Mourning on Mother’s Day

Ecclesiastes 7:2-4

“Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties.
    After all, everyone dies—
    so the living should take this to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter,
    for sadness has a refining influence on us.
A wise person thinks a lot about death,
    while a fool thinks only about having a good time.

I knew this day was coming. I did not dread it, but I assumed it would be filled with sorrow.

I woke before dawn as I often do and made my way through the moving boxes and graduation decorations to the living room.I love to sit in the silence of the early morning with a cup of coffee and stare out the window at the beauty of creation. Today, the birds were extra talkative, so I opened the window to listen to their sunrise songs. I talked to Jesus. And I wept. Again. I told Him how hard this season has been; mourning ANDmoving. His Spirit once again breathed life and comfort as I re-read the wisdom of Solomon: 

“For EVERYTHING there is a season, a time for EVERY activity under heaven….”

I’m not one for the traditions of men on national holidays. I don’t like being told to celebrate someone or something in a certain way. Perhaps there’s still a little bit of that rebellious little girl in me. Or, maybe, it’s the righteous young woman that desires genuine relationship, not religious performance. Yes, I still celebrated my mother on Mother’s Day weekend every year. We didn’t miss being together very often, from what I can remember. But I told her I loved her every month of the year- not just on Mother’s Day, or Christmas or her birthday. I also tried to show it, not just tell it. Especially with homemade gifts. Those were her favorite from her girls and grandkids! Last Christmas, my daughter and I perused Pinterest and meandered through Hobby Lobby to make the perfect gift to express my heart. As she often does, mom wept when she opened the picture of hearts connected between 3 states. My sister settled in VA after her husband retired from the military, and my parents and I have remained in NC since relocating in 1988 when my dad grew weary of the rat race of Southern CA and wanted to return home to family. Next week The Bullard Pack (my family) will close on the home we’ve lived in for over 15 years in Sanford, NC. We’ll move in with my dad until we find- and close on a house in Lakeland, FL. It will be the first time in my life that my parent, sister and I will live apart; in 3 different states. I am sad. But I am also full of joy. I’m excited to follow the Lord’s call to leave our fathers family and follow Him to a new land.

I have become well acquainted with sorrow in this season. It has caused me to think a lot about death. And, it has created a deep, aching desire for MORE. More in my relationship with the Lord. For in the end, He is all that matters. I want to be ready when He comes back. I want to know Him. I want Him to know ME! I want my heart to ache for His return as it aches now for the reunion I will one day have with my mother- and all the saints who have gone before.

I am told that time will ease the intensity of my grief. Perhaps that is so, but I know that time heals nothing. Only One Man can bind up the broken hearted and set the captives free. His name is Jesus. Do you know Him? Do you love Him? Is your heart full of sorrow- longing to see Him face to face? I invite you to spend some time at funerals, my friend. Embrace the sadness of life. Let it refine your soul as you discover the Man in the pages of scripture who will one day, wipe away every tear. In His presence, there is no more death or mourning- just inexpressible JOY as we worship Him for all of eternity.

Parents, Do Not Provoke

Ephesians 6:1-3

Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord,[a] for this is the right thing to do. “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”[b]

Another parenting failure.

I’ve had a few (thousand) in my tenure as a mom.

Recently, I ignored anotherwarning from the Spirit about one of our children. As a result, I failed to intervene on their behalf, again. So, the Lord spoke through two of our other children to get my attention. Hello!? Did you hear what I said? He pursued and corrected me through our kids!!!

Humbled.

Grateful.

Thankful.

Ephesians 6:4

Parents, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.

I used to think the above-mentioned verse meant that parents only provoked their children to anger by commission. As a kid, I often erupted when my parents disciplined, said “no,” or restricted me from what I wanted. And I’ve experienced the same backlash from some of our strong-willed kiddos. But today I saw this passage differently. I realized children can be provoked to anger by omission.

In the midst of this latest parenting episode, our child was lashing out in anger because of what I didn’t do. I ignored the Lord, neglected to intervene, and justified myself in being passive. In so doing, I failed to see what was happening in the unseen. Our child was battling, unsuccessfully, against an enemy that is continually trying to steal, kill and destroy their life.

But, God.

GOD!!! 

God, our helper – the One who knows all and sees all, gave dreams, wisdom and discernment to several of our family members. The result? Difficult discussions and a willingness to admit failure, but not defeat. God was faithful! He provided a way of escape for ALL OF US! 

Now before we go blaming the enemy for everything, let’s get one thing straight: Satan and his legions have no authority unless we give it to him. Our child was not some innocent bystander (neither was I). And this particular onslaught was not a result of us advancing the Kingdom- thus, ticking off the enemy’s camp. No. Repeated rebellion against authority resulted in an invitation to torment. Deliverance and discipline (boundaries) was needed- and has been implemented. Boundaries guard the heart! An unguarded heart is open to all forms of attack. And an unguarded heart is easily provoked to anger. 

I gotta tell ya…

Every failure I’ve endured as a parent is a result of a childish heart that rebels against the Father. Every success I’ve enjoyed is a result of a childlike heart that bows to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. And every triumph is a result of a humbled heart that obeys and overcomes by the power of His Spirit.

My fellow parents,

I plead with you, for the sake of future generations. Throw out your self-help books. Ignore the educated experts. Reject the advice of the world. Stop making behavioral excuses because of labels (I have a child on the Autism Spectrum and one with ADHD. I understand the science- but the Spirit trumps all in the training of our children). Seek the Lord. Fear Him. Obey Him. He alone is the creator and sustainer of family. He alone is the One who beckons prodigals to return home. Let’s get to know the Father. Let’s train our kids to know Him. The eternity of their souls is at stake. 

God promised.

Numbers 13:25-31

25 After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned 26 to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community of Israel at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran. They reported to the whole community what they had seen and showed them the fruit they had taken from the land. 27 This was their report to Moses: “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country—a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. 28 But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak! 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev, and the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country. The Canaanites live along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea[a] and along the Jordan Valley.”

30 But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!”

31 But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!”

The Lord had delivered His children from slavery in Egypt.

He was with them as they wandered in the desert.

And He was bringing them into a new land…He promised.

After the 12 returned from their scouting adventure, they gave their report to Moses and the people. They all agreed on what they saw: milk, honey andgiants. But their responses were divided:

2 of the men were filled with faith.

10 were filled with fear.

The report of the majority infected the ENTIRE community. By believing what the 10 said, the children of Israel doubted what God had said. Subsequently, they were willing to go back to bondage or just die in the wilderness! Paralyzed by fear, they refused to fight the giants in order to claim the land God promised to them. Witnessing the massive pity party, Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes in deep grief, pleading with their brothers and sisters to NOT rebel against the Lord- and NOT be afraid of the people!!! 

We’re currently facing the same test of faith.

A roadblock I continue to encounter in the wilderness, between Egypt and the promised land, is the fear of man. Being non-creative and unclever, it’s a tactic the enemy has used over and over again since my childhood. He’s convinced people- family and friends- even fellow Israelites to speak things which cause me to doubt what God has said. Most of the time, it’s very subtle and difficult to understand in the natural. But He is always faithful! When I ask the Holy Spirit for supernatural help, He gives me eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to understand. Only then can I recognize the lies, be set free by the Truth, and extend forgiveness to those who didn’t know what they were saying.

God promised us a new land 7 years ago.

He sent us to scout it out.

We saw the milk and honey.

We saw the giants.

And…we heard reports from the 10:

Did God really say to move to Florida?”

Did God really sayto live in Lakeland?”

Did God really say to relocate to be a part of a CHURCH?”

Did God really say to leave your entire extended family?”

Did God really say to close the ministry & stop meeting (church @ home)?”

“Florida is so dang hot… they have LOTS of hurricanes- and alligators!”

“Lakeland is a terrible town….and it’s not near the beach.”

“There’s no perfect church…why not just stay here?”

“Family is everything….I can’t believe you’d abandon them.”

“You invested so much in your ministry…it’s a waste to give it up.”

Yep. There’s been a lot of chatter in the community.

But we’re going with the minority report.

We believe what God said.

So, it’s time to prepare for battle…. because we’re following Him into the land HE promised!

Uprooting

John 15:1-8 New Living Translation

15 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

Seven years ago, during an encounter with the Lord, I heard the Spirit saying He was uprooting our family- and sending us to a new land (Genesis 2:1-9). 

With prophesy, God requires His people to persevere through a process in order to receive His promise. This principle of scripture has proven yet again to be true in my life. I would like to say that I am always willingly to submit to the suffering that is required in enduring, but I’m still immature. My childlike nature often gets the best of me, and in my impetuousness, I try to run ahead of God’s timing. So, when I heard from the Lord in 2013, I immediately announced to my husband, “we’re moving! NOW!” He wasn’t convinced. Nor was he motivated to submit to my timeline (thank God!). 

The process continued. 

Did I mention it’s been seven years?! (Obviously, the fruit of patience still has opportunity to grow in me). Yet, as I’ve reflected on all that God has done in the waiting, now I SEE that He that began a good work in me will see it to completion (Philippians 1:6). God has been faithful. Even when fear tried to consume me. Even when I doubted. Even when I pouted. Even when I threw a fit in the prayer room. Even when I argued with my husband about who/what/when/where/why. Even when others thought I was crazy. 

God has been faithful to His word. 

In prayer.

In dreams. 

In prophesies. 

In circumstances. 

In meetings.

One particular meeting in 2015 proved to be a significant puzzle piece that brought clear vision to WHERE the Lord was sending us (He told us the state 7 years ago, but not the city). It was on a diverted flight from North Carolina to Florida. My man and I were traveling with another couple to attend our friends vow renewal ceremony. Our flight from RDU (Raleigh Durham International) was delayed….delayed… cancelled. After pursuing the ticket agent for more options (they originally rebooked us for the following day), my man secured another flight for us on another airline, compliments of his frequent flyer status. Without knowing it, he had walked right into the will of God! After making it to Atlanta, the 4 of us boarded our final flight to VPS (Destin-Fort Walton). I was seated beside our friends. My man willingly took the seat beside a stranger. Before buckling up, I glanced at the gentleman that would be my man’s travel companion for the duration of our flight. He smiled. I returned the smile, but my eyes were immediately drawn to the worn-out bible he was holding. (You know those sonic boom moments- when you know that something is getting ready to hit in the supernatural??? Yep. Spirit. BOOM!) That man struck up a conversation with my man. (I tried eavesdropping but we were seated at the back of the aircraft so I couldn’t hear over the roar of the engines!!!) Before departing company, he handed us a book. As we deplaned, I laughed out loud when I read the title, “I See a New Prophetic Generation.” 

The man was Jeremiah Johnson.

https://jeremiahjohnson.tv

We had no idea who he was. But God did. It was all part of His plan to transplant us.

After devouring that book, I ordered everything Jeremiah had in print. I read whatever I could find about the church, HOTFM (Heart of the Father Ministry) he helped plant in 2010. I attended a JJM prophetic conference in Charlotte, NC with one of my spiritual mommas (2017). My man and I became partners the following year (2018). We were invited to join a Partners Retreat in the mountains of NC the next year (2019), where we met several couples from HOTFM. Later that same year we met even more families when attending a service at Heart of the Father Ministry (on the way back to the car that day, our son unknowingly prophesied, “let’s move here!”). This year, during a repeat visit to HOTFM, one of those couples prayed and prophesied, “divine appointments” (the Lord spoke the exact same phrase through Jeremiah when he prayed over us the year before).

You can’t make this stuff up, people!!!

God continued to confirm what He said through multiple dreams I had, beginning in 2014 (too many to mention here). He also interrupted other people’s sleep to speak to us too! In 2018, another confirmation came through a woman in my small group, when she prophesied during a meeting. She saw in the Spirit that I was root bound. The Lord said I had experienced tremendous growth in the container I was currently planted in, but I was out of room. He was uprooting me. He was going to transplant me into a new container.

I am NOT a landscaper, but I have spent enough time learning from my expert husband to know that the transplanting process is risky, but necessary for growth. When a plant is removed from its original container, the roots need to be pruned or cut in order to prepare it for growth in the new container. Initially, the plant goes through a period of shock in which its ability to thrive is tested. Good soil, plenty of water and sunshine, along with strong roots is required for the plant to survive the uprooting.

Uprooting. It’s where I currently find myself. The Lord is cutting roots that are dead or sucking the life out of healthy ones that need MORE soil, MORE sunshine, MORE water to produce MORE fruit! The process of being prepared for MORE is painful. Obedience always is.

Preparing requires: 

Leaving our parents.

Leaving our extended family.

Leaving our spiritual family.

Leaving our friends.

Selling our home.

Selling our possessions.

Closing our ministry.

Closing our homeschool.

Uprooting. It’s a process the Lord is requiring for our entire family. In the midst of the global Covid-19 crisis, God said, “NOW is the time.”  My man and I agreed with Him. The kids agreed with Him (all of them). And so… I am excited to officially announce: the Bullard Pack is moving to Lakeland, FL! 

We appreciate your prayers as we continue to submit to the process of uprooting from North Carolina to Florida. 

We trust the farmer.  

We will persevere to obtain the promise.

We will prepare the soil of our hearts.

We will receive the seed.

We will die, so that He can live.

We will grow.

We will submit to His pruning and cutting.

We will produce good fruit.

So that HE may be GLORIFIED