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
Angels in the ER
I want to share two of MANY stories of our Father and the way His presence has been intimately known in every part of this journey. I thought it might bless you today. I know it did me…
I had the most amazing experience …in the E/R where we were waiting for a bed for Daniel.
Daniel was pretty non-responsive as he was so sick, but I was sitting on the edge of his bed and had been praying over him and then just started singing “It is well with my soul” in our little room, head raised and hands on Daniel.
All of the sudden I heard another voice join in in an African language and then another one, harmonising with me. (which made me cry and much harder to sing, I must say). Daniel opened his eyes to see. Two precious nurses joined me in the room to sing “It is well with my soul” in their own languages and then we continued with “How Great Thou Art.”
Moments where heaven touches earth as we are petitioning our Father with everything in us. This was precious to me—just another message to say “He is with me/us. He knows, and He rejoices in our praise in the midst of the storm.
Right after singing with these beautiful women, the guards in the parking lot came in and asked me to move my car, as it was parked in front of the E/R. I left Daniel for a few minutes, and though I was cheerful and encouraging when I was with him, when I went outside, I cried.
I was looking for a parking space, and I saw one beyond some barriers, and started heading that way. In South Africa, there are often parking attendants who look after the cars. One of them approached me, telling me that I couldn’t park behind the barriers. I explained the situation to him, and he looked me straight in the eye and said, “Ma’am, God is BIG, and all is going to come right with your husband.” Then he proceeded to let me park there.
I went to the parking lot two other times, and each time he reminded me how BIG God is and that everything was going to be okay. I cried every single time, knowing he was speaking truth to me at the Father’s request.
Jesus has his servants everywhere, and they are so often what the world would call “the least of these.” This man was doing a lowly job that day–watching over cars–but Jesus put him there, and he was on important kingdom business. To me he was a beautiful servant of the King–a messenger of my Father. He spoke my Father’s words with my Father’s heart. How very, very grateful I am for this man. He may have been an angel, I don’t know, but he may have just been an ordinary man, filled with an extraordinary Jesus.
I am a servant of the King as well, and I want to have the same awareness of kingdom business that these nurses and this parking attendant had, speaking words of life and light when Jesus gives me opportunity.
Precious. Beautiful. Jesus. So grateful.
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.”
In this new season of marriage (to an amazing man, I might add 🤗), the Lord is stretching and growing me in significant ways, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Though I could share many different facets of “learning,” the one that is top of mind is the recent gift that my Father gave me on Easter Sunday morning….
Over the last month, I wrestled with a lack of peace and some uncharacteristic agitation in both my thinking and actions. I was tired on a regular basis (thinking it was jet lag from a trip back to the US) and I truly couldn’t seem to get to the bottom of it. In that place of confusion it seemed to me that circumstances and interactions with certain people were causing my agitation. However, the truth was that I needed a revelation from Jesus of my own heart–the part of my heart that I could not clearly see.
The Saturday before Easter, I was so discouraged that I finally started asking Jesus to help. I know He was just waiting for me to ask so He could pour His grace over me. I went to sleep that night, and about 2:00 am he woke me up. As I was laying there, I received a revelation of two words–“scorn and disdain.” He told me that I was fighting a spirit of “scorn and disdain” and that they were rooted in pride and that I needed to repent. Wow!! I knew I didn’t come up with that!
I cannot tell you how grateful I was (and still am) for the gift of repentance. I truly didn’t know what to do or where to turn, and in His absolute love for me, He showed up with the gift of His conviction and repentance. I almost couldn’t wait until morning to confess, repent and be done with this thing!
Easter Sunday morning dawned clear and bright and I had the amazing gift of celebrating the reality of the cross and the power of repentance that was bought through Jesus’ blood as I kneeled with my husband before my Father the King and repented, receiving grace…His amazing and unlimited grace.
Joy, energy, clarity of thought and peace returned instantly after my repentance, and it was only then that I realized how much energy had been wasted in living with the sinful mindset that I was operating in.
Repentance…what a gift…one that I want to receive and embrace every time as an amazing gift from my Father who loves me more than I can even imagine.
Pete and Deb Ochs
This next month is FULL of events.
I have been asked to serve over this next year as a “mentor” in an “Accelerator” program for non-profit and for-profit promising entrepreneurs. Our first event is happening next week.
Early February, we are hosting a week with Pete and Deb Ochs—an amazing business couple from Wichita, KS. God has both humbled and used this couple to build his kingdom in unique ways, including starting a successful business in a maximum security prison in the US while also discipling and investing in the inmate employees. You can see their story here.
While here, Pete and Deb will be intersecting with the South African business community in many different venues/settings around personal humility and living His kingdom in business settings. We will also be facilitating two Journeys of Generosity during that week.
The Lord recently reminded me that the next month has NOTHING to do with events but everything to do with Breakthroughs.
South Africa has been at a point of crisis, and other countries in Africa are as well. There is such a profound need for the children of the King and citizens of His kingdom to rise up in this country and continent, and bring His kingdom in Africa as it is in heaven.
I ask you to pray with me for—TRANSFORMATIONAL BREAKTHROUGHS!!
South Africa is at a time of crisis–a serious time of crisis (read below for specifics)…
Even before the crisis arose with the force of the last 3 weeks’ events, Angus Buchan (pictured above. If you have never watched the movie, Faith Like Potatoes about his life, it is well worth your time. Amazing…), one of the father’s of faith in this land had already felt lead by the Lord to call a collective time of prayer for the nation–a million people of all colors and races on a farm in Blomfontein (4 hours from Johannesburg). Here is his invitation.
There is a call on South Africa to be light and life–within its own borders and into the continent of Africa. There is a significant battle waging between the forces of light and darkness, and we are asking the Light of the World to step down into this darkness in POWER.
Will you stand with us in praying for the nation of South Africa on Saturday, April 22nd. The prayer meeting starts at 2:00 p.m. in South Africa, which is 8:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. The prayer of righteous men/women avails MUCH!
Here is more information about the situation in South Africa right now…
South Africa elects a party, and not a specific person. The party chooses the president. Since 1994 the ANC has been in power. Nelson Mandela was the chosen president of the ANC at the time of the abolition of apartheid. The ANC elected Jacob Zuma as president in 2009. There is a two term limit of 5 years each. He has been charged with over 600 accounts of criminal activity–including rape, corruption and fraud, to name a few.
At the end of 2015, Zuma had a finance minister that was opposing his nuclear plan as well as a South African Airlines bailout, both of which have had suspicion of fraud and racketeering. Without consulting the party, Zuma fired the finance minister and replaced him. There was such a national outrage and fall of the rand that Zuma fired the second appointed finance minister 2 days later and appointed one that was acceptable to South Africans. The 3rd finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, also stood against Zuma’s initiatives for the last year.
Two weeks ago, Zuma, again without consultation, fired Pravin Gordhan, and replaced him with one of his own men who has no finance experience and would agree to his desired plans. This action has resulted in more collective outrage among all races and tribes of South Africa than has been seen before. The South African Sovereign credit rating was downgraded to “junk status” at this latest move, which is a huge deal for the economy.
As such, there have been 1000’s of South Africans marching in the streets, demanding for Zuma to step aside. I participated in one of those as well.
Because of his financial undergirding of so many members in his party and the corruption all around, so far the party has not been willing to courageously demand his resignation.
There has been a demand for a “no confidence” vote, which has been tried twice before to no avail. The vote has not been secret ballot, and no one wants to be targeted by Zuma by opposing him openly. There has now been a motion to have a secret ballot, which is being considered by the courts. The “no confidence” vote, which could essentially impeach Zuma, is not being set for late April or early May.
The prayer is that Zuma will be forced or choose to resign, but an even greater prayer is that the government will be purified of the corruption and that the King of Righteousness will step in through His people to bring justice and righteousness to this country.
Racial tensions can also be very high, but there is also more of a national outrage at this behavior than I have ever seen, but another prayer is that truth will prevail and that there will be unity in this country among tribes and races like never before!!
Thank you for standing with us in prayer for this beautiful and unique nation!!
Go with Joy…
A couple months ago, I had an accident in my little Honda Element. I ran into someone from behind. It’s the first accident that I have ever had where I was driving. Some might find that hard to believe, given my enthusiastic nature, but it’s TRUE!!
Even though it was just a little fender bender, my Element, which has been dubbed my Box of Joy due to my “BxofJoy” license plate, had to go into the shop for extensive and expensive repairs.
The day I was going to go and pick it up, I was driving a rental car (which was so NOT my “bxofjoy” in any way!), and I stayed in the parking lot for a bit to finish a conversation with a dear friend on the phone. As we said goodbye, she prayed for me that I would “go with joy” which was very needed.
As I walked into Enterprise Rental, I ran into a woman from church that I hadn’t seen for months. We were going in the same direction so they put us in the same shuttle to pick up our cars. As we were riding together, it suddenly struck me that her name is JOY. I was riding with Joy while I was on my way to pick up my Box of Joy. I started laughing out loud. I mean, what are the chances…really??
The Lord seemed to put an exclamation on His message to me that day: “GO with JOY! I mean it!”
How I love His sense of humor…when I have eyes to see it.
“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” Is 55:12
“…The Joy of the Lord is my strength!” Nehemiah 8:10
Faith…from the classroom to the field
Faith…BELIEVING God for who He is, what He says, and what He does.
A new favorite faith song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YJ4vddbJJo
I have been in “school” learning about faith recently, and this class has been a tough graduate level course. Having known and walked with Jesus since I was 5 years old, I thought my “faith” education was pretty well-rounded, but I was moved from the classroom to “the field” in this last season. Here are some of my lessons–some new insights along with some known truths that have been under “divine review,” as I like to call it.
- Is grown in the darkness of no “sight.” “…Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.” Isaiah 50:10 “We live by faith, not by sight.” II Corinthians 5:7
- Waits…ALOT and often for a LONG time. Hebrews 11 has many accounts of waiting. Not a favorite for me.
- Is in some way foundational to my healing and the answering of my requests. “Jesus turned and saw her. ‘Take heart, daughter,’ he said, ‘your faith has healed you.’ And the woman was healed at that moment.” Matthew 9:22
- Is proved genuine through suffering. “These [suffering of grief in trials] have come so that your faith…may be proved genuine…” I Peter 1:7
- Is a mystery. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Heb. 11:1
- Is not legitimized by the “outcome” but by the process of faith itself. “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised….”
- Is NOT the same as reason and often isn’t “reasonable”: “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed…without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead…and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God…” Rom. 4:18-21
- Is a HUGE weapon in times of battle–a shield. “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” Ephesians 6:16
- Is VERY pleasing to God. In fact, “without faith, it’s impossible to please God.” “…But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” Heb. 11:6 and Heb. 10:38
- Is ultimately in the person of Jesus Christ and for His glory. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23, I Peter 1:7
His love and commitment to teaching me is amazing and persistent. I’m thankful for my Father’s “hands-on” classroom, even though it’s often “pain that brings gain.”
God’s got an army…
Having just spent two weeks in Africa, I came back with significant things on my heart and mind–kingdom things.
It has to do with Light and Darkness and an army that God is raising up, and I would love to invite you to be a part of this army!
Before leaving for Africa, a couple friends shared about light. One had been praying for my trip and shared that she saw a stream of light move across Africa. An elder at our church and a friend, not even two hours later, shared that he was reading Genesis with Jesus constantly in mind. God’s first command is “let there be light.” The sun was commanded “to govern” the day and the moon “to govern” the night. He noted that “light” brings governance and authority. Having just completed a study of Revelation, he further noted that Jesus is the ONLY light in heaven, proclaiming that no other authority/light is needed. Jesus is it!
“What does that have to do with Africa?” you might ask! Great question!
(Pictured below are some of the warriors in hand to hand combat on the ground throughout Africa. I met and spent time with many of them on this last trip and some of them I have known for years!)
In attending a “summit” of African ministry leaders in February, our South African leader shared a picture that had come from their intercessory team praying over Africa and our time together. It was a picture of streams of light, sort of like lightning bolts, shooting throughout the continent of Africa.
Now call me crazy, but it seems like Jesus is sending some sort of message about LIGHT in Africa through all different sources, and light has to do with authority! Much of Africa has a foundation of witchcraft, demonic, dead men’s bones, corruption, fear, and ancestor worship. As many times as I have been in Africa and spent time with my loved African brothers and sisters, I had NO IDEA some of the things that are accepted as absolutely normal in a cultural setting, even a Christian African setting, until this trip as generational sin and bondage were addressed.
The enemy has held authority in some of these areas for generations–FAR TOO LONG. I believe that our King Jesus wants to expose some of these dark things, bringing His light and authority to the foundations of the African continent. If that’s true, then we have a WAR on our hands, though the Victor is assured and absolute!
I believe the Lord is calling the church to battle more actively for freedom from the tyranny of the enemy’s authority in Africa. Even though I don’t understand it fully, prayer holds POWER in the heavenly realms and brings His kingdom on EARTH as it is in heaven. (Read Revelation 8:1-5 if you have any doubts about that. Wow!).
Would you be willing to be one of the warriors of light that will pray His light and authority into the foundations of the African continent in this season? Will you commit one time a day, one time a week, one time a month–some sort of true commitment marked on your calendar–to pray for Africa by yourself, with your family, with your small group?
If so, it would be wonderful to hear from you, just for encouragement. I am serious about being part of God’s army recruitment in this season as “Aslan is on the move” in Africa and I want to join Him. Will you?
Dancing On Ashes
For any of you who have ever sat in a pit of darkness or despair, needing just a taste of faith or hope–a touch of Jesus, I write of my current journey for you…
A couple months ago, I had a “fire”–a time where something very precious and valuable was suddenly gone–burned up quickly and unexpectedly, taking my breath away. It often still does. This loss has shaken my core and my faith like nothing else ever has.
Since the “fire,” I’ve been sitting in ashes, trying to sort through remnants of things. There are so many questions that have no answers. I have cried out, sometimes hourly, asking the Lord to answer me, to rescue me, to fill me, to comfort me, to speak to me, and to hold me. He has faithfully met me in so many different ways–friends/family, nature, His word, songs, notes–and yet, the questions have still plagued me. I often smell like smoke, tasting the ashes along with the saltiness of many tears.
Recently, in a time of seeking Him with my sister, Jesus gave me a picture–an image in my mind…I was clothed in a white dress and I was sitting on a pile of ashes with a house burned down all around me. Ashes…ashes everywhere. As I lifted my face from sifting hopelessly through the ashes, I saw Jesus standing right in front of me with His hand outstretched. He was asking me to dance…DANCE of all things. Seriously?? Can He not see that things are a little messy right now…and dark…and hopeless and that the last thing I feel like doing is dancing?? He does see, and He’s still asking. He wants me to dance…to dance on the ashes…with Him.
I cannot describe what the Lord did in my heart in that moment and the hope that flooded my soul…Immanuel. He’s here.
He will not leave me here in the ashes. He has a plan, and it includes DANCING! There’s joy somewhere ahead. I can’t quite see it yet, but it’s coming. He says it is. I just have to stand up, trust Him, take His hand and…dance. What does that mean practically? I don’t know exactly, but He’s teaching me.
As we started to dance, He picked up a handful of ashes and started to breathe on them, and when GOD breathes…there’s LIFE!!
My heart is different, even though my circumstances are not…yet. Peace…Joy….
Following this picture, He brought the line of a song to my mind–“beauty will rise.” Once I found it, I played the entire song, sobbing my way through. I didn’t know the full lyrics to this song–only the one phrase that He had brought to my mind, The words could not have been a more vivid portrayal of the picture He had just given: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJynET3b3PM
“Out of these ashes, beauty will rise and we will dance among the ruins and we will see him with our own eyes…”
I accept your outstretched hand, Jesus. I choose faith. I choose to dance with You among the ashes….Beauty will rise (Is 61:3). You ARE the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25) Behold, You are making all things new (Rev. 21:5). I believe, help me in my unbelief…
I’m still mid-journey at the moment, and though your journey may be very different from mine, how I pray that Jesus’ touch in my dark, lonely place, will multiply like loaves and fishes of faith and hope in the lives of some of you who may still be sitting in the midst of “ashes.” Others’ stories of faith are doing the same for me.