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All posts for the month February, 2013

Summer’s Comin’

Published February 27, 2013 by Dawn

It’s so cold. I’ve been inside for well over half an hour and my toes still feel the numbness of winter. I’m beginning to hate this season. It’s cold, lifeless, colorless, and the older I get, the less appeal winter has. When I was a kid, I loved this season. Snow was fun back then. I loved laying in it, playing in it, sledding in it. I could spend hours outside unaware of the creeping numbness in my fingers, toes and the end of my nose. I didn’t mind snowflakes hitting me in the face. I opened my mouth and counted them as they fell. These days, I zip the collar of my coat as far as it can go, hunch my shoulders to protect every part of my neck from the cold and run any time I’m outside; I hate the cold.

Aside from the discomfort of coldness, I dislike winter because things are either die or go dormant this time of year. If I could hibernate through winter, I wouldn’t have a problem with this, but I can’t. Every morning, I force myself out of bed against the protest of my flesh lusting after sleep. I really struggle with motivation this time of year. I have to force myself to do almost everything, including get out of bed. Necessity drives me during this season, otherwise, I wouldn’t do anything. Bears are so lucky. I force myself to get up. I force myself to write. I force myself to care whether or not chores get done and whether or not meals are healthy. I force myself to stick to discipline, and not just the discipline of my children, but the self-discipline I prize most of the year. I force myself to stick to it during winter. I really don’t like to. I force myself to be an extrovert when in this season, I’d rather retreat into myself, hole up in my bedroom, snuggle far under the covers and think for hours on end. No movement. No real purpose. Just thinking. Warm and cozy under the covers. Life doesn’t accommodate this kind of recreation. I hate winter. Life requires so much work in the wintertime.

I hate winter because the sun doesn’t kiss me as often. I miss that. I miss blue skies and warm breezes. I miss vibrant colors. I miss the birds and their early morning serenades. I miss frogs and their deep, throaty evening lullabies. I miss crickets. I miss warm clothes fresh off the clothesline. I miss using the clothesline. I miss nighttime strolls and cotton-candy sunsets. I hate winter.

The more I sit here and reminisce about summertime, the more I realize how strong the resemblance between winter and my spiritual life lately. I’ve become weary in my spirit lately. Things are cold and lifeless inside of me. My devotion to God seems to be dormant. Still there, still alive but very sluggish lately. I have to force myself to enter into His presence. I miss Him like crazy, but I’m so unmotivated to move toward Him. I’m not okay with this. I hate it! But still …

The sunshine seems to be nothing more than a memory. The warmth that use to be between us has been replaced by this creeping coldness. I know within myself that this can be fought, but I don’t want to move. I want to crawl under something warm and cozy and think about Him and me. Think about how good things use to be. Think about how things could be now if I’d just get up and move toward Him. Think aimlessly with no real intentions of doing anything other than snuggle under my blanket of complacency and become enveloped by it.

Through all of this, I hold on to this one thing: Summer’s coming. It happens every year. The sun eventually comes out and stays for a while. The days grow longer and sunsets once again become strikingly beautiful. Birds and crickets sing an endless song as days and nights dance around one another. Life emerges from what has, for a season, been dead. Colors burst forth from the dull grayness that for so long pervaded the world. Yes, dear heart of mine, summer’s coming.

I need more than spring. I need more than the budding of life, the awakening of something new and beautiful. I need a flourishing! I need warmth! I need the heat of a summer’s sun. I need something that ignites me again. I need a summer. In my spirit man, I need a summer. I need deep color and beauty, a passionate song, a revival! I need a summer, and I hear in my heart, “Summer’s coming!”

Fools in Love

Published February 21, 2013 by Dawn

I’m such a fool. Here I am, standing, adorned as a beautiful bride, staring at His expectant face and choking on my hesitation. Choking on my hesitation! This man has wooed me for years, shown His love for me in so many ways. Tugged at my heartstrings until I was utterly lost in love for Him. I had drifted along that river of love with Him and enjoyed every part of it: the sound, the scenery, the company. He lavished affection on me and I reveled in it. His gaze captivated me many nights, until finally, I tilted back my head and drank in His love. I drank deeply, allowing it to quench every part of me. Like a wanderer in the desert coming upon a well, I immersed myself in His love and allowed Him to fill me with it. What a stupid girl, to not see the way Love works. This love drew me along until I could not turn back from it. I craved it, needed it in every part of my being. I cannot live without it! But then, love gets serious. Real serious. He popped the question, and of course I said yes. That’s what you do, right? Until it hit me, how serious we were. I have been asked to spend the rest of my life, not as a selfish individual, but as a woman who has committed to no longer living for herself, but for “us.” The collective two that have become one. To live in submission to a Husband. There is a price to pay when you commit, and right now, with Him staring at me, waiting for the answer that came so easily when He asked the first time, I’m choking on that price. I’m choking on the things I will give up. I’m choking on the things that will never be. I’m choking on the unknown ahead of me. Oh God, I am so sorry for choking on my selfish hesitation!

Yes, it’s God who has asked me to commit in a much deeper way than I had ever imagined. And yes, I’m choking. I can’t say no. I can’t. I won’t. And I can’t stand here forever. I’m just a little scared of saying yes. I’m terrified that I will be less than He needs. I’m terrified that I cannot fulfill His expectations of me. I’m terrified that like Hosea’s wife, I will run after lust and disappoint His love. The truth is, I know deep down inside myself that I don’t deserve this love. Not this love. This perfect love. This blind love. This unconditional, no-matter-what, love. And I just want to scream, “How can you love me?” I’m not worth that kind of love. I can’t accept it. But I can’t live without it. Even worse, I cannot love like that. So why does He want me? I’m overwhelmed. I’m such a fool.

oh flesh! you devil!

Published February 19, 2013 by Dawn

My greatest enemy is not the devil. Sure, he’s a formidable foe, and very worthy of my concern. But my greatest enemy is even closer to home: I am my greatest enemy.

The Holy Spirit has humbled me lately. These last few years, I have been called to many fasts as God has been working to fix broken things in me and bring me into submission to Him so I may do His Will. I have submitted very eagerly, and though I cannot say it has been easy, I can say that His help has come quickly to save me from myself many times. Dr. Dobson probably would have cautioned against the way the Spirit spoiled me. Very recently, I was called to a fast that required more of my flesh than I truly wanted to give. I can’t even say I wrestled with it. I didn’t even try to submit myself. What I did try to do was excuse myself in every possible way from the command of the Holy Spirit, and in that, I wonder what I have lost.

Yes, I know God is merciful. God is even longsuffering. But how long will He put up with stubbornness before He lets me taste the fullness of the battle without His help? I got up very early this morning, weary of my flesh winning against the Will of God, and I prayed for His voice to speak to me. After an hour of listening pensively, I heard in my spirit “Jeremiah 35.” I opened my Bible to it and read the story of the Recabites, who obeyed a command by their earthly forefathers to restrain from drinking wine, living in houses or owning any sort of property. They were told to not even sow seed or plant vineyards. And God used that example to tell the Israelites, “You can’t even obey Me! Look at the Recabites and their submission to an earthly father. I am God, and you still don’t listen! (paraphrased)” In verse 17, God says, “Behold, I will bring on Judah and on all the inhabitants of Jerusalem all the doom that I have pronounced against them because I have spoken to them but they have not heard and I have called to them but they have not answered.”

Yes, without a doubt, flesh is my greatest enemy. I was sitting here thinking about flesh in the common terminology of the church: that we cater to it. I picked at the word “cater,” tearing it apart to find out what else this term means. I tend to do that when something becomes so overused, it’s worthless. I thought of other circumstances in which the word “cater” is used and wondered what simple term it is replacing. The truth, illuminated in my mind, terrified me! The simplest form of “cater” is SERVE. All the sudden, I saw my flesh for what it has become: a god. And I, with righteousness like a filthy rag, had become a whore to my flesh. I was serving my flesh at the expense of my Husband. Oh Hosea, how did you do it?!

You know, all of this truth hurts. It hurts even more as I acknowledge the depth of my failure. I just recently completed a fast that the Holy Spirit had labeled “Unadulterated.” It was painful to my flesh. Thirty days of eating only “unadulterated” food. No additives, no preservatives, no ingredients that cannot be read by a second-grader. I know, right? Does that even exist? Yes, it does. It’s called a garden. Thirty days! The pain of it was not just the lack of variety, it was the fact that as a single mom, I was dishing up the good stuff every day and couldn’t touch it! But, by the grace of God, I made it. Am I being dramatic? No. I was being self-righteous, which is why the Spirit of God so graciously humbled me afterward. By allowing me to go it alone. A few weeks after that fast, I felt compelled to fast in a different way: To get up earlier than usual to spend time with God in the Word. I set my alarm, even put a note in there so that when it went off every morning, I would wake up and see, “This is a fast!” and get up. Did that work? In theory only. I would wake up, look at the alarm, hit snooze, fall back asleep, groggily respond to the alarm when it went off again, and because I was still half-way asleep, I would accidentally turn off the alarm and drift back off to dreamland. I did this for three nights. No manner of self-discipline could get me up at the appointed time. Three days of not hearing and knowing the Will of God, three days of wondering what things I had missed by not meeting with Him, and I had had enough. Oh flesh! You devil! I finally got up this morning, but I humbly admit it was only because I cannot go another day without hearing My Husband speak to me. It’s ironic: I fasted to become unadulterated, then ran back to my adulterous relationship with my flesh the moment it was over. Not only did I run back to serving myself, I lavished on my flesh. All discipline went out the window, and whatever flesh wanted, flesh got. And here is God, all the while, like Hosea, calling me back to Him. Denying His pain at my utter disregard for His love to call me back from the feet of another god. Oh God, how do you put up with me?

Yes, I am my greatest enemy.

Naked

Published February 15, 2013 by Dawn

“So he said, ‘I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.’” -Genesis 3:10

With a renewed desire to know God intimately, I decided to start back at the beginning and opened my Word this evening to Genesis. I was struck by this verse. I was struck by the human nature of Adam. His frantic urge to hide himself from God, and how silly that seems given that not only had God made Adam, but God had seen Adam naked before Adam even understood his nakedness. Ugh! It’s so like me!

I have really been struggling lately to engage in prayer with God. I feel like He’s seeing and knowing the deepest parts of me, and I have this intense fear that what He sees is shameful and embarrassing. In fact, I know this is true. My carnal nature makes me blush. How much more would it make God? And no amount of denial will make it any less a part of me. Like Paul, I struggle with wanting to do the right thing and yet finding myself always wrapped up in things that cannot possibly please God. So what do I do? I hide myself from Him. I run. What I fail to see is that even before I knew shame, God knew me. He knew my frailty. He knew my carnal thoughts, my carnal ways. He knows them. He sees every part of me While I am running, He is looking for me. “Where are you?” He says. And although He knows I’m running and avoiding Him, He patiently waits for me to come back to Him, “I knew you were looking for me and I was afraid. Look at me! I’m naked and ashamed.” And He lovingly covers me, covers my shame, and beckons me to walk with Him. Oh, what a friend we have in Him!

God honors Valentine’s Day

Published February 14, 2013 by Dawn

I remember it like it was yesterday. All of it, the pain, the anguish, the grace. His proposal. All of it, as if it were yesterday.

I relive this moment every year on February 14th. I can’t help it. Every year I walk through the stores and see the hundreds of bouquets, the rows and rows of love notes, the pink and red. I see hearts ad nauseam, and just when it starts to really get to me, I remember that night. The night I said yes.

It was late into the night, February 14, 2006, and there I sat, Indian-style in the middle of my bed, wrapped around a one-pound bag of chocolate chips. I was intoxicated by them. I had eaten them past the point of enjoyment straight into a hellish sickness. If I could have died in that moment, I probably would have. I was so alone, and that loneliness had become such a weight on me that I was literally trying to kill myself with chocolate. No joke.

I continued to eat them, determined to eat the whole bag or puke, tears streaming down my face. I cried out from the depths of my soul, “God! I am so alone!” Little did I realize that my cry had reached the ears of Him. I hugged my knees, threw the chocolate across the room and cradled myself in the middle of my bed and cried until I couldn’t cry anymore. Then I stared up at the ceiling for the longest time until I heard Him. Very clearly, I heard in my spirit, “Let me be that one.” Again, I cried, as I struggled with His words. How? How does a woman let God be that one? “But how? How can you fulfill me? How can you hold me? You’re invisible!” All He said was, “Let me be that one.” I went to bed that night praying for a husband, sure that He could not be the answer to my prayer.

The next day, I was wooed into the word, and when I opened it, this scripture stared back at me:

“For you Maker is your Husband – the Lord Almighty is his name – the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer …” -Isaiah 54:5

Overwhelmed, I crumpled, and I began to pray and confess all of my hesitations, all of my need, all of my desire. And then I said, with much trembling, “Yes.” I didn’t know what that meant at that moment. I had no idea what it meant to be in an intimate relationship with God, where late night conversations lead me into the throne room and where I am constantly aware of His providence and protection. To know about God was one thing, but to know Him, to know the sound of His heart because every night you fall asleep in His arms … that was new. It was new. But every year since then, I have come to know Him more intimately than I could ever imagine, and I can’t imagine a human love this wonderful. And every year, I remember that even God honors love on Valentine’s Day, and for that, I am eternally grateful. I love you, Lord, for you are my Love. Thank you for awakening my heart to a Love beyond my wildest imaginations. You are too good to me. And thank you for reminding me year after year that I have something richer than what I see with my physical eyes. I have You.

Somethin’s Comin’

Published February 13, 2013 by Dawn

I was awakened by my five o’clock alarm this morning, and really attempted to stay awake. I began to pray and seek God, when I heard in my spirit, “What do you see?” With my eyes closed tightly, I saw a very gray sky over a pale earth, and in the dark clouds were hundreds of tornadoes swirling next to one another, unable to touch the ground, seemingly held up by an invisible barrier. They were swirling madly and the sky was very dark, and the clouds were very close to the earth, but unable to touch it. I felt in my spirit that this was the spiritual reality, the third heaven. From what I saw, there is a storm brewing, held back for now, furiously preparing to be loosed on the earth. It is frightening, this storm, and promises much devastation and destruction. It’s a spiritual storm, and it reminded me of the scriptures in the Bible that talk about Satan being loosed to wreak havoc on the Earth before the end of time.

I got up and prayed, “Father, what scripture can I read this morning for confirmation that this is of you?” I felt led to open my bible to Ezekiel, and I began to read. Verses came alive to me and this is what God spoke through His Word:

I am sending you to … a rebellious nation. The people whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says’ And whether they listen or fail to listen – for they are a rebellious house – they will know that a prophet has been among them … do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious house. You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious … Do not rebel like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you … I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them, for they are a rebellious house … listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you. Go now to your countrymen in exile and speak to them. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says,’ whether they listen or fail to listen … I have made you a watchman … so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself.

Further on, I also read:

This is what the Sovereign Lord says, “Disaster! An un-heard of disaster is coming. The end has come! The end has come! It has roused itself against you. It has come! Doom has come upon you – you who dwell in the land. The time has come, the day is near; there is panic, not joy, upon the mountains. I am about to pour out my wrath on you and spend my anger against you; I will judge you according to your conduct and repay you for all your detestable practices. I will not look on you with pity or spare you; I will repay you in accordance with your conduct and the detestable practices among you. Then you will know that it is I, the Lord, who strikes the blow. The day is here! It has come! Doom has bursts forth, the rod has budded, arrogance has blossomed! Violence has grown into a rod to punish wickedness; none of the people will be left, none of that crowd – no wealth, nothing of value. The time has come, the day has arrived. Let not the buyer rejoice or the seller grieve, for wrath is upon the whole crowd. The seller will not recover the land he sold as long as both of them live, for the vision concerning the whole crowd will not be reversed. Because of their sins, not one of them will preserve his life. Though they blow the trumpet and get everything ready, no one will go into battle, for my wrath is upon the whole crowd … The days are near when every vision will be fulfilled. For there will be no more false visions or flattering divinations among the people … But I the Lord will speak what I will, and it shall be fulfilled without delay. For in your days, you rebellious house, I will fulfill whatever I say, declares the Sovereign Lord … None of my words will be delayed any longer; whatever I say will be fulfilled, declares the Sovereign Lord.”

*scriptures found throughout Ezekiel

Man! I feel like a lady!

Published February 11, 2013 by Dawn

This morning I got up and got dressed in my skinny jeans and cute t-shirt and felt really disappointed. This feels … normal. I have spent the last few days feeling stunning, like a princess, and today, I have returned to “normal”. Let me tell you how it happened:

I am the type of woman who grew up hiding her figure. My sister would look at my over-sized t-shirt and baggy jeans and say with disgust, “You’re going out of the house in that?!” Daily, I received this reprimand. I didn’t care because I was comfortable. No one was admiring me, I was happily invisible. Well, not really. Actually, I hated being invisible. But I hated male attention even more. All that ever came of male attention was the inevitable rejection. I wasn’t good enough to keep one, so why attract them in the first place? This attitude followed me out of the hallowed halls of high school into the real world and ten years later, my closet still resembles that desire to hide myself from appreciative eyes. So much so that when I told my sister and my friends that I would be speaking at a singles’ conference, they all gave me that look of horror my sister had donned and demanded I not dress myself. Everyone cried out, “Intervention!!” My sister came over one Saturday to do my hair and make-up just so I could submit a picture for my speaker bio. We were both pleased with the results. A few days before the conference, my BFFs came over to figure out what I was wearing. They pulled their closets apart and brought over armloads of dresses that I sifted through and tried on without conviction. I was simply submitting to their desire to dress me up. But as I walked from one room to the other in each dress, something happened. I felt nice. I looked in the mirror and realized I have a figure. I actually have curves I haven’t seen in years, and they looked nice. Not that I want to entice my brothers in Christ, but if I ever want to get married, I have to embrace my own body. You know what turns a guy off more than a few extra curves here and there? Insecurity.

We picked out a very elegant, very cute navy blue dress that I wore with pearls and a light brown cardigan. My BFF sent brought over a pair of Herring-bone tights (what’s that, right?), and my outfit was complete. The next morning, the morning of the conference, I was up a few hours early to get ready because my sister was coming back over to do my hair and make-up. I’ll just admit, I am fashion-challenged. I don’t care for make-up, can do very little for my hair and have no idea what goes with what between shoes, belts, tops, etc. When it was all said and done, I looked pretty. I felt pretty. I walked out of my house with my head held high in dignity. Dignity … that’s not something I have ever felt before.

I got to the conference and had this such a sense of self-respect that made being a door greeter so much easier. I wasn’t worrying about what everyone else thought about me, for once in my life. I didn’t care. I felt good about myself. I felt respectable. I felt beautiful. For the first time in my life, I felt like a lady.

There’s a huge book on my table right now that I have picked through several times, but never fully committed to reading. It’s the newest edition of Etiquette. It’s the modern edition (18th edition) of a book written by Emily Post in the early 1900’s, when women were casting off their identities for a lifestyle they decided was much more exciting and liberating. Indeed it was liberating. Dresses became much shorter, the bob came into vogue and women started smoking and cussing. Everyone thinks that women became vulgar during the sixties, but it really happened way before then. It just wasn’t as mainstream. In the twenties, these women of perceived ill-regard were called flappers. You couldn’t call someone a flapper today without being slapped. It was and is still, a negative term. These women uncovered the shock value of femininity in our culture and then paraded it around. Men were shocked and mesmerized. When women began to devalue themselves in earnest, men took advantage. What use to cost something akin to commitment now cost nothing more than a good meal and some vague flattery. And for whatever reason, we as a society have been slipping down that slope ever since. Being a lady has become little more than a memory.

What happened in me during the conference is what I pray begins to happen to women across the country. I discovered my true femininity. That of modesty and elegance and daintiness. For once, I wasn’t feeling lusted after, I was feeling admired. And I didn’t have to strain for admiration, it followed me around the room. I felt like a princess.

And finally, in defense of men, I would like to add that we as women have paraded our immodesty before the eyes of men and then gasped in disgust at greedy eyes and hands. We don’t want to be ogled and viewed as sex objects, yet we do very little to portray that we are more than just a fantastic looking piece of meat. Men are visual, and we overload their number-one sense every day. Shame on us for seducing our brothers down paths of perversity and then shaking our heads at their fleshly failures. We are often the very reason men are not gentlemen. We lure out their base desires and refuse to hold them to higher standards such as loyalty, honesty, chivalry and above all, Godliness. Maybe, if we restore ourselves to lady-likeness, men can also be restored as gentlemen.

To that end, I am not suggesting we return to long dresses and long hair, and to be “seen and not heard.” We have come a long way as a society that once oppressed women and ultimately, it has been for our good. But at some point, the feminist movement became a monster that caused impropriety to become a societal trend, and look at where we are now. These days, our PG ratings include complete nudity, boobs and butts are literally popping out everywhere, and men are being lambasted for succumbing to the seduction of their female coworkers. Sure, we should expect them to control themselves. But come on! We need to control ourselves too.

In the end, all I am saying is that there is something very gratifying about dignity and common decency. We should all desire more of it, in ourselves and others. When we become more lady-like, we ultimately become more like the woman God intended us to be. I believe this, because I saw her in myself this past weekend. It felt nice to know myself.