“Who Do You Say That I Am” – powerful video!

Watch this, ingest it, share it with others!

There is HOPE. You are LOVED.

When God Calls You By Name (PART 2): An excerpt from my book

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Approximately a year later I was at church one evening when two prophetic ministers were visiting: a married couple. The service was coming to its end as I was standing near the back of the room. And there was my name again. “Would Dawn please come up here?” one of them said. Yikes! I had never met these people. God certainly has a way with words – especially when that word is your name. In a state of arrested attention, I walked up. They placed their hands on me. They waited; and the power of God began to loosen the bolts of madness inside me. Then one of them said, “The oppression and depression is over. It has been a long night, but the oppression and depression is over. It has been a long night, but a new dawn has come.

I collapsed to the floor. The Holy Spirit stepped up to the plate and hit me out of the park. Home Run. I was out for around thirty minutes and by the time I arose, nearly everyone had exited the building.

When I got up I was

Free.

The Holy Spirit’s

home run ball

slung into the window

of my sad house

splintering depression

into trillions of pieces.

His winds

Blew those pieces

East from west

Away from me.

Forever.

 

Truly, a “new dawn” had come. And I was her.

 

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When God Calls You By Name (PART 1): an excerpt from my book

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God always has a pot of milk and honey tea on somewhere in a back room. The fragrance wafted toward me when I was seventeen. I was at a winter camp with my youth group. Late one night, everyone was in groups praying and crying after the message. I didn’t feel like joining a group. Instead I grabbed the Bible underneath the chair next to me (which happened to be a different version than my own) and headed for the stairway. There on those uncarpeted wooden slats I opened unintentionally to Isaiah chapter nine. Verses one and two grabbed me.

“But there will be no gloom for HER that was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zeb’ulun and the land of Naph’tali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.” (Revised Standard Version)

I knew I had come to God’s exact words for me at that moment. And I heard Him say, more loudly than ever, “I am bringing this depression to an end.” In my emotional rawness I was equally assured and equally indignant, “Oh yeah!? You have been telling me that for ten years! WHEN? When are you going to bring it to an end!?” With the weight of a large bag of rice dropped from a shopping cart TEN STORIES UP, He said, “SOON.”

Later I read verse two in my own Bible, which was the New International Version, it beautifully says, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has DAWNED.”

God called me by name.

It wouldn’t be the last time.

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part two coming tomorrow . . .

What to Do When You Want to Give Up and Stay in Bed

A French flag plays curtain to a Nashville street, an eyelid over the wide open picture window in this cafe where I sit tip-tapping my typing road through the pages of my book. By the 250 words per page standard I am on page 128. I took a break from my typedance routine to peruse a blog my friend Jenn introduced me to. It’s creative and Jesus-drenched. The writer is a true wordsmith and author of a New York Times bestseller list book, “One Thousand Gifts.” Her name is Ann Voskamp. She’s a mom of six, a farmer’s wife, and a hero to many for her honesty, gratitude, and wonder.

I simply had to share part of her blog,

particularly given the lately’s of my life: the sudden gift by a friend of a trip to Nashville, Tennessee for a Middle East Insight Conference; the collective encouragement of many at the conference; the moving expansion of my plans to visit Iraq this fall; the materialization of a fifteen year dream to bring hope and transformation into a war zone in the Middle East; and the happy-homey apartment I moved into July 1.

This is in stark contrast to the discouragement of a financial drought. I work part-time for an orphanage in Kenya, which I love, but it is not enough financially. I’ve applied for dozens of jobs, but I haven’t acquired any. This means I am feeling the stretch of taking what feels like every last penny and scraping it against the bottom of an empty chili pot in hopes of gathering some amount of sustenance.

I find myself not knowing how to move forward. The dichotomy of huge breakthrough paired with the waiting for the daily breakthroughs… it’s like having a photograph of a mansion in a majestic garden. The mansion is yours, but the title deed seems to have been mailed via ship on a three month journey from Timbuktu to the welcome mat of your heart.

I’m tired. I know one of my greatest attributes is hope against all odds. In fact, this is the core of the chapter I am presently writing for my book. And here we are, as often is the case, one’s fiercest passion seems to be on the other side of a veil, or perhaps a French flag in a cafe in Nashville. I couldn’t travel through that window even if I got a running start; I need to find the door. The lights are off and my flashlight’s beam has a small circumference. I am scanning every portion of the wall; sometimes I sleep and invite revelatory dreams to show me where the door is. I see hints, shadowy forms of answers. I know we are nearing each other.

I don’t know what searching looks like, only I must, in one way or another seek and search. I feel the tension of Proverbs 25:2 in my every step, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” And in my heart, in my internal compass, nothing matters more to me than knowing Jesus. In the words of Julie Meyer in the song, “Awakened to Love” “Lovers always find what others give up searching for.” Indeed. (Listen to “Awakened to Love” here: http://www.myspace.com/juliemeyermusic/music/songs/awakened-to-love-11323145)

So, like in Ann Voskamp’s blog post on getting out of bed and going through the day one step at a time, I am moving along one step at a time.

And here is her blog post:

http://www.aholyexperience.com/2010/04/what-to-do-when-you-want-to-give-up-and/

To all of you, never ever ever give up. There is always hope, even when you don’t see it or feel you can’t get to it. Father God adores you. He has good gifts for you. His love never fails.


Tell your Sarahs: their promises will be fathers

Tell your Sarahs: their promises will be fathers.

I woke up this morning to find four Sarahs, all not pregnant, bustling around in my room.

I think they were looking for something to do.

I didn’t know what to tell them.

I felt at a loss. And tired. (Why was I tired after eight hours of sleep?)

One of them said something about having some rugs she could shake out. “It’s raining. There’s nowhere dry to shake them out” I replied, silently wondering if in her zeal for a task she would still take the big rug in my front room outside for a good dust out-shaking.

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I used to be more suspicious of God. And not in a good way. I just didn’t quite trust the Guy. I wanted to. Or at least I thought I did, but He always seemed so wriggly in my brain. I couldn’t understand the sadness, the dozens of bricks of sadness that seemed stuck in the wheelbarrow inside me. I knew He could lift them. And I knew I asked Him to. A lot.

When I was seven years old it seemed a building, a long abandoned building collapsed in some far off land – very far from my hometown of Pleasanton, California. And somehow the bricks and rubble had been blasted into my heart. I was despondent. And I cried myself to sleep weekly. The injustice of millions of orphans seemed to be walking through the valleys of my heart. Painful. Abandoned. Grief-stricken. I felt I might die for lack of hope. I thought I might die at my own hands.

I remember thinking I was boxed in. I would sit on my bed and often, unannounced, the room would get larger and smaller. My eyes were open and I felt I was in an abyss with no humans and no love anywhere to be found. I was horrendously scared. And the appearance of four darkened forms seemed to claw at the last vault of truth inside of me. I saw them clearly. And they were approaching me. I knew with horror what they wanted – my very life. A relative of mine had recently attempted suicide and the figures said they would do to me what they did to my uncle. They were bent on destroying my life.

For this reason, for years I avoided opening the silverware drawer. The grapefruit knives, with their serrated edges tempted me. I imagined them cutting through my wrists. I wondered how much I would have to saw into my skin until I bled to death. I hated those knives. Vehemently, as if they had betrayed me like a lifelong friend.

Yet, there was something I hated more than those knives. Myself. I felt powerless and alone. I didn’t think I deserved to die, but I wasn’t convinced I deserved to live. So if I bumped my leg on a coffee table, something in me said I deserved it and even suggested I hit my leg harder… or hit all of me harder until I physically bashed  myself to pieces.

I did sometimes consider that it was unusual for someone in elementary school to feel this way. I didn’t know of anyone else who saw demons. I didn’t use the word demons at the time though. I actually called the four figures “the hamburger men” because two of them were like horizontal ovals – a tad like a hamburger shape.  I would break out in a sweat when they showed up. My body was fear-stricken. I knew they were from the enemy. And nothing I did or said seemed to make them leave. I cried out to God. I whimpered to the silhouettes, “go away… go away.” I ran to my mom in a feverish madness screaming “the hamburger men! The hamburger men!” but my mom didn’t seem to have a grid for such extreme encounters so she would send me back to my room trying to assure me I was okay.

The irony is: I wasn’t. Okay, that is. I was traumatized and burdened by fear. I followed Jesus since I was two years old. And I knew He was somehow the remedy to all this, but asking Him to rescue me didn’t seem to alleviate the situation.  In fact, it seemed to tear my heart. I pleaded with God, “Why aren’t you doing something about this? Where are you? I love you! Why is this happening?”

The seemingly one-way conversation went on for years – until I was 18. The demonic visitations were about monthly for the first several years, and then they tapered off a little, increased again, and eventually faded away when I was 16. The residue lasted longer. I still felt grief-stricken. I still wrestled with hopelessness. And I still thought about killing myself. I wept a great deal.

I knew God was there. I knew He was with me. I heard Him say the depression would end, but I was overwhelmingly confused by the waiting. “When?! When will it end?!” I screamed and cried into a physical emptiness. I was furious with God. We talked a lot and I knew I heard His voice and I loved Him more than anything. I knew my life would always be for His glory. And I knew He was more beautiful than I could fathom. So, WHY? Why was I waiting? Why did God even speak a promise to me – a promise of deliverance – when I would have to wait years for its fulfillment?

Those years felt like torture. And training for a marathon. Or a war.

A glimmer cracked into the horizon when I was 17. I was at a winter camp with my youth group. Everyone was in groups praying and crying after the evening message. I didn’t feel like joining a group. Instead I grabbed the Bible underneath the chair next to me (which happened to be a different version than my own) and headed for the stairway. And there on those uncarpeted wooden slats I opened unintentionally to Isaiah 9 and verses 1 & 2 grabbed me.

“But there will be no gloom for HER that was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zeb’ulun and the land of Naph’tali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.” (RSV)

and if you read verse 2 in the NIV it beautifully says, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has DAWNED.” (hence my current email address haha!)

I knew I had come to God’s exact words for me at that moment. And I heard Him say, more loudly than ever, “I am bringing this depression to an end.” In my emotional rawness I was equally assured and equally indignant, “oh yeah!? You have been telling me that for ten years! WHEN? When are you going to bring it to an end!?” And with the weight of a bag of flour dropped from a shopping cart TEN STORIES UP, He said, “SOON.”

And I knew it was true. He was my everlasting Father and He would show Himself faithful.

Nearly a year later I was at church in Fresno, CA (my family moved to Fresno when I was nearly 10) when a very prophetic couple was visiting and ministering to people. I was near the back of the room in a crowd of about two hundred. And then, lightning struck my heart. Suddenly one of the couple said, “Would Dawn please come up here?” I didn’t know them. It was a powerful word of knowledge. God was calling me by name. I walked up. They prayed silently for me and then said, “The oppression and depression is over. It has been a long night. It has been a long night, but a new dawn has come.”

A trillion weights flew off me all at once. My body buckled in freedom. I crumbled onto the floor in a violent, sobbing heap. I was free. The prison door vanished and I felt my soul walk out in complete freedom. I was on the floor there at the altar for quite a while. I was totally unaware of my surroundings. I could breathe again. Deeply. I felt safe. Like someone on a ten-year one man safari through a dangerous country would feel upon reaching civilization. Relieved in every fiber of my being. By the time I rose from the floor there were only a few people left in the room. And the bouncy balls of unrest that had reverberated and tyrannized my soul for ten years were gone.

Jesus engulfed me.

I was delivered instantly. No more depression. No more suicidal thoughts. Love broke through.

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That was 12 years ago.

Now I’m 30.

And there are four Sarahs in my room.

Sometimes they laugh when I tell them Isaac is coming. “Don’t worry, I know you are old and appear unable to conceive, but the seed of a Promise is stronger than the seed of this world.”

I even put up a sign on my wall, “No Ishmaels allowed.” By this I mean, “No taking matters into your own hands, Sarah. Don’t settle.”

The Everlasting Father put every star in the sky as if the sky is the womb and the stars the seeds. Jesus’ birth was marked by a star. I tell the Sarahs about Jesus. They think it’s funny that a person could be the “yes and amen.” They punctuate their uncertainty with side glances toward Hagar. I tell them to act like she doesn’t exist. As far I am concerned, she doesn’t. I know my Father. I know the faithfulness that floods in warmth when I lean my head against His corduroy jacket. I know the comprehensive watchfulness of His eyes when He watches me swing on my tree swing. I know there’s a lot that I don’t understand which he understands perfectly. As if one of His eyelashes holds all the answers in the universe.

I will be content to live with unanswered questions.

I prefer He be close.

I wouldn’t want Him to step back while I “figure things out” – for He is my deepest yearning.

I would rather have intimacy with Him than all the answers in the world. I would rather swing on my swing and laugh at the jokes He tells me and look like a fool to passersby than leave the swing and the deep satisfaction that comes from the wind in my hair, the sun on the apples of my cheeks, and the limitless exhilaration of the view from higher and higher. I will never stop going higher. I will laugh forever. And I will be consumed by Love. I will stay. I will become Love.

I will believe because His palpable goodness has convinced my soul that Isaac is a guarantee – as real as those same stars. All four Sarahs are bound for motherhood. And grandmotherhood. Galaxies of hope from the wombs of their dreams. Sparkly and fierce. We are all pregnant with galaxies of hope. Our dreams will soon run and play. And swing. Higher. As High as they want to go.

Through the canopy of expectation.

Beyond the sound barrier.

Out of earth’s atmosphere and into the realm of materialized faith – where dreams are as much reality in seed form – in promise form – as they are on the day when Isaac, the promised son, becomes a father himself. Our promises from God are not only reality, they are FATHERS. Spread the word.

Tell your Sarahs.