Monday, December 28, 2009

My Thoughts on Tiger Woods, Elin, and God's Redemptive Power

I am not one to weight in on the Hollywood babble business. In fact, I only recall one time when I had anything to say about specific celebrity character. You can wander through my archives and see that I could empathize all too well with Michael Vick and his need for salvation, redemption, and restoration. No, I've never fought dogs, but I have sinned, and I am as much in need of God's mercy and the Holy Spirit's heart changing within me as he is.

Now, I again empathize with a celebrity that has proven too human for most folks' tastes.

Today I was on Facebook, and someone made a off-hand comment about Tiger needing to talk to a variety of other "fallen" sports figures so people who know how to spin things can deal with the media, his sponsors, and so on.

Let me put this in clear perspective for you. A Christian is saying Tiger Woods needs to find folks who can make his lie look better and get him out of hot water with folks. If that weren't enough, the focus is all about the folks that don't matter in the first place. The focus has nothing to do with his family, specifically his wife. Why not? Isn't she the one that he needs to reach at this point?

I wonder: is it that this person, and others like her, are so worldly that the world's way of thinking pervades their thoughts, or are they so hopeless that God does not pervade their thoughts?

This is the way I see it. Tiger and his family don't need spin doctors. They don't need caustic remarks or shallow attempts at humor at their expense.

Tiger Woods and his lovely wife need to know Jesus and His restorative and redeeming power. They need to be inundated with letters from people who have survived adultery, been healed from its desires and effects, and walk in God's restoration of their covenant.

Either God is sovereign--even over adultery--or He's not.

Do Tiger and Elin know that? Do people in the church? If we do, why aren't we spending our time praying for them instead of trashing them? If we don't, how can we hope they ever will?

And in case you are wondering, I know God is sovereign. It is more than a belief. It is absolute assurance to the core of my being. If you need someone to pray with you or stand with you, please contact me via my profile email. God's heart is always for healing, redemption, salvation, and restoration. Always.
Saturday, December 26, 2009

Ponder: Grace

"I think anyone who is not fantastically amazed by grace does not truly understand it." -- Jerri Phillips
Friday, December 25, 2009

Divine Divinity

My grandma has been gone for over six years now. Years before that, her mind abandoned her. For the most part, she has been gone to me for over fifteen years now. For some reason, this Christmas finds me missing her immensely.

There are two things I remember with great fondness when I think of my grandma: gardening and divinity. Gardening as in flowers and vegetables. Divinity as in the candy.

I used to work with my grandma in the garden a lot. I helped her plant the garden, pick the veggies, and can the harvest. My definition of ambrosia? Grandma's black eyed peas, canned in a jar, hot and poured over a slice of bread. Food does not get much better than that.

I didn't help Grandma cook much. I never fried chicken with her or made cream gravy, but I did wear my arm out a few times using her old whisk to make meringue for her pies. And on a few special occasions, we made divinity.

I have not had divinity since the last time we made it together over two decades ago...until today.

For reasons I do not know, I needed divinity this Christmas, so I pulled out a recipe a friend sent me. Mary and I made cookies together a few years ago, and I mentioned my grandma and her divinity. Mary sent me a copy of her divinity recipe, and I've kept it like a treasure waiting to be enjoyed.

I went to the store and bought the ingredients, all the while wondering if I could do this on my own. All the while missing my grandma, wishing for one more Christmas to make this candy with her.

Today I took time to deliver some yummies and clean the house, and when everything was done, I pulled out my recipe, looked at Mary's writing, and saw my grandma's face. I could do this, but did I want to? Did I really want to do this by myself? I tucked the recipe back into my cookbook and did other things.

When the doorbell rang, I was surprised. When I opened the door, our neighbor stood with a container in her hands. "Mom made this for your family. It's homemade candies."

The box was filled with a variety goodies. I wasn't sure what they all were, but on top was unmistakable treasure, the divine kind that only God can deliver, the kind that comes in the form of white fluffy divinity.

People ask me how I hear God speak, how He communicates His love for me. Sometimes He speaks in a voice I've come to know. Sometimes He speaks through His written Word. And sometimes, like today, He does it with divine divinity.

Copyright 2009 Jerri Phillips

The Gifts of Jesus

If I could give you all a gift today, I would give you Christ, not as you probably know Him, but as the passionate pursuer of you, His Beloved.

I would give you Christ the Healer who desires to heal your body, mind, and spirit, who isn't afraid of your hurts or the anger and hopelessness that may go with them.

I would give you a Counselor who can help you move beyond all boundaries and prisons, preconceived ideas, small-minded lies spoken by small-minded and small-faithed people, and fear so you can live in the wildness of who He is, into the wildness of who you were created to be in Him.

I would give you the Savior who can take everything you've ever done and rip its weight from you and let you fly in Him.

I would give you the Friend who is too good to be true, the one that never leaves, the one that always understands, the one who is never afraid of being real, and who only speaks the Truth--loving, uplifting, life-giving. The one who never has alterior motives, but always leads you back where you need to go, to the real you, to the real God.

I would give you the Jesus that values you more than you value yourself, the one that knows how special you really are, the one who embraces your strengths...and weaknesses, and sees unfathomable potential in you.

I would give you the Jesus that right now is calling your name with arms open wide, hodling out all of these gifts and more, and I would give you the courage to believe everything He promises you.

In fact, I offer Him to you now.

If you have never accepted Jesus as your Savior or if there is some other aspect of Him I have described that you do not know, His gifts are only a prayer away. He is no respecter of persons, and He never turns away someone who seeks Him. All you need do is ask.

Salvation is not complicated. To receive Jesus as your Savior, you need to confess that you are a sinner, that you believe He died to save you from those sins, and that you want Him to forgive you for them. Ask Him to be all He wants to be in your life. He wants to be all I've listed and more.

If you are saved but don't know Jesus as a Counselor, Healer, Lover, Friend, or a myriad of other facets of His identity, ask Him to reveal Himself to you as such. Ask Him to open your eyes to see Him that way. If you are like me, you may need to ask Him to free you from beliefs the prevent you from seeing Him in all His fullness. He will. He is excited to share Himself with you. I have found we underestimate His passion for us far more than we overstate it.

And maybe you need the gift of seeing yourself as He sees you. If so, that is available for the asking, too. Again, you may need to ask for the courage to believe what He says and to embrace it so you can live in the Truth of you. He will give you that gift as well.

If you have questions or have accepted Jesus as your Savior and want more information, please contact me via my profile. You'll find my email there, or post a comment here. Nothing shows up without my approval, so if you want to comment with your contact information but not have it public, just let me know.

Merry Christmas, dear ones! May you find the greatest gifts of all in the only One who can give you everything you need!
Thursday, December 24, 2009

Right Now

Tomorrow is Christmas Day. Promises of desired goodies will be piled high under the tree. The aroma of turkey, ham, and the fixin's will fill the house. Laughter and squeals of joy will ring through the rooms. It's going to be a wonderful day...tomorrow.

Right now, the floors need swept and mopped. The bathroom counter needs wiped down, and the mirror needs the smudges removed. Papers and magazines need to find homes, either in baskets or the recycle bin. Ingredients sit on the table waiting to be made into something mouthwatering. And, as usual, a few gifts remain in need of wrapping. Yes, I still have a to do list...right now.

But tomorrow... Tomorrow the waiting is over. Dreams come to life. Fulfillment pours from boxes, and rejoicing is abundant.

Tomorrow...dishes will fill the sink...and sit stacked on the counter. The refrigerator will have to be rearranged to hold the leftovers we don't want to spoil. Ripped wrapping paper and boxes will lie like carnage in heaps around the room. Recycle bins will overflow.

But right now those things don't matter. They are easily hidden in the shadow of the promised joy seen in the eyes of those I love and in the boxes under the tree. Right now I am lost in the promises of tomorrow, escaping the dreary demands of today.

And in the dreaming of tomorrow, it is easy to miss the blessings of Right Now.

Right now my daughter is laughing while she helps her dad wrap presents. My son is playing with his new Lego set he received in the mail today. The sky is dropping fat snow flakes.

Right now Anna is twelve and loves to cook with me. Robert is nine and wants all of us to play. Games are waiting to be played. Pieces of wood are ready to try a new form of art. Cocoa is ready to be enjoyed, and we have plans to watch a movie curled up together.

Right now I am sitting in my warm home, with my warm socks, and my hot coffee. Light streams through the window, and when I look out, I see the sky filled with clouds pregnant with enough snow to cover the ground. This is no small thing in Texas.

Right now the world is a wondrous place filled with God's blessings. I am overwhelmed with His goodness and gifts. My imperfect life with all its demands and needs abounds with fulfilled promises and evidence of His love. In this moment, I have all I need, and that is enough, and I choose to enjoy it...Right Now.

Copyright 2009 Jerri Phillips

The Reason

Good morning, LORD.
Right now, it is quiet in the house. The light is peaking over the neighbor's fence into the backyard, and the lights are glowing softly on the tree. Before long, the family will be up moving. Breakfast smells will seep from the kitchen, and the busy day of preparing for guests and gifts will begin. Right now, though, there are only the two of us.

In the quiet, I stop to ponder. It is so easy to let the "Reason" get avalanched under the "season". I've done a lot of "seasoning" this year, and I don't want the real stuff, the good stuff, the life-altering stuff to get buried or missed. So I'm getting still, pondering what is in my heart, pondering the Gift and the Giver, knowing to celebrate the Gift is not to merely see a babe in a manger or a Messiah on a cross, but to see, know, and embrace the daily presence of a GOD of love whose passion refuses to keep Him aloof or on a throne but compels Him to wildly pursue those He loves.

This is what I ponder now. The gift of pursuit. The gift of being found.

Growing up, I knew about the babe in the manger. Later, I understood the power of the Messiah on the cross. With tender healing, soft touch, and loving words, you showed me the heart of a Father. A few years ago you begin to reveal to me the passion of a Lover. Each new facet you revealed left me overwhelmed with you, overcome by the reality of a God madly in love with mere humans. Beyond my wildest dreams was a God who cared more about the details of my life than I did, who was far more realistic about my imperfections than I am but saw far more potential than I ever dreamed, and believed I could do the impossible because He wanted to do it through me. This God pursued me.

Even now such Truth takes my breath away. Such amazing beautiful gifts.

As always, you are the Giver. As always, you are the Gift.

This year you gave again. You gave me a gift I wasn't sure existed. I wasn't sure it could exist between an imperfect human and a perfect God. You stepped down from your throne and sat on my couch, and you became my Friend.

You have talked to me intimately. You have shared your heart in ways I never dreamed you would. We have sat together and watched the sun rise while you painted the sky for me to enjoy. You shared lovely morning concerts as we sat on my deck and listened to the birds serenade you. You opened your heart to me as we talked about people you love, how you want to bless them, healing you want to do, and then you asked I would use my authority you've given me to declare into my realm, to bring heaven to earth.

My realm. The place you opened your arms to and said, "I need you to govern here and do my bidding. I need you to be me where those whose spiritual eyes aren't opened see me in the form of you."

So many times you've placed pieces of heaven into my hands and said, "I need you to deliver this into your realm."

In an ICU room while monitors beeped and life was freed from his clay vessel, you sat with us. You allowed me to see you so clearly there. It was a side of you I had never seen. A side I hope I never forget. So patient. So understanding. So focused on the one you were taking home.

When my heart hurt more than I ever imagined it could without exploding in my chest, you were right with me. When I screamed, you never flinched. When I cried, you caught every tear in your hand. Sometimes you spoke. Sometimes you sat quietly. Always you were there.

As I knelt on my knees searching for seedlings breaking through the ground, you were on your knees, peering at the ground with me, and at the hint of life, you got excited, too. And I loved how you wondered at the blossoms on the plants you created. Maybe "wondered" isn't the right word, but "enjoy" is really too small of a word. It was a pleasure that settled down deep inside you. I had never seen pleasure like that. Maybe next year, you can give me that gift, too?

And the morning glories! They exploded their praise to you, and you walked by, gently brushing your hand over them, as if to tell them they had done well, that they had given you a beautiful gift, and that you were pleased.

Oh, and do you remember the one lone sunflower that couldn't take its eyes off you but followed you from morning till dark? I loved that flower. I know. You did, too.

Even when I am "ugly" and struggling with attitudes or temptations, you are right there. "Talk to me. Why is this a temptation for you? What do you feel you are missing? Where do you feel I've failed you or didn't keep my promise? I want to lay this out in the open because I love you to much to let you think I would ever lie to you or not be all I promised to be. I want you to know I am wholly your Provider and your King. I want you to realize I'm not afraid of imperfections. I will not abandon you. When the enemy comes at you, I'm right with you, and we'll tear apart his strategy, understand why has worked in the past, and fix the broken area that allowed his access by filling it with Truth. I'm not 'skeered, Jerri. I'm in. For everything. Everyday. I'm your Friend. Talk to me."

These are the things I ponder. These are the things that humble me and bring tears to my eyes.

My heart is overwhelmed with you.

I am overwhelmed by how completely tangible you are, how clearly I see you now, and how loud your quiet whisper is.

I'm still trying to grasp how completely fascinated you are with me. You love taking things that most people dismiss as minutea, and you make it wondrous simply because you care about it. You get to excited when I find a gift you've given me. You love to surprise me. You get giddy with excitement when we share a joke or I find one of your "just between us" gifts. And I am amazed at how childlike is the God of the universe.

You fascinate me.

In Song of Songs, it says, "You have stolen my heart, oh beautiful one. You have stolen my heart." Words you spoke to me a month ago, wrap around me, opening my eyes to see you more clearly, to see me through your eyes.

You have utterly swept me off my feet. You have stolen my heart, oh beautiful one. You have stolen my heart.

You are more than an almighty GOD or a Messiah raised to glory. You are my Friend that I can't wait to see every day. The one I can't wait to share my life with, the one whose heart I want to know intimately. You are the one who takes me beyond my dreams into a love that consumes you...or perhaps you are the love that consumes me.

Right now, the house is coming alive. Children are now moving around. Murmurings of empty stomachs are coming my way. Feet are heard on the hard wood floors, and anticipation for the season's climax fills the air.

In twenty-four hours the empty area under the tree will be filled with brightly covered packages spilling into the room around it. In thirty-six hours, the mayhem of ripped paper, empty boxes, and stuffed bellies will be over. Travelling family will have gone home. The first wave of dishes will be drying in the dishwasher. The recycle bins will be overflowing, and hopefully, the children will still love their toys then.

And when the house has gone silent, you and I will sit, lights glowing softly from a tree soon to go back in the attic. Maybe we'll talk. Maybe we won't, but we will be together...friends and more...both of us the gifts...both of us the givers...our hearts wide open...fascinated and consumed...such is the wonder of the Reason...every single day.

Copyright 2009 Jerri Phillips
Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lovely Gifts

This morning I walked through my home in the early morning light and found myself wrapped in the joy of loving my life.

The fact is, I love my life.

I love the race car track spread out in the sunroom floor.
I love Anna's "I'm reading that" books liking here and there. Four in all right now.
I love the sleeping bags rolled up nicely and sitting misplaced in my bedroom floor, knowing on any given night, for reasons I may never know, my youngest will wander in, unroll one, and find peaceful rest sleeping on it on my side of the bed.
I love Robert's stained and wrinkled memory verse paper lying crinkled on the table beside the recliner where we learn the scriptures together.
I love pens, pencils, and crayons waiting for their next creative adventure. I wonder if they ever considered waiting in the tubs with the rest of the pens, pencils, and crayons. But then, what is the fun in being like everyone else, right?
I love Robert's waking up really early to see Rob off to work and then falling asleep in my lap in the recliner, where I leave him while I type in a few words of thought or sit a bit at Jesus' feet. Sometimes I just stay in the reclner, peaceful nine-year old spread across me, in wonder of how much his act of love reveals God's love for me.
I love the sound of our Millie-Mix snoring on the couch close to us. An abandoned dog tagged for destruction, rescued, loved, restored. In so many ways, I can identify.
I love the unmade bed where Rob and I spent a few moments this morning whispering in the dark, warm and content--and then the alarm went off....again.
I love the smile of remembering...
I love Bibles stacked in different parts of the house. Different versions. Different study notes. All used at different times.
I love the huge Christmas tree standing in the living room with its decades of ornaments...each one a piece of our history, a symbol of what has made our present...and the stories...the smiles...the sneaky tears that come with memories of those rejoicing in the wonder of Christmas every day...at Home.
I love the sun spilling through the windows, the creative remodel design bringing sunlight where darkness used to be.
I love coats waiting to keep us warm, mittens to protect precious hands, and scarves...a gift from Gran.
This morning I even love the two piles of laundry sitting in the living room waiting to be folded...and now ironed.
I love the Kleenex boxes, not put in away in tidy cubbies, but sitting out ready to render aid during this season of sniffly noses and too common sneezes.

Funny how things on a driven day--the day when I'm drowning in my to do list or the day when I'm concerned not so much about the people who live in this house but about what those outside think of it--funny how on those days, a book on a table instead of a shelf, a toy in the floor and not in a bedroom, or a child who is more concerned with how to love than how things look can be such nerve fraying burdens. However, there are times when wisdom whispers louder than the cacophony of life's uninterested demands, and I stop and ask, "Lord, what do you love?" When I listen closely, I find He loves the same things I do.

In that moment, I love my life all over again.


Copyright Jerri Phillips 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009

Grief

I started this nearly a month ago. However, due to the many activities and illnesses--not to mention a loss of words--it has not been finished. Tonight as I read over it again, precious people I love who are grieving a variety of losses due to death are on my mind. With a desire to help, I offer this:

In the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday morning, our family was called in to say goodbye as my uncle slipped from this world of broken bodies into the eternal one with perfected souls. Family and friends gathered to grieve and celebrate the life and love we experienced while we were blessed with his presence. Surrounded by people who loved him, he left us to be with Jesus.


Who could blame him?


Mortal bodies are broken things. They break down, and we patch them up. They are not meant to last forever, and eventually, they are beyond all of our abilities to mend. Sometimes the effort of living with the brokenness is tolerable, and sometimes...well, at some point, it is easier to simply let it go.


It was time to let it go. Time for him to let go of fighting to hold onto this temporary place, and for us to let go of him.


I'm not going to tell you the world is a darker place. It isn't. In fact, it is still a world filled with possibility. While the Lord led my uncle home, He introduced two new bundles of promise to our mortal reality. Two more answers to prayer. Two more answers to the world's problems. Two more lights to shine in the darkness. It's not a darker place, but for several of us, it is a sadder one.


I don't know when the sadness will pass. My dad has been gone over six years, and sometimes I'm still sad. Sometimes tears still find their way down my cheeks. It is because of this that I lift up my cousins to the Lord. Their grief is so deep today. Their hearts so raw. But then, why wouldn't they be? They each left a chunk of their hearts in a coffin at a cemetery today. Open heart surgery of the most unwelcome kind.


I try to think of what to tell them. Having walked this road before them, what road map can I offer? I look in all the nooks and crannies of my psyche...of my still falling tears...and I find so little. I pick up the parts I keep tripping over and hold them out hoping they offer some form of wisdom.


Grieve deeply. It's okay. It is not weakness to grieve. It is not faithless or hopeless or failure. It is what comes when our arms are forced to release what our hearts hold dear.


Laugh boisterously. Don't just laugh. Laugh with your whole body, your whole mind, your whole heart. It is okay to be joyful again, and to remember and be joyful gives great honor to the one you love.

Celebrate what they were...and what they weren't. When our friend David passed on, we were all thirty-three years old with small children. Instead of grieving his death, I chose to celebrate his life. He taught science, so my children and I either visited the science museum or did experiments at home. He loved music, so we sang loudly. His favorite thing was his family. We had a big family night with special food, a special movie, or a special game. We celebrated David.

When my dad passed on, my heart was shattered by the empty places left by the dad he wasn't. For a long time, I was angry, and I asked God, "How are you going to redeem this? How are you going to heal this? How are you going to restore this?" He redeemed it by putting in my heart the idea to be the parent I wanted my dad to be. I sat down and made a list of things I wished my dad had done, and I did them with my children. Sometimes I made check lists to be sure I covered everything. Did I read to them? Did I play with them? Did we snuggle? Did I pray over them? Did I speak something positive into them? This was my daily check list, and on my dad's birthday, I did special things that fell into the realm of things he never had time to do.

My questions about healing and restoration brings me to the next thing--be willing to let God fill the gaps. I never expected God to heal and restore me by giving me another dad, but He did. My dad had been gone a little over two years when my step-dad proposed to my mom. I liked my step-dad a lot, and it never bothered me that they were going to get married. I thought it was great for my mom. I had no idea what a powerful healing presence he would be for my mom, myself, and my brother. It leaves me in awe. The impact is that profound.

So don't be afraid to let God heal you. Wylie has never tried to take my dad's place. He's just himself, and I am proud to introduce him as my dad because he is. I've been blessed with two great dads, and I am thankful for them both. It's okay to let God do something new. It does not diminish the love for the person lost. It simply embraces the promise of something new.

Let God do a new thing. In Isaiah 43, the Lord says He is doing a new thing. He is making streams in the wastelands and water in the desert. Have the courage to do a new thing, to let God speak life and hope into your wasteland and desert. So often we prolong the grief or deepen it by looking back. For me, it was Mondays. My dad passed on a Monday, and every Monday sent me into a tizzy. One day I told our friend Chris that Dad had been gone nine weeks, and Chris asked, "And why are we counting this?" I had no idea. It brought no honor to my dad. It only swallowed my day in a sense of loss. Why do that? So I quit. I allowed God to make a new Monday routine, and I moved on.

I think for people who have been care givers it can be intensely hard to find a new normal. It is hard to go from being a necessity to not being needed. Except, you aren't "not needed." You are still here because you are still a solution and someone still needs you. Find a new way to be useful. I'll give you a little tip: Shopping may be a good escape, but it isn't feeding your need to be useful, so you won't feel any better $20,000 of debt later than you do right now. However, dropping off a meal, reading to children, just visiting someone that appreciates you is good therapy.

Of course, the reality is no matter how much you "bounce back" there are going to be hard days. Roll with them. There will be things that blindside you. Don't fight it but don't wallow in it. The first Christmas I was married, my dad wanted a red lumberjack shirt. I looked everywhere but didn't find one. The first Christmas he was gone, I was shopping in a store, had stuff in my cart, looked up, and in the middle of the aisle was a whole round rack of red lumberjack shirts. Suddenly, I couldn't breathe. A wave of emotion slammed me. I grabbed my purse and headed for the car--cart still sitting with stuff in it in the middle of the aisle. I jerked the door of my van closed just in time to fall apart. I held onto the steering wheel and sobbed until all the sobs were done. I went home and took a nap. Later, I went back to that store, bought what I needed, walked by the red lumberjack shirts, and didn't feel any reaction at all. It really was okay.

I don't think there is one way to grieve. In my journal, I wrote, "While loss is personal, it is universal. Grief is as generic as aspirin and as individual as the person taking it." While no one can tell us the specifics of the right way to grieve, I think there are general things we can do along the way to keep from hindering the process. For what it is worth, these are a few of the things I found worked for me. Maybe they'll bless someone else, too.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gratitude 27--Everyday Extraordinary

Moments when I whisper, "Thank you, Lord," that bring a smile to my face and joy to my heart...moments when appreciate is real and deep...moments when I am intoxicated with joy or relief. Slipping past at the speed of life...appearing suddenly...disappearing subtly...in my own silence...

Lord, today, I choose to hold on to the extraordinary in the everyday...to You showing wondrously showing Yourself in the mundane...

And I grasp...

676. Veins and arteries with blood and ink coursing through the legs of my dad
677. A surprised doctor trying to explain the difference between a sonogram spotted with blockage and a scope that finds nothing
678. A little boy, wondrous, laughing, asking to be tickled...again
679. 30 purple scarves for 30 women whose lives are wrapped up in Whose they are to be, not what they are to do

680. Conversations I never want to forget
Me to Son: You are acting like a dorkoid.
Son laughing: Mom, that is what boys are supposed to do.
Me feigning dismay: Oh! Here I thought I had you so you could do dishes and the laundry, but really, your whole purpose is to be a dorkoid?
Son with eyes twinkling, laughter about to explode: Uh, yeah. Sorry for the confusion.

681. Quiet in the house
6582. A day for hubby to resettle and relax
683. Bare feet on a wooden floor, so much for quiet mice. :-)
684. Good books to get to know
685. Warm blankets
686. Chilly nights
687. Cups of warm coziness
688. Hoody jackets

689. A wonderful brother, celebrating the masterpiece he is
690. An amazing homeschool co-op
691. Encouraging emails that settle deep in my heart
692. A husband who can drive our family safely to appointments when I am too dizzy to drive
693. Negative flu tests
694. Four young ladies who make photography so much fun
695. Two drama students who do not let missing cast members stop the show
696. Sister who sleeps in Little Brother's room when he needs company
697. Crushed ice
698. Early bedtimes
699. Fans for white noise
700. People with compassionate hearts who pray for strangers in need
701. High school students that add a punctuation of joy to my Fridays
702. Gifts that remind me of friends far away.
703. Rechargable batteries
Thursday, November 19, 2009

Even on Days Like Today

God is good. And I know it. Even on days like today.

Today is a hard day. Actually, I've had a serious of tiring days, which is why I have been gone so long.

About five weeks ago I had to go into the doctor because I had symptoms of the flu. Thankfully, it was a sinus infection. The head got better just in time for me to have a reaction to the antibiotic. Got past that in time for my youngest to get sick, and when he doesn't sleep well, I don't sleep well. Got us mostly well, and my uncle passed on. I don't know if it was really unexpected, but despite what anyone says, there really is no way to prepare yourself for it. The next weekend was the fabulous Keeper of the Flame Proverbs 31 conference. I missed Friday because my husband was so ill. That was two weeks ago. My husband went to the doctor today. Whatever he had is now an infection. And of course in the midst of this are the everyday things of laundry, groceries, homeschool, and other commitments.

All of that flowed right into today.

Today started rough.

I woke up at 5:00 a.m. with a horrendous earache. Finally got the pressure relieved and lay down to doze about 7:00. Woke up to find out my mom had called. Her brother was in emergency surgery following a heart attack last night. The next 24 hours are critical.

My son has not had the best day. Barometric pressure changes knock him for a loop, and the rest of us are along for the ride.

Realized someone I love is not adjusting to some major life changes very well. That was hard to see.

And my family is packing for an impromptu, but very necessary, trip to my in-laws over the weekend. Due to previous commitments, I won't be going, but I might as well be. I am still getting everyone ready to go, and of course, there are all the last minute things like realizing our two suitcases are broken and the children's small suit cases are...small. Errands to run. Laundry to wash, dry, and fold. Last minute shopping to do. And then, I found out my dad's wonderfully affection and fun dachshund was run over and killed. My heart breaks for my dad, who is so very saddened by his loss.

And if I may be honest, I am so tired. My head hurts so much from the tension in my shoulders and neck that I feel like I could cry, but I won't because if I did, it would only hurt worse.

Yeah, a hard day. And now I'm crying.

Still, God is good. He still loves me. He is right with me. He hurts for the people for whom I hurt.

He holds my dad's hand and sits beside him whispering words of comfort, touching his chest gently.

He listens to my cousin grieve for her dad and sees her hurting heart instead of listening to her hurtful words.

He has his arm around my aunt sitting in the ICU waiting room asking Him to let her husband live.

He rides the mood waves with Robert and thinks he is still phenomenally amazing, and He still find great joy in His this fabulously creative creation of His. I wonder when Robert makes something new, if God says, "Yeah, he gets that from me." A pretty neat thought actually.

And when Anna makes clay beads and spends hours meticulously mixing clay and decorating them so they look exactly alike, does He see His own perfect hand working in hers and through hers? Does He stand behind her, His hand wrapped around, disappearing into hers? How much joy does He get from such pleasure of being part of her and her being part of Him?

And on days like today, when I pick up my computer and decide I will not let Satan steal this day--the day when my Lover chooses not to condemn my weakness but to show His strength--do His hands rest on mine as mine wander across the keyboard? Does He whisper these words I write? Is He reading over my shoulder? A smile on His beautiful face? And how excited is He that in all these things I see Him and am insanely, excitedly aware of Him?

How much joy does it give Him for me to find such great joy in Him...even on days like today?

Copyright Jerri Phillips 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009

Gratitude 26--Normal, Everyday Gratitude

Last week, my uncle, Lanny Ray Kelley, passed on to be with Jesus. I spent several days doing whatever my cousin needed. Today I am home, and it's just a normal, everyday day. I'm thankful.

Thank you, God for...
651. being home with my children today.
652. a great night's sleep.
653. the ability to turn the ringer off the phone.
654. amazing weather.
655. little boys still happy to snuggle.
656. an absolutely fabulous husband.
657. your Word that is new every morning and ready to face whatever we do.
658. loving me so mindboggling much that with each new adventure, I see a new side of it, feel it fresh all over again, and fall even more madly in love with You than I've ever been.
659. laundry in need of washing.
660. a counter piled high.
661. trash out on the curb just in time.
662. clean dishes in the washer.
663. lessons waiting to be learned.
664. a sunroom filled with the evidence of fun had by two loving siblings.
665. friends who understand that really what I need is NOT to talk.
666. morning coffee.
667. quiet time.
668. warm socks.
669. routine.
670. having nowhere to go today.
671. growing girl still snuggled warmly in her bed.
672. cereal and cold milk eaten at my table with my children.
673. a Fluff-a-poodle lying on my feet
674. quiet.
675. a smile on my face.
Monday, October 26, 2009

Still

Today's List:
Catch up on school not done last week when Boy Child and I were ill
Finish the laundry
Wash the comforters and blankets since Rob is reacting to the dog dander on it
Make tomato basil soup
Clean up the yard where a dog helped itself to trash last night (not on the original list)
Read and critique three chapters for my friend
Coffee tonight (yeah!)
Upload my pictures for the 1000 Gifts blog I plan on posting today
Walk the dog

Busy day, but a good day.

Then...

...the phone rings.

A strained voice. Tears trying not to fall. "Dad is in the ER. We had to transport him by ambulance..."

The list of issues is not good.

"Do you need me there?"

I'm already walking to the bedroom to find clothes and making plans to adjust plans.

"No, not yet. Let me find out what is happening first. They don't have a room number for him yet. I'll call..."

I hang up and...
...make phone calls asking for prayer.
...post the information on our Facebook pages.
...let Rob know what is happening.
...wonder what else needs to be done.
...make mental contingency plans.
...let key people know about the possibility of needing to make major changes to the week's plans.

The children ask me questions. My answers are sharp. I am apologetic. They are forgiving. Such grace.

But I know, I am not useful this way. I am not the peace needed. I am in need.

An invitation comes.

"Be still and know that I am God."

How easy to dismiss wisdom's invitation in favor of pride's determination to push through, to be strong, to overcome. The words are devoid of real meaning in our world which hears, "Sit down and read your Bible or pray."

But the promise resounds in the hardness of life.

"What is bothering you? What desires to intimidate you? What stands against you? Be still. Rest. Let it go. Know I AM God. See me handle the problem. See me work mightily on your behalf. Know I am bigger than this and will use it for your good. Don't fear. It is not bigger than me. Be still and know I am God."

I hold out my hands, full of to do lists and concerns, and empty them into His. He is capable.

I am still.

Copyright Jerri Phillips 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009

The "S" Word

She used the word "selfish".

Her friend called it "stupid".

I said it was "sad".

The police called it "suicide".

Even in the early afternoon sun, the flashing red and blue lit up the parking lot. The helicopter added the punctuation mark screaming something horrible had happened.

"Horrible" hardly touches the reality.

Two lives blasted into eternity.
First hers. Then his.
Two shots.
Dozens of witnesses.
A million questions.

The general explanation--divorce.
The real cause--A person with more pain than he believed could heal. A person with no where to take his anger, his pain, his hopelessness, so they took him.

And families and friends will try to make sense of this incredibly heartbreaking act. An ocean of opinions will flood forth. Facts mixed with fiction, and none will make a difference.

Quietly, some who knew--and did not know--this couple will slip to their knees. Tears will fall. Prayers will be lifted. Grief-stricken hearts and compassionate souls will cry out because they know all that will ever make a difference...all that would have made a difference this time...

...a Savior.

Copyright Jerri Phillips 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bigger Than We Realized

When we joined the group, we saw it as a great opportunity for our son. He would meet friends, do something he loved, and grow in a variety of ways. We had visions of laughter and good memories, long-time friendships, and family bonding through supporting his adventure. We had prayed, and we had faith that this was of God, so we jumped in with both feet expecting the work of our hands to be blessed.

...Except it didn't work...

Not the way we thought it would, not the way we had in mind.

In fact, it has not really been what we thought it would be at all. The group lacks the order we think it should have. The people are not...as...easy to get along with as we expected. The leader seems to be struggling. I could go on. Believe me, we have a laundry list of things that are not to our liking, and if we had known what this was going to be like, we would not have joined.

...Except we had prayed...

...We all were sure God wanted us to participate...

...And God knew exactly what it was going to be...

In Proverbs 16:9 we are told man plans his course, but God determines the steps. In other words, we have the general idea, but God has the specifics. We see a destination, and God knows exactly how to get there.

For us, we wanted our son to grow, to develop character, to learn to work on a team. So did God. He just had different steps to getting there, steps I would not have chosen. Maybe that is why He didn't share that part.

However, now we are in the middle of it all, and in view of our plans and goals, we are pretty disillusioned. We are not seeing the blessings and prosperity we expected. To be quite blunt, we are miserable, confused, and ready to bail.

But above the clatter of my grumbling, I hear a soft voice, a voice tender with love. "How do you think the leader feels?" And in a second I am transported to the many times I have had a vision to build something bigger than me, to bless others, to offer opportunity for others' growth, only to find the road harder than I expected and support lacking. Again voices of fair-weather supporters hoping to capitalize on the success of the vision ring in my ears. Words filled with grumbling, fault-finding, and discouragement...ones that sound too much like mine as of late.

I am still, and my grumbling is silenced. He whispers on.

"How will these young people learn to be a team if no one teaches them? How will they survive with no one to speak life? How will MY son grow character if he never faces a mountain? Great leaders are not made in the quiet places of life but in face of obstacles. I have called him by name, 'One who overcomes all obstacles.' I have called him for such a time as this. He can be a great leader because he has parents with great vision and great faith. Did you not have faith I called you to this? Faith for great things. Faith for growth. Faith for steps of destiny?"

I nod silently...humbly...

Faith that we have something of value to give...that God can use us despite our lack and need to meet others' needs by showing Himself through us.

Faith that in leading us in our destinies He is speaking into others' destinies as well.

Faith that the greatest blessing is to be used by an amazing God to do amazing things in everyday life.

His voice grows even quieter.

"All that matters is faith expressing itself through love.*"

Love for difficult people.
Love for a leader who is trying and has a good heart and a big vision.
Love for God who has chosen us to be His ambassador in this situation.

Love--the act of seeing a situation, not as a means of getting what we want or lack, but as a chance to give what we have...a chance to reveal Him...a chance to see ourselves as He sees us...purposed, equipped, overcomers, contributors...a chosen piece of the solution.

Grumblings silenced, I am in awe.
In awe of a God who lets me think such small thoughts so He can accomplish such great things.
In awe of love so great that it uses us even when we are unlovely.
In awe of a God who sees such large potential in a young boy.
In awe that He lets this self-focused broken vessel with such a tiny self-absorbed comfort zone be the mother of greatness in the making...only realizing in flashes that greatness is already made each time we step aside and let the Lord do what He desires. Body size is consumed in the powerful act of simple obedience.
Yes, I am in awe.

And I take this awe...with encouraged faith and refocused love...look at this little boy with destiny impacting power and say, "This is so much bigger than we realized. YOU are so much bigger than you realized," and pray for him to hold onto that identity, that Truth...and pray I do, too.

*scripture from Galatians 5:6

Copyright Jerri Phillips 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gratitude 25--Choosing to Hear the TeNoR PLAy

Years ago, I was memorizing parts of Philippians 4. When I reached the list of things to think on, I needed something to make them cohesive. I put them in a list:
True
Noble
Right
Pure
Lovely
Admirable

My boyfriend immediately came to mind. No, not because I was so madly in love that he was all of those things but because he played the tenor saxophone. See it yet?

True
e
N
oble
o
R
ight

Pure
Lovely
Admirable
y

Today, that boyfriend is my husband of 18 years, and his saxophone sits in our garage. Most of the time, I think he is still really wonderful, but sometimes, on days like today, he hurts my feelings, not just a little but a lot, and it is easy to get bad and offended and hang on to that. It is easy to see the aggravating things he "always" does and to forget the good things he "never" does. Trust me, folks, I learned from the best on how to nurse a grudge. But the fact is, I don't want to nurse a grudge, and he doesn't "always" do those aggravating things, nor does he "never" do good things. But mentally knowing that and emotionally moving beyond it sadly are not always simultaneous actions. My emotions often need a bit of help.

That is when again the TeNoR PLAys.

True--He loves me and wants to be the perfect husband for me. Really, in his heart, he would never ever do anything to hurt me, and it hurts him when he knows he's hurt me or let me down in anyway.
Noble--He works so hard, and he doesn't complain. Even when he's tired, he does what needs to be done to take care of our family and meet our needs.
Right--He respects others and makes the effort to see their good points and their good intentions.
Pure--He isn't ego driven.
Lovely--He lights up when he sees us. He really enjoys being a husband and dad. He really enjoys us.
Admirable--When something is settled, it is settled. He never brings it up again.

He's all those things and more. Even on days like today, he's music to my ears, and I'm so thankful he's my husband.
Monday, October 19, 2009

Gratitude 24--An Act of Worship

It has been a long time since I've sat down and chronicled the many blessings of God--too long. This past weekend found me under the weather with a sinus infection. I'm not the best patient in the world. In fact, being sick makes me gloomy and whiny. Thankfully, I have the perfect antidote--worship. Gratitude is the beginning of worship, and I invite you to join my worship.

Lord, you are so worthy of my worship. You are good beyond my wildest dreams. You pour out joyous, amazing things for me to enjoy so I can see you clearer and understand you better. Father, I adore you, and I am so grateful for how much you love me.

Thank you for:
1. Sunshine--warm to the face and good for the soul
2. Leanna Ellis books
3. Jim and Mary Eicher who pray fervently for my family
4. email to keep me in touch with those close to me
5. Bloggers that speak truth that lift my spirits while my body lies still to heal
6. Tomato basil soup
7. Clean water
8. Cooler weather
9. Tents for Daddy and Son to bond
10. New blossoms in the herb garden
11. Morning glories that are truly glorious wads of color open to praise you with their colorful trumpets
12. Phones that allow me to call my mom and see how they are
13. My great stepdad
14. Warm blankets
15. Electric blankets that keep camping menfolk warm on cold nights
16. Airmattresses
17. Cool washcloths
18. Antibiotics
19. Steroids
20. Warm socks
21. Jenny Brinton for reminding me that worship is the greatest weapon of warfare I have
22. Pets that lend love and are happy to lie close
23. State Fair
24. Coffee with friends
25. The book of Psalms
26. Cheerios--even the name makes me feel better
27. Smoked Cheddar Cheese burgers
28. Man of my Dreams who can cook
29. Grill
30. Little boys who read books to a tired and weary Mom
31. Friends who rejoice with me over the good stuff

Have stuff you are grateful for? Share it with the rest of us in the Gratitude Community. Follow the link below and enter your URL into the list on Ann Voskamp's page. While there, visit some of the others and rejoice with them, too.

Thank you for joining me in praising the King.


holy experience
Note: The above list represents #621-#650 of my 1000 Gifts list.

Practical Warfare

I often write about warfare being faith to stand in the truth no matter what the circumstances. Most of the time, people associate that with big things, like waiting for a job, wanting reconciliation in a relationship, return of a prodigal, healing. However, no victory is attained through one mighty act. Victory comes through a million actions that are done correctly with one goal in mind.

Let me explain this from a practical perspective.

I confess. I'm a lousy patient. When I'm sick, I'm whiny, and I want someone to take care of me. I don't want someone to drop in periodically. I want a nursemaid, hand and foot, beckon call. Yeah, I'm that needy.

Reality--I don't have anyone that fits that description.

What I have are friends who pray for me, call and check on me, fix meals when needed, and drop emails to say they love me. I have two children with hearts of gold who draw me pictures, get me drinks, read me stories in my bed, and close the door when I fall asleep. I have a husband who does his best to step into shoes that he is not used to, meet my needs, make sure I take my meds on time, feed the children, run the errands, keep the house, walk the dogs, and generally keep the ranch running.

A pretty good bunch, don't you think?

So here is my truth:
My friends love me and really will do all they can to help me.
My children want to help and will do what they can.
My husband tries to carry what he can so I can heal up.
I'm loved.
Folks are on my side.
God provides for my healing in a myriad of ways.

That is the truth.

While I have all those good things, I also have this voice that likes to whisper in my ear and say things like:

"Your husband really doesn't care or he would be in here rubbing your aching muscles. The children are in there making a mess in the bathroom for you to clean up when you are finally better, and they don't care that you are sick. In fact, they don't care that you are trying to sleep. If they did, they wouldn't be playing so loud. And what about that person you made roast for when her family had the flu? Has she even bothered to email and see how you feeling? No. Ungrateful. And why is that you can do all these things for everyone else, but no one can do anything for you when you feel lousy? And how come no else knows how to pick up clothes but you? Why can't anyone else put a stupid cup in the dishwasher for goodness sake? Do these people ever listen to you? Do they have any respect for you? If you just got in your car and left, do you think they would notice? No! And you know what? This sinus infection is turning into respiratory infections, ear problems, and hospital stays for people all over America, and now your immune system is shot, so you are more likely to get something worse, like the flu..."

And on and on the insanity goes.

This is the lie.

The lie says:
Those people I call friends, don't really care. If they did, they would do something. I don't know what, but something. They are just not trying hard enough. They don't value me. They don't care if I'm miserable.
Those children have lousy character, lousy hearts, and just stink.
My husband...well, we all know about him and how he hates doing anything for me, right? If he really loved me, he'd be more attentive. He'd be doing something. I don't know what exactly, but something! And since he's not doing it, he obviously doesn't care about me.
And that means this marriage that I have worked so hard for all this time is just not what I wanted. Other women have husbands that love them. If Rob were like them...
And God. Well, God didn't keep me from being sick with this, so what makes me think He'll keep me from being sick with something else or something worse?

Are you laughing? It is laughable. The insanity is laughable. And yet, it isn't.

When our minds are clear, we look at the above and think, "Great googly moogly! How did you make that kind of a stretch? That's nuts!"

But when I'm sick, tired, weary, lonely, wounded, or hurting, I hear those voices, and instead of calling them insane, I nod and say, "Yeah, that's right."

THAT, my friends, is where the warfare lies, and that is where victory is to be found.

Satan will whisper all kinds of lies, but we have to respond with the truth. When he says, "Your friends don't care about you," I have to say, "This friend has emailed three times today to see if I need anything. This friend offered to make me dinner. This friend is praying for me."

When he says, "Your children don't care," I have to say, "My daughter did dishes for me. My son read me a book. They made me pictures."

Whatever his lie, I have to respond with the truth. I cannot allow myself to agree with one single lie because if I agree, my mind becomes imprisoned in the lying way of thinking. Then no matter what my husband does, I put it through my broken filter.

For instance, my husband camped out with our son in the backyard one night while I was sick with a sinus infection. The truth is every sound hurt. However, Satan taunted me and said if Rob really cared about me, he would be with me, not having fun. See the lie: Rob loves fun, not me. If I allow myself to agree with that, everything Rob does will go through the filter of "he doesn't love me." That means when he makes me soup, it's because he has to, not because he loves me. When he makes supper, it's because he has to, not because he loves me. When he runs to get my medicine, it's because he made a promise that forces him to do it, not because he loves me.

Now look where I am. Not only am I sick with this raging sinus infection, but my husband doesn't love me and actually sees me as a burden and would be having fun without me!

And Satan rubs his hands with glee because he is one victory closer to dividing my family and leading us right into divorce court.

Crazy? That doesn't really happen? Don't think those little thoughts are that big of a deal? According to Proverbs 23:7, "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he (KJV)." In other words, if I allow myself to think on those lies and be in agreement with them, THAT is my reality, and I will see the world in accordance with those agreements, and I will live in defeat.

It is easy to look at big things and see the war raging. It is also easy to overlook the more subtle "fiery darts" that are launched at us daily through the subtlety of our thinking or long-time thought patterns. Instead of becoming fixated on the large areas of defeat in our lives, we need to stop and ask the Lord to reveal the small areas of defeat that led to the larger crises. We have to allow Him to show us the lies with which we agree so we can hear and speak the truth that sets us free.

It's amazing how quickly the battle turns when we quit aiding the enemy by supporting their cause.

Praying for you to victoriously stand against the enemy in the Truth of His Word...
Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Keepers of the Flame--Proverbs 31 Women's Retreat

I will be speaking on the Proverbs 31 Woman, but don’t worry. This is not the woman we’ve all come to hate with her Mt. Everest size to do list, running on little sleep, and making all the other women look bad for not keeping up. Quite the contrary. This is the woman of hope who knows who she is is defined by Whose she is. Come join me for a message of hope and promise.—Jerri


Keepers of the Flame – Proverbs 31 Women's Retreat

A Prov. 31 woman is a Keeper of the Flame, who keeps the light going in her own life by trimming her wick, and being filled with the precious oil of the Spirit daily, warring and contending for her family to keep the fire lit for Christ through the Word and Love!

Progressive Retreat, intimate and unique!
Ages 16 and up
Sponsored by Lighthouse Intercessors

Nov. 6-7th, 2009
Friday--7:30 pm
Saturday 9:30 am – 4:30 pm


Come stir up the gift that lies within you...renew your first-love, rekindle your passion, restore your vision, refresh your soul, revive your HOPE!

Special Speakers:
Sandy Anthony, Karla Shrake, Rhonda Harkins, Nandra Sherman, Charlotte Posa, Jerri Phillips

Prophetic and Healing Ministry:
Lorie Shelley, Debra Narvarte, Debra Morel, On Hui Wallace, Beatrice Montes

Invite your friends and come expecting your first-love to be rekindled!
To register email your name and phone number to lighthouseintercessors@hotmail.com or call 817-454-4918

PROGRESSIVE RETREAT CREATIVE ITINERARY

Friday
4:00-5:30 pm--Throne Room Soaking Session–On Hui Wallace home*
6:00-7:00 pm--Fellowship and Dinner @ Billy’s Grill (own cost)
7:30-10:30 pm—Intimate Issues or Healing
11:00 pm--Fellowship/Sleep-over for WOMEN ONLY at:
Homes Open: Nandra Sherman, On Hui Wallace

Saturday
8:00-9:00 am–-Breakfast
Remainder of retreat@ On Hui Wallace’s home*
9:30-12:30--Proverbs 31 Woman or Marriage
12:30-1:30--Lunch Chinese or Billy’s Grill (own cost)
1:30-4:30—Throne Room Encounter and Teaching on Mantles & 7 Spirits of God
4:30-6:30--SPECIAL HEALING/PROPHETIC STATIONS OPEN TO ANYONE
(No Charge-Please sign up family members with Rhonda Harkins)

Recordings of prophecy and teaching sessions will be made available after retreat.
COST: $50 for early registration for retreat – includes gifts, materials, breakfast
$55 for registration after Oct. 31st or at the door

*On Hui Wallace – 1916 Annabel Ave., Flower Mound, TX 75028
Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Redeemed

I've heard this word my whole life. However, understanding it can be hard because it isn't a concept known in our culture. Yesterday I was reading in Isaiah 43, Amplified version, and I found the perfect explanation:

Fear not, for I have redeemed you
[ransomed you by paying a price instead of leaing you captive];
I have called you by your name;
you are Mine.
(Isaiah 43:1)
Monday, October 5, 2009

The God who Makes the Promise, Keeps the Promise

It was gone.


I knew it wasn't in the car or on the counter at home. I hadn't misplaced it. I hadn't overlooked it. It was gone.


Someone had stolen my wallet. My credit card, license, health card, check book...gone, and a tedious stretch of canceling everything lay ahead of me. I prayed that would be all.


I immediately went to customer service and gave my report to a manager. She explained they would talk to their security officer, run the tapes, and call me if they found anything. I called my husband, explained what happened, and asked that he come to the store.


I retrieved my children from the dressing rooms where they had been changing back into their clothes, and I went back to customer service to find out what actions were being taken.


A different manager, Harry, met me, listened to my story, explained the protocol, and went to find the security agent. While he did his part, I called my friend Debra.


"I need you to pray. Someone stole my wallet." I don't remember what she said, but it wasn't panicked. I told her, " I just keep hearing, 'Do you trust me?' And I do. I know things will be fine. I know this is a time of harvest and rejoicing. This is a time of increase, not decrease. The Lord did not promise depleted silos or stolen crops. He promised good things. This is just the enemy bluffing again, trying to be impressive, but God has the final word. The God who makes the promise, keeps the promise. I know this will be fine, but this stinks." She agreed it stinks. She also agreed this would be fine. She also agreed the God who makes the promise, keeps the promise.


Harry must have listened because he said prayer works, and God isn't intimidated. "God has done far harder things than return a wallet."


Don't I know it?


My mind thought back over my quiet time. The Lord had promised to meet Anna's clothes needs. He had said He would provide the jeans we had spent hours hunting. He promised all her needs would be met. He would not make promises of provision and then let things be stolen. It just isn't like Him.


Rob arrived and took the children to eat nearby. In the quiet waiting, I prayed.


I thanked the Lord for His faithfulness because He is always faithful. I thanked Him for Rob's calm reaction, Debra's ferocious faith, Harry's comforting presence, and I thanked Him for finding the wallet. It was a stretch, but I had two choices: believe the God who makes the promise keeps the promise or to let situations dictate my belief system. I choose to believe God can keep His promise, so I thanked Him.


Then my mind flashed to stories a friend who was a policeman told us, stories of shoplifters stealing medicine for sick babies, diapers, or formula for hungry children. Dear Lord, did this person need money to feed or care for a child? Why did they steal? Oh, God, meet their needs. Forgive them. Set them free from whatever makes them use this way to live. Lead them to you. They need you. They need you to save them and provide for them, and if there are children in need, do whatever you need to do to take care of those babies.


I stopped, surprised by own prayers, but sincere. I didn't know why these people stole. All I knew was they needed Jesus far more than I needed my wallet.


My phone rang with Debra's ring-tone. "I've been praying that whoever stole the wallet is only after cash, and they would throw the wallet away when they found no cash. Look in the trashcans and in the bathroom. Your wallet is still there, and everything is in it."


Satan talked loud and clear in my ear, "Do you know how unlikely that is? It would take a miracle. Miracles like that just don't happen."


My spirit spoke back. "But the God who makes the promise, keeps the promise."


Security came, got a list of where we had been, and went to pull the tape. I sat, waited, and wondered, How was God going to pull this off? I prayed, "Thank you for giving back my wallet intact. Thank you that this is going to be yet another testimony of your goodness and faithfulness."


Officer Coleman arrived. The report was made. We talked, and she went to see the tape. Rob and the children had returned, and Rob was going to use his credit card to pay for our merchandise. However, the whole reason we were shopping is because Anna needed jeans. Finding jeans for her is not an easy job. In fact, we both dread it, but we had actually found a pair, and despite the frustration of the wallet, we were rejoicing about the jeans. It only made sense to see if they had a few more pair to fit her, so off we went to the jeans.


Anna went ahead of us, and I tried to just relax. Then we heard Anna's voice ring out. "I found it! Mom, I found it!" Suddenly, she appeared...lime green wallet in hand. "I was praying as I came over here that God would help me find your wallet. I looked through clothes, saw a hint of green, and looked. There it was!"


I laughed and cried. The zipper was unzipped. The snap was undone. My credit card was there. My license was there. Everything was there. They had been looking for one thing--cash. They looked for the cash and then "threw it away," just like Debra prayed.


Yes, Harry, God has done far harder things than return a wallet, but today, it was miracle enough.


Then to add an exclamation mark to the whole situation, the jeans Anna found were on clearance, and we were thankful. Then the clerk rang them up-- 40 cents each. We all stared. She scanned it again. 40 cents. Three pair of new jeans $1.20.


Amazing.

But really, how could I expect anything less? After all, the God who makes the promise, keeps the promise.

Copyright Jerri Phillips 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009

Exchanging the "To Do" List for the "To Love" Life

I am spending my evening pondering Proverbs 31. You may wonder why I'm on the computer if I am pondering the Bible. I ponder better aloud, and while this isn't "aloud", at least this way my thoughts are not bottled up in my brain swishing back and forth and slamming into each other creating a mass of frenetic confusion.

Does that ever happen to you? Do you ever ponder until the simplicity of something becomes complex confusion which opens the door for frustration, and instead of leaving your quiet time blessed, you leave it convinced you can never be what God wants? That happens to me sometimes. In fact, it could happen this time, except I'm choosing to stop and study the mountain instead of just walking around it again.

As I see it, the mountain is this: this apparently impossibly perfect woman sits right in the middle of the Bible serving to be the bane of existence for women everywhere, but because she is a woman of excellence, a woman who draws forth blessings from others, a woman after God's heart per se, we are to be like her. In a nutshell, the mountain is our imperfection on the road to God's desired perfection.

We see her perfection and our lack thereof, and wham! An insurmountable mountain. Except, God never asks anything of us we cannot do. The one thing we could not do--be perfect enough to save ourselves--He made provision for. He's no dummy. If we are smart enough to know we can't be that perfect, so is He, and therefore, He had to have made provision for us to become this woman of biblical note. Either that, or we really don't understand the perfection He sees in her.

Honestly, I think it is both.

I am convinced no human being could accomplish all this woman does on her (or his, for that matter) own. No one could be that diverse, that sure of herself, that organized, that upbeat, that...everything in her humanness. A few weeks ago I posted on her core identity and where she gained wisdom, insight, and strategy.

It's more than that, though. It's not just that she knows how to do her to do list. I think it has to do with her understanding God's to do list. Jesus only gave us two "to do's"--Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself.

So this is what I am pondering: how does one exchange a "to do" list for a "to love" life?

I confess I am not really sure, but when I look at the mountain of perfection through the lens of a "to love life", suddenly it doesn't look like an impossible feat of my climbing a sheer face all by myself, knowing I'm going to fall and look stupid multiple times. Instead, it looks like an exciting adventure filled with laughter, fun, and amazing memories, and I can't help but think others will look at it and realize it is the exact adventure they've been seeking, too.

Lord, I come to the cross and ask you to kill all preconceived ideas I have about being a perfect woman. I ask you to crucify all misconceptions about serving you and what you find important and valuable. I take up my cross--the cross that says I'm worth dying for and so are the ones around me. I take up my identity as desired, loved, totally forgiven, totally free, and totally yours. I ask you to crucify my "to do list" mentality and transform my mind to a "to love" life. Love through me. Bring life to others by loving them through me. Bring life to me by correcting me when I do not receive your love either from you directly or via blessings of others. Father, your Word says you are love. I choose to crucify a spotless house, empty sink, immaculate nails, performance in every way to please others. I choose to crucify all forms of activities that are born of fear of rejection and not out of love. I choose to crucify the lie-Jerri that thinks there is an absolute right and absolute wrong, the lie-Jerri that thinks things have to be a specific way or they are not acceptable. I choose to take up the Jerri loved as she is, the one you delight in, the one who knows people are more important than clean floors and hearts are more important than dusted shelves. I choose to put on the Jerri that is willing to take detours and side roads of all kinds to show love to people--including the ones in my own home--that you want to love and value. Father, I don't really understand the "to love" life, but I want to. I want to live it with abandon to everything else. And, Lord, if people don't understand, I'll know I'm in good company. Explode forth the "to love" life in me that you want me to live, that you want to live in and through me. I'm ready. I love you. Amen.

Copyright Jerri Phillips 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009

Feasting on His Goodness--Part 2, Recipe for Celebration

Yesterday I told you we made pumpkin bread and pumpkin creame cheese to begin our feast. I want to share these recipes with you. The pumpkin bread recipe came from Allrecipes.com, and I am unsure about the origin of the other recipe. I hope you enjoy.

Blessings and celebration for you and your family!

Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread
Submitted by: Laurie Bennett
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 Minutes
Yields: 24 Servings

Ingredients:
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
3 cups white sugar
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground clobes
¼ teaspoon ground ginger

Directions:
1. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 7x3 inch loaf pans.
2. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water, and sugar until well-blended.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.
4. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended.
5. Pour into the prepared pans.
6. Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick insterted in center comes out clean.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese

Ingredients:
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spce
1 teaspoon vanilla
Freshly grated nutmeg (optional)

Directions:
1. In a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese, pumpkin, sugar, pumpkin pie spiece, and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
2. If desired, sprinkle with a little freshly grated nutmeg before giving as a gift. Makes about 3 cups spread.
Thursday, October 1, 2009

Feasting on His Goodness--Part 1 Provision and Covering

As some of you know, last October started an incredibly hard season for us. In the last year, I have had to stand with greater determination than I ever have. I've had to resolve to believe God's promises despite situations which presented extreme evidence to the contrary. I have had to be more real and more vulnerable than I ever dreamed necessary. I've hurt more deeply than I ever knew I could, and I have faced fears that I thought would bury me.

I have also seen God work in ways beyond my wildest imagination. I have been loved more deeply and been embraced more wholly than I ever dreamed. I have danced more wildly and with more passion and abandon than I ever imagined was within me, and I have stood up to fears, attacks, and doubts and been victorious in overcoming them. I have found depth of friendship that I thought was a fairytale, and I have come to know a God who is hilariously generous with all He gives, whose heart is to protect and shepherd, whose power is greater than all my foes, and whose love and passion for me is beyond my wildest imagination.

Even as I type this, my eyes fill with tears of amazement. It's more than gratitude, although I am grateful beyond words. It's an absolute amazement at finding more than a mighty God or a saving God. It's the wonder of intimately experiencing a God whose greatest desire is me. It is beyond anything human words could express when I gaze upon a God who can create a universe in six days and so clearly see His complete devotion to me. He waits for me to wake up in the morning. He whispers to me in my sleep, and He lavishes good things on me, and I am sure there is more He wants to give, but I have been too "humble"--faithfulness, insecure, doubting--to receive it.

I am undone.

It is with such absolute amazement that I approach the fall season of harvest and a time that in the past was so marked by pain and darkness.

In September, during my prayer time, the Lord spoke to me about October. For years October has been a month of dread for me. All the demonic freedom really is hard for me and has been difficult for my children. Two years ago, things started to change, and the Lord began to redeem October. This year He gave me a new word. He said, "October will be a time of harvest and rejoicing." I had to tell my friend Debra, who was just excited as I was, and we started practicing our happy dance.

A week or so after the Lord spoke to me, He spoke a powerful word to Debra and her husband Brian. He said they were to go on vacation, and it was specifically to be during Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. He gave them a solid word about what He is doing in their lives and how it started with the beginning of Sukkot. Neither of us knew anything about Sukkot, but we quickly found out.

While that was happening at their house, the Lord was settling some issues at our house. In short, I really felt Rob, my husband, was to go to the men's retreat with our church. It wasn't on the calendar, but the more I prayed, the more I was convinced he was supposed to go. The Lord said clearly it would be a time for restoration of identities for the men who attended. My heart pounded. I knew Rob was supposed to go. Ultimately, he did, too, and he is going.

When Debra and I researched Sukkot, we laughed, cried, and shouted. Sukkot is the Feast of Tabernacles (or tents), the time to celebrate leaving Egypt and bondage (the place God finds all of us in our sin or oppression) and going into the Promised Land (their true identity). And, the first day of Sukkot happened to be the first day Brian and Rob will be at the men's retreat--the one where true identities will be restored!

Needless to say, we were ecstatic. Then we had another laugh. Debra and Brian had been planning this trip for months, but due to job transition, they were unsure about money, which God provided in an amazing way. The trip? Camping...in tents. God had already put it on their hearts to celebrate the transition from Egypt to the Promised Land, and they didn't even know what it meant.

I was laughing, too, because I had decided since Rob would be gone, I'd pack the children up, and we'd go camping. Instead of fighting the popup, I'd use a tent, too. We have several tents, so that would be no problem, except I felt we were to have a tent with two criteria--room and an open top so we could see the heavens. In my human mind, though, could I justify another tent, especially when we always use our popup camper? I wrestled with it, talked to Rob, and ultimately, went tent shopping, so we could camp...the first day of Sukkot.

I did preliminary shopping online. Nothing struck me. Last night we spent a lot of time driving from store to store. Nothing overwhelmed me. Well, one thing did. However, at $120 it was well out of our price range, the amount I felt the Lord okayed for us to spend. So we ended up coming home empty-handed. Still, Sukkot was less than 48 hours away, and despite my mind's efforts to justify and compromise, my spirit knew we were supposed to get a tent. I did all I knew to do. I prayed.

"Father, if you want us to have a tent, you'll provide. I know the number you gave me ($50), and I don't have peace to spend more. However, I don't know where else to look. I need your direction. Your Word says the steps of a righteous man are ordered by you. Guide our steps."

I finished praying, and honestly, I was expecting a store to come to mind. Instead, "Craigslist," hit like a billboard on the front of my skull. I typed it in. Then I typed "tent". I stared.

"Magellan Bryce Canyon Tent....$50." And, it was not in the general DFW Metroplex. It was in our city.

I prayed. Could this really be God? Could He really be telling us to buy another tent?

I emailed a reply saying we were interested and told when we could be there to pick it up. Then I waited...

However, I didn't wait idly. I waited with a feast of celebration, a feast declaring we believe this is a month of harvest and rejoicing. We started the celebration with a feast of pumpkin bread.



The entire family got involved with the mixing, baking, cleaning, and eating. Delicious! We also made some pumpkin cream cheese. The children love it, but it is a bit too sweet for Rob and me. Still, the most fun is the fact the recipe made enough for our family and some to share. Isn't that the great thing about harvest? It keeps right on giving?

Due to unexpected rain, our plans changed, and with them, the time we could pick up the tent changed, so I emailed again. No reply, but the listing was still up. Ultimately, though, I simply had to let it go. If it was of God, it would work out. If not, He would do something else.

Then this afternoon a reply. "I'll be home then. I live at....You can call me at...." I started to laugh, and tears filled my eyes. He lived around the corner from us. Seriously. Within ten minutes we had a verbal agreement for the tent. Within 20 minutes, it was in my van on the way to my house.

The entire top is open to the heavens, and it can be split into three rooms. The center height is 84 inches. It is huge for a tent. And, while we were there, he showed us how to put it up and gave far better direction than the instruction paper. Don't you love when God goes above and beyond your imagination?!



Such is the first day of October--our month of harvest, rejoicing, restoration of true identity. It is our celebrating moving from the heartbreak of slavery--mental, spiritual, and emotional--to the joy of the Promised Land. It is a festival and a feast, and we are joyously well-fed feasting on His goodness.
Saturday, September 26, 2009

When

Do you ever go to a family reunion or a potluck, and there is so much good stuff that you pick up a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Don't forget the mashed potatoes Aunt Betsy made that you have to eat so you don't offend her. Oh! There are those barbecue ribs Uncle Ralph says are the best ever. Have to have some of that. Then there is that chocolate pudding mousse thing that Sheryl only makes on special occasions. Can't pass that up. Who knows when you'll get a chance at that again?

By the time you finish adding all you want, all others say you should get, and all you get so no one is offended, your plate is overflowing, and the excitement you felt with your first glance has turned into a sense of dread as you look forward to the bloated stomach, tight belt, and indigestion later?

Crazy, isn't it?

The craziest part is the gratitude at the beginning of the meal has now because complaint. The food God gave to bless us is now seen as a curse. Why? Because we didn't know when to say when.

Today, my plate is full of blessings, but I feel the pull of temptation to load up a bit more. If I scoot this over and move this around, I can find room. It's all good. And, after all, what can a little bit more hurt, right?

Let's look at that "little bit more" that causes my head to turn and see what it can hurt.

My "little bit more" looks like a fiction book that I've had rolling around in my head for nearly two years. I worked on it a lot in 2008, but in 2009, it has gone by the way side. The fact is I haven't missed it much. I think of it periodically, but mostly, I'm busy with other things that I enjoy. In fact, I am completely happy without it until I see it on someone else's plate.

My friend Lisa Buffaloe shared the exciting news that her fiction book is headed to the publisher. I am truly thrilled. This is a book from God, and it is going to bless so many. My friend Amelia is moving forward with her book, and she has some interested eyes ogling it as well. I just finished reading Ruby's Slippers by Leanna Ellis, another friend. Understand. This is not about jealousy. These women are so gifted, and I rejoice that the Lord is blessing them and increasing them. It's just...I really like writing fiction, too.

Surely I could find time to work on a fiction book. Surely it couldn't be that hard to find the time, right?

Let's see. If I give up my Wednesday night fellowship time, that would buy me a few hours. If I gave up reading time with the children, I could get another 20-30 minutes a day. If I got up earlier, I could move my quiet time back. Probably won't remember it, but at least I'm doing it which means something will "stick in my spirit", so that's alright. Maybe instead of spending an hour and a half with my husband in the evenings I could only spend an hour. Wonder if I can figure out a way to spend less time on the co-op classes I teach, or maybe I could have the children do more workbook school and few projects and discussions for home school? Or, I could just give up cooking which would mean I didn't have to waste time doing dishes or going grocery shopping, and if I wear the same clothes three days in a row, that would cut down on the laundry, and if I...

...just lose my mind and don't care if I drive my family insane while cutting all my life lines to my support group...

It sounds absurd when I write it out, and most of us probably laughed at the craziness of it. However, every woman I know has had moments when she was tempted to add one more thing to an already full plate, and there is always the whisper, "What can it hurt?"

In Proverbs 31, we are told the woman of immeasurable value "considers a [new] field before she buys or accepts it [expanding prudently and not courting neglect of her present duties by assuming other duties]; with her savings [of time and strength] she plants fruitful vines in her vineyard (v 16, AMP)."

I love this. This woman of immeasurable considers the opportunity laid before her. Notice what she considers. She considers her present responsibilities. She thinks about what God expects of her in the season and place she is in. She does not think about whether someone will be mad or offended if she does not embrace this opportunity. She does not think about whether someone else thinks it is good or not. She does not fear that this may be her only chance at this field. Instead, she knows the Lord gives her what she needs in every season, including fields to tend for the purpose of yielding glorious fruit for Him and because of Him.

Because she doesn't embrace anything that isn't hers, she has time and energy to plant fruitful vines. These are not vines that will wither or languish because this valuable woman is spread too thin to tend them the way they need. No. This valuable woman knows her time and investments are valuable, so she only accepts what she knows she can tend well. Her vineyard will not be a straggly one, but one where the plants flourish, the fruit is evident, and the keeper is content. She will be known as one who is blessed.

Why?

Because she knew when to say when.

Copyright Jerri Phillips 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009

Pray for our Nation Today

Today is the Muslim march on D.C.

Please remember our country in your prayers today.
Thursday, September 24, 2009

Yep, That's Me

Ever have one of those days when you are the exact person you want to be?

Today is that day. Today, I am that me.

Today I am:
--a wife of a man I love and who loves me
--a woman who enjoys those looks of "Wow, I can't believe she's mine. She is amazing," that I see in my husband's eyes.
--a mom who is blessed with two children who have beautiful hearts, sound bodies, and arms that love to hug.
--a sister with wonderful brothers, spiritual and biological
--a loved daughter
--a friend who is sought out and valued
--appreciated
--joyful
--a guest speaker
--a writer
--a photographer
--excited
--expectant
--hopeful (there have been dark parts of my life when hope was not to be found. NEVER underestimate the power of being hopeful.)
--forgiven
--soaking in Grace
--warm
--comfortable
--peaceful
--useful (NEVER underestimate the power of feeling useful)
--calm
--amazed by the wisdom I hear come out of my mouth (ONLY God could do that, and it's such a delight to be the vessel He chooses)
--chosen
--in couraged
--encouraging
--thankful
--loved (deeply, faithfully, unquestionably)
--in need and sure the Lord will meet those needs
--imperfect, and okay with that
--comfortable in my own skin
--smiling
--ready to face the day
Monday, September 21, 2009

Souper Stuff

When the weather starts getting cooler (in the 70s here in Texas), my mind turns to colder days to come, sniffly noses (ours and others'), and warm foods. It is during this time of anticipation that my thoughts turn to soup.

For several years now it has been my habit to take a day and make multiple kinds of soups, pour them into bowls, label them nicely, and tuck them into our freezer. Today is that day.


The soups I make aren't fancy or hard. If they were hard, I wouldn't waste my time. Instead, I stick with a two or three favorite recipes. Today's soups are Tomato Basil Soup (I still speak blessings over my friend Christine Petri for sharing this recipe with me) and My Mom's Vegetable Soup.

I love these soups for several reasons.
  • They are easy on a sore throat.
  • They freeze well and defrost easily, too.
  • Left-overs are better than the first bowl.
  • It's easy to double or triple them.
  • They are inexpensive.
  • They are easy to stick in a bowl and take to others who need some body and/or soul food.
  • Did I mention they are incredibly easy?
How easy? Let me tell you.


My Mom's Vegetable Soup
Underneath all that delicious broth are simple ingredients.
Burger meat of whatever quality
Onion (I usually white or yellow)
Water
Corn
Diced Tomato
(General Ratio: 1 pound burger, 1 can corn, 1 can diced tomato, 1/4 onion)
1. Break up the burger meat and put it in a large soup bowl. I try to start with the meat in balls. It is a mental thing for me, but usually it cooks apart.
2. Cut the onion into half rings and drop them in. If you liked them chopped, do that. You really can't get this wrong.
3. Add enough water to cover the beef and onions with a cup or so extra.
4. Salt and pepper to taste.
5. Boil the meat and onion until the meat is cooked.
6. Drain the tomatoes and corn and add them.
7. Cover it up and let all the flavors get to know each other awhile.
I make a huge batch of this, but we also have freezer space for it. If you don't, no problem. Cut the ratio back to what fits in your pan and your fridge. Just use the ratio above. If you want something heartier, add what you like. Green beans, carrots, and celery make for great additions, too.
Tomato Basil Soup
4 cups (8 to 10) tomatoes, peeled, cored and chopped or 4 cups canned whole tomatoes crushed
4 cups tomato juice or part tomato joice and part vegetable or chicken broth
12 to 14 washed fresh basil leaves
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 sweet unsalted butter
salt to taste
1/4 t cracked black pepper
Combine tomatoes, juice, and/or stock in a saucepan (pot). Simmer 30 minutes, puree along with basil leaves in small batches in blender or food processor. Return to saucepan and add cream and butter while stirring over low heat. Garnish with basil leaves and serve with your favorite bread.
Personal notes:
I use a big can of tomato juice and a two big cans of crushed tomatoes because it is convenient. Then I double the amount of basil, cream, and butter.
I also puree the juice and tomatoes first BEFORE they get really hot. Once I wasn't careful and added to much hot mix to the blender, and the top blew off. It might have been funny if it hadn't been blistering hot. Now, I just puree it right up front. I would think you could add pureed tomatoes and skip that extra step all together, but I can't promise.
When I serve this, we always add cheese and chunks of bread. If you have bread that is a bit old (but not fuzzy yet), cube it and toss it in. We also make grilled cheese sandwiches to eat with it. I cut mine into squares and lay the squares on top of the soup, and then I dip the others and let them soak up the soup. YUM!


Our freezer stocked and ready for the cooler temperatures.
Hope you have a souper day, too!!!
Sunday, September 20, 2009

Urgent Call to Intercessory Prayer for America

Lou Engle:
"Urgent Call to Prayer:
Signs of the Times"


Convergence
It is critical that the Church in America understands the times and what needs to be done now. The natural things speak of the invisible. Natural happenings on the earth are revealing something that is going on in the spiritual realm. There is a great spiritual conflict with a rising tide of Islamic boldness being manifested. Several happenings are converging this week.

First of all, our President has recently proclaimed, honored, encouraged the Muslim holy days of prayer and fasting called Ramadan. He was very silent on the National Day of Prayer, but very vocal on the support of Ramadan. Interestingly, at the same time, a major Christian leader of the Emergent Church called for forty days of fasting and prayer in the same Ramadan period with the goal that the Church will better understand our Muslim friends. We are all for understanding, but we must have spiritual discernment as to the spiritual dark powers that are being invoked into our nation.

Cause for Concern

At the same time, on the 25th of September, Muslims are calling for a Muslim Day of Prayer in Washington DC: (http://www.islamoncapitolhill.com/). They are calling for 50,000 Muslims to gather and pray on the DC Mall. This is the exact word of one of the Sheikhs who is leading this historic gathering: "Muslims should march on the White House. We are going to the White House so that Islam will be victorious, Allah willing, and the White House will become into a Muslim house." These are not empty words. They speak of a dark spiritual intent and a coming day of great trouble to America.

A Divine Moment

Now, one of these events is enough to awaken us to this significant throbbing moment, but when they all converge, it becomes a massive spiritual alarm that must be responded to by the praying Church. However, I believe in this moment of divine providence that God has raised up on the stage of history, a little "Esther" that if we pray and fast for her, she could be a major voice to expose the dark under-belly of Islam and radiate a bright hope for a day of salvation for Muslims in America.

On Monday, Rifqa Bary, a young 17-year-old woman, will be in the headlines of U.S. news. Four years ago, while living in a very devout and radical Muslim home, Rifqa met Jesus in a powerful way as her Savior. She hid her conversion, began praying secretly, and began hiding her Bible from her parents. Then, on Facebook, her love for Jesus was exposed to the radical Muslim community in Ohio.

Rifqa's father demanded that she renounce Jesus or he would kill her as is commanded by the Koran. As a radiant Believer in Jesus she refused to renounce her Lord and fled to Orlando, where she was taken in and cared for by a Christian Church and family. Now, the father is appealing to the courts to bring her back under his custody. Major television networks have already covered her story. How must the Church of America respond in this moment for our sister who is a part of the Body of Christ?

A Major Sign


This convergence, I believe, is urgently summoning us in the midst of the rising tide of Islamic influence in America to recognize that our God is above every god and that if we return to Him with all of our hearts and call upon Him with fasting and prayer, then God could use what the enemy meant for evil to bring about a great day of salvation for Muslims in America, of which Rifqa is but a major sign.

First of all, we cannot be passive as a Church to let these kinds of developments go on without being challenged in the spirit. Our fight is not against Muslims, it is against principalities, powers, and forces of darkness.

We are calling the Church of America at the end of Ramadan, from September 21st through 25th, to five days of concerted prayer. On Monday, we must pray that God would grant supernatural wisdom to the courts so that the testimony of Jesus would be proclaimed and that the best situation for Rifqa and her family would take place. We must pray for Rifqa to be bold in proclaiming Jesus that even thousands of Muslims would hear and be awakened to the love of Christ. She has already said that this is not about her, but about many Muslims coming to Jesus. We must pray for her lawyers who are being bullied, threatened, and challenged on every side.

On Friday, September 25th, the Muslim Day of Prayer, we are calling the Church of America to fast and pray that Muslims would be moved by the Holy Spirit, convicted by the testimony of Christ, and even be visited by Jesus in dreams. We must pray that God would restrain the spiritual powers behind Islam and grant us the great awakening that we desperately need for America.

Let us hear the call to prayer and not miss this moment.

Lou Engle
The Call
Email: response@thecall.com

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