Recently, Amazon offered the Kindle ebook version of Breakthrough by Joyce Smith for a ridiculously low price. Marketing gurus know how to play the game and readers can snatch up great reads for as little as $1.99 just before the release of a major motion picture spawned from a book.
I should have crafted this post as I devoured the book. Redirecting all of that in the moment energy would have made for a better blog post. Instead I annoyed my family with random outbursts like,
“Oh! That makes my blood boil! She makes me SO mad!”
“Then maybe you shouldn’t read it,” my husband said.
“It’s REAL. This isn’t fiction. It’s okay to read things that make you angry when it’s real.”
Sheesh. Doesn’t he know my logic by now?
I can’t speak for the film as I have no immediate plans to view it. The book, however, is phenomenal. Seriously. It is an anointed telling of one family’s experience with supernatural healing. A teenager raised from the dead. I mean, come on Jesus!
You might sense God’s presence as you read, if you are sensitive to that sort of thing. You know how much I dig it.
As I read this mother’s account something Bill Johnson taught kept nibbling at me. In his book, Releasing the Spirit of Prophecy, The Supernatural Power of Testimony, he says:
Jim had instinctively made two assumptions: first, that if God had done this great thing for him, He would surely do it for others; and second, that declaring the testimony was the vehicle by which this promise would be transmitted to others in need.
In other words– God wants to do it again AND again. He planned for the retelling of what He had done for the Smith family to be released around the country (world?) for us TODAY.
So we’d believe
So we can receive.
All the good He has for us.
Now that’s living the good life.
The boy in the breakthrough story received healing in every part of his body. There wasn’t one system that remained untouched by God’s power. Medical Science witnessed a miracle. Something that should not have happened in our natural world happened.
Because a mother dared to believe and cry out for God to send His Spirit to heal her boy.
New prayers flow this resurrection week. “Do Your thing, God. Do for our daughter what You did for a John. I believe! Thank a You for helping my unbelief.”
Seriously. Do it again.
“God keeps renewing the promise and setting the date as today, just as he did in David’s psalm, centuries later than the original invitation: Today, please listen, don’t turn a deaf ear … And so this is still a live promise.” -Hebrews 4:7
I held a dream in my heart that this little one would one day reunite with her biological family. Knowing the circumstances of her relinquishment, I felt her reappearance into her family’s life would not only be welcome, but rejoiced. Adoption world protocol is to not tell a child’s history to others without consent of the child. It’s her story and held sacred for her to steward. Given the sudden turn of events in our daughter’s life and resulting trauma, I’m just gonna spill. And heaven help the one who throws stones my way. 🙄
Her mother died during childbirth. Her parents are the same age as my husband and I. She has as many biological siblings as she now has through adoption. She was born in distress because of the traumatic childbirth. Her father could not care for a struggling newborn while adequately providing for his older children and grieving the loss of his wife. Her relinquishment was never part of their plan.
Her father named her and took her to THE best orphanage in his country.
To the ear, hers is a beautiful name. We debated rather to leave it as her first name or slide it over to become her middle name once she joined our family and took on a new name along with our family surname. We ended up deciding on the latter. One reason was because of the name’s meaning. In her birth family’s religion her name means night. Did he name her out of his sorrow? Or was that the name he and his wife had lovingly chosen before her birth?
This bothered me from the beginning. I’m such a believer in the power of words. You can imagine my horror as events unfolded. I hated that we kept her name with such a tragic meaning. Night. The absence of light. The time when trouble comes out of hiding. Folks double-check the locks on their doors. Lamps are lit in our efforts to dispel the darkness.
Officially, our little one is still known by her biological birth name. Her dire medical circumstances have left us unable to go ahead with the legal re-adoption and official name change within our country. It’s hard to make court trips when you’re constantly on emergency medical watch.
I’ve hated this.
In a sweeping week of God’s intervention something else occurred. One of my dearest friends passed an email my way. Daily, she prays for us, pouring out her heart to the Lord, knowing mine now battered and bruised often falls silent. She doesn’t know the troubled thoughts I’ve carried over our daughter’s name. Yet, here is what she sent:
even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. – Psalm 139:12
Oh, the mercies of a loving, tender Father!
He knows. He cares. He loves.
P.S. PEOPLE: Our baby rolled over by herself four times yesterday! FOUR TIMES!!
“We simply don’t have the luxury of playing nice with prayer. Not if we want to be free— from whatever’s keeping us held down and held back… Not if we want the devil and his plans to go back to the hell where they came from.” – Priscilla Shirer, Fervent
The day before we left for India to complete our baby’s adoption I received a call from a woman employed at a large, well-known Christian ministry. As part of their prayer team she called to see if she could pray with our family about anything. Now listen, as much as I like to talk Jesus I’ve never been one to call prayer lines or share my problems with a stranger.
Um, except you.
Yeah, makes no sense to me either.
Her timing was impeccable. We were due to leave for India and, as I mentioned in an earlier post, we were SICK. I feared spreading our foreign germs to the baby. I filled her in on our upcoming trip and asked for prayer about that matter. It startled me as I listened to her pray as if she were storming hell’s gates over a viral bug.
Weeks later, beside our baby’s PICU bed in an Indian hospital I scrolled through my email box to find an email from her. She wanted to know how our trip went, how we were, the baby…
Did I ever have a lot to tell her?
She took my letter to her entire prayer team. Upon my return to the USA she called and emailed for medical specific updates so her team could pray. She would often respond to my emails immediately with prayers, encouragement, and scripture. I believe the last update I sent her way was likely three or four months ago. Because life is full of a medical drama since baby came home and no updates means there’s not much good to report.
Sunday I fell apart. All the things I don’t like to talk about in public because of how much I prize laughter and uplifting words. No one wants to read Debbie Downer. And Debbie wants to hide in a book or stream comedians on Netflix or eat cake. All three at once. BRING IT.
Sunday found me in the darkest of places. The so-this-is-what-people-are-thinking-when-they-commit-suicide sort of places. (Even in my darkest of places I’m NOT going there… but still, it was that dark and the thoughts will try you.) Without all the sordid details, it was ugly. Then comes the part where my personality type struggles most. The oh no! I broke the rules. I did bad. I’ve totally derailed my life. Life is over. All my progress. It’s gone. Because I knew better and still I said this and said that and thought this. Blah, blah, blah. I. am. so. weak.
But He is strong
Less than 24 hours later and she calls. This is how Heaven kisses me with peace and God shows His mind-blowing love. On my darkest day, when I’m most in need, He’s keeps speaking in a voice I know, reassuring me of His care.
Calling for an update on the baby, she told me that I had come on her radar. How she and _______ (the mother of the well-known minister) had prayed for our littlest one. Would I please give them an update? My voice cracked as I struggled to fill her in on the latest. Both the medical details and the now traumatized condition of our daughter with resulting attachment disorder (the straw that broke me, our previously happy baby now traumatized by the physical pain she has endured since WE walked into her life). Straight away, she prayed. Perfect, beautiful, Spirit-filled prayers. She also gave me some instructions which I’ll fill you in on later because they will lead my family into even MORE interesting religious environments.
Within hours of her praying we have seen a marked improvement in our daughter. On Monday she prayed. Tuesday a nurse visited our home to discharge our baby from home nursing care. Bent over our daughter, who lay surrounded by toys, the nurse completed her routine checks. Our daughter swiped at the nurse’s stethoscope while the right side of her face turned up in a smart little grin at the nurse’s chiding: “Oh, no you don’t!” Now shocked, the nurse rocked back on her heels. “She’s completely changed from when I saw her last. I think with intensive rehab she’ll make a full recovery.”
Astounding comment considering our day-to-day bouts with seizures and the rotating cocktail of psych drugs used to curb them. Most who see our daughter wouldn’t agree. Or dare to believe.
At night I like to listen to YouTube while I sleep. Normally I choose sleepy instrumental music or preaching. Nothing like a good sermon to lull you right to sleep. Once I tried some meditative, hypnotic sleep channel. It was some goofy scenario story and just as I fell asleep I heard a rustle and tingles traveled down my body. Jerked awake, I sat up in bed completely freaked out. Listen, I like to have control of what happens in my body. I’m what the world considers middle age. No unexpected sensations in this body please. ASMR, it’s called. I’d like to know who can sleep to that?
Last night I played videos of various bible scriptures set to soothing music. Lately our internet has been a butt, so I’d hear a few words set to lovely music and then nothing and then a couple more words. Somewhere in the early morning hours Nehemiah 8:10 rang out loud and clear:
And Nehemiah continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” -NLT
I turned the words over in my mind before conking back out knowing these words set the mandate for my upcoming day. Hours later I clicked open my email to find this lovely from Kate Bowler. (She’s teaching me about Lent which embarrassingly, I know next to nothing about.)
I had learned there was this baptism in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues thing, and now I heard how God was moving in other people’s lives and that they had these God encounters where God would talk to them, hang out with them, and tell them things. God didn’t make them feel bad about themselves. People would feel more than loved by God, they felt like God liked them. I was reading/hearing/seeing where God even empowered people to do risky things like pray for sick people and then God would heal whoever they prayed for. Didn’t matter who they were. Just that God loved them. They needed help. God wanted to help them.
As if they were candy, I greedily gobbled these God encounter stories. I wanted this God, and I wanted to live this lifestyle that was increasingly displayed before me. The groundwork had been laid.
The small church we attended had what they termed revival meetings. I wasn’t in a denomination that had regular revival or tent type meetings. I had heard of them but this was unusual for our church. The man I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the one who had spoken at a chapel service for the school children I worked with, opened his schedule and spent a service or two speaking on a Sunday in our church. Since he wasn’t a local and already had an active traveling schedule, he added our church to the list of places he would drop in on to minister each time he came near our area. During one visit he stayed two weeks and spoke every night.
I found this evangelist and his family relatable. He told stories of his life. How one dramatic encounter with God (when he attended a “revival” meeting where strange things happened) drastically changed the trajectory of his life. How he and and his wife, at the brink of divorce, instantly turned from lives filled with addictions, adultery, and failure to a life spent in God’s presence, hearing His voice, and doing amazing exploits all over the world. This family now holds massive healing crusades where many people are miraculously healed by the power of God, often prompted by their first hearing an instruction from God or a word about someone’s condition. Story after story of their life before and the life God intended them to enjoy fueled hope that my family could experience the same.
Hungry for what he had, I didn’t miss a service, though he kind of freaked me out. It wasn’t easy dragging young children out to church every night. They were cranky from school and we were all tired. My husband would meet us for services after work where we’d stand through a long praise and worship part of the service before hearing this man say things that, although intriguing, they shook us up. And somewhere in that time of reflecting on portions of scripture and hearing new things, the freaky would happen.
Someone across the room would break out laughing. Yo!? I mean, preacher man is talking and suddenly someone laughs across the room and preacher man just smiles. His eyes get this intense and faraway stare. Like he’s listening to something we can’t hear or seeing something we can’t see. Don’t even think of turning those eyes my way. Look away, look away, look away.
He continues his discourse like nothing ever happened when a woman screeches from a few rows away. Oh, Lord, help us now. There’s that look in his eye again. I’m scared. Not enough to leave.
He starts ever so slowly walking down the aisle, his eyes scanning, settling a moment on a face here or there. I become fascinated with a piece of carpet fraying at my feet and stay transfixed. He asks people to step out into the aisles and they fall all over the place. Most of the time he’s not even touching people. They’re belly laughing and rolling around on the floor. As he walks and passes each aisle he pauses in front of some people and tells them things God is showing him in that moment. Things about their past or present circumstances. Stuff about their future. Then he waves his hand over them or touches their head and they’re falling too. The entire room is in disarray as ushers push chairs towards the wall to make more room for people to lie on the floor and laugh. People are falling out of their chairs! There’s moaning and crying mixed with laughter. It sounds like it’s erupting in waves around the room. It’s pandemonium.
Some people are running out of the room. We’ll never see them again. It’s too much. Flesh, emotionalism, just insanity. Not cool. They’re running for their lives pushing their children ahead of them and out the door. And where is our pastor during this mayhem? On the floor laughing, his legs straight up in the air and kicking, all 400 pounds of him! (We grow our boys big down here in the south.)
I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want that man to touch or look at me and I did. I DID want God to tell me something. God, if you are anywhere in this, I want it. I wanted to experience this. I think. Maybe. Yes. No. Boy, our church sure needs new carpet. Maybe we should take up a special collection.
We did this every night for two weeks. The meetings were winding down. Our guest speaker had other places to travel on his itinerary. I had pages of notes from the hours of teaching. We had covered huge amounts of scripture. We had stayed out hours each night, often not getting home until 11 pm. We felt exhausted, both physically and mentally, but unwilling to stay home. Whatever was showing on the television those days just didn’t interest us. I mean, the happenings at church freaked us out a little, but also made us woefully aware that whatever this man had, we needed some of it. Besides, we told ourselves; we had seen nothing inherently evil. We could always get up and walk out if it ever felt too out of hand. Right? And he hadn’t touched us or called us out. He had looked our way a few times, but moved on. I found comfort in that somehow. But also, disappointment. God, what’s wrong with us? Why doesn’t he ever call us out with some word?
I have put this post off under the pretense I needed to sort through our adoption story posts and organize the blog before our baby arrived. Then, our family crisis hit so obviously, posting about my past cooky spiritual encounters didn’t seem the thing one ought to do.
Going public with that time of my life is me putting myself WAY out there. Girl without a life jacket is jumping in.
I had discovered new waters and there was no turning back. Like an addict, all I could think about was my next fix. This is where the term Jesus Freak comes from. We’re just a bunch of addicts running around high on Jesus, not wanting our newfound good feeling to end. This is life? This IS life! THIS IS LIFE!!
Whoo! Hit me again.
Thus began my years of ecstasy. Only a year later, I will fess up, finish what I hinted about, and tell you about my former years of ecstasy.
I had discovered an energy source that just made me happy. I found it impossible to explain. To those in my little world I looked crazy. “She’s religious,” they said.
I had found a person who loved me and He was good. He loved everyone! He was here. I mean like really HERE. But I couldn’t even explain what I knew to myself. I was experiencing something beyond my learning, even religious/church-y learning. This was beyond my mental acknowledgement. All I knew was I loved Jesus. I wanted Jesus. He loved me. He wanted me. AND THERE WAS SO MUCH MORE than what I had lived. And this so much more affected everything, including my physical body. Dude, I could feel Him.
Why now? I mean, I’d always had a heart bent towards the Bible and Christianity. I wasn’t out practicing other religions or bringing down the house in wild parties. Why this manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s presence in my life in this new way (for me) NOW? It certainly wasn’t because of my having undergone massive behavior change (or any behavior change).
Everything had lined up in my life, just falling into place, creating hunger in me for more of God. I heard God stories I’d never heard before. Television programming. Radio messages. Even a special visitor spoke in the chapel services at a private school I taught at. Day after day I longed to have God move in my life in the way these people said He moved in theirs. I wanted to hear God like they heard God. I WANTED GOD. Like them. I wanted that.
That hunger led to the events I will confess in the next few posts.
“It’s not looking back. It’s being happy with what you’ve got and moving on.” – author unknown, scribbles in my journal
A few days ago, I flicked on the television to hear these closing words of a sermon: “That giant made David king.” It impressed me enough to grab my phone and tap out a note. Goliath, thought indestructible didn’t stand a chance against a boy with the Word of the covenant in his mouth and faith in his God abiding in his heart.
Like David, may this be the year we stand upon the foundation of the Lord’s faithfulness to us in times past and run quickly to slay those loud-mouthed, fear-breeding giants. Here’s to 2019, the year of walking fully in our inheritance, enjoying life…even in this. It’s king making material after all. It will bring glory to God.
Each day there’s a joy to experience, explore, and find. We will revel in it.
He’s not giving up on us. We’re not giving up on Him. We’re taking Him at His Word. We believe.
With God. WITH GOD. With God all things are possible. ARE possible.
a hodgepodge of notes from my journal. snippets I’ve heard, read, and added to. the encouraging words that fuel me to never quit. nevereverever. #happynewyear2019