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Monday, August 12, 2013

Here's my heart Lord...

so i want to begin this first ever blog post and warn you it is long but i would count it a great honor if you would read this... it is what is going on right now in our lives.  That God would be most glorified in what i write and say and live and be.  Get ready for a ride in the life of this gal.

it was spring and i had asked the Lord what bible study should we do next?  It was a tie between two and i could not shake the idea of the Gideon study by Priscilla Shirer.
You can find the account in your bible in Judges 6-9.  so the very first night, Thursday July 11th we got together and at the end of the DVD talk she said that change and revival in us begins with us.  She asked us to draw a circle around ourselves and step in the middle of it and pray and ask God for any changes He wanted to make in our lives or if there were things in our lives that were hindering the changes He would ask.  So i gave each gal a piece of  chalk and we went outside our lovely host Laura Andreas house and drew circles on her driveway and sidewalk and stood in the middle and prayed dangerous prayers... Lord, change me... Speak to my heart.  Reveal Your Great self to me... Here is one of the quotes from her talk that night.  " When God's Spirit asks us to eliminate something form our lives, we shouldn't play around with His direction.  Fully engage in the task at hand."  Off to a good start i would say!  Wouldn't you?  Little did i know how God was preparing my heart earlier this spring for this study of Gideon.  i will be sharing many quotes from this study to show you how God spoke to me... even when i didn't want to hear Him speak!

Tuesday July 16th is a day i won't soon forget... i left for work had a pretty normal day till my husband called.  He said he had a lot to discus with me.  What was that supposed to mean?  Men!  Don't they know that us gals cannot deal with those kind of statements...   He said, mind you on the phone and while i was at work that Pastor Phil wanted us to pray about leaving as the Pastor over College ministry and being Pastor over the Sr. Adults and the CARE ministry.  i was like no way... that is crazy, how opposite of what we currently do but Pat said he would pray about it... This made no sense.  i left work and barely made it to my car without fainting... little did i know i had two esophageal ulcers and one had burst.  I was bleeding internally.  ( i will spare you the gory details... gross)  and ended up going to the ER...

As i was sitting in the ICU for 4 days i had a lot of time to think, pray, listen. They had to put a tube through my nose, down my throat and into my stomach to suck blood out of my stomach...then they gave me a blood transfusion since i had bled out so much blood.  i started thinking of the blood sacrifice Christ gave to forgive our sins if we believe.  i thought of how in a very small minuscule tiny way i got to participate in the loss of blood that would require sacrifice of much less... no more of my precious diet coke, or any drink with carbonation EVER.  No spicy foods for at least 8 weeks.  i had told the Lord and others that i wanted to loose 50lbs before the end of the year and i still hadn't started... i am such an idiot... it says in the bible that Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit if we believe in Him.  i had been destroying my body.  i needed change desperately and He was putting me in a place to notice and do something about it.  Little did i know how much He was going to require...

about day two in the ICU i asked Pat to bring me my bible study book Gideon.  I read this..."What legacy are you leaving?  Were you faithful? "  i asked God right there and then... Where do you want me?  What is my calling?  Priscilla pointed out that as Gideon was serving others when the Angel of the LORD came to him. We were serving Him... is He revealing Himself to us?   i reminded myself that Jesus is the Author and Finisher of my faith and i gave Him permission to write my story long ago.  ugh... these were dangerous prayers and He was about to see if i really believed Him.

Many people came to visit me... brought me flowers.. prayed over me...two people in particular stand out.  Miss Pat... the one who taught Sunday school to all 3 of my sweet children.  She came and just loved on me and prayed over me.  I am not particularly close to Miss Pat but i have spent many years admiring her and loving her... it meant so much to me that she cared to come and sit with me... another came and told me that she woke up at 3am that morning and wrote in her journal to share with me what God reminded her.  She had been through a difficult time in her life and the Lord had just allowed a chapter in her life to be closed and even allowed forgiveness to take place.  She said something that hasn't left my mind since.  She said that God reminded her of how Moses had to put the Rod down in order for it to become God's staff... and that is all i could remember her saying... i have not stopped thinking of this...

so i got to go home... very tired...not alot of energy or concentration but i did not want to get back into my bible study for fear of hearing more of what God might have me do.  His Word is so powerful and i did not want a reason to disobey it... i know... i am an idiot.  so... i thought i would read a book called Kisses with Katie.  She is a girl who had it all... cheerleader, homecoming queen.. lived an easy life and had a boyfriend.. everything.  She went on a missions trip to Uganda that wrecked her life.  She would never be the same in fact, she ended up going back after her Sr. year of high school and  adopted 14 girls at the age of 19.  It is a story of all she gave up for so much more... maybe not riches of this world but eternal riches and rich love.  It really made me think... am i for real?  Hadn't i told the Lord i would lay myself down and do whatever He asked of me?  Why is this so hard?  i love these young adults!  i relate well to them.. they are my kids... They share life with us... Some have lived with us... for the last 13 years all of my sons life they have been in our home, ate with us, cried with us... laughed with us.  We have seen piles of shoes in our entry way and cars up and down our street filled with Love... why would this be taken from us?

so back to Gideon staring at me... calling my is some more of what i read... "Todays tasks are preparation for tomorrows calling."  " Sometimes prayer and fasting are necessary steps in knowing what God is saying."  What?  I have been praying and in a fast of sorts... not eating normal foods... drinking water... no diet coke did mention EVER?  Is there a different calling for real in our lives about to happen.  i just didn't want to believe it... i wanted to get to the part in the story of when Gideon laid out the fleece and God showed him exactly!  Surely He would do this for me as well.  "No matter what He's commissioning you to do,  to fearlessly parent your children, faithfully SUBMIT TO AUTHORITY,  courageously BEGIN THAT MINISTRY, boldly walk in moral purity, SURRENDER to the demands of this season.  What ever it is RECKLESSLY FOLLOW HIM because if He is with you, then no one & nothing can EVER be against you."  really!  can you believe this?  i barley could nor did i want to...We had bible study at our house that week because i was so weak...( haha)  One of the first things Priscilla said was "Chapter 6 (college ministry?) was to prpare Gideon for chapter 7 ( a new ministry?)   but He was showing me. In fact one of the gals visiting our study that week said something to the effect of , sometimes God might call us out of one ministry into another... what?  He was using a student to teach me yet again!  There is no way we could make this decision it was too hard.  It required too much! 

The day before we left for Florida to take part in a wedding of two of our young adults, Pat was told that He was taking over as Pastor of Sr. Adults and Care.  i believe that God knew that we just could not make this choice ourselves.  I didn't have time to ask God for a test like the fleece that Gideon did.  ( i did however ask him something... we will see if He does it)  It made no sense to us.  to me... i believe demonic forces were whispering in my ear to become bitter and angry.  I don't like the music they like, i don't dress like them... i like the freedom to wear jeans and we are almost always up till after midnight...they get up at 5am and eat dinner at 4?  What are you thinking God?  Is this the best choice and i had tell myself STOP!  Pat is way qualified for this job... it would be an honor... These people have lived life... We have so much to learn from them.  My husband relates well to them... He is the most caring, humble and faithful servant that i know!  i mean that .  He almost always ( i say almost cause i am his wife... he has one or two shortcomings but i have like a million! )  puts others first and has so much patience.  He is the best at being a daddy and the love of my life.  He is a great spiritual leader and listens to the Lord and spends time in God's Word everyday!  He works hard and you can always count on him to do what is asked of him.  He respects authority and loves God's Word. Of course they would want him to do this..

so i jumped back into the study again...i think i did  two weeks of homework desperate to hear from God...She said "You are not the same person you used to be... He gave Gideon a new name (pat has a new title) You have no business going where you used to go... You don't need everything you thought you would need."  2 Cor. 12:9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. I was reminded of a discussion i had with a dear friend weeks before.  She said, "when a seed dies it will bear fruit... but it has to die first."  Lord, i argued... haven't we seen fruit.. he said i want to show you immeasurably more! Good grief, what does that even look like?  ugh! Then Priscilla said, "  Gods solution was to put Gideon in a position where he would have no choice but to refocus his attention."  Well He certainly did that for me... i was still so weak... then this..."Less is MORE... humility is the knob we grasp that causes the door of God's power to be opened WIDE in our lives." The Lord is committed to REMOVING anything from your life that might promote the very thing that will hinder your progress.  Think again about ANYTHING that the Lord might be STRIPPING from your life, has this dampened or distracted you from God's purpose?"  i had to stop and tell God... i wanted what You want for me.  I want to grope after You.    As if that wasn't enough... there was more..."  Sometimes victory comes from living with LESS.  Now a side note is... that my dear friend Amy told me of her word for the year was LESS... it intrigued me... i wanted a tattoo on my wrist immediately to remind me but had made a deal with myself if i were to get a tattoo it would be after i loose 50lbs( haha... that would make less of me) and prayed about this more... anyway it has been a recurring theme in our household... This word is so little but means so much.  Frankye, our oldest daughter,who is starting her Senior year next year (another reason we are all sad to leave the college ministry...she has waited her whole life to be in the college group with us) She had been thinking of her youth group and how they needed to become less.  We adopted Phillipians 2:3,4  Let nothing be done through selficsh ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than 
himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also for the interests of others.   To place VALUE on people.  We want to be LESS so He can be MORE..   We made bracelets out of shrinkydinks that said less on it for each camper.. many are still wearing theirs today.  I constantly  need to be reminded HE is >i.

i am banking on this one... i read this next..."  If i will choose to operate in Obedient Trust, He will MULTIPLY my efforts no matter what i'm doing."  Then we turned to 1 Kings 17:8-16 the story of the widow...(which we will be working with) who had little oil and flour.  "her future security was discovered in letting go of what she had at her disposal, even though doing it did not seem reasonable or logical"  "  What is the Lord asking you to RELEASE to Him?  Time, Money, Security, Relationships?  Maybe its hard to see it go because its been so plentiful in your life and has brought you much comfort.  Understandable  but take a deep breath and then let it go anyway.  I assure you, you will be better off with God's 300 than your 32.000 every single time.  You have enough."  You see... God gave Gideon 300 men to fight against the Midianites and they had thousands... God wanted to show that it was in His power only they were able to conquer the enemy.   This made no sense to me what God was asking us to do... but He will show Himself and it will be more than i could ever ask or imagine because we are going to obey Him. 

To say the least our time in Florida was with heavy hearts... we had so many feelings to work out... there was not one night that we didn't cry ourselves to sleep in each others arms begging God to stop this.  i begged God to show me... really show me that He loved me that He knew i needed even more confirmation.  The first night we saw a double rainbow... it was brilliant..i remembered when God put the rainbow in the sky in the first place was to remind us that He always keeps His Promises.  i was banking on that one!

Several weeks before all this one of our students, Stephen Metcalf, tweeted a bunch of quotes and i asked him what book it was.. he brought it over for me to read and i took it to read in Florida... it is called... What to do on the Worst Day of your life by Brian Zahnd. The chapter headings are this.
1.  Weep.  David, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Hezekiah, Nehemiah, Job, Jeremiah, Peter, Paul, John... Jesus wept.  There will come a dawn of faith when you need to stop weeping & start believing.  Go beyond weeping!
2. Don't get bitter.
3.  Encourage yourself in the Lord... like David did... To sing and dance is simply a choice that David made... Make God bigger than your troubles.  Think yourself Happy.
4.  Get a Word from God.  boy howdy did i...
5.  Reorient Your Vision
6.  Regain Your Passion
7.  Recover all!    don't let your personal tragedy or failure define your identity.  Failure and loss are events, but they don' t have to become our identity.  Christ is our Identity and He deserves the GLORY!
 Thanks so much Stephen... God used this book in perfect timing for what i needed.

When we got home from Florida it was this last Tuesday evening.  We knew that we would have to tell our children and the young adults of our college ministry... great heaviness...Here is what God gave me in my study once more..."  Releasing our gifts back to the Lord for Him to do with as He pleases is difficult and humbling.  Especially since we often harbor desires of what we hope He'll do with them when we finally present them.  The best use of our gifts is seldom what we imagined.  If we will put them down and pour them out.  we will be surprised at God's unconventional ways of using them."
A theme song for my life is this  i lay me down i'm not my own... i belong to Him is worth the listen.

Then remember that friend that spoke to me about the rod of Moses?  i kept thinking of releasing our gifts back to the Lord... Moses had to release that rod so it could become and perform the miracles of God.  When i  was in college i sang in the chorale for 3 years.  We sang this song and it was a favorite for i think all three years called Moses by Ken Medema... the lyrics are something like this... It is really worth the listen.  i have posted it here for you to hear... it is quite dramatic and kindof is like a musical...
Throw it down Moses... Moses replies, do you mean like on the ground.  (i have sang this to myself with my name in place of Moses... maybe you would like to join me... please don't tell me i am the only one that has to release things.)  Throw it down Moses.  Don't you want to be my man?  Don't you want to work for me?  Don't you want to set my people free?  Moses replies..not me Lord... don't you know I don't talk so good.  How will they know it is me that you have sent to do this?  How will they know?  God said, What's that in your hand Moses?  He replies, It's just a rod.  Lord, don't take this rod away from me... don't you know it's my only security.  Don't you know that when your out here on your own... a man's gotta have something he can call his own?  Not me Lord!  Throw it down Moses!  Moses threw the rod on the ground and the rod became a hissing snake. He was running scared of what the Lord was going to do... running scared God would get ahold of you... and the Lord said STOP!  pick it up Moses... by the tail... Lord you have not been here very long... Lord, You have the whole thing wrong.  Don't you know you never pick up a hissing snake by its tail?  God said PICK IT UP MOSES!  It's a rod again!  Do you know what it means Moses?  Do you know what I'm trying to say Moses?  The Rod of Moses became the Rod of God.  With the rod of God... he struck the rock and the water would come.  With the rod of God.  He parts the waters of the Sea.  With the Rod of God he would strike old Pharaoh dead.  With the Rod of God he would set the people free.  What's that you hold in your hand today?  To what or to whom are you bound?  Are you willing to give it to God right now?  Give it up, let it go.. throw it down.

That kind of sums it up.  Extreme Obedience as my dear friend Suzanne would say... it is worth it all... some day i will tell you about her.  i want to Obey God.  i want a fruitful life.  i want LESS and more of HIM.  Even when it hurts.
Thursday and Friday of last week were some of the very hardest days of my life.  Telling our children and see them cry and work out their feelings.  Friday telling our other family the Merge College Ministry.  We walked them through everything i have shared with you in this blog post. We have shed a lot of tears.  All of us are ok..  willing to obey. Pat shared with all that it would be a disservice to everything he has ever taught would be worth nothing if he didn't step out in Obedience to the Authority of our church and God.   One step at a time.  Looking forward to what He has in store for us and banking on Immeasurably more than we can ever ask or think.  I know it has been long and thanks for hanging in there with me... I wanted to tell all of you just a story that God has been teaching just a gal...i treasure your friendship and continued prayer.  it is still hard.  God is Good...So thankful for God's great Grace and Mercy towards me. 

Romans 4:20   He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God,

Phil 4:13    I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

1Timothy 1:12    And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry,

2 Timothy 2:1  You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 4:17  
But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 

Hebrews 11:34  
 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

Ephesians 6:10-17  
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 

John 7:17  If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is from God.   


  1. I love you Justine. I love your heart. Thank you for always living out your life as Christ calls you to. :)

  2. Justine, It is a joy to see how you and Pat have trusted God even when the end is not clear. Your students will learn from your obedience and the Senior Adults will be blessed as well. My prayer is that God would use you to fulfill His purpose and that you would find peace as you trust Him day by day. ~Ryan

  3. You and Pat have been such a blessing in my life! Thank you for your transparency and your example of obedience. I love you both dearly!

  4. oh my goodness. I know it was only 4 days ago that you posted this but I wish I would have read it right then! I love you guys so much, my life would not be the same without you! I wish I could be there with you right now and stay up late and cry and laugh.... Lord knows its been a long time since I've done that. I do miss you with all my heart and it's so inspiring to see you guys following the Lord like this even though you don't want to. trust and obey, for there's no other way, to be happy in Jesus (our one and only)

  5. Wow! Ouch! Thank you, Justine! Thanks for sharing so vulnerably, but also thanks for living your faith out loud as you struggle for each next breath. It's interesting He took your DCoke and youth ministry at the same time-like a picture. I can only believe that either there is a huge reward in this new ministry that He wants to give you, or there was something ahead in the YM that would have hurt you (like the DC was hurting you), or that would in some way harm your family or one of the youth if you stayed in that ministry just now. God's like that. He protects us from continuing on a path toward destruction. He really isn't asking you to agree, be happy about it or to understand, He's only looking for you to believe that He's in charge, He's good and He's actually rewarding (or soon to be) rewarding you through this move. I'm praying for peace for you! Hold on to hope, Justine! I love you! Marnie