When He speaks

Saturday, February 8, 2014

It was one of those days where I just needed to be with the Lord. I wanted to open His word, take a deep breath and root deep. I needed to feel him as father and teacher. I dropped the kids off at school and ran straight to Starbucks. I had no idea that God had bigger plans. A divine appointment.

I walked into Starbucks and it was rockin. I said a quick prayer asking God to open a seat for me. I ordered my coffee and as I turned around a table opened up. I walked close and the woman sitting at the next table jumped over, "Sorry, I'm meeting a friend and this one has two seats." "No worries, I just need one, have at it!" I sat down at the table she had just vacated and thanked the Lord for his provision. Bible and notebook: check. Coffee and Danish: check. Colored pens and phone on silent: check. Lets do this. By this time, the woman's friend had arrived and they had begun a very deep and personal conversation. Trying not to eavesdrop or be distracted, I pulled out my headphones and started to scroll through music to listen to. Before I hit play, the friend said something that really resonated with me. Something along the lines of, "When God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, it wasn't to prove to God that Abraham would be faithful. God already knew he would be. It was to prove to Abraham that he would be faithful to God."(If you don't know this story, read it in Genesis 22) Don't get distracted Annie. I hit play just as a man in a suit and a young girl sat down at the table on the other side of me.

Revelation 4. Beth Moore asked me to draw out every detail of the Throne Room of God. I wonder if this is what she had in mind?

This, obviously, does not do it justice. Please stop and go read Revelation 4. See Him sitting on the throne. See the 24 elders and the 4 beasts. See the bow and the lighting surrounding the throne. Hear the thunder and the singing as they cast their crowns as His feet. See the crystal sea and the 7 lampstands. Close your eyes and feel it. Let Hebrews 4:16 fall on you, "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." In light of Revelation 4, how does the invitation to approach the Throne of God with confidence affect you? I answered that question this way: "The Throne of God is not weak. It's full of power. The things we ask of Him are not too big. Have faith in your Creator. What you ask He can do."

No sooner had the pen left paper when my mind went blank and my stomach started to twist. My heart started to race and I could feel the presence of evil. If you don't know what that feels like, thank God. If you do, then you know what I mean. I couldn't move. I prayed for God to remove the distraction. "Turn off your music Annie and listen." I turned down my music. On one side of me where two women. Deep personal conversation. Very obviously believers. On the other side, his voice sounded like fingernails on a chalkboard. Even thinking about it now brings chills. Every word out of his mouth reeked of evil. And the girl, she was eating it up. Soaking it all in. And my stomach was twisted into deep knots. "I need this time with you God. Please don't let this happen now." I turned my music up as loud as it would go. Block it out. Block it out. Focus on God. "Annie, turn off your music and listen." NO! I'm being selfish with my time. I NEED this time with you. Don't make me do this.

I turned my phone off and just started to pray. I couldn't read one word, so there was no way to continue. My heart was pounding and my stomach was sickly twisted. I prayed for God to confuse this mans speech. Distract him Lord. Close this girls ears and don't let her hear him speaking. Do something Lord just make it stop. "Speak Annie. You stop him from speaking" Excuse me WHAT? No Lord. Please no Lord. What would I even say? I cant fight that. "Annie, he's speaking of the stars, but I made the starts. Tell him to stop and tell her this man is lying." My heart was beating so hard in my chest and my face was so beat red that I don't know how someone didn't notice. I got angry. God, there are two believers on the other side of me. Make them speak. Can they not hear this? How are they not this affected? "Don't wait for someone else to do what I've called you to do. I moved her, remember. I placed you here. At this time. For this moment."

I was frozen with fear. I couldn't move. I couldn't speak. And I watched this young girl get up and thank him and ask to meet with him again. And I watched her walk away. And I wanted to die. The moment had passed and I did nothing while evil sat beside me. I had failed. I was not faithful to the One who has always been faithful to me. I wanted to get out as fast as I could and cry. I just wanted to break down and cry. Instead I jumped into the conversation with the women on the other side of me. I didn't even really care what they were talking about, I just needed to connect with someone. I must have sounded like the biggest idiot ever. I packed up and left.

I sat in my car and cried and cried and cried. I drove away to run some other errands and I called my husband. I told him what happened. He was so encouraging. "You know Annie, God will give you another chance." Even though I know its not what he meant, I turned my car around and drove back to Starbucks. I'm not sure what I expected to find. But when I walked in ... she was there. "Speak Lord. My words may fail." I walked up and said, "I know this is going to sound crazy. I was sitting beside you earlier and I was trying very hard not to listen to your conversation but I couldn't help but overhear. I feel like God wants me to tell you that everything that man said to you was a lie. What you are looking for, that man does not have the answers to. God wants you to know that He loves you and is the only one who can give the peace you are looking for. He's the only one who can give the assurance for the future that you seek. Please do not meet with that man again. If you'd like to talk about it more, I'd love to talk to you." I gave her my number and my email address. She smiled and thanked me.

I walked out to my car and wept. And then I went to pick my daughter up from school.

Your Sovereign Hand Will be My Guide

Monday, February 3, 2014

Have you ever stopped and looked at your life backwards? Have you ever, good or bad, looked at your life and wondered how you got to where you are? I’ve been doing that recently and I have to tell you, my life does not even have a shimmer of what I thought I would be doing. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
Walk with me, will you, back to 2002. January: I was in school for Early Childhood Education. My life was pretty planned out. February: I started dating this really cute guy. April: I took a trip to WV to meet his family. It was then that I knew he would be the one. You know, THE ONE. I didn’t tell him yet, I wasn’t sure he could handle it. September: He figured it out. HE asked ME to be his wife. November: Thanksgiving with my soon-to-be family. Snow. WONDERFUL! December: First Christmas together. Step into 2003. March: There was a wedding march this month. It was beautiful. It was Holy Ground. We were young and silly. We had no clue. But we were in love. I left school and started working full time. Skip Forward to June 2008. Two became Three. Brewer was born. I started working part time. Skip forward to April 2010. The Girl was born. What would our life be like without our Eva? I stopped working all together. (I mean for money that is) Skip forward to January 2012. Living in a small, but comfy, 3 bedroom house as a family of 4 and an adult family member living with us for a few months. Mama takes a trip, a much needed time away.  As wonderful as my life was at this point, I could have never imagined how this weekend trip would change my life.

My dear friend invited me to go on the Women’s Ministry Retreat from her mother’s church. Normally this is the kind of thing I would turn down without even a second thought. It’s just not my cup of tea. However, this time, I said yes. Somewhere along the way I had lost myself. I had a plan. I was in school. I was going to be a teacher. But instead I got married. I quit school.  I had kids and I stopped working. My life had veered so far away from the plan that I couldn’t figure out where I was. Not that any of those things were wrong. I just didn’t know who I was anymore.  I was floundering and frustrated and crying out to God to show me the way. I had two small children. Finding time to sleep, let alone read my bible, was a challenge. I was weary. And I needed more than rest. I needed a revival.
Day two of the retreat we were giving a very well written out devotional to do. They sent us out to find a place to rest, read and reflect. I took my bible eager to get into His word. I walked out onto the dock and took a seat. I couldn’t do it. My mind was so restless and I couldn’t concentrate. I cried. I cried hard. Please don’t take this time from me. I put down my bible and that sweet devotion and I prayed. I cried out to God and said, “I can’t do this. I can’t even focus. I need you to speak to me. I need to you speak to the depths of my soul. Please.” I took out my MP3 player, set it on random and hit play. The very first song that came on, I kid you not, was Otis Redding, “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” Yes Lord, You have my attention.

So over the next 30 minutes or so, I sat and listened as God spoke to me through a perfectly timed playlist that I thought were random songs. He said, “Annie, You’ve been sitting here long enough and wasting too much time. Look down and tell me what you see.” I saw the marsh. I was sitting on a dock over the marsh at low tide. “Now look up and tell me what you see.” I saw the ocean and its rolling waves. “Annie, you’ve been here in the mud before. I picked you up and brought you out into the ocean deep. You know what it feels like out there in the rolling waves of grace. You know the peace of riding out the storm with me. But I’ve brought you back into the muck. I’ve brought you back not to hurt you but for you to feel it. You’ve forgotten what this feels like. There are others, Annie, who are stuck here. Knee deep, just like you were. I’ve brought you back in to take someone’s hand and show them the way out into the deep waters. You know the way because you’ve been there. And once you get out, let them go. I’m going to send you back in and you’re going to find someone else. And you’re going to show them the way. The Way the Truth and the Life. This will be a pattern for your life.”
O.M.G. Be careful what you ask for. When you ask God to speak, He will. So be prepared to hear what He has to say. Yes Lord, I heard you Father. What does that mean? What am I supposed to do? “Wait. That answer will come. Just keep listening.”

I returned home renewed and on my toes! About a month later the answer came in a way I never would have expected. At this point in my life I had been practicing yoga on and off for many years. A few months after Eva was born we joined the local Family Y. We joined because there was childcare and I could drop my children off, go to a yoga class, sit for a moment and breathe. This particular day my instructor came up to me after class. (This was not the first time she had mentioned this and all other times I had smiled sweetly and thanked her and called her crazy!) But this day she said, “Hey Annie, there is a Level 1 Instructor Training coming this May. It’s in town and I thought of you. You should really check it out and see about becoming a yoga instructor.” God spoke before I could and said, “That’s it. You’re going to teach Yoga.” I stood there stunned for a moment and said, “Ok, email me the info.”
I put the kids down for a nap and prayed. What in the world God? You’ve got to be kidding me. He spoke directly to my heart like he did sitting on that dock. “The community of yoga, it’s a very dark place. There are people searching for me but many don’t know it’s me they’re looking for. They call it peace, but I am the only giver of true peace. They call it harmony, but creation is only at harmony when it’s in tune with it’s Creator. They are looking for enlightenment; I am the giver of knowledge. I’m sending you in, Annie, to be a light in a dark place. Take their hands and lead them out of the muck and into grace. The rolling waves of my grace.”

This has been quite a journey. One I never saw myself on.  One that has made me trust more and dig deeper. I can not even begin to tell you all of the opportunities God has given me over the past two years. This journey, it’s only beginning. He’s calling me to something bigger than myself. But I’ll tell you more about that later. He is growing and stretching me. He’s teaching me to rely on Him every step of the way. Some days I’m running and some days I’m being dragged kicking and screaming. But I’m moving. Closer. Surrendered. And oh friend, if I could only tell you how … His grace abounds in deepest waters ...
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