Something Backward and Something New


The past year–maybe two–I have been in an interesting spiritual season. I’ve been struggling through the same chronic health problems that I’ve had for several years, but which have recently moved me from emotional tedium and annoyance into restlessness and desperation. Something has to change, I realized. If not my circumstances then me; and this, we all know, is the more difficult part. The natural movement of transformation comes from the inside out–God changes the heart, and fresh actions flow out of the new creation.

This is an excellent pattern, but I found myself asking, “Okay God, my heart has changed [I am trusting God with my illness joyously], but I am so tired–now what?” And in my desperation for something new, He began leading me in something completely backward from my expectations: to focus on my outside, so that my inside can catch up to what my heart is already doing. Essentially: to live sincerely in the vision of who I am (an act of faith–of manifesting the spiritual reality through my outer reflection).

There is a longer part of the story that I will skip over briefly: I dreamed prophetically, then realized, that when life became physically uncomfortable, I stopped being the fullness of myself. I’ve still been connected with God–maybe more than ever; I’m still involved in all sorts of things; but the way I have approached my life has been…confused. Namely, I began unknowingly hindering myself with my inner dialog, focusing on my limitations (which are there) instead of on the numerous freedoms I have in other areas. The Lord has begun to teach and remind me who He has created me to be–among the surprises, I remembered that I am an extrovert!

This is still a new and ongoing process for me. The essence is that I am focusing on making my physical appearance look as if I am healthy: taking time to do my hair, and make-up, to wear accessories, and to dress myself in colors, patterns, textures, and shapes that naturally express an outgoing and fiery movement in alignment with my natural disposition. For instance, I am tough, so I should wear fabric that is tough to remind myself and reflect that attitude. I strive on completing projects and reaching solutions swiftly, so I should dress in quick, swift, patterns that reveal this movement and essence. I am sharp, fiery, and resilient, so I should dress myself in a way that reflects my inner disposition.

I have only been doing this for about a week, yet so far I already feel like a whole different person. My blood sugar levels and other problems have remained, but they have not squashed me into a lethargic, mopey, emotional mess. Rather, I have been accomplishing more, and having more joy doing it–simply by observing and asking God to reveal the inside of me, and then dressing myself on the outside in a physical expression of those truths and traits.


God Provides During Flu Bug Attack


One night last week I had just started falling asleep after a late night study session when I felt the Holy Spirit awakening me to pray for my little ones. As I was praying for Jeremiah (our almost-four year old), I thought I heard him breathing funny. By-the-way, it is abnormal that I could hear him breathing in his room while I am in our master bedroom with both room doors partially closed. I began to recall some of the “paranoid mom moments” I’ve had in the past of checking in on them unnecessarily; but the Holy Spirit prompted me to get up to check on him, and I did immediately.

Upon entering the boy’s shared bedroom, I heard and saw that Jeremiah was choking. I reached down to him and he and his bedding were soaked in vomit, and he was sleeping on his back continuously throwing up and struggling to breathe. Scary right?! This has been our first flu experience with the kids, so even on that level the vomiting caught me off-guard. I’ve also read though of people dying from asphyxiation by vomit, which is crazy to think of even now. Thankfully I was available to help at the right moment, and was able to sit him up, clear his mouth, and clean up the mess. Then we made him sleep in our bed the rest of the night, on his side, just in case. Jeremiah is all healthy now, and Xavier, who caught the bug a bit later, is still regaining his usual energy, although his other symptoms have passed.

It’s no fun being sick, but I love that even in moments like this God is with us to protect us, guide us, comfort us, and speak to us personally. We have so much to be thankful for.


Spring Update


I recently started seminary and completed my Winter quarter finals last Sunday. Today, grades came in with good news for me: I passed with As. Yay! It is a pleasant ending to my diligence and lack of sleep; I learned early in the quarter that I was taking too many courses at a time. I am still recovering from the overload to my brain.

While I am much too tired to write anything of depth, I have to say, I am overjoyed this week that Jesus chose to intentionally lie down His life for the whole world–not for those who deserved salvation (as none could be found), but for those who were deep in sin (Rom. 3:23, 5:8). There is no greater blessing than this. I have found great freedom in His sacrifice: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). Do you know that Jesus loves you a lot? He died for the sins of the whole world that each person could be reconciled to God in freedom; we just have to say, “Yes!”

I am constantly amazed by the multitude of blessings He gives me, and the freedom I have had in these last five years of experiencing His friendship.

Chag Pesach Sameach and a Joyous Good Friday!


Testing the Spirits: Exodus 32 and the Golden Calf


This didn’t happen recently, but is something I’ve been wanting to get out in writing: I had neglected to test the spirit of a particular sign I was seeing in the spiritual realm, and it turned out to be really harmful. I had assumed God was speaking to me through this sign, but instead, it was a former familiar spirit trying to win me back.

Reading the passage in Exodus 32 about the golden calf, I realized the seriousness of my error. In this passage of scripture, the Israelites are in the desert after having been delivered from Egypt. (Did you catch that? They were delivered! The blood of the lamb on their door frames had saved them from the angel of death.) But then, they were in the desert, and they became confused. It seems they did desire to connect with God, but on their terms; and Moses (their mediator with God) had gone up to the mountain and was delayed in his return. They gather together and say to Aaron, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”

It’s hard to imagine that a delivered people could project their worship on a physical object that they had just created. But they do. They declare: “‘This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!’ So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, ‘Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.’ Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.”

What is Aaron seeing? The biblical text doesn’t tell us. The first it is italicized because it doesn’t exist in the original Hebrew: it reads more like, “when Aaron saw, he built an altar before it [the calf].” Aaron had just created the calf with his own hands, so it doesn’t seem likely that he would immediately forget what he had done and declare the calf is god–especially not the same god who delivered them from Egypt. It’s more likely he was seeing something spiritual. It’s much harder to describe seeing or perceiving the spiritual realm, so if Aaron saw something there, he may not have understood what he was seeing. Probably, he saw something spiritual, assumed it was a spirit of God, and assumed God was blessing the calf with His presence. Because Aaron connected the spirit of God to the golden calf, it became an object worthy of devotion. If he had considered his actions, he may have realized his error; but it seems he was acting without much thought.

This is, at least, what I recognized I had done. I didn’t intend to do it. I was seeing something I couldn’t describe. I’d mentioned it to several Christians who–without seeing it for themselves or having any experience with it–had encouraged me that God was showing me this seemingly positive sign as evidence of His favor and blessing in my life. And meanwhile, I was becoming increasingly physically ill and emotionally tired–and seeing the supernatural sign an average of four times a day, each time thanking God that He was blessing me. And I didn’t once consider that I should ask God regarding it. At one point, I was researching something completely different and came across an article that the thing I was seeing meant spiritual distortion and chaos, but I was so convinced by my initial assumption that I disregarded the evidence without a second thought. It is amazing, looking back, how quick I was to be confused–all because I had neglected to test the spirits, or ask the Lord what I was seeing and what it meant. It is a blessing I was eventually able to discover the truth and reconsider (and repent for) my mistake.

1 John 4:1 says: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” And to the church in Corinth, Paul warns that the devil disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14). The stakes are too high not to test every spirit, every sign, and every supernatural experience. Every good thing comes from God, but not every attractive thing is good.


Xavier’s Birth Story


Time flies when you’re not sleeping properly! Xavier Matthew is already two months old, and has been such a blessing to our family. For those who don’t know his full birth story, we ended up having an unassisted delivery in our home, and everything was perfect! Here’s how it happened:

The Conflict:

We had been planning a hospital birth–actually, I’d really wanted to give birth at home, but wasn’t able to find a mid-wife who would take me (I’m high risk due to having type 1 diabetes), so I ended up planning to deliver at the same hospital where I’d delivered before, but with a new doctor. The further I got into my pregnancy, the more repulsed I became at the thought of another hospital birth. I liked my doctor, but left every appointment feeling unsettled–I wasn’t sure how I’d go through with the hospital birth, and I wasn’t sure I was supposed to. Then, at 33 weeks, I became very very sick and hospitalized for a couple nights, which is a whole other story, because I nearly died and was again rescued by God (I seem to collect near death experiences). At 34 weeks pregnant, my doctor dropped me as a patient (I now know that he’s on medical leave with serious issues, and the chaos in his office regarding my care was not personal.) And also around 34 weeks, my husband’s insurance changed, so delivering at that particular hospital was not possible for us anyway. We did try to have my care transferred to another medical system, and the disorganization from both systems caused that not to happen.

The Dream:

With all this excitement, we started asking God specifically what we were supposed to do, and if Xavier was alright (I had not been able to see a doctor since the hospital visit, and knew there was a possibility for complications because of all we’d gone through). The night after we’d prayed, I had a very elaborate prophetic dream, and my husband, Ben, was given the interpretation. The dream essentially involved me floating down a river, completely blind (have you ever been blind in a dream?–it’s wild), and my eyes were only opened when I reached a beautiful destination. There was a lot more to it, but that was the essence. We knew at that point that we needed to follow the Lord’s direction without knowing the details, and we both knew in our spirits that it would be an unassisted home birth. (Being rational people, we also both held onto the idea that we could always walk into a hospital if necessary.) It was a big deal to me that Ben would even consider an unassisted birth–earlier on, he wasn’t even that comfortable with a mid-wife. So, I took it as a huge sign from God when Ben interpreted the dream by declaring that we were supposed to give birth at home, by ourselves. I think the Lord gave both of us a great deal of faith.

The Birth:

It was 4:45 am on September 25th, when, for the third or fourth time that night, I got up because my heartburn was so bad I couldn’t lie down. I began exercising on my fitness ball, and suddenly, Xavier engaged into my pelvis and my water broke; it was now just after 5 am. I ran into our Master bathroom, called for Ben to wake up, and decided–because I hate messes–that I was going to stay and labor in the bathroom. I felt a very thick and tangible presence of God and was SO excited to finally be in labor. My contractions started as soon as my water had broken, and Ben timed them right away to be only one minute apart. I had Ben roll my fitness ball into the bathroom so I could use it in labor, and also labored quite a bit standing up with hula type moves, or over the toilet when I felt like squatting. I remembered to praise God at the beginning of each contraction, which helped me keep up my excitement for the birthing process. Toward the end (though I didn’t know how far along I was), I was so sweaty and tired that I looked over at the shower and thought, “If that were a bathtub, I would finish with a water birth.” But I kept enduring, and shortly felt like it might be time to push. I wasn’t sure, so I prayed that God would give me wisdom. It’s very cool that the body naturally knows what to do. Not only did God speak personally to me that it was time, but as soon as I started pushing, I realized that I couldn’t have stopped my body’s natural process if I had wanted to. In fact, I’d actually tried not to push at one point, but my body kept going, so I decided to be in unity with the natural process. Ben was on the phone with my dad when I felt Xavier crowning. I called him to my side and waddled back over to my fitness ball where I delivered at 6:38 am–just four minutes after Ben had hung up the phone. I say, “I delivered”, but really, God delivered him, and Ben caught him. It was completely painless, so thrilling, and such an amazing bonding experience! I started nursing him right away as Ben read online about cutting the cord. A few hours later we had our first appointment with his pediatrician. Xavier Matthew was 9 lbs 12 oz, 21.5″ long, and very healthy. His name means: a new house, a gift of God. Our 2.5 year old slept through the whole birth (I wasn’t yelling or anything), and has adapted surprisingly well to being a big brother.


The Second Coming, Childbirth, and the Mistake of Putting Life on Hold


I am very pregnant and, though not overdue, quite ready for our newest family addition to arrive. To be most honest, I’m past ready, and have been struggling with impatience. My first son came so suddenly that I’ve had an expectation that this one might come early too (he’s already later than his brother), and I’ve been maybe a bit too zealous in watching for signs of impending labor and hindering life-as-normal just in case the baby may arrive any moment.

Even with my first baby I did have signs of labor: my water broke, contractions started and got more intense, and there were a couple other things for the TMI category. My labor was just over two hours and very sudden, but it was still labor. I keep hearing crazy stories, though, about babies coming suddenly in the bathtub or the toilet, or obese women who don’t know they’re pregnant until the baby comes suddenly in their pants—it’s distractions like this that have made me consider the possibility that baby two could come without warning as I’m driving or shopping or in any other very embarrassing and inconvenient way. And when I’m so intense in thinking that labor could begin any minute, it hinders my daily life; after all, I wouldn’t want to go somewhere I wouldn’t feel comfortable delivering. 😛

The Christians in Thessalonica made a similar mistake. They had been doing a great job persevering in their faith despite various hardships (Paul gives them many positive affirmations in 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians), but then Paul gives them a couple telling warnings:

  1. don’t assume Jesus is coming any minute because He will not come until the apostasy and the antichrist come first (2 Thess 2:1-12)
  2. keep working so you can afford to eat; it’s not good to be a burden to other people (2 Thess 3:6-13)

It seems that these Christians in their zeal had misunderstood the spiritual season of their time and put life on hold—quitting their jobs and living off of others—because of their certainty that the Lord would come at any time. Their behavior is almost enduring and goes hand in hand with a long list of praise and encouragement from Paul regarding their faithfulness toward God, and yet they were deceived by their assumptions and made a couple bad choices.

It’s been my mission the past couple days to relax and think less about my upcoming labor. I want to be alert—and I’m so excited for this moment that it is impossible for me not to be—and yet I do not want to be paranoid over every possible symptom or so expectant that I put my normal life on hold. It is an interesting balance to anticipate an event with zeal without going overboard. Paul admonished the Thessalonians to keep living and doing the good things they know to do (2 Thess 2:15, 1 Thess 5:11-28), and I’ve been praying that I’ll be able to relax and enjoy these last pre-baby days as well.


If We Could Only See…


I haven’t seen much of the spiritual realm.  Not comparatively.  I have occasionally seen demons and paranormal activity; I dabbled in the occult and experienced a great deal of power, then I was “delivered” (we could say exorcised), and experienced the even greater power of the Lord, multiple miracles, et cetera, et cetera.  But I do not see most things most of the time–not in that realm.

But this is the point:

Most people do not see the spiritual realm, but it nonetheless exists.  And if Christians DID see it… well, I think they would live quite differently (in fact, I think everyone would).

We wouldn’t, after all, allow poisonous snakes and deadly spiders to infiltrate our homes.  Not if we could see them.  Not if we were sober.  We would get shovels and bug spray and hire an exterminator–anything to get rid of the problem.  And yet, many of us DO have such in our homes, and sometimes in our bodies.  We live in a way that is detestable to the Lord.  We do things and watch things and listen to things and think about things that we don’t even realize are destroying us; we don’t realize our actions are attracting the enemy and beginning a cycle of temptation, lust, sin and death (James 1).  Worse is feeling oppression and conviction and making excuses to deal with it later.

If only we could see what we were up against.  If only we understood what weapons we as Christians have against the powers of darkness.

For the follower of Jesus there really are no excuses.  It’s a question of who and what we Love.


Before the Storm Comes


Storm DamageThis past weekend we had our first real storm of the season, and we weren’t prepared for it.  Our rain gutter, as the picture shows, did not quite make it through the first of the wind and rain.  It looked like it was also going to pop right on through that bedroom window, and so we were out in the rain trying to remedy it.

The lesson is that some things need to be dealt with before the storms come, or it becomes too late.

Noah was able to rescue his family from the wrath of God because he began building the ark right away.  Rahab put the red cloth outside her window immediately, even though she would have seen the attack from her window as the Israelites approached for battle. Esther called an urgent fast that the upcoming destruction of her people would be turned around by the Lord–and of course it was.

Likewise, there are things we were created to do.  And there are storms that are prophesied to come.  As a follower of Christ I know that I am not called to live in the world, but to live in the kingdom of God within the world.  And there are certain good works which Christ prepared beforehand for me to do–and for you too, whether you know about it yet or not (Eph 2:10).  We can’t function in our purpose for God until we submit to God, love God, and hear God.  Our greatest asset is time, and yet there is not enough time to waste.  Storms are coming, so we should prioritize so that they don’t catch us by surprise.


God Healed My Cavity!


I’ve experienced so many miracles and don’t think I’ve recorded a single one, so here’s a personal one:  The last time I went to the dentist I had a cavity that needed filling straight away, but I didn’t like the dentist and couldn’t quite afford the dentist’s steep rate (they had used my insurance money on x-rays and told me I would have to pay out-of-pocket); then I got pregnant and didn’t want anything in my mouth.  And anyway, I never got the thing filled.  As soon as I realized it might take awhile to find another dentist I prayed that the Lord would fill my cavity or else take it away completely, and had so much peace in praying that I forgot about it for several months.

How ever many months later, when I was flossing my teeth in front of a mirror, I noticed that I had a new filled-cavity in–I was pretty sure–the same place I had had the unfilled cavity at my last appointment.  I only have two other fillings, so this new one really stood out.  I was very excited because I knew the Lord had healed my tooth!

Today I went to a new dentist where my miracle was confirmed!!  I have no unfilled cavities, old or new!  And the one I did have was completely taken care of!!  I do not know why the Lord chooses to heal some things and not others, but I am so excited to testify that once again He has chosen to demonstrate a healing in me!  Praise Jesus!


Why I don’t believe in Santa Claus


As a child, Christmas was always my favorite holiday, not because we celebrated Jesus’ birthday (which we most definitely did), but because Santa was coming, and with him, presents.  I just want to be honest: Santa has many of the same qualities as Jesus, plus he’s tangible, comes every year, and gives just the right gift; of course he seems more exciting.

I remember staying up late to listen for Santa and his reindeer on the roof as someone made an imitating sound.  I remember my excitement in waking up the next morning to see that Santa had eaten every bit of the cookies and eggnog we left out for him.  And, of course, I felt great affirmation that the full stockings and presents meant I had been judged ‘good’ by the one who sees all things.

I didn’t just believe in Santa.  My childlike faith caused me to put a great deal of stock into both him, and the ideals he represented.

Then in late elementary school when I was recruited by my parents to be one of “Santa’s elves” and wrap presents, I was heartbroken.  I had wanted so much to believe Santa was real and had even defended my position against elementary school rumors.  If Santa wasn’t real was the Tooth Fairy?  the Easter Bunny?  Jesus?

If you’re teaching your children to believe in Jesus, I urge you not to also teach them to believe in Santa without being fully informed of the potential consequences.  Certainly having Santa in the home does not necessarily lead to spiritual apostasy (I must say, my parents did a good job raising us to have faith in Jesus and all four of us still love the Lord today)… but do we really want to distract our youth from Jesus Himself?

This article by a Baptist ministry gives a very thorough history of Santa throughout the centuries, while comparing Santa to Jesus and giving verses and commentary to show how dangerous the belief in Santa can be.  It is well organized and easy to skim; the history starts in section two:

This article is a much shorter comparison of the main attributes of Jesus and Santa:

What do you think?  Should Santa be taught in the Christian home?