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.

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