THIS is family.

John 19:25-27

New Living Translation

25 Standing near the cross were Jesus’ mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.” 27 And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home

As my man and I traveled back from our first HOTFM home group meeting last week, we were discussing the difference between this community of believers and those we’ve been a part of for more than 2 decades. We had a hard time articulating what we felt. We couldn’t quite put it into words… it’s just… different.

The next day, with a BOLD cup of coffee in hand while watching the sun rise over our lanai, revelation hit:

THIS is family.

This is what Jesus died for!!!

This is not a corporation.

This is not an empire.

This is not a circus.

This is not a one man show.

We’re accustomed to the local church operating as a business with a CEO, CFO, Boards of Directors, etc. etc. etc. We’re used to performing our religious duties in order to be praised and promoted by men. We know how to work the system to receive affirmation and affection from big daddy- aka the senior pastor. We know the drudgery of making bricks without straw for Pharaoh. We know the bondage of Egypt.

Let me be perfectly clear. I am not under any false illusion that the people of HOTFM are practically perfect in every way. No. They are maturing in Christ, just as we are. The difference is: what we previously experienced and what we’re currently experiencing is that this group of believers was birthed by the Spirit- not a business plan. Led by the Spirit, not the flesh, a church was constructed on THE cornerstone. Governed by the headship of Jesus Christ, a family of fathers were appointed- a plurality of elders, as written right there in black and white in the OLD and NEW Testament! (Plural, as in adding an “s” on the end. Meaning, more than one.) Fathers and mothers training & equipping ALL of God’s children. And ALL of God’s children doing their part in the family (ministry) without competition or comparison!

Welcomed as new members of Heart of the Father Ministry!

THIS is family.

THIS is what Jesus died for!!!

Sons and daughters that share the same Father.

Sons and daughters that share the same older brother.

Sons and daughters that share the same Spirit.

Sons and daughters that share the same blood.

Sons and daughters that share the same name.

I gotta tell ya. Getting here came at a cost. I spent 7 years groaning, weeping, and laboring. I spent 7 years asking, seeking, knocking for the door to be opened. I spent 7 years feeling rejected, betrayed and abandoned by those I love.

THIS is what I died for.

THIS is His Kingdom come.

THIS is His will being done.

THIS is on earth as it is in heaven.

My friend,

Have you found your family? It’s time. It’s time to come home to the Father. It’s time to know the Son as Savior AND Lord. It’s time to overflow with His Spirit. It’s time to celebrate with brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s time to share everything you have with a community of Spirit filled believers. THIS is family. THIS is eternal and abundant life.

Rivers in Dry Land

Isaiah 43:18-20

18 “But forget all that—
    it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
19 For I am about to do something new.
    See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
    I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
20 The wild animals in the fields will thank me,
    the jackals and owls, too,
    for giving them water in the desert.
Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland
    so my chosen people can be refreshed.

We entered into the land God promised a little over a month ago. Naïvely, I expected to immediately declare “it is well with my soul!”  

I didn’t. 

Expectations are a finicky thing, aren’t they? They’re often prone to fail us when we create them in a mind that is still in the process of being renewed….

The Lord took me back to Isaiah 43 in the secret place this morning. It’s a familiar passage for me personally, and I’ve referenced it frequently in ministry to others. Today, I continued reading through Isaiah 44. You know how when the Holy Spirit BREATHES on His Word, you get that punch in the gut, that slap in the face, that AHA moment?! Yep. That happened. There it was, written in black and white, from ages past: the blessing of the Lord over me and my family. My mother received and prophesied this Word over me, literally on her death bed 4 months ago. She had an encounter with the Lord through a dream while my husband and I were shopping for houses in FL. (You can read about it here: https://deepintothewater.com/2021/04/19/go-on-to-glory/) I’m so grateful that God sent His message through her. It encouraged my soul, and it is a moment with my mom that I will cherish until my address changes to heaven too. 

As the revelation of Isaiah 44 hit my heart, clarity of Isaiah 43 came. My perspective immediately shifted. For so long, I was focused- fixated rather- on the dry wasteland I was living in. I was constantly frustrated in Egypt (believe me, I REPEATEDLY let God know allll about it!) 

I prayed for deliverance. Instead, He gave me dreams.

I prayed for rain. Instead, He gave me a plow.

I prayed for repentance and restoration in His body. Instead, He gave me the gift of prophesy to encourage His people.

I prayed for rivers. Instead, He gave me a well of living water. 

But the past is in the past, right? I’m no longer in Egypt. I’m IN the promised land, so I shouldbe shouting from the rooftops, “IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL,” right? Why look back? Just look forward, right? Wrong. By looking back, I see how the Lord delivered me from Pharaoh’s hand. I see that I am no longer in bondage to the empire he is building. I see that I am no longer a slave to the drudgery and demanding work he requires. I see that I have been set free from the oppression of Egypt. I see that I’ve walked THROUGH the wilderness. Yes! Amen!!! Praise and honor to the Lord for all that He has done. And all that He is still doing. Allow me to explain….

As I wrestled against dark principalities and powers in Egypt, real people spoke real words of false accusation against me. I was betrayed by those closest to me. I was rejected by my own people. As a result, the dry and weary land I inhabited began to invade my heart. My soul became a lonely, barren wasteland. Unaware of the cost of following the Spirit into the wilderness, I continued to pour my life out in intercession. I wept for those living under the oppression of Pharaoh. I preached the good news to them. I encouraged them to trust in the Lord. I pleaded with them to cry out to Him for deliverance. I wanted so desperately for them to taste and see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, as I had. I longed for them to encounter the Messiah at Jacob’s well as I had. Even to this very day, my heart breaksfor them. I wish I could relieve their suffering, but… I am not their Savior. I am merely a soldier in the Lord’s army. I follow commands, I don’t give them. I know this, but sometimes I fail to do this. Occasionally, in my effort to “help” people, I inadvertently start swinging the sword of the Spirit in my own strength; tearing down instead of building up. I continually need to be reminded that the battle is the Lords- not mine. I am simply His servant, His slave, His soldier. A soldier that needs time to rest, recover, and receive. 

How beautiful that He confirmed His Word through the elders and leaders of our new spiritual family (https://hotfm.org)shortly after we arrived. They knew by the Spirit that we were planted in infertile ground in the previous season, but that the Lord transplanted us into a rich land flowing with milk and honey, where we will flourish. They knew that we had suffered from the laborious work of plowing hard soil. But now, that assignment is over. It is finished. The sowing in complete. It’s a new season. It’s time to harvest, to heal, to build up, to laugh, to dance, to gather stones, to turn away, to quit searching, to throw away, to mend, to speak, to hate, and to have peace!

I fought the good fight of faith in Egypt (because God SENT ME to Egypt, just like He SENT ME to The Promised Land). But now, He’s doing something new. Do you see it? He’s creating rivers in my soul. Hallelujah!!!

Ecclesiastes 3

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace.

Timing is Everything

Ecclesiastes 3:1-14

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
    A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
    A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
    A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
    A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
    A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
    A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
    A time for war and a time for peace.

What do people really get for all their hard work? 10 I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. 11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.12 So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. 13 And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.

14 And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him.

They say that timing is everything. I know this statement is true. In fact, it’s Truth, according to Scripture. Still, in this current season, I have wrestled with God’s timing for everything. 

If you’ve been following our journey to the promised land, you know that I have much in common with the children of God. Like the Israelites, I’ve whined. I’ve complained. I’ve questioned. Yet, at the same time, I’ve also praised Him for the countless miracles He’s provided: Clouds by day. Fire by night. Water from a rock. Manna from heaven. Quail. Yet, every day, I seemed to forget how faithful He was the previous day!

It’s become a family joke when the kids reminisce about their childhood. “Mom, don’t you remember such and such?” I usually stare blankly into the abyss. “Um…no.” “Mom, seriously, remember so and so was there and we did such and such?” “Um…no.” It’s probably one of the reasons I loved to scrapbook when they were little. I tried to capture every moment in film and write a short description about the image so that I could remember. 

In this time of dying, killing, tearing down, grieving, scattering stones, turning away, searching, throwing away, being quiet, hating, and declaring war, I needed to remember…

Let me be honest. I’ve struggled to see, feel and hear God in this wilderness season. As I poured out my heart, He remained silent. It perplexed me. Quite frankly, it pissed me off! So, as any strong willed little girl would do, I kept nagging Him. Like that persistent widow that annoyed the judge until he rendered justice on her behalf, I continued to ask, seek, and knock on heaven’s door.

No answer.

Just silence.

No visions.

No dreams.

No prophetic words.

Nothing.

He wasn’t talking to me!!! At least, that’s what I thought.

I was wrong. 

He was simply communicating in a new way, in a new season. 

Matthew 4:4

But Jesus said, “It is written, ‘Man is not to live on bread only. Man is to live by every word that God speaks.’”

And when my ears finally heard what He was saying, I remembered…. journal entries I’d written, blogs I’d written, words from others I’d written down, typed and saved on my computer. The words were filled with Spirit and Truth; Prayer & Scripture that were preparing me for this current season!

I had wrongly assumed that God’s apparent “silence” was an indication that He was mad at me. I thought (and others unknowingly validated): I must be in trouble. I must be sinning, and need to repent. I must be full of pride. I must be deceived. I must be failing to do what He said. I must be failing to be still. I must be failing to know that HE is God, and I am not. I must be failing to obey His will. 

No. NO. NO! 

The enemy is a liar. God never left me. He will never forsake me. He was with me in the wilderness all along. For heaven’s sake, His Spirit led me into the dang desert! 

His perceived “silence” was actually an opportunity to remember…. 

  • who He is
  • who I am 
  • what He said 
  • what is written about me

How beautiful is the love of the Father.

His love is making everything beautiful, in His time….including me.

Home is where the heart is

Romans 2:4

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

I’ve often been critical of the Israelites in their rebellion towards God. But this week, I realized: I’m just like them.

Our family is on a journey to the land God promised. The battle has been brutal. The number of casualties continues to rise; and another idol just perished in my life.

We’ve made eight offers on six houses in Polk County, FL. Yes. That’s correct. 8 offers. 6 houses; 2 of which we made 2 different offers on. On Monday, one of them was accepted on our dream home- a Spanish style hacienda in Haines City. Fully remodeled on half an acre of land, complete with courtyards accessible from every room, an outdoor fountain, and swimming pool! Our realtor had fought a good fight on our behalf. We had prayed, and prayed and prayed some more. Beating out the competition with cash offers and higher escalation clauses, the owners felt compassion for our situation and accepted our offer, after we agreed to their high-risk counter.

Once the contract was signed, I immediately felt sick to my stomach. I told my husband my concerns. He agreed with my assessment, but both of us continued to wrestle…not understanding why God would allow us to win, yet feel so defeated!? The next blow came when we showed our kids the photos of “our” house. Their reaction was not what we expected. Instead, their words were an exact confirmation of the warning signs I just voiced to my man a few minutes earlier, behind closed doors. Since it was nearly midnight, we decided we needed to sleep on it. Sleep didn’t come. At 4:30a, I shot out of bed when I heard the Word: 

Psalm 106:13-15

13 They soon forgot His works;
They did not wait for His counsel,
14 But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness,
And tested God in the desert.
15 And He gave them their request,
But sent leanness into their soul.

Ungrateful for the manna God continues to provide us in this wilderness season, I had been whining for quail! Hidden in the dark recesses of my heart, I was secretly longing for the comforts of my home in Egypt. I believed I had suffered enough in this barren wasteland- losing my mother & moving in with my father. “I’m done!” I repeatedly told Him. So, He gave me what I asked for: a beautiful home. Because, after all, home is where my heart is. Did you catch that, friend? HOME is where my heart is. 

What my Father won’t do to rescue me from the bonds of slavery. What He won’t do to deliver me from the control of Pharaoh. What He won’t do to prove His love for me. He longs for my reciprocated affection. He wants a deep, intimate relationship with me. He wants my heart. My whole heart. He is a righteous, jealous God. So, as every good father does, He disciplines those He loves so that they will repent and return to Him. I gotta tell ya, friend, this spanking was painful. I still feel the sting, but I also feel incredibly loved and grateful that He intervened before we lost more than our reputation. 

We called our realtor Tuesday morning to deliver the news and to apologize for our rebellion that impacted her- as well as the owner, selling agent and other buyers. She was gracious and continues to intervene, naturally and supernaturally on our behalf in this crazy market. 

God’s promise for our family still stands. He has called us to be a part of a covenant community in Lakeland, FL. He will provide the right home, at the right price, at the right time. It may not be our dream home, but it will be a house of prayer. It will be a place where the hungry are fed and the filthy are washed with the Word. It’s what He said. His Word will not return void. He is faithful. He is just. He is worthy to be praised in the wilderness, for  

He is my Promised Land. 

He is my home.