Changing Skin

It’s been two years since we ditched the bus to roam around the globe to learn, listen and encourage. We’ve been to nine countries in that time and written story after story about that season.

We detoured back the US in November of 2016 and when we left Australia in November, we arrived minus one Holland. Our daughter, Graciana, stayed back in Australia to navigating the world of “adulting.” We have watched from afar as she has learned some hard lessons. Good Night! What a paradox to go from being so engaged in the development of your child, catching them when they fall, to then having virtually no ability to reach out and soften the blows. And yet, she has rallied and it has been a joy to watch her begin to fly!

For the past six-month we’ve been in Phoenix, AZ. (our longest stop in six years!) and have been just soaking in good family time. While here we have been journeying alongside my parents as they both went through a sort of metamorphosis, getting their new skin as I like to call it. They have both been working through their difficult cancer diagnosis. My father, battling an aggressive Prostate cancer and my mother with a slow growing non-Hodgkins lymphoma.  It has been an absolute joy to participate in daily community with them, lending a helping hand and watching them both overcome the obstacles set before them.

I have always loved my parents but I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that this intense time with them has allowed me to fall in love with both of them in a new and fresh way. They are each so unique and fantastic in their own right and together they are team Price!

I have loved just sitting and listening to them reminisce and share stories of their lives. Some of them stories I have never heard before. If I could have kept a recorder going the whole six months, I would have. For now, those precious memories have been captured in my mind’s eye.

Over the months, we watched them go from about a three to an eight and as they continue to exercise, sharpen their minds and use food as a source of healing, they continue to excel. My dad has had a rebirth of creativity and over the time we’ve been with them, he has designed websites, written books for 2BRealMen and written curriculum for an online class for his Twisted Thinking Transformed material. It’s been a blast to watch him soar! Then, this past week we all pitched in and moved my parents into their awesome new apartment. They are happy and healthy, ready for a new adventure! And, as we leave them, we are expectant that it will be the richest chapter of their lives.

The season of backpacking/global travel, releasing our daughter into the big wide world, dovetailed by our current stop over with my parents, has been the most difficult and most engaging two years of our journey thus far. We have experienced a refining in ways that are still manifesting and will most likely be for the years to come. We have discovered that like the honey bee, we are built to pollinate. We launch, refueled and ready to ignite love, truth, and life…to any we meet along the way.

We’ll kick start our six-month journey in Phoenix, AZ and route north to CO then jog east to MI, loop back west through UT, then north to Calgary, Canada! Then west to Vancouver and south to LA, finally back to PHX!! That will take us approximately 8000 miles. Our hope then is to fly back to Australia for another trek around the globe. More info on our actually routing HERE…

Lastly, it’s been brought to my attention that I need to ask more often for help/support. So, if you feel led to give monthly, so as to spur us on practically but also build up our faith, you can do so at MODERNDAY.

Thanks for caring for us with your faithful prayers and encouraging words this past season. We look joyward to continuing to share the love and stories along the way.

 

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Fellowship In The Red Dirt

Only a handful of cars passed as we drove eight hours north from Coober Pedy on the two lane highway. It was the red dirt that called us to the center of the Australia. Hours passed with not a word, just the hum of the van and the slow motion of our breath. We stopped several times along the track to touch the unusual crimson sand. It was enchanting, mysterious and unlike anything we had ever seen. As our eyes delighted in the arcane landscape our minds began to wonder off. The rhythmic monotony of the road was comforting and as I sunk into the richness of the deep red, ancient words came into focus.

“Come. Sit down. Let’s argue this out.
If your sins are blood-red,
    they’ll be snow-white.
If they’re red like crimson,
    they’ll be like wool.

I contemplated that first line. It was true, I was unsettled and ready to hash it out. I delighted in the relational nature of a God that was willing to argue it out with me. Then memories of the past twelve months began to flood my mind. Memories of new people and new places. So many new experiences to digest and to try to make sense of.  I realized I was full to the brim with newness almost the point of bursting. I was overwhelmed with the stories of kinfolk we had met along the way. Some were stories of overcoming great obstacles, while other were filled with such betrayal, suffering and heartbreak.

I had witnessed injustice face to face, through the eyes of so many who have been oppressed by empires and religions. Then I watched a mighty storm roll in from afar, as those I loved began to war against one another in online forums. And, then there was the recent news of my fathers ailing health which sent me spiraling, wondering what I was doing in the middle of the desert, when I just longed to be home.

There is a flux between faith and reason and I was wrestling to find the balance; questioning what was the point to all of our suffering and rightly so! In his book, God, Medicine and Suffering, Stanley Hauerwas states that suffering creates a silence which is not easily shared. Oh! the silence.

As the miles of red dirt passed, my soul was overwhelmed at the uncertainty and I wept. I pressed into Abba’s heartbeat like a child to her mother’s breast. Then He whispered, “I am with you.”

I was reminded of Jesus last recorded words which were translated from the original Greek to English, “I am with you always—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion, even to the end of the age.”

I don’t have many answer to sweeping philosophical or theological questions about suffering and evil but I do have a divine community of care that has made it possible for me to absorb the waves of suffering that may threaten to destroy.

It’s not wrong to ask tough question but those questions cannot be divorced from the power structures of the social situations they reflect. When we turn the Christian faith into a system of beliefs that can be universally known without transformation; then that faith practice becomes a civilization religion or what I call Empire Christianity.

It is empire Christianity that creates the ethos necessary to sustain the empire rather than being a set of convictions about God’s work in Jesus Christ.  It is empire Christianity that makes the assumption that good must ultimately triumph, otherwise the universe, as well as, the social order is incoherent.

However, in my faith practice as a Jesus follower, I recognize that suffering cannot be separated from my calling to be a new people made holy by transformation. That transformation is inseparable from fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is that assurance of community that has made it possible for me to push past the silence to tell the stories.

I’ve heard it said that it is the gift as well as the burden of the artist to tell the stories, to break the silence.

The Psalmist shows us the way and teaches us to tell the story of suffering. The psalmist teach us that Abba can handle our complaints. These laments are meant to name the silences that our suffering has created and bring us into communion with Abba and with one another, to rage that we see no point to it all. And yet, our very acknowledgement of that fact makes us a people capable of living life faithfully. In fact, our willingness to expose our pain is the means that Abba gives to help us identify and responsed to evil and injustice, pain and suffering. It is through lament, through story that we find our way out of the silence and back to the light.

Physically, the red track led us to Alice Springs but spiritually the track led me back to the heart center.

Psalm 80; God Implored to Rescue His People from Their Calamities.

To the Chief Musician; set to [the tune of] “Lilies, a Testimony.” A Psalm of Asaph.

You brought a vine out of Egypt. You drove out the nations, and You planted it.You cleared the land for it. And its roots went deep and filled the land. 10 The mountains were covered with its shadow. And the tall trees were covered with its branches. 11 It sent out its branches to the sea, and its new branches to the River.12 Why have You broken down its walls so that all who pass by pick its fruit?13 The wild pig from among the trees eats it away. And whatever moves in the field eats from it.

14 O God of all, we beg You to return. Look down from heaven and see. Take care of this vine. 15 Take care of the root Your right hand has planted, and the branch that You have raised up for Yourself. 16 They have burned it with fire. It is cut down. May they be lost when they hear Your strong words. 17 Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand, the son of man you have made strong for Yourself. 18 Then we will not turn away from You. Give us new life again, and we will call on Your name. 19 O Lord God of all, bring us back to You. Make Your face shine upon us, and we will be saved.

 

Home Sweet Home

The Hollands! BusFor many the nomadic lifestyle is a romantic notion but when push comes to shove most wouldn’t uproot for fear of being out there in the wide world all alone with no anchor. That’s OK, nomadic life isn’t for everyone. We were the same. We lived ten years of our married life in one geographical area and although we would dream of adventure, we had no idea how to deconstruct our current situation to make room for the new lifestyle. However, when we felt the call to up root, give everything away and hit the road, we decided to move into the mystery of that calling regardless of our lack of knowledge, fears or the fears of those around us and take the leap of faith. 

Here we are five years on and many have been inspired by our faith story, however there are still some who just can’t wrap their minds around not having a “home.” We are often asked by these friends, “how long do we plan on being on the road?” And, “if, as we travel, if we were looking for a new place to call home?” We can confidently say that nomadic life is our home. “Home is where you park it” is a popular hashtag/slogan in our nomadic world and we have found many like-minded kinfolk along the way, all trading in the bricks and mortar for the wide open spaces.

img_8392Fifteen months ago, we traded in our bus for backpacks and began an epic trek around Australia and South East Asia. In Australia we bought a used minivan and used that as our main form of transpiration and storage. We reached out to kinfolk and found an abundance of hospitality and although we had access to tents, in the eleven months we were in Australia we only had to sleep in them twice. We were humbled by the generous and kind welcome by our Aussie hosts and cherish the opportunities we had to share in story and friendship.  

As we made our way around Australia, many asked the age-old questions, “what our favorite place had been so far or if there was a place that felt more like home and ultimately, if there’s one place that we’d feel like settling back down in?” We answered them all the same, stating every place had it’s pull, it’s charm, and most of our feelings of affection came from the people in each of the places more than the places themselves. And finally, we’d answer, that so far there hadn’t been one place that we could have just stopped and stayed and stayed. That is until, Sydney.

In August, we were invited to house sit for our dear friends, the Perini’s. We met the Perini’s in 2000 at St. Hillary’s Anglican in Kew (Melbourne). I remember that first Sunday, Michelle came right up to me, introduced herself and got my phone number. Over the next year, she would pick me up regularly for playgroups, coffee dates, lunch and to just get out of the house. We became fast friends, and she became a dear mentor to me. The fella’s connected too and even though we moved back to the states after only a year, we stayed in touch and visited every time we went back. Eventually they moved to Sydney and we were excited to see them once again. However, this time around, they would be going out of the country to Italy for six weeks and they asked us to stay in their Glebe home and mind it for them while they were gone. The timing couldn’t have been better. We had done a pretty bouncy two month stint in the Byron Shire, all with amazing host families, but our backs were tired from the unloading and loading and from adjusting to so many different beds, so the thought of being in one place for six weeks was exhilarating. 

img_6452We arrived at the Terrace house, which sat nestled in a row of terrace homes a few blocks down from all the shops and restaurants on Glebe Point Road. The Perini’s invited us in for a cuppa (that’s a hot drink in Australian slang), and they explained the nuances of their sweet home. It was a warm space filled with all of their treasures, books, loads of books and antiques. Michelle’s signature color of cherry red made the space pop with joy. 

img_0867They next day they flew out and we settled in. The space immediately felt like home with plenty of room to spread out but just small enough to feel close to one another. The kitchen was my favorite place to be. Oh! to have access to a full kitchen unhindered, what a delight! We enjoyed the back patio and reading their many books. We also took advantage of the close proximity to all of the shops, specially Banjo who would walk up the street on a whim to get a kombucha from the local IGA. And, at sunset we would go for a family walk down to the river front board walk, loop around and walk back up through the main road. The neighborhood was active and alive and over the weeks we found familiar faces greeting us and for the first time ever in our travels, we all stated with confidence that this was a place that we could just stay, and stay for a long, long time.  

To top it all off, we had already established relationships in the neighborhood with the “Gleebox” girls, as well as, some friends we knew through the Perini’s and new friends we had met through our kinfolk network.

Plus, we had a number of guest stay with us, including our nephew, who flew up for a weekend from Melbourne. Our friend Cass from Singapore came for a whirlwind evening where we shared dinner and story. Our friend Daryl from the US, came for a two-week stay and we hiked, went to the beach, enjoyed the local sights and sounds, food and markets.  Our friend Neelke, from the Netherlands, came for a few nights and we jam-packed as much as we could into her visit. We also caught up with our friend Andrew, who we met in Cambodia. It was awesome having so many kinfolk that we had met from all over the world come to our door front!

We enjoyed playing host, having the world come to us! We loved using our space to bring community together hosting dinner parties, afternoon teas, sharing sacred space, and providing a safe place to share story. We even hosted a house concert, where we cleared the room, made a bunch of yummy treats, set the stage and a whole slew of kinfolk that we had met through out the previous weeks came and enjoyed an evening of music. Our muso friends, Naomi Nash, Cameron James Henderson and Graciana Holland performed a songwriter in the round concert. It was intimate and spectacular and truly the highlight of our stay.  

The six weeks flew by and everyday was filled with the richness of life, community and the beauty of a city wrapped in the natural surroundings of water. If we could encapsulate one memory from our travels that we would want to keep forever, this would be the stop.

So now, when people ask us if we have a favorite place or a place we would want to settle down in, we can answer, yes, Sydney, Australia, specifically in a little terrace home just off Glebe Point Road, where we could meld into the local atmosphere, sharing life and using our space to create community, where instead of us going to the world, the world comes to us, then yes, that’s the place we would love to be. It’s a dream we know, but for now we can savor the little taste we were given and know that if we were ever to shift from nomadic life to bricks and mortar, it would have to live up to this new-found expectation. Until then, we keep rolling, taking each stop just as it is, pliable and available to be woven together with those we meet along the way, bringing with us love and light. Until then, #homeiswhereyouparkit.

Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

This is a very personal account of an experience had regarding the theme of “the fear of the Lord.” The ancient text says that ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all knowledge.’ I have thought about this concept, talked about it, sung about it, but it was just that, a concept. This account is the story of how the the fear of the Lord moved from a concept to being the very fabric of my being.

img_0582Before I begin, I will tell you that I am simply a layman in my faith walk. I have not gone to seminary, nor do I claim to be a sage or anyone important. However, I have always been aware of the supernatural and I am intimately seeking connectivity with the Creator of the Universe, also known as Lord, God, King of kings, etc.. whom I call Abba (Father), which represents everlasting love. I’m one who has had an awakening to the grace extended by the person of Jesus to commune directly with Abba. He knows my language and speaks to my heart often. It’s very personal and I usually don’t share to much about it. I am just a voice…

In the ancient text (John 1:23) we see an account of John the Baptist, being asked if he is the messiah, if he is a prophet, if he is someone important? His answer is so profound to me. He says, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness...‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’  I am not John, I am not a man, I am not even a prophet. I have become nothing but the breath of God; moving and communicating completely in accordance with Abba's desire.

My friend Neil Beightol says “To be a “voice” is to be nothing but breath, shaped and formed to the desire of the speaker.”

Oh to have such a calling.

img_0998And so it was that I sat alone, well, just me, two pelicans and the Creator of the Universe, on the beach in the Byron Shire, NSW. It was a warm sunny afternoon in July, just a few months after my encounter with the spirit of death and hades.

I humbled myself before Abba Father and began to praise Him, calling out his amazing attributes and declaring his faithfulness. As I prayed and asked for a word I began to stroke the sand in a smooth consistent motion until a blank slate was created. I picked up a nearby stick and held it loosely, fully aware of the tension between wanting to create my own master piece and wanting it to be used as an instrument of communication. As I prayed, my hand was lead to draw what seemed like random lines and then to slowly to connect those lines. What formed was a picture of a mountain and two horses riding swiftly, in unison. Hovering above the mountain and the horses was a very large aggressive lion. The lion was pouncing on the mountain and the horses.

I prayed and waited for the Holy Spirit to offer an explanation but was directed to draw another smaller picture. This time there were three dots that were positioned at the top of the picture, and two large trenches or shields on either side of the drawing with an arrow and a the sun, in the middle. The passage “Thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,” came to mind. As I looked it over and prayed I was drawn to the three dots hovering above and recognized them as representing the God head, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and shields were boundaries on either side, with my body being the third shield, opposite the three dots. The arrow and the sun, which sat in the center of the drawing were surrounded on all sides and represented the enemy.

Then I prayed more but was prompted to go home and search the scriptures. So I did, I began to scour any mentions of horses, mountains, sun, or lions. As I prayed and read I was lead to 2 Kings and Hosea. This is what I found…

I believe the mountains represent humanity, specifically those who claim to be children of God. I also think the horses and the sun in the other drawing are connected. Humans have always worshiped the sun, so that seemed like a no brainer, but people have also always highly prized horses. There’s something in the manner of the horse, in its majesty and poise that tends to draws out the pride of man. However, God never intended the horse to be worshiped, only for this incredible creature to draw our praise, admiration and reverence to our Creator.  During the time of King Josiah, the Israelites had embraced “sun” worship.  Out of obedience to God’s direction, righteous Josiah destroyed the remains of idol worship.
 "And Josiah...removed the horses that the kings of Judah had devoted to the sun from the entrance of the house of the Lord...and he burned the chariots of the sun with fire" (2 Kings 23:10a, 11). 

The lion in the picture was fierce and dominate, towering not just above the horses but above the mountains as well. I was terrified by it. My first inclination was to view the lion as the enemy “prowling around, waiting to devour.” However, this lion was not prowling but rather charging, pouncing. So, I prayed and asked who the lion represented. I was led to Hosea 13:7 and believe the lion represents God in his anger towards HIS people.

In this chapter, God basically says, “I’m still your God, the God who saved you out of Egypt. I’m the only real God you’ve ever known. I’m the one and only God who delivers. I took care of you during the wilderness hard times, those years when you had nothing. I took care of you, took care of all your needs, gave you everything you needed. You were spoiled. You thought you didn’t need me. You forgot me. So, “I’ll charge you like a lion, like a leopard stalking in the brush. I’ll jump you like a sow grizzly robbed of her cubs. I’ll rip out your guts. Coyotes will make a meal of you. Crows will clean your bones. I’m going to destroy you, Israel. Who is going to stop me?”

Here read it for yourselves…

Hosea 13

When Ephraim spoke,people trembled; he was exalted in Israel. But he became guilty of Baal worship and died. Now they sin more and more; they make idols for themselves from their silver, cleverly fashioned images, all of them the work of craftsmen. It is said of these people, “They offer human sacrifices! They kiss calf-idols!” 

Therefore they will be like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears, like chaff swirling from a threshing floor, like smoke escaping through a window. “But I have been the Lord your God ever since you came out of Egypt. You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Savior except me. I cared for you in the wilderness, in the land of burning heat. When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me. 

So I will be like a lion to them, like a leopard I will lurk by the path. Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and rip them open; like a lion I will devour them—a wild animal will tear them apart. 

“You are destroyed, Israel, because you are against me, against your helper. Where is your king, that he may save you? Where are your rulers in all your towns, of whom you said, ‘Give me a king and princes’?  So in my anger I gave you a king, and in my wrath I took him away. The guilt of Ephraim is stored up, his sins are kept on record. Pains as of a woman in childbirth come to him, but he is a child without wisdom; when the time arrives,he doesn’t have the sense to come out of the womb.”

As I read Hosea out loud I began to tremble and shake. My breath shortened as if the air was going out of the room and my heart felt as if it was being snuffed out. I literally fell hard to the floor. A deep weight of despair hovered over me and I could not get up. I was scared and thought, “this is it, I’m all alone, Craig and Banjo are out, and this is it! I’m going to die.” I was freaking out and my tongue was tied, but I was able to cry out for mercy. “Lord have mercy!! Lord have mercy on us all!!”

I cried out and instinctually began to confess my junk. Things flooded my mind that I though were already dealt with, things like my desire for power by dabbling in the paranormal in my youth. And as soon I confessed, it was as if the angel of the Lord took his sword and cut that barnacle off of me. I confessed my warped sense of sexuality that I used to gain power over others in my youth. And as soon as I did, it was as if the angel of the Lord took his sword and cut that barnacle off of me. I confessed my lack of faith. And, I confessed the ways that I had used my words to manipulate and control situations. The prophet Isaiah’s words danced in my mind, “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a person of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” I continued to cry out, “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.” I confessed the sins of my people, their lust for power and domination, and the ways that my people use their faith to manipulate and condone their agendas. I saw the idol of narcissism sitting high on a mountain and their were many bowing down. I cried out, “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy on us all.” And as soon as I did, I watched the angel of the Lord take his sword and in one glorious swoop, cut that idol down, lowering it straight to the ground.

I lay there soaked in tears, time stood still, then, a rush of fresh air and a feeling of relief flooded the room. Slowly the pressure subsided and it was only then that I knew that I wasn’t going to die. I continued weeping quietly, “Lord please have mercy on us.” Then I felt Yeshua’s hand stroke my hair with tenderness reminding me of his blessed assurance.

When I was finally able to rise, I was famished. It felt like I hadn’t eaten in days and I walked into the kitchen and ravished a whole papaya! As my strength returned I exclaimed, “Wow! What in the world am I suppose to do with all of that?!”

“Write” Abba said, “write it down, remember, and warn my people.” And, so Kinfolk! Bride of Christ, if any of this resonates with you, PLEASE I beg you to fall, face down, with an openness to feel/express sincere regret/remorse (repent) and turn your faces back to Him, for only Abba can renew a right spirit.

img_0568I can not explain it any better than this; the fear of the Lord has a whole new meaning now! It’s no longer just scripture, a line in a song or a concept but has been deeply woven into the fabric of my very being! Oh man!!

You see, I have looked in the mirror and seen the disgusting depravity of my very own heart. I have seen wickedness in the hearts of humanity and I have come into intimate contact with darkness. I have felt deep fear from humans and from the powers of principality, but the fear of the Lord… takes it all to a whole new level. God, the Creator of the Universe, the Holy One, the King of kings, Abba my father, is the only one worthy of my fear. And, I am grateful for this perspective. For you see, in my own wilderness I have found such an assuredness that I freely surrender my body, with it’s particular agendas, desires, and even needs, to become one with and indistinguishable from the breath and message of God.

This is what I know… Perfect love, casts out fear.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Author, William D Eisenhower says, “When we assume that the world is the ultimate threat, we give it unwarranted power, for in truth, the world’s threats are temporary. When we expect God to balance the stress of the world, we reduce him to the world’s equal …. As I walk with the Lord, I discover that God poses an ominous threat to my ego, but not to me. He rescues me from my delusions, so he may reveal the truth that sets me free. He casts me down, only to lift me up again. He sits in judgment of my sin, but forgives me nevertheless. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but love from the Lord is its completion.”

Yeshua demonstrated love beyond human understanding when he lived out his words, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” With love like that, what is left to fear but God?”

 

Parable Of The Three Trees

Parable of The Three Trees
There were three trees all standing side by side in a sun scorched land. The tree that sat in the middle was lush and green, and although the land was dry and hot, all who gathered under the tree stayed cool. A small group of people gathered around it, with plenty of room for more. They were humbly offering prayers and song to the King of kings. They were also using the healing leaves to dry the tears and heal the wounds of the broken hearted. 

The tree to the left was barren, offering no shade, yet it was surrounded by droves of people. They were shouting violently, “Justice Justice Justice!”

The tree to the right was also barren, offering no shade, yet it was surrounded by droves of people. They were shouting violently, “Power Power Power!”

Brothers and sisters, take a look up, what tree are you standing under?
If we claim Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords, may we find our way to the tree in the middle and may our focus stay on Jesus

Medicine For The Soul; Fire In The Sky

Not sure if you knew this about me but I’m a human connection junkie. I look for opportunities at every corner to connect whether through a smile, conversation about the weather, sharing of story or deeper moments of spiritual formation. Some circles call people with this trait an empath, others call it extroverted. Whatever you call it, traveling full-time suites my thirst for this connectivity. I know and trust that seemingly random moments are divinely orchestrated and I wake up with great anticipation of seeing and experiencing these amazing moments of exchange. Security, comfort, and money are unfruitful drivers and I tend to spend little time thinking about them, trusting that my daily bread will come. I wake up longing to speak words of peace and affirmation over those I meet and when needed, to share a hard word of truth in love. I wake up open to receive. I have learned over the years, that filtering (discernment) is essential to being healthy in my gift set. I have learned that I must allow for times of quiet and solitude in order for the Holy Spirit to fill up my empty vessel. It’s important for my well-being and those I am surrounded by. 

And so it was, thanks to Abba’s faithfulness in weaving us together with the Saints, that we were gifted a week of solitude on a beach in South Australia. 

We met Jacia, a beautiful young soul, in Northern Thailand and shared a night of song and story. Before we parted ways, Jacia mentioned that if we ever needed a season of rest, that her family owned a little beach shack and would be happy to share it with us. We exchanged info and tucked it away for a time that only Abba could bring; for South Australia wasn’t yet on our routing pattern. However, that timing came to fruition sooner than we thought as it proved to be the soft landing spot after a tender return from the US where I was caring for my mother. 

img_0159We arrived to what truly was the cutest little beach shack, and a warm welcome from Luke and Diane Hopton, Jacia’s parents. They had us over for dinner and we were delighted by their faith stories. We found a few other times to connect with them and with some of their dear friends, but my normal capacity for friendship was low so as tempting as it was to fill our week up with meals and visits, I reluctantly declined.

img_0148The honest truth was that I was wrecked in my spirit, numb really. I tried to force any sort of feeling in the physical, nearly attacking my husband with affection, dancing wildly on the deserted beach, convincing my sweet son to walk miles and miles with me searching for seashells, trying to work up a sweat, just trying to feel alive. But it was in the stillness of the evenings when the sun was setting that benevolent rays of mercy would shine on me. Craig would bring out the guitar and strum gently or make a lovely cheese platter and we would just sit, quietly, night after night, watching the sun set on the horizon. It was in those moments, that I laid down my pride, laid down my sorrow, emptied myself out and opened up. It was in those moments that waves of Abba’s unending love and faithfulness came rolling in; dividing my soul from spirit, exposing the attitudes of my heart, and washing over me with precious words of healing. 

Words like: 

*The Great Physician is a faithful healer and can be trusted with even the most aggressive aliments. Tonight’s tonic included an epic sunset in the South Australian sky.

*In the stillness… in the quiet hour… You are with me.

*Faith is not a feeling. Faith is not an event. It is not a mystical or magical experience. Faith is not hope. Hope operates in the natural. Faith is the language of the supernatural. It the tether between us and the living God.

*Abba sees the things you and I can not see. You are going to recover. There is a level above science, there is a level above technology. It is the level where faith hovers and with the Creator of the Universe all things are possible.

*Faith goes into the future, secures the future, comes back to get you and leads you into that future.

img_0165I’ve written songs about the beach, about the living water that sustains me, and I’m so thankful that my Creator knows that this is a place that really fills me up. I love going to the beach with God! I’m also thankful for kinfolk like the Hopton’s who graciously care for us along the way, allowing us the time and space to allow the Spirit of God to care for us along the way. 

The Season of the Dark Shadow

We all know this fight isn’t against flesh and blood right? Well, this was my reminder.

As it was, while in Sydney, Australia, five months ago I found an unusually large lump on my thyroid. We had only been back from SE Asia for two weeks. My body was well worn from the travel through the seven countries we visited over that two month period. We hit Thailand in the middle of the trip and by that time we were ready for a little break. It was Christmas and we were hoping to spend some time as a family on the beach in Pattaya, catching up with a few friends, resting and refreshing for the next leg of the journey. However, once we arrived we were smacked with the reality of injustice all around us and immediately felt not only the presence but the rule of the spirit of lust. It was massive! And so, we put aside our own personal desires for rest and entered into all that Abba had for us there, being present and fully engaging. Through conversations and interactions with locals, we were given a picture of the state of affairs, exposing the breath of the beasts influence. I felt compelled to write about it and you can read more about that here…  

The enormity of this spirit mixed with the vulnerability of my own past with sexual abuse seemed to trigger anxiety attacks. I’d experience anxiety attacks long ago and knew some technics to deal with them, but these seemed much more severe than previous experiences. We made our way north to be with a community in Pai which offered solace but my heart was weak, I sensed something had been damaged in my inner most being. By Myanmar, my ability to discern and hear from the Lord was cloudy. I felt a spirit of paranoia try to get hold of me but rejected it. Physically I got very sick and was in bed for a few day.

In Singapore, our kinfolk identified a heaviness and laid hands on me to pray for it to be removed. At the time, I believed it was just the weight of seeing so much pain, corruption and injustice. My joy was fading and the prayer encouraged me as my friend Claire reminded me of an initial word that was spoken over our family before we gave everything away and left in the bus five years ago.

IMG_9570"The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you, in his love he will no longer rebuke you. But will rejoice over you with singing." Zeph 3:17

I could just barely make out the still small voice of Abba, whispering “I’m hear still.” I continued to declare God’s goodness, faithfulness and grace to any who would listen, proclaiming the wonder of Christ and the freedom He offers us. Then our family spent a few days with some of our mentors in Indonesia, Ron and Janine Parrish. Bali felt dark and the presence of evil almost suffocated me but the Parrish home was like a safe house and as much as I wanted to go to the beach, I didn’t really want to leave the solace of their home. We did visit a few villages and markets and I distinctly remember seeing from afar a woman who had a large goiter. I remember her vividly because my body shivered and shook briefly as if taking on her condition. I remember the compassion I felt for her and was in awe at her ability to still function in a way that seemed normal.

Anyway, by the time we got back to Australia I was a hot mess. Actually I was a cold mess, as it felt like my internal furnace went out and I could never get warm. Then the lump on my neck appeared. A dear friend in Sydney brought me to see her doctor who eyed the lump and declared it a goiter. She suggested I probably needed to follow-up with an ultrasound.

We went to Bendigo for six weeks to work alongside our friends at Cornerstone Community on a house project. I tried to help, cooking most nights but could never seem to find energy for much more. I struggled with any sort of task that involved going into town or being around to many people (which is not like me). I didn’t want to write and sort of went into coma mode. I would lay in bed for days with Netflix, filling my head with romantic fantasy shows. Which then lead to feelings of shame and isolation. I could feel myself starting to break from reality, longing to live in another time or place. There was a part of me that fought back though and I would cry out, I mean cry out for Abba to heal me, to help me. I knew I was loosing my grip and I felt like I was going crazy yet I knew I wasn’t. I shifted my focus and as long as I was engaged in prayer or worship or conversation about Yeshua I felt alive but as soon as I was alone with my thoughts I was paralyzed.

I told a few close friends and family about my symptoms and asked for prayer but was too embarrassed to send out a mass request. My family was in shock. They didn’t understand the waves of trauma that would rise out of me, the uncontrollable tears, so many tears. They prayed and cared for me the best they could but also were still trying to engage and come alongside our hosts. On top of that Graciana was getting ready to leave the nest. I was useless in helping her make her last preparations, as I couldn’t think beyond my own pain. Then I got a call from the US to come home and help care for my mom.

I wasn’t sure I was fit to help, but the call mustered up in me a furry and I was able to step outside of myself and rise above whatever this crap was that was pulling me down to the pit of hell. I went and for six weeks, I cooked and cared for my mom as well as myself. I was barely better than her and the slow pace of the days actually gave me time to breath and focus, pray and worship. As much as it was helpful for my mom, it was even more life-giving to me. Oh to focus on life! Everyday became about finding harmony, peace and solace. Any disturbance to this harmony evoked a lioness in me that would roar at whomever broke the code. Seriously, you can ask my dad. Even so, the house found harmony and as mom began to return, so did I.

I saw a doctor who did a blood test and an ultrasound on my thyroid. I saw a therapist who worked with Bio-energetic resonance and learned about the benefits of acupuncture, Vit C treatments, diet, etc.. According to all of their tests, I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue (near failure), a virus in my endocrine system that some call cancer and found that the lump on my thyroid was from heavy metal toxins. Not so bad right? Ha!

I left the US with knowledge about what was physically wrong with me and began a regiment of supplement and diet changes. I learned about ways to care for my adrenals through reducing stressors, rest and heart coherence. However, something was still off deep down. There was a fracture deep in my psyche and my joy was gone.

By the time I made it back to Australia, I was so happy to see my family but the dark shadow was even worse than when I left. My sorrow was intense and the suffering almost unbearable. I kept praying for clarity to understand where it was coming from. Was it some unspoken sin? Was it some deeper area that the Holy Spirit wanted to heal from? Was it my pride? I knew I struggled with spirits of condemnation and shame, I wrestled with them at different times in life, but this was different. It felt like I was chasing a fox. I would glimpse its shadows but then it would be gone. I cried out, “What are you trying to teach me Lord Jesus?”

Then we made our way north, our short-term plan was; a season of rest somewhere warm (seeing as my internal furnace was broken). Then a hint of a dream to build out a bus and prepare for what Abba has next for us. However, the dreaming was stifled by my cloud of internal discord. Despite my efforts to care for my body physically, I continued to manifest new physical problems and the emotional breakdowns began to dominate any moments that my mind weren’t completely focused on Christ.

Then, on a Tuesday morning, I heard a voice that said, “just kill yourself.” I immediately rejected the thought understanding that it was not my own but felt crippled by the blow. That day, we did a few workshops at a school on history and creativity and by the grace of God, I made it through. Then that evening we arrived in Glenrowan. I stumbled into the Duursma home, grateful to be in a safe place. I took a few deep breaths and found my footing enough to share my struggle with my friend Diane. She stated that is was OK for us not to lead their house church that night and just rest, but I assured her that I needed to stay focused on speaking the truth of Yeshua’s love. We worshiped with all of our hearts, shared in community and covenant, taught on the Sons of Thunder and God’s transformational love in their lives.

Then after the service there was an intense time of prayer. Many words were spoken over us but the one that stuck out was a picture of a dark murky lake and a pier that went out into the middle. I was walking to the end of the pier and asked by Abba to step off. I was hesitant but took a step off into what seemed like the abyss. However each time I stepped out a step would appear. And so it was that each time I stepped further into the darkness, God made another step and held my footing. That’s exactly how life seemed to be rolling. Another picture of a freshly pressed key was given. Then Psalm 91 was read over me.

After the service a woman named Michelle came up to me. She said, “I don’t really know you but I feel compelled to pray for you tonight when I go home and when I pray, I mean I really pray. So, tell me everything you need prayer for.” I was shocked but grateful. I told her briefly about my physical aliments but that the thing that really had me bound up with some sort of shift in my inner most being. I couldn’t put my finger on it and it was terrorizing me. She listened and then left. The night continued on with beautiful fellowship and finally our heads hit the pillow. I still couldn’t get warm and my sleep was unsteady but I was filled with a small measure of joy and hope.

In the morning Michelle called and said she had a word for me and let us know she was coming by. She arrived with her notebook and bible and got straight to it. She said that when she saw us five months ago there was such a light and joy beaming from me but this time I looked like the life was zapped out of me and that is why she felt compelled to pray. She said when she had come up to me the night before to ask if she could pray for me that she laid her hand on me and that when she touched me she nearly had to run out of the room because the pain she felt on me was more than she could bear. I began to well up with tears. She said that she went home and spent all night interceding on my behalf and this is what The Lord God Almighty showed her. He gave her I John 4:1 “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”  Then He showed her a great sadness upon me, a deep sorrow, a terribly dark shadow, harrowing pain and anguish, endless sorrow, weeping and gnashing of teeth. I started to weep as that’s exactly how I’d been feeling.

She said God showed her a moment in my near past of an interaction that took place in Thailand between myself and a Thai man. She said he was very unsuspecting, super smiley, friendly and even hospitable. She asked if anyone came to mind? A few interactions came to mind but no one specific. She said this man was a shaman and during our exchange he secretly touched my inner most being with the spirit of death and hades! As soon as she said it, I knew it to be so! That was the voice… “You should just kill yourself.” Then the cold, always feeling cold, and all of the health problems that just popped up suddenly, and then the damage I felt internally but not understanding what could have caused it!! She continued on that throughout the night on multiple occasions she would hear God say, “I see you Jana.” She let me know this wasn’t something I did to myself or deserved and that God was my strong tower, that I would be released from the grips of this spirit and my body would be healed. She asked God for more details on the “how” but he didn’t give her much, just that using the word “stop” whenever I felt the attacked kept coming to mind. She encouraged me to continue to use my voice to declare my inheritance as a daughter of the King of kings. She then said to all of us with great enthusiasm, “start dreaming again and dream big, because when this lifts and your strength is returned that God has much work for you to do!”

Abba is good and faithful and although I’m a little pissed off about the whole thing even happening in the first place, I’m relieved to know that it was nothing more than a lame attempt by the enemy to shake my faith. The little cockroach of a spirit has fled but the residue of damage needs to be dealt with so until I hear more from Abba about my health, I will continue to utilized all of the knowledge and resources that I’ve been given.

I’ve also begun to declare blessing over that shaman. He has no idea what love and grace is coming for him!

And so, here I am in a season of healing, rebuilding and renewal.

I ask that if you are the interceding type that you would direct your prayers towards Psalm 91 for me. Heck, I’ll be praying it for you too!

Here read it for yourself. Read it out loud. Savor it, allow the words to wash over you and offer comfort. Allow the words to build you up and give you strength. And may these words become a reality in our time of need.

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare, and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at mid-day. A thousand may fall at your side, then thousand at your right hand but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will life you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. “Because He loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

IMG_0353"You have as little to fear from an undeserved curse as from the dart of a wren or the swoop of a swallow....Or a cackle of cockatoos" ~Mama J quoting Proverbs‬ ‭