Remember

It’s late and I am far too tired to be blogging.

Tired enough that I’ll probably sleep on my couch instead of getting up to walk into my room & go to bed. Tired enough to drink the nasty tea that’s brewing because it’s good for me & I’m not awake enough to refuse. Tired enough to be emotional about the fact that my sister is  in Spain on her honey moon & I’m sleeping on my couch & drinking gross tea…. but I digress.

Jeremiah 2 has long been one of my favorite passages in the Bible. I find such humanity, something so familiar & trustworthy about the emotion revealed in the gentle lamentation “I remember you”. My heart is suddenly strengthened to hold on to the dreams & promises that I’ve long kept, the things that break me in secret knowing that He too remembers them.

“The love of your betrothal, when you went after Me in the wilderness” He remembers the days of young, zealous devotion. Dramatic prayers whispered in corners from hearts longing for something to offer. He holds them near, nearer than we do.

I’ve been reminded lately, of the days of the devotion of my youth & of the love of my betrothal.

Last week I sat  in the Dean & Deluca parking lot with Annie, tears streaming down both our cheeks as we whispered about the Nations. (Whispering not out of reverence but because my voice was gone.) Encouraging one another in the practicality of daily faithfulness, but confessing the pain of longing that sneak upon us late at night.

Today I spent some hours with a visiting Bound4LIFE Chapter Leader. Roughly my age, in full-time ministry, stepping into an adventure she’s been dreaming about but made nervous by the unknowns, she drilled me with probing questions about ministry, life & Godliness & I somehow continued to answer while each question served as a reminder.

Later while walking her through Capitol Hill she spoke of the need for a ‘rhema’ word rather than a ‘go’ word, so that in the times of trouble & doubt she would have a promise to cling to. And I remembered some promises, and right there on 1st street my heart was strengthened.

I’m glad for the account that Jesus keeps because I know the tendency of my weak heart to become so wrapped in the moment & quickly forget the important. And I’m glad that I can share with Him the deep things that my heart clings to so desperately knowing that He doesn’t need a reminder.

“Do you ever feel lonely?”

And I heard my voice respond.. “Yes. But I’m writing a book…”

You remember my book.

Last night in my dream a man who’s details were blurry handed me a sheet of paper with hand-stitched words on it that read “I am a Bridegroom”. And this morning I woke remembering Your love for me.

You don’t send us to fight battles that You intend to lose. And every trip that we think so off track is leading us straight into the perfect plan that You have for us. Today I’ll remember that, and today I choose to tell You that all that You do with me is good God. And I ask you to remember the dreams of tomorrow.

Forgive Forgive Forgive

While in VA last week I had this dream:

I was running an obstacle course with an old friend of mine, the course was like a maze and we talked as we ran.  Coming around a corner I found someone from the past that had significantly hurt me. As I saw this person & ran past I didn’t feel the pain from the old wound, but rather felt surprised and frustrated that the wound was there. This happened about 5-6 times, running through the maze I’d stumble upon a situation being replayed, or a person who I’ve been hurt by and each time my response was one of “I thought I’d dealt with this, why is it still there?”

Suddenly I was out of the maze and face to face with a couple whom I once had close relationship with but have suffered some betrayal from, and behind them was a boxing ring which the young man turned and climbed into.  For the first time in the dream I felt anger and a sense of injustice at the betrayal. Looking back I realize that the anger was actually wounded pride.

Turning to my right I see my dad. He had been there for awhile and was watching my reaction, and in my anger I began to try to convince him to go in the ring and fight the guy on my behalf. I REALLY wanted him to do this for me, to avenge my pain and anger but he gently shook his head. His eyebrows drew together in a gentle but slightly disapointed look and he said ‘No’ but the message that I heard was “That’s not how I do things Christina”.

Hearing a loud noise I turn back to the boxing ring where a large crowd had gathered and were cheering. In the ring I did see the guy, and someone was beating him up pretty badly but rather than justified I felt a deep saddness for the pain he was suffering.

As I began to come out of the dream I could hear the Lord so clearly, and for several minutes lay there half awake and half asleep as Holy Spirit spoke over me like waves, simply saying “Forgive forgive forgive forgive forgive forgive forgive.”

It washed over me again and again.  Katrina, my parents & I were sleeping in my brothers living room and I’d had ear plugs in to try and get the most out of the short hours. When I could finally sit up I pulled out the earplugs and opening my eyes saw my Father standing right in front of me. Reaching towards me with a smile he said “Chrissy I made you coffee.”

The dream was so clear, there are people and things in my heart that I have pushed away to stop feeling but my Father really wants for me to forgive them. He’s not going to go ‘beat up the bad guy’ for me, that’s not the way He does things. In fact HE is the one who is telling me to forgive the bad guy! While processing the dream with a friend she looked sharply at the end and said, ‘You know who was in the ring with him right? It was satan, God doesn’t beat us up but satan does” and as she said it I was overwhelmed with compassion for him.

That same day of the dream Bob Jones spoke at the conference and gave a word about forgiveness. He said that as he looked over the attendee’s he saw many war planes of all different shapes, sizes and purposes, but they were all parked on a landing strip instead of flying. All of them were ready to fly except that they were chained to the ground by cement blocks and the cement blocks was bitterness.

Needless to say it struck home. In His kindness our Father is encouraging us to reach deep into the wounds of our hearts and truly forgive, truly release to Him those who have hurt us. There was no joy in my soul as I watched this young man be pummeled in the boxing ring and I have been so intentional about praying on his behalf (and the others in the dream) over the last week, asking the Father of Glory to give them His Spirit and pour out His love over their hearts.

Oh Father, give me the strength to forgive those who have hurt me. Help me to repent for holding the wounds against them, and give me the strength to stand on their behalf.

7.30 comes too soon

Katrina was two years old when I was born and she hated me.

Sounds like a bad beginning to a sad story but it worked out alright on my end, I grew in the dirt under open skies and the watchful eyes of my brother Jeremy and the neighborhood boys. Jeremy made me everyone’s little sister, a position I carried well. Bloody knees, bruised elbows, more hair than body (and it was always a mess), I had a will to match their boyish zeal for adventure and the few years they all had on me, and no matter how much I slowed them down he always brought me along. He was my hero.

From the start we were that close and it took me years to realize how rare our friendship was. He was my teacher, my instigator, my champion and friend, my brother and father to my absent daddy. Always pushing me further, always calling me higher. Blue eyes blazing with passion he always dared me to fly, and in his eyes I did. No really, in my dreams I never fly but I always fly in his. He gave me gasoline when I longed to burn. Poured it on and kept pouring, giving all he had to fuel the flickering desire for God. Teaching me of dreams, hearing and sight. Late nights talking, drinking from each other’s souls, gleaning from the revelation growing inside, weeping and longing, seeking and finding. Jeremy taught me that there were no limits and I gave all myself to be free.

During our internship we would tag-team pray over people, and there has never been another person that I see in the Spirit so clearly with. J and I breathe emotion. He’s fire on the inside. Confident where I was afraid and sure in my insecurities. Bursting with excitement for whatever has hooked his attention, and he gives all of himself to that thing. And he’s a nerd. Full on.

Our childhood was made of storybooks, or maybe I should say that books should be written about our childhood? Long summers running in fields, trekking to the swimming pool, making a tree house out of the bare roots of an old tree and a hillside. Scheming and playing on the top-level of a metal rocket ship at the play ground. Taking animal parades and walking the dog, bunnies and pet goose ….. all at once. Selling Kool-aide on the corner. And pestering the heck out of my sister. Katrina and I would get into long fights ALL THE TIME, and Jeremy would record them on his tape recorder, narrating the situation and who did what, then filling in the gaps with advertisements of random things he would make up or musical interludes of him playing the piano. And yes he did play them for my mom. And yes I did stage some of the fights for his cassette tapes.

J would save all of his junk, and sell them to us at his ‘Only this afternoon for an hour’ sales. And we would buy it. He could convince us to do anything.

Moving to Iowa burst open his dreamers heart. We would spend our days tramping through fields, J with a bb gun to shoot squirrels and I with a kitten in my pocket. We’d lay in the long warm grass and watch the clouds, dreaming big dreams and believe it or not he is as much of a romantic, dramatic dreamer as I am.

He first came to Kansas City during one of the most difficult seasons of my life, and I was desperate for his counsel and friendship. My nightwatch friends will understand when I say that I was one of those crazy family members who for the life of me could not remember that he SLEPT until two pm! At least twice a week I would call at noon while leaving work, and when he didn’t answer, would proceed to call his apartment phone. *God bless Nick Beaver and Trey Roach for never hurting me for those early phone calls* And he always took my calls. He would call me some nights, real late (or early) and though I almost never understood what the heck he was talking about I knew that he was burning in a way that I’d never seen, and I wanted in.

Thank you Jesus for IHOP-KC. He was my champion even during his track 1 of FITN. I’d visit and he’d keep me awake in the prayer room all night, take me to his briefings for Joanna’s worship team, and talk me through all the emotional tornado’s that I had. That’s when I met CJ. He was the “other Jeremy”, from Nebraska and talked like he’d smoked for 80 years. We hit it off right away.

Sometimes I forget that CJ was not always apart of our lives, that 4 years of history is REALLY not that much time, he was just one of us from the start. Poor CJ walked me through so much healing, and so much of the overflow of my brokeness and inability to trust. Often surprised at the intensity he was never overwhelmed by my outbursts and gently guided me through my track 1, letting me weep on his couch and wash my clothes in his basement. And together we prayed J back to KC.

Doing track two together was unbelievable. J & I were hardly apart much to my roommates annoyance,  and that time forged a deeper bond between us. It’s hard to not grow closer when you’re changing so much together. We shared a car, secrets, revelation, food, laugher and tears, and I did his laundry with mine once a week in CJ’s basement. And we shared lots of laughter about the time my superman boy shorts got left in the dryer. In CJ’s basement. That jerk still call’s me superman.

We moved here together, grew closer, grew apart, grew angry and became friends again. And we prayed Katrina here. Unbelievable gifts from the Lord.

I knew I liked Jen the first time I walked into the cafeteria at 6.45 in the morning and heard her playing the piano. With the lights off. We got along well, spent some time together, had coffee and took walks. One summer morning I left the prayer room, the birds were singing and it was gently raining one of those glorious, warm summer rains. And NO ONE would walk with me in it. But I waited until 7 when she got done playing and her eyes sparked when I asked her to walk in the rain with me. We walked Terrace Lakes over and back about 4 times that morning. In the rain. I ruined my cell phone and I found a life long friend.

I lost Jeremy when he fell in love with Jen. It was the day she fell off his roof. What were they doing on the roof? Alone? Oh you know, watching the stars…. the boy who’d once told me I was NEVER allowed to stare at the stars with boys was alone on his roof, with Jen. We’d known for awhile that he liked her, but the fear of her fall did something inside of him that I can’t explain and he was a mess for days. And I was angry. My “brothers” all tried to help, everyone gently would say “it was going to happen someday” but honestly had never thought that it would. Never had it entered my mind that we would not be heart friends, and never did I think that another woman would come between us. She moved in with Kat & I a few months later. It was hard to stay angry when I liked her so much. It was the gift of God to us that she lived with us.

They were married last May. I can hardly believe it. He wept when he saw her and she held her head high and the heavens poured down on that tiny glass chapel. Nathan and Kat cried through the whole ceremony but my face hurt from smiling so big. I watched him be a man that day, and gladly received my sister.

Tonight they had dinner with us. Dad drove in from Iowa and mom had been here since Kat’s ER scare. Through hours of food, games, tim tam slams, laughter and stories I watched them. CJ was married this last year as well and I’ve hardly seen him but he came for some hours and I loved that he was here. It was fitting to have him with my family on this night.  He and Jeremy sat side by side subject hopping, Jeremy instructing him on the game, CJ talking about Christina and their dogs and working with FITN, Jeremy randomly leaning across the table to kiss Jen’s forehead.

Tomorrow morning they move to Fredericksburg. There was a time 3 years ago when Jeremy left for 2 months of Jury duty and I was terrified. So much was happening inside and outside of me and he was my stability. I had no idea how to be me without him. That time I knew he was coming back. But here we are. There is no going back, no slowing down, no pausing. We are ever-moving forward toward the one thing that drives us, filling our nights with dreams and our days with hunger, the return of Christ Jesus, and goodbye is too formal for my ears. Holy Spirit has reminded me over and over and over again throughout this week, “you’re going to live forever” and it fills my heart with hope.

How do the lost ever say goodbye? We are those who have been set free from death and the kingdom of darkness, and we are never going to die. “Life is a vapor fading fast, just one more moment it will pass but it will be remembered like a dream in the night”. Just a dream, slightly faded, trying hard to reach onto and grab hold of the details, but still just a dream, and we are going to live forever. Forever. Growing in love and friendship with Jesus, growing in love and friendship with one another. And no ‘goodbye’ is final.

Early tomorrow morning I will squeeze my sister, mix our tears and kiss her cheek, and will hug him like I’m never letting go. The way I always have. But I’m going to let go. I’ll cry when they leave, probably cry throughout the day, and cry when I go to bed. But tomorrow I will go to bed unlike the rest of this week as I have fought sleep in an effort to fight their leaving. Tomorrow I’ll also make a pot of french press, watch Cohen for an hour, do some laundry and cleaning and go to the Awakening. Life will go on and I will enjoy it because we are still moving forward and all for the same goal: We miss you Jesus, and we want you to come back.

And I’m so thankful for you Jeremy.

Roses

About a week ago I had a dream that I didn’t quite understand. My dad hired someone to remodel my house and the man had made it HUGE! I walked through with great appreciation for the craftsmanship and good work, down a big flight of stairs into a spacious basement and out the back door into the back yard. Look up at the house I marveled at how beautiful and BIG it was, and again what a good job the  man had done….until I looked down.

Looking down I saw that all of the flowers were …… GONE. (The landscaping around my house isn’t anything spectacular, but I have done all of it myself, taking extra long to accommodate the pain in my feet.) The plants had been cut down to the ground and there was nothing but rock and mulch. The anger I felt rose so hard and fast that I burst into tears and ran inside to find Katrina. Dragging her outside I showed her what the man had done. Just then I noticed him leaning outside one of the windows nailing beautiful shutters to the outside of the house and knew he was aware of us and could hear me.

Tears were flowing freely down my face as I furiously pointed to the bare ground and roared, “He has NO IDEA! No idea about all of the Time, Money, Emotion and PAIN that was in those roses!” and I said it again, “He has no idea about all of the Time, Money, Emotion and Pain that was in those roses!” The man stopped for a moment, looked at me, and went back to his work.

That was it, but I woke with a climatic feeling of dread. Yesterday I was in the prayer room during one of Misty’s set’s and was STRUCK to the core as she sang an old chorus

I’m no longer my own, I’m Your Garden.

I am no longer my own, and my garden is not mine to do with. As I listened to her sing and was suddenly reminded of that dream I couldn’t help but think that if the Garden is His than He get’s to do whatever He wants with it, and that means that He can both plant, and uproot whatever He wants. I don’t have a choice about it, and my emotions towards it do not affect Him one way or the other because it’s His garden. He get’s to do with me whatever He wants, and sometimes that may not at all be what I think that I want. It’s quite possible that I have labored and toiled, with Time, Money, Emotion and real Pain over things that He does not want there, and if that is the case, then He will take them out.

All I could think was, “It’s a good thing that I love You Jesus. It’s a good thing that I trust You.”

Songwriting

I live in a world of music.

As a young child my mom used to take all 4 of us children into the living room and handing us each a small instrument she would turn on a worship tape and say “We’re going to worship God!” With Tambourines, maraca’s and lap drums, we would sing and dance before the Lord.

She has been singing her whole life, and our childhood was filled with song. She had songs to wake us up in the morning, songs to help us memorize our address & phone number, songs about God, songs about ice cream cones and goats, and songs that drew us to Jesus. I was tormented by horrific nightmares as a child and my mother put me to bed listening to cassette tapes of Dennis Jernigan singing about the tender longing of our Father, and the faithfulness of the Good Shepherd.

And a strange thing happened: I began to wake up to song. With the exception of a few different seasons and a random day here and there, every morning I wake to a tune, melody, or song floating through my consciousness. Often it is a song that I know and typically it will set the tone of my heart for the day (well, for at least the morning) and almost always the song that I wake to will somehow tie into the prayers on my heart or the dreams that I dreamt right before waking.  It is truly strange, but I think it is the Lord of all Creation singing over me right before I hit the brink of awareness, calling for me to remember Him.

The summer after graduating high school was rather tumultuous as it is for everyone, except that when all of my friends were setting off on the roads before them…..all of my plans were falling through, and Christina the Dreamer found herself NOT walking out ANY of the things I had so painstakingly planned. Right in the middle of the most confusing time of my life, when God seemed so far and so silent, my brother Jeremy abandoned me.

Not really, but he did move to Kansas City to join some ministry that I totally didn’t understand where he stayed up all night long. About three times a week he would get a tearful phone call from me when I got off work at noon. Which happened to be about 3 hours BEFORE he woke up. But praise the Lord he always took my emotional phone calls! J spoke to me about God in a way that I had NEVER heard anyone speak about Him, but in a way that I always wanted to know Him in, and I couldn’t help but be drawn to what was going on in the life of my brother. It was the middle of his internship when he gave me a copy of the International House of Prayer’s “Prophetic History” (whatever that meant). All I knew was it was a bunch of cd’s that had the same title written on the top “Encountering Jesus”.

And that is what I wanted. So I put the first cd in and listened to it the whole way through. Then I played it again. And again. And again. And somewhere in the repeat for no reason at all I picked up my beat up guitar and began to strum while I listened.  This went on for weeks, literally.  I listened to those cd’s for WEEKS on repeat, strumming the three chords I knew (the only three chords that I STILL know) bawling as a man I’d never met gave me hope that God was real, and He had really big plans.

The first time I visited the Heartland House of Prayer, the woman leading worship grinned at me and stuck me on a microphone and that night my whole life changed. For the next year my world revolved around those prayer meetings in that empty room, singing straight to the heart of Jesus and I knew more than anything I’d ever known before that I was made to be a Songbird in the house of the Lord.

Fast forward: here I am in Kansas City doing an internship at the international house of prayer, I have auditioned to sing on a worship team, been approved and asked to sing with a worship leader named Dan Rickett’s. The first night I stepped up onto that stage I just knew: I had been TOTALLY WRONG. Something about that platform broke my confidence, my pride and everything I’d come to believe about my calling and destiny. And yes it was really that dramatic. Over the next 2 years there were many, many, many lessons that I learned while pouring out my soul on that stage.

From Dan to Sarah Edwards to Jill Marsh, I sang and cried and cried and sang. Literally. Most sets ended with me in tears with a handful of tissues: because of my barren soul, because of my pride, or because the heart of the Lord was laid bare through the song of 20 year olds in the middle of the night.

I quit singing when I began working with TheCall, and it has been over a year and a half since I have formally been on a worship team. I still wake with songs in my mind, I still sing to the Lord in my bedroom with my beat up blue guitar, but my SOUL is longing to sing again.

Where am I going with this? I live in a world of music. The Song never stops here, most of the people I know are singers or musicians and some of them are incredible songwriters. Joanna Reyburn, John Scott Young & Mason Gentry, Jill Marsh, Cassie Campbell, Austin Roberts, Ashley Prior, Tim Cone, Jonathan Mills, to name a few and that’s not including our “Big Name” worship leaders like Misty, Jon Thurlow, Luke Wood, Ryan Kondo , Cory and Matt and so many more.

I won’t pretend to align myself with such talented artists as I have listed above, but living in this environment that is so lyrically charged, it makes sense that I would write songs. Unfortunately I don’t. But I do seem to write ditties! Mini-songs, more like children’s songs if you will. Maybe it’s simply because I am untrained that I can’t seem to produce anything “complete” or maybe the Lord just speaks to me simply, but I have a stack of catchy little songs that I sing to my soul to remind me to love and to trust God.

But lately I WANT to write music. Stuart Greaves, the director of the Nightwatch once told us that if we were going to write songs to be sung to the Lord, then  “write me songs that will keep my soul alive in  prison. Not just catchy words to a good tune”. A couple of years ago a young girl from my church back home looked at me shyly and said “Ms. Chris when you record a cd can I have the first copy, and will you sign it for me?”

These two things bring me to my point: I don’t just want to be counted with all of the good singers and musicians at IHOP. I want to write music that causes the generation watching me to RUN into the heart of God and never turn back. To throw their lives into breathing Love and living like the Burning Man, Jesus. Which really means 3 things: 1)I need to actually learn how to play the guitar. 2)I need to learn the art of song writing and 3)I need to spend more time reading the Word of God, which is the only fountain that such music can spring from.

Dennis

A few weeks back I had an interesting dream

I was surrounded by darkness and demons.  A way of escape appeared and I ran hearing them speaking of leting me go, because a battle was coming that they would surely win, and then I would never be free.

I was then in a brightly lit room with 15-20 others. They seemed to be spiritual leaders, and there was much discussion of this coming battle; different ways the enemy might attack, and arguments about different plans of defense. Somehow I could feel with my soul that the enemy was gathering a very large army. I could feel them, broken into rank and file, preparing strategically for the battle.  And we were arguing strategy instead of preparing.

Anxiously I left the room, walking through a doorway into a dark room. All of the lights were turned off and in a chair corner was Dennis.

His head was bent in prayer, and I felt with my soul that he was prepared, and actively preparing for what was coming. All alone in a dark room, with the leaders and respected persons right next door in bright light, he sat with eyes closed,  communing with Holy Spirit.

Suddenly beside me was a small demonic creature with weapon in hand. I struck at it, but turning I could not see it. What followed is strange to describe, every time I tried to look, I saw NOTHING, and would be struck. But when I did NOT try to see with my eyes, I saw, and could respond. All the while Dennis sat in the corner with head bent, and heart fully connected to Jesus.

Waking I realized that when I tried to see with my eyes I was disorientated and attacked, but when I “looked” with my soul, I saw and responded.  I was being trained to see with my spiritual eyes because of a man who had himself prepared his soul in the place of communion with God. That morning I walked into the coffee shop and there was Dennis behind the counter working, but I could feel that his soul was prepared.

I have become suddenly incredibly thankful for those who have forged a path of intimacy with Jesus in dark rooms. Who have loved Him only for the love of Him. At IHOP we have language from dreams and prophetic promises about a “nameless & faceless generation” who will walk in the Spirit of God, carry Intercession as a torch and usher in a great revival, and I believe it.

But I know that I am walking on a path that has been beaten with rusty knifes and broken shovels, a road that was forged with much difficulty by so many men and women who’s names I will never know on this side of eternity. But I see Dennis, and I love him for the battles that he fought in secret to gain ground in his own life, so that I could get up and run.

Dreams Dreams Dreams

I dreamt all night long last night. Dream after Dream after Dream in a never ending stream, all full of the same thing; Invasion, War, hiding children during fighting, serving those who had been wounded. Over and over an over again. What brought on this night of visions? I have no idea. But I awoke with a raging migraine feeling as though I’d never closed my eyes with vision after bloodied vision burnt into my brain. What an interesting start to my day.