So a friend emailed recently, asking for advice/encouragement in her journey. I replied with something off hand… but when she replied to that I reread what I wrote, and found it encouraged even me, who only wrote it a month ago.
” Here is my encouragement to you with your hope and desire for marriage, romance, and fulfilment of your deepest desire and concerning this guy. Try to step away from the table.. you know the table we all sit at waiting with knife and fork in our hands, looking and waiting and smelling what He is preparing. Sometimes we are perched with hungry hearts and so much excitement and longing for what He is making. We are waiting, seated, looking….
But a better picture I challenge you to engage in, although I am sure you do mostly, but to pursue it even more, stepping away from from the table, setting the fork, and knife down, taking your eyes off the plate and ignore the smell for a bit, but step back. You can stand by the table, ( your not leaving the room) but stand with arms lifted high, your voice being lifted in constant praise, adoration, affection and worship for who HE is. Attempt to worship with no ulterior motives… you know how we come to give to Him, but always hoping and wanting Him to speak to and impart to us? The Lord has challenged me in this, that my prayer life is excellent but my walk has been imbalanced as I pray more than I worship. It doesn’t matter that most is for others… its imbalanced if we are not equally if not more engaged in worship and praise then we are petitioning and listening.
When my son runs up to me totally unsolicited and hugs my leg or neck, or looks up at me with an unexpected kiss; there is no greater feeling to a parent. I didn’t ask for it, I wasn’t even looking for it, but it was a spontaneous expression of his heart for me; he wanted to express love to me. He knows I will hug back, and its okay when we expect to receive in worship… He will always hug back. But what if we come all day, everyday, regardless of what we will get out of it, and offer our hearts in adoration and affection, maybe when we run out of words and songs we just praise with our spirits.
If your human you will always be glancing back to see if the food is coming along, you will be tempted to look, gaze, and check in, and see if the table is set, is the time getting closer? But the daily, weekly, monthly pursuit of worship as your end goal, to offer to him a heart that appreciates who He is, (more than what He does) rejoicing in what He already did.; this will cultivate deeper intimacy with Him, pleasure in Him, enjoyment of Him and then the wait time flies by, and you may even step back and wonder if this was the feast He was preparing after all. ”
If your waiting for something you feel He has promised, I bless you with patience, a heart of intense gratitude, faith, trust and increasing delight in the ONE who is here, who has already granted us more than we can understand.
So I never wrote my PART II of Diaries of a Cray Cray White Woman. Sorry about that, as if so many have been waiting in suspense. Just to conclude my last blog, I am pretty obsessed with essential oils, they have helped me, a lot more at first but still I use so many of them all day, every day, and my Dad calls me a sangoma now (African witch doctor); my mom is my apprentice, and I have recruited a few other users. If you want to learn about the powerful and natural health interventions of essential oils, email my mentor Sangoma Allison at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The last 6 months I have spent many more days on my back, in pain, than vertically enjoying friends, community life, ministry, and family. I handed the daily Baby Safe operations over to the very talented and beautiful Nosiviwe; a long time dream of mine to pass leadership to a local African. Baby Safe is in a time of transition, not just because of me and there are some exciting, long term, developments cooking.
In January last year, someone had a picture for me about playing soccer ( ha! as if! – this has always positioned me as the black sheep of the family). This soccer player had been on the field, playing hard, but was pulled out of the game and put on the side lines; the vibe of the whole thing was that playing had been really good, but sitting out for a time can be good too. The “goodness” of this metaphor took a long time for me to embrace. I was exhausted from playing, especially having played with an injury the whole game, but the sidelines?
That is where I have been, my time spent in ministry has been reduced exponentially. In fact my life has dramatically changed. My abilities in friendship, marriage, and parenting have all been severely effected. I am currently treating adrenal gland burn out, permeable intestines, auto immune disease, migraines, blah, blah, blah I could keep listing and I just had to get my first pair of glasses, as my vision is all of a sudden bad. (Is it weird that I am kind of excited to incorporate a new accessory into my life? I am sure they will grow annoying very soon.)
I’m not dying, in fact even as I sit here in my bed with severe throbbing, aching and migraines, for the 3rd day in a row (with my “joy” aromatherapy, oil blend being diffused next to me, no doubt); I truly believe I am on the mend. I say this even though the pain has never been worse, now that I am off 3 of 4 drugs, in order to heal the intestine, in order to heal the inflammation (hypothetically). Mostly waiting expectantly for a supernatural release, as I’ve been clenching the hem of Jesus’ garment for a while now. I actually used to be clenching, now I am just comfortably reaching.
Thankfully over the last 8 years, I am totally over the depression part of chronic pain. I am over the identity part of compromised effectiveness and the lowering of my standards to do things excellently, to just trying to stay afloat. I’ve even gotten comfortable with inactivity in many ways. I’m over the guilt part, and the disappointment part, and am able to admit the gravity of how much I feel like I have loss. This has been so hard to come to terms with, “loss”? To admit that I have lost aspects of who I am was so difficult because I felt like I was betraying a very real sense of gratitude for who HE is, and for how much He has given me. But grieving that loss does not cross-cancel gratitude, it only purges the heart to make room for more thankfulness and a joy that is not dependent on circumstances but on a relationship with the one who is JOY.
I have learned that when God speaks that He will do something, it usually takes quadruple the time that we expect it will. And (most of the time) at some point, what He says He will do will look 100% impossible. Often when it seems the most unlikely, that is when you know the fulfilment is drawing near. Some people simply expect that life is full of curve balls, that we shouldn’t take calamity, tragedy, unfortunate circumstances personal; that this is life. That its not evidence of God personally singling us out. But I disagree and Jesus pointed to the opposite when He taught.
We should consider all hardships training; personal tutelage from from the Father of life. We should take it personally. We have been singled out to be invested in, to be very closely coached through the fire and the waters of life. “No discipline (training) seems pleasant at the time but afterwords it will produce a harvest of righteousness and peace.” ( Hebrews 12). Like an Olympian who actually hires a trainer to become the best athlete in the world, we are being given free training in the art of trust, perseverance, intimacy with the Creator. That is, if we yield to the trainer and work the program.
I know Jesus well enough now to trust His intentions; His long term perspective. I am all about the end game, zooming out of the ground level, worm’s eye view and getting the expansive, bird’s eye big picture. Our pain is not His pleasure, and He does not cause it, but rather allows it to chisel us into leaders that hear Him and more effectively channel His leadership upon the earth. If we submit to the life changing battles, and cling to humility, faith, and trust in His kind nature, we can be confident that He is always aligning things for our benefit. In fact physical pain and temporary extraction from one’s calling, is a well documented phase in leadership development.
I find it comforting than many influential, Jesus-following leaders in history have encountered long periods of sickness; Charles Spurgeon, Amy Carmichael, Oral Roberts, Watchmen Nee, Richard Wurmbrand, David Livingston, the list could go on and on. I am not comparing myself to these people, but if you read the autobiographies of Christian leaders, almost all will have experienced a season of tragedy and intense perseverance.
My stories right now are not of neglected babies found in the bushes or suicidal mothers transformed by love, but mere reports that include not leaving my house for sometimes a week at a time, and letting someone else take care of my son because I can’t really move, depending on my husband & friends in ways I never imagined I would have too. But it’s also included resting in supernatural peace while the pain rages on and genuinely rejoicing in the experiential knowledge of His perfect love. Learning that the heart’s condition is so much more important to the Father then output and production. That all effective ministry stems from “being”, and there are specific phases of personal development that can only be achieved through the raw and intense journey of exchanging one’s values; the mismanaged priority of “doing” for the grand and heavenly value of resting and abiding in Him.
For those of you who have been pregnant with a longing, desire or need that seems perpetually unfulfilled, I exhort you to be strong and take heart, do not abandon your expectation but patiently trust that what He has conceived in you, will come to pass. What He has spoken or promised you has an inherently dependable, quality. He does not mislead, in fact He leads, shields, guides, and teaches us so gently, and the depth of the challenge is in direct proportion to His commitment to you. He is busy refining your spirit & soul, so that you become mature and complete, not lacking anything. Pour yourself into learning the art form of rest in waiting, grapple with the truth that your value does not come from what you do for God or others. Obedience to His expectations of you, not your own or those of others, is how we must measure success.
“Shall I bring to the [moment of] birth and not cause to bring forth? says the Lord. Shall I Who causes to bring forth shut the womb? says your God.” Isaiah 66:9
Where have I been? What have we been up to? Why haven’t I blogged in over 11 months… Why haven’t you seen me in South Africa or the USA?
I will tell you right now.
Sullivan was born 9 months ago. My brand-new baby boy was finally here, but pre-birth was the hardest season of my life (thus far). The first four months of pregnancy, I was so nauseously sick that I was not functional. I also had extensive throbbing joint pain (RA), burning Fibromyalga pain through out my whole body, radiating rib pain, and an aching tailbone, all with having to stop my normal medicines for pregnancy. Yes, I carried a Walgreen’s donut pillow everywhere to sit on… I also left it in many places having to send John to abashedly return to get it. I put the most neutral, non-attention grabbing pillowcase on it, trying to disguise what looked like some weird toilet bowl devise for an invalid. I could not work my first trimester, we left for the US (2012) for my 2nd trimester and I threw up the last time as my parent’s picked us up from the airport and we drove to their house. Escaping the Cape Town winter felt so relieving, and the nauseous stage of pregnancy aside which felt like a 4 month long nightmare, was even more relieving. While in the US, I received miraculous healing for reoccurring pain in my back, and the majority of my Fibromyalgia symptoms (this was major and did decrease my pain), but I could not yet rejoice.
In the 3rd trimester my C1, C2 & C3 vertebrae kept coming out of place, due to my jaw pulling them out. The chiro would adjust, but it seemed in vain: for instance, I would stop in Masi on the way home, sitting in the car turning left to face a friend and listen to her distraught heart, my neck would pull out of place before I even got home (from looking left). The adjustment’s falling out happened over and over. I stopped paying for the chiro and this dysfunction resulted in migraines & inability to sleep, which I was trying to do a lot because it hurt to sit up straight with the ribs & the tailbone issues. I was lucky if I made it past 7pm each day. A lack of sleep exacerbated all of these things. I have struggled with the TMJ affecting my neck, head, shoulders and jaw for 8 years, and 4 years of fibro & RA.. and I just some how always pushed through (minus the ribs & tailbone, my sweet son gets the credit for that).
I have learned now that my pushing through was taking place a lot out of my own strength, but not His. I felt like I was trapped in a prison and pleading for my release. I tried to work as much as I could my third trimester but it was filled with anxiety, I think as a result of the physical & emotional stress climaxing over 8 years of chronic pain. I never dealt with anxiety in my life. The Lord had mercy and gave us our son 2 weeks early; labor & delivery was a breeze compared to the pregnancy. In fact the worst pain during this experience was what I felt in my head/jaw/neck & shoulders… because of the strain and position of the bed I was in; epidural definitely in use! Don’t judge me Oregonian, natural birthing maniacs. ; )
Sullivan (Keen Eyes) Bowen (Bow Warrior) – “I will send an unexpected arrow and the enemy will suddenly be wounded.” (psalm 64
Post birth my own personal strength had just plain run out; this was a new experience for me, being strength-less. I am not gonna lie, if you know me well or have followed my blog I was expecting full physical healing when Sullivan was born. In Dec 2010, God spoke that He would heal me in Dec 2012; for those who don’t hear God this specifically or (think) you don’t hear Him at all, I understand the skepticism. But He also said we would get pregnant in April (which we did) and the baby would be born Dec 2012 (the healing date He gave two years prior- was our due date!)… there was much prayer and many other “confirming” things to fuel my expectation. After all, the intense Fibro pain was healed during pregnancy… John & I wanted a family but physical healing for me was the main motivation for becoming pregnant so early in our marriage. This was coming from a place of experience seeing the power and wonders of Jesus on a daily basis. We have seen major physical/spiritual/and emotional healing distributed by Jesus, channeled through us & our community all the time. My faith also came from a history of hearing Him direct & instruct me, often with potentially risky outcomes; yet I obey, and the benefits are exactly what was promised. But letting myself get pregnant with the state of my health was terrifying. I couldn’t imagine the demands of being a parent coexisting with the pain I was in daily. Jesus once said, that “man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” I truly survived on the Psalms, needing to “eat” sometimes 3 to 4 times a day during my pregnancy, just to get through the day with hope & expectation of coming relief.
This was my own photo shoot gone wrong.. yes I look like the poster mom for child neglect here.
My mom & dad visited us in South Africa, two weeks after Sullivan was born.
Finally, Sullivan Bowen was born, and the neck/head/jaw/shoulder pain abated for a few days post delivery & so did the RA… I was battling normal hormonal emotions & anxiety still but cautiously thought, “I heard right! He did it!” – But then my neck/head/jaw/shoulder pain returned within days and the RA came back with a vengeance and I was devastated… Being a mental health professional, I knew I was struggling with mild post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the intensity of the pregnancy, of which a psychiatrist confirmed, in addition to PPD (Post Pardum Depression). I was now facing not just the lack of a conclusion to debilitating pain, but adding another responsibility to the life that already felt too difficult, caring for my very own human being.
Worst of all, I had to face a feeling of betrayal by the Lord. After all I was only following what Jesus taught, the whole ask- knock- keep asking stuff… and the repetitive stuff about expectation in receiving what you asked, in addition to the “if you abide in me… delight in me, your desires are my desires implications…” The crowning horror of it all was the feeling of being so misled by Him. I would never have built up such unlikely expectations had He not specifically implied them, over & over, not just in my own head but through many unsolicited words from others. Me not hearing Him (as intimately as I had presumed), meant I didn’t know Him as well as I thought; we didn’t “commune” as deep as I thought. That I couldn’t depend on & delight in our abiding relationship as much as I thought I could. The rug was pulled out from under me. The intensity of this disappointment lasted at least a month or two. Of course, I simultaneously battled feeling so feeble in faith that I would actually be disgruntled with the King of Kings, who can do whatever He pleases, including changing His plans and who is beyond worthy of my affection, regardless of if He met my expectations or not.
During my first couple months of maternity leave, originally only 3 months, Baby Safe was an invisible weight on my subconscious shoulders… We put plans in place for me not to be needed, as my “responsibility” factor has been incredibly mismanaged over the years.. plus my investment in so many cases, scenarios, community relationships, and team oversight was very difficult to just “turn off.” I ended up having to remove my email from my phone, have my beautiful (temporary) volunteer assistant take command of all of my emails and become a human force field fighting of Baby Safe team members from asking me questions of any sort. The timing of her service in South Africa was divine. I kind of went into a unibomber, shut in mode, minus the explosives. She didn’t even let me hear whispers of the happenings going on, although I still eavsdropped. I was lucky that I even heard about a baby left in our safe, while I was on leave. This separation was totally needed and extremely helpful, although contrary to my “I can push through, multi-task, handle anything, and want to be there for my team,” norm.
Christine Bizzell my lifesaver assistant, Oklahoman International Volunteer, Organizational, Servant Hearted Extraordinare.
I then felt the Lord instructing rather loudly that I needed to take an extended amount of leave past the 3 months. “Unless the Lord builds the house, the laborer labors in vein.” In the same passage He goes on to say that children are a gift from the Lord. These two genuine points seem unrelated to be in the same Psalm, but who am I to judge David’s poems? Originally this seemed totally irresponsible and an incredibly uncomfortable notion. But caring for Sullivan was proving eazy-peazy… this mothering an infant thing was nothing compared to the problem solving, and energy I had been putting out in ministry while enduring pain, even at my 50% output level because of my health. The idea of an extended time of responsibilitylessness (yes I just made up a word) was intensely relieving, and I knew I needed it: emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
So with the approval of the Baby Safe board, after informing our supporters & the team, I extended my leave through now.. September, the return from our USA trip. Once this decision was made, ironically my body got even worse but my heart grew so peaceful. I’ve learned (& my psychiatrist confirmed) that after extensive periods of stress (8 years plus 10 terrible months in my case!!), once the body relaxes, the immune system can crash. This was when the RA got even worse… intense throbbing in every single joint, now in my feet, hips, my knees, my hands, my ribs where they connect to my sternum in the front and back (this time not because a human was growing inside me). RA is an auto-immune disease, so it perceives the tissue in my joints as a foreign invader and attacks them, resulting in severe inflammation in my case. After birth hormones wore off and I could start pain medication again, I did not feel emotionally depressed or anxious anymore, just physically weak. There would be times I did not leave the house for 6 days at a time. I had no interest in socializing; for some reason I had felt like I had just been through war and wanted to literally lay down as often as possible. But knowing I had an extended time off, where all I had to do was wake up and take care of my sweet baby boy each day, brought me tears of relief several times over. Of course there were many days when I couldn’t even do that and these often graciously fell on a weekends or days when John could easily rearrange his schedule.
Over these months I processed many things; two years ago I started working part time physically because of my health, but mentally I worked overtime. My mind was regularly operating in a hyper-vigilant mode of leadership, driven by excellence, wanting to shepherd well, disciple well, inspire fruit-bearing in others, make sure we were constantly improving and being effective in our mission… but while I could see what I wanted to happen, I was not capable of seeing it all through. My mental & emotional space never let up from trying, or else feeling incredible stressed from not meeting others expectations and much worse, my own. I value dependability so highly, and I was anything but dependable, never knowing if I was going to be able to get out of bed the next day, if I could keep my appointments each day.
During this time I was wrestling with what I thought I had been promised, complete physical healing which would effect every department of my life, especially the JOY & PEACE department.. this is when the Lord revealed to me that when He said He would heal me two years ago, within two years, His exact words were..” I will remove the yoke from around your neck.. within two years the yoke will no longer remain…” (an abstract verse in Isaiah, not referenced often). I asked Him to confirm the two year thing, because I had been sitting on the edge of my seat for healing for several years now. He constantly affirmed that He would, and being a part of a spiritual community that prayed for me and contended for me constantly, it was just going to be helpful to have a timeline. I have never been one to stop trying to find the answers. And thankfully, so thankfully He has never been one to withhold them from me (to an extent). He immediately gave me two other random scripture references that had the phrases “two years” in them. This word formed the foundation of my belief in the timing of my healing… even the word regarding my neck, which was the longest standing and worst pain I dealt with, of course made me interpret this healing as being physical.
What He revealed this year was that the “yoke around my neck” was actually “responsibility.” It was emotional and mental healing He was giving me, which was going to lead to a new physical disposition. He has made me to be responsible and see every puzzle piece of the big picture, to identify the void in various details, and problem solve to meet them. To hold fiercely those lives He has given me to steward, and I have always been capable and confident in figuring out any crisis scenario, relational issues, and forging new paths where there were none before. Now, at this stage of life I really thought I had the trusting God thing down… I mean John & I didn’t ask anyone for personal support for a whole year and a half, asking Him only for our daily needs and our big ones too. The support always came in. The Lord provided like clockwork (okay it wasn’t like clockwork, that just sounded good), but it almost always was at least 24 hrs before it was needed. Our account would shrink to $5 but get replenished with a bit more the next day, always enough for what was needed. Our faith and trust in the Lord grew so unified and strong; a beautiful foundation for our marriage & lifestyle together. I thought I trusted Him in so many of the details….and even in moving mountains, which I had seen Him do in Baby Safe lives over and over. My love story with John had been an immense faith & trust journey, one that I would never advise anyone I was mentoring to follow me in. But things turned out just as the Lord has said and I am convinced no one else could love me better than John Arndt. Yet there was of course a whole new well of trust He had been waiting to dig.
But here I was, “will I still trust Him even when It seems He didn’t do what He clearly promised? That I waited so hopefully and intensely for?…” and He didn’t seem to do what I felt was essential to carrying on in life. Job had it right, “Though He slay me, yet will I praise Him.” I won’t be as dramatic as to compare myself to Job or anything… I just was understanding and living that line a bit more. I was determined to not be so simple-minded as to think I wasn’t susceptible to misunderstanding the how and when of the promise. This trust was the kind that would be okay when the ball dropped. That it wasn’t up to me to prevent bad outcomes, this was His job. Elementary, I know. I knew He would catch the ball if I dropped one, but I held all the balls so tight anyways so they were not going to drop. But who was I kidding, He doesn’t need me in this way, not in the least. Everything is not all up to me. Yes, very egotistical at its core.
This emotional/mental posture contributed to a lot of years of a lot of subconscious stress, clearly damaging my body. I had already known how to make boundaries and say no, this was not an issue… it was how I held the figurative balls He had assigned to me…I should have been handing them over for Him to carry immediately after he first handed them to me. If this was always done then they were never at risk of dropping or if one did “seem” to drop, things were still going to work for His glory and my (others) greater good. Yes, yes, clearly this was a lot of inner healing and revelations that I don’t expect many to fully understand, but I came to them with the help of the Holy Spirit and others.
After I asked the Lord to “remove the yoke of responsibility” (which included feeling responsible for other’s feelings and expectations), being released from my own expectations and devoting my course to only come under the Lord’s expectations for me each day, the headache I had on the left side of my head almost 24/7 for almost 8 years, went from a super-engrossing to mild. It was always “referred” pain from my neck. I realized my neck, shoulders, jaw, & head muscles had been in severe spasm with myofacial pain for years because of this hyper vigilant state I have lived in. Nearly every job I have had in the last 10 plus years required me to be “on call,” always ready to respond to a myriad of situations. I thrived & excelled at this. I was gifted in this, so why was it causing so much damage?…I was beginning to understand; He was never silent, constantly engaging my questions and revealing truth. Nonetheless, the RA raged on, and the fatigue began to lift slightly, as I made sure to get 10-12 hrs of sleep a night, what my body needed. Only a woman married to John Arndt can do this with a newborn infant.
Before we left for the the States, I got down to only one bad flare day a week – it was all activity related, and I felt it was controlled. I literally did nothing except feed, clothe & play with Sully. I certainly did not feel energized, but at least the pain was being controlled. But would I ever get back to normal life? Going to the store or going on a walk inevitably caused an intense flare the next day. Just before leaving for the US, close friends in our community prayed over me for a couple hours. My jaw was realigned halfway by the tangible power of God in my body as they prayed, and my heart dramatically refreshed with hope, peace, and expectation, regardless of little physical change otherwise.
Once we got here to the US in June, the pain gradually became less controlled, getting to the point of me being bed ridden every other day with throbbing, inflamed joints and very little strength; once again activity induced. This was even as we traveled state to state. Thankfully my spirit was strong and my heart at peace; these last months I just simply (or not so simply) let go of all my expectations in life -ha! Sounds depressing, but it was actually very freeing & peace-producing. Not knowing how or when, but trusting at a whole new depth that He was sovereign, and that He wanted healing for my spirit and soul, not just my body. When He withholds something you think is essential, its because He actually has something better He wants to give you. This revelation was clear.
But O the patience… He is so intent on the virtue of patience, and there is a tremendous difference between enduring and persevering. I have started to ask Him why patience is so important to Him; I am studying it still, but think it actually has a lot to do with love. That will be a blog to come, no doubt. Enduring & persevering may seem the same, but they are not. Perseverance has to do with the heart posture during “long- suffering”, while endurance is literally having to push through because there are no other options.
Post-disappointment, the goal had become delighting in Him, not what He does or doesn’t do… my pursuit has been to receive fresh revelation of the value of His presence. That is something we can always depend on… always.
Have you ever asked for God to reveal to you the VALUE of His presence? Once you tap into this, NOTHING else matters…every problem seems insignificant compared to the worth of Him being with you, (within you) it means so much more than most of us realize. The ONE whose words constructed the universe is actually on your side, & more than that, He longs to engage with you. He is in all the BIG things and the minutia of everyday. The actual meaning & benefits of His presence goes beyond our soul’s comprehension, but so worth it’s attempt. At times, it can seem His presence is good for nothing (just being candid). We are deceived into not seeing, knowing, feeling or believing in the preciousness of His presence and all the byproducts it includes.
But that is why the apostle Paul writes, ” I have learned the SECRET to being content in plenty and in want, for never will He leave me.” The writer of Hebrews had the same revelation… “Let your [a]character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] [b]Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor[c]give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [d][I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor[e]let [you] down ([f]relax My hold on you)! [[g]Assuredly not!]
Did you catch that? “Assuredly not!” I love how emphatic He is in this translation (The Amplified). So what is so great about Him being with us? I encourage you to dive into figuring that one out for yourself, but I am learning the pleasures are unending. Wouldn’t it be nice to literally be content in plenty & in want? Bedridden or healthy & thriving? Sleeping under a bridge or in a penthouse on the 60th floor? Successful at what you have poured your life into, or unemployed and grappling for significance? Happily married with healthy, gorgeous children or single, alone and longing with desires yet-to-be-fulfilled?
How many of our worries, plights, and concerns have to do with our own unhappiness or discomfort? When we grab hold of the value of His presence.. sheesh….life can occur as it may, as we rest in the hammock next to the palm trees, knowing all the byproducts will come when the Sovereign Lord of all is with us. Quite frankly, who are we to say how God is most glorified, in sickness or health? (I love to say “quite frankly”, try it sometime.) I can’t say, but what I can declare is that is my daily aim, my life’s purpose is to bring Him glory. Sometimes submission of the heart ebbs & flows but may it always settle in a vertical direction.
1. Great honor, praise, or distinction accorded by common consent; renown.
2. Something conferring honor or renown.
3. A highly praiseworthy asset: Your wit is your crowning glory.
4. Adoration, praise, and thanksgiving offered in worship.
5. Majestic beauty and splendor; resplendence: The sun set in a blaze of glory.
6. The splendor and bliss of heaven; perfect happiness.
7. A height of achievement, enjoyment, or prosperity: ancient Rome in its greatest glory.
So we are nearing the end of our 3 months stay in the US. It was meant to be 2 months but the Lord had other plans and we excepted them. In fact, I was relieved for Him to direct us to stay longer, as we waited for the worst of winter to pass in Cape Town. One that is often 5 layers of clothes cold, Ugg boots on in bed, rainy and wet, with no heat in the houses, while your heart is troubled by the conditions your friends are living in, in the shacks around the block. This weather had always worsened my condition severely.
So our mission the last three months, or I should say John’s, was to raise up prayer support and intercessors for the Muslim movement happening among a certain people group in sub-Saharan Africa… Hundreds are experiencing miracles and being taught to follow Jesus in small house groups. Every spontaneous multiplication of Jesus followers has not happened without a massive prayer force behind it. If you know Church history, think about it. We also (of course) wanted quality time with both our families and I, still being in low functioning, dismantle mode, had the mission of staying alive and gripping tight to Joy in Him and my family as I waited for strategy for the future of Baby Safe and healing for my body.
It was sheer joy for us to introduce our families to Sullivan.
We hit 8 states on our journey, NY, OR, CA, NB, IL, OK, MO, & NV. John shared at many groups & churches about the Muslim movement, but I spoke at only one church about Baby Safe. If I came to a city near you and did not initiate connecting, it was for all of the above reasons… truly very little life force to do so. Although if you know me, you will trust that I LOVE to CONNECT, and truly wish I was able to.
I did manage a bridesmaid position in my dear friend Katie’s wedding, in upstate NY where we started our journey.
We enjoyed a week in Sunriver, Oregon with the infamous extended O’Connor family
Sullivan with his cousins (my cousin’s babies), all born within 4 moths of each other.
Every place we went, we had no funds to leave where we just arrived. We called it our own Luke 10 journey, when Jesus sent out the 72 to heal & share, and take “no purse” with them. Well, we had no purse, but it wasn’t intentional and we were amazed as usual; i.e. at the random $400 that would be given by other missionaries the night before we were scheduled to pick up the rental car and stay at a hotel at our next destination. Knowing Kingdom principles we preferred to raise prayer support for this movement than funds for our own living expenses. But we don’t recommend this method to others. These instances happened every few days, including free places to stay when we had none, a random old friend of John’s offering her car for us to use for a whole week to take out of state, faithful supporters sending their checks a bit late which meant it was exactly on time for us to get baby food at the store & and adult food for that matter. And other supporters offering to cover rental cars & plane tickets.
We prayed, planned, either rejected or at times embraced stress, and His mercy and goodness followed us. We experienced laying hands on others and seeing a dislocated shoulder healed, marriages nurtured and challenged, relationships receive His kingdom of righteousness, joy & peace. At my parent’s church which I spoke at, I prayed for cancer, RA, Fibro, TMJ, knees, ankles, and a few other things (there were two services) and I heard at least over a dozen experienced healing that morning. We layed hands on a dear friend with brain & lung cancer.. her next MRI showed the brain lesions completely gone (!) and the CT showed her lung tumors had shrunk. It’s my passion to bless the wombs of other women, especially when there are babies in them. I had the privilege of praying over one gal struggling with years of infertility & weeks later she is pregnant! John had the joy of gathering young and passionate believers and casting new visions of how they can reach their coworkers, family and friends with the tangible kingdom. He grabbed a Chili’s server to share a picture of how God is beckoning him. I face-booked the girl I met on the river to share a picture of God’s emotional healing for her. We hugged and prayed over a sobbing Canadian woman in the Las Vegas airport, releasing peace & comfort…Freely we have received so freely we give.
We were blessed with a luxurious, baby-free 5 nights, anniversary get away in Las Vegas! Yes, one week before rent was due.. but we have this “Manna” principle down. We spent it relaxing to the max, but we specifically asked the Lord for a get away to pray into His next season for us. Yes, we did a prayer retreat in “sin city,” get over it. ; ) There was a lot to bring to Him and hear from Him. And in case you were leaning towards the irresponsibility of it all, He provided 100% of our rent cost to send on time.
Psalm 44:8 In Godwehavemadeourboast all the day long, and we will give thanks to Your name forever.
We enjoyed a week of Arndt family togetherness in Kansas City.
Those who wait and wait and wait and wait and wait (and WAIT) on the Lord will renew their strength. I feel my strength being renewed, finally. I seriously am turning a corner (I’ll explain more about that in another blog on essential oils!! -PART II) and this last week in the US I am actually able to do what I need to before we leave. I was gone for 7 hours straight the other day… that was unheard of for the last several years. I am writing for those who have prayed with me, cried with me, joined our journey and “held up my arms” when I couldn’t hold them up anymore. My prayer is that with my heart and mind in a new posture, with my body responding to “the healing oils of power & light” ; ) that I can continue to direct Baby Safe on a part time basis, cautious of my output, and also withdraw and end using prescription drugs eventually.
Isaiah 30:18 And therefore theLord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For theLord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all thosewho [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]!
We leave for Cape Town in 48hrs, with deeply thankful hearts & excitement about the next season. This was my earnest prayer that I would be energized and excited about transitioning back into ministry, and even 6 weeks ago the idea seemed so unlikely. If you have hung on this long, thank you for your interest in our lives and stay tuned for a post about what has helped me miraculously feel better; inflammation radical low and energy shockingly high for my standards.
* If there was was a lot of Christianese in this and you don’t speak it, I am so sorry for that.. i.e. glory, manna, kingdom, psalms, eating scriptures, disciple, etc
*Also if your confused/concerned about my potential hyper spiritualism or you really are thinking of me as a cray-cray, white, woman now, let me give you some food for thought. Consider that its possible that you too were born with a spirit that either loudly or quietly thirsts for purpose, significance, affection, and peace. Along with this, imagine that the only form of permanently quenching this thirst was possible; through communion with another Spirit, so much greater than yourself, a Holy one. To discuss further email me, email@example.com.
To learn more about how we are preventing baby dumping, intervening with abandoned babies, supporting pregnant women in crisis, and empowering moms in need in South Africa, visit www.thebabysafe.org
What have I learned from waiting? I’m always trying to discern the value. I don’t want to miss a thing, if only for a selfish motive: that it might shorten the wait time, or prevent a future “training opportunity” because I didn’t grasp it the first time.
I’ve learned to put all my reliance on what He says and not on what I see, hear, or feel.
I’ve learned that peace can come through hope and not just relief.
I’ve learned that while His ways are not my own, I can respect and revere them because I know His heart and His character.
I’ve learned that hope deferred does make the heart sick, but (thankfully) through His spirit, my hope can be energized on an hourly basis.
I’ve learned that there is no triumph more deeply felt than the ones we have to wait and labor for extensively. This converts to the type of worship that touches Him the most.
I’ve learned that there is nothing that deepens relationship more than sharing pain with someone and being comforted by them; and if relationship is the actual goal then suffering can be a beautiful thing.
I’ve learned that friendship with God should not be based own what He does for me, or even what I give to and do for Him. A healthy relationship includes just being together and enjoying one another. It involves presence more than exchange. I’ve learned that my desire of what He has promised should not trump my desire for Him alone.
I have learned that when I am longing for just a simple apple and He withholds it, it is because He is preparing a banqueting table, perfectly detailed and set up right in front of my drooling enemy; where my cup will overflow and the satisfaction will be unearthly.
I’ve learned that being joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer is a full time job; and when the joy wavers and wanes, and the patience flat lines, that it doesn’t effect His banner over me, nor does it nullify the promise.