A Fistful of Arrows

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Christian women are taught to think of their children as arrows. 

”As arrows are in the hand of a warrior, so are the children born in one’s youth.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full...”   Psalm 127:4,5

And it’s true.  But the Lord has sent me here today, and He has sent you here today, to hear something else - also true:  that arrow metaphor can be ANY creative seed that you launch out into the world with intention.  It can also be any gift that you aim and shoot with all your might, any gift given to you in seed form, that you have to nurture and grow, and that has the capacity to go on beyond you. 

 Your children are not your life’s only arrows.

I know, right?  It’s like I just spoke heresy. 

I have four grown children of my own.  They are my arrows.  They are unequivocally a heritage and a blessing.  But they are not the only things I have to offer this world, and they are not the only weapons I have been given with which to impact darkness.  If that were so, what of women who suffer infertility, or single women who choose not to adopt?  

Isn’t it interesting that if you were having some sort of identity crisis, and you sought the help and advice of a coach or therapist, they would, almost 100%, ask you what it was you loved to do as a child!  Within that child you were, was the seed of the man or woman you would become.  So I will ask you:   

What were those first glimmers of gifting and joy that were inside you as a child?  

What were those seeds of your youth? 

Those may very well be clues to your heritage.  Those may be yet more arrows you were given, even before your own children were born.  Those may yet be the arrows still in your quiver when your physical children are gone;  because thankfully, the creative nest never has to empty. 

I’ve said this so many times, in women’s conferences and various speaking engagements:  No matter your age, you are expectant. 

Dust off this arrow metaphor.  If you are a woman “in the middle”,  I challenge you to dust it off, and see it with fresh eyes!  Look around in that quiver of yours that you thought was empty when the youngest went off to college.  You’ll find yet more arrows - creative impetus that date back to your youth.  Weapons begging for a target audience. 

I’m excited to see what you’ve got. 

Of Jawbones and Jackwagons

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This is the place where I deal with my jackwagons. This is the place where I put my face in my Bible, cry out to the Lord, and come to terms with what God is speaking over the work of my hands, and the work of the Preacher’s hands. Sometimes, the Holy Spirit gives me a word for the work of your hands, too. Today is that day. Are you ready?

Every negative word spoken “about” you has been heard. It registers. Let me explain. Your jackwagon does not understand that those words said “about” you, are registering as words formed “against” you. They register as “tongues rising up in judgement” that it becomes your right - your “heritage” - to watch the Lord prove them wrong.

No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.

Those negative words spoken “about” you will be made to turn and chase the speaker. Not only that, but you get grace-for-grace. Those words will be reverse applied to you! They will become a source of blessing.

Let me give you an example. Your jackwagon (definition of jackwagon: the narcissist, or person with narcissist tendencies, who suddenly decides to consistently, overtly and covertly, undermine you) says, “She thinks she knows, but she doesn’t".” Well, it’s one thing for you or me to say something like that - we all revert to negativity now and then. But it’s another thing for me to be a jackwagon…to say those words in such a way as to undermine the work of someone else’s hands. Especially if it means I’m undermining the work of God through someone else’s hands. In that case - my words will turn and chase me. And now you know why I am careful about how I speak about others.

So your jackwagon says, “She thinks she knows, but she doesn’t.” Seems innocuous. But what if it’s undermining the mission? If it is, that word will turn and chase the speaker. Suddenly, that person will find themselves having to fight significantly for validation. They will find themselves feeling deeply unsure. Meanwhile, back at your ranch, you are getting grace for grace. Out of nowhere, you are finding yourself sure and confident, and others are being drawn to the power of your message.

How do I know all this?

Like - suddenly. Today. Today I know this for sure. How?

I know, by coming to this spot with an open heart, and putting my face in Judges 15. Specifically, Judges 15:16.

And Samson said, With the jawbone of a donkey, heaps upon heaps, With the jawbone of a donkey have I smitten a thousand men. 

Samson’s jackwagons, the Philistines, came out speaking about him. Samson took the jawbone of a jackwagon and dealt with it. It was no coincidence that the weapon was a jawbone, and the Philistines were speaking.

This will put a new light on some of your spiritual battles, if you let it. You get to smile when you hear certain things being said about you. No, I’m being serious! You get to think in terms of grace for grace! You get to say to yourself, “This is amazing. I wonder what else my jackwagon said?”

No more sting. No more judgement. Because the Judge Himself, the writer of Judges has shown you that when the hand of God is on you to complete a mission, you don’t have to be perfect. Samson was far, far from perfect. But when the hand of the Lord is on you, you have the ability to take the jawbone of any jackwagon, and snatch victory from what was meant to be the jaws of discouragement and defeat.

You win.

And so it was, when Samson finished speaking, he threw the jawbone from his hand and called the place, “Jawbone Hill.”

That’s so badass. Makes me so happy.

And So

In the middle, the stakes are real, and so are the choices.

Taking action is not an option. It is a function of faith.

Taking action is not an option. It is a function of faith.

I get to choose.

I can live as though there is no fight between light and dark

as though very little is of big significance

with no circumstance related to another

or I can live as though there

is a God who

sees

and an enemy who spies

thus, light and dark collide in a fight that’s been decided

but is contested

AND SO

all is significant and the push back is not in my head

it is not just imbedded in genetics

it is real.

When Men of God Dream {...and thoughts on middle-marriage retreats...}

There was Jacob and his ladder. There was Joseph and his kneeling sheaves of wheat, and bowing sun, moon and stars. There was Pharaoh and his seven fat, seven lean cows. There was the unnamed guy who saw a piece of bread roll* into the Midianite’s camp, overturning the tents, foretelling the imminent victory of one named Gideon.

*pardon the pun

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And there’s my husband and a six lane interstate highway in New Jersey.

What do all the above have in common? Each instance involves a man who had a dream. Not a Martin Luther King “I Have a Dream” type of dream, but an “I fell asleep and this is what I saw” type of dream.

God is continually speaking to my husband in dreams. He has dreamed of the mechanical fix to complicated car problems - down to intricate details involving which wire, and where it is located. He has dreamed of architectural and structural solutions to problems with our church building. He has dreamed of the complex problems of gross sin, and religious sins like gossip and pride, and been told in dreams straight up who was up to what, in secret, and seen those dreams come to pass. For me to tell you all his dream stories would take at least an hour - two, if we were having dinner together. It would boggle your mind.

Interestingly, of all the dreams mentioned in Scripture (21, I believe), at least half of the dreamers were men with a calling, or clear leaders in their day. Six of them were kings. It was mostly men who heard the Lord in a dream, with only one woman, as far as I can tell. (I have my speculations as to the reasons for that, but this post would quickly evolve into a comedy monologue, and we can’t have that, can we?)

Well, last night, The Preacher dreamed he was on one side of a six lane interstate, and I was on the other. These traffic lanes were full of trucks and cars, but the moment he spied me, he did something most amazing: he knowingly risked his life to bolt across all six lanes of traffic, in a very Tom Cruise/Mission Impossible style, to get to my side.

Once he got to me, a little breathless, he asked me if I was married. I looked at him and said, “As a matter of fact, no, I am not.”

To which he responded, “Then, will you spend the rest of your days with me?”

And then he woke up.

Never, ever will I forget him relaying that dream to me. Never, ever will I forget how my heart has caught itself, a thousand times today, in absolute wonder and gratitude that this man, 32 years married to me, would still dream about me at all, much less dream like that. I can’t imagine any man, especially subconsciously, where the true-truth lives, loving a woman like me, like that. (Don’t worry, I am not down on myself. I simply understand that I am blessed far and above what I have earned or deserve.) I’ve wiped tears at the tenderness of all of it, many times - I may or may not be fighting them now.

But I need to blow my nose, and move on. I want to tell you about a dream I had about The Preacher.

About a year or two ago, I had a vivid dream where my husband was the hero:

I dreamed that I was exhibiting in an art show in the mall. Suddenly, art-hating terrorists stormed the mall and descended on the art show, armed and shooting.

Keith Urban was a featured musician in this art exhibition of my dreams. He was hiding from these masked terrorists, quivering under the table where I sat. In my dream, Tim had read an interview where Keith Urban had told the reporter that he didn't carry a gun, but he "always carried a concealed knife" in case he ever needed to defend himself.

So my Preacher struck out to kill the terrorists, one by one, with the goal of preventing more loss of life. He made a series of very professional, emphatic, very military style hand motions to Keith Urban (still hiding under my table). I somehow knew that those complicated hand motions translated thusly:

"You. Keith Urban. Come with me. You go left, I go right. Bring your knife."

But Keith was paralyzed with fear, as was I. So I ducked under the table and whispered hoarsely, "He isn't ASKING you because you're a country music star. He's TELLING you because he knows you carry a knife. NOW GO HELP HIM."

So he did.

There was more to the dream, but that is enough to give you the gist. I woke up, pulse pounding. I looked across at The Preacher with big heart eyes and said, "You saved everyone's life…

…and Keith Urban is a PANSY."

We still dream about each other, y’all. Sorry/not sorry if that makes you want to roll your eyes. I’m pretty sure that makes us candidates for hosting what might be the worst, or maybe the strangest (or perhaps the best) marriage conference in the whole history of ever.

We’re…uh…”dreaming” about it! Who knows??

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