Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Savannah Smiles

Brooke, my sweet "adopted" daughter, Kellie, and I had the honor of traveling to Savannah, GA to spend time with some amazing folks, Jason Lee Jones, his family, and church family.
Jason is an anointed worship leader who travels the world, leading worshipers into the throne room. He has been an integral part of Brooke's story.
One day during Harvest School, Brooke had a powerful vision. She and her Harvest School sister, Lorraine, were set on fire and burned up til there was nothing left but ashes, then God poured Living Water on them and brought them back to life. As Brooke was trying to tell Lorraine about this, Jason (of course, not knowing what Brooke was seeing in the spirit) began singing about fire!
God told Brooke that He was burning away everything in these girls that was not Him. He wanted to totally consume them. For ten days, the girls experienced His Presence as an all-consuming Fire, and for ten days, Jason (still knowing nothing of this vision) sang about fire!
Just when Brooke thought she couldn't take it any more, because what she was experiencing was so intense, Jason announced that they'd been singing about fire long enough and it was time for some Living Water!!  Wow!!  Only God!!!
It was this encounter with the Living God that led Brooke to get baptized by the Holy Spirit in the Indian Ocean. It was this encounter that God took her back to again and again following the tragedy she walked through in February.
A few weeks ago Brooke and some Harvest School sisters got to travel to Sarasota to visit their friends who were leading Harvest School there. This trip was marked by favor in too many ways to count, but one way is that Brooke got to meet Jason and his precious family. She got to share with them her whole story and the role Jason played in it. What a blessing that Jason told Brooke he wanted to adopt her as his spiritual daughter. He prayed an impartation prayer over her, basically freely giving to her what he's freely received in the realm of prophetic worship, particularly in Portuguese, since Brooke wants to teach the boys how to lead worship and they speak Portuguese.
Jason's ministry is based in Savannah. He had a rare free weekend at home which coincided with a rare free weekend for us, so the three of us headed down to spend some time there.
Jason has such a Papa heart and pours into so many young people's lives. So refreshing to spend time with world changers. His lovely wife, Gina is wise beyond her years and I enjoyed visiting with her in a picturesque park setting. The two of them are raising two little world changers of their own, Josiah and Faith Tuesday. What joy they carry!
We also spent time with Josh and Rachael, who met at Harvest School and are now engaged to be married. They both tap into the heart of worship in a very special way and it was a blessing to be around them, soaking up their passion for Jesus.
Friday morning we spent some time at the Jones' home, then we drove into Savannah for lunch, and dropped by Jason's mom's house for a brief visit. She is paralyzed and Jason adores her. As we entered her room, there was such a sweetness radiating from her. We prayed over her, blessed her, and left feeling very honored that we got to meet her.
Friday evening we went to Jason's church, which meets in a beautiful home. Since our church, The Nest also meets on Friday evenings and we started out in a home, it felt like home to us. The biggest difference was that here we usually worship with recorded music, but there Jason led live worship. It was water to my soul.
Jason then said he felt like some folks were in need of a hug from Papa and he would be honored to be His arms, so several came down to the rug where he was sitting and he just embraced them. Some were visibly touched by the Father's love in a deep way. Love looks like something and love is simple. That moment, it looked like a hug.
Jason shared a good word then introduced Brooke, who shared her testimony. While she shared, Josh scooted over near me, removed my shoes, and bowed over them, washing my feet with his tears. I could feel the warmth of his breath on top of my bare feet, and I was undone. Such a humbling experience. There really are no words. The next day as we ate lunch while touring lovely Savannah, Josh announced to the table that Brooke was his hero. While in Sarasota he'd wept over Brooke's feet as well. He said she looked like Jesus to him and I was his Mary. He honored me for saying yes to God. Wow, Jesus. As I said, no words will suffice, except humbling...
After Brooke shared, Jason asked me to join her on the rug and everyone gathered around and prayed over us. I could feel love and honor pouring out all over us. So beautiful.
Then Jason said he sensed there were people there who needed freedom from fear and asked Brooke and me to pray over anyone who needed it. He asked those who wanted prayer to raise their hands and there was a pretty, petite girl sitting right next to me who raised her hand, so I put my arm around her and she collapsed into my arms, weeping. I just sat there and held her, stroking her back, loving on her, praying as words came, but mostly I just embraced her, allowing Jesus to love her and break off chains of fear through me. 
A young man came to me and asked if I would pray for his wife. I prayed as the Spirit led and as I chatted with her afterward, I discovered that her dad is the one bound up in fear, which keeps her from fully walking in her destiny, because she doesn't want to cause him worry. I shared with her that I too used to be bound up in fear, but what God used to break it off me was declaring His Word out loud. I took up my sword of the spirit and declared its truth over the lies behind fear over and over again until I was finally free. Freely I have received, so freely I gave to this precious one and her dad. Do it again, Lord!
I love being on the receiving end of love, but even more I love being on the giving end. Being able to minister in His Name makes my spirit come alive. What an honor to be His hands and feet.
Saturday I was the "old lady" walking around town with all the young "whippersnappers"!  They were so sweet to let me tag along and I thoroughly enjoyed their company. While enjoying the lovely city of Savannah, we did one of my other favorite things - swapped God stories! At lunch I sat by a young man named Isaiah who looks like Bruno Mars and has an incredible testimony! He shared his story and I shared with him stories from treasure hunts God has taken me on. He peppered Brooke with questions about life in Mozambique, since he's praying about joining Jason on his next trip over. This young man is a dazzling bright light in the Kingdom!
After a long day of sightseeing, we returned to Jason and Gina's house, even though neither of them was there, and popped popcorn, made brownies, played Wii, and just hung out. Then Josh pulled out his guitar and he, Rachael, and Brooke led us in some spontaneous worship. Perfect way to end a wonderful day.
We drove back home Sunday with happy hearts, thanking God for this new branch of our family tree. I just love the way He knits hearts together with His children all over the world. He knits us together with the thread of His love. Loving The One through worship and loving the one through honoring and ministering in His Name, which in turn, is a way of loving Him, since He's the One Who calls us to love...wow! What a blessing to be part of this beautiful cycle. It does indeed make me smile...which makes Him smile...well...you get the picture!

Monday, April 22, 2013

We Will Go March 2013, Days 3 and 4

See previous post for days 1 and 2 of our Spring Break mission trip to We Will Go. 

On Monday love looked like physical labor as we helped work on restoring one of the former crack houses to make it a place where Kingdom work will take place. I was so proud of all our kids as they donned masks and gloves and ripped down dry wall, hauled lumber, pulled nails, swept, and did everything the adults did with no complaining. Since we have now been to WWG a number of times, they have seen the transformation with their own eyes and they now have a sense of ownership in this beautiful place where the restoration of these houses is a prophetic declaration of the restoration of lives by the love and power of Jesus! What an honor to be a small part of such a big thing! Wow, Jesus!

Tuesday is Hands and Feet day at WWG. This means walking with neighbors though the clothing shop, assisting them in finding garments and toiletries, loving them, and praying with them. I got to go through with Ms. Hattie. What a sweetheart!  I held her well-loved Bible with the purple cover for her while she chose outfits and shared her story with me. She is the rock in her family...the one who takes care of her ailing daughter and rebellious grandson...she is the glue that holds them together and sometimes that gets hard, but thankfully Ms. Hattie knows and loves The One Whose yoke is easy and burden light. We returned to Peace House for Bible Study and prayer. I served Ms Hattie some hot coffee and returned her Bible to her, which she cradled in her arms as the precious treasure it is.
After a quick bite to eat, we went back to work. This time we split up into various groups...some cleaning up the worship pavilion and readying it for the Passover meal to take place later in the week...some helping with front porch ministry as canned goods and love are given to those with appointments...some doing yard work...and some cleaning Love House to bless the sweet missionaries who live there. This last is the team I ended up on. The first time we went to WWG, I cleaned this same house, but for a precious family who lived there at the time. Now it is occupied by single girls who have said yes to Jesus. 
On Saturday, a new friend had found his way to WWG. His name is Marvin and he'd walked three miles in the cold because he was told he would find love and help there. Because of abuse in his childhood, he was a confused man who was dressed as a woman, complete with hair extensions, fake nails, a high-pitched voice, and he called himself Marvina. Amy loved him where he was, shared Jesus with him, and he gave Him his life that very day. She brought him upstairs when I was organizing the clothing shop and we helped him find some men's pants and shoes in his size, and she helped him remove the extensions.
He returned every day we were there. On Tuesday, as we cleaned Love House, he sat at the table with Brooke and Sarah, as they helped him with one more step of his transformation, the removal of his fake nails. Afterward, we gathered around him and prayed, prophesying and declaring his true identity as a beloved SON, a MAN after God's own heart, an OAK of RIGHTEOUSNESS! Wow, what an honor!
So, Tuesday love looked a myriad of ways...just like Jesus, Who IS Love is multi-faceted...we can never exhaust the possible ways of loving in His Name, because His love is limitless...whether it's given to a sweet woman who has walked with Him all her life, a missionary who has sacrificed the comfortable life, or a confused man who has been tormented by the enemy...Love meets us where we are and transforms us into His likeness.
When Jesus returned to Heaven, He gave us our marching orders. He gave us the key to the Kingdom. He gave us the authority to act on His behalf. This day we were His hands and feet, loving The One and loving the one...

We Will Go March 2013, Days 1 and 2

We were blessed to be able to return once again to one of my favorite places on earth, We Will Go Ministries in Jackson, MS. On our way down on Friday, we finally got to meet my dear sister/friend, Tina Boyd (Nick's Mom). We enjoyed a long lunch with her and time to get to know one another better. Funny how we feel so close to one another, especially with all we've been through together, yet this was our first actual face to face meeting!  What an amazing woman she is! Such an honor to do life with her.

Someone else I'm honored to do life with is my precious covenant friend, Karen. We've been dear friends for 20 years and she is my greatest intercessor. We met while pregnant with our girls and have been on an incredible journey together. What a blessing to get to stay in her home with her sweet family.

Saturday we went to work day at We Will Go. Every time we visit it feels like a family reunion, getting to hug necks of people we hold so dear. I ended up on Meridith's team. Mer is an amazing missionary at WWG who Brooke met on her first trip to Mozambique with the Lancaster's, while Mer was a student at Harvest School. God knit their hearts together and while Brooke was at Harvest School a few months ago, Meridith and Laura came to Nashville and stayed in our home. Laura and her sweet family live in one of the bunkhouses at WWG. I felt an instant kinship with these two faith warriors and it was so precious getting to spend time with them this week.

Anyway, back to serving on Mer's team...we headed to the clothing shop to do some organizing upstairs. A team from the International House of Prayer in Kansas City was visiting and some of them ended up in our group as well. We enjoyed getting to know one another while sorting and praying over clothing donations. Saturday evening I went back to Karen's and enjoyed time with her family, then Sunday we went back to WWG to meet up with the rest of our team from The Nest. We moved into the bunkhouses and prayer walked while waiting for afternoon church to begin. On our way back to the worship pavilion, we noticed a couple sitting on the steps in front of the cemetery, eating an orange. We stopped to say hi and invite them to church. The man, who called himself "Red", shared that he knew and loved Jesus, but just didn't feel like he could join us for worship. We shared with him that Jesus loves him just as he is and that all are welcome in His house. It was getting time to head back, so we said goodbye, then he started sharing again. This went on several more times until finally we just had to politely move on with one last invitation for them to join us.

We entered the nearly full worship pavilion, hugging lots of folks we hadn't gotten to see until then...again like a sweet family reunion...Brooke had the honor of sharing her story with everyone, then David shared a good word about perseverance. After service, we transformed the worship pavilion into a dining hall and sat, ate, and fellowshipped with neighbors. I ended up sitting beside sweet Mr. Cliff. He looked and smelled like he had not bathed in months and was missing so many teeth, I could only understand about half of what he said, but he had the most precious twinkle in his eye and a lopsided grin that was so endearing...when he found out I was from Nashville, he beamed proudly as he said he'd gone to grad school at Vanderbilt in the '60s. I wondered how in the world someone with a master's degree had ended up in this condition, but I didn't ask. Instead I just listened to him the best I could as he talked and talked. I noticed others starting to clean up and tried to get up to help, but he continued to talk. As I finally broke away from the conversation to help with clean-up duties, I patted him on the back, blessing him, then moved on.

Later as I reflected on the day's events, and asked God "What did love look like today?", I realized some of the obvious things such as hugging necks of beloved friends/family, serving, praying, etc...but what He revealed to me as I thought about Red and Cliff was that with them love looked like simply listening to them talk. It occurred to me that they are lonely and while thankful for the invitation to church and the hot meal, what they really craved that day was a listening ear and companionship. 

It's not complicated. It's really very simple. Sometimes love looks like listening. God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. We should listen twice as much as we speak. Listening to someone, no matter how they look or smell, shows them they are a person of value and worth simply because they are created in the very image of God Himself...they are someone Jesus thought was worth dying for...they are someone worth loving...

Listening...a simple yet beautiful way to love The One and love the one...