Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Last, but certainly not least, I leave you with this. God is Good! Bill Johnson often says “God is always in a good mood”. I once heard a speaker say, “God is infinitely wise and always has our best interests in mind.” If there is nothing else you can stand on, you can stand on this truth. He is unchanging, unwaivering, and unable to lie. God loves you more than you can ever imagine, and His heart’s truest desire is to be close to you. And, it is in these times of seemingly endless darkness that our hearts are wrapped so tightly in His presence. I would never want to experience that kind of heart-wrenching pain again, but I will tell you that I have never felt so close and so loved by the Lord as I was during that time. “He is close to the broken-hearted” (Ps 34:18).
I pray that you will find comfort and rest in His outstretched arms.

Thank you for taking the time to walk this journey with me. I am certain that you are reading this for a reason, and as I bring this final chapter to a close, I pray that God’s ministering to your heart at this very moment. Love and blessings to each one of you, in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory! Amen!

Epilogue Part III: We Only Know (Hear) In Part

I Cor 13:9-10, 12 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part will be done away…For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I am known.

Perhaps the biggest crisis of faith I have ever encountered (and there have been many) came during the “Zeke” season. I was convinced that I had heard from the Lord, and that I had several promises that I was going to marry Zeke specifically. I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was God’s will for me. So when I sat in San Francisco with my grandma, this crisis came to a head. There was no way to reconcile what I thought I heard and what I was walking. Was I out of God’s will now? Had I missed it completely? And if I had missed God on this, had I ever heard Him about anything?
I spoke to it a bit in the first “lesson”, but I wanted to elaborate a bit more on this point, because it still confuses me a bit, honestly. It becomes a matter of complete blind faith, trusting that God is always faithful. And I really didn’t understand that until just recently, when I was a part of a class at church. In this class we were learning how to hear God’s voice and walk in the gifts of the Spirit (Words of Wisdom, Words of Knowledge, Prophecy, etc). And more than once, our teachers said that regardless of how God speaks to you, it’s important to ask Him for the revelation. Sometimes He’ll give you a word, and you think it means one thing, but it has a totally different meaning for someone else.
For example, you may at the grocery store, and you see someone and hear the name “Sue”. You walk over to her, and her nametag says “Anne”. Do you walk away, believing that you did not hear from God? Or do you stop and talk to her? God may have given you the name of Anne’s sister who is dying from cancer, and God wanted you to pray for her. We hear in part, we know in part, we prophesy in part.
Hindsight is always 20/20. Looking back, I can see that many of the dreams I had, or the “words” I received, were not specific to Zeke, but to my “husband”. I just assumed that it meant Zeke, because he was the one I was with or in love with when the words came. Every single one of those promises came true, just not with Zeke. So, did I miss God? Or did I just hear in part? I believe that I just heard in part, and while I have by no means arrived, I am starting to ask more questions and rest on less assumptions.

Epilogue Part II: Marriage Does Not Eradicate the Pain of Past Rejections

Whew, this was (and probably still is) a lesson that was hard to come by. In those first few months of marriage, I found myself asking Paul, “Are you sick of me yet?” or “Do you want to leave yet?” He had given me no basis for these insecurities, but somewhere in the deepest part of my heart, I still felt that I was to blame for Zeke leaving me. I must have done something wrong, I just didn’t know what.
Even more surprising was that this rejection didn’t affect only my relationship with Paul, but also my relationship with his family. I realized this over the Thanksgiving holidays just last year. We had just celebrated our second anniversary, and we were hosting the entire family for the holidays. I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off, trying to make sure everything was perfect. And I was stressin’ big time. Paul kept trying to console me by saying that it didn’t all have to be perfect, but it did. I didn’t know why it did, it just did. As the family arrived, things got more hectic. The only time I had to myself was in the shower. As I stood there with the hot water pouring over me, I prayed for peace. It was then that God revealed what the driver was, and I was shocked. My mother-in-law always says “The issue is never really the issue,” and this was the truth of the moment. I thought that I was just stressed trying to impress the family. But that was not the case.
Just a couple weeks after Paul and I had officially begun dating, Zeke called me out of the blue to see how I was. He felt compelled to tell me about why he ended the relationship, and said, “No one was happy.” I said, “We were happy. Didn’t that count?” And he said, “Well, no one in the family was happy.” And there it was. He broke up with me because his family didn’t like me.
So fast-forward 2 ½ years. I’m stressing out about everything being perfect for the family because rooted deep in my heart is a fear that Paul will leave me if his family doesn’t approve.
Rejection is a sneaky sucker. He will show up in seemingly random places, and affects all aspects of your life. He attacks our very identity. Praise God that Jesus has conquered the devil and all those spirits that he sends our way. And that same Spirit which raised Christ from the dead lives in us! And where the Spirit of the Lord is (inside us) there is FREEDOM!!! Praise God.
Let me just take a minute to pray for you. If you have experienced rejection, or are seeing some after-effects, pray with me.

Lord, I thank You that You say that I have been ACCEPTED into Your family as one of Your children. Father, I have been hurt by ______________ and feel rejected. I know this is not Your plan for me, so right now, I choose to forgive _________ and release him/her completely into Your hands. Now I ask that You will overflow me with Your Spirit, healing every wound caused by this situation. And I renounce the spirit of rejection and its effects in my life. I come into agreement with Your Word that I am a Child of the Most High King, and that Your Spirit lives in me. Thank You for Your freedom at work in my life.
In the precious name of Jesus’, Amen.

Epilogue Part I: Sometimes God Causes Us To Walk In Dark Places

Yes, I said “causes”. This was by far the most difficult thing to wrap my mind around. I had always been taught that God has “good plans” for us, something about future, hope, and joy, you know the verse. And I believe that He is always good, and always has our best interest in mind. Of this there is NO doubt. But, I have come to discover that this does not mean that everything feels “good” or that we will never experience pain. It is a warped mindset that has been perpetuated in the western church that “claims” only the “pleasant promises” in the word, and then teaches that if you’re not experiencing all good things in your life then you must be weak in your faith, or have committed some sin, or anything else that places blame on you. This is completely contradictory to the Word, which says that He will “lead us into all truth” and that “He makes our paths straight”. So, if I truly believe that He is guiding my every step, then I have no other choice than to believe that He sometimes leads me into dark places.
I will never forget when this started becoming clear. Paul and I were engaged, and I was heading back to Donna’s house (where I stayed for a couple months to save money for the wedding), and I was stopped at a stop light. This street was just about 1 mile from where Zeke lived, and I remember crying out to the Lord, “Why didn’t You keep me from dating Zeke? You always warned me, or directed me, or kept me from making stupid relationship mistakes. Why didn’t you this time? Why did You let me go through so much pain?” And I heard His answer clear as day, “Will you trust me, even if I never tell you why?”
My whole world stopped. There it was, a challenge from the Almighty. Would I trust His sovereignty? Would I trust His heart? Did I truly believe in my heart that His plans are perfect? It drove me into His word, fully expecting to find out that I had just eaten too much green chile, and that God didn’t really say that. Here’s what I found instead (from the NKJV):

Lamentations 3:2, 32 He has led me and made me walk in darkness and not in light...Though He causes grief, Yet He will show compassion according to the multitude of His mercies.

Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For you are with me…

Job 2:9-10 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this, Job did not sin.

John 15:20 If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you

John 16:33 In the world you will have tribulation.

I found that God promises that we will have pain in this world. I bet you don’t hear that one “claimed” as much, eh? But He has also promised that He will never leave us or forsake us. So we can walk through those valleys of the shadow of death with confidence that “death” is only a shadow, in the glorious light of His presence.
I can already hear the responses, so let me clarify. Lamentations 3:33 says that the Lord “does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men”. I’m not saying that God causes us harm. There is a difference. It can be subtle, and it can feel like God is inflicting great pain on us, but He is good and merciful and faithful and His love endures forever. So when He leads us, we can be confident that He is leading us in our destiny, purpose and with our best interests in His heart. So how can we tell the difference? I’d like to paint you a picture.

Imagine yourself in the center of the Amazon jungle. The undergrowth is thick, and the canopy of the rich rain forest block any sign of the outside world, including the sun, moon or stars. It’s dark. It’s very dark. But you are walking. You have a guide, and he’s warned you of the potential dangers in the forest, which include, but are not limited to, wild animals, poisonous plants, quicksand, getting lost, or even an encounter with an cannibalistic tribe. But he has promised that if you stick close to him, he will take you to the most beautiful and rich land, full of promise. You have agreed to take the journey, convinced that the end is worth the risks of the trip. Suddenly you trip over an exposed root, falling face first into a patch of poisonous leaves. The itching begins immediately, driving you to a point of insanity. Your guide kneels down into the same patch of leaves, takes your arm and lifts you to your feet. He reaches into his backpack, and pulls out a bottle of some salve that you really don’t want to know about, and begins to apply it to the hives that have covered your exposed skin. As your pain begins to subside, you realize that he’s not itching. In fact, he has had no reaction to the poisonous leaves whatsoever. The journey resumes, and as you’re walking, you catch yourself watching his steps as well as yours, watching out for those dang roots, and you ask him, “Why didn’t you have a reaction to those leaves?” Your guide simply smiles and says, “Once you’ve encountered that poison, you build an immunity to it, and it will no longer harm you. I fell into a patch very much like that one a long time ago, and now I could sleep in it with no reaction.” You ponder this as you continue on your journey, and you’re intrigued. You ask the guide for all his secrets, and He just smiles, and says “You’ll learn in time. For now, let’s keep walking.”

The guide did not cause you to fall. He did not cause you to have a reaction. He was simply leading you. This is the difference. We live in a fallen world. This is a place where we will fall, we will feel pain, we will scream and cry and shout, and find ourselves surrounded by darkness. But that does not mean we “missed” the Lord’s leading. He may have just led us there.

Epilogue - Intro

I’m in the truck headed back to Texas after a quick weekend jaunt to Albuquerque. I was unprepared for the flood of emotions that hit me as we came over the mountain and descended into the city. In hindsight, I should have seen it coming. My good friend told me, over coffee, on Thursday night that she thought that I should finish the story and leave it in Albuquerque. I should have known that God was up to something. You see, this weekend marked the 3 year anniversary of Paul and I just knowing each other. And I think that God had the ultimate “anniversary” present for me. Freedom.
This will always be a part of my past, but I believe that God is closing this chapter, and writing the next. And I’m excited to see what He has up His sleeves. But before I leave you, there are a few parts of this story that trample on our paradigms if you will. You may be even questioning my Christianity. If it makes you feel better, sometimes I question it too. But all kidding aside, there were some difficult lessons that I was forced to learn during this time. I didn’t want to include these in the stories, as I felt that they may bog it down some, but I do feel that it’s an integral part of the process. So, in no specific order I leave you with the following thoughts:

Chapter Ten: I Will to I Do

Fast-forward to the first week of August. I had just earned my Masters of Theology from Desert Rose Christian College in Phoenix, and the ceremony was set to be that Thursday night. My parents were driving down from Salt Lake City along with my grandma, and Paul flew to Albuquerque to drive me out to Phoenix. We had already discussed that he would take this time to ask my dad for my hand, and I was so excited that I could barely sleep. I was sure that he would propose while we were in Phoenix, my home and favorite place!

We made it through the weekend with my parents’ seal of approval along with my degree, but no ring. To say that I was disappointed as we drove back to Albuquerque would be the understatement of the year. As we approached Albuquerque, it was about 1:30am. I was mostly asleep, but awake enough to know that Paul missed my exit. He continued east, and slowly made his way up our mountain. I was exhausted, and I’m sure I was a little whiny. My only thought was that we had to get up at 5am to get him to the airport for his 6:30am flight and I just wanted to sleep. But, as Paul said, it was tradition. So we made the climb. When we got to the top, it was about 2:45am and a balmy 40 degrees, rain coming down. Having come from Phoenix, we were still dressed in shorts and flip flops, but tradition dictated that we park and walk to the crest. I whined, cajoled, maybe even cried a little, but Paul dragged me out of the Tahoe and walked me up there. We made it to the top, and it took me about 20 seconds to be ready to go back to the truck, but Paul grabbed me around the waist and said, “Let’s just wait for a minute.” We stood there silently under our umbrellas for a few seconds, then he said, “I don’t want to live my life without you.” I said, “But you don’t have to,” and I turned to face him. It was then that I found him on one knee, holding the ring box. “Will you marry me?” he asked, shivering. I immediately said yes and kissed him. Because it was dark, I couldn’t see the ring, and we were freezing, so he gave me the ring box and we ran down the hill back to the truck. When we got in, he showed me the ring and placed it on my finger. It was beautiful. It was perfect. And I couldn’t believe that all of this was real. I took a picture on my phone, but didn’t send it to anyone. It was late, and I really just wanted to enjoy this moment with him.

Neither of us slept that night, but we didn’t care. We were getting married, and that’s all that mattered.

Over the next couple weeks we set our date. November 25. This wasn’t our first choice initially as we didn’t want to wait. But after some prayer and many discussions with our family, we all agreed that November 25 was perfect. It was almost like poetic justice, as that was the day Zeke and I had tentatively set. It was the day I had dreamed about even before I met Zeke. In hindsight, it was as if God was giving me the date, I just had the wrong man. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

The next 3 months were crazy busy with planning the wedding, multiple bridal showers in multiple states, counseling, etc. We put thousands of miles on each of our vehicles as we drove the 1000 mile round-trip between Albuquerque and Wichita Falls every other weekend, just to spend a few hours with each other in person. In the midst of all of this, we felt like the Lord was calling us to be in Texas. He was already in Wichita Falls, but didn’t feel like he was supposed to stay there. I had been feeling drawn to Dallas, prior to even meeting him. After much prayer, several heated conversations and a couple of house hunting trips in the middle, we landed in Plano, just 2 weeks before the wedding.

Then Thanksgiving was upon us. It was our wedding week, and the entire family gathered for dinner at Mama Donna’s house. There was so much celebration and anticipation. We flew through the holiday, the bridal tea, getting the boys’ tuxes, rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, and then it was Saturday.

November 25, 2006. The day that God fulfilled his promise in my life, and joined me to the exact man that I never knew I needed. Paul is everything that I wanted, and little did I know, even on that day, that he was EXACTLY what I needed. And the mystery of marriage began to unfold, as we drove off into the Albuquerque sunset.

Chapter Nine: NOT a Shotgun!!!

The next week was a blur. Every night we were together, sometimes until 3-4am. We went Putt-Putt, we went up to our mountain again, we walked through the park, we talked and talked and talked. Then June 4 came. It was one of the hardest goodbyes I have ever said. It was a Monday morning, and Paul came over, early, just to say goodbye one more time. Paul had been transferred and was moving back to Wichita Falls. Neither of us said anything, we just stood there in each others arms, and I cried (crying was getting old!). He walked out the door, and I went back to bed, and cried myself to sleep.

We talked several hours later, as he was driving home, and thus begun the phone marathon. Over the next month, we logged over 7500 text messages and over 3500 minutes (Thank goodness we had the same phone carrier, so we had unlimited of each!). By the time I flew to Wichita Falls for the Fourth of July Weekend, we already knew that we were going to be together forever, however, we weren’t quite prepared to share that with everyone else just yet. It was this weekend that I met Paul’s parents and best friends. It was also this weekend that I had the “Zeke Bonfire”. We took an old coffee can, and I burned everything that I had that linked me to Zeke. There was my old journal in which I wrote many of my thoughts and prayers for Zeke and about Zeke. It was the journal he gave me for Christmas. There were some pictures of us, as well as the information we had designed for the “Band”. Paul said nothing, just stood there as my pillar of strength as I lifted up a burnt offering to the Lord. It was healing. Little did I know that it was only the first step of many in this healing process.

Those 5 days felt like just 5 hours and all too soon I found myself on a plane, headed back to Albuquerque. I cried as I watched Paul drive away from the airport. I cried all the way through security. I cried on the plane. Would crying ever come to an end? Seriously? But it was only going to be 2 weeks until I saw him again. I could make it, right? We continued our phone marathon, talking every waking moment, plus some.

And we began to talk more openly about our plans, and Paul began to shop for rings, which raised some eyebrows. Those who knew us best counseled us to seek counsel, but most also believed that God was doing a good thing in both of us. It was moving fast, even for us, but we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that we were smack in the middle of where God wanted us. What we didn’t know is that much of our lives would follow this same pattern. It was just the beginning of the whirlwind.

Stay Tuned for Chapter Ten: I will to I do