An intercessor’s life is peculiar. We require a lot of quiet and reflective time, praying, fasting, pushing aside things—sometimes important things—in a moment’s notice when the Holy Spirit prompts. We are dedicated, reliable, sensitive, sacrificial, and disciplined. Some of the requests, places in the spirit world the Lord wants us to stand-in-the-gap over, can be wild stuff. We are enabled to see through God’s eyes regarding particular details. Sometimes we get a glimpse of the fruit of our labors, oft times we don’t, but we do this thing called intercession anyway. I love my life of intercessory prayer because it’s more time spent with the Lord. The process heightens how we hear his voice; it expands how we depend on him. And it’s for the sake of others. Heart for God; heart for his people. But we’ve all had our struggles with the calling.
The hardest part for me is finding balance… the fine line between being empathetic while you’re pouring yourself out over an assignment and investing in someone else’s spiritual journey, and remaining objective so that the process doesn’t consume you. Intercessors often operate under a sense of need to help others. It gets heated, intense sometimes, especially when coming against principalities and demonic warfare. It’s emotional. I am an all-or-nothing person. This makes me a committed and fervent prayer warrior; also, a basket-case when an assignment lifts or concludes, where I’m wandering about without aim or inspiration. We have to learn how to trust in between commitments, stay prayed up and not let our guard down, and be obedient in letting go. For it all belongs to the Lord, from the beginning to the end. Occasionally I’ve had assignments I wish I hadn’t, with awful warfare, and felt relieved to get through them. Yet the biggie for me more often is letting go. Because I still feel tied to circumstances and people I’ve prayed for, in a personal way—especially if it lasts for months or years.
An example of this is when, not that long ago, a maritime assignment lifted. My spiritual obligation over this one lasted quite a while, and it was a journey, as some of you might already know. It began with the Holy Spirit alerting me to specific seaports, then ships and crewmembers. And I prayed over a whole gamut of conditions and seafarers (also floating church planting and port outreaches). Near the end of this task, the Holy Spirit would give me the name of a ship and where geographically it was positioned. Found these nifty little apps that can track ships, so discovering each of these named vessels was like a treasure hunt, and a joyous confirmation of the Lord’s lead. Each called out ship was exactly as the Lord said it was and where. He also gave me Words of Knowledge to understand what the vibe was on board, the spirits, the challenges, the sailors… and sometimes who might the Lord want covered in a specific way. I knew via the Holy Spirit when he gave me the name of the latest vessel, that it would be my last—at least within this format at this time. Understood that my prayer voyage here would lift at this ship’s next port. It was so very sweet when I discovered my last port of call would be Seattle. My hometown. I’ve lived in East Tennessee for so long it’s home to me now, too. But I grew up in Seattle. It’s still my home. I prayed, and watched via satellite in real time, as the tugboats came along and assisted this vessel into the Port of Seattle—arrived! It felt like a homecoming party. I celebrated. And these people, this crew, had no idea a crazy intercessor was praying for them, watching them, fasting on their behalf (or maybe they did, as the Lord told me there were firm believers on board). I always wonder, does somebody sense it when a prayer warrior across the oceans has gone up to bat for them? Fasting and praying, fighting and rejoicing? Probably many someone’s, as I’m not the only spiritual-crazy out there. But… then it was sad for me to let go. I felt invested in the task. I also stretch and grow during these times. The Lord takes me through a journey, asking if I’d do this or that, how much am I willing to commit, how far will I follow his lead? I also have to press in sometimes for clarity, just to understand if I’d heard God correctly. By the way, the Lord has a very special love for seafarers. They were his first choice as his disciples.
Well, another commission came fast on the heels (stern) of that last ship. For the Lord clarified that many in my missionary/ministry circle were in or are walking into a new season. We are all in different seasons; rather, varying places within the same season I’m inclined to think. But it seems almost everybody I know has been in a series of whirlwinds to prepare, get ready, and launch or expand into something greater, different, or newer. I’ve been watching and interceding over these launches, committed to holding their arms up like Aaron to Moses and prayed as the Spirit guided. I get to pray often for those beginning new ministries—and I love that. While praying on the phone with somebody recently who was experiencing frustrating hindrances, I got a vision, and in fact had the same vision for a handful of people. We prayed it through, knocking down the demonic gatekeepers and obstacles, and asked for an angels’ charge to carry them onward. We received instant results. Thank you, victorious and glorious God!
Now, many of those I know who are being sent have begun, are all set; at least for now. And I rejoiced. I also grieved. I spend much of my time uplifting others, interceding for others, watching them go, and celebrating with them. And I’ll be there for them when they need a supportive, praying sister. But sometimes, the lowly human in me gets caught up in the flurry and then feels left behind. I wish I was the one going. I wish I was commissioned to go out in the field. I’d had that calling once. Perceived God’s call into ministry when I was a young child. Later answered the call and went into full-time ministry through Christian performing arts and worldwide missions. I really enjoyed the field, thrived in challenging environments and all. It was a good fit for my fundamental nature of yearning to absorb adventure, travel, and that deep love for different peoples and cultures. I flubbed up when I stepped away from that path, when I never should have—and God didn’t ask me to. Rather, I didn’t seek him, just did my own thing.
I’ve since come to terms with my decisions/mistakes that put a cement stop to all the “moving around” kind of ministry. Repented. Made good with serving the Lord in the best way that I can under my circumstances. I’ve sought his face, pursued his heart. I’ve been obedient. Have written a lot. Realized that I’d learned things I wouldn’t have had I not gone through the erring and wandering ways. Found humility in a place of despair, among a myriad of better things from a firmer Biblical perspective. The entire development has made me stronger. For that, I’m grateful. And I feel called again. Actually, I’m not sure the calling ever left… even if one walks away from it for a time (a long time) in life. For in Romans 11:29, it says, “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”
Irrevocable: “not able to be changed, reversed, or recovered; final”
So, no, maybe I’m not picking up on somebody else’s radio frequencies. They’re my signals, intended for me. If the Almighty called me once, the call is still there. And stirring. One of these days, it will be my turn to go, to embark again on a very real-life, real-time, hands-on way, and he’s going to blow my mind when he does it. And instead of my saying with spiritual eyes, “He’s doing that thing over there.” It will be with both spiritual and natural eyes, “He’s doing this thing over here,” and I’ll be reporting about it from somewhere online. When my confession grows into my testimony.
Last Thursday, another call-to-prayer over someone lifted. Right after, a cloud of oppression dropped over me. It was heavy, thick crud, and I couldn’t shake the rot off. And that’s just like the creepoid enemy; when the devil sees a vulnerability, he’ll seize the opportunity. Lasted for several hours. It was all I could do to listen to worship music and utter (even when I didn’t feel like it) “Thank you, Jesus.” Then the attack cleared with a snap (hey, maybe someone from afar was praying for me! Sure felt like I had help, and if so, thank you…) and I praised the Lord freely. But I did ask then of my savior, “Lord, what’s next for me?” And I didn’t mean a prayer assignment from my confined seat or closet.
He gave me a vision. I saw a fortified, thick-beamed entranceway. I’d been in a dark space, and this large, bold door appeared. It was holy. I think it was already there, but it only just became visible to me. There were two tubular neon-ish lights, each distinct, yet wrapped around the door and pulsating together like the aurora borealis. I could also hear and feel the pulsating energy. The one in front was rich red, the one behind was sapphire blue; the thick frame between was white. So it appeared like a living triplet of stripes… two separate and distinct colors welded together and supported by this strong inner/middle white frame. Through to the other side, steps away, was bright, beaming, living light; fluctuating and revolving as if a hundred lighthouses of holy fire. It sliced darkness. Took my breath away, especially with the sense of purpose and joy that came with this powerful vision. I wanted more, to learn more. In one word, I asked him, “Lord?” And he gave me one word for now: “Apostolic.”
And so there it is. You’ve heard it from me here. You’ll hear again from me from there. One day.
I love to laugh, but look for places where I can find comedy clean. Discovered a family-oriented channel on YouTube called Dry Bar Comedy. I enjoy countless comedians there who I don’t have to worry about dropping the f-bomb or telling off-color jokes… because the Lord has been taking me through a refining process. Convicting me of what I watch, listen to, read, etc. I’ve become more aware that I might be exposing my spirit to things, images, messages, sounds I probably shouldn’t. This is true for me, especially with music. I am swayed by music and I love certain bands, especially nu-metal bands, but the language, topics, veins, have come to the forefront. Holy Spirit is tapping me on the shoulder, saying, “maybe it’s time to clean this up.” It’s a bit painful, but I don’t want to leave any doors or windows open for the enemy to get a foot in or influence me in any way that is away from Jesus. Don’t want to saturate my spirit with anything but him and the renderings of people who also call him theirs (Christian metal bands, for instance). As I’ve scrutinized the things that I subject myself to, Dry Bar Comedy has made the cut.
But even on Dry Bar Comedy, I’ve noticed an awful lot of deprecating comparisons between men and women. Maybe this has always been a go-to spiel for a lot of comedians; I’ve just grown more sensitive to the contrasts which also feel like judgements. Bits on the male/female relational differences occur often, and they’re making me uncomfortable. They have me wondering why men and women even hook up if they so viciously misunderstand each other. Then I heard someone (not on Dry Bar) the other day say, “If men didn’t need sex, and didn’t find women so rrrr” (insert tongue-rolling purr), “I don’t think men would hang out with women.” My jaw dropped. I shook my head and was like: Did you really just say that?
I like motorcycles. They’re cool. I’ve ridden my own bikes; have maintained my endorsement since the 1990s. To be honest, though, I best enjoy riding in tandem. Haven’t in a long time, but that’s another story that will beg to be told one day. Anyway, I often have viewed riding in tandem, pillion, two-up, whichever term you prefer, as a light and lovely analogy of a male/female relationship. A dictionary term describes tandem as “two people or pieces of equipment that work together to achieve a result.” Here is where I envision the man's role as initiator, leader of church and family—and bikes (or trikes, which are way growing on me). A protector, provider, defender, driver. He’s a skilled rider, will assure safety to the best of his ability. And I see the woman’s role as supportive, affirming, responding. She’s a good passenger, balanced and upright. Wherever they go, the adventures they seek, the language (and prayer—spoken or unspoken) between the two, strives to be harmonious and kind, validating. To love and to cherish, to have and to hold. Together, they are on a mission to ride with purpose into the God-gifted horizon with the joy of freedom. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
The origin of the term tandem came from a two-seated carriage (1785) drawn by harnessed horses, one in front of the other, or alongside each other. Together, in partnership or conjunction. You hear of the occasional happy couple who have it all together; partners in conjunction who praise each other and are careful not to criticize. Kind of seems rarer these days.
Have women turned to criticizing men, even their own partners, because of disappointment or rejection? And have men done the same? Are we so hurt that we can’t speak of the opposite sex as anything but complex trash? Is it really for the sake of a laugh when a comic throws his/her spouse under the bus? I don’t know, but lately I’ve been feeling how harmful this is—especially when gender roles are in crisis. With women trying to be men, and men trying to be women, or either treating the other like a burden, nuisance, or object. Maybe we just haven’t learned each other’s love language?
When I flew back home to Washington State, where I grew up, to visit my sister, we had a lot of healing hikes and talks about ministry, life, and relationships. I love her so much; she’s my tribe—and hey, my tribe might be small, but it’s big in love and support. We all need that; we need at least one person who feeds into us encouraging words and vice versa. On a whim, for fun, she insisted I take a What is Your Love Language test that suggests what your most compatible/favorable expression/response is out of five possibilities. Turns out that my love language is Words of Affirmation. But of course it is! Word. I didn’t quite realize that about myself. *shrug* This helps, I guess, to understand some things in my life.
I believe that men and women are disparate… unlike but not opposed. This is how I believe God intended it: two distinct parts, yet counterparts, genuine partners. Men are to be men in strength and leadership, and women are to be women in support and contribution. In tandem. A team. An alignment with each other because you’re aligned with the One Who Sits on the Throne before you. A relationship that says, “I get you,” and “I got you,” to your person. Whether it’s through Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Physical Touch, Acts of Service, or Receiving Gifts, as outlined in the 5-love-languages test. It’s respect and a desire to understand the other’s role, mutuality, and with a level of authenticity that you don’t have with anyone else. To pray for and with each other, too—sounds like bliss! To focus on the good things within each other. And if that’s not what you’ve experienced or are living and receiving (believe me, I know about this), trust God. He can make a way—somehow, someway, someday—where there is no way (Isaiah 43:19).
Live for the Lord, not for man. The world can do what it does at its best, the common tear-down, but that doesn’t mean you have to roll with it. Dare to roll on your very own in the name of Providence. Exhibit love, honor, respect, kind treatment, compassion one to the other, male or female, in our words and deeds. Work to say, “I get you,” and “I got you.” And if you don’t receive the same, or you truly don’t understand something, or no matter how hard you try, you remain severely incompatible, continue to seek the Lord, worship him, and pray unceasingly. Just this morning during my devotional time, a daily word from Prophet Russ reminded me of following the Lord through difficult circumstances, situations, or people: “Keep trusting. Stay sweet in your soul. Refuse to become bitter or contentious.” Not always easy, but possible.
Yeshua has got to be first in everything, the number one. He can heal and transform; he can and may also realign you with other people who are better suited teammates, helpers and supporters. Next time I watch Dry Bar Comedy, if a comic starts ragging their spouse or the typical men vs women gig (the historical definition of gig is “a light two-wheeled carriage pulled by one [lonely] horse.” Just sayin’), I’m turning it off and walking away. Listening to that negative material doesn’t do me any good.
My love language actually begins with Creator, the creator of man and woman—all of whom he loves. His words are nothing but affirming.
Living in tandem with the lover of my soul,
Eshet chayil in the Hebrew, a woman of valor, means she is rich in her relationship with God. Since Hebrew is immense in multilayered word meanings, Chayil (or hayil) can also mean soldier, army, power, resources, effective, wisdom, or soul, etc. These are also allegorized as the perfect woman/wife (eshet or isha).
Valor is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to encounter danger with firmness: personal bravery.”
We read about the woman of valor, or The Woman Who Fears the Lord, in Chapter 31 of the Book of Proverbs. Within the text, this woman, “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” She is one who “dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.” Recently I heard a Christian speaker interpret this as that she dresses to the nines, impressing by her appearance, and referenced Esther as an example. Here is where I digress. When I dove deeper into what dressing herself with strength really means, I learned she girds her loins so that she is prepared for battle. This is to love and defend for righteousness’ sake. She prepares mentally, also pulls her tunic about her for freedom of movement. It’s like she gathers her garments so she can run up a mountain for those she loves.
Verse 30 of this part of Proverbs continues to say that, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
There is an obsessive, damage-causing emphasis on outer beauty in our society. The pressures, insecurities, comparisons to look perfect, be perfect, present perfect, to appeal to mankind, to attract a person, land a job, gain favor, is off the mark; a diversion. As is anything that deviates from Yeshua, or his Holy Spirit, the Ruach HaKodesh sent to help guide and protect us and give us wisdom through our existence here on earth. Pressure or advice is everywhere to dress smarter, sexier, look the part—if you want a greater role. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to wear a nice outfit, favoring a certain fashion, styling your hair a specific way or that is appropriate for an appointment or important engagement; perhaps looking extra-nice for someone special—if it doesn’t consume our time, effort, or energy as if an idol, or attempt to beguile eyes by carnal triggers.
Queen Esther had a role to play, a mission to save her people. A powerful allegorical story. It’s often told that she underwent a year of beauty treatments before her night with the king. From more of a Jewish perspective, though, the first six months of preparation were for purification and cleansing, healing from within. The most important part. The story goes, yes, she was chosen for her beauty, but beauty began on the inside. I used to think this phrase humorous: “That person is beautiful…” then tongue-in-cheek, “on the inside.” But now I wonder why we need that differentiation when God doesn’t.
And this is admonished in 1 Peter 3:3-4: “Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.”
I’m a hair braider (love braided hair), but I hope I don’t do it under the compulsion of flesh, seeking or demanding the approval of man or else I’m nothing. That notion’s gone out of bounds, and so many people—women especially, have suffered, are suffering because of objectness. Some blame men. Yet women have helped fuel the flawed system by succumbing or offering themselves, placing themselves up for the bids of money, ego, fame, lust, peer pressure, or because of a different kind of brokenness.
Then there’s the empowerment, strength, and overt confidence in oneself/herself. That’s not quite right either. Be confident in the Lord, that is, to trust in the Lord, and we are whole. Anything other and we risk sliding over to the side of narcissism. I’ve seen women take the “woman of valor” notion to the umpteenth-degree-on-steroids. A sort of “I am woman, hear me roar,” prideful enablement or arrogance. I’m all for equal rights, as in everybody treated with respect and dignity, but feminism has done quite a job of elevating woman to a throne-like status while emasculating men. We see it in the movies, media, and music… “Whatever you can do, I can do better,” mentality is rough competition that at the root tears down a lot of relationships (sort of my next blog post), because gender roles are in crisis. We are what we’re born as; there are men and there are women as the Word of God, the Bible, has inscribed. A fallen world has produced abuse, unfairness, perversion, pressure, cultural clashes, all kinds of injustices and skewed opinions and confusion between the sexes. But these things aren’t what God intended for his beautifully and wonderfully made men and women. I also recently heard a YouTuber criticize God for creating these fallout things. The statement made me shudder. God didn’t create these results of a fallen world. He gave us Eden, and we chose otherwise, and here we are living what we brought on ourselves. But God! He came to redeem us through Jesus. Again and again, his arm stretches to save; his mercy and his love are boundless.
True beauty lies within and not by our own volition. May we strive to look beyond the skin and see the light within. And may the light within grow stronger, like the beacon on a hill, a lighthouse that shines the radiance of Yeshua from our hearts and souls in a dark, misguided world. May HE be our essence, our beauty, our focus, our joy and delight. May HE be the source of our advancement and promotion. Not because we looked good or were at the most appealing age, but because he caused his favor and light to shine from our hearts, actions, and words because we’ve spent time with him who is holy and he’s filled us up. He looks at the heart. He looks at the heart. He looks at the heart! He is the Beautiful Great One (tender song by Broken Walls, by the way). To HIM be the glory.
The farm where I keep my horse raises sheep. This has given me a firsthand opportunity to contemplate comparisons between sheep and people I read about in the Bible. Sometimes observations have brought me laughter. Sometimes reflections are sobering; other times, downright pensive and dreadful. Is this really how God sees us, as sheep?
*Sheep flock together, yet are prone to wander.
*When scared, they have no defense except to run. Also have no sense of direction, and so run wherever—and not always toward the best place, putting them in deeper trouble.
*If they get tangled up, then freed, they tend to get tangled up in the same place in the same way as before.
*They are easily persuaded; if one jumps off a ridge, the rest will follow without a glance at the precarious scenario.
*They are skittish, yet the one or two that are most distrustful seem bullish and pick on the weakest. These are also those that stand out and might spring to break your nose or kick when you try to wrangle them.
*You might provide a vat of fresh feed ten feet away, plenty for all, yet they’ll only perceive the crumbs left in your hand and will clamber for that as if the last bits of food on a dying earth—raid!
*When lifting their heads taking notice of you, they look guilty and act paranoid as if caught doing something wrong (because Big Sister has been watching).
*They can ignore danger, and sometimes… sometimes when they fear something, in their denial they will all simply turn around. Because if they can’t see you, then you (big mean bear) aren’t actually there. And all you view is several dirty back-ends a swipe away.
*They are inherently filthy and cannot care for themselves; they need their shepherd to clean and care for them.
*When a sheep is cast down, it needs the shepherd to pick it up and set it on its feet, right-side up again. And so they learn their shepherd’s voice, and this is the voice they will trust.
*With offspring, nothing seems as pure and innocent as a lamb. You celebrate and recognize the value in such creatures, in the evidence of the first breath of life on its own, and also in the hope and provision of more endless wool and milk.
*They are not pack animals, not meant to carry burdens.
*No two bleats are alike; their voices are distinct. Some baas are even comical. While some sheep are louder than others, some make little to no sound and seem to just stare or observe rather than vocalize.
And this next one especially fascinates me…
*The one that strays from the 99 tends to be the same one, and it is often the one rejected by its mother and picked on by the rest of the flock. You don’t know why, but that one is just different. It’s an outcast, a loner. Yet, has the biggest emotion toward its shepherd or person it trusts. It loves to be around that human more than the flock and almost smiles when found, and enjoys the caretaker’s arms, its legs dangling in complete trust; will even remain like that, content, going for a piggyback walk or car ride back to the barn. The shepherd recognizes the specialness and doesn’t mind at all going out again and again to rescue it, just to spend time together. The peculiar one with the big heart after its caretaker seems to make the most difference, beautifying the day with warmer memories and richer stories.
I could go on and on. And a lot of these comparative observations are humbling to me. What stands out the most is our need, as people, for the Good and Great Shepherd and how the Shepherd knows us and our behaviors so well. He sees our filth, weaknesses, and tendencies, our vulnerabilities and fear, yet loves us so much! When we learn our Shepherd’s voice, we follow, and the Shepherd takes care of our every necessity and more. We are valuable to him. He cleans us, guides us, feeds us, clothes us, rescues us, carries us, and gives our distinct voices purpose. I guess I don’t mind being compared to a sheep. I will trust my Shepherd.
When Lana Applewhite skipped town after high school, from a small rural community bent for gossip, she meant never to return. Aside from getting jilted, she also sidestepped expectations to help run the family-owned candy store. Now ten years have gone by, and although she’s reluctant, her grandmother’s urgent plea brings her back home, only to discover news that has her reeling with indecision.
When she seeks out her childhood best friend, Beau Monroe, it’s as if things between them never changed. Yet beneath the surface, they have. Beau has kept a secret that may ruin their friendship. Steadfast yet shy, a man of few words, he’s missed every chance over the years to tell Lana… until now. Confessing his love to her may change everything. Then again, Lana just might have a secret of her own.
Her Beau of Piney Cove is a clean and wholesome Southern Christian romance, my latest book freshly released. Available in digital and print formats with new stores added daily, grab yourself a copy… if it’s your cup of sweet tea.