my and Jesus’ internal playlist

Jesus is the ultimate romancer. I often wish I had an “explode” switch so I could fully erupt the ecstasy of His love which stirs, roars, and renews my insides constantly.

Sometimes I stare at one leaf, shifting from summer’s green to autumn’s yellow and I feel weak in the knees – so beautiful is God. Sometimes I wake up laughing: He’s present. He is always present: in His glory, robed in thunder, bedazzled in wisdom, oozing LOVE. In all things, at all times, I can not be separated from the One who loves me most, knows me most, and supports me most. WOW.

I can not fathom a more beautiful lover or friend.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiSpsnwZJaM

To top that all off, here’s my friends’ Jess and Samuel’s wedding highlights. They truly have a romance the likes of which the world has never seen. Think about the passion of Jesus and His Bride as you watch it. Enjoy Samuel’s sister’s song “Lovesick” and Samuel’s original song for Jess.

There is a reason all of history culminates in a wedding. The wedding supper of Jesus and His Bride. It’s going to be glorious. I would say “I can’t wait”, but actually I can – simply because there are a whole bunch of nations I intend to bring with me and they haven’t met Jesus yet. It’s going to the biggest wedding ever. Instead of rice or bubbles or flower petals, we’ll throw our “holy” and our crowns at His feet. hahahahahahahaha! Eeeeeeee!

If you want more worship music, free downloads here: http://www.box.net/shared/q5r7kfgujx

“Find My Own Flame”

I’m writing the part of my book in which I began teaching at a community college at 25 years old. I’m thinking about God. I’m thinking about passion. I’m thinking about the ecstasy of love.

I remember being 16 years old and praying for Iraq in puddles of my own tears on my bedroom floor.

In three weeks I get to board a plane and concretely begin my journey to Iraq.

I’m overcome with love for God. My spirit is in a permanent shout of “Eeeeeeeeeeee!”

Blessings as you seek your own “Eeeeeeeeeeee!” hahahaha!

All the money for my Baghdad trip is IN!

Yesterday I was calmly sitting in the back row of the sanctuary at Bethel Church after the service’s end. I was waiting for two friends. In my waiting I noticed on my phone I had a new email. I looked at it. A friend paid the balance needed ($1,350) for my Baghdad trip!!!!! As often happens when I am overcome with the goodness of God, I erupted in laughter. Out-of-control, hysterical, the funniest joke in the world was told, LAUGHTER. My sister Dori looked at me and said, “What?” I could barely speak between my hunched over delirious laughter, “A friend paid the balance for my trip!” I was wide-eyed and grin-full. My sister stared at me from behind her walnut-colored glasses and enlarged her eyes (which incidentally look a lot like mine sometimes, so she gave me a mirror for what my eyes must have looked like). She looked stunned.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! My head between my hands with, “Thank you, Father”  gushing out of my mouth, I felt I was in one of my happiest moments ever. His faithfulness means so much to me. It’s compelling in its love and grandeur.

I will never be satiated in my love for Him. I’m addicted to the One and Only True God. <THANK YOU, FATHER!>

Thank you to everyone who prayed for money to come in, gave money, encouraged me with words, listened to my thoughts about Iraq, hugged me, and believed with me. The journey has been wild, and infinitely wilder it shall become.

If you’d like to know more about my trip, go here:

https://upsidedownbethlehem.wordpress.com/want-to-get-me-to-baghdad/

Master’s degree done!

Something

incredibly wonderfully great

happened today.

I completed my last exam for my Master’s degree in Middle Eastern Cultures and Religions!

Yep. 

I did almost all the coursework at Jerusalem University College during the three years I lived in Israel. Then I left it untouched for two years as I attended Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry in Redding, California. Now, I’ve done the last requirements. Five years after beginning the degree, I am done. hahahahahaha. When the diploma finally arrives in the mail I’m going to massively celebrate. 

This makes Master’s degree number three: one in Religion, one in Counseling, now this one. 

Sometimes I think, “How did this happen? How did I get three Master’s degrees?” Then I remember the prophetic word I got when I was eighteen: “You will get countless degrees.” And I laugh. God saw it all coming. It’s all part of His magnificently gorgeous plan to bring me into my destiny and to transform the Middle East into a garden of His love. 

He’s really smart. And He really is LOVE. 

I adore Him: this Creator King, Father God, Leading Lover. 

Be encouraged. If you have a vision that seems far off and it’s a promise of God, it WILL come to pass. All His promises will chase you as you chase Him. And often the promises chase you even when you don’t chase Him.

He’s faithful. I’m grateful.

As you ponder your own journey, as you meditate on His promises, as you dare to dream, I recommend the following song:  

“Trust” by Kristene Mueller: http://www.box.net/shared/0eq76f8suu3gyi098lvj

Father God loves YOU more than you could ever understand. He is 100% good and 100% trustworthy. Let Him love you to life. Arise and SHINE. Dream bigger. Faith is often spelled “R I S K.” Step out, be courageous; the love that awaits you is worth more than anything. God wants to explode your life with joy, freedom, and hope. He wants you to flourish, thrive, and transform the world. He wants you to fulfill the destiny you are uniquely designed to fill. 

“You have made known to me the path of life;

you will fill me with joy in your presence,

with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”

(Psalm 16:11)

<Thanks for lavishing me with Your pleasure, Father! Thanks for establishing me in You. Thanks for this degree. Thanks for making me a mountain that cannot be shaken. You are my great reward.>

(Here’s a lil’ photo album of some of our field trips while in Israel. Andrea and I spiced up our learning by acting out scenes connected to certain locations, or recruiting our friends to act them out. Enjoy: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.6708360079.15486.862340079&l=121efd75f6&type=1 )

“Arab World Unite” music video

“I just want to see the Middle East shine. 

And if they want war, hit ’em with a peace sign.”

I LOVE this song. It is important, revolutionary, and inspiring. And in the tick-tock of history it is TIME: time for the Middle East to flourish.

Musicians and artists, arise! Call the Middle East to her beautiful destiny!

Enjoy! Please pass this along to friends who love the Middle East and/or speak Arabic. : )

Also, “Bahrain United”

Here’s another great video, “The Time is Now”

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/44507126#44507126

Review: Lion of Babylon

Lion of Babylon
Lion of Babylon by Davis Bunn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

PLEASE READ THIS BOOK. Especially if you really enjoy: 1. Praying for me 2. Praying for the Middle East 3. Brilliantly hopeful books about the Middle East 4. Insight into life in Iraq 5. Fascinatingly engaging books in general

Yesterday a friend called me while she was reading this book. “Dawn, I called you because you need to read this book immediately. I’m loaning it to someone when I finish it so, I won’t be able to loan it to you soon. Besides, you need to have your own copy. Consider this your final warning. You need to read this book as soon as possible. It’s incredibly relevant for where you are headed and what God is positioning you for.”

We talked a bit more about the book.
I said, “bye” and went out and bought it.

I started it immediately. Today I finished it. 378 pages in two days.

This book is a slice into the complexities of religion braided with politics in the Middle East. It is also a light bulb of hopeful reality flipped on in a seemingly dark room. One of my favorite bits was, “At this point, your group included members of the new Alliance Party. Sunni and Shia and Kurds. All coming together to talk about Jesus. Not about religion, or differences, or tribes, or cultures, or politics. The aim that you shared, to unite your country, was no longer an impossible dream. It was happening. The miracle was coming. Through prayer. Through Jesus. Without even saying the words.” (p 283-284)

This was right around the time I gave up trying to read the book in a public setting. I simply could not blockade my tears any longer.

I hope to meet the author one day so I can thank him in person for the hope, vision, and time he invested in writing this book and thereby believing for HOPE for Iraq. Meanwhile, YOU might want to consider READING THIS BOOK and praying for sweet Iraq to meet the One who has always wooed her to Himself. It is going to be fun and beautiful to see glory and hope arise in the Middle East! YAY!

(If you live in Redding, CA you can buy the book at the Christian Outlet in Anderson for $12.97. You can also borrow it from the Redding library.)

View all my reviews

“A Bench,” a poem toward where I have not been

“A Bench,” a poem toward where I have not been

by Dawn Diane Richardson

 

 

chiseled somewhere, 

under covering from rain

a mold first

cement stirred

                        in time

and poured

 

“Delightful!” the Designer beamed. 

 

His hands 

sure

necklace of fingers

on neck of promise

                                         but beautiful

forming

from nothing

a voice

winking            at                hope

                                                           a paraglider in the night sky

                                                                                                        promises his compass

                                                                                                                                              stars his paths

the constellations

taking shape

 

she could only sit

on the bench

placid, but believing

wholeheartedly

in this memorial

 

this bench

a memorial

 

her thoughts’ perch

her dreams’ bookshelf

her heart’s pillow

a concrete bench

soft as baby Moses’

river-splashed skin

 

this bench

for fifteen years

a memorial

to the future

       to things He 

          now celebrates

she does not

              yet see

 

only glimpses

      outlines

prophetic words

       visions

 

She sits

on the bench

of her future’s

memorial

 

and smiles.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

my friends’ DELICIOUS ministry

My friends Jessica and Barrett recently got married. Soon they are headed back to Bethlehem, Israel/Palestinian Territories to begin a new ministry venture: a pizza shop and  open heart surgery for Palestinian kids who need it. : )

I am really proud of Jess and Barrett for relentlessly going after the vision and passion God has knit in them. They are a true inspiration and a solid weight of glory for the Middle East! HOORAY!

Check it out and if you are infinitely inspired, consider supporting their ministry with prayer or money. Three cheers for marriage, the Middle East, and new hearts for Palestinian children!

http://www.wix.com/askidenia/askidenia-ministries#!

9/11

I remember that day as if it was right now, as if I am still 21, and still in shock from the waves of newscasts, phone calls, questions, and tears. It was a day that shattered the glass between my present and my future. “It happened. It finally happened.” That was the sentence I most heard my internal voice say that bizarre fall day.

I was asleep initially, in the peace of Pacific Standard Time. Then awakened by my friend Sheri pounding on first my front door and next my bedroom door. My roommate had already left for work. Sheri blurted out something like, “A plane hit the World Trade Center! I came to tell you! Get up!” Despite the urgency in her voice, I assumed it was an ordinary plane crash. I thanked her for letting me know and went back to sleep.

It was shortly before 7am.

Within a few minutes my roommate Becky called me from work, “Dawn, terrorists flew two planes into the World Trade Center in New York City. They think this is part of a bigger terrorist plot. It’s really severe. You need to turn on the news.”

With this new bit of information, I felt my soul shake. I thanked Becky, said goodbye, and went to the TV. What I saw held an eerie resonance. I had been passionate about the Middle East for five years. I’d spent hours upon hours on my floor weeping and praying for terrorists to be set free from their darkness and to meet Jesus. I knew there was an angry plot beyond anything we’d thought of, hatching somewhere in a group of Muslim extremists. I’d known that for years. And suddenly, in a painful onslaught of hate and deception, those plans struck America: sweet, beautiful, where-I’m-from, America.

The anguish inside me burned. I cried for America and  I cried for the Middle East. The pain of seeing precious Middle Easterners believe lies to such a degree they killed thousands of people, was horrendous. The pain of seeing beloved Americans and non-Americans, fleeing the horror-stricken towers, was excruciating. I felt I was in the middle of a see-saw, between the emotional ups-and-downs of two peoples.

I didn’t know what to do except sit on our black-sheet draped loveseat and watch the same news footage over and over; and pray. When I saw the second tower fall, my heart crumbled with it. It hurt so much to see the awful ramification of wrong belief gone horribly amuck. It hurt to think there were people so captive to lies they were somewhere celebrating all this death and loss. It hurt to think of families in America with gaping holes in them. It hurt to think of the ways that one day would likely add more chaos to America’s relationship with the Middle East. It hurt to hear talk of revenge. It hurt to hear talk of grief already tumbling from broken hearts.

September 11, 2001 was one of the most pivotal days of my life.

As I waited, prayed, and talked to God that day – all while watching the news – friends streamed in and out of my apartment. Some pounced in with, “Okay, Dawn, I know I haven’t cared about Muslims before, and maybe I should have, but could you explain Islam to me now?” Others said, “What do you think?” in a manner so loaded, I understood how Muslims in America would very soon be answering this same question. I squinted my answers. Between head knowledge and heart resolve was suddenly a vast expanse of painful separation. The Middle East and America already were at odds, this would drive them both to polarization and aggression.

I wished I was in the Middle East. I prayed for God to lead me or other Christians to Osama Bin Laden to share with him the acceptance and love Father God longed for him to experience. I wondered if I might have had an opportunity, or if another Christian had an opportunity, to really love those hijackers before they were “those hijackers.” I imagined people who knew the hijackers, perhaps noticing their darkened outlook; and I wondered if their own fears kept them from reaching out to those men. I thought about the hijackers’ families, neighborhoods, and friends. I wondered about the power of even a single love-filled hug from a Jesus-oozing person to each of these men.

I also thought about the years to come – as my friends and I prayed together on 9/11/01, over the arched eyebrows and anxious words of news broadcasters, we prayed for newness and for salvation for the Middle East. We prayed in spurts all the way until 11:30 that night. We could not and we can not pretend there is ultimately any other answer than Jesus. He is incarnate hope. He is incarnate peace. We prayed for people to love America to life and for people to love the Middle East to life.

Now, ten years later I have seen the ricochet fulfillment of much of the prayers we prayed in my little family room in my petite one bedroom apartment in Costa Mesa, California. Saddam Hussein’s regime fell. Osama Bin Laden was found. I got to live in the Middle East for three years and witness firsthand Muslims falling in love with Jesus and choosing him above vengeance.

There is a large chunk of progress and hope to be immensely grateful for. And I am.

Yet, over this last week, looking toward today, I’ve found myself crying in deep grief. I am sad with all who were traumatized and/or lost loved ones on 9/11 and in its effects. Today, that is the direction of my heart: prayer and hope for all those who have suffered, to all who are still in healing from the pain of that day.

As we must actively love those in the Middle East needing wholeness, we must also actively love those in America who are needing wholeness. Today, as we ponder life, let’s have our deepest resolve be deeper love.

In the words of Francois du Toit,

‎”If relationships can be rescued, wars will cease.”  

Let’s go forth from this day courageously, with new commitments to peace and love. Ultimately, this will be what victory looks like both personally and nationally. Love will win.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Interactive Timeline:

http://timeline.national911memorial.org/#/Explore/2

The September 11 Project, one woman blogs for one year until 09/11/11:

http://septembereleventh.wordpress.com/

The Holy Spirit Grew Up In Ramallah: An excerpt from my book

I’m on page 140 of the book I am writing. I was doing some editing today and I thought I’d share a snippet with the world. Enjoy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

     With a sigh and a giggle I made it into Ramallah unscathed. Now I was to follow my instructions: “Go to the city center and find a policeman. Ask the police man how to get to the Ministry of Interior.” There was one major problem: it was the day before Ramadan and it was a Friday. Streets were overloaded with thousands of people walking and shopping. I was driving in a river of salmon madly swimming upstream as if their lives and legacies depended on it. I carved a path through their splashes and flops, a steady, “Well, at least its ten miles per hour” path. Creeping my way to the traffic circle bulls’ eye was tedious.

     Upon entering the confluence of this hub of streets (there are six streets which reach out from the manara/city center), I knew it was tactically unsound to attempt to stop in the whir of cars and people to ask a policeman for directions. I asked the Holy Spirit instead. “Holy Spirit, which street should I go down?” My eyes were drawn to the right. I knew it was that one. I turned. The very next cross street held the grin of a large police station. It was as if the Holy Spirit had grown up in Ramallah. The grin of the police station was an open driveway with a conspicuous, “NO PARKING” sign.  I read it as “Reserved for Dawn Richardson.” I pulled in. Arms waving, a policeman jaunted to my open window, “You can’t park here! You can’t park here!” I smiled, “I saw the sign, I just need to ask a question.” “What?!” he responded. “How do I get to the Ministry of Interior?” I asked, our conversation taking place in Arabic. He began to answer with landmarks, not street names: “Go down to Abdul the butcher’s, turn left, go two streets until you see the green door with the plastic tiger in front next to the old house where the mayor used to live, turn right, pass the pharmacy, go right, pass the Dar Awwad neighborhood, take the second left…” I was wide-eyed. The layers of insider knowledge and hard-to-catch landmarks were vast. I silently asked God to send me someone who spoke English who would get in the car with me and show me the way. The policeman saw my mental overload, “Wait. Let me get someone who speaks English!” “Okay,” I smiled. A young man hopped out of the building moments later and began giving me similar directions, this time in English. I started to write them down. “Wait. Could I get in the car with you and show you the way?” he jutted his epiphany-ized head at mine. “Yes, that would be great,” I answered. He slid around the car and into the passenger seat. This made the journey, while serpentine and complicated, smooth and relaxed. I was touched by Father God’s kindness.

     When we approached the Ministry of Interior, the policeman out front gave us special permission to park at the curb. When we walked inside the security officers knew my navigator-friend Ahmed and welcomed us cordially as we left our keys in their plastic tubs. When we ascended the escalator into the head office, the secretary, initially flustered by my foreignness, calmed under my new friend’s gentleness. Still, she said, “You wasted your time driving here. There is no way you can get this permission by Thursday. You can’t speak with the man in charge, because I know he will say, ‘no.’” I politely asked to see him anyway. “No, it is not possible,” she retorted, annoyed by my outlandish request.

     As with dozens of times over the previous two weeks, I crossed my arms casually and waited silently, thinking, “I’ve responded to the Holy Spirit, now it’s your turn.” She waited for me to leave. I remained. “Okay, I will ask him to see you,” she spouted, releasing inventoried air from her lungs’ warehouse. A moment later she said, “He will see you. Go on in.” I smiled, laughing to myself and thinking this woman did not yet realize she had become a significant role in The Play of the Miraculous, my Father, the Director was putting on.

     We entered the office and sat down. “What can I help you with?” the man queried. I explained, “I need an ID card for a girl from Bethlehem so I can take her and five other youth to a conference in Israel Thursday.” “That’s not possible. It takes at least two weeks to get an ID.” “I understand that’s the norm, but I am here to ask you to do what you can to make it happen by Monday so all six kids can go to the conference. It’s a really big deal for them and I am certain they will all go.” Back and forth we went: my “I don’t think it’s impossible” bouncing against his, “It’s impossible.” After a few rounds I said, “Could you call someone and ask?” “No,” he said. “There must be someone,” I added. “Well, let me make a phone call,” he said, his words wiggly like gelatin. He made the call. “I don’t think it will work,” he said. “I think there is a way and you can make it work,” I said sweetly, not impatient, but insistent. He shifted in his rolling office chair. I think he was especially squirmy because I was a woman, evidenced by the fact he continually turned to my friend and asked him to tell me it was “impossible.”

     Then he rolled back toward his desk, “I’ll be right back,” he spurted. I turned to Ahmed, “Do you know what a ‘miracle’ is?” I asked. “What?” “A miracle, you know muahjdeze,” I added. “Yes, I know what it is, but I have never seen one,” he explained, eyebrows vaulted. “You are about to see one,” I responded. “What?!” he said fascinated, and also a bit uncomfortable. “You are going to see a miracle,” I said. His furrowed forehead leaned in for more of an explanation, as the boss walked back in the door. The boss sat down. He wrote something on a business card and slid it across the desk to my hospitable hand. “This is my phone number. Call me on Sunday and I will make sure all the paper work is completed and the ID is in the Bethlehem office Monday morning.” I cracked a smile, my three year-old after a temper tantrum had walked gently back into the room and said, “Mommy, I love you.” Ahmed dropped his jaw, sharply yanking his eyes toward mine in shock. We stood. I thanked the boss; Ahmed nodded in a sort of traditional Palestinian salute to an older person. We walked out the door. The secretary was somewhere between baffled dismay and incomprehensible awe when we told her the ID would be ready Monday. We descended the stairs, collected our precious metals (keys, etc) from the plastic bin, and slid out the door.

     Upon entering the car Ahmed sat silently, eyes locked on the road. He gave me a few gestures to indicate where to turn, and then he said, “I have never seen anything like that.” “What do you mean?” I asked. “You knew he was going to get you the ID. How did you know?” “Well, I know God wants these six kids at the conference so I trust he will make a way for them to get there. He’s a good Father and He gives good gifts. I know God loves me and wants to do miracles for me.” “I have never thought of that!” he exhaled/exclaimed. “What do you mean?” I said. “I have never thought of God like that,” he added. “Oh, well, He loves you too. He wants you to know Him and He wants to do good things for you. If you talk to Him and ask Him to talk back to you, He will. He longs to talk with you.” “This is the first time I have ever heard of God like this. The God I hear about is harsh and you never know if He will accept you or not. He is not a friend.” Ahmed said.

     After he said this I began to prophesy over him: bits of his life dreams, his strengths, and his future. He was dazzled and a sort of rapturous delirium enveloped his face. I spoke a world into existence for him. He began to say, “I’ve never known people could hear God’s voice like this,” “Yes, and you will too,” I smiled. He began to get excited, “I’m going to start talking to him all the time: at work, at home, walking in the city. This is going to be great!” I was tickled by his enthusiasm and renewed sense of personal value. I dropped him off in the city center and he thanked me for changing his life. (Really, he used those words.) I drove safely and securely back to Bethlehem.