All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us
~”Beautiful Things”, Gungor
Good news! I’ve officially wrapped up my testimony! Hurray!!!! I never intended to share it in the way I did, nor did I think doing so would impact others (let alone myself) the way it did. God is so kind, and so faithful! If we will allow Him, He truly will take our very worst experiences – even those things we are most ashamed of – and rework them into something that is beautiful.
So now what?
The end of last year, I was actually considering shutting down this blog. After all, I’d not been writing regularly throughout 2016 or 2017, and as a result there wasn’t much of a readership. And of course, there is really nothing particularly special about me that people should want to read my ramblings :). So I asked the Lord if I should (could) shut it down. He simply replied “I didn’t instruct you to do that.” Hmm.
So that resulted in my committing to write one (1) post weekly throughout 2018. This is post 42! Time flies, but there are still 10 weeks left. Hmm.
“The sower (farmer) sows the Word.” Mark 4:14
I think the best things to write about come from our own life stories – either what’s currently happening in our lives (i.e. what we’re learning or trying to learn) or from our past (what we’ve experienced and hopefully learned something from).
accompanied by confident expectation
I’m currently refreshing on the importance of speaking HOPE-filled words.
“As for Me”, says the LORD, “this is my covenant with them:
“My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants descendants” says the LORD, “from this time and forevermore.” ~Isaiah 59:21
These Scriptures and others are what inspired the above sketch. Now for the hard part -to paint it! You all know that I’m only a beginner, so it will be interesting to see how closely the finished piece resembles the sketching. Time will tell 🙂
I hope you’ll join me as I allow the Lord to remind me what He has to say about the words that I allow to come out of my mouth. And I’ll share updates to the artwork as it evolves.
PS – From this point on, I’m going to try to keep my posts short (err … shorter). I promise 🙂
All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.
I love honesty … well, I mostly love honesty … sort of. Let me rephrase that: I really dislike being lied to (I’ve had plenty enough of that in my life), and therefore if given a choice, I would prefer honest information (even if unpleasant) over a misrepresentation of facts or worse yet, a flat out lie. It’s a pretty good bet that you feel the same way too, right?
That’s why I’m so grateful that one of my readers (who is quickly becoming a precious friend) spoke honestly with me about her reaction to last week’s post. Of course, I knew what I was intending to say in last week’s post, but when you’re limited to just the 26 characters of the English language (no facial expressions, no inflections of the voice, no reaching across the table to touch a hand) not everything written is heard the way you intended it to be heard. Add to that the fact that we all hear information from the background of our own understanding (influenced by our history and experiences), and it’s totally understandable how she heard judgement in my words. The kind of judgement that says ‘if you still struggle with this-that-the other, then you’re not a very good Christian’.
If that were the case, I’m not a very good Christian either!
Sadly, I think that’s how many of us approach FAITH. We have knowledge of and are in agreement with what the Bible says, but when it comes to putting our trust (either emotionally, spiritually, or physically) in what we say we know and believe … well, if we were to be brutally honest with ourselves, maybe we don’t actually believe all that we say we believe. The Bible calls this “unbelief”..
Friends, I’ve experienced many victories during my walk with God, and it’s from lessons learned in the battle trenches warring for those victories that I tend to write. But believe you me … I’m no superwoman Christian. I still have nightmares from time to time, and like every body else on the planet, I’ve still got junk in the trunk. I wish I didn’t, and I try to keep it minimal, but I’ve reconciled to the fact that this side of heaven, I’m gonna have junk.
Oh, and lets not forget about “unbelief”. Yup, I’ve got that too. Just yesterday, I caught myself wanting to tell the Lord how alone I felt in a certain challenge I’m dealing with. How I feared that maybe I’d misheard Him (or just acted on my own wisdom instead of listening to the voice of Wisdom) and had instead taken a long walk off a short pier. That instead of walking boldly in faith, I felt the hesitation in my steps, as though I was anticipating the whoosh of kerplop at any moment.
Does all this truthfulness change the way God thinks of me? Is He surprised by my “junk” and “unbelief”? Does it disqualify me? Does your junk disqualify you?
I’m not a Bible scholar and I don’t claim to be a teacher, so if what I’m about to say offends you or your belief about who God is and what He expects from those who would claim to Christ-followers, then please just let it go in one ear and out the other. This is just my own personal conviction, born out of many long walks and talks with Jesus, and what I understand from Scripture.
I don’t believe God is all that terribly surprised that I’ve got junk in the trunk. Still. Even after all these years of walking with Him, I’m still hauling around a big old trunk of junk.
And unbelief? Well, there was a time when I used to get hung up on the fact that I didn’t have everything all figured out … that my mountaintop experiences didn’t last forever, and that sooner or later I’d once again be dragging my feet down in some nasty old valley again, wondering where God was and why He hasn’t rescued me yet. Maybe it’s maturity. Maybe it’s just fatigue. But now, when I’m feeling “wobbly” of spirit (wrestling with fear, doubt, and unbelief), I no longer worry about how much I’m disappointing God by not being the Super Christian that I wish I were (or that religion says I ought to be). Instead, I imagine myself as a small child needing to crawl up on Daddy’s lap and be reminded again how “big and strong He is”, how “un-wavering His love”, how “faithful His Word”. And like any Good Daddy, He doesn’t chide me for temporarily forgetting all those things … He simply re-affirms His Character as revealed in His Word, and reminds me that my identity is rooted in Him, as His Beloved.
On the mountains, I will bow my life
To the one who set me there
In the valley, I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there
When I’m standing on the mountain aft, didn’t get there on my own
When I’m walking through the valley end, no I am not alone!
You’re God of the hills and valleys!
Hills and Valleys!
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone!
~God of the Hills and Valleys, Tauren Wells
That’s what happened yesterday. I was tempted to give in to the voice of fear and doubt. I was tempted to speak failure over my circumstance. I was tempted … but thankfully I caught myself and instead I opened my mouth and spoke of His faithfulness to me over the years. I reminded myself of His Promises to me, and that He has never once left me uncovered or in need. I sang a worship song and praised Him for who He is.
And while the heavens didn’t part, nor did chocolate dollar bills fall from the sky, I did experience (once again) that my confidence in God (faith) overruled my confidence in the enemy (fear), and peace returned.
So if you’ve somehow gotten the impression that just because I blog about my faith, and a few people read what I write, that I am soon to be on the cover of Church-Lady Magazine …. sorry to disappoint!
I’m just a broken vessel, restored but still with a few dings and scratches (they add “character”), sharing from my own spiritual journey of faith.
If you’re ok with that, come on back next week. I’ve sketch out out a new piece and I can hardly wait to show it to you.
PS-in case you’re wondering, the Lord asked my friend to consider all that she’d read in my blog posts to date, and what she knew of me from our one-on-one conversations, and compare that to what the enemy was whispering in her ear. She had resolved the discrepancy on her own before we met up for coffee last week, but it was lovely to be able to talk it through face-to-face (and heart-to-heart). God also used it as a teaching opportunity for me, reminding me that as the blog has gained in popularity (PRAISE GOD!) I am now writing primarily to people who don’t know me and therefore I must be more thoughtful about my choice of wording so that His Character is upheld in my writings.
All sketches and watercolors posted on this website are the sole property of the author and are for exclusive display on the website PuttingHopeToWork.com.
There is a big difference between knowing and believing. One only has to look up to KNOW that planes can fly, but that does not mean that everyone BELIEVES the plane would fly with them in it! That’s exactly how I feel about bungie jumping or skydiving – I have knowledge of and am in agreement with the science behind it, and I am aware that millions have successfully done it following those rules of science … but you are never gonna catch me purposefully jumping out of a plane or leaping off a bridge. Nope!! Not gonna happen!
Sadly, I think that’s how many of us approach FAITH. We have knowledge of and are in agreement with what the Bible says, but when it comes to putting our trust (either emotionally, spiritually, or physically) in what we say we know and believe … well, if we were to be brutally honest with ourselves, maybe we don’t actually believe all that we say we believe. The Bible calls this “unbelief”, and if you are breathing today, you wrestle with unbelief just like I do.
It’s the knife-in-the-gut feeling when the doctor and says
“I need you to schedule an appointment to see me”. (The Bible says I’m healed by His stripes but the doc says otherwise)
It’s the sweat on the brow when you’ve got more bills
at the end of the month than money to pay them. (The Bible says He has provided for your every need but your checkbook tells another story)
It’s the anxiety that sweeps over you at night, keeps you tossing and turning,
perhaps even manifests in your dreams. (The Bible says He gives sweet sleep to those He loves but yours is troubled or nonexistent)
“Unbelief puts our circumstance between us and God, but faith puts God between us and our circumstances.” F.B. Meyer
UNBELIEF often lives in the space between FACT and TRUTH.
I have $7.02 dollars in my checking account
My God has supplied all my needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus! Because I’m a faithful tither, God has opened the windows of heaven for me and has poured out so much blessing upon me that I can’t contain it. He has also rebuked the devourer so that every seed I’ve sown through the work of my hands, or by charitable giving and good works is protected and guaranteed to produce bountifully. My work is blessed and my finances are growing. I have no fear for what tomorrow may bring, for my God has made a covenant promise to provide for me. I thank Him now for all that He is doing behind the scenes that I can’t see from my limited perspective. He is faithful, my hope is in Him, and (Bible) Hope does not disappoint.
It’s been probably 12-15 years since Pastor Deryck gave me the battle plan to “pray, worship, and speak the Name of Jesus” before going to bed at night to confront the enemy who was attacking me in my sleep. But that was just the beginning and over time, the Lord added more tools (greater wisdom with understanding) to my arsenal and I became a more skilled warrior against the adversary of my soul. Not only for deliverance from dreams and nightmares, but in gaining victory over a life-long battle with fear.
1) It requires diligence and effort on your part to weed out Unbelief and let FAITH (confident trust and expectation in the Word/Promises of God) over-write your human tendencies to doubt the integrity of God’s Word … which is what gives place to fear.
2) Fear and FAITH can not abide in the same place (spirit) – one is going to over-rule the other, and you get to choose which one stays and which one goes.
“Faith comes by hearing (and hearing and hearing and hearing) the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).
3) The process for increasing FAITH is immersion in the Word of God. Read it (often and preferably out loud, so that you can take it into your spirit via both the eye-gate and ear-gate), memorize Scripture applicable to your situation, and consume so much Word that it begins to take over your thought life and speech.
“First, read the Word of God. Second, consume the Word of God until it consumes you. Third, believe the Word of God. Fourth, act on the Word of God.” ~Smith Wigglesworth
4) Sooner or later, God’s Word is going to challenge what you believe to be true (or perhaps what you want to believe is truth). That’s when you are going to have to make a decision. Just like there is a big difference between knowing-vs-believing, there is a big difference between Fact-and-Truth. God is not changing His mind, nor is He changing His Word. So … are you going to continue to hold to what you think or want to be true, or will you surrender your will and make the decision to believe (trust in, rely on) what God says about it?
So now let me tell you a little about the artwork. Kenneth E Hagin once recounted a story told to him by Smith Wigglesworth, which I have since found memorialized online.
Wigglesworth knew the devil and treated him for what he was…defeated. Smith shares a story of an encounter with the advisory:
“We were sleeping one night, when the manifestation of evil filled the room and the spirit of fear gripped both of us. Polly was so frightened she could not open her eyes. I suddenly sat up, in the bed, and saw the devil. I rubbed my eyes to be sure, it was him. I said, ‘Oh! It’s only you.’ I then turned to Polly and told her to go back to sleep, it was nothing of consequence, and I laid my head back down. Suddenly an overwhelming sense of peace and love filled the room and we had the most blessed sleep ever.”
That really made an impression on me, and I told the Lord “I would like to get to that point, where I can wake up and tell the devil, ‘Oh, It’s just you.’ and roll back over and go to sleep.”
Friend, lest you have a misconception – victory didn’t come overnight.
When I first began implementing Pastor Deryck’s instructions, and once I finally managed to wake and shake free from my nightmare – I would fly out of bed, flip on the lights, and walk around my bedroom (sometimes the entire house) praying in tongues and casting out every devil and demon spirit I could think of or imagine. Sometimes I carried on for 5 minutes … sometimes 25 minutes before I felt secure enough (in mind and spirit) to return to bed. I bet our cats thought I was quite a sight to see.
Over time, the dream came less frequently, but it still came.
It was a thrill for me when I didn’t feel the need to jolt out of bed to take authority over my home. Under cover of warm blankets, I commanded the enemy to get lost and called on Daddy-God to dispatch His biggest and fiercest warriors to stand guard around (above and beneath) me and my girls the rest of the night. Or more truthfully, I requisitioned the “Big-Ass Angels”. Ain’t nobody gonna wanna mess with them!!
The dream came less frequently, but it still came from time to time.
“One day a pet dog followed a lady out of her house and ran all around her feet. She said to the dog…’I cannot have you with me today.’ The dog wagged its tail and made a big fuss. She said, ‘ go home, my dear.’ But the dog did not go. At last she shouted roughly, ‘ go home,’ and off it went. Some people deal with the devil like that. The devil can stand all the comfort you like to give him. Get firm, cast him out! You are not dealing with a person; you are dealing with the devil…(he) must be dislodged in the name of the Lord.” ~Smith Wigglesworth
The real victory came when I noticed the feeling of being in a drug-induced fog was losing its grip on me and that I was waking up easier and sooner in the dream. After reminding myself that my Jesus was with me, and I’d imagine Him sitting on the end of my bed – watching over me – and back to sleep I’d go.
This is what I wanted to capture in the artwork, and I’m really pleased with the piece. The devil lost the battle when I’d grown strong enough in my faith (trust in God) that while still half-asleep I’d lift one arm up in the air and mumble out the Name “Jeee-sus”… then roll right over and be back asleep in no time flat!!
Smith Wigglesworth: “Oh, It’s only you.”
Friend, wherever you are on your journey of faith, know this. “You are more than a conquerer through Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:31-39). May these words encourage your heart and embolden your spirit so that you may take of the victory that has been assigned to you!
When launching Inspire! Art, I made a public promise to charitable giving.
” We believe in giving of our time, talent and treasure. In addition to free e-color books, every purchase of Inspire! Art products helps to provide free product and/or financial support to programs serving elderly adults as well as children with special needs”.
Last week, at the invitation of Marketta Rosecka-Vilimek, CPD, Director of Recreation and Art Instruction of Susanna, I sat in on one of the many Art Therapy classes offered at Whitney Place at Westborough. Our class was attended by approx. 15 students from their memory care facility, and I can honestly say that it was the joy of my week! The passion, whit and humor of these woman quickly infused the room and before long laughter swallowed up anxiety as new (or new-again) friendships were made and creativity flowed.
I shared a few pictures on Instagram (here) and below is a photo of one of the art pieces created by Miss Ann.
We (Inspire! Art) may be a small fish in a very large sea of art supply products, but we are sure having a lot of fun swimming around and doing good where we can!
We are currently working on VOLUME II of our free e-colorbook series and are hoping to launch a new product in time for holday shopping! Your prayers are appreciated.
A close up of Miss Ann’s creation. Definitely not the bowl of apples we were invited to paint, Miss Ann instead let #Inspiration carry her away to a new place. It was a privilege to watch this emerge from her mind and spirit!
This is a continuation of my testimony which I began writing at Week 20, but more narrowly focused on my decades-long history with recurring dreams and nightmares. I’ve written of them before over the years, and shared how the Lord (through the counsel of my Pastor) instructed me to take authority over them. But never as part of my chronological testimony, nor as detailed as I have within the blog categories “My Story” and “Of Dreams and Nightmares”.
In my last post, I shared the nightmare that plagued me in my adult years (early 30’s through early 50’s). It began after the death of my abusive broken father, and a few years after my divorce finalized from “T”, an abusive sociopath to whom I was married for just under 10 years.
(Hmm. It just doesn’t sit well with me to label my dad as “abusive father” in this post, and yet I have no qualms about labeling “T” as abusive. I wonder why that is? Of course what he did to his daughters was abusive! But I now realize it was brokenness that drove him to violate our innocence. He repented, and aside from incest, he was a good dad. OMgosh-that sounds so crazy to write down!! Like saying: “OK Suzie, aside from losing your left arm, right leg, and both eyeballs, you’re just fine. Go out and live a happy and successful life.” But he was a good dad in many ways; he taught me fish, and drive. He taught me how to problem solve and surely my mechanical aptitude is from his influence. He worked hard to provide for his family, and rarely complained of the hardships of his life. I hate what my dad did to his daughters, but I love my dad. And I miss him. It comforts me to know that because he accepted Jesus as Lord, I’ll see him in heaven one day – restored to wholeness, emotionally and spiritually.
I have similar feelings about my mom. In a recent “Morning Sip” post I briefly mentioned the first time she disowned me as her daughter. It soon after I left “T”, and she had come to stay with me for a few weeks while we (my daughters and I) got settled into an apartment. I returned home from work one day, and my oldest daughter (7 years old) was terribly upset. When I asked what was the matter, she told me “Grandma told her not to cry in front of me, because it upset me.” We all walked on eggshells in my house growing up, because mom’s anger was fierce, and she did not like being crossed! But I didn’t want that for my girls, I wanted to protect them – not have them protect me! So as politely as I could, I explained to my mom that in this/my house, it was OK to cry. And then we had a heart to heart – she and I. I specifically remember laying my head on her lap, her stroking my hair, and I told her how alone I felt at certain times growing up. It seemed a precious mother-daughter connection. Two days later announced she was cutting her stay short because of a migraine. About a week later, I received a hand written card disowning me as her daughter. It was the first of 3 times she disowned me … then I stopped counting. The point is, that my daughters never knew their grandma – she threw me and them out like dirty old bathwater, and died never knowing how awesome they are, what incredible women of God they are, how they carry her strength and fortitude but without her brokenness. She was saved, but she still had a lot of brokenness in her life, with increasing complications of dementia in her later years. Like with my dad, I’m comforted to know that when I see her again in heaven, she will have cast off her brokenness and be the woman that God originally created her to be.
“Faith will not work with an unforgiving heart.” ~Gloria Copeland
“T” on the other hand … well, he was (probably still is) abusive and his behavior was very intentional, even methodical, and long term. And unlike my father when confronted in the hospital, “T” never repented. Never. Even when it cost him relationship with his children (and ultimately grandchildren), he still refused to acknowledge and own up to the destructiveness of his behavior. Unless the Lord gives him a heart transplant, he will most likely die never really knowing a good portion of his own children and grandchildren. Praise God that I’ve been able to forgive “T” for all he has done. I don’t like him, and certainly want nothing to do with him anymore … but I’ve forgiven him and have turned him over to the Lord for judgement. Please say a prayer for him – he is a lost soul headed for hell.)
Whoops – sorry about that spaghetti trail folks. Where was I?
Oh yea, the dream … THE dream. The visitor in the night dream. The very real physical feelings of being violated in my sleep dream. The dream that had its own “Siren Song”, seducing me to stay a while longer.
There were some aspects of The Dream that were initially pleasurable (if you get my drift), and I mentioned this once to Terri. She was the Worship Leader’s wife and survivor of long-term sexual abuse as a teen and young woman. Blushingly I said something along the lines of “everybody has dreams like this.” She looked at me like I had suddenly grown three heads … “No. No, they don’t,” she replied. A few weeks later, I was encircled by some mighty prayer warriors who laid hands on me and warred on my behalf. Not only were demonic spiritual ties broken off me, but they prophesied over me of my new identity in Christ Jesus. I began to understand that I didn’t have to be victim to the harassment of the enemy anymore – that Christ had already won the battle for me and what I needed to do was to learn to stand IN that victory. And as Bible-Truth began to take hold in my heart and spirit, my mind began to “defragment” and a new Operating System” was downloaded. I was learning to walk victoriously in my new Identity and in doing so, The Dream ceased to have power over me and soon thereafter stopped visiting me.
“It’s important to base your faith on what the Word says about any situation. Living by faith is a way of life for the believer. So begin to feed your inner man with the Word of God until he/she becomes strong.” ~Kenneth Copeland
But as I’ve said before – the devil hates losing territory. That is why we must remain alert, for the devil is a sneaky cuss!
Like a fisherman changes tactics when the fish aren’t striking on one bait, the devil will change tactics and come at you a different way when from time to time. And like any true Angler, the devil will also periodically shuffle through his tackle box of tactics to see if any of the old baits will now work in a new season of your life. The good news is that the devil is a defeated foe and while we may be inclined by our fallen nature “take the bait” from time to time, Jesus Christ has removed all the hooks from his lures! We are only held captive if we keep our mouth closed over the bait … but if we will open our mouths and profess our victory in the Name of Jesus Christ, the devil is utterly powerless to prevent our escape!!
Amen! (I really like that analogy!!)
Another spaghetti trail … can you tell I’ve been fishing this summer?!?!?? 😊
Several years later, and after moving across country, I began experiencing The Dream again. I was still a single parent, and except for my church family (spiritual moms, dads, sisters and brothers), I’d lost relationship with most of my own family due to my mom’s brokenness and false accusations she made against me. Anyways, as my girls hit their teens they did some teen stuff. It was a rough season for a lot of reasons, and at a very tired and vulnerable place in my life, The Dream returned.
“Be alert, be on watch! Your enemy, the Devil, roams around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” ~1 Peter 5:8 (GNT)
I can’t tell you how disturbing this was to me! I’d experienced victory over The Dream for several years, and yet here it was again! And this time, it seemed even more demonic because it held me captive in a type of foggy “in-betweenness” (suspended between sleep and wakefulness) while continuing to violate me … and I felt utterly helpless to do anything about it!! Eventually, I called my Pastor, who gave me the counsel that flipped the game and in time put the enemy on the run!
STEP 1: Visualize Jesus with you in the circumstance STEP 2: Download a Superior Operating System STEP 3: Prepare – prepare for battle
Put on your armor (actually, put on HIS armor – it works every time!)
Guard your eyes, ears and thoughts
Open your mouth and speak God’s Word over your life/situation/circumstances (almost guaranteed I’m going to write about this in an upcoming post :))
Feed your Spirit (this too! :))
STEP 4: Position – position yourself for the greatest advantage over the enemy
Pray before going to bed (hope-filled, expectant prayers of faith that God will guard and protect you in your sleep)
Worship, Worship, Worship (worshipping ushers in the Spirit of God, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, the enemy will flee!!)
Speak the Name of Jesus (even demons fear His Name!)
When weary, ADP! (Apply Direct Pressure!)
STEP 5: Punch – when the enemy draws near you, you’ve got to ball up your fist, and PUNCH-HIM-OUT!
Stir up your faith and TROUBLE the one who is troubling you! Really hit him where it hurts by quoting Scripture to him and calling on your Daddy-God to strengthen you. Rebuke that old devil and command he leave in Jesus Name … and He will!! Not because you’re oh so mighty and powerful – but because your Daddy-God is giving the him the evil-eye (because you called on Him as your defender, and because you trust in Him to be faithful to His Word to do so! ), and there ain’t no devil in hell that wants to lock horns with your Daddy!! (he’s already done that, and is still whimpering about it!)
Personally, I like to meditate on the verses where the devil gets his teeth knocked clear out of his face!! (Psalm 3:7, Psalm 58:6) 🙂