beautiful goats

Ben #1, 2014

Okay, so I can’t be sure if this is true or not true, but OTIS, Google, and what other inmates are sharing are adding up to show this whole book published from jail is fiction – and not published fiction, just that she got a book published is lies mixed with half truths surrounding events at the jail. (Things happened and some visitors/guards/inmates might be believing the story is being published but it’s not.) Granted, all that prompted my suspicions was intuition and what the Lord tells me in prayer time, but after some investigation, it may be- and looks very much like – that I am working with a woman who escaped prison in California and has been a masterfully successful thief after that.

I goofed big time and am so grateful to the Holy Spirit’s promptings, and also to the whirlwind of support He’s given me among the few I can talk to about this whole thing, but I am also marveling at two other gifts out of this mess I’ve – well – we’ve made.

One is that I see I get along with inmates better than the people at that church I’ve been struggling in is a big problem. My problem. I can’t make myself be something I am not. I let the pastor know I was leaving. I also am leaning hard into my private prayer time and those that work regularly in jails and prisons with this population. This is the ministry He gave me, I love it, and I have to allow Him to sustain me with those that are in the thick of this battle with me, by allowing my fellowship to stay in that same church community. One of the jail ministers was in a small church group and now my social life is either with them, with the other jail ministers, or a few other friends that are not associated with the church I felt like like such an oddball around. Who knows why that was, but instead of doing mental calisthenics about it I am actually going to let it go and allow myself a single church membership. What a concept ๐Ÿ˜‰

The other thing is that I am amazed at my admiration for this compulsive liar. I mean, I used to be one, and now I am free of that, and although I was very taken aback, I was also impressed by her skill. Not that i wanted to be like her and I shudder for what she has to account for when she sees Him for an account, and it angers me the lies she’s told me as even more to the other inmates, but – if who she is was living for G-d, she would be steller. I still genuinely love her. Not in a way like some need of mine needs to be filled but I ache for her when I see my own sins from the past and hope for her to have a clean life like I by grace can live.

There is a tiny chance I am wrong about it being false but – if I am, the stuff that came out of this still has been very good because book or no book, I am off.

Lord, because of my own sin, I am way over my head with this person. Forgive me. Help me make it right. Please go before me to get to the truth with her. Father may I not encourage or confirm any false reality she has created, help me to just keep silent when I need to. Thank You for clarifying my path and as I continue to work with all of these ladies, work in me so that Your best is done for them. I love that you’ve entrusted me with this and I blew it but I know You will show me how to get to where You want me. Happy Thanksgiving Lord – there is so much I am continually grateful for. Lead on, Sweet Savior, lead on.

Hebrews 6:19

anchor

During one of my sessions a few years ago with a spiritual director, I was reflecting on the fact that I’d moved every few years. Some of it was circumstances and following after where the Spirit led and some of it was fear of commitment. God works it all for good and I could see that, but I also recognized how I could slow that down. I knew I needed to stay put and heal – but my heart still wanted to bolt.

When expressing what I lacked, the director suggested it was like I had no anchor.

That same week, the following verse came up in a bible study, maybe it was a devotion, and then someone from my husband’s church was given the same verse to share with me. I’ll back up a few verses for some context, (from the New Jerusalme translation:)

Hebrews 6:17-19 “In the same way, when God wanted to show the heirs of the promise even more clearly how unalterable His plan was, he conveyed it by an oath, so that through two unalterable factors in which G-d could not be lying, we who have fled from Him might have a vigorous encouragement to grasp the hope held out for us. This is the anchor our souls have, reaching right through inside the curtain, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest for ever, of the order of Melchizedeck.”

This was not one of these immediate fixes- though I believe the Holy Spirit does that. It’s been a gradual process for me in this particular area, and He’s shown me a little as to why that is, given how quickly I was reunited with and then lost Jim. Despite the short time, the commitment to him has helped my ability to be steadfast for others.

This past Friday, the woman I am working with who has the book contract from her jail journals, shared with me that the pastor, (a writer), who visits her every Tuesday to edit her notebooks, is having her frame the story in our visits every Friday. She narrates the events to me. He said that I was the anchor.

Father G-d I thank and praise You for the amazing work You are doing and for granting me the grace to hold fast to what I see Your Spirit doing and prioritize it. Continue to work in these inmates lives to bring light to that place, to make those in the same communities aware of their needs and meet them, and to heal us as individuals through Your best plans along the way. It’s like magic, the wonder of how You work. Give us eyes to see it it, ears to hear You, and imaginations to foster Your vision. You amaze and delight me.

“You led me outside by the north gate…”

House 088

Thus far, this is a picture of the floor we’ve put down in the biggest room in the Jimmy B house. It used to be a porch, but they made it into a additional room in the house. My quiet time on Sundays, the longest I have, I’ve been praying that my prayers there are only a tiny offering compared to the prayers of those that will live and minister here. That as this room’s floor fills in, You, Father will provide so we can fill it with believers and those lost, ready to be found. That decisions for You will happen there and stick. That this house will be a beacon, type of lamp where Your light can permeate in people who are captives in darkness. That those fighting to make ends meet, those fighting for You, fighting to end an old life and start a new one, fighting for Your justice in the world and especially in their personal lives will find it a refuge because You are able to be their refuge at this house.

The mass reading came from Ezekiel today. The walls of this room have one side that is all large glass doors, from floor to ceiling as well as a set on each side. It thus has a fantastic view of the large backyard and trees beyond it. But that’s nothing compared to the vision here. It was a blessing to ponder this Scripture (from Ez 47) as I prayed this morning, staring with the image of the trees in my yard, then closing my eyes to imagine these ones:

House 082

โ€œThis water flows into the eastern district down upon the Arabah,
and empties into the sea, the salt waters, which it makes fresh.
Wherever the river flows,
every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live,
and there shall be abundant fish,
for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh.
Along both banks of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow;
their leaves shall not fade, nor their fruit fail.
Every month they shall bear fresh fruit,
for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary.
Their fruit shall serve for food, and their leaves for medicine.โ€

Impulse reaction

images-8

The story of Paul as a tent maker always sets at the back of my mind to encourage me to use the world skills to not be a burden but also to try to help others. This is a picture of my “tent”.

Despite all the prayer, walking with God, and head knowledge, I still have too small an image of God. I learned stuff a little behind the status quo curve, but I got there. I wouldn’t trade the path for anything. At the same time, even though I know its bravado and insecurity, God is still working on me not being intimidated in my field. I work with a lot of Phds and our customers are that too. I rarely work directly with a customer though.

Anyway, yesterday I really blew it. We are working on something and I had one opinion and someone who is not a Phd but has a lot of good experience and has been at the company and is very honored by the company had a different opinion and I needed to hold my own but I just caved. I had a chance to be bold and courageous today after an awesome pep talk with a friend/mentor, and my podcast (Chip Ingram – Living on the Edge – unashamed plug) this morning just happened to be on discouragement, (Lord I love how you work), but it struck me how far I am from the faith I profess.

My God is big, I am cared for, this stuff is the stuff He invented and yet, in a crises, I still fear and not just momentary, but it’ll take at least a day to shake it off. And I have to continue to shake it off.

I’ve been here before, in the middle of a growth thing. It’s good. This is the kind of James thing I need to count joy because He is even letting me see the fruit and I’m not running from it but oh do I wish we were there already. I’m like that kid in the back of the car – are we there yet? Are we there yet?

Father God I thank You for creating awesome and complex and beautiful things and allowing me to be a part of this incredible company and do all this really amazing stuff. Please continue to let me see how big You are and forgive me for seeing you so little. I love You.