Reality

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, 12-14

For everything there is a season,
    a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die…

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.

(My mom went home to Jesus on April 21, 2021. My dad, sister and I were with her at home as she released her spirit into His hands.)

I’m a realist, as was my mother, and her mother before me. Not a pessimist; A REALIST! A realist (my definition) sees things as they are (without dismissing or denying the anguish of living in a world that is dying), while simultaneously seeing things as they will be.

Death came to us all in the garden when we failed to trust the Lord. But, hallelujah, that is not the end of the story! The death of body and soul would one day be redeemed in another garden, when the Son of Man wrestled through the reality of suffering a brutal death so that in Him, we might live. 

Love was the motivation of His heart. 

Love was the motivation of His Fathers heart. 

Love was the motivation of His Spirit that would dwell in the hearts of men, bringing comfort to our present reality- and hope for our future. 

The reality is…

I will never hear my mother’s voice again, never hear her call my name, never feel the warmth of her embrace, never taste the favorite foods she would prepare on birthdays, holidays or just because.

The reality is…

I will never discuss passages of Scripture with her that perplexed and puzzled us, never passionately debate current issues in the body of Christ, never argue about the everyday things of life we were strongly opinionated about.

The reality is…

I am mourning the loss of the one who carried and delivered me into this life, the one who devoted her days to training me in the way I SHOULD go (which, for many years was quite a challenge for her with this strong willed little girl!).

The reality is…

I am processing the pain by writing about a woman who was a sinner saved by grace- just like me. My mother was human, prone to failure and mistakes- just like me. She carried the scars of past choices- just like me. Yet, she shared them with her daughters and “daughters” in the Spirit, so that we might gain wisdom through her experiences. My mom deserves to be honored for her life and legacy of family, but she will not be worshipped or made into a saint. At least, not by me. She would tell you, as I would, that there is only ONE man who deserves to be worshipped: Jesus, our Savior and Lord.

The reality is…

I am remembering the tumultuous relationship between my mother and I when I was young. In my childishness and rebellion, I falsely accused and condemned her for several of the issues in my life. I am so grateful that in recent decades, the Spirit illuminated areas of darkness in my soul, revealing the lies I believed. Through much prayer and ministry, JESUS not only redeemed me to Himself, He also redeemed the mother-daughter relationship I so desperately yearned for. Nothing was hidden between us. Everything was brought into the light of His glorious presence. And although the reality of some of our experiences resulted in much heartache and grief, I am so thankful to now live in the reality of brokenness, while simultaneously living in the freedom we have in Christ. Our hope was that future generations would reap the blessings of our obedience to forgive, as we have been forgiven. God has honored that request, and confirmed His promise through a dream he gave my mom a few days before she passed (you can read about it here: https://deepintothewater.com/2021/04/19/go-on-to-glory/ )

The reality also is…

I know that whatever God does is final. Death is final. I will no longer see my mother face to face. BUT, eternal life is also final! One day, I WILL SEE JESUS face to face. I will join my mother- my sister in Christ, along with the great cloud of witnesses and all the living creatures that surround His throne. And together, we will worship Him for all eternity, crying “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty!”

This is my reality.

Is it yours?

Go on to Glory

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

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.

For years, it’s been our mothers favorite phrase. When her heart was filled to overflowing, enjoying time with her husband, girls, boys (our husbands) and grandchildren, she’d announce, “oh, I can just go on to glory!” We’d laugh and roll our eyes and remind her that she was too young and it wasn’t her time…

Yesterday, I received a call from my dad and sister that mom had taken a turn for the worse. Since March, she has been enduring: 

  • Pain
  • Coughing
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Doctor visits
  • Hospital stays
  • Questions
  • Testing
  • Side effects from meds
  • Confusion
  • Swelling
  • Lack of appetite 
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Low oxygen levels
  • Decreasing platelet counts
  • Enlarged spleen

Currently, there are no answers from the experts. They don’t know why her health is rapidly declining. They can’t explain what’s going on.

They can’t.

But God can.

In route from FL to NC yesterday (we were house hunting all weekend), I spoke briefly with mom. She wanted to share a dream she had with me. Although her speech was slurred and broken, my soul received the fullness of her encounter with the Lord. In the dream, she was going to the crystal city. I wasn’t going with her; it wasn’t time for me. Instead, I was going to a new city with my family. In that place, God would give me everything she had wanted from Him. He told her that everything was going to be ok… 

I’ve been a dreamer for more than a decade. It’s one of the primary ways the Lord speaks to me- giving direction, correction and heavenly perspective for the future. And He did it again yesterday. God promised a generational blessing through a dream!

What a gift in this season. 

What perfect timing. 

On Easter Sunday, after mom was discharged from the hospital a second time, the Bullard Pack came by for a visit. She was sleeping in her bed. When I sat down and took hold of her hand, I heard the Spirit say, “she’s dying….”

“Mom, it’s Jodie” I whispered.

She opened her eyes.

I smiled.

She smiled and squeezed my hand.

She mumbled, “oh….it’s so good to see you. I just wanted to die. But I’ll keep fighting.”

“It’s ok, mom. You can go on to glory if you want…but selfishly, I want more time with you.”

She smiled.

I wept.

Tears ran down her face.

Then there was silence.

And unexplainable peace.

I did the same late last night when I arrived at the hospital.

“Mom, it’s Jodie.” I whispered

She opened her eyes.

I smiled.

She smiled and squeezed my hand.

“You can go on to glory when it’s time….” I said.

“Yep. I’m READY. But I wanna go home and see all of you one last time.”

Then there was silence.

And unexplainable peace.

Mom is coming home with hospice today, as she requested. We don’t know when she will go on to glory, but we know the One who holds the keys to death and the grave… and at the appointed time, He will call her home- for 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!