50…the faithful Shepherd…COVID
50…I turned 50 on Feb. 7th, and our plans and God’s plans in celebrating that milestone turned out to be very different…
After a wonderful Christmas holiday with my niece and nephew in Mozambique, two days later, I wasn’t feeling well and went for a malaria and a COViD test. The COViD test was just a formality as I had just tested negative 4 days earlier, but much to our shock, the test came back positive, starting the journey of a lifetime.
Daniel tested negative at first and nursed me through my worst. However, I started seeing symptoms in him a few days later, which started a battle for me with fear, which is truly a BIG battle with this disease.
I was still sick myself, but the night that fear started coming over me, I spent a few hours in the middle of the night with Jesus, reading scripture outloud, praising and thanking Jesus, using my offensive weapons of warfare. I can honestly say that, though Daniel’s situation became very serious, fear did not grip me again after that night with Jesus.
Daniel had incredibly high fevers, and after 10 days of following a strict COVID protocol and administering many things at home, he was worsening by the minute. In the middle of the night, I knew we needed to go to the hospital…and soon. He really did not want to go, as the hospital is the last place anyone wants to be in this season (bless the amazing staff who are serving so sacrificially there)l The ICU’s are full with desperate cases with no visitors allowed, and hopelessness can abound in these wards, but after a night of singing and praying over him, when morning came, we headed to the ER.
When the ER doctor saw Daniel’s arterial oxygen level, they immediately admitted him to the ICU. Due to the realities of the COVID situation, we waited from 9am to 5:30 pm in the ER for a bed to come available for him, as the hospitals are full.
Some of the stories of the intimate presence of Jesus in the midst of this journey are below. We got a front row seat to God’s miraculous power in our lives, and I also believe that Daniel and I had the unique privilege of carrying the hope of Jesus into the hospital and the “darkness” that is so prevalent in these times.
As the word got out, MANY started interceding for Daniel, both locally and around the world, and Jesus heard our cries. From one day to the next we heard unbelievable progress. And by the miraculous grace of Jesus, given many heartbreaking stories we have witnessed here, I brought my husband home from the hospital 4 days later , still with a long way to go to complete healing, but with story after story of God’s faithfulness and miraculous power.
Jesus…the name above ALL others…the power of Jesus to heal, to deliver, to bring life, to meet us in the valley of the shadow of death, to bring hope where there is none, to eradicate fear, to provide in unbelievable ways–these are the things that we are celebrating in the midst of recovery.
And 50…I have never been so grateful (the picture above was my “drive by” b-day party with Daniel 1 week out of ICU). My Father gave me incredible gifts….His presence, an intimate knowledge of Him in the valley of the shadow of death, unbelievable friends/family support and the life of my precious husband with whom I hope to serve Jesus until we are very old.
Great is your faithfulness to us, Jesus, and we lift your name higher than any disease, any situation, or any trial we may face.
“I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done.” Psalm 118:17
Dancing with the Beast…
A while ago, the Lord gave me a picture…Beauty and the Beast dancing–the Beast (Him) in his blue tuxedo and Beauty (me) in her beautiful yellow dress…It is the picture from which dreams are made….
The Beast, in all of his ferocity, frightening strength, and majesty has singled me out and asked me to dance. He calls me “Belle”…His “beauty.” I accept the dance because I am mesmerized and awed by his presence.
He leads me out onto the dance floor, and I can hear the beautiful music of the orchestra fill the air, stirring my senses. He takes my hand and we start to dance. He begins leading me in a beautiful, graceful waltz, but instead of following His lead, I stop, stomp my foot and insist that he lead me in a fox trot. I am sure that He intended to dance a foxtrot with me. After all, I was right there when I consented to the dance and heard the music start.
So, instead of being the picture of beauty and grace for everyone around to see, I end up tripping all over the floor as he faithfully leads me in a waltz while I still try to dance a fox trot, convinced that the fox trot is REALLY what He wants me to dance. The picture loses the “dream” like quality it had at the beginning. I start to get angry and upset and begin to even question His ability to lead.
With the gentleness that He alone has, He cups my face in both of His hands, looks me right in the eye, gently reminding me that my beauty and grace come with my submission to His lead. He specifically designed the dance to show off my beauty, but even more importantly to display His own majesty and power. Everyone around witnesses His glory and the joy of the dance when I follow in step with Him.
This picture has marked my life…
One of the dances He initiated with me was a “single” dance, and it was a LONG one. I spent some time stomping my foot on the dance floor because of some of the painful, hard steps in that dance, sacrificing some moments of potential beauty and grace. Now though, as I look back, I am so very grateful for the lessons, the sorrows and the joys in that dance. My leader knows…
These days, our dances have a different rhythm–marriage, living in a foreign country, challenges, joys. There are times when I still stop and question, when he holds me tighter to keep me from running into others or when I try to anticipate the next dance and get ahead of His lead. With each of my false moves, He patiently and lovingly embraces me in my questions and stumbling…His grace….
I am sure of only two things in this season–the dance of this moment and the Leader of my dance. My beauty and His glory are brightest when I submit to being led into new, unexpected places by One who alone knows how to get me there.
Warfare and Orphans…
We were cleaning out storerooms in the US, and I came across a box of books. Dressed to Kill was a gift given to me at least 10 years ago. I put it on a shelf, and never read it. However, having just come through an incredible season of spiritual warfare in South Africa, my desire to learn was significant. WOW!!! I cannot recommend this book enough. It is biblical, practical and very insightful with pictured illustrations of the Roman armor that Paul saw everyday while writing Ephesians 6 about the armor of God. An incredible tool! Here’s a brief description…
“Rick Renner’s book Dressed To Kill is considered by many to be a true classic on the subject of scriptural warfare. The original version, which sold more than 400,000 copies, is a curriculum staple in Bible schools worldwide. Now, in this new, beautifully bound hardback volume you will find: * 512 pages of reedited text * 16 pages of full-color illustrations (exclusively available in the print version. Not available in eBook). * Questions at the end of each chapter to guide you into deeper study In Dressed To Kill, Rick explains with exacting detail the purpose and function of each piece of Roman armor. In the process, he describes the significance of our spiritual armor not only to withstand the onslaughts of the enemy and but also to overturn the tendencies of the carnal mind. Furthermore, Rick delivers a clear, scriptural presentation on the biblical definition of spiritual warfare – what it is and what it is not. He stresses, “Your unbroken, ongoing fellowship with God is your absolute guarantee that you are constantly and habitually dressed in the whole armor of God.” When you walk with God in deliberate, continual fellowship, He will enrobe you with Himself. Armed with the knowledge of who you are in Him, you will be dressed and dangerous to the works of darkness, unflinching in the face of conflict, and fully equipped to take the offensive and gain mastery over any opposition from your spiritual foe.”
I have a shelf of “favorites”–books that have impacted my life that I want to reread from time to time. The Autobiography of George Muller is one of those. His faith and perseverance demonstrated over YEARS while working with orphans as well as other kingdom endeavors is truly mind-blowing. I was inspired all over again to trust my Father, to walk by faith, and to believe and ask Him for BIG things. Another highly recommended read. Here’s a brief description…
“What can be accomplished in an ordinary man who trusts in an extraordinary God? George Müller discovered the endless possibilities!
These excerpts from his diary allow Müller to tell his own story. Join him on his journey from a life of sin and rebellion to his glorious conversion. Share his struggles and triumphs as he establishes orphan homes to care for thousands of English children, depending on God’s response to his prayer of faith to supply all things. You will learn how to:
- Pray in faith and receive answers
- Seek God for direction
- Find the ultimate purpose for your life
- Rest in God’s loving care
George Müller’s unwavering, childlike dependence upon his heavenly Father will inspire you to confidently trust the God of the impossible in every area of your life.”
A Divine Tale…
Once upon a time there were two women…two countries…and one BIG God…
Michelle (middle top) came into my life through my friend Celeste (left top). Michelle was hungry to see more of God, as is Celeste. So, four of us started meeting together, seeking God for things He alone can do–healing and transformation.
On a Thursday morning last November we witnessed firsthand the redemptive nature and power of our Jesus as we heard Michelle’s story…
Michelle had been a practicing New Age Medium for years. As she rose higher and higher in the New Age movement, she started channeling spirits and sharing that channeling with others. She was studying one of the “spirits” on the internet when she saw the word “demon” and “demonic” in association with that spirit. She thought her work in the New Age was her service to God, so the fact that her activities had any association with the demonic was a complete surprise and shock to her.
In September 2018, in the midst of her confusion and questioning, she bought a Bible with the intent of proving false what she had just read about New Age and the demonic. She studied, read, researched and prayed, trying to prove that New Age was really of God, In the midst of her Bible search, she met Jesus, changing everything for her. Though no person was there to teach her or lead her to Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Word of God were her teachers. Michelle KNOWS Jesus in ways that many people don’t know Him after a lifetime of discipleship and teaching. I was blown away by her wisdom, maturity and knowledge of our Jesus. Her Bible was one of the most well-worn Bibles I have ever seen.
As a New Age Medium, Michelle had an international following of about 150 people, and she began sharing what she was learning from the Bible with these followers. Thirty of these people decided to become followers of Jesus as well. It sounded like New Testament times!!
One of theses “followers” was Mateja (bottom right) from Ljubijana, Slovenia. Just like Michelle, Mateja wanted to be discipled and learn more of Jesus. As Michelle shared this with us, I thought of my dear friends Josh and Kristi Patty (bottom left) who serve with Josiah Venture in Ljubljana.
We contacted Josh and Kristi, and it turned out that they lived 15 minutes away from Mateja! Mateja only knows 1 person in South Africa. Josh and Kristi only know 2 people in South Africa, but God’s amazing plan was to connect them through South Africa, and they are all experiencing the incredible joy of God’s power and a kingdom work as they meet together.
The things that Mateja and Michelle are learning are being passed on to the others that have come to Jesus out of the New Age Movement–some in South Africa, some in Slovenia, and some in places all over the world, types of people that would never have a chance to meet or share Jesus with.
God’s stories, His plans, His connections and His ways are just AMAZING…How I love Him and His incredible “Divine Tale.”
Russians and Intimate Relationships…
What in the world Russians have to do with intimate relationships? Well, not much, except that they have them! 😀
I enjoy passing along resources that have inspired or impacted me. These two books are recent reads, and they did both!
Red Notice is a book of business intrigue, unbelievable corruption and amazing perseverance, and not only that, it reads like a first class novel, but it’s all TRUE! Higly recommend it!
Scary Close challenges treasured paradigms of relationships and self-protection. His style may be a stretch for some at first, but it is well worth persevering! Don’s vulnerability inspires others to take a closer look at the things that may hinder the type of relationship(s) we so desire. If you are a couple, you might want to consider reading it together as it is worth discussing.