Choices make destinies. Destinies can also change.
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A few years ago, I sensed a shift in my spiritual journey. My dreams even changed. I heard drums in my sleep. At first, being of Jewish background, I thought they were Israeli, perhaps of Yemeni influence, since I had danced Yemenite-Jewish dances before—they are some of my favorites because of the percussion. And maybe my dreams began that way, but it became clear that what I was hearing originated from Native Americans. In one dream, I was walking in a cadence on one path at dusk, but when the music shifted, I turned and zipped up another, totally different path that ascended a hill, then a mountain. At the top, I saw people in regalia gathered there around a drum. Drawn at first by the sound, I couldn’t get there fast enough through the dark. And the closer I got, I realized the people sang praises to Yahweh and worshipped with fullness of joy in God’s spirit. Their divine sound swelled from the top of that high mountain and cascaded over the entire land as the sun rose in brilliance. The elation I felt was like nothing I’ve experienced. These kinds of dreams I was having grew so profound that the drumming became almost tangible. I woke up from my night visions and still heard the sound, like my own heartbeat. Sometimes, through the day, I’d hear the rhythm, remember the visions, and knew that something was up. God was giving me these reflections, images, sounds, stirrings, for a reason.
So, I’ve pondered this over the last couple of years. Mindful. Expecting something, but God chose to be… not exactly silent, but quietly guiding, gently influencing. I appreciated the gentleness, because the Lord was ministering to my own heart with healing even as I prayed for meanings and interpretations. He knew I needed the quietude, for he builds up rather than tears down. This past year I’ve spent a lot of dedicated months just pressing in, worshipping, seeking deeper intimacy with the Lord. One way I’ve served the Lord is as an intercessory prayer warrior. And this has manifested in a multitude of ways since the early 1990s, when he first called me to this type of praying. Now, as I’ve dwelled in his presence this year, I’ve felt a continual change within me, a sort of, I don’t know, personal cultivation, and it was very deep, very different. Also, I kept getting prophetic words from others about new seasons, new blueprints for what God is doing or preparing to do. I’ve heard repeatedly that the greatest spiritual harvest and healing that will take place will be unlike anything ever seen. Prepare for a spiritual tidal wave, I was told. Well, I want to be where God is moving, that’s for sure. I was receiving these words; in fact, I think a lot of believers I know were receiving the same, or along the same lines. There seems to be a theme of pressing in and of preparedness. However, in my own life, I couldn’t (still can’t) quite see what this is; what it looks like for me. My future, that is, is yet veiled. Except, a week ago, I distinctly heard the Lord say, be like a watchman on the wall—expecting, watching, waiting—and intercede for your Native American spiritual siblings, focusing on this, for the next three months. Although I long for more by details or involvement, that’s really all I need to know: the next step. Baruch Hashem (Blessed be the Name).
The Lord has, without question, planted in my heart that the greatest healing, revival, and harvest in this fractured land will emanate from the Indigenous. This is incredibly moving to me. That those who have been persecuted, oppressed, displaced, ignored—those who have the most to forgive will be central to bringing about the greatest move of forgiveness, healing, and restoration. Those who had been often damaged by the church will rise up and be the church, lead the church.
“So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last.”—Matthew 20:16
And it all will spring from the vital drum; culturally intact, spiritually whole. All last week long, after God asked me to intercede in this manner, I have received affirmation after affirmation. Then a thing popped up when I wasn’t even looking for it; it was a blurb about a documentary called Awakened. I watched it right away and was floored. Apparently, I’ve been in a cocoon, because a lot has been happening in this realm and I’m just now catching on. Anyway, Billy Graham made a statement 40 years ago regarding the spiritual destiny of the original Americans and of the move of the Holy Spirit through them to others. This documentary is about that, and here is a link: https://www.amazon.com/Awakened-Ellson-Bennett/dp/B07JN4WTGC
I like to immerse myself in the thread of what I’ve been asked to pray about, so I’ve done some recent googling. There have been all kinds of gatherings huge and small with this similar theme. In much of these videos and articles I come across, some older, some current, I spot flashes of the Messianic! And I’m thinking, as a Messianic, how did I not know my Jewish brothers and sisters were already getting involved and joining hands in this significant move of God? I mean, in videos and pictures, I see shofars, a kippah, and a tallit (prayer shawl) or two! In decades past, I’ve had the privilege and blessing to travel and minister all over the world, while absorbing the beauty of other cultures. The Indigenous peoples of the Americas, though, have always been extra special to me. Of course, I love my own cultural upbringing, so to see other Jewish believers in Jesus embracing and uniting in what others are calling the “awakening of the sleeping giant” in “leading others on the path to Yeshua” for forgiveness and revival, and a “coming into covenant with the races of America”… Well, that’s a giant double-cool for me! And getting up to speed… Well, better late than never. Yet, somehow, I have this impression that I am exactly on God’s timetable. And I thank the Lord for making things so interesting sometimes. Living a redeemed life is an exciting life, even from a little old, worn-out prayer closet like mine.
I’ve provided a few video links that share this heartbeat, yet there is a ton of other information out there to peruse.
https://youtu.be/abCr07OX8os Broken Walls, Ride the Wind
https://youtu.be/Mtof2r1jNpQ Azusa Now, The Call, Native America (2016) live in LA
I know this is different from what I usually post. I’m also a very private person and this was a little challenging for me to divulge—the personal tidbits anyway, dreams and such. I am a prophetic dreamer, but tend to be shy about it. This day seems apropos at least to say: I’m stepping out to step deeper in. What I’d like to do is scale that mountain and physically join with the flow of this ministry movement, but I am for now actively a committed watchman on the wall, praying and praising with intention, because this is what the Lord has asked me to do.
Be blessed, for we are coming into the Year of the Lord’s Favor (Isaiah 61).
Everyone has a voice, but do we need to use it? Sometimes. But sometimes we use it way too much. When heated opinions take center stage. One roars like a lion until the other roars in response. Pretty soon, everybody is roaring. If everybody is roaring, we can’t hear each other. We cancel each other out, leaving nothing except loud chaos and whirling anger, with the risk of manifesting into damaging animosity.
Sometimes… sometimes a period of silence is good medicine. Next time someone roars at you with something to prove, consider taking a step back. To meditate, pray, refresh, and explore better and more effective options before we run each other into the ground. Or maybe welcome a respite and allow the Lion of Judah to handle the issues of the day instead of taking matters into our own hands. Try letting go (note to self).
“The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”—Exodus 14:14
Just something to chew on other than the sinews of those we’d consider our opponents; because the climate has been sounding extra shrill. Have a silent day.
“Never listen to your critics. They aren’t qualified to usurp the still, small, voice that speaks in the silence between your own thoughts.”—Russ Walden
It takes courage to write truths in fiction; write what hurts. To contextualize emotions, the struggles; tapping into the raw nature and grind of real life and transposing them into an altered universe. The result might not represent a true existence verbatim, but can harbor the angst, dilemmas, struggles, and sicknesses of hope-depleted hearts in order to instill hope in the end. It can be scary sometimes to release a story that holds a little more truth than you’d care to admit. Makes one feel vulnerable. But it’s always the still, small voice, a reminder that what’s written might be intended for one person only. And that one person to get it, feel moved and encouraged by your labor of love, washes over any potential collection of critics, large or small.
Writing with boldness, listening with care…
A life is like a vapor. Here today, gone tomorrow. I think of my own. What can I show for half a vapor? How can I make the next half count more? The sharpening realization that life is precious, and not guaranteed, makes me reevaluate my vision of life for the future I assume but cannot see.
I can make my plans, but it’s the Lord’s plans for me that will prevail. He moves in both large and infinitesimal ways, many remaining unseen. One day, beyond the here and now, I believe a better understanding will come of why some things happen as they do.
I’ve entered a place of letting go, or at least of hanging-on-loosely—to anything, really. A place of complete trust in the Higher Power; surrender, and a call to turn the other cheek in social situations.
Whatever the vision of life, as it tends to shift, hold, then redirect, there is a desire that grows solidly within me in a take-advantage, unforthright-tending society. To be a vapor of integrity. Steadfast in kindness, fairness, honesty, and purity. That's a quality model for both personal and business operations, wouldn’t you say? To stay in the spirit of self-regulation, even as others might boldly mistake lenient niceness for stupidity. Details don’t go unnoticed by a detail-oriented God. As Christ has loved us, so must we love. To be a vapor of integrity even if others have done us wrong. So very hard, but not impossible.
“Forgive, Release, Bless…” It’s a mantra that’s grabbing my attention wherever I look and listen.
We can say we forgive someone. But if we then turn around and complain to another about how something was unfair, or someone hurt, stole, cheated or abused us, then we haven’t really forgiven. We’ve developed a grudge. That kind of emotional baggage gets weighty, a burden to carry around and unpleasant for everyone.
Writing is sometimes my therapy. I write a lot. Some I publish, some I pen under different pseudonyms, some go unpublished because it was the process that I had to go through to learn and grow, climb out of my cesspool. While creating another’s wilderness in story-form, I often go through my own spiritual wilderness. It can be tough sometimes. But the typed expressions help me breathe again, rejuvenate. I’ve had a lot of underwater dreams lately involving murky water, flooded caves, barriers, and scuba cylinders gone defunct. In one, I shout distinctly (because I can do this, it’s a dream, and I’m not a diver) to someone indistinct, “Breathe, brother, breathe!” Then there are explosions where barriers blow away, water clears, and breathing is miraculously unassisted by flung-away tanks, and I hear, “Live, sister, live.”
The tombs of our past regrets and afflictions teach us and model us for brighter futures. But some of us have focused on the tombs far too long (note to self). It’s time to step out of caves with flint-eyed focus on what’s ahead, and the life-giving promises thereof. This hinges around forgiving to where we can truly release the damage of our hearts, let go, and bless the damagers!
Even if you’re trapped in the middle of toxic, dysfunctional, or complicated situations, or have suffered inner turmoil for a long period. Maybe over decades you’ve experienced relational distress, cultural oppression, or unending sick-of-it conditions (whatever “it” might be), and you’re weary. Dead inside. Yet your sluggish legs somehow get you from point A to point B in a day, or you’re trying to move underwater wearing too many weights, burdens, baggage.
Matthew 18:18 tells us that whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. That’s the one thing we can control when we’re stuck. Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks, Luke 6:45.
One of my favorite Hebrew names for God is El Roi. It means, “the God who sees me.” When we are alone, aching, forgotten by everyone else, cast aside by society, suffering in solitude, or feeling invisible, it’s the name we use to say, “but God sees.” He does. And with faith (our believing without seeing) we trust, knowing that God’s promises endure. He cares. The muck we wade through does not endure unless we allow it. So, keep hope alive in the secret chambers of your heart. Make the petitions of your lips daring prayers to El Roi, the God who sees, and Yeshua/Jesus, our guardian. Embrace the Ruach Ha Kodesh/Holy Spirit, our infuser (regulator?) and comforter. Hold fast to the Word, our way-maker, and the protractor for navigating uncharted areas.
I’ve spoken to others who sense a current spiritual movement or theme. Feels like a season of cultivation, and of internally letting go, despite circumstances, for walking into a new era. “Forgive, release, bless,” I hear again. Forgive the wrongdoer, cancel out the crippling, and bless. Following that, I hear, “double portion” where Increase marries Wisdom, because a greater harvest is looming.
God’s blessings are irrevocable. Even if they fall dormant for a time, they will flourish again and better than imagined. Wherever you are, whoever you are, here’s to new beginnings, fresh seasons, big visions, strong clarity, and abundant joy beginning in the heart and bubbling up out of your mouth. Breathing words that heal and help you walk into the freedom of your greatest dreams fulfilled and hopes restored.
At last, I finished the first draft of one of my current works-in-progress. And this novel was a struggle. One of the biggest hurdles in my creative writing process, both in length and ethics. Took over a year to complete—a COVID-year, mind you, but still!
Normally, when I end a first draft, I want to celebrate. I’ve known colleagues to even crack open a bottle of bubbly at this early stage (with another after publication). The foodie that I am, I prefer grabbing one of my favorite meals: tacos, Thai, or t-t-t-t-t—spaghetti. Except, after I typed the last key yesterday, I was so spent that I nearly slid from my chair to the floor in an exhale, curled up, and sucked my thumb. Today, I feel like this Shaun the Sheep-ish depiction.
Standing alone in an amber space (sort of like a caution light between go and stop), nursing on a Binky, wide-eyed. Determining if the inner turmoil and opposition to completing this book was because of divine inspiration and the start of something new… or it’s crap. There’s a fine line there, ha!
Since I have other active stories, it’s time to rotate and finish another while this one ferments. Have to let the manuscript sit for a while until I can come back to it with fresh eyes.
This is just another friendly FYI post by your Shaun the Sheep-ish stand-in. Still standing, at least…
A reader asked, “Did that really happen to you?” after finishing one of my novels. I’ve heard this before, and the character-revolving question churns in my mind. It’s a great question. One for which I don’t always have a ready answer, because it’s rather loaded.
When I was a professional dancer, one of my fortes was Character Dance. I think this is where I first came to understand that, as an artist, I’m all my characters and none of my characters. I abandoned myself in a role, poured out blood, sweat, and tutus, until I became another persona. The interpretation was all mine (via the Lord’s inspiration and direction). After I hung up the costumes and retreated to the hotel or home for a cup of tea and a foot-soak, I was just me and nothing like the earlier identity on stage.
It’s the same with creating characters in books. Sometimes a reader will say, “I can relate to you,” when referencing the protagonist in a novel. I appreciate the response; it’s also interesting for me. While I can draw parallelisms, such as an incident or event that motivated the story, antics that aided a character’s development, or inject personal likes and dislikes, I’m not that person. Not even in my first novel, which is assumed in the industry to be every writer’s veiled autobiography. I'm just a vehicle to carry out another's story.
If I am my characters, then I’m also a human-flesh-eating imp, a war criminal, and a subterranean giant. I’m ALL of them (because creators invest in roles), and NONE of them (because I’m somebody else at the end of the day). Clear as mud? Lol. I'm inclined to think it's more the moral of the story that speaks (if anything does), which is sourced from a gracious God.
I might have done a strange thing as a child when I asked for wisdom... I’m not sure. I wasn’t around peers too much to find out if this is what they did too, since my formative years took place in the boonies. My only friends were animals, especially horses. It’s just the way things were. I don’t mind. I had a solid upbringing with loving parents and siblings, and I adored my lot of furry companions who didn’t seem to mind my quirky quests.
And I couldn’t say I understood what or who God was, although I’m quite certain of his presence. My mother was my primary spiritual teacher, and she’d tell me stories about important things—things I embrace even stronger today. Because I still hear her voice, though she has passed from this life into the next. Wisdom was something she spoke and sang of often, and her multi-layered lessons, like colors in paintings, enthralled me so much that I remember being not older than five, six, or seven years old and asking for Wisdom to grace my life in bright hues.
“Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Proverbs is one of my favorite books, touching often on wisdom, and this verse comes from 4:6-7.
I’ve heard others use the expression, sometimes jokingly, that a person gains wisdom by making mistakes; the more mistakes made, the wiser you are. Is this what it means for something to cost all you have to gain? Well, when I, owning a catalog of cringeworthy mistakes, walk into any crowded room, all eyes should fall on me, and in unison the people cry out, “All hail the Wisest One of All.” But that never happens—thank God!
Circumstances beyond control cause a person to open their eyes, see reality for what it is instead of through a bubble (if there was a bubble to begin with). And choices. And mistakes. And results, as well as responses from others. If I knew then what I know now... You’ve heard the phrase. It goes along with the error of one’s ways.
All this to say, Wisdom is good; cherish her. One day, her benefits and nurturing rapport will shine through.
“Wisdom comes alone with suffering.”—Aeschylus