When the Cake Crumbles| By Tori Savoy

Running a cake business can sometimes be scary. You spend hours on a cake, unsure if it will turn out exactly like the client requested or whether it will stay together throughout the day.

I will never forget transporting a cake that had several elements to it. I had spent hours working on it. As I drove, I heard a thump come from the box.

My heart skipped a beat.

Once I stopped at a red light, I opened the box to discover that the fondant shapes on top the cake had began to wilt, and one of the pieces fell over and down the back side of the cake.

“Oh my goodness! I can’t give this to the client,” I thought.

I ran through my mind how I was going to explain to the customer that her cake was ruined. I prayed that she would be understanding.

Once I pulled up, I began to explain and tried to quickly mend as much of the damage as possible as she walked toward my car. I even offered to give her a discount.

She smiled and said, “Well let’s see what happened.”

And as she took a look, she said “Oh, just give me that piece that fell. I’ll take it to the trash can. The cake looks beautiful without it. You wouldn’t even know it was missing something.”

“Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make.” Jeremiah 18:3-4

Somehow, I felt like this is what happens when I am too afraid to come to God with my broken pieces. I see the parts that are “wilting” and believe my complete self is ruined, unworthy to be an offering for God.

However, He looks at me and asks me to just hand over those bad parts for Him to dispose of. He says, “See! Look how beautiful you are without that.”

Just like my cake customer, Jesus did not need a discount. He paid the full price for our broken souls right there at the cross. He takes our mess, throws away the bad parts, and makes a beautiful masterpiece of what is left.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10

God does not ask that we bring a perfect product to Him. He takes us in as we are and only asks that we let Him handle those broken pieces. I charge you today to come before God just as you are.

Advertisements

Unveiling Eden Gives Thanks

 

Chelsea
Chelsea Verdin, Contributing Writer

Something I am thankful for this year that is different than last year….

SOLITUDE

Sometimes we can get so focused on the busyness of life that we forget how refreshing it is to just get away – away from the noise, away from the distractions and just sit in our secret quiet place, absorbing and rediscovering who Jesus is.

I spent a fair amount of my life constantly wanting to go, or be, or do. When I received more responsibility or territory, I realized how sacred isolation can be in some atmospheres.

Isolation doesn’t always mean loneliness. It can also mean elevation.

Sometimes, He has to take us away in order to lift us higher. Sometimes, He has to quiet our souls so that we may learn to listen. And sometimes, we have to be alone to understand who He is.

A letter to my daughter……

Heaven
Heaven Harris, Staff Writer

Dear Evelyn,

You are too young at the moment to read this or even understand, but my hope is that this letter finds you years from now and gives you a glimpse of my heart.

This thanksgiving is technically our second one together, but last year you were barely a week old. Therefore, this is our first real thanksgiving with family and friends that you won’t be sleeping or nursing the whole time:).

I want you to know sweet girl, that next to Jesus, YOU are what I am most thankful for this year and for every thanksgiving to come. Nothing and no one has brought more joy and love to my life. This adventure we are on, even with all it’s lows and highs, is worth celebrating and being grateful for.

Getting to be your mother and the bond that I was able to form and steward with you has brought me to life in places I was sure was dead. I am thankful to you, for that, even though it’s beyond your comprehension right now.

And know that it truly takes a village, and we have the best one around. We are so blessed with the most amazing friends and family that love and support us and surround us with laughs, hugs, and deep and strong prayers that usher in God’s presence to daily move mountains in our favor. We are beyond blessed and highly favored.

So this Thanksgiving, I will give honor and glory for us where it is due. My prayer is that I am able to show you even in seasons that don’t include the Thanksgiving holiday, how to be grateful because He works it ALL for our good.

I love you my princess, until kingdom come. 

Jasmine
Jasmine Beard, Editor-in-Chief

Something I am thankful for this year that is different from last year…

RESTORATION

“The act of restoring ; renewal, revival, or reestablishment.”

Restoration has always been something I have believed in. I know that I serve a God that can do all things, including the miraculous.

Although I know this, I did not think a relationship with a family member could ever be good. I settled in the fact that while forgiveness had been given, the state of the relationship could never be repaired.

Through my own healing of hurt this year, I was able to see the person who had repeatedly hurt me through a different lens. I no longer saw them as the person who had hurt me continuously, but as a hurt person themselves.

I had to take that person off of the pedestal of expectations I placed on them. I had to simply see them as a child of God. Once I did this, I no longer thought of all the pain they caused me. I instead saw all of their wounds and knew because of their own pain they hurt me.

” Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?”

“O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.”

Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord!

This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again!

I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”’-

Ezekiel -37:3-6

Just like these dry bones, God breathed life into my relationship with my family member. Something that was once dead and barren has began to sprout new life. Thank you Jesus!

Stephanie
Stephanie Cain, Contributing Writer

A letter to my mother……

Dear Mom,

Words cannot express how thankful I am for you.

I have always loved and appreciated you-  I mean,  you are my best friend and my flower girl. But this year, you helped guide me into motherhood. You showed me that perfection is not the goal and that you must allow yourself grace. You loved me through the difficult times. When my world felt crushing, you were there to hold me. You reminded me I can do it and that God gave me this new purpose the He would help me fulfill. All this while still being a shining example of motherhood for me, an amazing wife, and learning how to be a mama to my baby boy.

I will always be grateful to you for everything you have done for me and my family. I love you more than words can convey.

Sincerely, Your Sally

Tori
Tori Savoy, Editor

Something I am thankful for this year that is different from last year…

CONTENTMENT

Contentment – it is described as “a state of happiness”. I believe the world is always searching for contentment in the tangible things of life such as money, success, life milestones and so forth. If only we could reach that certain goal we have in mind, we would find contentment.

However, this is not the same definition God would like us to use.

The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11, “…I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

As a Christian, my contentment is not determined by my state. My contentment, when anchored in who God is, remains when times are good or bad.

Worldly contentment gives us no reason to better ourselves, but Godly contentment pushes us closer to our source of happiness – God Himself.

This Thanksgiving, I thank God for giving me a “state of happiness” despite circumstances that try to steal my joy.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For me brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” 1 Timothy 6:6-7

Gives Thanks UE

All Who are Thirsty| By Jasmine Beard

IMG_6919This is a picture I took a couple months ago of the Great Smoky Mountains. Breathtaking, I know. As I opened the cabin doors and walked onto the balcony, I was awestruck at the majesty of God and His splendor.

As I gazed into the skies and saw the glorious mountains and trees, I envisioned God crouching down from the Heavens whispering into my ear sweet whispers from Heaven.

His words are like honey to my soul. The very sweetness of Him quenches the longings of my soul and every inkling of my Spirit.

How I long to be in awe of Him all the days of my life into eternity forever and ever. I dream that He picks me up in the palm of His hands sweeping me away into the clouds of His majestic being. I am dancing in the glory of His beauty and drinking from the palm of His hands for the rest of my days.

This picture reminds me of the Samaritan woman at the well.

She came to the well for a drink of water for she longed to quench the thirst of her body. Unaware, she met Jesus who did not want to only quench the thirst of her body, but of her soul as well.

“…But if anyone drinks the living water I give them, they will never thirst again and will be forever satisfied! For when you drink the water I give you it becomes a gushing fountain of the Holy Spirit, springing up and flooding you with endless life.” John 4:14 (TPT)

In that same way, Jesus met me, and it is because of this that I am able to see His majesty, to see His glory, and to drink from His cup.

After I dance with Abba in the clouds, He gracefully places me back down to earth. I look around, and I no longer see the beauty and splendor that I saw before. I see brokenness, dirtiness, and darkness all around me. Nothing in me wants to stay and be back on Earth, but God tells me,“go forth and love my people and tell them of this majesty you have found and this water that never runs dry.”

I once saw a picture of myself at a well. The depth of this well was deeper than I could ever hope to see. Then I saw a picture of a wide well, and God instructed me to never be a fat well.

This picture may seem funny to you, and it is a bit funny to me as well. However, that picture is packed with so much meaning..

If we are fat wells, it means that we have no depth to our reach. We just take up excess space. However, if our well has depth, we can bring nourishment to barren land.

Jesus does not show us His splendor or allow us to drink from His cup just for our nourishment. If we just continuously receive from God but never pour out, we become essentially a “fat well.” However, if we instead allow God to fill us deep into our soul and allow others to drink from the well inside of us, we become a deep well.

‘“All at once, the woman dropped her water jar and ran off to her village and told everyone, ‘Come and meet a man at the well who told me everything I’ve ever done! He could be be the Anointed One we’ve been waiting for.’ Hearing this, the people came streaming out of the village to go see Jesus.”’ John 4:28-30 (TPT)

The Samaritan woman dropped the very water that would quench the thirst of her body because she had found drink for her soul. Today, be a deep well bringing the same gushing fountain that has quenched your soul to God’s people.
faucet-1684902_1920 (1)

Tidal Waves| By Stephanie Cain

image2 (3)

Over the last year, almost every area of my life has been stretched, prodded, or flat out attacked – especially my faith. A few days ago I was watching my son play in his walker corner when I had a flashback. A few years ago my husband’s family decided to go to the beach together. On that day, the water was rough – not enough for red flags but enough that children did not leave the shallows. However, as adults, we ventured out to chest height and jumped into the tidal waves as they rolled in.

One time I did not jump soon enough, and the wave swept over me. Suddenly, I was tumbling under the water with no clue what was up or down. My feet found the ocean bottom, and I pushed up, gasping for air as soon as the next wave rolled in. I was immediately toppling under the water again desperately trying to find the surface for air. This happened two more times until finally my husband caught me and helped me stand. It was such a scary experience that I stayed in the shallows after that.

Where I am now in life feels a lot like that beach. As soon as I find my footing and catch my breath, a new wave is rolling in on top of me sending me spinning again. However, Jesus reminded me of something He did while here on earth.

Mark 4:35-41 chronicles the time when Jesus and His disciples were in rough waters because of a storm. Jesus spoke to the storm and said “Peace! Be still!” The winds and waves obeyed him and stopped. Jesus reminded me that He does not just calm physical storms, but He can calm the waves in our lives. If we listen to Him as He speaks through the Holy Spirit to us, “Peace! Be still!”, we will see the waves that were engulfing are now a soothing ripple. This is not to say that we will not have storms. Of course we will! There may be times in our lives that the winds and waves are so loud and big that you can’t hear the Lord’s still, small whisper of peace.

Another time in Jesus’ ministry (Mark 6:45-52), His disciples were in a boat rowing against the wind. This time, rather than calm the wind with His words, the Lord walked on top of the water. He invited Peter onto the water with Him, and as long as Peter kept His eyes on the Lord, He walked over the waves too. This is HUGE! In those times when we cannot hear Jesus speaking peace in our situation, we look to Him and trust Him for every step onto the waves.

In my life, that looks like this:

A problem arises. I see no possible solution. Anxiety swells. Rather than allowing it to topple over me I say, “I can’t see a way, but I trust you Lord. I know you have a plan, a purpose, and it is for my good.” Take a deep breath. Move forward with my life one step at a time.

My hope is that these words encourage you today. Whether you are in the storm of life or not, I pray that you keep your eyes focused on Him because walking on the water is a much bigger adventure than hiding in the shallows.

“The LORD your God is in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17

A Mother’s Redemption| By Amanda Maduell

image2 (2)As I lay and watch my two-year-old sleep, it is hard to believe that not long ago he started out as a tiny “blip” on the monitor. As I laid on the exam table at my OBGYN office, tears of guilt, shame, and fear rolled down my cheeks. This is not the reaction that any woman deserves to have as she experiences the expected arrival of her first child. A woman’s heart should be full of joy, love, and excitement during this time. My story is not the same.

For I know the plans I have for you ,”declares the LORD, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Everyone knows this Bible verse as it has become so incredibly popular, but it is so much more to me. This verse was my bread and butter. I had it saved on my phone screen saver for my entire pregnancy. Every time I was in despair, God reminded me of this message.

When I was encouraged by the father of my child to have an abortion, I turned to God and this verse.

I would think to myself, “God created this life inside of me, and He already knows the plans for it! How could someone want to throw this away?”

“For you formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:13-14

I knew from the beginning that abortion was never an option for me, but I could not convince the father of my child to feel the same way. I thank God everyday for giving me His strength to see through and overcome that. I agreed that I would trust God, and I would wear the shame of my sin in front of me, whether the father of my child was willing to stand by me or not.

I have to admit that it was not easy.

At times, the enemy convinced me to believe that it was me. That I was not good enough or worthy enough for this person, and that this is what I deserved for committing these sins. But again that was just the enemy.

I felt lonely from the outright rejection that was displayed toward my unborn child, and I was immersed in pain. I wanted nothing more than to be loved, appreciated, and respected by the person whom I had created life with. I experienced just the opposite.

I remember coming home from working one of my two jobs and crying so hard in my bathroom that I would vomit. I lived alone, and I was too ashamed to reach out to many of my friends, I felt as though I had, “brought this upon myself.” I was scared of the unknown, I was scared of what people would think of me for having a baby without a father, I was scared of being another, “single mom statistic”, and worst of all, I was scared that I would never be able to trust or love again.

I was disappointed in myself for taking a chance on someone who had consecutively lied about his commitment. I had become so consumed in sins of the flesh. Although I considering myself a “Christian”, I still thought it was okay to have sex with my ex-boyfriend. I justified it by telling myself, “we were in love”, and because we, as adults, have “needs.”

However, I was reminded that God has a purpose for us. Although we may not always understand it, the Bible clearly states that His plan is solid. God knows before we sin against Him, and He still sends His love and grace down upon us in ways we don’t even realize in the moment. For some, like myself, it takes “struggles” like this for us to see God’s unfailing love and mercy for us.

“In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry.” Jonah 2:2

Before my son was born, I picked the name Jonah after reading the short book of Jonah in the Bible. In Jonah’s story, he disobeyed God, and he was swallowed by a big fish. He prayed to God and asked for forgiveness from inside the fish. After three days, the Lord had the fish spit Jonah out, and he was forgiven.

Jonah knew that he was disobeying God by not following his instructions to go to the city of Nineveh and speak out against its wickedness. Just as I knew that I was disobeying God by continuing a sinful relationship with my son’s father. I felt as though going through an unplanned pregnancy without the father was my storm.

However, the birth of my son was my forgiveness, my redemption, and my second chance. We are children of a loving and forgiving God. I cried out to him at my lowest point, when I experienced the rejection, fear, and disappointment, He forgave me and restored me by allowing me to be the mother of one of His precious children.

After the birth of Jonah, The Lord continued to be the father that my child and I deserve, time and time again. Just when I reach my breaking point he catches me and says, “Trust me.”

Two years later, my son and I are doing great. I am blessed with phenomenal parents who were there for me during my pregnancy and birth of my son and also now. I am part of a women’s group, and I just signed a mortgage on our first home. All of this is possible because we are the children of a perfect and faithful God who has a perfect way for us, even when we can see no way for ourselves. 

image6

Behold Your King| By Heaven Harris

IMG_8734

“Girl, you are a precious daughter of the King!”

Sounds amazing right? Who doesn’t enjoy being called a princess?  I know I do!

But who is your King?  Do you know Him? I mean, really know Him?

“Women, teachers, let’s shift our emphasis from ‘girl, you are a precious daughter of the King’ to ‘behold your King’,” -Jen Wilkin

I read this quote recently, and it has not stopped burning deeply inside me since. I have heard for years that I am a princess of the Most High God, that I am royalty.  It is right here in scripture.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellence of him who called you out of the darkness into his marvelous light.”  -1 Peter 2:9.  

Learning I was royalty when I first surrendered my life to Jesus was quite amazing, and my heart still skips a beat when I hear it. However, the depth and true wonder of that statement was still not eternalized within.

Growing up, my self- image, my vision if you will, was that of a peasant girl.  I always pictured myself and even dreamt of being dirtied up, scouring in a corner wearing filthy rags and begging for scraps from the table where royalty laid their hands.  No number of compliments or words could change that movie reel playing over and over in my mind.

But JESUS.

I encountered Him.  I encountered His love and experienced His passion for me. I sat at His feet beholding His beauty and all He had to offer. I began to know him. – know him intimately, freely.   From then on, as the days passed, and I continued to lay myself bare at the altar of this mighty King, I realized my rags were stripped away and replaced with His robes of righteousness.

Isaiah 61:10 (ESV) says, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

Have you allowed yourself the chance to lay before the feet of Jesus and simply behold who He is and let Him begin to portray Himself on you?

“We can all draw close to him with the veil removed from our faces.  And with no veil we all become like mirrors who brightly reflect the glory of the Lord Jesus.  We are being transfigured into his very image as we move from one brighter level of glory to another.  And this glorious transfiguration comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 (TPT)

The only way to understand how to walk out the royal name given to us is to be in the presence of royalty. The more of your life you spend willingly in that sacred place, the more you will be able to mirror and walk out being His princess and complete the calling He has on your life.

My charge to you is this…

Find your secret place.  Set everything and anything aside and sit and behold the creator of the universe, the maker of your heart, the one whose face shines like the sun.  Let Him take over everything you think you are or aren’t, and let Him become the mirror to your reflection! I promise, you will never walk away from the moments disappointed.  Behold your King.

You are Altogether Beautiful| By Tori Savoy

adult-beautiful-face-774866

I slipped on my best dress, used as many beauty products on my face as possible, and straightened my curly locks until they looked like sleek perfection. It was girls night, and I was set on looking my absolute best.

My husband caught a glimpse of me and told me I looked beautiful. I responded with a quick thank you, as our usual routine, then returned to doing a full-body check to make sure I looked exactly right (completely letting that compliment go in one ear and out the other).

I slowly turned and looked at every inch of where my dress laid to make sure there were no noticeable bumps, or abnormal body shapes. I then proceeded to run my fingers through my hair and got face-to-face with the mirror to look at every detail of my face – especially to make sure those pesky dark circles and eye wrinkles were masked as much as possible.

Forgetting my husband was in the room, I heard a little giggle from behind me.

“You sure do look at every little detail, don’t you?” My husband said with a smirk on his face.

“I guess I’m just self-conscious of the little things,” I responded.

“Well, you look gorgeous to me.”

Somehow, God taught me a lesson right then and there.

You see, my husband did not see the little flaws I saw because he looks at me as a whole and thinks I am beautiful. Even as I stood there focusing on every flaw, my husband stood there admiring my every move.

This is very similar to my relationship with God. His word tells me I am fearfully and wonderfully made in His image. He calls me beautiful and beloved. Yet, I can hear those words over and over again and still turn to the mirror to pick out my imperfections. Just like my husband’s words, I let God’s words go in one ear and out the other. I view myself through a mirror of self-hate rather than God’s mirror.

I come to God and say, “But look at these imperfections in my heart. Look at the ugly.”

He looks at me and says, “Look at all the beauty I created.”

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them..” Genesis 1:27(NIV)

It can be a difficult thing to break a life-long habit of self-destruction and self-hate. Words that were said to me at a young age continue to repeat in my head to this day. Things like “You’ll be as big as a house and never find a husband if you keep eating those cookies” constantly remind me that my body weight and physical appearance need to take priority. Those feelings were heightened when my chronic illness made me gain significant weight. My outer appearance determined whether I was worthy of love from others.

However, God’s word tells me otherwise.

“You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you..” Song of Solomon 4:7 (ESV)

You see, from the moment I was created, God began a work in me – molding me perfectly into a unique creation. He continues to mold and shape me each and everyday, making me more beautiful than the day before. His definition of beauty stretches further than just the surface.

Instead of viewing ourselves through a distorted mirror molded by our own opinions or the opinions of others, we must see ourselves through God’s lens. You are a daughter of the most high King and possess all the beauty and grace of a princess.

I would encourage you to meditate on what God’s word says of each of us.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalms 139:13-14

 

God is Speaking; Are You Listening?| Jasmine Beard

karen-lau-653956-unsplash

As we go through the hustle and bustle of everyday life, God is watching us. He longs for us to gaze upon His face in the midst of our busy, and at times, hectic schedules.

We have all been taught that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. Those are really big words that mean God is all powerful, all knowing, and that He is ever present.

These are great facts, but if we are not careful, we will fail to let the very truth of those words sink into our heart. We can instead put lids on God, doubt His power, His wisdom, and that He is with us always.

Most of the time, we associate God with what we are doing instead of who He actually is. We notice God’s presence in our devotion time, when we read His word, or when we sing Him songs of praise. However, if we are not doing something that feels spiritual, we think God’s gaze upon us has left. That is simply not true!

God is very much in the moments when we feel spiritually high, but He also in the mundane tasks we do at work, while we are changing our baby’s diaper, and while we are watching movies.

“Where could I go from your Spirit?
Where could I run and hide from your face?

If I go up to heaven, you’re there!
If I go down to the realm of the dead, you’re there too!

If I fly with wings into the shining dawn, you’re there!
If I fly into the radiant sunset, you’re there waiting!

Wherever I go, your hand will guide me;
your strength will empower me.” – Psalms 139:7-10 (TPT)

One person I can relate to in the midst of my crazy schedule is Martha in the Bible. She loved Jesus, and just like me and you, she had a full plate of tasks to get done.

Luke 10:38-40 (TPT) says this:

“As Jesus and the disciples continued on their journey, they came to a village where a woman welcomed Jesus into her home. Her name was Martha and she had a sister named Mary. Mary sat down attentively before the Master, absorbing every revelation he shared.

But Martha became exasperated by finishing the numerous household chores in preparation for her guests, so she interrupted Jesus and said, “Lord, don’t you think it’s unfair that my sister left me to do all the work by myself? You should tell her to get up and help me.”

What Martha failed to realize is that the Creator of the Universe was speaking, the one who could tell her all about who she was, was in her midst.

We often read this passage of scripture, and we think Martha should have reacted and done the exact thing as Mary and sat at Jesus’ feet. I’m not sure if that is the case, simply because these two sisters are different, and their relationship with God was different.

Maybe Jesus would have been pleased at Martha’s devotion if she had simply listened, heard, and hung on every word Jesus said while she was working and doing mundane tasks.

Devotion, prayer time, worship nights, and Bible reading are fantastic things to do and things we should be doing. But, outside of those moments, we must recognize that the Creator of the Universe longs to also speak to us during mundane tasks and the hustle and bustle of this crazy life.

Caged, But Still Singing| By Chelsea Verdin

christopher-windus-92825-unsplashHave you ever wondered why a caged bird still sings? It is held bound in a metal cage with no freedom. It cannot do much and hasn’t received much, but still every morning, it manages to sing out a song. Sometimes the song is dressed in beauty with loud joy, and other times, it is a quiet mourning. But everyday, the caged bird still sings.

In the last year, I have felt like a caged bird. When we lost my three-month-old nephew last October, my entire world was shaken. Everything I knew was now questionable and unreliable. From the outsiders view, I looked like a pretty little bird happy in her own little world. You would have never imagined that I was caged in by depression and so much grief because I still managed to smile and sing through the pain.

A cage is not a place that anyone wants to be in. Birds do not even want to be in them. We want paradise because it looks good in pictures and feels like freedom. However, I have learned that you can be in paradise and still not be okay, and that faith can take deeper root within the cage.

Faith is messy and hard and meant to pull out of you the deep questions that challenge everything you think you know, so that you may learn the ultimate truth.

There is a story in Mark 5 about a man who sought out Jesus to heal his ill daughter. In the story, his young daughter dies, and Jesus heals her with some very simple words.

“Little girl, I say to you, ‘Arise’.” Mark 5:41

Instantly, she stands and begins to walk around.

This whole past year I felt like this young girl – alive on the inside, dead on the outside, caged in by illness. I desperately needed truth to speak to my heart and awaken the girl inside of me. I needed the courage to arise, stand, and walk in freedom. But grief crippled me and told me that because I questioned God that I could not live. I could not go to him with my doubts and seek real answers.

The enemy knows that our voices are weapons. They hold so much power and can strike him down instantly. He tries to make us believe that we need to be silent. He tries to make us believe that we cannot enter into the presence of God messy, but I have learned that even the most inaudible whisper slices through the clouds of the enemy and lands on the ears of our King.

The truth was God had not strayed away or left my side during this hardship. In fact, He drew closer because He knew I would need Him. And when I ignored the other voices and let my own lips sing, I found that the cage is not always there to hold us in. Sometimes, it is meant to be a safe haven, a place of rest to sit still and let Him sing over us.

“The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

And when we answer the call to sit and to seek Him out, we learn that a caged bird does not sing because it is caged in. Rather, it sings because it knows that freedom is not found outside of the cage, but from within the song it sings. And it does not matter how loud or even how inaudible the song is. Sometimes we have to sing until we believe it – until we believe freedom has arrived.

Your whisper is a roar in heaven.

Winter is just a season. The cage is just some metal walls. And your victory has already been proclaimed. Like my friend says, “This is just another battle you get to win.”

“Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away. For the winter is over, and the flowers are blooming. The time for singing has come.” Song of Solomon 2:10-12

The caged bird is still singing my friend and so are you.

 

Come Alive|By Heaven Harris

come alive

I have always considered myself a dreamer – a visionary. Dreaming came easy for me and those very words have often been used to describe me over the years. I had a big imagination, and I was not afraid to use it.  

Over the years though, often without realizing, I found my dreams becoming smaller and smaller, and my heart to dream dying. Sure, there were certain things I would find myself believing for and visions I would catch a glimpse of sometimes in the secret place of prayer, but my BIG dreams…what happened to those? The ones that made my bones rattle and my heart quiver because they required the work of my BIG God.

I think I even created the excuse that it just happens that way sometimes. We grow up; we become adults. The yearning to dream is drowned out by the weight of responsibilities and failures we have experienced. It is subtle, of course. We do not even realize it sometimes. We trudge through life, and many of our dreams deteriorate from life-like and life-size to mere bones laid bare and dry.

Ezekiel 37:3: “He asked me, ‘Son of man, can these bones live?’”

This scripture was laid on my heart about a month ago. Most of us know this story or have heard a sermon on it in some form or fashion. I would venture to say that most the times we take in this story is in reference to praying for those hearts that we long to see come alive to the love and purpose of God. We pray that He breathes His holy breath on our family, our schools, our church and brings forth the army referred to in the scriptures.

The rest of the story in Ezekiel goes like this…

4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!

5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.

6  I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone.

8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’”

10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.

I was waiting for Him to tell me who I needed to pray for and instead He said, “See those dry bones?  These bones represent those dreams  I have laid on your heart and given you vision for but that lay dead in the valley. Can these bones live? Can these dreams and the words I have spoken over you live again?”

I was honestly at a loss for words. As I sat in the presence of my sweet but direct Savior, I began recalling those dreams and words spoken over me throughout my life, and my reality check was that most of them I had allowed to dry up and become barely a whisper in my heart.

So, let me ask you…

Are your dreams thriving and breathing before a Holy God or are they laid bare in the valley somewhere? If you are looking back and realizing that you have dreams that have no life to them, let me encourage you with this scripture:

“The earth and sky will wear out and fade away before one word I speak loses its power or fails to accomplish its purpose.” Matthew 24:35 (TPT)

When reading this. I hope that you see the pattern. That every word and dream God spoke WILL come to pass without FAIL. Let your heart rest in knowing that those beloved words, passionate dreams and those vivid visions He has whispered to you in the quiet places are alive and well and will find their way to fruition. You need only to speak.

The word prophesy simply means to say that a specified thing will happen in the future; to speak as if divinely inspired. I urge you to prophesy to your soul! Prophesy to those dreams!  Prophesy to your heart!

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26

Fast forward to the here and now, as I chose to take God at His word and began speaking those dreams out loud, I have now applied and been accepted into college. I am moving out of state due to an amazing opportunity that opened up for me to stay home with my daughter and go to school. I know this is just the beginning of an amazing new season.  

I urge you to take God at His word and let the presence of God soften your heart and remind you today of the dreams He has given you.  Then speak them aloud and ask God to breathe His Holy breath on them and watch, in His timing, everything He has promised you will come to life!