In the Whirlwind, He still wants everything.

Last year was a whirlwind, start to finish. Each month seemed to bring it’s own fresh version of crazy, & December was no different. In fact, by the 1st of December I was suddenly facing two weeks to find new housing & either a new job or another cross-country move.  I’ll spare you the details & just say that in the beginning I threw up my hands in the air making a declaration in my heart to let the Lord lead my steps. And He did. He’s faithful like that.

The not so slow but dramatic demise of my beloved 97 Geo Metro, increased monthly bills & seriously needing of dental work forced my sudden need to stop working for Bound4Life International, a ministry that I have been honored to serve since my move to Virginia in January of 2010.  This decision was forced by unexpected changes & came with a flurry of job applications, long late-night conversations with my brother Jeremy about direction, & deep painful conversations with the Lord. Ultimately, it was good. Ultimately, it forged clarity in my soul. Ultimately, I am thankful. Oh but it was a rough, bumpy and painful transition.

One of those rough bumpy painful days found me sitting with a Pastor from Florida who had recently moved with his family to DC to help fuel JHOP-DC & serve with B4L.  His father has been battling against cancer  & he told me that his sister had made a large sacrifice to help lift the burden of the medical bills.

After this great act of love she was left with a small sum that she intended to put into savings. However, during a morning devotional time she heard the Lord say simply “Give it to me”. She responded with surprise, since she had freely given so much & replied “But……Lord, that is mine” to which He simply responded, “I know, & I want it.”

He told me, “Christina it doesn’t make sense, but sometimes God asks us for that tiny little bit that we’re holding onto for ourselves, just to see if we’re willing to give it to Him”. Oh how I cried when I heard those words. He’s right, it doesn’t make sense……. but do we trust Him? Do we love Him enough to give Him that last little bit that we’re reserving? That thing we think we HAVE to hold onto in order to make it?

And I felt that pull all through December, the Lord asking for my control, my self-preservation & the question lingered “Do you trust Me?” Even in the whirlwind, He still wants everything.

In a swirl out of my control, completely apart from anything I could have possibly tried to manage to pull together, He provided for me. Housing & a job. I would be moving into the home of an elderly Southern Lady in order to drive her to doctor’s appointments & serve part-time as her companion. Housing, & a job that enabled me to stay in the House of Prayer. This literally landed the day before I flew out of Virginia to spend 3 weeks with my family.

It was a glorious, restorative, joyful, healing three weeks. And getting on the plane to head back to the East coast was hard. It always is. Standing in line & swallowing the lump in my throat, refusing to look behind me at my mother watching until she can no longer see me with tears streaming down her face, tightly clinging to my little dog as if that will keep me there. It literally never gets easier. But I knew, I KNEW that He was worth it, that He had a plan & that I was walking in it.

I flew back to Virginia on January 8th. Exactly one year to the very date that I flew to Virginia in my original move. Tell me that’s not God! Only He would do that, just to catch my attention because He likes to talk to me in dates. I flew back to Virginia on January 8th, & as my plane hit the ground, the Southern Lady was being loaded up into an ambulance. I moved into her home on the very day that everything changed in her life, the day she began a rapid decline in health.

Two weeks in it was apparent to the family & myself that she was not going to pull up, & today, less than a month after my move-in, she began receiving Hospice services in her home.

I knew that the Lord was sending me back to Virginia to learn about Intercession. I thought that it had to do with America & the Presidential race, and somewhere along the line it probably does. I’m learning it’s much deeper than that though. Moses, Daniel, Jeremiah, John the Baptists, even Jesus. They made intercession on others behalf. They were in understanding, a level of compassion that moved them to feel the way that other’s felt in order for them to stand alongside & speak on behalf of. And I’ve realized, I’ve a thing or two learn of compassion.

It’s been almost a year since my dear grandfather Carroll stepped into wholeness & glory & the nearness of our Lord Jesus Christ. I wasn’t a part of his last days since I’d just moved to VA but here I am one year later, daily, intimately walking out this woman’s last days. I’m not a nurse or doctor, & even if I were there would be nothing to fix the problems. But I do other things. Rub her shoulders, wash her feet, clip her toenails, rearrange cushions, read the Psalms, sing Hymns. And sometimes I’m tired, & sometimes I’m frustrated, & sometimes I just don’t want to rub lotion on her itchy skin. But I’m learning to bend the knee, learning to cry out for grace & find it pouring on the inside of me. Learning to hold her hand & sometimes, like today, just cry with her because I can’t help her breathe, & I can’t make the itching stop, & I can’t make her kidney’s work. In the back of my mind all throughout the long days I am thinking of how I will stand before my Saviour & He will ask “Did you learn to love?” and my heart cries “Teach me!”

I’m learning that it’s easy to have compassion for the orphan baby. But what does the Lord feel for the elderly woman who kept me up late with her needs & woke me up early with her needs. Does my Lord bend the knee, receive the grace to do so, & gladly serve her? Can I enter into that kind of intercession? There are nights I step into my room & hit the floor in prayer, crying out for the sake of peace in her heart, opening the Psalms & with tears speaking loudly words of truth & life & comfort into the atmosphere of the home.

It carries over to my service in the House of Prayer. My tired tender heart is moved to feel, moved to enter in, moved to pray, moved to worship because there’s no other relief for the turmoil on the inside. Not when I’ve been convinced every step of the way that it was His will for me to walk through it with Him.

Psalm 84:11: “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord give grace and glory: no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.

We’ve been talking a lot of Grace & Glory, & I tell her that wherever we have to lean in & reach out hard to receive His grace He will make that very spot a place to reveal His glory. If we cry out for Grace, we’ll receive it & He will glorify it. We ask God to give her peace, & I’m learning to live out of un-moveable heart peace. We ask God to give her a vision of eternity so that she will have the grace to let go when the time comes, & I’m learning to reach for it in my own heart. We thank the Lord when the night is over, thanking Him for the mercies to live out the new day. And as I pray with her my heart receives, probably more than I will ever know on this side.

And in the whirlwind, He still wants everything. Each whirlwind, He’ll never stop asking if we trust Him but that’s not an angry question. It’s gentle, said with a smile. It’s promising. And it’s safe, because He gave & He gives, everything.

My story will never stop being just stupid crazy. And that’s part of how I know I can trust, because He’s never stopped being FAITHFUL in every step of every crazy whirlwind. And every-time I think He’s asked me to do something I’m fully not capable of doing, He places the ability inside of me through His spirit. The more I lean, cry out for help, the more I find the help inside. The more His word becomes meat & bread & water & wine.

I listen to “Measure of a Man” on repeat. And Johnny Cash’s album “My mother’s Hymnbook”. I listen to Leonard Ravenhill speak with zeal & tears of the worth of Christ. I rise early to jog & pray. And I’m eating a lot of chocolate these days 🙂 I’ve filled up her room with primroses & when all attempts to relieve & comfort & bring joy fail, I just sing until peace comes to her. It reminds me of mid-morning nap time at the Bohlender’s. Singing a nursery of little girls to sleep & the crazy thing is that Amazing Grace never fails to bring the presence of God, to those little girls, to this dying woman, to my own weary soul.

Bob Falkner text me the other morning saying “You were made for hard things. You can do this.” And I’ll say to you friends, God made you to do hard things, & He will enable you to do them. Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. One bright morning when this life is over, I’ll fly away. And tis so sweet to Trust in Jesus.

 

Christmas Eve – 2009

So technically it’s Christmas day, but in my world it’s not tomorrow until I wake up 🙂

Currently I am sitting at the counter in Shawn & Angel Anton’s kitchen eating stale popcorn and drinking a coke with a creepy image of a bearded man on the can. I’m sure that I’ve eaten something else at some point today, I just can’t remember right now what it was. I am listening to the set that I sang earlier today, happy to have been able to sing this week, and laughing at the Media team.  Most of the crazy kids in the department love me, and love the chance to get me on camera. Today they celebrated this by an abundance of close up face shots. Thanks guys.

Outside it’s snowing, blizzard like actually, and we may get the most snow that I’ve seen in KC.

This year has not turned out in anyway that I had planned. In fact, most of my plans fell through in the last 12 months, but somehow I’m not discouraged. There have been quite a few disappointments, many situations I wished that I would not have found myself in, months lived day in and day out in pain, both physical and emotional, and somewhere in the middle of all of it I found myself living in the arms of my Father. Learning to breathe again, learning to laugh heartily, finding joy in the struggle and freedom in tears before the Lord of all creation.

And already my beginning plans for 2010 have fallen through, and it’s ok. After the Onething conference I have no job, and no paycheck, and it’s ok. In January my brother, the man who I have leaned on more than any other in my life will be moving with his bride to Virginia, and it’s ok. 2010 will probably see another wedding in the Styles family, and I’ll have to release my sister from being my closest companion.

Today we sang through Psalm 45, which is my twin favorite Psalm to 84. It reminds me that we are living for another age, another kingdom, a totally different King. Oh Lord, let us truly celebrate You on this day. All of Your ways in our lives are perfect Jesus, and we trust You.

“Life is a moment fading fast, but it will be remembered like a dream in the night. We will remember Love”

strong currents

are rustling the branches that are stripped almost bare on this, the first of December 2007. The Lord told me that this was a year of fullness for me, it seems like only weeks ago, but back in January. And what  a full year it has been.

I’ve been re-stirred as of late, to give myself in a more focused way to ; Colossians 3. 1-3

Therefore, you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right had of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

There are times when something says to calm down, pull back, ‘you’re going a little too far, you’re being a little extreme, your heart is good, but chill out a little bit’. And there are times when something inside of me whispers, ‘there must be more than this….’ I read the stories of those who were found faithful or those who You called Your friends. John the Baptist, Moses, Phineas, Mary of Bethany, not to mention the revivalist, David Brainerd, Jonathan Edwards, so many who touched something that I’ve barely dreamed of, and I long. What does it take to be found faithful, what can I give? A friend gently reminded me the other day that ‘our righteousness is as filthy rags’ we could actually get all of the outward things in order, but still be just as far from Your heart as when we started, no it’s our hearts you are after.

In a dream a week ago, a man with burning eyes looked at me and gently said, “I’ll tell you what you are still missing, what you are still lacking. You still don’t have the fire, you still aren’t burning yet.” When I told the dream to one of my leaders, he looked at me  with tears pooling in his eyes and related to me his desire to go back to the first things. “I’m forgetting what it was that brought me here, I remember when I used to pray, ‘God use me, speak to me, I will listen, I will be faithful, I will obey, wake me up in the night God, I will sit with You and listen to Your heart’ and I’ve been so busy lately with so many good things and so many responsibilities, but I’m thinking, ‘God demote me if You need to, I don’t care, I just have to get back in the Prayer Room, back to remembering why I love you’ I can’t let my heart become dull.”

As usual, I have Misty playing on the back of my computer…

How far will you go to know Me?Loneliness can not be avoided, but I will meet you there.

Earlier she was singing of the parable of the 10 virgins

for when it all come down to getting oil, it all comes down to how I spend my time. So give me grace (that empowering strength) to take the scroll and eat it, cause it’s a matter of life or death. Oh I want to be a friend of the Bridegroom, I want to be a friend of the Judge

I’ve been listening to Allen Hood’s series called The Play-fullness of God, it’s been SUCH a good thing, being moved by the kindness in the heart of our Father, the delight that He has in His children, and to Shelley Hundley’s series The Turn Word, being reminded of why intercession is imperative, why we can not hold back in this hour of history.  Oh Father let us be found faithful, Jesus pour out Your heart to us (Proverbs 1.23) We will turn, we will listen.