Sunday, May 24, 2009

My Jesus Dream

Jesus... He came and visited me last night in a dream. It's the first time I've ever had a dream with Jesus in it. And I believe... no, I know beyond doubt... that this "dream" was purposed by him. What a sweet dream is was, too. I call it my modern day version of the disciples in the storm at sea, except none of the disciples were there and we weren't at sea. [hmmm...] BUT, there was a storm and Jesus came in the midst of it! ;-)

I know when I awoke in the middle of the night that I should have pulled myself out of bed to write this dream down, but I had taken Benadryl to sleep soundly and I just couldn't quite muster up the energy to do anything but go back to sleep. I drowsily asked God to help me remember the dream in the morning and, almost immediately, I was back in dreamland.

My dream took place in a warehouse, but one converted into a home within one room. It was a wide open space with lots of windows but very sparsely furnished. A storm was raging outside, and I have to assume that we had decided to take shelter for our safety. I know that six people were a part of the group, but I only clearly remember four: Me, Anthony, Jason and Coli. I believe the other 2 were Teighlor and Alec, but my memory fails me there.

The storm had us all a bit frightened. Severe rain and wind were slamming against the warehouse walls and loudly rattling every window to what sounded like their breaking points. We were individually scattered throughout the warehouse, silently listening to the frenzied storm around us; none of us voicing the fear that we all felt but were afraid to confess.

In that moment, the lone door to the warehouse opened and in walked Jesus... no triumphal entry, no announcement from a messenger angel... just Jesus. What's ironic is that no one in the room reacted as if "JESUS" had just walked through the door. No gasps of shock and awe, no whispers questioning whether or not it was who we thought it was, no cell phone cameras popped open so that we could prove to the world via Twitpic that Jesus had walked into our warehouse. It was as if Jesus popping by to visit was a regular occurrence. that he was part of the family you could depend on to show up for Sunday dinner every Sunday.

He came in with the most humble air of confidence - a presence that commanded attention but didn't wreak of arrogance or a false sense of superiority. He just was Jesus and that was enough.

I was sitting on the only bed in the warehouse and watched Jesus visit each person in the room. I wasn't privy to the conversation taking place, but I watched the exchange of body language very intently. Each pairing told a different story communicated through eye contact, body position and touch.

Jesus approached Anthony first and sat next to him on the love seat. With Anthony, Jesus was very touchy-feely. I'm sure because He, of all people, would know that He created in Anthony the very essence of "we could so be touching right now". Their conversation looked deep and serious. I got the impression that Anthony was pouring out his concerns to Jesus. All the while, Jesus kept patting Anthony on his knee or rubbing his shoulder, exuding compassion for what he was listening to [and filling his love tank, too], but at the same time manifesting this sense that everything was going to be alright. He spoke very little but when he did, I could sense that his words held tremendous authority and wisdom, although they were delivered with the kindest, most compassionate expression. When Jesus was done, He gave Anthony a big hug and then touched his face with a tenderness that was palpable. It was the sweetest touch I've ever witnessed.

Jason was sitting in one of two over-stuffed, comfy chairs. Jesus pulled the other one around so that when He sat down his knees would be touching Jason's and they would be facing each other. Even though Jason is a tall guy, Jesus seemed taller... not in an intimidating way but with a stature that would make even the biggest of men feel safe standing next to him. As he sat down, Jesus leaned forward and began his conversation with Jason. The body language between these two men was very different than that displayed during Jesus' conversation with Anthony. Instead of the almost constant language of touch that existed between Jesus and Anthony, Jesus' touch with Jason appeared much more purposed - as if he was driving a point home every time he reached out to him. There was no condemnation in this touch, no "listen to me or else"... rather it almost appeared as if Jesus was trying to convince Jason of one thing or another and his touch was the period at the end of each sentence. Again, because I was not allowed to hear the words being spoken, I was left to surmise the conversation taking place through the contact of Jesus and the one with whom He was speaking. When Jesus was done, He rested both of his hands on Jason's knees and just held his gaze for what seemed like an eternity. Had it been anyone else, I believe Jason would have told a joke to break the silence, but instead he said not a word... he just let the communication happen.

And then Jesus crossed the room to meet Coli. She had been standing in a corner, watching all of this unfold, like me. When He reached her, he walked straight into the corner to stand next to her. He was "this close" to her, not leaving any room for personal space. Their faces were only inches from each other, a proximity that would have made even the closest of couples a bit unnerved, but with Jesus standing there it only seemed natural. He immediately reached out and took both of Coli's hands in his and their conversation began. As with the other two, this exchange had nothing in common with Jesus' prior conversations. Theirs was animated, full of smiles and laughter... kind of like two best friends sharing the events of their days that had taken place since their last time together, except even the best of friends don't share such extreme personal space as naturally as Jesus and Coli did. Everything about their time together would make any bystander secretly wish for "a relationship like that". When Jesus was done, He wrapped his arms around her and they hugged. There was no need for tears or a long good-bye because their contact simply communicated their love for each other and the fact that they would be seeing each other very soon.

Whether Jesus stopped and talked to the other two in my dream, I do not remember. What I do know is that when he approached me I was sitting against two pillows propped up against the wall, like they would against a headboard. Jesus took the two pillows on the other side of the bed, pulled them down to lay flat on the mattress and then laid down on his side facing me. He patted the empty space next to him and asked me to lay down, too. Without hesitation, I laid down on my side, facing him, and laid my head on his arm. As with Coli, there was only "this much" space between our faces. Had it been anyone else, I know I would have been checking my breath hoping that my Listerine was keeping me fresh, or I would have been backing up so that I could breathe "my own air and not that borrowed from the person next to me". [That's kind of a pet-peeve of mine] But, this position seemed so natural, so cozy, that the thought of breath mints never crossed my mind.

For a moment we just laid together and then Jesus asked me, "What one question do you really want to ask me?" I was caught off guard and didn't know how to respond. The only thing I could think to say was, "Well, before you came in I had so many questions about my life and what's going on, but now that I'm next to you I can't think of one." He just smiled and replied with, "Isn't that nice?" His very presence had calmed my fears and quieted all the concerns of life that were constantly on replay in my head. We took a few moments to bask in that peace. Well, He let me bask in His peace and he... I can only say that I got the distinct impression that He was simply enjoying His time with me; the same way I would enjoy my child snuggling next to me.

Jesus broke the silence by asking me another question, "What one thing do you think you struggle with the most?" Again, he caught me off guard. I ran through a list of 'struggles' in my brain, searching for the one that could top the list. Was it faith? Was it doubt? Was it impatience or fear, or complacency, stubbornness or self-reliance? How would I answer his question? My quandary was obvious and I think He decided to let me off the hook. I mean, he already knew the answer, didn't he? He just smiled in a way that words cannot explain and with a tone that cannot be defined he said to me, "I love you so much." And followed that up with, "That is the answer to my question." Huh?

To put an end to the wheels spinning in my head, he explained, "Beyond all the answers that you think should have topped your list, the only one that matters is the struggle you go through in your heart questioning how it's possible for me to love you when you've thought, said or done something that is completely unlovable. I don't want you to struggle with this any longer. I love you beyond everything." And when Jesus was done, He took my face in his hands and kissed my forehead like I would kiss my child good night and got up from the bed.

Without fanfare, He walked straight to the door, turned to us one last time and said, "Good-bye. I'll see you all later." And with that, he shut the door behind him and left as a friend would leave.

Coli's Words

"Got a new understanding of the verse "see first the kingdom." We translate it to mean not to think about our own needs, but to think about ministry. This morning the Holy Spirit reminded me that seeking the kingdom means that the kingdom will reign in our lives. the kingdom will reign in our finances. in our marriages. over children. over everything! Every step you have been making has been bringing His kingdom into your sphere. And that means his will, His purposes, His resources! I believe you are closer to His provision than you know."
These words were texted to me on May 17, 2009. I say AMEN and look forward to how the truth of these words will ring true!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Through HIS Creation

Psalm 19:1 The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.

Today was, simply put, a gorgeous day. I trekked out to the store at 10am after realizing we had but 3 full squares of toilet paper left in this entire house - eek - and was immediately captured by God's presence in full bloom through His creation. Between the cool morning breeze, the birds that literally couldn't stop singing and the sunshine that delivered just enough heat to warm my soul but not enough to make me sweat, my heart couldn't stop smiling. I rolled down the windows of my SUV and breathed in deeply. The overwhelming heaviness of last week's all-consuming humidity had lifted and was replaced by the fragrance of fresh cut grass. [THIS] is the definition of a perfect spring day.

With toilet paper shopping completed, I took a quick detour down Central to my nearest Starbucks. Somehow, for me, Starbucks and Sunshine make such perfect companions. So, I took the $2 that was left over from our family trip to see Earth and purchased my Iced Grande Americano, all ice, no water please. After a dash of Splenda and a bit of Half & Half, I was back in the car and on my way home... hoping that in the time that it took to me to fulfill my Starbucks and Sunshine quest, no one at home needed to visit the bathroom.

With coffee in hand, I drove home and found myself overwhelmed to tears by the beauty of this day. Anyone who knows me knows that the words "tears" and "Babs" don't really go together. I'm a pretty practical person [ooh, i just illiterated] and have never been one known to wear my heart on my sleeve. Not that I have anything against heart-sleeves, it's just not how God made me. Something has to really move my soul [or catch me off guard] to bring me to tears. I guess this morning God did both. He not only consumed my soul with the absolute perfection of His creation, He caught me off guard with the capacity for my heart to recognize Him from the moment my garage door opened and His creation met me face-to-face.

Reaching my destination of home, I went straight to my children and told them to pack up their home school stuff because we were schooling "al fresco" style at the park today. I then found my husband in his office so I could share with him my excitement over God's creation. As I looked out his windows into the backyard, I saw a beautiful blue bird perched on the top of our fence. Yesterday, I had discovered this same bird settled on the bird bath, looking into it and thinking [as I imagined it would], "Isn't there supposed to be water in this thing?" Ooh, I had let this poor bird down by teasing it with an empty bird bath. It's like sending kids out to the backyard with their swim suits on only to discover that the pool was never filled. Tomorrow I am going to fill that concrete bird bath. It's always been an eye-sore to me because I've never liked the bulky aspect of it, but my perspective has been changed.

The other day, as I was driving Alec home from a baseball game and was stopped at a light, I watched a bird crazily flutter about in a small puddle left by the rainfall from the previous day. I giggled as I watched it dip its head into this mini bird pool over and over again and shake its tailfeathers as the water rolled down its back. It reminded me of the days when I would watch my kids [when they were younger] pitch themselves repeatedly onto the yellow Slip 'N' Slide and laugh as the holes on the side of the mat spewed streams of water at them.

God has given us creation in order for us to see Him in it; whether its robin's egg blue skies, cotton ball clouds, a bird's lullaby or the sound of our childrens' laughter. It's all created by Him so He could share it with us.

Today, God reached out and touched me through His creation, and I was changed [today] because of it.

Monday, May 11, 2009

So Thankful in the Midst of Incredible Loss

Anyone who reads my blog may have already presumed by this blog title that I'm going to write about our personal, financial struggle. Loss, when I think of it, does center around that these days. But that's not it... tonight.

Just a bit ago, as I sat here updating my Mac calendar so that my weeks ahead will remain on time and in order, I heard Anthony loudly exclaim from his office, "Oh No!". I immediately asked him what was wrong, and he joined me in the kitchen to share with me a tweet that had just come across. The next door neighbor of a friend of his in Atlanta had accidentally run over his 18-month little girl in the driveway - killing her - and this friend was tweeting for immediate prayer for the family. [that is Twitter in action, at it's best use]

I do not know this family, not even their first names, but my heart immediately sank with sorrow upon hearing the news. I can't possibly imagine - even if I tried - what that family is going through... what that father is going through. Anthony and I were both at a loss for words. How can you possibly wrap your mind around something so tragic? A day after they celebrated Mother's Day, their littlest one is gone... and Father's Day is just a month away. Will he even be in a place emotionally to be able to celebrate his 3 oldest children or will that day be the harshest reality of today's catastrophic accident?

We bowed our heads and prayed for this family with pleas for comfort and peace that will have to surpass ALL understanding; for protection over and an immediate bonding of hearts in unity for that marriage that will no doubt be battered by Satan as he attempts to use this tragedy to bridge a gap between husband and wife.

And then Anthony spoke the words that we both felt... no matter what we lose in this present time it will not compare to the loss this family has suffered. We have our family, and that's all that matters.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

BECAUSE of God's Goodness

[short] Story of Amy Wilson Carmichael

She was a missionary to India for 55 years. When she was a little girl she had one prayer. [all of us had mixed up prayers when we were kids, but this prayer was very important to Amy.] All the little girls in her neighborhood had blue eyes, but she had brown eyes. She prayed for years that God would change her brown eyes to blue.

As she got into her 20's, she began ministering to the poor and then felt the call to India. When she got to India, she realized that many of the parents were selling their daughters into sexual slavery to be temple prostitutes. She prayed about what she could do to help these girls.

God gave her the idea to take coffee grounds to dye her skin darker [to look like the Indian women] so that she could go into these places to rescue these girls one-by-one. She got an orphanage going and people supported her financially. Over 55 years they rescued thousands of girls.

But she tells a story that one day she's in front of the mirror putting coffee grounds on her face and as she was looking in the mirror all of the sudden she realized, "God, EVERY Indian girl has brown eyes. YOU gave me these brown eyes so that I could do what I love to do to... to help these girls". And she said, "God You Are So Good".
This story was told at the end of Pastor Robert's message today titled God Is Good. Honestly, you can look at this story and see so much more than the simple [focused] fact that God gave Amy brown eyes. She truly was one of the first, if not the first, missionary whose ministry was to save girls from human trafficking. I guess I could say, "That's another Oprah altogether."

But the point remains... God created her exactly as He needed her to be to fulfill His intended purpose for her life. He knew where He wanted her to go and what He wanted her to do and because of that purpose, He needed her to have... as simple as it sounds... brown eyes. I find it so incredibly interesting that the one thing she can remember praying for throughout her childhood was that God would change her eye color.

Could it be that Satan saw the mantle already placed on her life at such a tender age and began pointing out that difference to her so that it became something she disliked about herself when, in fact, it would be the one thing that she would need to accomplish her life's purpose?
"Satan will try to get us to judge God's INFINITE goodness based on our FINITE mind."
This is another quote from Pastor Robert. It's not far-fetched to believe that [as a little girl] Amy may have, in her heart, judged God 'not good' because her eye color was different from all the other girls in her neighborhood. Her desire was 'to be like them', yet she couldn't have known then that God never intended for her to be like everyone else. He had already set her apart by, of all things, giving her brown eyes.

I have so many questions running through my mind right now, but the biggest one is this:

What have I doubted or disliked or questioned or frowned upon... or wished to be different or changed... simply because I couldn't see in my finite mind, as it fit into my finite world, that it was necessary to fulfill God's infinite purpose?