Wednesday, December 26, 2007

And So It Ends...

So, Christmas and the season that surrounds it, has come and gone. Soon, the crispy Christmas tree will come down, the decorations will get packed away and the house will be returned to its normal state. Isn’t it ironic how ‘bare’ the house seems after the Christmas decorations are taken down? Why is it that it takes a couple weeks for us to adjust to our homes again - post Christmas season - when it’s how they look all year long?

Personally, even though I look forward to Christmas and all that it brings, I am eager to move on. I’m eager to have my living room consist of more than a Christmas tree; I’m eager to listen to music that can’t be described as a ‘carol’; and I’m eager to return this ‘department store wrapping area’ back to my bedroom.

But, I will cherish all of the memories that were made, and I will smile when I think back on the moments that made this Christmas season special. A few of my favorites...

The spontaneity of buying our Christmas tree - 2 weeks too early - and freezing as we stood in the Home Depot nursery trying to decide between the ‘normal’ 5-6 ft. tree and the ‘bigger is always better’ 8-9 ft. tree. Bigger and better won out.
Decorating the tree - a week later - while Christmas music played in the background, the aroma of hot chocolate filled the air, and kids focused their attention on filling one-third of the tree with ornaments... the front-center portion.
Walking through the Gaylord Texan and being treated to Christmas done the Texas way... BIGGER! We also managed to get some cute pictures of the family, which is always a bonus.
Attending our very first tree lighting ceremony and being wonderfully amazed at how many times the name of Jesus was used and getting the privilege of bowing our heads in prayer as the Mayor led us all in a Christmas prayer. You wouldn’t see that happen in California.
Baking Christmas cookies on Christmas Eve and watching Teighlor and Marian engage in a flour fight when it was time to clean up.
Having Jason and Coli join us for a few hours on Christmas Eve and laughing at Coli’s inability to have the kids wait until Christmas morning to open the gifts her and J brought with them. I have a feeling their kids will be treated to Christmas Eve unwrapping because SHE won’t be able to wait until Christmas morning!
Celebrating old traditions - like the Happy Birthday Jesus cake - and making new ones... Coli and Jason are now OBLIGATED to bring gifts for the kids on Christmas Eve! LOL!
Playing jacks with Coli! No further explanation is needed.
Twister... who knew our family was so bendable?
Being able to buy a Christmas present for my Husband. I’ve waited for that moment for a long time.
And last but not least, having a ‘complete’ family - notice I didn’t just use the word family - to wake up with on Christmas morning.

These are just a smidgen of the memories that I’ve tucked away from Christmas 2007.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Beyond the Veil

About a month ago, Anthony, Teighlor, Alec and I attended a Friday night event at Gateway called Beyond The Veil. This special service was designed to teach about the temple of the Old Testament and how the why’s and what’s that went into the physical structure can be lived out today in our worship/prayer lives. It was a three hour service that felt like it went by in one - even to the kids.

The night was one I’ve never experienced before, and it was a night filled with the Holy Spirit. This movie (that’s played on the welcome page of my site) was created by Gateway specifically for Beyond The Veil. It is the most impacting video I’ve seen regarding prayer... “the incense of the saints”... and it encompasses the power of that night.

For several years now God has been opening me up to and letting me experience and partake in the gifts of the Spirit. My walk with Him has never been deeper than it is today and much of that is because I know Him and the Holy Spirit in ways I didn’t just 5 years ago.

I have, for a long time, yearned to be given the gift of tongues... my prayer language. I knew as a young adult that my main spiritual gift was the gift of intercession/prayer. I’ve never felt closer or more connected to the heart of my Father than when I am in prayer. There are many people I know who have been given their prayer language, and I wanted a deeper intimacy in my prayer life that I believed I could get if my spirit could - at times when my heart couldn’t - pray for me.

Although I’ve wanted this gift, I’ve also been a wee-bit afraid - faithless? - in truly asking for it. I’ve always wondered what it would “feel” like to pray in a language I didn’t know; to have my tongue speak a language I’ve never learned or probably ever heard. There have been a handful of times when I was deep in prayer, when I felt the manifest presence of the Holy Spirit and prayed to receive the gift of tongues. Two separate times I felt this power (for lack of a better word) build up in me and intuitively knew that the Holy Spirit was going to give me my prayer language. Both times I got just to the point where I knew if I simply opened my mouth and began to pray out loud that I would not be speaking English. And then I was overcome with doubt and literally pulled myself out of the moment; the same way you can imagine pulling yourself out of a dream.

At about the 2 hour mark during Beyond The Veil, we were taught about the Holy of Holies and the prayers that were offered up inside the sacred place. We were in intense worship and prayer at this point, and the Pastor who oversees the Prayer/Intercession Ministry came to prayer over those in attendance. Her ‘job’ was to pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit as it concerns the gifts, and I was in a place spiritually where doubt and fear weren’t even on my radar. I prayed the most sincere prayer to receive my prayer language - no more doubting - and the Holy Spirit answered.

Like before, I felt this power build up in me but this time it was quicker and more intense. My tongue felt different - kind of thick and heavy. This time though, there was no backing out for me. I opened my mouth and began to praise God. It was intense and heavy worship. And then I simply let the Holy Spirit bring forth my gift. My tongue spoke in a language that I didn’t understand yet it felt so natural, like I had known it all my life. The words felt different coming off my tongue - I remember that distinctly. More importantly, I remember feeling overwhelmed with gratitude, praise, excitement and wonder as I realized that the Holy Spirit had chosen to anoint me that very night with one of His gifts.

Since that night I have purposed to use this gift as I’ve been in my prayer closet - no really, I literally pray in my closet because it’s my very own space (and quite a good size) where I can retreat to. I do not know why the Spirit waited or even chose this particular night to gift me with my prayer language, but I hope that this may encourage you. If you have been praying and longing for any special gifts of the Holy Spirit, don’t quit asking - and don’t do like I did... deny the gift out of doubt or fear. Go before the throne of God with boldness and courage!