from the ocean’s depth. 

Through the different seasons of your life. Are you gradually moving deeper and deeper, or are you having continued visits between the same few safe and familiar locations?

CONTROL-BASED PARENTING

I was talking with a mom about others using the tools of control and disempowerment in parenting, and she burst into tears. She realized she was guilty of using them with one of her children and her heart ached, realizing how she had been negatively affecting her child. This is my WHOLE point in doing these posts on disempowerment. The issue rarely lies with the one being disempowered but the one doing it. Parents/leaders use these tools because something else is going on inside of them that makes them feel like they need to protect themselves. Nothing controls and pushes back someone further than disempowering them because it renders them powerless. It is a faulty coping mechanism for something greater going on. Here is the deal – God isn’t mad at the parent/leader who uses these tools because He understands WHY they do it. He sees their fear, anxiety, and insecurity that causes them to feel the need to self-protect. God doesn’t want them to stay that way, but He isn’t mad at them.

FAMILY BY GOD’S DESIGN

How many have been raised with the belief that family looks like this: God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Dad, Mom, eldest sibling, middle child, baby of the family, and the dog. While it is certainly true that a parent has more authority, experience, wisdom, and money than a child and that a child has more authority than the family pet, this is not God’s design for the family. Family flows in a CIRCLE. Often, the littlest of these bring about the most change in others. God uses the entire family to transform each other. Siblings give us the training ground to become healthy adults. Parents learn childlike joy from their toddlers. The dog teaches us responsibility (caring for them). The goldfish teaches us discipline (feeding them). Dads teach us to be sacrificial. Moms teach us to be kind. Special needs siblings teach us to be patient. And on and on. In God’s family, no one has ‘arrived,’ and all are on a journey learning from each other. 

WHO ARE THEY?

Mary and Joseph were the human vessels God worked THROUGH to accomplish HIS purpose and plan for HIS Kingdom! What if Joseph decided *HE* wanted Jesus to be a football player or a doctor? Just think of how the world would have missed what God was doing. God is smart. God is good and knows what He is doing with the world. He needs parents who will lay down their own agenda and partner with what He is doing SO THAT our children can do all that He has created them to do for His purpose and His plan. I encourage you to spend some quiet time before the Lord today and ask Him, “Father, will You please show me what YOU have put inside my child” or “Holy Spirit, will You please show me the destiny (purpose on earth) You have placed deep inside of them?”

A TOUCH FROM HIM

One of the things I love about traveling and speaking is the ministry time. One touch of God can change a life in a moment. I often spend a great deal of time with God before asking how I can partner with what He is already doing in a particular community, as I never want to come in and just do my thing. At one place over the summer, He said to do ministry time totally different than I was used to (love that!). The Presence was so sweet and tangible. As a minister, you want people to encounter and receive all they can, but there was something that wouldn’t let me move forward. I had to process what He was doing and how I could partner with it while standing on stage in silence. He said, “I don’t want to come in as Fire tonight. I want to come in as a Gentleman. There are people in the room who need to know I am safe.” People encountered a safe Father, and it was breathtaking. It was the simplest yet most profound ministry time I have ever led.

APRIL SHOWERS

I heard the Lord say to me, “April showers bring May flowers,” and was reminded of the scene in The Shack where Sarayu (Holy Spirit) was collecting the tears of Mack, who was deeply grieving the devastating loss of his daughter. Later in the movie, Sarayu used those same tears to water the seeds that would become a massive tree. God is doing something profoundly deep within you in this season. Spiritual Daughters, I am so proud of you! I am proud of the one who stepped away and caught her breath. I am proud of the one who went outside to let the tears flow. I am proud of the one who chose faith over fear. I am proud of the one who showed her gorgeous vulnerability. I am proud of the one who sobbed in her closet. I am proud of the one who called a friend and shared her heart. I am so proud of the one who owned her heart and what she was feeling. I am so proud of the one who kept her eyes on Jesus. I am proud of the one who dropped to her knees, asking God for help. I am so proud of you for choosing to let God have His way with you and not medicating your heart with the novocain of the world. The only way to lessen the pain is to feel it. Let Jesus continue to have His way with you, and He will allow those tears to blossom into something so beautiful.