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TESTIMONY OF A LIFE-CHANGING WORD

June 7th, 2016

It has been said that a word from the Lord can change a life, and I am here to testify to the truth of that statement. Recently, a word He spoke to me unwound a spiritual snake that had been wrapped around me for years.  Since that day, I continually find myself looking back at that event, amazed at the transformation that took place in my mind.  In this piece, I will do my best to share the story with you.

More than twenty years ago I was struck with an illness called Bells Palsy, caused by a virus that attacks the seventh cranial nerve connected to the facial muscles. This virus causes the nerve to swell, so it gets pinched as it travels though the small hole in in the skull.  That damage causes the nerve to shut down, leaving the facial muscles on one side of the face without any working instructions. This is what caused one side of my face to completely droop.  I was ashamed of my appearance, believing I looked like a circus freak.  Previously I had been socially and professionally active, but I immediately pulled inward, partly because of the pain I was experiencing and mostly because of how my face looked.  I even felt sympathy for the people who had to look at me.

The damage was so severe that the nerve itself died. Over time, new nerves took its place, but they did not attach correctly to the facial muscles, causing that side of my face to be pulled in wrong directions.  To this day I continue to deal with the constant tightening of those muscles, especially those attached to my eye and mouth.  I have learned to manage the discomfort and I am mostly at peace, but it is still a continual effort to speak and focus.

Sadly, I never found lasting victory in letting go of how my face looked, and in particular, how I lost my smile. My face has definitely improved – mostly as a result of many people praying over me – but the pulling and distortion still remains.  My friends and family tell me they don’t even notice it, but I notice it every day.  I continually ‘turn it over’ to the Lord and I am okay for a while.  But when I see myself in a mirror, especially if I am talking, I melt down all over again.  Over the years, I have done everything I know to do, spending thousands of dollars in therapy and thousands of hours in prayer, shedding thousands of tears.  When I seek the Lord about the issue, He always tells me all is well.   But I can assure you, all was not well in my soul.  I have refused to let myself stay in that heart-wrenching place for too long, but I never found lasting emotional healing.

Recently, I went around that mountain for the very last time. While I was talking with a friend, I glanced over her shoulder and saw myself in a wall mirror.  Once again, that image pierced my heart, and I choked back the tears.  Because of all the activity going on at that time, I buried the pain and did not deal with it, and for the following days I allowed it to eat at my soul.

The Word says that God collects our tears in a bottle. When I look at the bigger picture of life, I fully acknowledge that this problem is a minor one, but I am so grateful that God still has compassion for even the little things.  And for me, though a small thing, this had certainly stolen much of my joy over the years.  Little did I know the Lord was about to step into the picture.

As we drove home one night after a wonderful Passover Seder at church, tears began to stream down my face as I sat quietly in the dark. I recalled a time during the service when a number of people answered an altar call for healing; now I kicked myself for not also going forward.  I wondered if I would ever experience the joy of seeing the Lord heal my face, or if I would ever be at peace about the matter.

Ordinarily, when the Lord speaks to me, it is like a download. In an instant my mind receives an entire message.  Not so this night.  As I sat in the darkness, absent of thought and feeling quite numb, my spirit heard specific words from the Lord, words that remain burned into my soul.  He said to me, “What, do you really want to be just another pretty face?”   I tell you, I was completely stunned by those words!  And I must admit, I was thinking about telling him, “Actually, that would be lovely!”   Before I could respond to His question, the Lord spoke again.  This time He asked, “Why would you care about your outsides when your insides are so beautiful?”  That question left me speechless.  I had no answer at all, so I just sat quietly to let it all soak in.

A few minutes later, the Lord gave me a download that led me to a complete change of heart and mind, a solution that cut off the head of the snake that had ensnared me for so many years. We were planning to attend an immersion service the next day, and the Holy Spirit offered to help me remove that snake and drown it.  As I dunked in the water, I asked the Lord to completely renew my mind and remove all the lies, replacing them with truth.  I asked Him to let me see myself exactly how He sees me, and teach me to walk in that truth.  I committed to take every thought captive and never again see myself as ugly, no matter what it would take.  As it turns out, that has not been a problem, not even once.  Holy Spirit completely renewed my mind, allowing me to see myself in an entirely different light – just the way He sees me.  Nothing changed but everything is different.

Praise the Lord!! My heart is so grateful that I will never need to go around that mountain again.  I cannot gather up sufficient words of praise and thanksgiving to pour at His feet for the joy I received from such a life-changing renewal of my mind.  I pray you will ask the Lord for a word in due season that just might change your life.  All snakes beware, when the mind catches up with the Truth of the Cross, your days of tormenting are over.

DIVINE APPOINTMENTS

June 24th, 2013

Yesterday afternoon, as I was roaming around the house and attending to some chores, all of a sudden I felt a strong urge to take a shower. That seemed a bit strange, being the middle of the day and I was not planning on going anywhere. But, the idea of a shower was quite appealing, so I shrugged my shoulders and turned on the water. It felt like a wonderful respite after a whirlwind week.

My husband had just returned home from the hospital, after having a major back surgery.  He has had a tender back for a number of years, and some minor discomfort has occasionally plagued him.  However, this episode was much different from the others, as he was experiencing intense pain that would not subside.  After about six weeks of prayer and biofreeze and massage and chiropractic and pain relievers (that didn’t relieve), he finally called his doctor.  The favor he received from this point on nearly made us dizzy.  His doctor was able to see him the very next day, which was a Thursday afternoon.  The doctor then scheduled an MRI for the following day, and was actually able to set an appointment for him to see a neurosurgeon on Monday morning.  The MRI revealed a bulging disk and an unidentifiable mass that was pressing against that disk, and the doctor recommended we remove it immediately.  Now, that was a really hard call because we had a totally different plan.  We were scheduled to leave town that week and would be gone for two months, so our plan was to opt for physical therapy and revisit the issue when we returned home.  However, the neurosurgeon did not like that plan at all!  After seeking the Lord about timing, we agreed to have the surgery right away.  And right away it was – two days later my husband was in surgery.  (Now, how often does that happen?  The favor of the Lord is incredible!)  So, exactly one week after his phone call to his doctor, my husband was already home and recovering.  Had God not allowed the pain to become unbearable, my husband would still be walking around with that mass in his spine, and who knows what damage it eventually would have caused.  No doubt each divine appointment was orchestrated by Jesus, the Healer, who knew the entire story from the beginning.

As if this was not enough to keep life interesting, we began to experience what felt like trouble piling on.  The same day we received the doctor’s diagnosis, my daughter called to tell us her husband was experiencing intense stomach pain and she was taking him to the hospital.  Then we called my son, who said he was also experiencing stomach pain.  So, the day my husband was having surgery, my son-in-law was also in the hospital preparing for surgery, and my son was in the hospital passing a kidney stone.  The remaining men in the family were getting quite nervous!

My son-in-law was having the most difficult time; a cancerous tumor was found in his colon.  He had not experienced any symptoms that would have alerted him that there was a problem, except for that one Monday night when he suddenly doubled over with pain.  Had God not allowed such intense pain, who knows how long the tumor would have gone undetected.  No doubt that divine appointment was orchestrated by Jesus, the Healer, who knew the entire story from the beginning.

As the warm shower water poured over me, I began to praise the Lord, and thank Him for the wonderful work He had just accomplished in our lives.  I felt His presence so strong all around me, and I wondered if it was the draw of His presence that brought me to the shower.  As I rinsed the shampoo out of my hair, suddenly in my spirit, I heard a word that said, “Scott has a cell phone.”  (Scott is my son-in-law.)  I thought to myself, “Oh, perhaps I should be calling him instead of calling my daughter for updates.”  I decided to check that out. Then I heard, “You know he has a cell phone.”  I was indeed puzzled until the Lord took me back in time.

Two weeks ago I was watching the Todd Bentley healing revival taking place in South Africa and was being televised on God TV.  Todd said he was going to conduct a “cell phone healing service,” and he told everyone to get their cell phones ready.  After he prayed over everyone (including those of us watching), he said we should call someone and pray over them for healing.  My mind went to the names of several people I could call, so I asked the Lord who He wanted me to call.  He told me to call Scott.  Now that puzzled me.  I knew that Scott deals with diabetes and hypertension, but I was not expecting to hear his name.  However, I have learned that it is best to listen and obey, especially when I ask a specific question and get an answer, so I called Scott.  I got his voicemail, and I left him a prayer message.

Remembering that event, my knees began to go weak.  I was so in awe of the goodness of God, and suddenly I was very much aware of the miracle He had done through a series of events.  My daughter had joked that God must have kicked her husband in the gut to get him to go to the hospital, but He quite obviously had a much better way to accomplish this divine appointment.  When Scott listened to his voicemail message, it moved him to tears.  When he played it back to his wife, they both came into agreement with that healing prayer, and that agreement made way in the Spirit realm to accomplish God’s plan.

Can you see how God laid out His perfect plan, a divine appointment for Scott’s healing?  He had placed a healing mantle on Todd Bentley a long time ago, and even when he fell a couple of years ago, God picked him up and restored him.  Todd answered the call to go to South Africa to preach, and God has been bringing revival to that nation.  I had personally experienced Todd’s rise and fall and restoration, I did not hold that fall against him, and I stood in faith when he told people to call someone for healing prayer.  In faith and obedience, I called Scott and spoke healing over him, not ever knowing he had a deadly tumor growing inside his body.  Scott received the message and along with his wife, they stood on their faith and came into agreement with that healing word.  And that released the power for God’s divine appointment on his life.  Who knows, it might have been a life-and-death chain of events.  No doubt, it was a powerful message spoken into my life – and yours too, as you read and glorify the God of Divine Appointments.

And my son?  He got some good drugs, and he did pass that kidney stone.  He quipped to his sister that he was going through the worst physical pain he had ever experienced, but could only come in third for sympathy from the family.

A LIFE-CHANGING TRIP

July 15th, 2012

  

Every time God shows up in the middle of an event and turns my world upside down, it becomes a life-changing experience.  When He showed up during our most recent vacation and removed the last thorn in our marriage, it became a life-changing trip!  During our annual winter retreat, God orchestrated events that brought me to a place of readiness to receive the healing miracle He had been saving for such a time as this.  In an instant revelation, the veil over my spiritual eyes was lifted, and for the first time, I could grasp the solution to a problem that had plagued our marriage from the beginning.  I could see how the enemy had been at work, trying to dismantle our relationship and destroy our marriage.  Several days later God revealed the final piece to the puzzle, and one snarly problem simply crumbled and fell away.  And then, when I thought it could not get any better, He delivered a wonderful peace I had been searching after for years, a need I could not even describe.  I pray I can adequately describe this life-changing event to you.

Having experienced unsuccessful and unhealthy previous marriages, my husband and I were committed from the beginning to build as healthy a marriage as we possibly could.  Here we were with a clean slate and much experience in what not to do.  We lived a pretty good life and learned to quickly work through the issues that presented themselves, except for one glaring problem:  my new husband was not willing to share his feelings if they were in any way negative.  He would paste on his best smile and tell me everything was fine, but having been born with discernment, that move would only frustrate me.  So, when I would feel that wall coming up, I would press the issue while he would shut down.  I felt like I was being punished and he felt like he was being harassed.  That would begin a new round of my trying every which way to get him to open up.  I applied pressure, I gave him the silent treatment, I forced him into counseling, I reassured him he was safe to express himself, I cried, I reasoned.  Nothing worked.  He would feel bad and tell me he would do better in the future.  Sometimes it would take days to get to the bottom of what was eating at him; sometimes we just called a truce.  Often I thought he simply threw me a bone just to get me to back away.  You get the picture.

We would kiss and make up, promising to handle it better next time.  I would shelve the matter and life was good again – for a while.  This would happen maybe twice a year, and I was grateful for the wonderful life we had the rest of the time.  After all, everybody has something to deal with, and I knew it could be a whole lot worse. 

About seven years into our marriage, the same old drama began again and I knew something had to change.  This time I decided I was going to make so much noise that my husband would be forced to bring down the wall.  It got pretty tense at our house, and for a while I really wondered if he would run.  Praise God, after about a week my husband informed me that he was not going anywhere, and he would do whatever it took to get to the bottom of the problem.  What a courageous move on his part!  And right there we began to press in together for a solution.  What we discovered was that he did not understand the difference between anger and rage.  He would shut down because he could not risk the possibility of rage overtaking him.  The ‘old’ man had struggled with alcohol, and when he was drinking, he could not predict when anger would become rage.  We celebrated over his discovery, and he vowed he would be willing to talk about anything.  I cannot describe what a sweet victory that was, and going forward, he forced himself to discuss the things that made him angry.  We moved into a deeper intimacy, and we were thrilled to have defeated that pesky demon.  It was to be our last fight.

However, after a while I began to wonder if there was a little more to the story.  Although I was thrilled that we had truly overcome a troublesome challenge, I was finding that I desired even more dialog from my husband.  Was this simply a different twist to the same old problem?  It did not come up very often, but nonetheless, I was troubled because I feared we had not gotten to the root of the issue.  I am quite talkative, and I am prone to process out loud.  I found myself wanting him to volunteer the deep things going on in his head.  I longed to share deep conversations with my husband; I longed for him to tell me new things.  It seemed to me like I always initiated dialog and then I did all the talking.  When he encountered big issues, it seemed to me that he would work through them by himself and then just give me a quick report.  I felt so cheated.  Don’t get me wrong; we were not silent.  We always talked together a lot, but I often accused him of ‘reporting’ rather than ‘sharing.’  I only wanted to know him better, so I thought.  I must admit that the whole concept was a bit cloudy in my own head, so when I tried to explain to him what I was still wanting, I just left him scratching his head; he thought he had been doing a really good job.  I would end up feeling like I was missing something.  And he would end up feeling like a failure. 

Then came that life-changing trip.  A few weeks prior to leaving town, my optometrist told me I had blood leaking in the back of my eye, which was the beginning symptom of blindness due to my high blood sugar.  I decided to put myself on a two month eating regimen of almost no carbohydrates in an attempt to lower my blood glucose levels on my own.  That led to high stress in my life and extreme mood swings.  Then on the eve of our departure, my husband contracted a urinary tract infection.  Needless to say, we were both experiencing tension during our two day drive to Florida.  My husband was focused on finding the nearest rest stop, and I was focused on finding something to eat that did not contain carbs.  We still had a wonderful time in Florida, but we were both pretty worn out from working through the distractions.  My tension grew during our cruise as we continually searched for healthy foods that might also be tasty and perhaps even a little exciting.  We actually met with the head pastry chef to find a low-carb alternative to the sugar-free jello I was requesting every evening.  I was determined to not slump into self-pity; however, I must admit some of the joy had diminished from what had always been a delightful event.

Then one day everything fell apart.  While visiting an island in the Caribbean, we decided to have lunch there rather than trek all the way back to the ship.  Every food stand offered sugared and carb-filled and coated delicacies, but I could find nothing that met my eating guidelines.  Disheartened and discouraged, we headed back to the ship for one more salad.  I was overheated and starved and frustrated.  I had been in this battle for two months, and in that moment I felt myself spiraling down to defeat.  I experienced what felt like a total melt-down, and I cried most of the way back to the ship. 

Back in our stateroom, my husband encouraged me to talk.  Words of pain and discouragement began to pour out of me, when suddenly that old familiar thought reared its ugly head.  I completely shut down and refused to share anymore of the pain that was churning inside of me.  All I could think about was how vulnerable I felt and how lopsided our relationship was because my husband would not be willing to be this vulnerable with me.  I spewed out those words and my husband was devastated; he felt helpless and totally defeated.  We sat in silence for a time.

That is when the light bulb came on.  Actually, it was the Holy Spirit revealing truth to me.  (How wonderful He is, and how quickly He can move a heart!)  I was desperate and exhausted, with no answers of my own; and in my place of weakness, He brought revelation.  Instantly, it appeared as though a cloud had been lifted and I could see an entirely new picture.  The Lord began to give me a brand new understanding about what I had allowed the enemy to imbed in my soul.  The problem wasn’t my husband at all; my wrong thinking was the culprit.  My mind was still operating from old information that was no longer true, and every time I spoke or thought those words, the more credible the lie became for me.  From the day he vowed to be transparent with me, my husband had truly been opening up his soul and sharing his heart.  Suddenly I could understand why it had been so difficult to explain to him what I was missing – I had no evidence, only thoughts and emotions based on lies of the enemy.

Perhaps there was some truth to my accusations when I first spoke them out.  It probably took my husband some time to change a very old habit.  Now I could see that I had carried those beliefs into every similar situation that followed, reinforcing the false beliefs every time I saw them as truth.  I have no idea how or when the devil planted those lies in my head, but I knew for certain the minute they were exposed!  My heart was immediately filled with both joy and sadness as I renounced that false belief and declared truth in its place.  I cried as I looked back on all the years I had been listening to this lying voice, and I marveled at how easily I had been deceived.  I humbly repented, and I apologized to my husband.  Words cannot describe how relieved he was to finally be let off the hook.  For so long he had done his utmost to give me all I desired, but he always walked away feeling like a failure because I was still unfulfilled.  Suddenly he was exonerated, and a huge weight fell off him.  Suddenly I was enlightened as I saw my husband from an entirely new perspective.

The next piece of the puzzle fell into place two weeks later as I told this story to my daughter.  She shared in my joy, but commented that she did not know him as well as she would like.  That troubled me a bit, so when I shared the story with my best friend, I told her what my daughter had said, and asked if she felt the same way.  When she said yes, the most amazing God-thing happened right there.  I immediately began defending my husband, telling her that he is so selfless and so humble that he does not seem to need to be known, or heard, but always appears to be more concerned about the other person – especially when I am the other person.  In an instant, I was able to see the picture even more clearly, and I celebrated all over again!  He cried when I told him what I had just discovered (actually, what God had just revealed to me).  What had been troubling us for so long had just been exposed, and revelation replaced frustration.  

Now, here is the sweetest part of the story.  Once my husband was ‘released’ to be exactly who God made him to be, and once that monkey of confusion and perceived failure was taken off his back, he began to blossom in his spiritual gifts in greater measure than I ever could have imagined.  It was only after he began to operate in the fullness of his spiritual authority and leadership in our home that I realized I was truly experiencing the desires of my heart, those things I had always desired from him but I could never describe.

I have had several opportunities since then to test the place in my heart that God mended.  Each time I would begin to experience that sinking feeling and want to shut down, suddenly something greater would rise up in me and say:  “In the Name of Jesus, I command you lying spirit to shut up and leave me alone.  By the Blood of Jesus, I am healed.  I know the truth and you have no more influence over me.  Now, get out of here!”  When God heals, so long as I hold onto the truth of His word, that healing is permanent, and I am way better off than I ever would have been without the test.  I thank You, God, for testing – and especially, for always mending everything in me that is broken.