Measure upon measure

The Lord stressed the important of this message He spoke to me this morning.
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Measure upon measure I pour out upon my people and they do not accept- do not give me praise. I grow weary of blessing those that think they are blessing themselves.

Glad tidings will resound in the tents of the righteous- with those that give me praise and thanks for all of the blessings. When good things happen it is me, says the Lord. Not masks or mandates, but me! When will my people remember me? When will they forget the ways of this world and turn back to me in obedience? Obedience is easy, children. The wrong path is a burden. Holiness is a gift.

 

The Power of Words

Written in March 2020

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The other night I could not sleep and felt panic gripping my body so I turned on some worship music. The clock on the stove read 3:13 and I heard the Lord whisper Romans 3:13.

“Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.”

“Well…that’s heavy,” I thought.

As I pressed in I realized that He was leading me to pray for the blood of Jesus to cover the careless words that we as a nation speak.

I prayed over our world and our country, that God would heal our tongues and that His people would turn back to Him.

The power of the tongue can be measured in life or in death. Just think about the stark difference in the words of Hitler and Mother Theresa.

The book of Proverbs is overflowing with verses that touch on the power of words:
Proverbs 11:9 “Evil words destroy one’s friends; wise discernment rescues the godly.”
Proverbs 11:12 “It is foolish to belittle a neighbor; a person with good sense remains silent.”
Proverbs 20:15 “Wise speech is rarer and more valuable than gold and rubies.”

There are times as a mom that I find myself speaking always/never statements out of frustration. Things like “You always fight with your brother” or “You never pick up after yourself.” I know from my own experience that these sorts of spoken sentiments can become part of an identity, and not a God given identity. Just because they squabble with their siblings does not make them a fighter, nor does leaving trash on the floor make them a dirty person.

In this hour I feel God is saying that we have become loose with our lips, believing that with “anonymity” our words do not matter. But He has seen the overflow of hearts and it grieves Him. It grieves him to see the untruths spoken carelessly on social media, the snide comments to friends and family, and the twisting of words through the news media to terrify and frighten.

The Lord impressed upon me that the world can change when the message of hope is louder than that of doom. People are hungry for truth in a world filled with lies. “Who can we trust?!” they cry.

When you speak, type, or share something you empower those words. It is not passive.

The most important command God gives us is not to be right, it’s to love. Everything we say or write must be filtered through a lens of love. We have to care more about our audience than we care about being right.

Love conquers and covers all. Love always wins. Everything else will fall away, but love never fails.

So today, in the midst of everything happening in our world, let us choose words that offer hope, love and peace.

Prophetic word: In the trees

A couple of months ago, on Holy Saturday, I was overwhelmed with this message from the Lord: the next move of God is in the trees.   I furiously wrote as He graciously downloaded.

Like trees, revival will grow tall and strong, spread widely, be sturdy.  Just as trees provide a canopy of shade, this next move of God will provide a canopy of love.

Trees grow strong roots and so will the next wave of ministers.  They will drink from the deep waters of my heart.  They will run but not grow weary because of their deep roots and access to such deep wells.  The water of the Lord will never fail to satisfy them.

They will be pastors of the “insteads” who are going to see radically changed lives.  Instead of ashes, beauty.  Instead of mourning, praise.  Instead of captivity, freedom.

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:3

When you’re standing in the middle of a forest you can’t see anything but more trees.  So will the next move of God be, you will be unable to look in any direction without seeing what He is doing.

Just as in a forest, the next move of God is going to be diverse.  There will be many types of ministers, many types of disciples, many types of worshippers.  THINGS WILL NOT BE BLAND AND BORING.  Diversity will rule.  Now only is its God’s desire, it’s how others will KNOW that the Lord is in this.

I will put in the desert the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle and the olive.  I will set junipers in the wasteland, the fir and cypress together, so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, that the Holy one of Israel has create it.  Isaiah 41:19-20

The Lord then spoke this to me:

Seeds will be carried from all over.  Do not be afraid to plant what looks like it does not belong- there are no invasive species in my Kingdom.  Trees will look like they’re planted in the wrong spot- too close to a house, next to a powerline or in the middle of the sidewalk- but they will not be wrong.  Looking at things from a natural perspective will cause confusion; put on supernatural glasses.

The glory of Lebanon will come to you, the juniper, the fir, the cypress, to adorn my sanctuary; and I will glorify the place for my feet.  Isaiah 60:13

They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams.  Isaiah 44:4

Trees are wild and gregarious.  Who can tame a tree?  They don’t follow conventional bounds, and their seeds are carried far by birds, by humans, by the wind.  They are gregarious, they live in community, as will the next move of God.  I believe that church is going to look radically different, and more consistent with the wild nature of how trees grow.  There will groups here and there of believers, all connected together in the larger “forest” of the big church.  Young and old will grow together, as will all types and sizes of trees.  No one is left out.

The swarm dream

In June of 2018 I had a prophetic dream.  We were still in the beginning stages of planning for the School of Kingdom Writers, and without a doubt I knew this was a message that had to do with the vision God was placing in our hearts and minds.

I’ve sat with it for a year and half now, and processed through it at different times.  God brought it to mind again recently and I feel like it’s time to share.

It was a very short dream, but with great depth of meaning.

It took place in a barn, a brand new barn that was tall but had open sides.  In the very top of the barn there was a honeybee swarm.  A beekeeper dressed in a white suit came along and began to transfer the swarm to a new hive.  As the beekeeper moved them, the bees began to cheer in their tiny voices and were full of joy.  I awoke hearing the words, “They were eager to find their destiny.”

The church is awakening.  We are moving into a new era where the old won’t work anymore.  Church isn’t going to work the way it has, and here are many people who love Jesus and want to follow Him with all their hearts but they just don’t feel like they have a place in the church.  There might be different reasons for that, but the sentiment is the same, church is broken.

The swarm in this dream represents these people, the ones who have been sitting in church but don’t feel like they have a place.  The ones who want to follow Jesus but feel like they don’t fit in anywhere.  When honeybees swarm it’s for reproduction.  Our churches have come up against a wall.  The new barn with open sides represents the newness of this move that God is bringing. It is OPEN, there are not parameters that will define this move. People do not want to be boxed into what church “should” look like anymore and are hungry for real experiences. They are leaving to create new opportunities for evangelism; they are leaving to grow the church. They know Jesus is bigger and more magnificent than what can be felt solely inside church walls and they are hungry for it. They are eager to find their destinies.

The beekeeper represents Jesus, who is transferring these people who are who are earnestly seeking him, into the places where they fit in.  We are on the cusp of a great move of God, and I believe that it is going to look radically different than anything we have experienced so far.  The bees were overjoyed at the beekeeper rescuing them and giving them a new home.  Just as those who are earnestly seeking the Lord are overjoyed when they finally find their place, their community, their calling and their destiny.  No longer will people settle for sitting in the pews and simply listening to a preacher because they know that with the risk of Jesus comes a calling in the Kingdom.  They are not willing to merely to sit on the sidelines, but instead they are in it to win it.

The School of Kingdom Writers is one of these places, a place where people are going to come to find their calling and find their destiny.   A place that is outside of the box, outside of what looks like church.

God is resplendent, He is overwhelmingly majestic and as a people we are drawn to His beauty.  Through us His brilliant light shines, a light that will not be put into a box.  It cannot be contained, you cannot put a finger on what it is.  Although He never changes, the ways He reaches the lost and changes the world are always moving, always adapting, always growing.  We just have to listen to where He is calling us.

Distractions

I sit and write amid trash and crumbs strewn across the table.  One child is sedated by a show, one squirms on my lap and the others are outside, finally making their own fun.  The morning has been full of tempers that have flared.  Tempers that lashed out at each other and the schoolwork that we tried to do.  Forever I will be learning to not lash out at their lashing out because how in the world can I teach them to be calm when so many days I’m like a pressure cooker that’s not properly vented?

For years I’ve been trying to figure out how to do social media well.  Sometimes it’s looked like being off for an extended period of time, others times I’ve felt called to intentionally engage with people instead of just creeping by like a stranger in a white van  (no offense to my friends in white vans, you guys are my favorite).

A friend and I recently spent some time in prayer because we were both felt like we were not giving God our best.  My distraction is social media.  It’s my go to when life feels too consuming (which with five kids feels like most of the time).  I’ve felt this pull, this tension, to draw back knowing that it is taking up too much of my brain space for me to be the kind of mom I want to be, but also the kind of friend I want to be to God.

Naturally, the week after we prayed, I spent much of it scrolling through social media, attempting to engage but doing a whole lot of creeping.  I then felt that guilty pull of knowing that I want things to be different but doing absolutely nothing to change it.  A few nights in this strange anxiety began to hit me, a feeling that I haven’t felt for quite a while and one that tells me to stop and look around at why this old feeling is trying to make a new space.

After a vacation followed by a couple of weeks of sickness I realized my guard was down.  I was tired from mom’ing and from holding things together when Brad and the kids were sick.  The enemy attempted to hit me at a time when I was soothing my soul with social media instead of Jesus, and he almost got me.

Then I heard the Lord tell me to lay low and seek Him until he told me otherwise.  I don’t often hear such direct commands from Him, but I knew this meant to stay off social media until I heard further.

I used to think that being off social media for good would be the answer to all my problems.  If only I could just delete my accounts forever, that would make things better.  Lately, though, since we’ve started the School of Kingdom Writers and I’ve felt a pull to use my personal social media accounts for His good, I’ve realized that I must learn how to do social media God’s way.  I believe that He has this perfect way for us to connect and teach and encourage each other in Christ, and I know that I just need to learn how to do that without being consumed.  It sure seems like I should have that under control before we set out to disciple and teach others.

Last night I began to sense that God was telling me to post online, check and respond and then get back off.  As I began to sense that and wonder if it was really God, I also began to wonder if it could really be that simple?

What if I waited until God told me, posted and checked in, and then signed back off again?  I don’t need to let it consume me, I don’t “owe” anyone a quick response, I don’t need to dull my sense or feelings by looking at what other people are doing.  I can put my content out there, connect with people as I see fit, and then log back off and into my real life where there are real problems that I need to have the courage and fortitude to address.

As my friend Sarah says, it’s so beautiful how God invites us into things with him.  He doesn’t force us to join him, but he will gently remind us that we indeed have a part to play in becoming closer to Him.  The more we seek Him, the more He responds.

It’s really as simple as that.

The ministry of the lake

Every time we go to the lake Brad brings a book along as if he’s going to have some magical time where he isn’t watching the kids to read.  Sometimes I grab a book too, just to play along with this fantasy.

Even if I had a half an hour of solitude, I would probably spend it people watching.  I’m convinced the lake is full of the most interesting people in the county.  There are the moms that dip a toe in the water with their toddler, young adults horsing around in the deep end, teenagers getting in trouble, adolescents twirling off the high dive, grandmas waiting in the shade with a towel, leathery ladies frying in the sun and chain smokers at a picnic table.

It you were to encounter some of these people in public, they might be what you refer to as “sketchy”.  You may avoid eye contact on the sidewalk or lock your car doors while driving by.

Despite the diversity of the lake crowd, in my 20 some years of swimming there I have never witnessed anything worse than a slew of curse words spoken too loudly.  No fights, arguments, or illicit substances.

It turns out the diversity of the lake crowd results in unity.

There is one purpose for going to the lake and it’s to have fun.  It doesn’t matter if you like to swim, eat burgers, play putt putt or fish, the lake has it all.

In the bible Paul tell us that unity in the church is going to look a whole lot like diversity.   He says that some people will be teachers, some pastors, others prophets, evangelists or apostles and that their jobs are to equip the church until we are one unified body.

I love the lake because it’s fun and unpretentious.  Nobody expects you to be who you aren’t and it’s OK if you are still rough around the edges.

Likewise, in the Kingdom of God you are accepted, whether you’re the leathery lady or just dipping a toe in.

Jesus wants you.  His desire is for you to have fun and be yourself, stepping into your identity as a child of God.  He needs everyone, the rebellious teen, rambunctious adolescent and the waiting Grandmas, for the Kingdom to be fulfilled.

You are desired.

Meeting Maggie

There is no way to understand the desperation of an overdue pregnancy than to experience it.  It feels like labor could be any minute, or never at all.

Even now, nearly three weeks later, these feelings are hard to recall.  I am able to reflect on it fondly, as if being overdue is some sort of fun waiting period not the time of daily crying and sighing that it truly was.

One week after my due date I awoke to use the bathroom for the third time that night and noticed that there was some blood when I wiped.  I couldn’t help but be excited even though I knew birth would still be hours or days away.  A few minutes later after I had laid down I was back up washing sheets because our 4 year old had wet the bed, our bed, which he climbed into sometime during the night.

I was now fully awake in these wee hours of the morning.  I relaxed and experienced mild contractions with prayer and thanksgiving.

Eventually Brad awoke and I told him “This might be the day!”.

We breakfasted the kids and told them “This might be the day!”.

The months my belly grew I spent a lot of time reflecting on and praying about the process of birth.  I reread my precious birth stories and found two central themes: new life and anxiety.  I declared this labor was to be courageous and not full of worry.  I declared that I would trust my body and God’s timing.

We spent the day as normally as possible.  Brad finished up a few house projects, the boys played outside, and I made brownies while my belly contracted.  Disappointment creeped in after lunch when I realized I still wasn’t having much stronger contractions.  That anxiety ended up slowing my contractions even more, despite my best efforts to focus on the perfection of God’s timing.  Finally, Brad declared that we would take the kids to the park to get my mind off of what was happening (or not happening).

I sweated and contracted on the playground as the kids ran around on that sweltering afternoon.  We came home, ate dinner, made plans for the grandparents to come in the morning because we were pretty sure this baby would come in the middle of the night and the kids could just sleep through it.  A few nights prior, Ira had a dream that he woke up and I was sitting on the couch with the baby.  I was hopeful his dream would come true.

As the kids went to bed, my contractions immediately increased.  We prayed and I thanked God for this process.  I quietly continued to ask for His presence and his peace.  We watched a few shows while Brad timed contractions.  They came closer and closer, and then eventually increased in intensity.

I would ask Brad, “Do you think it’s time to call Patty yet?” and he would calmly answer, “Let’s wait another 30 minutes”.

In the past we’ve almost always arrived at the hospital or had the midwife come too early. This would contribute to my anxiety and then make my labor even slower. Brad and I had discussed that we wanted to wait until the last possible moments to bring others into this process.

Around ten it was clear that the pain was enough to get the midwife (who is an hour away) there.  I told my dear friend Sarah that it was time and she arrived about 30 minutes later.  For four births it’s just been Brad and I present, but early on in this pregnancy I really felt a pull from the Spirit to ask Sarah to be there with us.  She loves birth and she loves us.  Her presence immediately comforted me, and we chatted about the day in between contractions.

Patty arrived around eleven.  She told me that if I wanted her to check me I could, but I declined at that moment.  I wasn’t feeling too bad and I didn’t want to be discouraged if I was only dilated a few centimeters.  I asked about getting in the tub and she suggested that I try the shower.

The warm water flowing over my back was such a relief.  I moaned through the pain while Sarah prayed quietly on the other side of the curtain.  God was there.

Eventually I needed a change of pace, so I got out and walked for a minute.  I asked Patty to check me and was blown away when she told me I was probably a 7 or 8.  Never before had I gotten that far in labor with such little pain and suffering.  The contractions were intense, but I was still laughing and talking in between them.  We praised God for his hand in this delivery.

I labored on the bed for a while and decided to get back in the shower.  Patty wanted me to wait until I felt pushy before getting in the tub.  A few minutes into the shower I felt that small urge to push and transferred to the tub.

The warm water felt so good to my tired and pained body.  As I laid back Brad came alongside and we just sat there together, through the contractions and through the stillness in between.  I felt the contractions pushing the baby down, and often pushed along with them.  Patty decided to check me again and said I was nearly 10 centimeters!  She thought there was just a little bit of my cervix still in the way so she maneuvered the baby’s head around that as I pushed through another contraction or two.

Up to this point I was managing the pain and pushing surprisingly well was still amazed that I was sitting at 10 centimeters and didn’t feel absolutely miserable.

I began to feel nauseous, a sure sign that labor is nearing its end.  I truly hate throwing up, and this is one of my most dreaded parts of labor.  Surely everyone was laughing at my ridiculousness as I said with every contraction “I’m going to throooooooooww  upppp” (in a very sad voice).  Every time Sarah got the bag for me to throw up in, I pushed that feeling back down and shook my head no.  I probably would have been a lot more comfortable had I just let myself throw up…but boy I really hate vomiting.

The pain increased to the unmanageable place that I remember.  I finally hit the point of “I can’t do this” and “just pull the baby out”.  At this point in the pushing I’m always certain somebody could surely just reach in and grab that baby to help me out.

I felt overwhelmed in the tub so when Patty suggested I change positions I gladly got out.  I was planning on heading to the air mattress set up in the addition but collapsed in another contraction right before making it to the bed.  She was coming!  I didn’t expect her to pop out so quickly, but there I was in the most awkward crouch/sit on the floor, half turned burying my screams in the pillow while simultaneously motioning angrily for someone to close the door so my shrieks didn’t wake the kids.  Moments before giving birth, I was still mom’ing it.

I’m not sure how many times I pushed, maybe twice, and her head was out.  Previously my babies have all kind of popped out at once, but I had to manage her being half in and half out of the world while I waited way too long for another contraction to hit.  The pain came, I gave it my all and Margaret May slid out into her papa’s arms and into the world at one minute past two.

I sat with her on the floor for awhile as we wrapped her in towels and admired her fingers and toes.  There is no relief like the relief of having just given birth.  Everything hurts, but it’s oh so wonderful.

Everyone helped me up and to the bed so we could snuggle and I could get cleaned up. Brad and I stared in awe at this fifth miracle our bodies have produced, and I moved her to nurse.  She ate with vigor.

Eventually, with her cord still attached I birthed the placenta.  We’ve never had a baby remain attached to the placenta for that long, and it was so beautiful to see what had given her life for the months she grew in my womb.  God is so incredible to have created us and care for all our needs.

Brad took her to be measured on our dining room table.  8 pounds and 9 ounces, losing the record for heaviest Pauquette baby by only one ounce to her big brother Ira.

I got cleaned up and tucked into bed with my brand new baby girl.  Two daughters and three sons, what a dream.

We said goodbye to Sarah and Patty and slept for a few hours until Solomon Daniel made his way downstairs, in awe of a new baby sister.  He woke everyone else up, so excited to tell them I had the baby!

It was a sweet time of newness that I will never forget.


Devotion>Decency

Decency: behavior that conforms to accepted standards of morality or respectability

Devotion: great love, affection, or admiration for someone

Recently the Lord spoke to me the phrase “the decency is gone”.  As I looked up the definition of decency, I heard the Lord speaking that His standard is here and the world’s is gone.

Later that day the Lord was so good to give me another phrase: “Decency is being replaced by devotion.”  He wants me to look to Him with great love and affection because He is the only one who can show me my true, Christ given identity.

I was reminded of the story of King David, who brought the ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem after it had been in the hands of the Philistines.  David was so overwhelmed with the glory and goodness of God watching the ark enter the city that he basically danced around in his underwear with praise.  The daughter of the previous king was watching him with disdain.  Later, she confronts David saying, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would.”

Instead of being embarrassed, King David proudly responds, “I will celebrate before the Lord, I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes.”  David had his eyes fixed in adoration upon the Lord and the praise that David exhibited was exactly what God wanted from him.

Let us not conform to the standards of this world, but to adore our father above all else.  Above comfort, above a good name, above decency.

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him.” John 14:15-17

The fire

The noise first alerted us to a problem.  Our old house had been renovated so often that the living room was a windowless cave.  We often found solace in the protection from dangers that lurked outside, but tonight it was a hindrance.  It was late that is when bad things happen.

Orange light filtered through the diamond window of the front door as we crowded together to look.  I gasped as tongues of fire consumed the house across the street.

That was the nice house on the street, I moaned.

When 50% of the street was vacant we learned to appreciate the houses that were nice.

Sirens wailed in the distance.  Coming for us, I thought.  Momentary pride over being amid such excitement flashed through my mind but quickly I scolded myself for craving negative attention.

A fire truck roared down our quiet street and we moved to the porch. The heat felt like we were at a huge bonfire, warming my face from 100 yards away.

The entire neighborhood was awake now.  Huddled safely in twos and threes, gazing back and forth from the fire to their neighbor they whispered.

Do you know what happened?  Isn’t that the house that was busted a month ago?  I heard they had a pretty good operation going there.

My mind flashed to that warm evening in May, pushing my toddler boy on the swing in the big Maple behind the house.  The gaggle of neighbor girls surrounded us, taking turns pushing him too hard for my comfort.

Don’t go so high, I warned.  They giggled, probably at my prudence.  These girls walked across the street alone from the age of three and I was worried that my 2 year old would fall out of a baby swing.

I enjoyed their company and the ability to feed them the love they lacked, but sometimes I wanted to be in my yard alone with my child.  Maybe someday we would have enough money and time to put a fence up, but for now their eagle eyes spotted me every time I came out the door.  Besides, isn’t that what we came for?

Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a black van pull up across the street.  It seemed out of place, but most of the view was blocked by the side of our house.  As I turned my attention once again to pushing my son a loud crack rang out and in an eternal instant I realized this was a SWAT raid.

Fumbling with the buckle I grabbed my boy out of the swing while and shooed the girls home.  I probably should have walked them home, but in my own panic and worry I took care of us first.  Besides, they didn’t seem fazed, just another day in the ghetto.

Locked.  The back door was locked.

I pounded and pounded for what felt like an eternity.  Maybe it was only 3 minutes, but it was the longest three minutes of my life.  I didn’t have my phone, I didn’t have a key, and I wasn’t about to run to the front door where danger lurked.

Finally, he peeked out, realized it was me and opened the shoddy old door wide.

I walked in shrieking and trembling.  Trauma has a funny way of bringing out the rage in me.

Why didn’t you let me in?

I didn’t know you were outside, I’m so sorry.

We watched out the bedroom window that evening while the police plopped a folding table on the porch to measure and record large packages of drugs.  This was nothing newsworthy in a city the size of ours, but we surely couldn’t stop watching.

The heat brought me back to the fire, a reminder that we lived in an abnormal place.  The kind of place where people eyed you when you told them where it was.  I could never do what you do, they would say.  A pleasant way of saying you’re crazy.

Tears formed as I looked to see folks from the neighborhood, gang members, young men, old men, carrying the weight of the hose from the hydrant to the truck.  This is why we moved here, I thought.   This place is more than a statistic.

I started to see past the brokenness, the hurt and the pain.  This was a neighborhood, just like any other neighborhood, full of good and bad.  As often as I sat trembling at the bad, I more frequently thanked God for the good.

This neighborhood was alive.  People spent hours outside, knew your name, and said hi as they walked home from the bus stop.  I couldn’t help but smile when the opening of a fire hydrant on a hot day turned the whole street into a pool party.  It wasted thousands of gallons of water and was illegal, but kids splashed in the spray, the old folks sat down and dipped their toes in the dirty stream that washed by.

We were no longer frightened by the outward displays of fear and antagonization, knowing there is light in the darkness.

Time seemed irrelevant as we watched the flames lick the house.  How long did we stand there?  30 minutes, an hour?  How long does it take to extinguish a fire?  The house would smolder for days, and the neighbors would gossip for even longer.  This marked the beginning of the summer of fire, a rash of vacant houses burning hot in the night.

That summer, in the midst of the fires, I would imagine the rainy days as God’s great cleansing of the sin and evil in this place.  Maybe it was just rain, but it gave me hope to imagine more  Why not expect things to be different, for good to break through the bad, for the light to shine in the darkness?

Months later I would sit on the porch watching a girl dressed in pink ride her bike up and down the sidewalk in front of that burned out house.  A glorious reminder that God will make all things new someday.

Years later we would watch out that same upstairs window as the city demolished the house.  In one day it was gone, and in it’s place a dirt lot sat waiting, expectant.  The only way to experience newness is to demolish the old.