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.

 

I sang tonight

no big deal really, I sing every night. In fact, I hardly can fall asleep without spending time strumming the guitar, same pattern,  same chords.

But I sang tonight, with Jenny. Service ended & she took the stage, turning the room sacred as the atmosphere of prayer settled back in.

It was 4 years ago, maybe more when she joined the Nightwatch. Good ole Dan Rickett’s, we have you to thank for Jenny. If she’d not joined our worship team we’d never have been friends & she’d not be my sister.

Singing together does a lot for a friendship. 6 Nights a week for a year, we sang on that team.  I know how her music thinks; her vocal intonations, where she’s going to lead, how she’ll end a phrase. And for an hour we ebbed & flowed, singing round the cross, the incarnation, the humanity of Christ, the mystery of the ages, & His soon return.

God will tabernacle with man: You’re never going to leave

Empty room, 5 people. 3 passed out on the floor, two pacing. Jenny & I harmonizing, finishing sentences, echoing phrases, dancing through notes & in these moments I believe it. I believe that this is who I am.

This last month there have been days when I would go into DC alone, spend time in the prayer room alone, do the LIFE siege in front of the Court alone & settle back in the prayer room alone before heading back to Fredericksburg, alone.  Those days I turn on the lights, pull out a space heater, tune up the guitar….. & pull a chair right in front of me. I set it just on the other side of my music stand. Then I settle down & close my eyes, down up down up, & behind them I can see Him sitting in that chair in that empty room with me.

And I believe that this is who I am.

Despite uncertainty, despite position or role. Despite city & country & year my call stays the same; to sing to the heart of God. To strain my ears for a whisper of what He’s thinking about & to sing about it to Him. When that is before me than I cannot be moved.

Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.

down up

Something broke open today. It happened this afternoon, after the madness of registration for the Worship and Prayer academy I made my way to FSM. Walking towards the meal tent the usual sound of hundreds of teenagers was somewhat overpowered….. by music.

Fifty some the campers had guitars out, all across the lawn and under the tent, sprawled in different positions over chairs, on top of tables or on the ground, playing and singing with a crowd around them. At least that many were beating the nearest random object with drumsticks. It sounds chaotic when I try to describe but it was beautiful to walk thru, almost surreal, and my heart burst open.

Craziness continued, counselors with changes, campers losing their things, communicating schedule differences, fielding situations, running to cvs for MORE Dayquill for ANOTHER sick teen. Buzzing in and out of the service I tried to tune in for glimpses of worship and was provoked as every teen gathered as one at the front of the auditorium.

Landing in a seat I closed my eyes and determined not to move until I caught Him, until my eyes could settle on the unwavering gaze of my Lord. The two singers on stage were prophesying the heart of the Father and as my own heart burst open I was a little shocked at what brought tears rolling down my cheeks.

Sitting in the back, jaw clenched, eyes squeezed shut, hands wide open the thought that rolled through my mind and forced open the barricade inside was this “No matter what I find my hands doing for the rest of my life I will be happy if I can sing.”

I was made to praise Him. A lover can never cease to proclaim the goodness of their hearts desire in whatever means they can make their thoughts known.

Service ended and still I sat under the gentle weight of the presence of my Father. A hand touched my shoulder and electricity shot through my frame as my ears heard the voice of one of our counselors who hardly knows me. For ten + minutes he laughed over me, encouraging my soul with the word of the Lord, reminding my heart of things that only God knows with incredible detail as I sobbed till I couldn’t open my eyes.

Tonight I picked up my guitar and with the first strum I was right back in that heavy cloud of the presence of the Lord. It’s breathtaking, when that first ‘down up’ forces you through to the place that you never want to leave. In those moments the music of my soul overpowers the pain of the day, the words I’ve felt a loss for flood faster than I can write. These are the moments I ache to be able to record. Sometimes it feels like we wait for weeks. Tonight it was the first ‘C’.

I have a feeling about this camp. The last one convinced me of 2 things; 1) The Lord will use me in my weakness 2)There is a generation who will see the face of God. Day one of this camp and I am stirring up my soul to believe another: America will see her Prophets, apostles, priests, nazarites and revolutionaries.

There is a generation of young people who will be known as friends of Jesus. And we will see Revival.

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”

Media Dept. Fast: Day 2 – Moving Heaven

Late this evening I spoke on the phone with a friend who’s sibling had made some bad decisions and run away from home. After praying with the friend I made my way home and picking up my guitar I began to sing over this child, knowing that the heart of the Father is always to call the lost home.

In the last four years I’ve heard hundreds of tidbits about prophetic singers, and the power in our songs before God and have tried to bind them to my heart and believe them. After tonight I might never need to be convinced again.

Let me clarify: When I say that I can’t play the guitar I am not being modest. Regardless, I made intercession through song calling her home, telling her it was not too late to turn around, that her decisions are not final and she does not have to follow through with them, singing of the mercy and forgiveness that is waiting at the door of her Father’s house.

Only half an hour. And I got a txt message that the child is coming home. Right now. Hear me: Many have been praying today. MANY friends of God, faithful leaders who I trust. But my song counted. Your voice counts, know that! Know that your voice counts, that the Lord of Glory is moved by your prayers no matter how weak they may sound to your own ears!

Behold, what manner of love the Father has given unto us. We have been called His children. He listens, and He moves.

Missing Home

This morning I slept in and upon waking I ground some beans, turned on the tea pot and made a cup of french press. Usually I drink regular coffee, lighter roast brewed strong, but today I indulged in some flavored beans from a local coffee shop. 4 minutes later I stirred in a little organic sugar, a shot of Shatto cream, topped it off with a swirl of whipped cream and coupled my drink with some Entenmann’s donuts. Sitting down I thought, ‘wow this is an MJ Java sort of morning!’

The Fall of ’04 I worked in a specialty coffee shop called MJ Java. That was my “Fall of Failure” and the job fit the season mainly for one reason: The President of the company hated me. But that’s a story for another day. Anyway, we had a roaster who made the BEST flavored beans, and sold Entennman’s pastry’s so I often had a fab pastry with a cup of fab coffee during my morning break. I actually adored that job and fall seems to make me miss working early mornings, brewing coffee and making people smile.

Or maybe fall just makes me miss home. There is no season like Fall in the Loess Hills. Gorgeous greens, auburn, brilliant maroons and fiery gold and browns roll like waves across everything you see and every day steals your breathe away at least one with beauty. Kansas City just isn’t that pretty 🙂

This past weekend my brother, sister-in-law and two others spent a few days in Iowa, picking apples with my parents. My dad said, “Jeremy was walking up the hill with me and I didn’t have my glasses on. I turned around and saw some little person come bouncing around the corner of the house and said “Oh! Is that Chrissy!? Did Chrissy come home? But when she got closer I realized it was Jen and thought, ‘oh! I want Chrissy to come home!” I didn’t cry on the phone with him, but have shed some tears since. My parents really love me.

And it’s not just because I’m the youngest (though my sister might tell you differently ;). Living at home I really sought to honor and serve my parents. I didnt’ do it perfectly, but really tried to work hard and help them in whatever they were doing and they saw, and really appreciated it. There have been many a time, when feeling lonely, disconnected to community or the lifestyle of prayer, unappreciated or rejected when I have strongly considered moving back home and doing just that; serving my parents, working around the farm, mowing lawns, cutting weeds, planting, mending fences, doing laundry, dusting shelves. And walking out in the fields, talking to the Lord where no one but my faithful sidekick (the cat) can hear me. Singing at the top of my lungs on a hillside, or late at night in my tiny bedroom lit by too many candles. But each time I give in to the reminiscing and the desire to simply return to the love of my father’s house, a gentle whisper reminds me “that’s no longer your home”.

Yes Lord, walking in the way of Your laws, we wait for You; Your name, even Your memory are the desire of our hearts. My soul years for You in the night: in the morning my spirit longs for You Isaiah 26

Fall. As all the coverings slowly slip away, the barrenness of our souls is gently revealed, and the longings come unveiled. Where can we call home? When will we find the place where all of our defenses fall, fears slip away and we live purely from our hearts? Not until You come back Jesus. We have been ruined for a home we’ve never ever seen with our eyes, but felt the familiarness of a hundred times in our heats. We wait for You Lord. Your name, even Your memory are the desire of our hearts. When will You come and satisfy?

Happy 10 yr. Anniversary IHOP

This weekend we celebrated IHOP’s 10 year anniversary.

That sentence is remarkable.

For a decade, a little less than half of my life, incense has arisen to the throne of God non-stop from this city. Close your eyes and see: the high priest of old, burning incense and holding it under the heavy curtain blocking him from the presence of God, filling, filling, filing that little room with smoke. What was the smoke? Why smoke? Did God just love the smell of things burning, did He not want to see the man about to come, trembling into His holy, holy presence? No, no it was the prayers of the saints. He loves to look at us through our prayers. It’s as though He knows our hearts love Him more than our actions state, and He loves to see us in light of what our hearts bring, not our hands.

The God of the Old Covenant, commanding fire, alters and sacrifice, saying “Let the fire on the altar never go out!” the God who said over and over again that a “burnt offering, an offering made my fire, (was) an aroma pleasing to the Lord”.  Have you been pleased with IHOP for the last ten years Lord?

If nothing else, than in the weakness of our prayers were You pleased to know that our hearts love You more than our actions state?

Througout the remembering of the last few days I found myself over and over again, proud of the team that I serve. Each video that was played, I knew the details; the HOURS of interviews, of video editing, searching for broll, more video edting, and more interviews that was behind each of them and I was so proud of all that they did. Good job IHOP Media!

This morning I woke to this thought running through my head like a whisper, “I have been planted in the house of the prayer” yet today, more than most, I felt in my flesh just how “unrooted” I feel.

Then as a sweet reminder that I am a songbird in the house of the Lord, I was able to sing with Tim during an hour devo, with no camera’s and hardly anyone in the room. I have been DYING to sing, and was blessed even though I was rough. And was more blessed to sit for the next hour as Joanna sang a solo devo, asking questions through song that reminded me of some of our recent conversations. Something like “When you look at me do You see a heart that is faithful, or do you see one who has left their first love? You can make these dying embers a burning fire Lord.”

I believe with every fiber of my being in the prayer movement that the Lord is raising up across the earth, knowing that it will be used to turn the hearts of the Father’s to the children, the hearts of the children to the father’s, the hearts of Men to their maker, the hearts of the lost to their God. I believe in another great awakening in America, and all over the earth, and I believe that mercy triumphs over judgement. I believe in my calling and the destiny of my sister, and my friends, and will not minimize or trivialize the prophecies. If we even get a fraction of what we believe for, it will be more than we ever deserved, and greater than we ever imagined.

Take the dying embers of our heats, and make them blazing fires Lord.