Avenue of Dreams

image1What if we walked down a path expecting to meet ourselves in the future. One second and the next minute. An hour later. Not a day late. A month of encounters and a year of dreams fulfilled. Not ephemeral ones that vanish when our hopes are dashed but revelations plucked from the heart of the promise keeper.

Unexpected days laid out before us. Opportunities at each turn to think differently and to be different, to become the real us. To even take those dreaded steps dripping with pain yet slowly leaving those footprints behind with each step. And we keep moving forward trying not to get stuck in the cement of fear; paralyzed by the past, regrets, and our broken hearts. We slowly unhinge from what’s holding us back. Ourselves. And with each stride we become who we are meant to be. Not shining stars but beloved ones with pure hearts.

We reach forward. With every step, with every breath. Finally caressing what we hoped for. Pulling deep from His wells what we once envisioned. They were His desires for us. What He’s known all along. And He calls us by the name He alone knows. And we answer. And we finally see ourselves as we look into His eyes. And we lose ourselves in His love.

Face the Book

MimiFacebook. We’re either all in or want nothing to do with it. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how much time I spend on it. I’m not knocking Facebook at all. I think it’s an ingenious social media tool, if used wisely.

But I find myself scrolling for fifteen minutes at a time or more reading posts and looking at pics, “liking” this, getting upset over that. Sometimes feeling frustrated that I just wasted fifteen minutes or more. But I continue to check in periodically. Let’s tell the truth, many of us do. I’ve even vowed to stay away but when I find myself procrastinating on what I should be doing or have a little down time here and there, I tap on my Facebook app.

Facebook allows us to present our best side but it’s just a snapshot, at most. We have control over what people know and what they see. The real “us” is facing the screen, not plastered on Facebook. And we know it.

Some use Facebook to create a self they’d like to be and some are what my husband calls Facebook preachers, always telling people what they should be or shouldn’t be doing. Others are blatantly rude, publically threaten to “unfriend” anyone who sends them another Candy Crush game request or they let everybody know they’re purging people from their friend list instead of just quietly doing it. I never quite understood that one.

Facebook is making us act weird. I don’t want to be weird like that. That’s why I’m writing this post as a reminder.

But more important than acting weird to me is the question of priorities and time well spent. As I get older, the reality of the brevity of life sinks like a heavy weight in my soul.

Facebook serves as a reminder to constantly question who I really am and what I should be doing with my time, and ultimately, with my life. Spending time on Facebook isn’t going to really help me answer those questions. But sticking my face in another book will.

We can go around reading what others have to say about us, life, or God or we can go straight to the source who created us. I opt for the latter because we’re all really just searching for those honest-to-goodness answers that only He can provide.

The Bible is uncanny in reflecting an accurate image of us, and simultaneously providing the wisdom to transform that image as well.

It’s always time to face the book.

Suddenly

photo(89)I woke up this morning, looked out my window and was struck by the blanket of snow covering everything. Pure, milk-colored snow. I was expecting it but when I actually saw it, its beauty captivated my eyes. And it reminded me of God. The way He suddenly changes things in our lives. Suddenly, the waiting is over. Suddenly, the pain is over. Suddenly, hope shoots up like Spring in our hearts. Suddenly, God…

A few days ago a kindred spirit spoke to me of God’s “suddenlies” and to have an expectant heart. I’ve decided to keep my eyes peeled, and I hope you will too. Don’t give up on your dreams. Don’t lose hope for that miracle. Keep believing because what He promises He fulfills. Take a moment to read the messages God sends to you through nature; all those subtle reminders of God moving all around you. He’s nearer than you think. Can you feel His breath?

You may be smack dab in the middle of a storm, but a sudden move of God can drastically change the course of your life at just the right time. I know this to be true in mine. Years of waiting suddenly turned on a dime. It was over and orchestrated with so much love that when the fog of pain lifted, I was able to look back and see God’s fingerprints molding it all for my good.

As time goes by, I hope to see more clearly, but not with my eyes.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for. You don’t have to see it to believe it. You have to believe it to see it.

Wait for His suddenly. It’s coming!

The God Watchers

TheGodWatchersDon Nori Sr.’s latest book release, The God Watchers, speaks of a simple yet profound truth to live by: Jesus did what He saw the Father in heaven do, and we can follow in His footsteps. Writing with a humble heart, searching eyes and spiritually sensitive ears, the author urges us to set aside our personal agendas for God’s plans.

Nori’s seamless, soul-stirring message produces in us a desire to hear the Spirit and perceive the Lord at work in our day-to-day lives. According to the author, God is a prolific talker. He is always speaking, but our ability to hear what He is saying requires a quieted soul.

The secret to being a God watcher is found in Jesus’ surrendered life, Nori says. When we’re positioned to see, sense, feel and hear God’s heart, we can then embrace a greater reality of God and of His manifest presence. In the realm of the Spirit, we see Him, discern His presence and participate in His earthly plans.

Nori writes that yielded brokenness allows God to build His church and radically transform lives that are seeking to do His will. The search for recognition, titles and authority are set aside to heed the call to decrease so He may increase. This allows God’s nature, passion and power to flow through our every living so it’s no longer “business as usual” in our personal and corporate lives as God’s Spirit leads us into a vibrant faith walk.

Nori has vested us with a revolutionary read that pulls the rug from under religious mindsets that have boxed God into theologies, church services and the structures of man. God watchers are those who have ears to hear and eyes to see the new things God is saying and doing.

The God Watchers is a provocative book—the sort that only comes along once in a while. And its immeasurable worth is inherently found in its focus: Jesus, the ultimate God watcher, becomes our example. It’s a simple path to follow that unburdens us from self-centered ways as we trust God’s heart and participate in His plans for the world.

This is a repost of my book review in Charisma Magazine’s January 2013 issue and their website.

Letter to a Friend

Tree SwingDearly BELOVED friend,

I decided to stop what I was doing to encourage you.

You’re not alone. Even when it doesn’t feel like it. Even when there’s no one physically beside you. Even when you haven’t talked to any one for days.

I’ve been there. I know.

It was when the space around me felt so frigidly empty, that I was filled.

When all my friends scattered like wind-blown leaves, He was the deeply rooted tree that sat beside me; sheltering me.

His silent presence filled the empty space that burdened me. He was there. I could feel His warm breath whispering life to my naked and battered soul.

When I stopped filling my hands and stood empty-handed, He came.

It was when everything was stripped from me, that He gave me all of Him.

Don’t let your eyes fool you, my friend.

Close your eyes tightly to the reality around you and you’ll know the TRUTH.

You’re NEVER alone.

Loving you hard,

Ibelisse

The Old Paths, The Good Way

Chicago Botanic GardenFinding our way back home isn’t always easy. We’ve wandered rather far. Actually, it’s in our nature to wander. We’ve been sidetracked. Our pride, shame, fear, guilt, anger, unbelief yanked us by the neck and veered us to the right and to the left. We’ve swerved down a lengthy, winding road, took a wild, treacherous one and even crossed some abysmal waters. We’ve even traveled down newfangled paths others have freshly carved, leading us to where we are today.

But where are we exactly? Some of us have been wandering around in circles for years and haven’t moved an inch. We’re clearly not where we’re supposed to be. Drained and dehydrated from the journey, we keep walking or running and not moving forward.

If we replay our thoughts we’d see how they guided every step we’ve taken, every stride made. Many of our decisions felt right, in their season. Some were complete dead ends. The blazing Do Not Enter sign warning us must’ve blinded us. Some were clearly marked Private Property, yet we trespassed anyway.

Whatever the case may be, here we are. But is here where we are to be? And where is here? Are you satisfied with where you are?

Most of us are just plain weary and burdened from trekking through life without some measure of purpose. We hear that promise from long ago, faintly. That there’s a future out there, a plan, a hope. We believe we can do it. We can get there. Wherever there is. Where are we going, anyway?

Are you interested in unearthing those old paths, the good way to get to where you’re supposed to be? If so, you’ll need a light for your path and a lamp for your feet. What path? The one that leads to that garden where you can hear the heartbeat of God. Where you smell His fragrance and breathe in His very love. You know. The one from once upon a time, in the land of Eden. The one where something unforeseen slithered into our lives. The one we left behind.

We may not be able to retrace our steps, but there’s a voice calling out to us that will lead us there, saying, Where are you?

 Thus says the Lord:

“Stand in the ways and see,
And ask for the old paths, where the good way is,
And walk in it;
Then you will find rest for your souls.”

Jeremiah 6:16

Why are the Angry Birds angry?

photo(47)Truth is I’m not a smartphone game app player. In fact, I’ve never downloaded one to my phone. I mean, really. Ain’t nobody got time fo dat! {smile} I prided myself on holding out on those timestealers but my curiosity got the best of me. Which one did I gravitate towards? Angry Birds, of course. And so have over a billion other users.

I’m greedy for any information about birds nowadays. So I asked myself, Why are the Angry Birds angry? I had absolutely no idea. I decided to find out before downloading the app. In my quest, I came across a blog post by Marwa Aly, a former Muslim Chaplain. Her post, Angry Birds or Self Sacrificing Soldiers? got my wheels turning.

My answer to her question is both. The birds are angry because some blue pigs kidnapped their eggs and ate them. Now they’re out for revenge, and losing their life in the process isn’t stopping them. Aly says that when we play the game, we are the angry birds. That blew my socks off!

By playing the game we’re subconsciously agreeing to the premise of the game; self-sacrifice to achieve an end. We’re not only applauding the mission of these angry birds, we’re stepping into their shoes, or shall I say their wings? Over and over and over again, we’re going after those blue pigs.

What about real life scenarios? What do we do when we’re offended? When someone steals something of value from us? Before we put on the angry bird super-hero(ine) costume and propel ourselves with a slingshot to squash our target, let’s pause and think about why we do what we do. Where does our anger take us? Would we die for something we believed in? Is it for justice or revenge, to save another life or for something entirely vain? Is losing our life ever worth it?

I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be an angry bird. I’m attracted to the idea of a sacrificial life though. We don’t necessarily have to lose our physical life to live one either. A sacrificial life is meaningful, even if the days are shortened. Empty days trying to figure out why we’re here are drudgery. If done with a noble motive, it can be life-transforming and life-giving.

We give our lives over to something everyday, whether we’re aware of it or not. Either we lose our days to unworthy causes or we’re investing them in something other than ourselves. The latter is the kind of living that leaves a legacy. It gives us purpose.

I’m thoroughly convinced that the most widely known model of self-sacrifice in the history of history is Jesus. He laid His life down for the world. Not for the innocent either. For the guilty. For those that despised Him, rejected Him, spit on Him, and cursed Him. It was love that motivated Him to willingly lay down His life. He did it for His friends. He did it for His enemies. He did it for me and He did it for you.

Jesus teaches us that love should motive our sacrificial lives. Not anger. Not revenge. Love for God and love for others.