Thursday, September 8, 2011

Go Throw Yourself Into The Sea

Trust is a subject from which I will never graduate or accumulate all knowledge. Understanding that is the essence of trust. Most subjects are taught and learned before mastery begins but TRUST, is mastered before the explanations are given. We don't learn 'trust' by hearing alone, we learn it through practice.

I thought I had a handle on trusting God, that was, until June 2nd, 2011.

I had trust in the fact that God had led me to discover the mass. And I had trust that His providence made provision for me to walk through a few weeks of instability. I remember the morning I went in for the follow-up sonogram. The Dr. spent a long time rolling the gel covered device over my chest, taking pictures from various angles. I ask her if this was routine, given I'd never had a mammogram before, I didn't know. She said, "No this is not routine. I am very concerned about this." She informed me I would need a biopsy and then left the room.

After she left, I sat up on the bed and thanked the Lord for leading me to this place. All I could say was, "Thank You Jesus. Thank You. Thank You." At the time I thought this was an odd response. But it was unbidden. In my heart, I knew that I had heard a warning and I was grateful for His word and for my own obedience.

A few days later, following the biopsy, I asked the Dr. what she thought I was dealing with. She said, "I think you have a small breast cancer, you'll have a lumpectomy and radiation and it will all be over. Thank God you caught it early."

My heart told me that her preliminary diagnosis was correct. And I hoped that my path would be as simple as she suggested. Although I was shaken, my trust in God was complete through the span of MRI's, total body Pet Scans and even the double mastectomy on June 22. Although the process was much more costly to me physically than the first Dr. suggested, I still had a complete and resonating faith that God had my best in mind.

My biggest battle came when Chemotherapy was suggested. Until then I saw all of this as just a small bump in the road, a minor detour in life, a molehill. But when the "C" word (Chemotherapy) was mentioned the pruning cut deep into my tree of TRUST. For the first time since this ordeal had begun, I started to question God's purpose for my life and that was a Mountain.

"What if I trust God and His outcome for this situation is not what I want?"

"What if His purpose for me here is nearly complete?"

Essentially I realized that I may be trusting Him to get me to my destination (86 years old) and He could have a different destination in mind. This was definitely a mountain I couldn't get around.

After Chemotherapy I experienced the most hellish days of my life. The first few days were fine, then on day three, I felt as if my bed was propping open the gates of Hell. More torment than I can define or describe came upon me. I rocked back and forth in the bed and moaned and wept for the deep sadness and hopelessness that covered me. My mother cried with me but for her own nightmare. She described looking into my eyes in those days and seeing me go away. Like an astronaut, I was sinking into the space around the backside of the moon, where for several black moments I was completely out of range of communication. I have never felt so separated from the peace of God. I now know the nuances that shade the depths of the "shadow of death." There are dimensions of feeling and emotion that I will never forget. By days I was drawn into the the valley and by days I came out.

One week and one day after Chemotherapy I emerged with victory. It was a Saturday and I spent most of it in bed crying. My parents came over and spent a few hours with me, laying on the bed, encouraging me. My dad finally got me to agree to go to dinner with the family. After dinner I came home and got in the bathtub. I knew my family didn't need to hear me crying again, so I hid my sobs under the sounds of the faucet on full blast. As I sat there weeping I had a conversation with God.

Many times through my trial I heard individuals quote the scripture, "It rains on the just and the unjust." This statement was my gripe with God. My argument was that as I understood it, this scripture basically meant, "the same consequences come to the righteous as the unrighteous." And I just could not square that with my knowledge of God. So I said, in a rather pitifully demanding tone, "God, you are gonna have to explain this to me. If the same bad things happen to your children as they do to those with no covenant, what hope do we have of ruling and reigning in your name?"

As I sat in the depth of my valley, staring up at Mt. Cancer, He simply said, "The JUST are joint-heirs. With my authority, you can say to the mountain, "MOVE!" and it will be cast into the sea. Yes, it does rain on the just as well as the unjust but the JUST live by faith. In My name you can speak to the storm. The rain may fall, Amie. But you will not."

In that moment, I was the prodigal child. Not in that I had foolishly left the comfort of home but in regard to the realization of how out of place I'd been. I was a favored child found wrestling with miry thoughts. With the instant clarity of remembering my way home, I began to speak to the mountains my friends were facing. I'd like to say that I'm just unselfish in starting with them and not with myself but honestly I was just more fearless on their behalf. One by one as I spoke my authority increased until finally I felt strong enough to look at my mountain: Mt. Cancer.

"Mountain's stand in the way, obscure perspective and block vision. I speak to the Mountain of Cancer, "'Move.'" You will not be the first thing I see when I open my eyes. Cancer will not obscure my perspective nor will it block my vision of the future."

It was so simple. And yet I knew the Mountain was gone. The real enemy had been fear. Not cancer. And I felt no fear. I had come through the valley of the shadow of death and I could finally say, "I fear no evil."

The shadow was gone with the mountain.

When I was done speaking to all the mountains, the wind of my breath had cut a path through the mounds of bubbles in front of me. I stopped crying and started laughing. The mourning ended right then.

The part of this battle that I truly believe can change your life is the dissection of trust and confusion. I had been hearing "it rains on the just and the unjust" and I had been interpreting, "the consequences are the same for the righteous and the unrighteous." My misinterpretation was primarily due to the way in which this scripture is quoted. This scripture IS saying that the battle for the just and the unjust are the same but it is NOT saying that the outcome is the same.

It rains on the just and the unjust. We cannot control what comes to us but as joint-heirs with Christ, we do have input in the victory. It rains on the just and the just, reign.

Take a look at what is blocking your path, obscuring your view. It might be time to name that mountain so you can tell it where to go.

Mark 11:23
"Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them."

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Darkness Begins The Day

As I prepare breakfast in the darkness, I contemplate the cozy, deep sleep that avoids me like the white bit of egg shell being chased by my spoon. I have many things to contemplate about the rhythm of my life during this season and the profound effect the changes have made on every part of my being.

When the darkness of my diagnosis first shadowed my life I was bombarded with possibilities, then surgery and at the darkest point, chemotherapy. When I didn't think the night could go on, my hair decided it had had enough of my company. There has been plenty to contemplate during this season. Some thoughts were not welcome but came anyway. How do you refuse to think about hair when its hitting the floor like petals from a flower past it's prime?

Not only must the loss be contemplated, it demands a resolution. Nothing brings resolution to loss like the beginning of a bright, new day. But I have learned that new days don't begin bright.

Darkness begins the day.

My life over the past few months has been what most would call a season of darkness. Figuratively darkness can denote a cluelessness, loss of sight or direction. And a few times through this season I have felt like a child awoken away from home. With exhausted tears I would ask, "Where am I? How did I get here?"

Sleeping through the night makes it go by quickly. But when you toss and turn, awaking many times throughout the night, you wonder if night will ever end. As I watched the clock creep by, the next day introduced itself, black hour then blue. Finally deciding that rest would not return, I rose to meet the day. As I quietly made my way around the kitchen, I thought about the fact that it was dark when I went to bed and dark when I got up. But just because it was still dark didn't mean a new day hadn't begun.

You might still be in the dark but that doesn't mean you are stuck in the pattern of yesterday.

When we are enveloped by darkness that seems to go on forever, we will undoubtably find ourselves eager to see the daylight. It will come. There is no doubt. Whatever the darkness may be, it cannot last forever. Great things begin with darkness. Even God put the night first in the cycle of days.
Genesis 1:5

"God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning--the first day."

So according to God, the moment darkness fell in your life, it was the beginning of something new. During the darkness, a shift has taken place. What was moving away from you yesterday has already begun it's return to you. The season has changed even if you cannot see it yet. It's all coming back to you. Bigger, brighter and better than ever! A new day has come!!

Genesis 8:22

“As long as the earth endures,

seedtime and harvest,

cold and heat,

summer and winter,

day and night

will never cease.”

Friday, August 5, 2011

Update -August 5th, 2011

I greet you with warm wishes for a summer filled with beautiful experiences.

I know that I will see some of you in the next week or two but I wanted to send this news at the same time to everyone who has been invested in my health through prayer and intercession.

I have been in Flagstaff since July 12 but returning to Tulsa once a week for surgical check-ups and future treatment appointments. In a few of these appointments with the Oncologist, some real reasons to celebrate came forth. First of all, the two lymph nodes they removed were completely clear of cancer cells (dead or alive). The second primary miracle is that the blood vessels in the breast were all examined under a microscope to see if the cancer had invaded my blood stream. Negative, all blood vessels were normal and had not been breached. Third miracle is that they were able to remove the tumor AND get clear margins all the way around. These margins were not just a few cells, the clear margins on every side measured in the centimeters.

Although we always celebrate the victories, I'd like to show you why clear lymph nodes, clear blood vessels and clear margins are an even bigger sign of God's had at work. Originally the mass was considered 1.5 cm, then after the MRI we were told that there were two additional small spots that had not been biopsied but looked cancerous. That made this mass measure around 2.5 cm. We were told that the three spots were not connected, although close, so it was now considered multi-focal, making a lumpectomy out of the question. If they go in and remove each location getting clear margins, you are left with a swiss cheese looking breast.

So, that information, combined with rarity of my age and awaiting the results of the BRACA1-2 gene mutation test, made removing both breasts the only option. If I were to have only removed the right side and the gene mutation came back positive, I would have to go back into surgery to remove the left. The other concern was the constant MRI's and biopsies I'd have to do on the left for the rest of my life.

Although I still do not have the results of the gene mutation test, I am praying that it comes back negative. If it is positive, I must immediately have a hysterectomy due to the risk of developing ovarian cancer, which is another strong risk with this gene. No one in my family history has had breast cancer, so it would be really surprising to be found positive for the gene. If I am, then all of my children (including boys) must be tested. I'm believing that door will not be open. I don't have the grace to handle it yet but I am sure that if it were to be present, I WILL be attended by the ALL consuming GRACE that has risen up to meet me at every turn so far.

Back to the tumor pathology and the main reason for this email:

Going into the surgery, we were all picturing the 2.5 cm cancer as the size of a dime (which is very close). But after all the internal breast tissue was excised and examined under a microscope, the final measurements were 6.5 centimeters, which is the size of a tennis ball. It is quite shocking to hold a dime up as a picture of what was in your body and then hold up a tennis ball and hear the words, "This is what you were up against."

At first I was physically ill at the news of the difference and yet exuberant at the pathology stating it wasn't found anywhere else. My mind felt like a stone that had lost its foothold on a high place and skipped and rolled down through these questions: How could it have been that big and the MRI didn't see all of it? How could it be considered early and still that big?

My mind and my stomach dropped until my mind found a solid resting place upon the answer to this question: How could the tumor have been that big and yet not one blood vessel, not one lymph node, not one skin cell have been touched????

JESUS is the answer.

God must receive the glory for His touch on my body. His care for me is evident without a doubt. Just as this could have spread physically and made the battle against fear much more violent, so does the tumors encapsulation by the Hand of God, build my faith. The very definition of the cancer they removed from my body included the word, "invasive"- meaning it had gained the ability to invade other kinds of cells. So I speak back to that invasive usurper and say, "You telling me you had the ability to invade blood vessels and lymph nodes but you didn't have the POWER??

Wow! How impotent he is, conniving the access and ability but STILL he has NO POWER!! When the enemy would love to attach a curse to the words spoken over our lives, like "cancer", we may temporarily feel surrounded on all sides by him. But I can tell you for sure, when you hear the sound of your enemy's trumpet blow, "CANCERRRRRR!!!!!!" and feel surrounded on all sides, it is only a matter of moments before your enemy is surrounded by an ALL-TOGETHER, GREATER ARMY- THE POWER OF GOD. The enemy blew his trumpet and I felt the echo of fear. I have seen his sneaky ways of gaining entrance into our lives and I am slamming every door, emotional, spiritual, physical. But the great revelation that has come to me through my frontline perspective of this battle, is this: the enemy can gain access to us and even adapt abilities against us, but he cannot gain authority and power! All authority in heaven and earth have already been given to Jesus. And we, who are joint heirs with HIm have this same blood bought authority over everything in heaven and earth. The enemy is unlawful in his ways and he will seek to usurp any authority we have abdicated due to ignorance or neglect. The cells in my body that gained the ability to invade never got the power to use their ability against me. Thank you Jesus for protecting my innocence and defending my ignorance!!!!

Although this battle involves the word "Cancer" and "invasive," I know that this battle is not about me losing a battle with my life. God has taken me to the front lines to learn all the more of how the enemy belies the people of God. The mass removed from my body was contained, so I believe that this season of my life devoted to fighting this particular enemy will be contained. I will never go back to eating unhealthy cancer foods again but I do believe that as I enter the next year, cancer will never have the access or ability to invade my life again.

There are two things I have always said would be my worst nightmare: 1. Getting pregnant before my wedding (already happened and catapulted me into a pattern of supernatural living.) 2. Chemotherapy. I don't know why we say certain things would be our worst nightmare, but I have. And I faced the first one and came out the other side better than before.

My personal failure and how I became taught of the Lord as a response, is the single most defining season of my life thus far.

2. Chemotherapy has always had a terribly negative effect on my mind. I used to say, I'd rather die. I've since asked the Lord to forgive me for saying that. As you probably know, I have been very resistant to the idea of putting a poison into my body. In fact, I committed to change every part of my life and have started with health. I drink a homemade smoothie every morning that contains every cancer fighting whole food ingredient I could find in research. Ironically its wonderful!! Green as the hills in Flagstaff, but tastes great!! When I went for my check up with my Naturopathic Dr. last week and he studied my drink ingredients, he was amazed. He said I had all (except one) of the most aggressive cancer fighting agents God has given us, already in my drink. (I spent two weeks researching on my own) Now I've added the one I missed.

But last week, due to the size of the tumor removed, they strongly recommended that I undergo a low dose round of Chemotherapy. The oncologist states that this will statistically reduce my chance of recurrence by 70%. Because I have had all the internal breast tissue removed from my body, I only have a 2% chance of breast cancer returning to the breast region but the chances are much higher for it to find another place in my body to set up shop. I sat in the meeting last week as stubborn as I've ever been. Through my tears I tried to process the pressure I was feeling. I had an agreement with my parent's and my husband that I would not undergo any treatment without a word from God. At every step of the process, He has never forsaken me in giving it. But last week, the oncologist spent a long while answering my questions and talking about chemotherapy as a "cure" and I just wasn't hearing it.
After the Doctor left the room and my cousin Andria and longtime friend and pastor Sandy Scheer sat with me and the nurse, the Word came.

The nurse began by saying, "Amie, all of us here are spirit filled Christians. And we see many, many Christians who are resistant to Chemotherapy come through those doors and leave without it. There have been more pastors wives than I can tell you, who would not undergo Chemotherapy because they thought it meant they were not trusting God. And they die. The Christians die because of their lack of understanding. And Amie, it's so sad because they had very, very treatable cancers but they refused treatment because they thought it would disappoint the faith of their congregations. Now there are so many Christians in those church's doubting God because they died. Dr. Oral Roberts taught that all wisdom comes from God and all medicines come from him, this was his dream. (at that my ears perked up) He prayed for me and the whole staff at City of Faith," she said. "He said that the Lord showed him that faith and medicine are supposed to interlock, (she interlaced her fingers as a demonstration) but most spirit filled Christians fight medicine, they do not see it as the provision of God that it is. Medicine is not perfect, but it could become even better, more effective, if Christians didn't reject it."

Dr. Oral Roberts was like a grandfather to me. And I was sitting in a room that God had given him the vision to establish. It hadn't all gone the way he pictured, but my nurse, like many others were prayed for personally and sent on a mission to educate and treat God's people so that they would not perish. With all the statistics and cure rates the oncologist had given me, the Word from God that brought peace to me, came through a nurse who carried the heart for healing. Everything good comes from God. And Amie living to be 86 is good. Whatever God sends me to deliver my miracle of complete healing and restoration must be considered. Most people don't realize how lethal cancer can be because they don't feel it or see it like they would an open wound or even a sore throat for that matter.

So when you don't have discomfort with cancer, it becomes easy to dismiss. How many Christians would live through a car accident but leave the scene mangled with life threatening injuries and tell the ambulance attendants, "I am going home to pray and eat organic foods"???? No one would. Any yet, even I had seen disease as something that should only be approached with prayer and fasting and resisted medical intervention.

I knew the potential danger but also hoped that I might turn it all around using surgery and natural methods. And although it is my firm belief that the right plants and foods heal us, it takes a while to change the internal tide. Other than the recent surgery, I am in great health. I have only just been released to exercise but my dietary changes since June 2nd have already caused me to lose 18 pounds. And any extra fat raises the chances for cancer in the body. I have a few extra pounds to go but no doubt that my life has permanently changed. I can't wait to tell you in all the ways "how." Did you know that exercising 2 1/2 hrs per week lowers your risk of cancer by 80%!!! Anyway, back to the conclusion....

I took 24 hrs to pray and let the peace of God direct my path before I verbalized my decision regarding Chemotherapy. These are the truths God has given me throughout this season:

1. If I am going to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, then I'm gonna turn on the lights while I'm there! (I can do this in many ways by opening my life, showing the journey and the hand of God at every turn. If there are fears to uncover, consider it done. Death is not the problem, it is the shadow of death where the enemy has his fun with us. I plan to do so much damage to his fear campaign that he is gonna wish he had an alternate route for God's people. I just want to turn his haunted house into a joke.)
2. I am led by peace, not driven by fear.
3. I cannot compare myself to any other case. Each of us must have a word from God for ourselves. Every journey, every battle is different.
4. I want to get out and give out everything I can during this season. I do not want to re-visit something later that the grace is here to face today.
5. Fear will not make any decisions for me. I will face my deepest fears and I will walk out of the season better in every way.
6. I will not focus on my loses or physical scars. My focus is stayed on the promise that He makes ALL things new.
7. Whatever I face from this day on holds no power of fear: You don't scare me.

In spite of my personal feelings and preferences, I am determined to do EVERYTHING to ensure I have closed every door. That includes natural remedies, healthy diet, exercise, counseling ( I need to off-load somewhere safe), rest, enjoy fun and friendships (accounted for 2% of my previous schedule) and submit to the peace of God in medicinal treatment.
With ALL this said, I will undergo 4 rounds of Chemotherapy (one treatment every 21 days x 4). The first one will begin on August 5 and the last one around October 7. This will be a low dose chemotherapy that will kill fast dividing cells. Unfortunately that usually includes hair. I know what all the potential side effects are but am believing for favor. I was bald headed until I was two years old, what's another couple months added to that!?

God is a debtor to no man or woman. So anything I feel I may have lost will be dually rewarded in either heavenly places or earthly realms, either way He is increasing my territory! He does not owe me anything. That's just the kind of God He truly is.

My central vulnerability in all of this is the potential for an onslaught of strong resistance or opinions against my decisions. This has already happened regarding my surgery. "People" didn't understand my decision to have both sides removed. I don't feel as though I have to justify myself but I would like to clarify everything through this email and probably ignore any further discussions. Although my left breast was completely clear of cancer cells I still feel I made the best decision for me. I don't expect to have the BRACA gene mutation but there is a chance. Lastly, I came into this world with a matching set and the Lord allowed me to continue with a matching set. I am still under construction but pleased with my decision. It is actually less dramatic psychologically to do both sides.

I humbly ask for your prayer, support and love. And above all, let it be known, this is not a tragedy, this is my light shining (possibly made a little brighter by the glare of a potentially bald head). God is my glory and the lifter of my head, doesn't differentiate between bald or hairy! What's hair but a few dead cells? I'd prefer God's glory any day!!!!

I am surely in a chrysalis of change. But I am not alone. I cannot nor will I ever be able to show you my gratitude for your outpouring of love toward me. Your love and commitment have put me back together again. I leave you with a quote from one of my messages at the Beloved Women's Conference, sent to me in a card last week.

"When we go through any situation, there may be a dark time and I declare to every spirit out there right now, 'Whatever God allows, I submit to it, we will make it through it and we will be the better for it!'"

Monday, June 6, 2011

My Biopsy

I am sorry for not posting a blog on Friday. After discovering a physical issue last week, I had an MRI and a sonogram first thing on Friday morning. After the test results revealed that I would need a biopsy on Tuesday, last Friday was spent processing with my family and friends.

The Doctor said that I was "blessed to have found this so early" which reinforced the voice of the Lord that came with urgency a few days before. I am aware of the potential. In my mind, I have gone all the way down the road of suffering and found, that I will never be forsaken or forgotten by God. He will be with me, every step in this process. In fact, whatever the outcome, I am at peace that I HEAR Him and I know Him. He is for me. But it is important to know that my spiritual assignment is His focus, not my physical comfort or security.

My most recent book, about transformation, and even my most recent messages, have all held the keys to winning this battle for me. I am walking out, in the most extreme fashion, what it feels to lay my life down completely, without reservation. In the past, although I have been in the ministry, I have reserved part of myself, not quite giving everything. I wouldn't have compared myself to Jonah in the past, until the last few days.

Through this storm, I have come to see very clearly, the exact location of my silent and stubborn rebellion. I didn't overtly take a boat in the opposite direction of my calling, but I did withhold a portion of my potential and passion.

There is a part of myself that has always longed for a simple, little life. Not a life with stages, lights and audiences. Until last week, I have always seen the "big" life I lead, as God's idea to which I reluctantly tagged along. Meanwhile, my flesh neatly tucked away MY ideas for a seamless escape to the ordinary, one I would make when the right moment arose. Even though I wasn't physically on a boat going in the opposite direction, some part of me was moving in opposition to the rest of me. To picture myself in this way really grieves me. But it is true.

At every turn, as God has been elevating me, I have been looking for a way of escape, as if I was taken against my will. When doors of ministry would open, I would suggest others instead, so that I could move into the shadows, away from the spotlight. This method of operation was neatly wrapped in "humility," until Friday. My motives for escape were even hidden from myself. I saw my promotion of others as completely unselfish when in truth although they were mostly for the benefit of others, there was a parasite of personal gain hiding there. My ambition, my gain, didn't look like everyone else's. So it was more easily concealed. I didn't want more, I wanted less. Less spotlight equaled less pressure, less expectation, less rejection.

The reality of what I am facing on Tuesday, opened me up and laid bare every motive. My prayer was that every hidden thing would be revealed. I just wasn't expecting that my motives would be revealed so clearly by an MRI.

I have believed that this test for me was about uprooting something small, before it can grow to destroy me. This may be true physically, when we hear the pathology report. But the real power to destroy me comes from the cancer of flesh, multiplying over time, replacing and overcoming my spiritual assignment. My desires replacing God's will for my life is the only thing that can circumvent the destiny He's designed for me. Even wanting less than I have been assigned, is the rejection of my spiritual position.

As far as I am concerned, the real danger to my destiny has already been surgically removed by the Spirit. The weapon formed against me has been revealed and dismantled. As long as I am wholeheartedly aboard God's vessel there is truly nothing the enemy can do to divert me from my course.

Like Jonah, I have been guilty of sabotaging my own effectiveness in the ministry for which I am anointed and called.

I live transparently. I cannot live any other way. And I understand that in sharing this with you, I may be opened up to criticism and diagnosis. Perhaps that is why it is so important for me to share. I am demonstrating my commitment to be who God has called me to be in the largest sense, not the smallest. I could aim small by not including you in this battle but I have been aiming small for far too long.

I am aware that not everyone who reads this will pray for me, some will celebrate my current situation. I don't care. The few negative folks have had too loud and opinion in my life. Consider your signal scrambled. Jonah was moved in a contrary motion to the will of God, all due to his fear of rejection by man. I haven't seen it till recently, but I have been moved by the rejection of others. No more!!

It's my time of re-enlistment. I know what I am signing up for. Counting the cost and reading the fine print are no longer viable terms and conditions. I am ready and willing to completely and instantly, obey. No holding back.

I feel like I have already had a biopsy. A spiritual one. God inserted this situation into my life, pulled out something hidden and under the microscope of His perspective, showed me what was growing there. I am so grateful for His hand in my life. At times the probing is painful. But He is our light and our salvation. He is revealing what is hidden, not to destroy us but to display His glory in our lives.

The Lord is my light and my salvation- whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life- of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 21:1

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Adventures of Amie

If you have never been to Texas, you may have the impression that tumbleweeds and longhorn cattle meet you as you step off the plane.

I talked to a girl a few weeks ago, that pictured Texas like a western movie that was made in the 1960’s.

When you have never been somewhere before, never seen with your own eyes, you fill in the blanks with the little bit of information you may have. Assumption always plays a big part in building people’s perception.

We have a hunger for the details of other people’s everyday lives. Although it can go too far, essentially that’s not a bad thing. I believe we want to know how other people live their lives; to be sure we are taking full advantage of our own gifts and opportunities. If we feed ourselves artificial living; like television and movies, we set our lives against a backdrop of unrealistic, airbrushed imaginations. This isn’t likely to motivate. It is discouraging to compare ourselves with perfection. But if we look into the windows of the living, we can gain a new and fresh perspective that motivates us to live our own adventure.

More than ten years ago, I was on my first book tour and met another female author I immediately connected with. Her creativity sparked more in me, activating hours of conversation. Over the years, we lost touch in the busyness of living. Then several years ago I discovered her again, online. When I rediscovered her, I found that she had rediscovered herself as well. She was no longer just an author, she had become a photographer too, and her brilliance was being recognized at the highest levels of her industry.

Me Ra Koh, is her name. It always sounds like “Miracle” when I say it.


She is one of the living examples I look to, to ‘inspire the fire’ within. Through her blog, she shares a window into her world. And peering into her workshop, with thousands of others who follow her, I watch her create an artistic life for her own family and I am inspired to do the same for my own.

A few years ago, Me Ra and Brian took their family to Thailand to LIVE, for a few months. I was both shocked and in awe at the spirit of adventure they displayed as they moved through the world. As I watched their adventure, I began to ask myself, “What does my adventure look like?”

I anticipate and celebrate the adventures of others. I know you do as well. Living your adventure and let others join you in the journey is the quintessential art of authentic living. You may not see your life as anything special while others look at you and are inspired to live more abundantly. I did not move to another country for a few months, but I did begin to look at my life without the limitations I’d always focused on. I began to see the possibilities of living through the lens of adventure.

In the featured picture, my daughter was utilizing a cool camera app on her phone and sipping a Capri Sun (in the picture to the right), while I pondered the solitude at the end of great day.

About the time she took this picture I was thinking, “I started the day with the excitement of ministering in McKinney and I am ending the day with a quiet moment at the ranch. This is the adventures of Amie.”

I shared Me Ra with you, one of my favorite “Inspirers.”

Who inspires you to live YOUR adventure? And how do they do that?

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Sweet Spot

There is nothing like the warm, comforting smell of a cinnamon soaked kitchen.

Smells always take us somewhere in our memories. Cinnamon in particular takes me back to my childhood home. My mother often made me cinnamon toast for breakfast and several times a year my grandmother’s famous cinnamon rolls.

My maternal grandmother was affectionately called Momo (pronounced mom-oh.)

She would come to Texas for several months out of the year, moving from house to house within our family. At each house she would set up shop in the kitchen and make our favorites.

Strawberry pie, apricot jam, chocolate cake, biscuits and gravy, country steak and potatoes, chicken and dumplings and the list is as long as the calorie count.

Nothing reminds me of being in the kitchen, learning from Momo, more than the smell of cinnamon rolls in the oven. That yeasty, sweet smell just makes me feel her warm words teaching and correcting me all over again.

Although I cook most of her recipes throughout the year, I had yet to conquer the hardest one of all, till yesterday. I can’t really say that I conquered it completely. But I did attempt the strenuous recipe. Momo’s cinnamon rolls were to die for, delicious. But she would make the biggest mess you can imagine in the process. One of our shared family memories of her is the humorous image of her pushing up her glasses while she was kneading the dough, leaving her glasses covered in clumps and smudges. She didn’t seem to mind though and she always cleaned it up.

I wasn’t looking forward to flour…my goodness the flour, that goes everywhere in the process of making this gooey goodness. But I knew it was time to introduce my little baker, Molly-Kate, to Momo’s cinnamon roll secrets.

So yesterday in my kitchen, as I was exaggerating and elongating the explanation of how wonderful these cinnamon rolls would be, my daughter said, “Why would we do all this work, when we can buy great cinnamon rolls in a can?”

I explained how all the work makes cooking from scratch taste so much better. And I silently prayed that I was right. She raised a great question that applies to life in general.

What motivates us to go through a step-by-step, messy process when instant satisfaction is available the easy way?

If cutting a few corners in cooking is the only area of our lives where we take the easy road, we are not doing too badly. But there are critical times when we MUST know how to follow directions, even when the process may seem difficult and certain steps unnecessary.

Making cinnamon rolls, requires that you wait several times for extended periods, for the yeast to take it’s full effect. The rising comes with the waiting. It is the same with us. It is only when we submit to the recipe God has given us that we truly experience the effect of all things working together for our good!

And we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

The work may be messy at times and the waiting seem grueling, but while we wait our opportunities are multiplying, rising up to meet us. Many things in our lives can be microwaved and instantly the space called desire can be filled with a substitute. But there is no substitute for waiting. We have imitation flavorings for almost everything including liquid smoke but there is no way to bottle up the taste of fermentation without adding some time. The waiting makes life sweeter.

Don’t rush the process. Don’t skip the steps you don’t understand. Life is more complicated than a batch of cinnamon rolls, but trusting God’s timing, makes it as simple as following a recipe.

Let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:4

Whatever situation you are in at the moment, try adding the ingredient of patience, and see what rises. I think you’ll find, it’s you!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What I Was Wearing Sunday

I am trying to imagine myself still wearing what I had on Sunday.

Not taking into account any physical harm I try to put myself in the shoes of someone who survived the F5 tornado that hit Joplin Missouri. The best case scenario would mean that I was still wearing what I had on Sunday evening, these clothes would no doubt have been wet and dry several times, soaked with sweat as I helped search through rubble, most likely torn by the sharp protrusions and covered with the thick mud drying in coats and smears as use my shirt to clean off family photos and anything else I can identify.

Maybe I'd have shoes on, maybe not. Without a phone and no available vehicle, I would be reduced to counting the streets without signs as I make my way to my family's homes, on foot. Without a doubt there would be tears. Lots of tears.

Sunday evening when I was having my momentary power outage the same system stormed through Joplin Missouri with deadly force. For the inhabitants of that city, there was far more change than just a flicker of darkness. Life will not be the same for a long while.

As we look through the mangled images and the echoed stories make their way out of the rubble we are stunned, shocked into silence.

Speechlessness is a physical reaction we have to being completely overwhelmed. We all imagine the horror of having lived through such devastation, and our empathy engages as we contemplate what life would be like for us in today and tomorrow if we had been hit. Then we are grateful we weren't. It's alright to be grateful it wasn't us. But only in the respect that it means our lives are still intact thus making us able and available to minister to them.

A sense of relief is normal. And empathy for those who have lost everything is right. But having both relief and empathy and then walking away....doing wrong.

Yesterday stories were pouring in, of how those who are related to us in some way, were forever altered by the storm. A previous staff member of our church, who has recently relocated, relayed the story of her aunt who works for Walmart in Joplin.

As the storm approached and sirens went off, her aunt instructed several customers to take shelter under the cashiers station with her and in the one next to her. When the roof of the Walmart building collapsed, a main beam fell on a young married couple right next to her, killing them both. Although her aunt survived, she spent the night with the dead and dying before her rescue on Monday. There was no care flight or ambulance sirens.

In the same family, a cousin of our former employee was in the local Walgreens when the storm hit. Everyone in the store crowded into the cooler for safety.

When they emerged after the worst had passed, the cooler was the only thing untouched on an empty slab that was the store.

Out of the misery come songs of the miraculous.

When devastation hits, and some would wonder if God truly cares, we are to live up to the name we herald, 'the Bride of Christ'. If He is our Groom, we must show ourselves worthy of His name by demonstrating His nature in the earth. When we sing the words to Him, "break our hearts for what breaks yours," we must acknowledge the breaking when it comes.

Physically, it isn't me wearing the muddy clothes, clinging to hope and searching through the unrecognizable remains of my life. But spiritually it is me.

Proverbs 31:20- She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.

Our dear friends, Billy and Jeanie Coffman pastor a church not far from Joplin.
They were some of the first responders with supplies but have already exhausted their food reserves. As we spoke to them yesterday, Pastor Mike wired them money to buy more food in a nearby city, immediately. Our friend and colleague, Kim Clement, instantly responded by sending more money. Jeanie Coffman told us that other than food and water, the most pressing need is for towels and bedding. Just to have something clean and dry is like experiencing heaven for the soaked, muddy and cold survivors. We are filling two trucks today and tomorrow with new towels, sheets and blankets that will make their way north to the victims as soon as they are full.

It is not good for us to see so much devastation around the world and then feel as if there is nothing we can do. There is much to do! This is the time for us to act, to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those in need.

Please go to and give now.

Every dollar means the greatest difference. Pastors Billy and Jeanie are specifically set up with a mobile kitchen to cook hot meals for those in need, which is everyone in the area. All money will go straight to the cause. After our initial run of blankets and towels, we will be sending teams to assist in the clean up and restoration effort.

After you give, please pray! We need to agree that God gives insight to the weary search and rescue teams, so they are able to locate the suffering and trapped. We need to pray for closure for families who have lost members that are yet found. We need to pray and agree that hope will emerge and as resources flow toward Joplin, so will spiritual, physical and emotional healing come.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Stillness, The Silent Preacher

Last night as a storm rolled in, I sat with my family out on our back porch watching the lightening cross the sky. Stacey was taking pictures! We would gasp at the strength of the thunderous shock of sound and then count to see how close the strike was to our house.

As things worsened outside, I went inside to prepare the house for a possible power outage. My daughter and I walked through each room and lit a candle or two, to illuminate each space. Sure enough, with the next flash of lightening, our power went out.

I stood in the silent sanctuary, aglow with candle light. I had never realized that even when all the kids were sleeping and electronics were off, my house was still purring, clicking and humming with the sounds of production. But when the power went off, a true silence fell upon the space. The ice maker had stopped it's cycle of clunking. The constant whir of air through the conditioner ceased. And it felt as if the shoulders of our house literally relaxed when the power went out. I had never heard silence so strongly before.

I stood in the middle of the room, waiting to see if this power outage was just a flicker or something more. In just a few moments the house groaned, as though it were singing a musical scale, the hum started low and slid upward into full activity again.

The penetrating silence of that scarce moment, relayed the reality of perpetual activity. Our lives are so full, so busy with producing and maintaining, that even my house is working non-stop to keep up. And when all activity was stilled, there was a substance of silence that covered me like honey. Standing alone inside the candlelit room, the flames cast shadows on the high ceiling. My living room, where laundry is folded, homework is accomplished and popcorn eaten had been transformed by stillness, into the sacred sanctuary of silence. It was a holy moment for me, one that delivered a powerful note of permission. The silence preached to me, "Receive this." "This," meaning the experience of what silence can do. There is a great deal of irony at play in the passion of the silence.

How can silence DO anything when DOING anything at all, disturbs the silence?

For us, doing something, moving at all really, creates noise. But when we seek the silence, we are pursuing the path to surrender, where God alone can make himself known.

He is God.

He says, "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." Psalm 46:10

He is in the still, small voice. He can transform with a whisper. But we must meet the hardest request for our flesh in order to hear Him. We must surrender to the silence. To tell our flesh to stop producing, just for one moment of each day and to sit at His feet without distraction, is the greatest worship of all. To stop doing and start being, is our most extravagant expression of faith.

At various stages of my life, I have found the struggle to be still, very difficult. As a teenager, I was distracted, both mentally and physically. As a young wife and mother, my duty and the demands of motherhood made me feel as if silence was a planet in another galaxy, inaccessible in my life-time. Then as my children have grown, my life has expanded to include hours of mentorship and business meetings. Life is never going to accommodate stillness.

We must order the world around us, even if it is for just a moment of the day.

Find or create your place to "be still." For young people, you may need to clear the clutter (posters and pop culture) out of your bedroom and create a sanctuary of silence. For mommy's, the bathtub might be the only respite behind closed doors for you to find peace. My husband and I had an agreement when our kids were little, that if I was in the bathtub, that was my time. Stacey, (my husband) defended the doors for me. At times there were protests when it seemed
only "mommy" could fix it. I bought ear plugs to get the silence every cell of my body was screaming for. So, Stacey would handle whatever was going on outside that door, while I surrendered to the silence that restores.

My husband finds his silent sanctuary at a beautiful golf course or on his daily run. Silence is not something that can always be scheduled. I frequently set aside a beautiful tea cup and I get in my mind, that when the moment opens up, I will steal away with my book, blanket and Lady Gray tea for my own private celebration of silence. Most day's I only have enough time to stop for that hot cup of tea. I read a few pages (maybe more) and take a few sips and ALWAYS receive a moment of silent gratitude. In just a
moment of being still I know more fully that HE is GOD.

What are some of the ways you find a silent sanctuary? Sharing your experience may empower many others to know God more fully, simply by finding a way to BE STILL.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Vintage Friendship

My home is a combination of layered ages and eras. I love the eclectic mixture of old, new and everything in between. I have purchased historical books, paintings, furniture, jewelry and even vintage photographs from places as far away as Notting Hill England to the closer region of Canton, Texas.

Although I have had the pleasure of perusing quaint antique stores in the earliest settled cities of New England, one of my favorite getaways happens in the piney woods of East Texas, the first of every month.

There is just nothing like the fun of Canton Trade Days. Most newbies are overwhelmed and just mindlessly walk around in awe amongst the main arbors. But our "girl posse" has Canton down to a science. We rent little motorized scooters so we can hit as many vendors as as possible, quickly. It also enables us to be free from carrying our purchases and instead store them in the basket and bucket attachments. The main arbors have all the polished, North Dallas home interior stuff most people come to see. But not me. There are few favorites that I know will have something I like but I go to Canton for the uncovered outer reaches. This is where the dusty treasures are discovered. The flea market region of Canton holds all the unforeseen items I didn't know I would find, but find that I cannot live without. At one point a few years ago, I got on an empty antique frame frenzy. I came home with more than fifteen dirty vintage frames and a husband who looked at me out of the corner of his eye.

"You spent your money on these?" he'd say in a semi-disgusted tone.

He thought it was a bunch of old junk, until he saw what it was I planned to do with them. I have various vintage collections for which I am always scouting. Vintage hats are one of my favorite finds. I know that everyone doesn't share my love of authentically "old" items. Lots of folks love vintage replicas made with artificially applied designer dirt. But I love the mystery of the story behind a truly vintage treasure.

A year and a half ago, I was able to accompany my grandmother on a Autumn tour through the fall foliage of New England. My mother, my aunt, my grandmother and I were in history heaven as we milled through antique stores, lunched on clam chowder and drank pots of sweet, hot tea.

One particularly wonderful part of the trip was the opportunity to reunite my grandma Hayes with her best friend of nearly seventy years! We laughed, cried and basked in the wonder of a beautifully aged, vintage friendship. I like new things as well as new friends. There is something special about a shinny new relationship. But there is no way to replicate or replace a vintage friendship.

I don't mind restoring old, dusty and worn-in, vintage purchases from a flea market. So perhaps I shouldn't mind getting my hands dirty, if that's what it takes, to restore a vintage friendship. The joy on my grandmother's face tells the tale.

The picture at top of this post, is my grandma Hayes with her best friend at their High School graduation. The picture on the left is the same two friends, in front of their High School, sixty-five years later. In the top picture my grandmother is on the left and Mag is on the right, they are switched in the bottom picture.

I would love nothing more than to uncover my vintage friendships and put them in a more prominent place in my life.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Butterfly in a Bottle

Last Sunday, as the rush of the service dismissal commenced, a beautiful young lady approached me with a gift. I thanked her for thinking of me and then asked her if she wanted me to open it right then or later on. She replied, "Now is good." So I began to pull out the various shades of tissue paper from the hot pink bag until a simple glass mason jar was revealed. As I carefully pulled it out of the bag, I could see that it held a perfect Monarch Butterfly.

My reaction in that moment, was the same one I saw others experience as I carried it around throughout the day. First my heart jumped, then it sank.

This sweet young lady gave me the gift in commemoration of my newest book release, When Women Reign. In this book, I use the life-cycle of the Monarch butterfly as a mirror for the process of spiritual awakening we walk through ourselves. One particular part of this book elaborates on the Chrysalis phase (cocoon). During this season of transformation the caterpillar turns upside down and inside out, basically liquefying, in order to fulfill the metamorphosis required to become a new creation. In the book, I lead the reader through the various trials in life that can encapsulate us like a cocoon. There are many situations throughout our lives where we find we cannot escape the darkness, we must submit to the process in order to come out the other side, as God intended. But a chrysalis is God's work.

So as I looked at the butterfly in a bottle, I felt so strongly, that it needed to be free. Having survived the process to become what it now was, just made it fundamentally wrong for me to allow it to be restrained for my amusement. It is a glorious thing to look upon such beautiful wings but then it is a terrible thing to realize that it is also imprisoned. The sight gives us pleasure, then the cost gives us pain. What good can the beautiful wings do for the butterfly when it is contained?

I was trying to manage my facial expression as I looked upon the gift this young lady had given to me. After all, giving me a trapped Monarch Butterfly would be similar to giving a fur coat to the president of PETA.

She quickly made it clear to me that this was not a real butterfly. Someone had created a simple but wonderful recreation of a country jar holding a beautiful Monarch butterfly. She showed me, that when you tap the metal lid, the butterfly flutters around in a very real motion.

No butterflies were harmed for my enjoyment. Oh my goodness! This was the perfect gift for me! All throughout the day, (in the restaurant in particular) people would come up to our table and say something about the need to release the butterfly. Each time I told them it wasn't real, they had the same relieved expression that donned my face earlier in the day.

Even though it is beautiful, everyone fundamentally acknowledges, the selfishness of holding something captive.

Being the analogy queen that I am, I can't help but formulate a comparison in our lives. What if we are holding other's captive? I can think of situations in my own life where I have kept people in a mental jar, just contemplating who they are and why they do the things they do. Think to yourself, are there any situations that you should be letting go of?

Every time I look at the artificial butterfly in a bottle I think of how wrong it would be to hold captive something living, that had come through such tremendous adversity just to BE. Even though this butterfly in a bottle is not real, it sounds as if it is struggling to get free. That sound of struggle gets everyone's attention. My son was babysitting the bottle during lunch on Sunday. After a little while he said, "How can we turn this off? It's driving me crazy because I want to help it be free!"

I want to have the same gut reaction to unforgiveness as I do to a butterfly in a bottle. It's just wrong. We need to lift the lid of limitation and release the life we've been holding back. That life, may be our own.

Thank you to my wonderful new friend who bought me a butterfly in a bottle and brought me a visual reminder of the simple power of letting go...

Monday, May 16, 2011

My Mini-Meltdown

Just a few weeks ago I had a mini-meltdown. For the period of about 18 hrs, I felt completely disillusioned. Everything was overwhelming to me. My children are not children anymore, they are teenagers. And I clean my own house. That alone is overwhelming. But when you add the pressures of leadership and work load to parenting and housekeeping, the onslaught is enough to make me tired just contemplating "how" to do it all.

When my children were all young, I would frequently hear the question, " How you do it all?" My reply was always, "Not very well." But the truth is, I did do things very well. I had a perfect routine to get me through the hardest hours of the day. I kept things simple and well-timed in order to maintain balance, when I had four children, under the age of three.

I had to. It was a matter of survival.

The morning would begin with a round of breakfast, then the two older boys would play and watch Little Bear while I bathed the twins and dressed them for the day. Then I would lay the twins down for their morning nap while I bathed the boys and picked up toys, dressed them and then we could go somewhere for the day. I say "for the day" but that really only consisted of the time period between 11am and 1pm. Usually I would take them to Chick-fil-a and the duck pond and we'd head back home for afternoon naps. I needed one too...

Nap time was the most peaceful, wonderful time of the day back then. I would read, write or just rest. Then at 4 o'clock life would again move at warp speed with cooking, dinner, bottles, baths and pajama applications, ending in a heap of exhaustion at 8pm.

Those days were overwhelming but still manageable. Although my kids dress themselves now, their needs are different and still demand a great deal of my time. The complication to their developing needs are multiplied by the fact that I can't put their changing requests into a simple routine. I never know, from what day to the next what will be required of me. Just being a mother of teenagers alone is enough to cause adaptivity failure. I cannot tell you how many times per week, that I hear, "Oh Mom, I forgot to tell you" and you can fill in the blank with: homework, worship practice, birthday party....and the list goes on.

How do I manage this?

I find myself scratching my head or wiping my brow trying to figure out how to manage the things I am yet to find out about. Not possible.

What I can do, is determine that I will adapt with grace and plan for the unexpected. I don't always like to adapt...OK honestly, I NEVER like these kinds of surprises. But I know that although my children may not remember that they need special supplies for a project till the morning of, they do remember that I moved heaven and earth to get them to the school before 3rd period.

When your aim is to do things well, working in an unpredictable environment makes that rather difficult and mostly impossible. So during my mini-meltdown I poured out my heart to my dad about my frustration. I call it a mini-meltdown because there weren't any relational conflicts, this disturbance was all internal for me. I was having feelings that could not be ignored.

"I just want to do one thing well," I said to my dad through tears, "Is that too much to ask?" He immediately understood what I meant and he instructed me on how he navigated through similar seasons. He shed light on the fact that when we are responsible for many different realms we have to establish, what doing something well, really means. We may not be the ones who have months to perfect a message or years to make a plan but that does not mean we do not conduct ourselves with excellence. No matter the planning or practice, there is no excellence without grace. The grace of God is the enabling power to fulfill His will.

As my dad and I conversed, I pointed out the way in which I was comparing myself to others.
My friends and fellow female ministers, travel and speak. Since they are at a different venue all the time, they are able to refine a few particular messages that they can use over and over. For me this isn't an option. As a minister in a local congregation, I want to bring something fresh and new each time I speak. My goal as a pastor is not to have a perfect message but instead to have THE perfect message to bring growth and development. I don't have weeks and months to work on one message. So my measure of excellence in the delivery of a memorized message is an unfair assessment of myself.

Knowing that God would not set me up to fail, I thought, "Perhaps I have been measuring the wrong thing?"

What if my one thing, done well, is my ability to attend to life's interruptions with grace and adaptability?

Although that "one thing" is not something crowds applaud, it is something that makes other people successful. So if I really want to do "one thing" well, then in my mix of gifts and circumstances, I can make that "one thing" serving the needs of others.

Could it be that in desiring to do one thing well, we miss the fact that we already are doing a spectacular job at something invaluable? Like me, there could be 'one thing' you are focusing on as the symbol of success and polish while God is observing another 'one thing' you do that really pleases Him. I would like to challenge you to re frame your definition of excellence.

This shift in my understanding has brought so much balance to my life. My new perspective challenges me to see surprises and interruptions as a means of using my abilities to please God, when before, I would see these things as keeping me from being all I was meant to be.

You may wonder why things fall in your lap at the last minute, or why you are the appointed referee in relationships, or maybe you have to make up for the dead weight at work...the list could go on, very specifically and lengthy. But next time when you ask yourself, "Why is it always me who has to...?" remember that it may be because you are the living definition of success, for others. Many people must know that they can count on you for this "thing" you do well.

My mini-meltdown was associated with the fact that I was unsure that I was pleasing God. My main goal in life is not to hear applause or accolades about the things I can do well. However, I wanted to be sure that I was living my life at the level of excellence worthy of the grace of God given me. I needed to hear that allowing these interruptions was not a failure to serve God. I had previously seen it as neglecting to invest my own talent (referencing the parable of the talents) in lieu of helping someone else invest theirs, while doing nothing with mine. Instead, I came to understand that laying down my plans and preferences in order to meet a need was the most pleasing I could be to God. Serving other's can never be interpreted as a wasted investment of time. If I don't have enough time to serve others and bring my abilities to the standard of excellence worthy of God's best, then God will increase my productivity so that I can do both. There is no way to lose if we put other's before ourselves!

I know this is true: that when you hear this ONE THING, ...nothing else matters!

"Well done, my good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!" (Matthew 25:21 NIV)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Lost Passport to La La Land

I feel completely incompetent to talk about how we let other people affect our happiness. Because that is my biggest issue.

From one day to the next, there is always something intrusive scratching away at my happy bubble. It doesn't take much to pop a bubble. Bubbles are fragile. My happiness should not be so easily lost. Sadly, it can be.

So yesterday, as I was discussing some surprising news with a few of my friends, it was obvious that my bubble, was again, bursting with disappointment. One of my friends said, "Go to your La La Land and forget about it." I said in reply, "I don't have a La La Land."

Till that discussion, I thought that La La Land was a place where clueless, hopeless, people migrate for solace. Since I am neither, I had never gotten my citizenship, or had I? Last night, I began to contemplate La La and memories of my childhood bubbled up. A familiarity with imaginary places began to take shape as if it was only yesterday that I hung from the limbs of a berry tree.

I was an extremely imaginative child. From the moment my mother said I could go out to play until darkness would fall, I lived in La La Land. In fact, I created some spectacular experiences moving through air, land and sea (trees, yard and pool). The make believe stories, islands, castles and such would sometimes become a saga that all my cousins would play a part in over weeks and months, after school and sleepovers. As I took a tour through my mind, I found these make believe moments intact and exactly as I'd left them. With striking contrast and clarity I realized that not only had I been to La La Land, it was a big part of my becoming. The work of my imagination has had a more profound and lasting impact upon my current abilities than perhaps anything else in my history.

I don't remember what a particular day at school in third grade entailed, but I do remember La La Land waiting for me on the playground during recess. As I write, I can still feel the depth of desire that pulled me toward that spectacular place of whimsy. What used to be a pull is now feeling more like a strong push.

My very mature and adult-like friend told me that I need to go to La La Land.Somewhere along the way, while growing up, I lost my passport. What once was a beautiful longing that my mother gave me permission to pursue by saying, "Amie, you can go play," became, in my mind, a retreat for losers or lunatics. When did I start thinking that those who live in La La land cannot live in the real world? And why did I think I was too grown up to need to play?

Can I even say, "I need a safe place to dream and create," without sounding like I need a straight jacket and a paper cup full of pills?

When we grow up, we wrongly take on too much responsibility for everything and everyone around us. (me, me, me....talking to ME!) Sometimes it sounds so childlike and basically insane to live in a state of complete faith and dependance upon God. As a child, La La Land provided me a mental space for growth and unlimited potential. It can be the same Today. Even when my situations seem to be closing in on me, I must remember that God lives in a place without limits. He has always been faithful to meet me where I am.

But perhaps it would be beneficial for me to start meeting God on the outskirts of my reality, La La Land.

If I were to create a travel brochure for La La Land, this is what it would say:

A place where limits are not the focus. A realm greater than our abilities or associations. A place that removes our personal preferences or opinions. A space outside the realm of expectation and responsibility. A creative place to unlock potential and possibilities. A haven without conflict, strife or enemies. A secret spiritual place where you are embraced and refined at the same time.

Isaiah 45:3- I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, That you may know that I, the LORD, Who call you by your name, Am the God of Israel.

Psalm 31:20- You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence. From the plots of man; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.