Monday, February 14, 2011

Year of Expectancy!

I can't believe it's been a year (almost to the day) since I ventured to move to the cold Fargo North Dakota.  But here I am a year later with a year of marriage under my belt, a year of Fargo living, and with new adventures on the way...I feel a sense of expectancy and excitement about this year!

Preston and I are pleased to announce that we are "expecting" a little one of our own in October!  What an amazing journey we are jumping into these next 9 months!  Woo hoo! I am ecstatic with a trillion butterflies in my stomach reminding me of the miracle that is developing inside me!!  It's pure joy.  

I look forward to springtime, when winter has passed, looking forward to the warmer weather, the growing of the tummy, the developing of my child and prophesying destiny over him or her.

I think it is significant that Preston and I have named our children before they were even created, just like God has named us.  Naming is valuable.  It's about identity and destiny and purpose.  Now my husband and I sit in eager expectation of who is going to enter the world this fall...  
Is it Story?  Could it be Courage?  2011 does mark the year of the "Roaring Lion" (according to Bob Jones' prophecy), which means authority and maybe this is the year of Courage Hall.  Time will only tell!   
Our one year anniversary (1-1-11)
Cutting our wedding cake from last year <3

This super cute vintage rocking chair I picked up at a thrift store.
I absolutely LOVE this color green.
This will go perfect in our baby room ;)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Welcome to Grandma's House

My Grandma is a pretty awesome woman.  How many of you LOVED going to Grandma's house growing up?  I still do.  She has the coolest treasures, freezer always stocked with vanilla ice cream (my fav), and no matter how many bowls I already had in one day, she'd always let me have more.  Ahh, I love Grandma...

My sister compiled a collection of photos of some of Grandma's treasures, and I couldn't resist posting them...Enjoy :)

Grandma's house is also called the "Key Lodge"
How sweet is that?!  She has such an awesome collection of keys, as you will see...

So many glorious keys

A Native American (could he be an ancestor??)

A castle and maybe a gnome? Or a troll?
I LOVE castles!

My Grandma is a full Swede.  Some of my heritage.

I like this

Grandma is a lover of owls!
Added to her massive key collection is her awesome owl collection

She also has an incredible library.  My Grandpa loved books.
He was a Professor of Greek, Bible and Theology,  as well as a pastor
This is in the garage

I don't even know who this is or where this is from,
but it is definitely something I remember from my Grandma's house since I was a kid

Some elephant firgurines

Pretty cool organ

That's all for Grandma's house for now.
Makes me want to visit her :)


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Breathing Underwater

This is a story about inner healing...

Photo Source

There was a girl who wanted to be a mermaid, so she spent her days playing in the waters.  
No one taught her how to be a true mermaid, and so she took lessons from pretenders of the sea.  
Something inside her showed her how to swim. 
Something outside her showed her other things, and crept slowly into her heart, so gradually that she did not even notice.
She loved to dive into the depths and listen to the sound, but something else in the water always disrupted her peace.

Every day the girl saw glimpses of vision packed full of hope,
but then a wave of disappointment knocked her sideways,
and all she could see was the blur of murky water as it tossed her around.
This went on for years until the girl became a woman who dreamt of worlds and passion and heaven.  But a strange and familiar current still pulled her deeper under murky water, and something cold closed around her ankles.

Every habitual defense would rise in her as she felt the restriction of her situation,
and she bitterly pointed her finger at her Creator
because...of course...He is to blame.
It was her way of shifting shame, but it was a foolish tactic.
After all, the guilt only grew bigger inside her the further she pushed Him away.

The pain naturally called for a solution, in which she desperately spent days digging for in the sand, but to no avail.  Wiped out, she collapsed and resorted to pointing her finger at her Creator again.  

But there was a beckoning that called her on a journey into her own heart.  Such a daunting and vulnerable journey caused her to hesitate.  Nevertheless, the repetition of failure propelled her into facing the deepest pain.  So, with arms crossed her chest she took her first step...

The deeper she explored her heart, the more twisted and crooked things she discovered.
Such distorted perceptions and self-destructive thoughts took root in the darkest, most hidden places.  She never knew they were there or how they came to be so attached.  
It was obvious they were causing such agony, and yet they seemed to be so much a part of her that it was almost impossible to imagine them being removed. 
But as familiar as they were, they were also so appalling to her naked eye.  And her eyes were now naked as she beheld a true reality, a reality that disgusted her.  
Such offense at the mere sight of them made her sick to her stomach, but she had trouble finding who to blame for their presence.  

Wasn't there supposed to be some Protector to guard her heart?  

But she questioned that thought, even for only a second, and she almost decided that maybe she herself should have been a better heart guarder.
But then after reflecting on her past, she concluded that she had been an innocent victim, and so she quickly refuted her earlier thought, and took her familiar position of pointing her finger at her Creator.

Sadly, instead of deciding to uproot and pull out such awful weeds, she bitterly meditated on how they came to grow there, and why no one had warned her or helped her.  She stared at one of the biggest wretched weeds and saw that it was made of stone.  She despised the stench of it, yet she recognized it so well.  It had been her "companion" during her loneliest times.  The longer she looked at it, the angrier she became.  Every sense of Love was intensely clouded by an overwhelming sense of abandonment and rejection.  Angrily she stomped her foot and cried out foul accusations at her Creator.  After an exhaustive tantrum, she dropped to the ground and rested against that very stone-like weed.

How could something so ugly, so wretched, so wicked, be a comfort?  It is only because she learned to be a prisoner to the point that fear was big enough to distort her vision of freedom.  As much as she hated her surroundings, she almost hated the thought of freedom too, because to her, Freedom was only a taunting illusion that was always just beyond her grasp and something she believed she was not worthy enough to obtain.  

You see, she didn't realize she had been living with and breathing in the toxic fumes of these horrific weeds every day of her life.  She didn't realize that they were feeding her false truths about her Creator and about her worth, separating her from her very own Father.  All she knew was that she was alone and on her own, and that she was separated by Someone that was supposed to love her and father her.  She came up with reasons why this was her reality, reasons that destroyed her value and her identity, and reasons that distorted her perception of Love.  It is the common coping mechanism any orphan or slave develops, and it can manifest in different ways, but always has the same root - the same lies.  Such lies imprison us and prevent us from letting Love (or God) in.

Tangled weeds that are not uprooted and destroyed perpetuate a vicious cycle that causes destruction of man's identity, purpose, mind, heart, and so on...When the heart dies, the man dies.  There are far too many dying hearts that are barely hanging on to their last beats.  Weak drumbeats are like the sounds of pathetic whimperings in the night.  The heart was created to be a palace for the King to abide in and rule from.  Evil crept in and trashed the King's palace, made it its own filthy shack and built crooked walls of deception. 

As the girl sat slumped against the giant stone-weed, her angry tears fell to the floor and cracked like glass.  The broken glass reflected thousands of awful images, thoughts, ideas, and lies.  These reflections caused ringing in her ears, and it grew louder and louder until she felt she would soon go insane.  She squeezed her palms against her ears and shut tight her eyes so that she wouldn't see the humiliating reflections.  She breathed in deeply and whispered, "quiet."

Then the strangest thing happened.  For a moment everything went still.  And that moment felt like eternity.  With her eyes tightly shut and her hands over her ears, she waited in the stillness...and then she heard a voice.  The voice was more like a whisper, which was more like the sound of a quiet wind, but it was a voice nonetheless, and a Voice she knew.

"Bella..." the Voice said, "I name you Bella, and you are my beloved..."

The girl arose, certain she heard clearly, but afraid that the Voice would go away.  She walked toward the wind, toward the whisper, toward the Voice, 

"You are my beloved, Bella, and I love you..."

Now she knew this Voice was speaking to her because she felt the beckoning in her spirit.  This Voice was like a song in the wind, and it gave strength to her bones; she even felt that she was growing taller.  She walked more confidently with the wind at her back as it lead her toward a gate that was entangled in thorns.  As she approached the gate she could see that even though it was so heavily covered in the mass of thorns, it must have once been a beautiful and royal gate made of gold.

"Cut loose the thorns," she heard the Voice say, this time much louder as if it came from just behind the gate.  She looked down and in her right hand she held an axe.  She raised her right arm and felt power permeate through her body from the axe.  Forcefully, yet effortlessly, she brought down the axe toward one of the thorny vines, and instantly all the thorns fell to the ground and disintegrated until the gate was shining golden and bright as if brand new, and there was no sign of the thorny vines.  

Then the doors to the gate opened, and there stood a man in white.  He had the kindest eyes, fierce as fire and gentle as a song, and he was smiling.  The girl recognized him.  Her eyes widened and she saw him for Who He was.

"Papa!" she exclaimed, and she reached her arms out to Him.  He ran through the gate and met her instantly.  After they embraced, the girl felt whole and filled with so much Love that she felt no worry or evil power could ever pull her back down.  She wanted to twirl around in bliss and frolic in a field with her Father forever.  Her Father laughed with her and enjoyed her new-found freedom, however He motioned her to come closer.  She leaned into Him and He looked deep into her eyes and spoke gently, "There is something we must do."  The girl felt the importance of the moment and nodded obediently.

Her Father pointed to the crooked and ugly weeds that infected their surroundings.  When the girl, who had completely forgotten about them, laid eyes on those awful weeds again, she shuddered and covered her face.  Before her Father could speak, she cried out with excuses as to why they were there, pointing fingers at anything and everything she could think of.  When she tried to point her finger at her Creator again, she began trembling as it became clearer to her that He was standing right before her.  Slowly she looked up at Him, afraid and defeated and feeling like the most filthy thing in the world.  But when her eyes met His, the fear vanished, and so did the defeat.  She felt all the filth wash away with His gaze, and when she was ready to listen again, He spoke. 

"Bella, I'm here to help you kill these weeds and to make this place beautiful again.  These weeds do not belong here, and you have the power to destroy them all."

She looked down at her axe and understood what she had to do.

"Please, come with me.  I cannot do this alone," she said.

"I will ALWAYS come with you, Bella.  I will NEVER leave you alone," Her Father responded, and having noticed a hint of doubt cross her face, He continued, "Do you believe me?"

The girl looked down to the ground and spoke slowly as if processing her thoughts, "I know your words are true because I feel them resound deep inside me, but..." she paused as she glanced toward the weeds, "...but I have felt alone for as long as I can remember, and I always thought you were the one who has left me."

Her Father came closer and pointed to the gate through which He came.  "That gate there is the door to your heart.  It is the place where life enters and flows from.  When evil began to creep in and take root in certain places of your heart, it persuaded you to listen to it and to push me out.  Its forces grew and barred that gate so that I could not enter until you invited me.  But I assure you, I have waited at that gate your entire life, calling you by name and eagerly awaiting your glances.  It brings me so much joy that I am here now!  I am a gentleman and you are a princess, but I am also a determined lion and you are a valiant warrior.  Together we must clear out these weeds and build us a castle for us to live in."

The girl's eyes brightened as she understood.  For the first time, she did not feel guilt or shame.  Instead, she felt courage and security, and she was determined to carry out this mission with her Father.

They went together, confronting each and every weed, clearing out the fields of small, slithery weeds, and every giant stone-like weed.  With her Father by her side, the girl gracefully moved her axe as if she had always been a trained warrior.  Each time she uprooted a weed, she felt stronger and happier and lighter.  Soon she was laughing with every strike and every motion.  

Then they came to the final weed.  It was the giant stone-weed that she had sat against while weeping before she heard her Father's voice.  Her smile faded, and she nervously looked at her Father.  Instinctively she clutched her Father's hand, and he spoke very seriously, "Do you know what this weed is called?"  The girl waited for Him to tell her.  "It has many names, but one of its names is 'Self-Pity.'"  When He said this, she felt her stomach twist.  She clutched tighter to His hand.  "This has been your biggest crutch and has caused you the most pain.  Do you understand why you must remove it?"

The girl thought for a second, and then spoke firmly, "Yes.  If I always feel sorry for myself in any given situation, and resort to finding someone to put my offenses on, I will never become powerful enough to overcome anything.  Instead, I will become weaker and weaker, smaller and smaller, retreating and hiding until I become like nothing.  I must kill this weed before it kills me.  I do not want it to steal away my identity and power any longer."  

Her Father clapped His hands with excitement and exclaimed loudly "CUT LOOSE this weed!"
And so the girl swung her axe into the base of the stone-weed and down it went crashing to the floor.  It shrunk smaller and smaller until it was nothing, and the ground closed up as if it swallowed all evidence of the weed's wickedness.  Together they cheered, Father and daughter, two mighty warriors, and they looked around at the pure blank slate of the girl's heart.

"Now, the best part," Father said, His eyes gleeming.  And the girl watched as an eagle came and swirled around them in circles, behind it drawing light and colors until there were rainbows spinning and singing like wind chimes.  Faster and faster the colors whirled around her like merry-go-rounds and lifted her up so that she was dancing in the sky.  When her feet touched down again beside her Father, the music went to a diminuendo and before her eyes there formed a bright and glorious castle.
She gasped in awe at the beauty of such a palace.   

Her Father turned to her and said, "I have a gift for you," and He cupped her face tenderly.  Then He breathed on her, His breath like wind from another world intoxicated her as she breathed Him in.  

"Bella, my little mermaid, now you can breathe underwater.  Now you have the freedom and the power to explore the depths and dig up every treasure that you delight in."  Then He poured water over her head, "You were made to be free and to bathe in my Living Water.  There are no limits to what you can do when you are baptized in this water."  The water washed over her, purifying every pore of her body, every thought and every memory.  As He spoke, she saw His words being engraved along the castle walls,  "Now this water is a part of you, it is inside you and it is all around you.   Never again will you be tossed around by currents from a lesser world, for inside you lives the Almighty Current.  As you learn to ride this Current, there will be nothing you cannot defeat.  These are my words, and they are written on your heart."

The water was exhilarating as the girl let it wash over her.  She knew she was changed and felt the empowerment to embrace and fulfill her every dream and vision.

"Now, go!" Her Father affirmed, "Go pursue and fulfill everything your heart desires,
and I will be with you forever and ever after..."

This is a painting I painted after I was soaking in the Presence.
It now hangs in my Starbucks.