Power Comes from a Living Person, not a Protocol {From Formula to Faith, Part 2}

Mark 9: 14-41 “What are you arguing about with them?” And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grind his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” (bold print added by me)

The disciples were trying to cast out the unclean spirit by copying Jesus words and actions but not believing in and relying on his power…on His PRESENCE. The father said, “Teacher I brought my son to you,” and Jesus said, “Bring him to me.”

But they had been  trying to do the works of Jesus without the presence of Jesus. 

They were trying to rely on a formula instead of faith, forgetting that the source of deliverance came from Jesus Himself, and that all they could do was bring them to Him, the living Person, who could set people free.

But how, if He is not physically present, can His presence be given?

 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into the fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!“And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “you mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” …

 

“And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”

Prayer opens the heavens and invites the presence and power of Jesus.

Prayer confesses that it’s not us they need, but Him.

Prayer is where the action is!

He just wants us to turn to him, and cry out to him, “I believe, help my unbelief!” As we come just as we are with the little we have and cry out to him, he will supply what we lack.

He will supply His very self. That is the amazing thing…

John 15: 4-5  ” Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is who bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

 

Because He is the living God, my living Lord, A+B does not always equal C.

I can’t try to follow a formula to make things happen, but if I bring them to Jesus… into His presence, by prayer and faith…prayer for faith, and as I remain {abide} in His presence, bringing others to His presence and His presence to them?

Things will happen!

The Source of Real Strength {It’s not found in bootstraps…}

2006-07-03 Wrightsville Beach Sunrise 2

The power of his might cannot be mustered

True strength is not found in bootstraps.

No resolve or determination can produce real power.

I cannot “work up” strength on my own.

My natural strength will only go so far.

But when God says, “Be strong,” with the command comes the strength!

Daniel experienced this…

“I said to the one standing before me, “I am overcome with anguish because of the vision, my lord, and I feel very weak.  How can I, your servant, talk with you, my lord? My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe.”

 Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength.  “Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.”

When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength.”’-Daniel 10:15-19

 

As the command was given, the strength was given. All that He asks He provides.

What a glorious rest, this being strong by receiving, and not by striving.

I believe there is only one prerequisite to receiving this strength, and that is to know that I am weak.

Daniel experienced it. Paul knew it…

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”2 Cor. 4:7

 

For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” Col. 1:29

 

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” Eph. 6:10

 

The world, even the church, say “Be strong!” But what they usually mean is “try harder,” “suck it up,” “pull yourself up by the bootstraps,” “be tough.”

But God’s wisdom is so contrary to that of the world. He brings me to the point at which I am fully aware that I have no strength, and then the most wonderful thing happens…

He gives me his.

 

All the Favor Needed

All the favor needed TWO

“Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 1: 19,20

It was not necessary for everyone in Galilee to think of Mary as a chaste and honest person. But she did need a husband. Jesus did need an earthly father. Many people never did believe Mary’s claims, but it did not stop her from bearing and raising the Son of God, and it did not stop Him from saving the world. 

If what is conceived in you is from the Holy Spirit, then you can trust that God will provide all the favor necessary for you to accomplish what He has born in you to do or to be.

Do not fear. His favor is enough…

All the favor needed.

There is Really, Actually, Absolutely Nothing Between…

 

There is, Truly, Nothing Between

Did you know that there’s truly nothing between?

Do you see what reconciled really means?

My love has removed every stain…absolutely everything

Nothing, truly nothing, can separate

You, Beloved, from my embrace

On the cross I finished the job

Listen, Beloved, how my heart throbs

To embrace you whom I’ve made my likeness

For you I suffered to offer my closeness

Hear me: There’s truly nothing between

I really did take care of everything

Every single thing that stood in the way

There on that painful but longed for day

When the veil was torn, heaven cried, “Come in!”

And when I rose, my joy, we were more than friends.

We were then of the same Father, you are my brothers

My likeness, my kin, My Beloved

And now there is nothing, nothing between

Nor will there ever, ever be

Now one thing, only one remains

I stand here longing. Will you believe?

Will you receive my love? I am captivated

You are lovely to me. You are my Beloved.

Come and listen, taste and see, I long to show you:

There’s nothing between.

(Long list of scripture references to come. There is so much behind this…)

How the Cross Changed Everything {The Joy Set Before Him}

The first words recorded that Jesus spoke after his death and resurrection:

“Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” John 20:17

The cross had changed everything.

What pleasure it must have given Jesus to speak these words, to send this message. What delight and JOY He must have taken. What longing fulfilled, mission accomplished. Oh the infinite WEIGHT of those simple words.

I wander if the disciples upon hearing it understood the profundity of their meaning: “I am yours, and you are mine.”

I’m pretty sure this is the first time Jesus referred to the disciples as brothers and His Father as their Father as well.

This was the joy set before Him! He had died to accomplish this. Before they were disciples, friends, the ones the Father had given Him out of the world.

But now, NOW, He could finally call them BROTHERS.

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”  The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,  and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” Romans 8:14-17

Family. Co-heirs. Having the SAME FATHER.

In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. He says,  “I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing your praises...” Hebrews 2:10-12

 What an indescribable privilege, honor, joy…

What FAVOR. Undeserved favor.

Revel in His favor today. It’s a tender, never changing one.

Ministry is a Way of Life {On Daniel and King Darius}

Ministry or serving God is not limited to certain occupations or vocations or activities. It does not look a certain way, and it does not require quitting your day job or starting an activity outside of your day-job (unless of course, the Lord tells you to) which brings me to the point of what ministry really is.

“The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” -Daniel 6:16

The favor that Daniel had with the king was incredible. What strikes me today is that in both references to Daniel’s God by the king in this chapter, he said “Your God, whom you serve continually.”

It seems that this is something that the king already knew about Daniel. Yet his favor was unhindered, and Daniel’s service to the king (aka “day job”) was so thorough and well done that those who were envious of him could not find fault with it.

This is so wonderful because it shows that serving God is so much more than vocation, so much more than occupation, so much more than what one does for a living or what earthly work one has.

What it looked like for Daniel, I do not know, but it was clearly distinguishable to a Pagan king. A king who was planning to set Daniel over all the kingdom because of his thorough work and integrity yet knowing that he continually served his God.

His commitment to God was so definite in the eyes of his enemies that they knew the only way to undo him was to cause him to have to choose between his God and King Darius. They all knew that his God was the most important thing in his life, and it was clear that He did all that He did as a service to his God.

I love this because in this season more than ever I am learning that serving God is simply obedience to God. It’s not only doing work that is seen or perceived as “serving” or “ministry,” but it is obedience to God in whatever context, whatever work.  He makes my ordinary extraordinary.

“Serving God” is not isolated to any specific type of activity or vocation. It is a posture of the heart. It is being yoked with Christ. It is surrender and obedience him. True service is always, only obedience to whatever He may lead.

May I not cease like Daniel to make communion with God my number one priority, and obedience to all He commands a constant way of life. If I live this way, my LIFE will BE ministry.

Making Time for Awe {or Giant Slayer’s Secrets}

“Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes  and said to the entire Israelite assembly, ‘The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” ~Numbers 14:6-9

Giants have been a theme in my life the past few years. Everywhere I turned for a while, it seemed, the picture arose. Whether in a song, or a reference in a book, or in a sermon or conversation.

I’ve thought about Joshua and Caleb and the Promised Land, and how it all relates to my life. I wondered why they were so full of faith and the other spies were not. And then one day, while reading in Exodus 33 about the “tent of meeting” that Moses pitched outside the camp to meet with God before the tabernacle and priests were established, I noticed something that I had never noticed before. It said that “anyone who inquired of the Lord could go to the tent of meeting” (v. 7) but then it only speaks of Moses going, and how the people when they saw the pillar of cloud would worship from the entrance of their own tents. Then it says the most intriguing thing in verse 11:

The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.” (bold print added by me)

This was so stunning to me. It leaves a lot of unanswered questions. I don’t know what Joshua saw or experienced, and I don’t know why he stayed. But, I do know that he must have been among those who “inquired of the Lord” because he went there in the first place, and secondly…he lingered.

Joshua sought the Lord and lingered in His presence, and then fast forward ahead to the future and he is one of only two whose confidence in the Lord was greater than their fear of the giants in the land that God had promised them.

Teach me, Lord, to linger. 

Letting Go, Pressing On {A New “Wave” of Seams to Streams}

 

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“If you don’t want to be undone you must recognize when a season, assignment, relationship, ministry or role is done! Done releases you to do.” -Christine Caine

This quote resonated so much with me when I saw it come across Twitter some time ago. I have experienced this in the past in many ways and times, and again I have come to that place of having to let go of something, to move in the direction the Lord is leading me.

I’m taking time to write this post now because the change that I am speaking of is something that has been taking shape for some time (at least the main gist of it), and therefore feels very natural and clear to me but that I have not talked about much with people outside of my family, and therefore it comes as a surprise and may seem a bit random. I want to record the “back story” here to be able to share with those who want to know and understand what is going on with Seams to Streams. So here goes…

I have always admired people who created sewing patterns to sell. Most of the patterns I have ever used are PDF patterns that are easy to download and print. I admired it because it is a truly “smarter not harder” thing in the sense that once a pattern is completed, if it sells it creates residual income with unlimited downloads.

That thought was always followed with a thought something like this: “I could NEVER do it! But it’s genius! So brilliant. I’ll stick with the sewing, but I admire that concept.”

Well, well. “Never” is truly the most often eaten word in my life. So far my life, post encounter with JESUS, has been a series of doing things I never thought I’d do!

As you may have guessed by now, about a year or so ago the Lord put it on my heart to move in the direction of making sewing patterns. It seemed out of the blue, but as I began to ponder it, I realized that it was brilliant for a number of reasons. They are as follows:

1. Also over the past year the Lord had been really confirming to us our long term vision of helping teach sewing and other skills to young people at risk, particularly in Brazil, and since PDF patterns are a digital downloads are something that can be sold from anywhere in the world, to anywhere in the world. (There is a very long story behind this guidance and vision that I have not blogged about yet ;))

2. Also in view of our long term vision, it would allow me to continually be working on a broader variety of projects and thus gaining more skills and experience that will be necessary for me to be able to teach others.

3.As I’ve already mentioned, once a pattern is completed, it has unlimited selling potential, whereas each item sewn takes a significant amount of time and can only be sold once, of course.

Though it was not my idea, I saw right away that it was definitely in line with what the Lord had been showing us and the vision He’d given.

The next day, I got an email in my inbox from the organization whose patterns I’ve used most in learning to sew doll clothing announcing a new class they were offering, “The Design Academy,” in which students learn to design doll clothing. I later learned they have a follow up class to that one in which students learn to draft sewing patterns of their designs.

Then I began to realize that many of my “teething line” items were my own design, and that I could start by getting those simple patterns in PDF format and listed, and then of course work on creating more.

Then around Christmas I wanted to make my sister in law a new cosmetic pouch as I’d made her one a couple of years before and she needed a new one. I realized that I could apply some skills I’d gained since then to make the project easier, and that with a pattern I could cut out some of the most tedious steps. It just naturally nudged me into the thing, and though I had to bring that project to a halt in order to get and keep inventory up, it is on the docket as one of the designs I already have ready to make into a pattern.

At that point, I had not felt led to stop selling or cut back on selling finished products, and we were gearing up to sell our house and move, so I was not able to put a lot of thought into it. I was intending to continue selling in two local shops, and hopefully finally be able to keep up enough inventory to sell on Etsy as well. Up until that point I’d had so much sewing to do for the local shops that I never was able to keep my Etsy shop stocked consistently and only sold there on and off. Even though I listed very little there, there were always steady purchases and I knew it was just a matter of increasing inventory more consistently and I was intending to really focus on that in the coming year.

Until…

Prior to our move I was studying the story of Joseph. I was going back and meditating on a passage from that story while sitting in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. It was the section of the story where Joseph had sent his brother’s back to Jacob, insisting that they return with his younger brother Benjamin. But Jacob at first said no, and it wasn’t until they were almost completely out of food that he reluctantly relented.

I wrote this in my journal: “Jacob delayed the blessing and redemption that God had planned for him because he was holding onto and afraid of losing Benjamin. He believed that Benjamin was all he had left, but it was not true. Fear was holding him back.
How does this apply to my life?”

I was interrupted to go into the doctor’s office, but the next day I found the little journal I’d written in and it came flooding back to my mind and just as clear as can be I heard in my mind:

“Selling finished products on Etsy is your Benjamin.” And I realized that I wanted to hold on to what I knew, or believed, would be successful; what I’d been intending to do all along. I realized that I would have to once again step out in faith, into something that I did not yet know how to do.

Since our move, I decided to let go of wholesale as well. This means that I am currently only selling finished products at Southern Home Crafts, my friend Cindy’s shop in Apex, North Carolina. I’m excited about being able to keep up a larger inventory there, and it also offers the opportunity to learn and grow as I am working on a variety of projects there, particularly the doll clothing which is stretching and growing my garment sewing skills.

One evening last week, Tom (my amazing husband) and I decided to go ahead and start learning the software needed to digitize my patterns and start the process of getting them ready to sell. I was also getting ready to email the aforementioned store that I wanted to let them know in case they should desire to order again that I was no longer going to do wholesale, and thank them for the amazing blessing that their business had been.

But at that moment had a huge wave of doubt.  Was I foolish to let go of selling finished products on Etsy and selling to this wonderful local shop (if they were to continue ordering) and leap out into something I know nothing about?

The next day, so sovereign the timing, my friend texted me that the store was actually closing its storefront. I couldn’t believe the perfect timing of that information in light of the previous nights’ wave of doubt. Later that day I came home and checked my email and what did I see but an announcement from the doll pattern company about the Design Academy, coming up again in September, the same one I’d received an announcement about the day after receiving the guidance to start working on making patterns to sell.

Though this is a big change, every bit of the prior experience was a necessary part of my learning and getting to this place, not to mention to contribute to the mission of Seams to Streams. It was the wholesale customer buying my teething necklaces that inspired the designing of more teething products which I now hope to sell as patterns, not to mention all the practice sewing and selling through these venues has afforded.

His plan is perfect. I’m more and more convinced everyday of the necessity of listening to His voice and following His promptings.  As a matter of fact, one neat thing is that though I knew how to use social media to promote my business, I felt the Lord leading me not to use that knowledge, and it was not needed because the demand was more than I could even keep up with without advertisement. I couldn’t afford to advertise. I even passed up more than one physical opportunity to really get my products and brand out there. Now I see that it is a mercy that I did not, and it was indeed His leading, because there would have been no purpose in seeking to establish a clientele for finished baby products when that was just a stepping stone to a different type of product and clientele.

I am reminded here at the end of this post of how the Lord is keeping me utterly dependent on Him. It’s another leap of faith. I’m reminded that at the beginning of this year I chose to make “DEPEND” my “word for the year.” Little did I know…

Not by might, not by power, but by His Spirit I move forward. Not by sight, but by faith. Not confident in my abilities, but in His faithfulness; knowing and believing that I did not choose Him, but He chose me and appointed me that I might go and bear much fruit. (John 15:16)

***Added October 14 2015:***

Not too long after writing this post, the Lord led me to stop selling finished products altogether. Again it was an unexpected guidance, but clear and though it is bittersweet I have much peace and see Him taking care of the details of transition so beautifully! So Seams to Streams is truly “dying to live” and will be in cocoon form for a while as I tackle learning to get my current designs digitized and into PDF patterns. I’m excited!

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The Humble Master that was Really a Mighty King {Or, From Duty to Delight}

I wrote this story several years ago, and somehow He brought it to my heart today and I found myself re-writing it in poem form, taking advantage of all the license that genre affords ;)…

The Master that was Really a King

Once there was a Master

Not impressive in stature

He had two loving servants

Both devoted to His matters

The Master was a doctor

And daily to his estate

People came from far and wide

Seeking out his aid

His servants played a vital role

With many responsibilities

He gave them gifts to perform

Even advanced medical techniques

The problems were endless

And the need was great

And the work never finished

On this great estate

Corazon worked logically

Dutifully, and methodically

Milagro it seemed, differently

Diligently yet unpredictably

And much to the Corazon’s dismay

She disappeared every day

No matter how many patients waited

No matter how loud they clamored

She went into the Masters room

And sat down at His table

Corazon began to feel angry

At Milagro’s inconsistency

And deep within she chaffed with envy

At Milagro’s strange efficiency

For though she did things differently

There was a strange vitality

It seemed almost miraculous

The change in those Milagro touched

“How could it be?” thought Corazon

“I work so hard, so fast, so long”

“How can there be results when she

Does things so…well, illogically?”

She went to the Master, almost angry

“Why do you not make Milagro get busy?!”

Could she not see the endless need?

How could she spend time just sitting at His feet?

The Master said to Corazon lovingly

“How I’ve longed for you to come to me.”

“Come and sit with me a while

Rest in my presence, precious child”

Corazon was shocked at his tenderness

She’d never noticed his gentle friendliness

Driven by duty and responsibility

She hadn’t seen love, His priority.

It was almost more than she could bear

She could not let herself stay there

There was far too much work to do

(And a certain safety in busyness too)

Avoiding stillness protected her from

Looking within and looking to Him

Safe from learning humility

Safe from losing authority

Over how and what she did

So buried in her work she hid.

But after a while she could not resist

After she’d tasted His tenderness

The longing it had awakened in her

Made her willing to take the risk

So timidly she left the fray

Into His Presence day after day

And there she began to learn the key

To Milagro’s nonsensical vitality

As she sat at the Master’s feet

He opened her eyes, and let her see

That his smallness of stature was an illusion

That to those who sought Him He granted vision

To see that in reality, He was a great and mighty King

He rose high before her eyes in awesome majesty

In His presence everything, even all the pressing need

Appeared so small, like a tiny seed

His transcendence changed her perspective

Her strife had really been misplaced confidence

He was so great, so powerful and strong

He really could heal anyone.

What they needed, was really Him

His Presence, Himself, His life within

Seeing Him made her faith grow true

Into a living hope, not in what she could do

But in Who He was and what He would do

In His sufficiency and love for them too

Now she understood that there was time for Him

And that without it her outlook was worse than grim

And another secret she could now understand

This Mighty King had a specific plan

His specific instructions, when carried through

Were guaranteed to bear real fruit

Her work became a living response to His voice

And instead of a burden, it made her rejoice

It was still hard and long, requiring discipline

But the strength that she needed was found in Him

Though her methodical ways were a gift from Him

She was free and willing to vary from them

Following His lead, her gifts were ignited

Her service became a dance with her beloved

Milagro and Corazon’s work then flowed in tandem

Sensitive to the Master, there was no competition

For sitting at His feet was the one thing needed

How else could his voice be heard and heeded?

He knew all things; what everyone needed

And so His purposes were peacefully completed

The Seams to Streams Story, Miscellaneous Miracles {Look Mom! A Basket of Fish!}

After the summer of 2014 which was so difficult for our family that I was questioning whether I could or should continue doing wholesale with Seams to Streams, but the Lord had prompted me to continue for the time being, I had a big order to do and had *no idea* how it was going to get done. We were back in sleep deprived mode as my son’s digestive issues had come to a climax again.

Then one evening soon after taking this large order, Lydia came into the kitchen with a baby hat held upside down and a toy plastic fish inside it.

“Look, Mommy, a basket of fish!”

It made me think of a song from my childhood about the feeding of the five thousand, and I started singing what I could remember of it and then declared, “THAT will be our Bible story tonight!”

Honest to goodness I had NOT made the connection yet. (If you’re familiar with my story until now, you know that during that year I had been reading through the Gospels and even before the year began the Lord had spoken to me through the story of the feeding of the five thousand in relation to Seams to Streams. Then each time I would have a huge order and be truly overwhelmed, my reading would “happen” to be one of the accounts of the feeding of the 4,000 or 5,000. It had been uncanny and insanely encouraging and beautiful.)

But at this point I’d stopped that reading plan as I was doing a different study with some ladies at church and focusing on the passage I was trying to memorize.

So that night, it was not until I was actually reading the story aloud to them from “The Jesus Storybook Bible” and was reading these words, did the Lord open my eyes to see that He had planned this…was speaking it yet again

“Jesus’ friends laughed when they saw his little lunch. ‘That’s not nearly enough!’ they said. But they were wrong. Jesus knew it didn’t matter how much the little boy had. God would make it enough, more than enough.
Jesus said, ‘Bring me what you have.’ And so the little boy gave Jesus his lunch…
‘How in the world will Jesus feed everyone with just that?’ Jesus’ friends said, because they thought it was impossible.
But Jesus knew the One who made all the fish in the oceans. And Jesus knew the One who in the very beginning had made everything out of nothing at all. How hard would something like this be for Someone like that?”

Here he had me reading this story again. He made a way even though I was not reading through the Gospels at that time. I was blown away.

And once again it got done, and there was joy in the doing it. It really just comes down to one thing:

Where does my confidence lie? In myself? My ability? My time?

Or does it lie in the One who created everything out of nothing?

That is the bottom line.

Do I live like I believe that it all depends on Him?

Because if I don’t, I’m really missing out!

It doesn’t mean that I don’t work hard and pray and trust for amazing grace to be more disciplined, but when the day is done, I have so little to offer.

But Jesus knows it doesn’t matter how small my offering is, God will make it enough, MORE than enough!!