divine appointments, God Speaks, Uncategorized

Day 19: “Dream State”

Jabez prayed to the God of Israel: “Bless me, O bless me! Give me land, large tracts of land. And provide your personal protection—don’t let evil hurt me.” God gave him what he asked.

1 Chronicles 4:10 (MSG)

Billie Eilish recently became the youngest artist at age 18 to win four of the top Grammy awards including Best New Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, Record of the year, and Song of the Year. She also took home a 5th on the same night winning Best Pop Vocal Album. In interviews with her, she interestingly explained how much of her songwriting came out of various dream states: Night terrors, lucid dreams, nightmares, and sleep paralysis. Isn’t it fascinating  that the world is giving so much credit to a young girl who wrote an entire album flowing with ideas coming out of her sleep?! Her music has an eerie alternative vibe and if you watch one of her videos you’ll believe it came out of some sort of dream because outside of a hallucination they make little sense.

You have embraced 2020 as a “Year of Possibilities” and God has done a work in your spirit over these past few weeks. You’ve spent time meditating, praying, thinking, and hopefully dreaming about your own future, allowing God to speak to you. Even if you don’t have a 54.6 million Instagram followers and a stack of awards for your talent at putting your fantasies on paper, setting them to music and then uploading them to a YouTube channel, you can tune yourself into your dreams and use your sleep time as a time to allow God to speak to you. Billie might not give credit to her Creator for her experiences in the night, but you can!

You dream during your REM sleep even if you wake up with no memory of it. Tonight, ask God to speak to you after hours; have a journal next to you so you can write down anything you remember when you wake up. A lucid dream is where you become aware that you are dreaming while you’re still partially asleep. You can have an idea or experience so amazing in this state that you have the impression it’s real. If this happens to you, imagine yourself alongside Jesus and let him encourage you for your future.

Like Jabez, ask God to enlarge your territory. Envision your family and your work flourishing. See yourself flying high in your calling and gliding through your days with ease like a duck on water. You can transform yourself by renewing your own mind, even while you sleep. With the Holy Spirit’s help and a bit of concentration and awareness, greatness might just flow out of you too!

*Read Romans 12:1-2 and meditate on it for five minutes. What part of your mind needs to be renewed? Aligned with God? How can you transform your thinking today? Are you willing to focus your attention, even when you’re drifting off to sleep, on Jesus and what he wants to say to you? Be willing to put aside your worries, fears, and insecurities; let the Holy Spirit flow freely through you as you seek him at all times during the day.

divine appointments, Fasting, God Speaks, Inspiration, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 6: “Now You Know…”

Your mercy and your truth have married each other.

Your righteousness and peace have kissed.

Flowers of your faithfulness are blooming on the earth.

Righteousness shines down from the sky.

Yes, the Lord keeps raining down blessing after blessing,

and prosperity will drench the land with a bountiful harvest.

For deliverance and peace are his forerunners,

preparing a path for his steps.

Psalm 85:10-13 (TPT)

The status quo blinds you. Mundane routines are like blinkers on a horse, keeping your eyes straight ahead, only focussing on the immediate day to day finish lines. Work, chores, kids, laundry, meals, bills. You begin to expect what you’re used to but all that is changing.

Have you ever learnt something new and suddenly you started seeing it everywhere? This is called the “Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon” or “frequency illusion.” Has your awareness increased or is there a sudden uptick in the frequency of the information? Chances are, when it comes to your spirituality, what you now know was always there.

As a Christian who is intentionally seeking God in a deeper way through prayer and fasting, you’re taking off your blinders and changing up your daily routine. Everything has a brighter hue. Life is louder, more exciting.

What is right in front of you that you didn’t see before? A scripture you read or a sermon you heard brings forth a cognitive bias where you are now seeing Christ in all things. You are amazed at the beauty of a garden, the fresh smells and intricacy of the leaves on the plants. You’re reminded of God’s hand in all things because you’re recently aware of the detail he brings to your own life. 

You studied a passage of scripture about a widow with jars of oil (see yesterday’s post) and now you see oil on sale at Woolworth’s and overhear a conversation at school about cooking with coconut oil. You’re reminded of your own increased capacity even though grocery stores and recipes have nothing to do with it. God is using everything around you to speak to you!

You know the power of positive thinking and someone tells you about Dr Caroline Leaf. You scroll through Instagram and someone quotes a line from her book. You now notice it because you’ve had a recent revelation about positive mindsets.

You’re experiencing the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon with new concepts in unexpected places. Lean into them. Don’t chalk them up as coincidences. Rather, see God in all things. Realise he speaks to you through nature, other people, signs while you’re driving, anywhere.

God’s blessings are all around you.

* Be on the lookout today for one of the concepts you’ve read or thought about over the last week to come up again. This reinforcement of God’s word is like a healing balm over your life. You are experiencing a bountiful harvest of revelation and blessing from God. He wants to speak to you. Pay attention and journal anything you see that relates to what you’ve been learning.

Australia, divine appointments, Uncategorized

As It Happens

I have often heard the old adage, “to make friends, you must be a friend.”  Somehow, I “make Australian friends” by setting my alarm for 4:30am and running with a group in the dark. In winter.  That’s more like a tag-along than a friend, but whatever!

I’m used to having friends all around.  Between our nutrition business, church, neighbors, gym, and our son’s sporting events, our Texas days were filled with people we knew. Our packed calendars were deleted once we moved to Australia, however.  The rare-evening-at-home turned into every-evening-at-home.  No mobile phones rang; no text messages came through; no calendar reminders.

After several weeks, I was really missing my friends.  Walking around busy shopping malls and our own unfamiliar neighborhood underscored the fact that I didn’t know anyone.

Then, I was invited to lunch.

I almost turned down the date because it meant driving across the city (I wasn’t confident driving on the opposite side of the road yet) to a place I had never been where you reverse park on the street if you can even find a spot. It was raining too.

I decided to get uncomfortable and take the risk!  After all, it was the first time someone asked me to lunch.  As it happened, that one lunch landed me a casual job at the Coffee Club.  And, I landed my new friend Adrienne!

Not only has ‘Ade’ roped me into her running (albeit at 5:30am), but she has invited me to her daughters dance competition, lunch, and a charity event.  She checked on me after my first day at work and has become my “go-to” girl for restaurant information, kids activities, and shopping.

I’m not used to being the “new girl with an accent.” Being lost driving to the grocery store or listening to other people’s conversations all day can be a bit lonely.  Each day, however, I try to put myself in a position for God to connect me with more people.  The alternative, although much more comfortable, is to stay home and remain lonely.

This job at the Coffee Club is totally uncomfortable.  I hardly know what the menu items are and it’s food service for pete’s sake!  It would be much easier to skip it.  This is the door God has opened for me, however.  Potential divine appointments with those who will connect with our vision for Lift Church await me each time I go.

One by one, we are making friends.

I can’t help but think of the story of Ruth in the Bible.  She left everything she knew as a young widow to follow her mother-in-law to a foreign land with no surety of her future, no guarantee of friendship.  As the new girl with an accent, she put herself out there to gather grain behind the harvesters in a field. The Bible says, And as it happened,” she found herself working in a field that belonged to Boaz, the relative of her father-in-law.

Ruth went on to marry this wealthy and influential land owner, which gave her a son and carrier of her legacy.  What if she had turned down the opportunity to move to that foreign land?  What if she had never shown up for work?  How would God have connected her to her destiny?

God doesn’t move parked cars.

We all want miraculous connections in our lives.

As it happens, God is ready and willing to work on our behalf.

Since we moved here, God divinely placed us in the right neighborhood with the perfect house, after weeks of driving, applying, and networking.  We have made friends with a local pastor who wants to take us under his wing after visiting his church a few times and reaching out to him.  I met an American at work who gave me her number and invited me to lunch.  I have my running group.  I have Ade!  Our wonderful neighbors are taking care of us as we are still waiting on our furniture from America.

I’m not an expert on making friends and in no way am I saying it is easy.  But I DO KNOW from experience that God will go the extra mile for us once we get going around the track.  He is GOOD!  He is GRACIOUS.  He is GOING BEFORE us and GRANTING us favor.  Each day is a bridge connecting us to our next steps to plant an amazing church here.

divine appointments, Faith, Inspiration, Newcastle, Timing, Uncategorized

We Got a House!

My learning curve on rental house hunting in the Newcastle area was fast and furious.  Although I envisioned hiring an agent to find a home, the market works differently with rentals in such high demand.  We were on our own locating properties online.  Every week, we narrowed down a list of houses and inspection times, weighing out the two hour drive from where we are living with Greg’s family against our interest on each property. Our 15 minute inspection coincided with every other Tom, Dick and Harry who also had interest in the property.  With as many as 20 other families inspecting a property, the process was intimidating.  After all, we were peeking in closets and whispering to each other about where our furniture would go right next to the “competition” and his wife.  Afterwards, we applied and hoped the the owner picked us.

My extensive applications including letters of reference, photos of our TX home, bank statements, and offers to pay the bond (deposit) plus three month’s rent up front were an effort to stand out from the crowd.  After the first denial, I was starting to stress.  I knew God had the perfect house for us; deep down, I honestly was worried about how we would find it. My cover letter needed to be just right, with the perfect “one-liner” to get the owner’s attention.  I think this striving went on even in my sleep.  My fretting over finding a home that would fit our furniture, was constant.

Every day that went by in Forster, I felt a little more concerned.  I didn’t expect house hunting to be so difficult.  Week before last, we had two properties to see with inspections on Wednesday and Friday. I really wanted the Friday house because of its proximity to the lake and primary school for Brett.  We drove down two hours each way twice and applied for both homes.

The following Monday morning brought much disappointment as the owners decided to sell the house near the lake instead of lease it. A wasted trip and wasted hours of application preparation.  But by afternoon, our situation had changed.  We had been approved for the home we viewed on Wednesday in Charlestown!  Our four week wait was over; we decided to take possession of the house and sign the lease on Friday.

God had other plans for us, however.

Our SUV was packed to the hilt on in preparation for the trip down.  Our plan was to enroll Brett in school, sign the lease, and shop for appliances.  An hour before leaving, Greg got a phone call from a golf mate about a guy he knows who has a four bedroom home in Belmont North. Greg called to inquire about the house even though I was in the background saying, “NO! We are signing our lease at one o’clock today.  We have a house now and are not interested.”

Needless to say, the man who owns the home is a Christian and felt like our connection was, in his words, “a God thing.”  He had put the house up for sale five days prior, but for some reason agreed to rent it to us for a year at $200 less per month than the Charlestown home. Belmont is a much more desirable location for us and this 2 year old house sits on a flat private street with a shared pool and BBQ right in our front yard.  Perfect for meeting our neighbors and beginning our life in Oz!

I am so thankful Greg answered the phone that morning.  It reminded me:

God is in control of everything.  Proverbs 16:9 says “In his heart, man plans his course, but God orders his footsteps.”  We felt like the property management companies were controlling our steps.  I even fooled myself into thinking I was making my path by creating outstanding applications and having cash in hand.  Our heavenly father knew exactly what he had in store.  We were not forgotten in a pile of paperwork on a stranger’s desk.

God is never early and never late.  He is always on time.  In this case, the phone call came literally one hour before we were leaving to sign for the other home.  I think of Lazarus (John 11) dying because Jesus was “too late” to heal him. In actuality, Jesus raised him from the dead in his own timing. God cut through a majorly time consuming process and gave us a house with one short phone call.

God wants us to be flexible.  I hate changing course midstream.  In this case, I had been shopping for rugs and bar stools for the Charlestown home.  Our suitcases were packed and the car was loaded with cleaning supplies and other necessities.  The last thing I wanted was an interruption of MY PLANS!  Even if it seems like a detour to us, God wants us to trust him at every turn.

God opens doors we don’t even know are there.  Greg was just playing a round of golf last weekend.  He met Tom who knows Matt who rented us his home two hours away.  Greg must have made an impression that allowed Tom to put in a good word for us.  Greg is excited he has evidence to prove playing golf is ministry!  I have evidence that God, my advocate, is endlessly working on my behalf.

God wants to give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4). Most of our home searches over the month were near the Belmont suburb for its proximity to hiking and biking trails, the beach and lake.  I wanted a flat street (Newcastle is VERY hilly).  Brett has been praying for a pool since before we left Texas.  We were willing to let go of all of that and take the Charlestown home, but in the end, God gave us what we wanted.

God wants to be glorified by our lives.  I love testifying to the Lord’s goodness in my life.  Being open to this last minute opportunity allowed room for this “God story!”  In the end, we didn’t even need an application.  We didn’t need three month’s rent up front.  We didn’t even give our driver’s license or proof of income.  All we needed was a willingness to go out of our way to let God show us His.