Refiner’s Fire

What is it like to be in the refiner’s fire? What is the refiner’s fire? I ask these questions because in my heart of hearts, I feel I am in the white hot center of the refiner’s fire. There is no where to move. There is no where to go, only to sit and burn.

The vision of the refiner’s fire is from Malachi 3:2. The words of the prophet speak of the coming of the Lord and how he is like a refiner’s fire. But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. Malachi 3:2 NIV

As God has opened my heart and asked me to trust Him fully and completely, I have experienced his love more deeply and more intimately. I am also challenged and tempted in the flesh to a greater degree. I give in too often, and I miss the intimacy and closeness with the Lord. When I indulge my flesh, I am naturally separated from the only thing which truly satisfies ~ my Lord, my God.

So I can waste time pleasure seeking, yet finding no pleasure at all, or submit and obey, deny myself, pick up my cross daily and follow Him. In this process, I must die to myself and submit to the refiner’s fire and allow Him to do His good and perfect work in me.

I ask for your prayers and welcome your experiences of the refiner’ fire in your life. Be blessed! ~♡

Worth the Wait

Sometimes circumstances in our lives make moving forward in a relationship impossible, yet if you truly love and care about a person, you pray for them, and support them even if circumstances require you take a step back. Sometimes God’s plan is to create a stronger foundation of friendship and love, ensuring our priorities are in order. It is a process of dying to self; a process of sanctification.
If we are patient and willing to trust and follow God’s perfect plan, we will be blessed. The blessing may be a wonderful lifelong Christian friendship, or it may be the start of the love of a lifetime. ~♡

I Shall Not Want

As I have journeyed this year, through all God is teaching me, the 23rd Psalm has played a central role.  Over twenty years ago as a new Christian, I fell in love this Psalm and committed it to memory.  I would, and still do, carefully recite it in my head, or aloud, and wonder at all God is telling us through this Psalm.  

About two months ago as I was praying to Papa God, I heard myself say the words “more than anything else, I want…”.  “I want” stuck out to me, and as I continued to pray, I felt the Holy Spirit continue to draw my attention to how much I use this as I cry out to God in prayer.  Immediately I began to recite the 23rd Psalm, The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…(I shall not want, I shall not want).  He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside the still waters, He restores my soul.  He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. 

As I commit myself and the rest of my life to Christ, what can I possibly want?  What has God not already provided for me as I walk through each day.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside the still waters, He restores my soul.  He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  I have more than enough to sustain me through each day and each challenge I face.  He assures me, as I walk intimately close to Him, following where He leads, speaking the words He gives, staying still and silent, He guides and directs me.  I am walking in the path of righteousness for His name’s sake. He has prepared this path for me. 

I notice when I declare what I want, it is often when I have rushed ahead of Him, rushed ahead of the Shepherd, away from the flock.  I am out in the wilderness in places my Shepherd has not intended me to travel. 

My wants are often for the love of my own comfort, the fear of having nothing, or toward a life of worldly passions.  I know my Lord and Savior, my God, knows my heart better than I know my own heart.  He knows what I need as well as what I want, yet above all, He loves me and guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  I have tasted the goodness of God and all He has prepared for me. What more could I possibly want

The first time I heard the song “I Shall Not Want”  by Audrey Assad, I wept as I listened to the words “Deliver me O God, from the need to be understood, from the need to be accepted, from the fear of being lonely, deliver me O God.”   I wept because these are the things I long for most… I want most, more than anything else.  I wonder if God is asking me to look the wants I declare as things driving me to run ahead of His leading.  Are these wants driving me off the path of righteousness, the path He has prepared beforehand that I should walk?

I know Papa God knows my heart.  He sees my desire to be understood, accepted, and not alone as I walk through this life.  These are very human emotions and fears, yet He is asking me to trust Him and seek first to be filled by Him.  He is reminding me to be driven first toward Him, and if these things are driving me to run out ahead of His plan for my life, my desires are out of balance. 

All I can do with this revelation is to turn to Jesus, my Lord and Saviour, and lay it all down at His feet.   I give to Him all my wants and desires as a sacrifice.  I tell Him I love and desire Him above all else and I trust Him because He knows me, understands and accepts me, and has promised He will never leave nor forsake me. ~♡

“I Shall Not Want”

From the love of my own comfort
From the fear of having nothing
From a life of worldly passions
Deliver me O God

From the need to be understood
From the need to be accepted
From the fear of being lonely
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God

And I shall not want, I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want

From the fear of serving others
From the fear of death or trial
From the fear of humility
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God

And I shall not want, I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want

No, I shall not want, I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want

When I taste Your goodness I shall not want

Written by: Audrey Assad, Bryan Brown

Lyrics © MUSIC SERVICES, INC.

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind

Intimacy with God

In a recent bible study I attend, the teacher talked about how God is like a woman in that He wants us focusing on and making Him the center of our hearts and lives.  The bible tells us God is jealous and does not want our attention or affection shared with anyone or anything else.  Exodus 34:14; II Corinthians 11:2

The speaker went on to say when a man really loves a woman, the only thing he sees in a crowded room is her… His attention is drawn fully to her, and the woman wants to feel like he only has eyes for her.  He said he imagines God is like this and he keeps this in mind in his relationship with God.  

I mention this analogy because I have been in a deep exploration and study of what true intimacy with God is and how it is expressed in our lives and our walk with God.

I know we are the bride of Christ, and as a woman, I relate to being a bride in my personal relationship with God.  I have spoken with some men who are puzzled by the intimacy I speak of in my relationship with God.  This has made me wonder and want to ask how a man relates to being the Bride of Christ and how he experiences intimacy with God.

After discussing this with several men friends, I found men shy away from considering themselves personally as the Bride of Christ or Jesus as their groom, stating the references in the bible are metaphorical and the bride is the church as a whole, not individuals.  I can certainly understand this perspective, and I understand the church is the bride of Christ, however, Christ died for His people, which encompass all the individual believers who are the Bride.  From this I see Jesus not just viewing us as a collective, but seeing, knowing, and loving each of us as individuals.  The individuals He gave His life for so we could be with Him for eternity (Savior, but also groom/husband).  Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

I am drilling down because I believe as we see ourselves as Christ’s bride in an individual sense, it can guide our behavior and walk with Him.  Please understand as I speak of intimacy with Jesus, I am not speaking of physical intimacy as we experience in the earthly human marriage, but of the deeply close relationship intellectually, emotionally, spirituality which exists in a healthy marriage and provides satisfaction, security, and comfort.

As an individual who relates personally to being the bride of Christ, I think about my desire for Him, always wanting more, and seeking after His presence daily.  Is this not also how a new bride longs for and desires her groom?  The marriage relationship is two becoming one, and where we invest the greatest amount of time, love, and resources.  I also easily see a godly man longing and desiring to spend time with God, be in His presence.  I see this longing and desire in David and his Psalms.  Isn’t David known as ‘a man after God’s own heart’? (Acts 13:22)

This verse also mentions David in the position of submission and obedience, which is called for from a wife in Ephesians 5:24. David’s position of obedience pleases the Lord, and He says ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’  

This is one of the many Psalms of David that expresses a longing and yearning to connect with God.  Psalm 42:1-2 NIV
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

God desires an intimate relationship with us individually and longs to have us in communion with Him, so much so He gave His only son as a sacrifice to ensure we can return to Him.  I started to look through scriptures to support how much God desires us and longs to have an intimate relationship with us, with me; then I realized the whole bible is a love story.  The love story is about God, who created man, male and female, to be in relationship with us.  We broke His heart with disobedience, not trusting Him to guide our lives, telling Him we could do this on our own, now equipped with the knowledge of good and evil.  From that point on, the bible is a story of God relentlessly pursuing us to bring us back into sacred relationship with Himself.

I continue to seek deeper levels of intimacy with God and understand how to walk this out in my daily life.  The question I am asking is part of my yearning to know and understand intimacy with God, and also learn how others experience or seek to grow their relationship with Him.  I hear people expressing how they fall short and are disobedient and feel distant from God.  They long for a more intimate relationship, but their insecurities keep them from experiencing deeper levels of intimacy with God.

I agree our hangups and disobedience do distance us from God, but not because He moves away and shuns us.  I believe we distance ourselves from God out of our own shame for not living up to the endless love He has for us.  Just as Adam and Eve hid from the Lord God out of shame, we hide from God out of our shame.  The thing is, we no longer need to hide in shame when we fall short, are disobedient, and sin against God.  We need to run toward Him, taking all our fear, angst, shame, telling Him everything.  It’s not like we are hiding anything from Him by running away or distancing ourselves from Him.  He knows everything, sees everything.  Above all else, He sees us covered in the blood of His precious Son Jesus.  Everything separating us from having a deep, intimate relationship with God was destroyed when Jesus gave up His life as a sacrifice to pay our debt of sin. Matthew 27:50-51.

Over the past 22 years since accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I have been disobedient, continue to fall short, and struggle with my own insecurities.  This never seems to end, although I see how I have been broken down and allowed God to do His work in my life.  Through it all, I continue to run to Him, confess when I have sinned, and plead with Him for help when I get stuck in repeating behaviors I know are not a part of His plan for my life.  There is nothing I do that will keep Him from loving me.  He has promised He will never leave me nor forsake me.  He has promised He will follow me in the the depths of hell, so I know there is no need to hide my sin and shame from Him.  I rest in Him and find peace for my soul.  I cast my cares on Him, and He cares for me.  All of this, and I long for more because what I find in Him is good and abundantly above all I could ever expect.  Hebrews 13:5; Psalm 139:8; Matt 11:29; Psalm 34:8; I Peter 4:3; Ephesians 3:20

This article about intimacy with God, echos much of what God has been teaching me this year.  I encourage you to read it and see all the benefits of seeking an intimate relationship with our Lord and Savior! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.~ ♡


Into Faith I Go…

I love how God sends me songs just when I need them, confirming all He is teaching, saying ‘Well done, you are listening!’  It has been a while since I have heard from God in this way and I have missed it, began to crave it.  

This song “Into Faith I Go”, by Pat Barrett, came through my YouTube feed, and once I heard it, I knew it was from God, telling me not to give up, stay the course and keep pushing through. Through this song, I hear Him saying to me, “I know it is scary, I know you are tired, but fear is no longer an option.  Turning back and assuming old behaviors and roles is no longer an option.   I love how you look for me in every experience, every day.  I hear your prayers to know me more intimately.  I hear your prayers to sharpen your eyes to see what I want you to see, to hear what I want you to hear, and the courage to say the things I want you to say in each encounter.   There is so much I want to show you, people I want you to meet, and unspeakable joy to experience.  I am with you, walking beside you, I am so very proud of you my beloved!”

Into Faith I Go

I’ve never been good at change
If I’m honest, it’s always scared me
But I can’t deny this stirring deep inside me
Now I know it’s time to stop resisting
‘Cause I’m not getting any younger
Fear is a such a sad way to live a life
So face to the wind, I’m jumping out, I’m walking in
Every single thing You want to show me
To the ups and downs, the highs and lows
The taking in, the letting go
To tears and laughter, the great unknown
To the open journey, into faith, I go
Into faith, I go
Nobody said this would be easy
Anyone who did never went through anything painful
But faith is not some fragile thing that 
Shatters when we walk through something hard
So, we walk on whatever may come
To the ups and downs, the highs and lows
The taking in, the letting go
To tears and laughter, the great unknown
To the open journey, into faith, I go
Running like a child in an open field
Stepping off the edge, I’m facing all my fears
If this is what it feels like to be born again
I’ll be born again
So when I feel like giving up
When I feel like throwing it all away
I look back over my shoulder
And I can see Your goodness every single step that I have taken
And it beats like a drum
And it rings like a bell
And it sings like a choir
And it’s leading me on my way
Oh, You lead me on my way
To the ups and downs, the highs and lows
The taking in, the letting go
To tears and laughter, the great unknown
To the open journey, into faith, I go
Into faith, I go
Into faith, I go

 

Songwriters: Ed Cash / Pat Barrett
Into Faith I Go lyrics © Music Services, Inc

frozen wave against sunlight
Photo by Hernan Pauccara on Pexels.com

Learning to Dance

As I begin this next adventure, learning to dance with my new friend Joy, I recognize this as a divine appointment You have scheduled, answering my prayer for help to follow You more closely; to teach me to be a better follower.

Learning to ballroom dance with a partner involves many different aspects.  The dance consists of many parts then doing them together without having to think.  Haha, not an easy task!
First, I learn the steps.  The East Coast swing, consists of quick steps, starting with the right foot; triple step, then left foot, tripple step, and a rock back on the right foot.  Practicing the steps over, and over, and over again until it becomes second nature to my body; until I no longer need to think about the steps.
I liken this to learning the word of God.  Steps, or the word of God, need to become second nature to my thought process, popping into my mind supporting wherever God is a leading.

Next is learning to follow.  This is something I struggle with, and why I prayed for God’s help.  In my mind, I rush ahead, responding to whatever is happening around me.  I am driven by stimuli, the things I see, hear, and experience. Rushing ahead, anticipating what will happen next, trying to avoid surprises.  I don’t like not knowing.  I don’t like not being in control.  To follow, I must submit my will to another, a lesson of submission and obedience. I must be open and vulnerable.  I know I will only experience the joy of dance when I let go of control, submit and follow.

There are many different dances, each appropriate for different types of music. There is the waltz, the two step, the swing, in all its various forms, salsa, rumba, tango, and within each dance are many variations in different parts of the country and the world.

This is like the places and people God calls us to serve.  There are right actions, movements, and interactions, specific to each new person, culture, and situation.  Learning to dance and follow God’s leading is a beautiful engaging experience, a beautiful dance.  Through this journey, I listen, feel his leading, follow without hesitation.

As I learn to dance, all I can manage is learning and repeating the basic steps over and over.  Practice, practice, practice, taking every opportunity to dance with a partner.  I remain open and vulnerable, willing to look foolish, make mistakes.  I have found dancers to be kind, helpful, always willing to share what they know.  They offer tips, suggestions, and gentle instruction.

“Take smaller steps”, “keep squared up with your leader”, “as a beginner, don’t miss any steps, just keep repeating the basics”.

Each dance lesson adds new moves, fancier tecniques, challenging me to apply what I know and push the limits.  By the end of each hour, my brain-body connection is shot.  I am no longer able to dance the simplest moves.

I am so grateful God has me on this journey and love how He continues to answer my prayers in the most amazing ways.  I will continue to share what I learn about following, and hope I can soon report I have experienced the joy of submitting and am gracefully gliding across the dance floor, gracefully following my Lord to our next divine appointment. ~♡

products-hope_3

The Touch of Spirit…

God began this journey painting a picture of true love, and planting a seed of hope within my heart of finding a godly loving man to spend the rest of my life with as husband and wife.

I also know God often uses these ideals to lead, when His intention may only be to teach valuable lessons, and show how much He loves me.
As I have found opportunities to share my story with others, I hope to bring healing, encouragement, and comfort.  I know my vulnerability and optimism may be seen as naivete or wrongly encouraging idealism and fantasy, yet I am convinced God wants me to share and encourage others.

At the beginning of this journey my world was small and compartmentalized.  I was closed off, shut down, living as a tightly closed bud. The image of a shell tightly closed, much like an oyster where a grain of sand had gotten in and a pearl began forming. With the shell of the oyster tightly closed, no one is aware of the beautiful pearl hidden inside.  The image of a poem by Rumi comes to mind, which I think describes the precipice or the crux of where I was at the beginning of this journey.

There is some kiss we want
with our whole lives,
the touch of Spirit on the body.

Seawater begs the pearl
to break its shell.

And the lily, how passionately
it needs some wild Darling!

~ Rumi

This image of the tightly closed shell and the seawater begging to break in and release its pearl, speaks to my heart and what I’ve been longing for.  I know God knows the desires of my heart better than I know the desires of my heart.  I believe God provided an opportunity to have my heart opened.  In opening my heart, I become vulnerable, yet the beauty inside my heart is now being shared.  The love, compassion, and everything God has placed inside, I am sharing to bless his children for his Kingdom.
Sharing my personal story, I hope to encourage others as God leads. I put it all out there to destroy the lies of the enemy I hear God’s children repeating. I share my failures, flaws, weaknesses, and then speak of God’s great redeeming power and promises He speaks over my life and wispers in my ear in my darkest hours.  I am not naive, nor am I blind to the fallen world in which we live.  I struggle with sin, as I know we all do.  I know as I open my heart to the possibility of love and marrying again, I will face trials and challenges.  This is all part of two flawed people learning to love and relate to each other.  I also believe that as we make Jesus the sovereign King over our lives, we will go through the process of sanctification and are transformed into the likeness of Christ.  The marriage relationship is more about becoming one with God than each individual’s personal comfort and satisfaction.  In sharing my heart and my journey, I have complete trust in God’s perfect plan and will for my life.  I trust this process knowing that as I seek His face daily, I keep my hands and my heart wide open, letting go of expectations of the outcome.  This means I know there may not be a love relationship with a man for me at the end. What I do know is that I give the rest of my life, my whole life, to serving His Kingdom for the glory of His name, using my creative gifts and partnering with others for this purpose. ~♡

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Too Late, Too Damaged…

I married in my early twenties, knowing it was for all the wrong reasons… we both had doubts we should be together.  When you are young, you lack wisdom, but have energy, hope and naivete in spades.  Sometimes life breaks us down as we go through trials,  our hearts are broken… We either turn to God and allow Him to do His perfect work on our hearts, or we become bitter, cynical, and lose hope.

For my story, I feel more hopeful, healthy, and equipped to be in a godly loving relationship than any other time in my life.  I have been divorced for over twenty years, only dating about two years after my divorce.  When I finally fully gave my life to Christ, I entered into a covenant relationship with Him, and I stopped dating, committing to grow in my relationship with God.  During these years I focused on my career, my education, and becoming deeply rooted in my faith and love for Jesus.

Just this year I felt God stirring me, challenging me to open my heart, let go of all my fears, doubts, and need to predict and control outcomes, just ‘fall’ in love… Through this journey, my heart has opened and I am experiencing a deep connection with God/Jesus/Holy Spirit.  In this, I feel incredibly vulnerable.  I am learning this is the absolute best place to be.  It is when I am most vulnerable, God does His best work.  In this state, I am completely dependent, and intimately aware of my need for Him.  In this place, I desperately need His leading and guidance.

As I submit and cling to Him, staying intimately close, I am connecting with others, and experiencing incredible divine appointments on a regular basis.  Focusing on deepening my relationship with Him, keeping my heart wide open, is the perfect place and time for a godly loving relationship to develop.

There was a point several years ago I felt the chance for a godly loving relationship was gone, and I resolved to being alone and single for the rest of my life.  Now I know God’s timing is always perfect.  In His perfect plan and will for my life, there is never a too old, too late, or too damaged.  I know every day God has something new and wonderful to show me as I risk being vulnerable and commit to keeping my heart wide open. ~♡

Beauty for ashes small

You Matter to Me…

On this God led, healing journey, my heart has opened, I’ve fallen in love, and my heart’s been broken… beautifully broken, revealing all of what God wants to heal.

This journey started well over a year ago when I started talking to Papa God about the condition of my heart and inviting Him in…  Through this, He has walked with me side by side, showing me the fractured condition of my heart, and revealing the behaviors which lead me down roads which are not a part of His perfect plan for my life.

In this process, God challenged me to let go of control and fall in love.  Through this, He teaches me how falling in love is an essential part of having an intimate relationship with Him, holding nothing back, allowing myself to fully give and receive His love.

My Papa God knows me like no other, and He knows how I learn.  Through this, He brought a wonderful Christian man into my life and we began corresponding as of January first after a chance, online encounter New Year’s eve.  I believe it was through this long-distance connection God provided a safe way for me to ‘fall in love’, letting go of the need to control and figure everything out, stay in the safety of my head.  With this man I found a kindred spirit, someone who was interested in the things I said, enjoyed my quirky creative spirit, challenged me, and helped grow my understanding and love for God.  God used our connection to reveal the special gifts He has given me, using them to minister, while at the same time blessing me with my friend’s special gifts of encouragement, kindness, and sacrificial love.

We shared little bits of our lives with each other through email, texts, and phone calls. We prayed for each other as we faced challenges, both large and small.  When my friend faced a difficult, life changing decision, I prayed for him.  The challenges he faced and the decisions he made to manage the circumstances in his life, made it impossible for us to continue our correspondence and growing friendship.  This broke my heart and affected me at a much deeper level than I expected and have struggled to understand.  God has been with me through it all, letting me know how much He loves me.  He reminds me daily He is with me, true to His promise He will never leave me nor forsake me.

Papa God sends me songs to help me understand all He is teaching me, or wants me to know, and in an effort to help me through this loss, this unfamiliar pain I am feeling, He sent me the song You Matter to Me.  Through this song, I feel Him telling me the loss I feel so deeply is because, with my friend, I felt a connection, a deep and meaningful connection.  I felt I mattered, and the things I said, mattered to someone.  There was someone in my life I deeply cared for, and his life mattered to me. I felt seen, loved and cherished for who I am, all of me, flaws and all.  I know I loved and cherished him, all of him, all of his perfect imperfections.  He was my friend and I let myself fall in love.  I did so knowing there was ‘very little hope’ of us ending up together, but I let that go to trust in God and His perfect will and plan.  I let go of needing to control and predict outcomes in an effort to protect my heart.  In this, God asked me to open my heart completely because to truly understand His love I need to risk getting my heart broken.  This is how God loves, this is how God loves me and how He will love others through me; with my whole heart, fully open, completely vulnerable. ~ ♥

Purple High-Top Chucks

I have wanted a pair of purple high-top Chuck Taylor sneakers for a while.  Maybe even as long ago as five years.  They symbolize a right of passage, moving from the norms and expectations for a “woman of a certain age”, and letting go of the need to please anyone but my Creator and myself.  God created me exactly how He did for His plan and purpose, and I know this includes the wide eyed little girl who ran when she heard the doorbell ring, sure her purple Chucks would be sitting on the porch!  Their arrival had her jumping up and down, barely able to contain her excitement.

Thoughts of paring them with a skirt, dress, or a pair of shorts had me giddy at thinking of the outlandish statement I would make.

I had this pair made using the customize option through Converse.com. I picked purple of course, and added “Only Love” text on the side wall, and “God is Love” on the outside lower heel.

Purple is the color of royalty and serves to remind me I am a princess, a daughter of the King.  I  stand firm on the truth that God is Love, and Love is all there is, only love, only God.  As I put on these shoes, they remind me as I walk in the world, I desire to tell the good news of peace, and walk in His truth as a representative of His Kingdom whose foundation is Love. ~ ♡

Ephesians 10 – 19

10 Finally, let the mighty strength of the Lord make you strong. 11 Put on all the armor that God gives, so you can defend yourself against the devil’s tricks. 12 We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world. 13 So put on all the armor that God gives. Then when that evil day comes, you will be able to defend yourself. And when the battle is over, you will still be standing firm.

14   Be ready! Let the truth be like a belt around your waist, and let God’s justice protect you like armor. 15 Your desire to tell the good news about peace should be like shoes on your feet. 16 Let your faith be like a shield, and you will be able to stop all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Let God’s saving power be like a helmet, and for a sword use God’s message that comes from the Spirit.

18 Never stop praying, especially for others. Always pray by the power of the Spirit. Stay alert and keep praying for God’s people. 19 Pray that I will be given the message to speak and that I may fearlessly explain the mystery about the good news.

Purple Chucks