Underwater Life

promise-y fish in the Red Sea, Israel

What if you were on a fishing boat on the ocean and suddenly the water’s surface opened its mouth and a scuba diver popped up and said,

“Hey, we’re having a party down here, wanna come?”

Would you go? I mean, if you instantly knew how to scuba and you had the gear?

Sometimes, I feel like I live underwater. Other times I am nearly convinced of it. I love my home under the sea. I swim deep into darkness and I find secrets. Sometimes I meet colorful fish in the midst of their own family gatherings and sometimes I meet grey eels living in loneliness and defensiveness. I look at all of them with curiosity and wonder. I travel with God’s hand leading me. The creases in His hand press against the cracks in mine. The roads of my life blending with every road ever.

raaaaaaaaaaaaar! cried the creepy slithery creature with a tiny alligator/eel head.


I have great chats with huge lobsters, feeling their way around with their massive television antennae. I read books leaned up against firm, but sensitive coral. I float through the Bible with each blink because the glory is palpable and visible and stunning. I pull ancient maps from brass tubes in shipwrecks. I see the red “X” where hope is buried, where treasure waits, and I resolve to pick up where that captain left off. The passage of time, the waiting of the vast treasure, does not diminish my expectation. If I remember how the nightly news reports that particular treasure’s discovery is a lost cause, I am not deterred in my pursuit, but instead inspired. There is a reason we have the phrase “worth fighting for.” It is because we know that for massive victories, there will be a massive fight. It might be a fight won through rest, praise, and trust, but it is still a fight. It might be a fight won by angels cheered on by the hearts of men, but it is still a fight. It might be a fight to drive lame enemies off of something that already belongs to you, but it is still a fight. In fact, the main fight may actually be the first one: believing the thing IS worth fighting for.

the zebra of the underwater zoo and me in the Red Sea

So, fins on, I’m swimming.

And I’m inviting you to the underwater festivities.

 

In the Caribbean I got to drive the wreckage of a motor boat on a long journey into the oceans of my imagination, where the water is even warmer than the Caribbean; and the fish play musical instruments. skillfully.

P.S. I added new music to the sidebar on my blog’s home page – outrageous hope you can download & sing along to.

My Blog’s 2010 Social Life

The technological marvel that is WordPress sent me an email with my blog stats for last year. It’s intriguing and I’m encouraged that many people drank of the golden nectar that sprouts in heaven and flowers in my life on earth. haha. Thanks for stopping by my little house in DigitalLand. There is always a throw blanket to wrap yourself in and a warm fire to heat and inspire your most exorbitantly extravagant dreams.

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The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2010. That’s about 4 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 29 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 42 posts. There were 49 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 127mb. That’s about 4 pictures per month.

The busiest day of the year was April 9th with 60 views. The most popular post that day was why it is important to raise the dead.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, en.wordpress.com, mail.yahoo.com, mail.live.com, and blogger.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for bride-to-be paralyzed fingers collarbone, selling poetry on etsy, lovesick kim walker albums, love poems, and new jesus culture album.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

why it is important to raise the dead April 2010
3 comments

2

VICTORY – something I’m wildly excited about! August 2010

3

my ♥beat March 2009

4

I need a miracle! Isn’t that exciting? August 2010
2 comments

5

Deaf Ears Opened: an oldie but a goodie September 2010

Streeeetching past disappointment

 

Some of the most defining and determining moments in our lives are the moments when we decide how to deal with disappointment. We either get weary and leave open the doors of our souls for dissatisfaction and unbelief to come in OR we resolutely shake off the experience, close the doors, and move forward DARING to hold on to hope.

In these pivot points we set the tone for the rest of our lives.

Onward and upward is the choice of brave hearts.

Sometimes the discipline of choosing belief is excruciatingly painful. Eustace says in the latest Chronicles of Narnia film, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, when describing how Aslan (the God-figure) brought him in an instant from the transition of a dragon-body back to his human state, “It was really painful, but in a good way – like having a thorn removed from your foot.” It is in the choosing, despite the cost of comfort, that the great sloughing off occurs. It is in the yanking through a narrow spot that the refining happens.

It is in the conviction toward joy when it is expensive, that heavenly habits are formed.

I like heavenly habits. And really, I’m much too smitten with the Holy Spirit to hop out of the reformation-mobile and establish a “healthy” distance from the Holy Spirit. Yuck. That sounds entirely horrible.

The last few months ripe in growth, have also contained backroads of *ouch* and *aaaaaaaargh!* I’ve had thyroid disease since I was seven and though it is normally stable with medication there have been times – like when I moved to Israel in 2006 – that my body goes out of whack. I’ve been prayed for dozens and dozens of times. I know God heals. I know healing is easy from heaven’s perspective and healing is our inheritance on earth. In the journey of the last few years I’ve seen hundreds of people healed through my own hands. I rarely felt bitter that my own healing hadn’t come. I just love seeing people healed and happy; and I know my own healing is en route. Well, in the last several months I have really focused on healing for my thyroid and I’ve seen measures of breakthrough. I’ve also had powerful encounters with God: I’ve been tackled in my bedroom; I’ve spent hours on the floor outside the healing rooms at church after going out in the Spirit; I’ve had people approach me with profound words of knowledge and pray for me; I’ve collapsed under the power of His Presence here and there and everywhere.  And the healing has yet to show up on earth. In the interim I’ve walked through lethargy, facial swelling, intestinal issues, slow metabolism, and a litany of other not-so-pretty symptoms. In time a doctor’s appointment, a blood test, and a fresh prescription have brought balance and removed most symptoms, but I am still really excited to be healed one day soon.

I’m not sharing any of that for pity. I hate pity. Compassion is fine, but pity is unhelpful. I prefer advocacy and a heavenly perspective. I’m sharing because there is a long-held awareness in my life that in my honesty others find strength and inspiration. I’m sharing because as the New Year pokes through the sky tonight, we need to choose to let GO of the old and grab a hold of the new. We need to issue a rally cry to everyone that JESUS IS GOOD ALL THE TIME!!!! And we will flourish as we let go of unanswered questions, confusion, and fear; and dive into the syrupy Presence of the One who understands ALL. What an honor to have a best friend who knows everything, sees outside of time, and LOVES beyond measure!

Right now we could choose to focus on what is not. We could stare at lack. We could grumble. We could be self-focused. We could be fearful that we will be terminally disappointed. And we could miss the opportunities to love and transform the world around us. We could miss out on the great masterpiece our beautiful Creator is making.

Or we could celebrate every victory, no matter how small. We could fast negativity (as in commit to not say and think negative things). We could speak the truth of God over our lives daily: I am powerful, I am seated with Christ in heavenly places, circumstances are under my feet, sickness flees in my presence. We could make every day a party. We could let loose the shoelaces of our love, toss off our hindrances and dance barefoot!

I have to choose the latter. My heart must have closeness with God. Nothing else will ever persuade me of a greater worth. He’s it. haha. No need to search for the next best thing. He is the always best thing.

So, whoever you are, wherever you are. Shake it off. Whatever you negatively fixate on about 2010, blink it away. Stop thinking about changing your ways and just change them. Be YOU. You can do it. You were born to succeed! You were designed to live an outrageously wonderful life so full of love and power that the whole universe awakens in awe to your beauty.

Ezekiel 16:9-14 paints a gorgeous image of us redeemed and beautified by our Husband,

“I bathed you with water and washed the blood from you and put ointments on you. I clothed you with an embroidered dress and put sandals of fine leather on you. I dressed you in fine linen and covered you with costly garments. I adorned you with jewelry: I put bracelets on your arms and a necklace around your neck, and I put a ring on your nose, earrings on your ears and a beautiful crown on your head. So you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was honey, olive oil and the finest flour. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen. And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign LORD.”

We have been lavished with salvation and beauty – so much beauty the nations are in awe. We have a choice of what to do with that beauty. In Ezekiel, the woman ( Jerusalem), squanders the love by throwing her attentions and her affections other places. Let’s be the woman who shows the nations their own beauty and lavishes them with the same love that brought us into salvation and wholeness.

Let’s stretch. Let’s grow.

2011, HERE WE GROW!!!!!!!

hahahaha!!!

I love all of you (even the internet wanderers who followed the yellow brick road here that I don’t know personally)!

I recommend listening to two teachings in the box.net on the left side bar of my blog: parts 1 & 2 of “Living Un-Offended at God” by Bill Johnson. ENJOY!!! Get radical with HOPE!

Happy NEW-EST YEAR!!!

You have a destiny and a purpose!

p.s. As my sister Dori is going to India in 4 days to work in a restoration house with survivors of the sex trade for 3 months, this form of slavery is on the forefront of my mind.

(Her blog: http://pinkdor.wordpress.com/ )

We must be courageous and set the captives free. How about Isaiah 61 as a New Year’s Resolution!?! Let’s eradicate disease, slavery, and darkness from the planet! As you link with heaven’s faith, here’s music to believe by: http://www.exoduscry.com/ I especially like tracks 3 & 10. )



The o’s in “goodness” are blueberries

"Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!" (Psalm 34:8)

I’m very tiny or very gigantic, depending on how you look at everything. And I see myself travelling through a blueberry muffin. What I mean is, I’ve been trying to sleep for over an hour, but I taste the sweetness of God’s goodness and so, I can’t seem to sleep. I am departing my house at 4:45am tomorrow/today to head to the Redding airport in order to fly to Texas. I’m going to Texas as part of the ministry team for Bill Johnson while he does a series of 5 meetings at a church next to Austin. (http://www.churchofthehills.org/Bill_Johnson.html )And I would love to sleep, but I am inevitably meditating on my Father’s goodness, which is keeping me very excited and awake.

It’s like I am an itsy bitsy person inside a blueberry muffin. Yes, it’s just like that. Haha. And as I travel along, I eat the bread, which is okay, but I also chew into lots and lots of very succulent blueberries, which are astounding every time I run into them – even though it’s a constant encounter (after all, it is a blueberry muffin).

It’s His goodness, these blueberries – these unavoidable accents, these things which make the blueberry muffin a blueberry muffin, as opposed to a chunk of bread. I mean, really, what is a blueberry muffin if there aren’t any blueberries? And would anyone really desire to eat such a “muffin?”

I can’t separate God from His goodness. His gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooodness. All those o’s are blueberries.

Sometimes His goodness keeps me up at night. And up at day too. Haha.

A couple weeks ago I was in Michael’s, the craft store, and I saw a hunched woman pushing her cart. I approached her and asked her what was wrong with her back. Pretty quickly she was crying and telling me about her father’s death and the deteriorating illness torturing her back and the rest of her bones. We talked for about 20 minutes: about hope and God and life and purpose. Her eyes opened and shut in awe, like a manual garage door that won’t stay up. We talked about dreams she has. And I got to pray for her back and her right leg, which was a center of pain. A lot of the pain left her leg, which she thought was really outstanding and then she said, “I think I am standing up straighter!” I laughed hard. Sometimes when people get healed it’s like you told the punch line to the joke, but the person didn’t get it until sometime later. When that person gets it, you laugh even harder, because the epiphany of truth looks so beautiful on them. “Wow, that truth looks so good on you! It really brings out your eyes!” I asked the woman if I could hug her and she very merrily accepted. She said something about the meeting making her day and her life looking up again, and then she said she would go the Healing Rooms at Bethel that Saturday for more healing prayer. That punch line really got her good. HAHAHAHAHAHA! GOOD. And sweetly, after the pain significantly left her leg I could tell she suddenly thought that the rest of what I’d said was probably true as well – the bit about God and life and purpose – because God demonstrated His goodness by tracking her down in Michael’s.

What a lovely blueberry.

Also about a week ago I saw a man in a wheelchair outside a building in Redding. I made eye contact with him and said, “hi.” He smiled back, but I saw tears creeping up in his thunderstorm eyes. “What’s going on?” I said, walking toward him. “I’m dying,” he answered, rain clouds in his soul darkening. “What do you mean?” I asked. “My heart is detaching from the rest of my body and the doctors say I’ll probably die soon” he abruptly responded. “Well, that’s ridiculous,” I said, looking him in the eyes, pushing back the darkening with the violent light inside me. “I’ve seen lots of people healed of lots of things. Do you want me to pray for you?” I asked. The clouds in his eyes dissipated, as if he was presented a new option he had not considered. “Yes” he said. And I prayed. And I asked him how he felt. He told me he felt much better, like maybe his life would be long. I told him everything changed that day, it was a new year and he would live in full health. I explained that I had to go because I had an appointment to keep, but I blared sunlight into his sky with the words, “You are incredible. You are going to have an incredible life” and then I clapped and cheered for him. And I went inside.

What a wonderfully sweet blueberry.

Recently I had to call my internet provider because we were having technical problems with our internet service. After about 20 minutes of back-and-forth about our internet connection, we resolved the problem. She said, “Is there anything else I can do for you today?” I responded, “Well, this might seem odd, but do you have a son?” “Yes…” she responded, not knowing what else to say. “And are you having difficulty with him lately and you don’t know what to do?” “Yes, how did you know that?” she said, her voice growing hushed and shaky. “Sometimes God shows me things about people and I feel like God wants to encourage you that He is moving in your son’s life. Even though you  feel stuck, God is bringing order. And God has a purpose for your son. I see him drawing and He hasn’t found the right use for his drawing yet, but soon he will be at a youth center teaching others to draw.” The woman began to cry. “My son is 16 and he has autism and just this morning we had a huge argument and I don’t know how to deal with him anymore. I was just asking God today for some direction or something because I feel like I can not do anything to help him and I feel overwhelmed because I am working so much and his father isn’t around anymore and it’s so hard for me to raise him alone.” “Wow” I said, feeling every high and low point in both w’s, compassion buckled me in like a seatbelt. I told her I knew of autism being healed and I asked if I could pray for her son. She leapt from weary mom voice to strong mother hen voice, “Yes! Please!” I prayed for her son and prophesied over his life. She cried and said, “I just don’t see how you know all these things…” “It’s just God. He shows me things about people He wants to encourage. He wants you to know you are a great mom and He loves you and your son very very much; and hope is real.”  I told her a story from the Bible and she said she would look it up later. Our conversation lasted about 15 minutes and by the end she had transitioned from a faceless customer service operator to a courageous mother who was holding out hope for her teenage son to find fullness in life. I was honored to “meet” her. We exchanged names and thanks and laughs and said our goodbyes.

What a sensationally serendipitous blueberry.

I am really in love with God. His goodness stains my tongue blue; the more I taste Him the more I speak Him. The more I speak Him the more I love Him. He is good, exquisitely, scrumptiously, lavishly goooooooooooooooooooooooood.

mmmmmmmmmmmmmm… yum yum. Good night, everyone. Blueberries! hahaha.

THANKSGIVING and VISION: What’s where I am and how I’ve been in love all the way

Where is usually more tied to journey than what.

When you look at the flight board at an airport you see city names, not what the places are known for.

London isn’t “Posh / gate A37 / 10:42” and Delhi isn’t “Vibrant: gate D4 / 18:38”

And when you get to the gate the flight attendant welcomes you to the gateway to your destination, not the contents of it. He doesn’t say, “Enjoy your trip to Atlanta. You will find a great bookstore with an elephant statue that makes you laugh and think of your fourth grade trip to the zoo. Then you will think about the idea that ‘elephants are forgetful.’ You will wonder if that’s true, which will make you think about forgiveness. When you think about forgiveness, you’ll think about your mom; you’ll be grateful parents usually demonstrate great perseverance with their children, and then you’ll think of Jesus and how He alone makes real forgiveness and real redemption possible. And your heart will flutter remembering the way He takes your breath away, feeling the squeeze of His love on your shoulder there alone in a bookstore in Atlanta. You are only in Atlanta for a seven hour layover, but by the time you leave, you’ll be ready for an experience you will have eight months from now when that epiphany in Murphy’s Books in Atlanta will be used to bring peace between two of your married friends. The revelation in the bookstore, the one that starts with the elephant statue, will lead to a revelation in your friends’ marriage which will lead to newness in her parents’ marriage, which will lead them to start a course for married couples at their church in Illinois, which will become a curriculum which within 2 years will be in 43 churches in Illinois and one in Michigan. That marriage course will restore and enliven marriages in 44 churches within two years.”

The attendant simply says, “Enjoy your trip to Atlanta.” And the word “Atlanta” gives no indication of the realities alive and waiting in that place. There is more than meets the eye.

We are all on a journey. There is much more than what appears – more than names and wheres, there are whats and whose. As we fly, walk, hike, and rest we all move forward toward the future. We choose daily how to direct our experiences, how to respond to our circumstances, and whether our trip to “Atlanta” is just a trip to Atlanta or if it’s moving toward something – at the least a serendipitous blessing, at the most a pivotal epiphany that grows who we are and readies us for the destiny ahead. Living with intentionality is powerful – expecting that even a “chance” moment in a bookstore might lead to transforming lives is part of living a hope-charged life.

I believe in vision.

I believe in purpose.

Since I was 16 I have burned with a few primary dreams.

One began in hours alone weekly on my floor praying for the Middle East.

One began in the book “Azusa Street” by Frank Bartleman.

One is the fusion of those two, born of passion and long talks with the One who first created and dreamed.

The Middle East will FLOURISH:  she will live in peace, abundance, hope, and LOVE for her savior. I have championed the Middle East and believed for her fullness of destiny with an otherworldly fuel for 15 years now.

Every tongue, tribe, and nation will fall in love with Jesus and signs and wonders will be normal on earth as they are in heaven. My vision for revival has led me by the heart with the words I clearly remember crying into the light green carpet in my teenage bedroom: “I have to have revival or I will die.”

I will be a key part of building and transforming nations – entire nations. I do not mean making them so-so, relatively peaceful, decently prosperous, and moderately happy. I MEAN WHOLE NATIONS IN LOVE WITH JESUS: creative, free, healthy, doing “impossible” things constantly, redefining every realm of society with HEAVEN: family, religion, economy, education, government, arts & media, and science & technology. And the infusion of those things, the reality that I am meant for a purpose infinitely more than what I see , has kept me on track and inspired and willing to sacrifice ever since then. I am too in love to move from the vision the Holy Spirit sparked in me back when no one knew the dreams germinating in me.

I have seen it. I can not let go. For fifteen years, I have seen it. I have tasted it.

Vision will inflame you to do things you don’t want to do.

Vision will quicken you into discipline and a love for divine order.

Divine order is meant to GIVE freedom, not control you. It’s meant to make space for love, not take it away. People often think of order as legalism and limitation – that’s not heaven’s idea. Eden reflected order, like the tabernacle of Moses, and like the temple Solomon built; and like the heavenly Jerusalem.

Vision will keep you steady, focused, and joyful.

In Hebrews 12:2 it reads,

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

For THE JOY SET BEFORE HIM endured the cross.

His sacrifice was infused with vision for what was to come – for what that single action was creating a foundation for.

His love for joy and His love for us compelled him to create an infrastructure for more joy. The price He paid set up an entire system of salvation and redemption and re-unification with God and WHOLENESS.

Vision will knit you to supernatural patience, peace, and laughter.

Vision will move you across the country, the city, the world, and back again – if necessary.

Vision will give you the courage to smile when your journey looks like wandering to those around you.

Vision will become an immovable chunk of granite love – something that makes you happy to pay close attention to how much the apples cost so you can save a little money; something that gives you peculiar delight when you walk from inside a building to a rainy sky and you think of RAIN in a desert far away that yearns for rain and how you KNOW the RAIN is coming; something that magnetizes you with desire in moments to go through the drawers of your life and find something, anything else you can glorify Jesus with. haha. “Hey God, I’m going to draw a happy face on my rent check because I’m so tickled that I get to pay rent, live in a free country, and one day see entire nations give you their own little happy faces. haha.”

Vision, real vision, the kind that is so saturated in Jesus, you can not separate it from Him, nor would you every think to, will make you mad – like crazy mad, but in a perfectly crazy way.

I once heard a quote, “Do you know anyone who changed the world who wasn’t at least a little crazy?”

And “If people don’t laugh when you tell them your dreams, you aren’t dreaming big enough.”

And “If you can complete your dreams without supernatural help, you need to expand your dreams.”

Vision will also grow in you maturity to know how much of the vision to share when and with who. Vision will make the waiting worth it. Vision will make the process an honor, and as much a destination as the “destination.” Sarah and Abraham had their promise for Isaac, they tried a shortcut through Ishmael, and that did not go well. Still, Isaac came and Abraham with the wife “beyond childbearing years” became a FATHER OF NATIONS. And, to think, Sarah LAUGHED when God told her that promise. NOW that is the mark of a good dream, it is kissed with “impossibility.”

I’m going to write more snippets of dreams of mine, at least loosely framed, in an upcoming blog, but I’m not at a point where I feel it’s time to go into much depth. I have learned supernatural resolution via holding closely the secrets of God until the right time. And many secrets will always be secrets. Having said that, there is a fresh stirring in me to share some of what I am learning about vision, establishing infrastructure in one’s life for longevity, the rewards of focus, and the courage it takes to be YOU excellently. Mostly, YOU are the only human who will ever know how much flourishing you live in – one person flourishes when he sets aside an hour to read a history book every week, one person flourishes when he dares to tell a friend “no”, one person flourishes when she truly believes the paintings she does are beautiful, one person flourishes when she becomes radical enough to take responsibility for her own life daily, one person flourishes when he steps out and prays for a stranger, one person flourishes when she moves to Denmark and opens a home for homeless youth.

You must know what you burn for.

You must know you can walk toward your fears and destroy them.

You must know nothing is impossible.

You must know you were made to have vision, to dream, and to fulfill that vision.

You must know that change is possible. You can do it.

You must know you are powerful, to change your life and to change the world.

You must know you are amazing.

You must know you can love YOURSELF, just like Jesus LOVES you.

You must know THANKFULNESS is key;

and vision will provoke you to be thankful for everything from clean water to your friend’s eyelashes.

You will see potential, grace, love, and impossibility made possible in every thing.

Ahhhh… as the day of thanksgiving slips itself around your life today, be blessed with vision.

As you look at the incredible people around your table, on your welcome mat, in your arms – welcome to the world of vision. Be encouraged to dream. Jesus saw all that goodness when He was headed cross-ward. God saw YOU when He spoke the universe into being.

YOU were His vision.

And what an ABSOLUTELY PHENOMENAL AND INSPIRING VISION YOU ARE!

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You were created to be creative.


For some vision-casting, I recommend these books:

http://www.amazon.com/Seven-Mountain-Prophecy-Johnny-Enlow/dp/1599792877

http://www.amazon.com/Reformation-Manifesto-Change-Nations-Today/dp/0764205021

“If you just touch my hand with one finger, they will get scared and leave!”

If you just touch my hand with one finger,

they will get scared and leave!”

or “If you know where the snake lives, go to his hole and kill him.”

or “Jesus is powerful and so are you.”

or “Get radical. Transform your city with Love.”

(30 days of Library Park)

I have been on a thirty day adventure of loving people with Jesus in Redding.

Welcome to Library Park.



We all want advocacy. We’re all books in God’s library. And we are all meant to be “checked out.” Our stories should be known and celebrated. Haha.

At the beginning of September I began to have sudden flash visions of myself preaching on a stage in a park in Redding. It seemed to be unfounded. I don’t recall having the idea prior and really, the very word “preaching” has made my skin recoil for most of my life – I think because I unfairly associated the word with pushy men who didn’t relate to their audience, but through guilt and emotionalism persuaded desperate people to choose to “follow” God – some making sincere decisions to follow, others more moved by the pleas and pressure. Even in seminary, where there were many truly gifted preachers, the word “preaching” made me feel ill at ease.

And yet, there I was, chasing myself with these pictures. Or, at least, the Holy Spirit chasing me with myself. Ha. The picture would appear in worship, in class, and while driving around Redding.

One day I was in class and as the speaker asked a question like, “What is something new this year will be about for you?” I instantly heard, “preaching” – from somewhere outside myself, like one of those jester puppets who jumps into a dramatic moment in a puppet show with an outlandish comment and a far too ecstatic and red smile on his face.

I was coming to terms with it. And I realized where the park I kept seeing in this picture was: it was Library Park downtown – a small grassy area with a stage and a sidewalk around the perimeter. It’s a place that hosts many outdoor events in the summer: outdoor markets, art fairs, and a weekly farmer’s market. It’s across from the central bus station and thus, it has many passerbys – often homeless folks, drunk folks, and wanderers. It’s a perfect place to linger with the lingerers. So, I needed to prepare myself for the idea of preaching in Library Park. The idea of publicly preaching overseas didn’t surprise me at all, but preaching in the states? Wow, Holy Spirit, this is a side of myself I have to meet.

Then on Thursday, September 16, the second week of school, I had a meeting with a team I was going to minister with in Vallejo that weekend. The trip leader, who also happens to be my revival group pastor and the Prophetic Arts Pastor at Bethel, said she had a prophetic act for me. She placed a music stand in front of me and said, “Dawn, this is your year to preach.” I laughed. Wow, God was calling me out in public. How very, um, public.

So, that day as I drove home from school at 5:30pm I strongly felt, “I have to go there right now.” And I did. I took my Bible and I got on the stage. I read Isaiah 60 and 61 at full volume as if there was a crowd of hundreds. I proclaimed it over my city, REDDING – a city that belongs to my King.

As I read it I was overwhelmed with images of people coming to Jesus there at the park – like Jesus himself was reading the famous passage. I began to cry. I saw Him healing people, casting out demons, looking deep into the eyes of the homeless, the hopeless, and the abandoned. He was calling people into His heart with His eyes. He was telling them He was their advocate and He would stand by them. He would restore them. He was showing me the way. And I was falling in love with Him all over again. I saw why He drew crowds. I saw the uniqueness of His advocacy. I saw the fearlessness of His Presence.

And I told him I would come. I would come to Library Park and love people. I would see people saved, healed, and delivered. I would step out in boldness. I committed myself to come for an hour from 6:30-7:30pm a couple times a week on my own until my birthday: October 16. I wouldn’t tell anyone I was going. It would be my secret hangout time with Jesus and His loved ones. After that month passed I would tell others, and a few would be ignited with vision to join in. In time it would grow, by word of mouth, people would bring friends to the park to be made whole and to have the lights in the houses of their dreams turned on.

That day I felt like the Lord told me to wait until 6:33pm before leaving.

Fittingly, He has been showering me with 6:33 lately – I catch the clock unintentionally at 6:33, phone numbers, receipts, license plates, street numbers with 633 often suddenly catch my attention. It’s a constant reminder of Matthew 6:33 “Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you.” The Holy Spirit is training me to really make the most important thing, the most important thing.

So, that day, I waited.

At 6:33 on the dot a man with a cane walked into the park. I hopped off the stage and zipped over, asking if he wanted prayer for healing. I don’t remember exactly what happened, but I think he opted not to have prayer, but he was touched I asked. And hey, the blessing of someone caring enough to offer to pray for you is often a very loud blessing. And it’s an act of love you walk away thinking about – maybe even for days, or weeks.

That was that. It had begun – the adventure of Library Park. An adventure with all the books, the stories, the histories, the futures that would come down from the shelf and be read, and be cherished, and be celebrated. Who would be there? What outrageous beauty would rain from heaven?

I’m excited about this new frontier. And very happy to see Redding fall in love with my beautiful bridegroom Jesus.

Here are some stories. Snippets from lives worth being restored. Scenes from lives BEING restored.

Friday September 17

Percy: 76, walked with a walker because of equilibrium problems. Equilibrium HEALED. He said he didn’t think he needed the walker anymore, but maybe he would keep it around because it also served as portable chair. (Does that change it from a walker to a sitter?)

Steve: in his 40’s, 42 days from the end of almost ten years of parole

Steve had an elbow brace on. He had elbow replacement some time ago. He had a lot of pain. I prayed and the pain left. Then he explained he got Valley Fever in 1995 and he has had pain in all his joints since then. I prayed. All the pain left all his joints. He said it was the first time since 1995 he was pain free. We talked about his dreams and his new start. We talked about ways he might find work, his desire to visit Louisiana and see some of his people there. He wants to work in an autobody shop. He also wants to go overseas, but he is concerned that his felony will limit his ability to travel.

After a while he mentioned how the park is dodgy at night. He told me to be careful and he began talking about meth. He said it’s worse than anything else and there is so much of it in Redding. People get away from their brains and they don’t even know the things they do. He has to stay away from all the drug stuff so he doesn’t slide back into it. He said there should be more people like me. He felt really encouraged that there was still hope, that God really does love him, and that he can still have a wonderful life. He left around 7:30 to find somewhere to sleep for the night.

Guy on a smoke break from a bar nearby: so happy to have back pain diminish he gave me $4. Initially, I resisted taking it, but then I remembered I had mentioned to God earlier that day that a few extra dollars for gas for the ministry trip the next day would be helpful. I certainly didn’t think it would come from someone in the park!

Tuesday, September 21

Lester: Native American, drunk, in his 50’s. I felt like God wanted me to ask him about his uncle so I did. He said he had five, but they were all hit by cars. His father was also killed by a car. He began to cry. He said, “I have so much hatred in my heart. I have so much hatred in my heart. I have so much hatred in my heart.” I asked if he wanted to be free. He said, “no.” Then I commanded the other voices to be silent and only Lester to speak. Lester wept. He was up and down emotionally. I commanded things to leave him. He seemed to feel better and even began to laugh.

I felt God prompt me to ask him what happened to him when he was three. He immediately said that his auntie started molesting him then. He cried and shook. Soon afterward he said, “I hate myself. I hate myself.” I told him God wants to set him free and those things should not have happened to him, but God is the only one who can heal his broken heart. I asked if he wanted God to set him free. He consented and prayed, “God I want you to come in and fix my heart. Jesus, I want you to come live in my heart.” He got peaceful. Eventually, he got riled up again. When we parted, there was a clear shift in his confidence. I look forward to seeing him again, clarity in his eyes and hope in his heart.

Wednesday, September 22

Monty

He is in Redding for cancer treatment, originally from Montana. His mom died when he was nine, his dad left, his grandma couldn’t look after him and his siblings (3 sisters, I think) so, he was on his own from 9 years old! He was a POW in Vietnam for twelve years! His wife, two kids, and three hired workers died in a car crash in 1969. He gave his land and money to the families of the hired workers and left Montana for the southwest. He has been in Redding one year. He said he wants to do what God has for him. I commanded the cancer to leave his body. He felt warm like when he was 11 and after a police officer beat him, He felt God’s arms come around him and hug the pain away.

Kimberly

She was walking with a crutch due to chronic arthritis in her right knee. I prayed and the pain lessened and she felt like it was “better.” They wanted to go on their way to the post office. Her boyfriend had a titanium knee so I commanded a new one to come forth. He was encouraged and I think he would have been happy to receive more prayer, but Kimberly was on her way.

Percy

76 year old Percy again. He remembered me. He said, “I know you aren’t hustlin’ you are the real deal. A real believer.” I laughed. He said, “Really, lots of people down here are hustlin’ everybody…” He told me more of his story: grew up in Visalia working cotton fields, got his first cocaine at 16 from Fresno (ironically, my hometown). It was downhill from there: married at 21, addicted to cocaine, couldn’t support his habit, ended up in the pen for 5 years. His wife and son left him. From then he was in and out of prison every few years. He eventually avoided cocaine, but now seems addicted to alcohol. I asked him, “How long after your son left today was it before you were drunk?” He admitted that as soon as his son left his house that afternoon he got drunk. He said “Two shots is what I need, and the good Lord knows it, to be more me.” I told the spirit of alcoholism to go and not speak, for only Percy to speak. He was silent for the first time in our conversation. He became very still. Then he said, “Thank you” as he lifted his head. I asked him if he wanted to be free. He didn’t answer. I told him only God can really set him free. God wants to set him free, to give him a new start. I laughed and thanked Jesus for freedom. “Percy, do you feel that? The peace that came?” He unsteadily said, “No.” I think he was sensing something new, but he didn’t know what it was. Hello, HOLY SPIRIT!

My thoughts: I’d like to see people made instantly sober in my presence. I’d like to see the glory set people free without words. I’d like to see them see Jesus as I stand there. I’d like them to see love.

I feel like I don’t even know how to love. As I linger with these people, listen to their stories, speak truth, and heal them, I want so much more love and compassion.

As I speak prophetically into lives I defeat the darkness in Redding and I claim this city for the KING. I won’t be silenced. I will shout it from the rooftops!

Father, I trust you. I will see more of you. I will be pulled up into your life-giving Presence. I will never be the same. I will see things unspeakable and breathe things made of substance. I will breathe faith like oxygen and it will train me for earth. I will go to heaven and get the blueprints. I will laugh forever. I will never stop going higher. I love you, God. I open my spirit to be more aware of the power, authority, and fullness within me.

I love you. I want to know you fully. This is worth more than anything.

The week of September 25-29

Little Bear and White Owl, something like that. I should have written it down that day. They were together, a man about 40 and a woman probably in her mid-fifties. They were extremely drunk.

They collapsed on the grass so I plopped myself down next to them and began to chat.

Pretty soon I asked Little Bear if he wanted to be free, truly free. He looked at me and said, with sudden clarity, “There are lots of demons in me that torment me every day…” “Yes, I know,” I responded, having seen the demons from the moment I sat in the grass. “Do you want to be free?” “Yes, PLEASE!” he exclaimed desperately, now giving me his full attention. I commanded the demons to go. “There, some are going,” he said, “but there are still more!” he pleaded. He reached his hand out to touch mine. “I don’t want you to touch me right now,” I said. He became more desperate, “If you just touch my hand with one finger, they will get scared and leave,” he was on the brink of tears. I touched his hand and commanded them to go. More went. His body relaxed. “There, they are going!” he was getting happy.

White Owl got defensive. She was losing control. I sensed it. Her eyes already told me about her own covenant with demons. She began to stir through her semi-slumber, nudging Little Bear that they should leave. “No! She is setting me free! She’s REALLY getting demons out of me!” he insisted. She looked at me, lethargically telling me to stop. “He’s getting set free,” I said, matter-of-fact. She grumbled, “Let’s  go!” He moved, “No, I want these demons out of me!” he whimpered. “Jesus wants you 100% free, you know that, right?” I asked. “Yes, yeah,” Little Bear admitted. “You know you can give him your life and He’ll bring total freedom?” “Yeah,” he said, getting hungry for freedom. White Owl was growing angry. She scooted away and began kissing Little Bear to distract him. He momentarily resisted, whining like a little boy; then he collapsed into the stupor and let her drag him across the grass. I sat there, knowing my presence was still His Presence and I wasn’t going to give in to awkwardness, but rather, remain and worship.

Man on my right (I forgot his name.)

Besides, there was another man who sat down to my right. We talked. He wondered how I could “command” things out of people. “Who are you to command anything?” he said, demanding. I laughed merrily. “I’m God’s daughter. Jesus is in me. My authority comes from Him.” He was mad and accusatory for a few minutes, demanding that I leave. It’s amusing to have a man in his fifties sitting within a couple feet of you, drunk, start to yell and tell you what to do. As he moved toward me I said confidently, “I don’t want you to touch me.” He looked at me, and stopped inching. Haha. It’s especially funny when you have heaven’s perspective – you know intimidation has no hold on you. That patch of grass is my Dad’s. Besides, I love this irritated, drunk guy. He wants an advocate just as much as the sweet five year old girl who lives next door to me.

In the spirit, I’ve got just as much Jesus-security as a 7’ bodybuilder guy who follows Jesus. I’m not going to be intimidated – not by things seen or unseen.

So, I stayed. And the man backed down, soon admitting that I was kind for wanting to be with people and that, “well, maybe, you’re alright.”

I’ll take “all right.”

We talk about how Jesus’ love is radical. I ask the man how long he has been addicted to alcohol. His story comes out. I tell Him he can be set free instantly. He’s interested, but not so much today. In time, he truly thanks me for talking and “being who you are” and goes on his way.

Man on planter:

I’m so drunk on Jesus, and Little Bear and White Owl are still making out. It seems like a perfect time to walk the perimeter of the park and sing worship songs loudly. I make a few loops, singing at the top of my lungs – to the fascination of a few people who pass through the park and the elderly man on the planter at the edge of the park. I wave at him each time I pass. Then we start talking. I pray for his heart condition. We talk about his hopes for his future, the bridges he’s burned, the ones he wants to create. He seems pretty committed to apathy, and my passion for life bothers him. That is so often the case when someone has walked a series of rough circumstances. That is why it is even more important not to back down, but to be an advocate for the hopeless. People need their dreams nudged and tugged to their feet.

Everyone wants an advocate. It’s time for the church to stop giving trite answers to people. It’s time for them to really be with people and encourage them into the greatness God has for them. It’s time to change the world – one person or one billion people at a time. Haha.

The man goes inside because it’s time to take his medication. Aw, the rule of “this and that” in our lives. We let the enemy boss us around and then we wonder why we feel powerless. We “have” to take this or that medication, or not eat this or that food due to allergies etc, or even we “have” to watch this tv show, or we “have” to have a daily cup of coffee to function. Haha. Really? It sounds like a lot of dependency on things that aren’t God to me. Maybe some of those things are okay, but when they “have” to be part of one’s routine, particularly more than God’s Presence, something is off-kilter.

All to say, I keep circling the park and singing my own made-up worship songs. “Redding belongs to Jesus” “Drunk people fall in love with Jesus in my presence” “Little Bear is free” “Everyone in Redding is alive to Christ and dead to sin” (that’s one of those “proclaim the future” lines) “Library Park will soon be filled with saved, healed, delivered people!” “lalalalalala… I’m so happy and Jesus loves me and I can do anything, my whole house is great!” The more I sing absurdly realistic things, the more lovestruck I get.

Eventually, Little Bear and White Owl leave.

The Argentinean:

And in walks a drunk Argentinean with an Italian accent. He wants some of my water (woman at the well reminder, anyone?) I point to the water fountain and I say something similar to what Jesus said about living water, so he’ll never thirst again – and living wine, to replace whatever he’s usually drunk with. He thinks this is interesting. And when I ask if he has pain in his body, he immediately laughs and says, “My shoulder is always in pain!” He starts to tell me the history- I interrupt him with, “Well, let’s just fix that right now.” And after about 15 minutes of gradual improvement: less pain and more mobility, there is NO PAIN and full mobility! YES! In fact, now he is moving his arm in a wildly circular motion and yelling, “This is amazing! I couldn’t do this before! No! Really!” And he laughs and laughs. It was like a puppy discovering the possibilities in a cardboard box. He was fascinated by his own arm. The things it could do!!!!!!

“Bobby”

A man on a bike stopped on the other side of the park and stared at us. “This man’s shoulder just got healed!” I said, “Do you have anything that needs to be healed?” He stared back- angry, a strange territorial anger. I walked over to him and stuck my hand out. “Hi, I’m Dawn. What’s your name?” I asked. He reluctantly shook my hand. His name was something like “Bobby” – unfortunately, I’ve forgotten since then. He looked at me charged with hostility and looking ready to pounce, with icy eyes and icy thoughts behind his eyes. “In whose name are you doing all this?” I began to laugh. “Oh, here we go,” I thought, “I know what’s coming next…” “Jesus’ name,” I smiled. “Oh yeah?” he said, leaning toward me expecting me to back up. “Yes.” I said, not moving. “I think it’s demons,” he said. I began to laugh harder. Something tickles me so deeply when demonic influence accuses itself. I’ve seen it so many times – the split second “personality” shift. Demons seem to get competitive and chaos-craving. And it’s obvious when someone’s face changes from a normal human expression to a twisted expression there is more than meets the eye. It would be so silly for me to be disturbed by such silliness. And there is a HUGE difference between speaking with authority like that noted of Jesus in Matthew 7:29 “he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law” and being controlling in the sense of witchcraft. I am very unimpressed with the latter. It’s all smoke and mirrors compared to the Lamb on the Throne who alone is worthy to open the scroll.

Anyhow, “Bobby” tried to stare me down. And I laughed and started to dance and worship God, saying, “God’s so great! He just healed that man’s shoulder!” I find few things more irresistible than giving God credit when someone tries to diminish it or pollute His beautiful character. It’s like when I would hear Muslims say “If God wills it” with regard to something like having a safe trip home. Instantly, my heart felt God’s love and security which made the idea of not having a safe trip home seem utterly ridiculous. Haha. I could feel the Father’s love for “Bobby” coming to cleanse him. Bobby was confused by my joy and turned to leave. “I’m here a few times a week from 6:30-7:30 so, I’ll probably see you again. You’re awesome, Bobby!” I said loudly as he rolled away. He was disarmed by my love and my raised arms cheering him on. And that, my friends, was priceless. Love is powerful. It will disarm the biggest dissenters and calm the most threatening enemies.

That is one thing I learned doing ministry in the mental hospital (which I renamed “The Freedom Castle”) in Bethlehem – when darkness tries to stare you down, get childlike and ridiculously joyful. Think of how excited Heaven is for that person to begin to feel real Love!!!! Dance! Sing songs to God! He’s the ultimate audience for our lives! He loves it when we simply turn our attentions toward Him as cranky darkness strives to get attention and bring people into gloom and doom.

Laugh off the mean faces, and SHINE on.

Friday, October 15

Really, I felt pretty lousy that day. I didn’t want to go anywhere. In response to this, I went into my backyard and cranked up some worship music and danced, inviting my housemate in on the action. Haha. We worshipped together for about 45 minutes. When you don’t know what else to do, WORSHIP.

Then I went to the park. I felt like I heard the name “Bernie” in the car on the way.

Henry

It turned out it was “Henry” – close. Ha. If you want to learn to hear from God more and more clearly you have to be willing to be wrong or not quite right sometimes. Haha.

Henry has three kids. He loves being a dad. Why? “It’s great to be loved – unconditionally,” he said. It’s interesting how we see things – receiving love, giving love. The value we place, either cognitively or subconsciously on relationships. Henry didn’t have any pain in his body so we talked about his family – how he’d recently broken up with his girlfriend and the mom of his two younger kids after ten years. We talked about how God values relationships and family; and we talked about what he did when he first won that woman’s heart and how he might be able to win it again if he really went after it. Henry said, “Are you a counselor?” I laughed, “Well, I did study counseling, but really I just love seeing people know who they are and be all they are designed to be. It’s really fun.” He liked that and we talked on and off for an hour.

Tom

In the midst of that was Tom, who was sitting on a bench next to a table. He gave me gummy worms and talked about the interesting items he sees at his job at The Salvation Army. Tom also didn’t have any pain in his body, but he does have a dream to work on a cruise ship. He agreed he would go look into finding a job on a cruise ship in the next week. Haha. He was getting really elated about the possibility of his dreams coming true! HOORAY!

They asked when I come to the park and I said, “A couple times a week between 6:30 and 7:30.” They thought that was pretty amazing and they were intrigued that people are getting healed and also stepping into their dreams. YES! God is powerful. And He’s alive!

The next day was my birthday.

And thus concluded month one in Library Park.

Somewhere in the midst of all of this, the second year students at Bethel had our first outreach/activation training. Chris Overstreet, the outreach pastor at Bethel, spoke. At one point he said, “There is a new openness for street preaching in Redding now.” I yelled and laughed. Yes, there is. And I am moving toward that. Then he said he was calling out the forerunners, I found myself on my knees yelling for Redding, and yelling: “I want to do more than I am comfortable with, more than I’ve ever imagined, more than I can think. I WILL BE FEARLESS AND I WILL DO THE IMPOSSIBLE. I will lead Redding to Jesus!” I could feel the desperation of people in the city to truly KNOW the Living God. And I was overrun with LOVE and passion for that to happen.

A way is being made in Library Park. And Jesus and I are going to have a blast as we continue to go every week: healing, casting out demons, awakening dreams and getting them on their feet, counseling people into jobs and purpose, laughing much more than reasonable, and generally being an advocate to those who are longing, deeply deeply longing that someone ANYONE would stop what she is doing and listen, and care.

There are people that are broken and still breaking, in your city right now. They don’t think they deserve eye contact. They don’t think they deserve a good future. They don’t think they will ever get out of the rut they are in, often the rut they feel they were born in. They mainly want something to numb the pain, the self-hatred, the loneliness, the despair, and the confusion. They are scared that they will never “amount to anything.” They are afraid they will never be able to be free. They wish someone would do something – they long for someone who will care enough to CARE.

They aren’t just homeless people. The man next to you at work. The cashier who looks like she has the worst job in the world and she wants you to know how she feels about that. The lawyer you stand next to in the elevator. The grandma who is indecisive about which lettuce to buy in the grocery store. YOUR NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOR.

And then there is a man named JESUS. He changed everything.

Will you?

For HIS Name’s sake… will you?

p.s. I’m going to let you in on a secret that the enemy doesn’t want you to know: The more you step out and love those around you, the more you give, especially when you don’t “feel” like it, the less self-focused you will become and YOUR whole life will become easier and more joy-filled. You will see strength and breakthrough come into your life beyond your imaginings. The enemy doesn’t want you to know that because he wants to keep you anxious and fearful in part by over-analyzing your own life. If he can get you to fixate on your car problems, your relational struggles, or your financial issues, you will become paralyzed by lies and robbed of joy, too “tired” to stick up for the truth in your own life, much less anyone else’s. Don’t let that happen. LAUGH in the enemy’s face (literally: think about something that looks like a wall in your life RIGHT now and laugh at it, you can force the laughter initially, but soon real laughter will take over. There you go, now you are getting in sync with heaven’s perspective!) It’s your responsibility to believe that everything Jesus said is true, for example: John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Commit yourself to only believe TRUE things. Guard your heart. And live in ABSURD abundance. An abundant life is MUCH MORE FUN than a boring life. And it’s what Jesus paid for. hahahahahahahahahahaha!

I am smiling hugely RIGHT now because I believe in WHO you are and I want you to live abundantly. : D