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Somewhere in the midst of normal work, normal life (if such a thing exists!) and preparing to move across the country, I have been working on the production of the album “Intro to Spiritual Structures”.  This is the studio recording of the teleconferences I taught last year.  On a side note, I actually recorded it three times!  I just knew the first two weren’t right.  And then God had me wait until after a significant land assignment where there was a huge personal shift and THEN it was the right time.  “Third time’s the charm” ain’t got nuthin’ on God!

Anyway, this week I have been pondering the first fruits dedication.  I have a deep connection to land, so my immediate thoughts are where I could go.  Should I go somewhere to climb and declare the King over all structures?  A friend gave me that idea and I thought it was a great one.  I also thought about special parks, and yes, even abandoned buildings.  All of them seemed doable, but nothing was quite right.  Until God reminded me about dreams.

Structures are a significant piece of my design.  This album is an introduction to the concept.  It presents some foundational tools and common applications, but at the core, it is far bigger than that.  It represents a tremendous facet of God’s redemptive power.

For years and years I was tormented by nightmares.  The primary recurring theme was a chasing dream where I was in a house or building and nothing was what it appeared.  Or, rather, it changed from what it appeared.  So, I would see a door and run for it, and soon as I got there, it wasn’t a door anymore.  This cat and mouse game would go on until just before “it” got me and I woke terrified, my muscles tied in knots.  The other common theme would be things moving on their own accord – I look and it is there, I look again and it is gone.

Well, it was in the process of doing a whole truckload of inner healing and deliverance and interpreting the patterns that we came to realize I have a deep connection to structures.  It was the nightmares that clued us in.  The enemy did a whole lot of damage with them, but at the end of the day, God used them to show us an enduring piece of His design that has already transformed lives and land.

And then the Holy Spirit brought to mind the idea to have this album dedicated by myself and others who have walked a journey of redemption with dreams.

This is an unusual approach for me because the album is not about dreams, per se.  I mention the nightmares as part of my personal history, but the album is about spiritual structures in other realms – our emotions, spirits, bodies, etc.  So, there are some dots I can’t quite connect with my soul, but my spirit is ALL over this idea.

I think there is a celebration of the fruit God brought out of the enemy’s attempts to destroy.  That is a theme we can all relate to.  But there is something deeper here too.  Why did the enemy choose dreams as the primary way to do it?  There is something more to the connection between spiritual structures and dreams that I don’t have language for yet.

So, I am leaning into what I feel the Lord is directing me to do, regardless of whether or not I have all the data!

And with that thought in mind, I would like to extend an invitation.  If you are someone like me who has walked through a redemption story with dreams, I invite you to write to me so we can explore your being part of the dedication.  I would love to have a handful of people who can pray into this album all of the fruit God wants to release, all of the redemptive power, all of the “X” factor we don’t have language for yet.  This will be a bona fide Mercy approach … our brains and souls lagging far behind!

If you are interested in being involved, please write to me at Megan@GoBeyondtheHorizon.com so we can explore your story and see if it is a good fit.  The cutoff date for writing is the end of the day on the 4th, this coming Sunday.

Looking forward to partnering with God on this one!

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Lakefront Property in Laodicea

I couldn’t go straight home from the grocery store.  This was one of those nights when I needed to drive.  I didn’t realize it until I found a particular song on my playlist and then I knew.  Something was tired of being contained and well-behaved and I needed some speed and some wind.  There is one particular road that has a flow anointing and I made a beeline for it.  We will leave the details about my driving to your imagination.

The road more or less begins in Fullerton and winds its way through three or four different cities.  I have taken it pretty far before, but tonight I took it to the end.  Along the way, my mind was wandering all over the world, as these kinds of moods are often the result of things churning and needing room to expand without life getting in the way.

I think I could have driven on the road all night, but eventually it did end.  Then I had to make a decision.  I chose to turn right and continue the exploration, though not with quite the forcefulness I had been enjoying up until then.  It didn’t take long after my turn to discover that I had stumbled upon a very upper scale part of town.  The houses were huge.  I drove by a couple of blocks of these mansions and then caught a glimpse of water.  What?  Yes, water.  And then more water, and then I realized I was driving by a small lake.

So, understand, I am still in the middle of the city.  I never left it.  God graced me with decent enough traffic flow and empty spots between cars that I could actually enjoy something of my mood, but I never left the city.  And here, plopped right in the middle of it was this lake, surrounded by all of these monstrous houses.

My curiosity was definitely perked.  I had never seen this place before.  So, I kept making right hand turns so that I could basically do a circle around the lake.  And mind you, it didn’t take very long.  There were little cul-de-sacs every so often for access to the houses that had this lake front property.

These kinds of moods are existential in nature so God could not have timed this encounter more perfectly.  By the time I got all the way around and back to the corner where I first spotted the water, the examination of the universe had taken a whole new turn.

These mansions were packed in like sardines. They were all similar in design.  I could smell the chemicals in the water.  I was still right smack in the middle of the city.  All this money, all this prestige connected to having one of those houses, and it felt fake. They aren’t actually in nature.  They are in the middle of the concrete jungle, living in a huge house that looks just like their neighbors’.  Their environment is completely manufactured.  Yet, they seem happy with a wealthy non-reality.  Not only happy, but proud.  I can’t even imagine how much it would cost to have one of those houses.

And that is the part that struck me the most.  The sense of pride over having all of that when at the core it was all show.  It felt ludicrous.  Yet, it must not be to them.  Nobody would spend that kind of money if they felt like it was a joke.  That means they don’t see it.

I think it was the desperation that grieved me so much, and left me deeply pondering.  How badly we need to know that we have it “made” that this many dozens of people shelled out a whole ton of cash to have lakefront property on that little chemical pond.

My drive home included some new grist for the mill that was already working overtime.  Where in my life am I doing the same thing?  It doesn’t have to be about houses.  It could be any area of my existence. Where am I happy and proud and hollow?

Or wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked?

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God, the Desert, and Me

It was well over a decade ago when I packed all my worldly possessions in my Geo Prizm and a minivan and my Dad and I made the cross-country trek from Michigan to a foreign land called California.  To a bona fide Midwesterner, it felt like falling off the edge of the earth.  Which, incidentally, was something we often prayed California would do.

On that long trek over, my Dad and I made a couple of sightseeing stops to break up the monotony and to prevent our bodies from fusing permanently into the shape of a car seat.  The first stop we made in California was not too far from the Arizona border off of Interstate 10.   It is called Joshua Tree National Park, and it straddles the Colorado and Mohave deserts.

I still remember crossing the border from Arizona into California, quiet and in awe of this new life I was embracing.  I felt such a special welcome from God, as if He was there waiting for me when I arrived.

I had learned that the park was on Mercy land, and I wanted to check it out.  My Dad and I had a wonderful time there. The best part was the climbing.  There are all kinds of really cool mounds and rock formations in the park.  It is a bouldering paradise.  You can do a lot more than bouldering, but that’s what I like the most.  The rocks are a type of granite, but the formation and erosion processes have roughened the surfaces and your shoes grip them fabulously.  We went joyously from one pile to the next like a couple of kids.

Over the course of the years I have gone back a couple of times.  My connection to the land there was positive each time.  I have gone back to do more climbing, and I have gone back just to be quiet and wait on the Lord.  That land holds a special place in my heart.

So, now, here I am, more than a decade later, and I am leaving California.  This fall I am moving to South Carolina, with the company, Sapphire Leadership Group, which I came here to work for.  It is a change of seasons, and it feels right.  But there are some goodbyes I need to make before I leave.

And God provided me the perfect opportunity to do one of those goodbyes this past weekend.

I drove to Phoenix to visit some of my Mom’s family for the long holiday weekend.  I had a whole day to make the 6 hour return trip, and it was basically the exact same route that I took ten years ago with my Dad.  I knew I had to stop at Joshua Tree again.

When you enter the park from Interstate 10, you drive for about twenty minutes before you get to the visitor’s center.  I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do this time, but since I was alone, I knew it wasn’t going to involve much climbing.  So, I just drifted along, looking for anything that jumped out at me.

When I arrived at the center, the exquisite timing of God started showing itself quite beautifully.   The first timing piece was a free entrance day.  I was there on a federal holiday, so maybe they do that every time, but it was a first for me!  But don’t worry, I ended up supporting the park even more than if I had paid to get in.  I was drawn like a magnet to these beautiful handmade clay tumblers and I realized that I didn’t have anything from the park to take to South Carolina with me.  So, I bought four of them for special occasions.  Cha ching!  Timing piece number two.  A win/win for me and the park.  When I went up to pay, I asked the ranger what was around.

Now, most of the time, I don’t ask.  I get a map and follow my spirit.  So, it was an unusual move for me to make, but it was such a God thing.  The ranger pointed to a three-mile loop trail that went past an abandoned mine.  The miners may not have found much there, but I just struck it rich!

I have a thing with abandoned buildings.  And I have wanted to go to an abandoned mine for a long time, but it has just never happened.  And here it was served to me on a silver platter.  And why hadn’t I heard about it before?  If my Dad and I had known about it, we would have gone there lickety-split.  And I had been back to the park twice since then.  This was apparently one of God’s best kept secrets from me.

But not anymore!  He spilled the beans, and I had a feeling He knew exactly why now.

The trail was easy to find and there were a good number of people there, but it wasn’t too crowded.  I did a lot of reminiscing as I walked.  I savored the past and all the things that had transpired since I was there the first time.  Some of it was wonderful, some of it awful, some of it bittersweet.  A lot of intense living and growing, crying, and laughing.  God was so on with the timing of the people.  I ran across quite a few at the beginning, but as I climbed higher, they thinned out.  So, I could stand and listen or sit in peace or talk out loud to myself as I am apt to do when emotionally processing.   Or when I have been too long at home alone.

After sitting on top of one ridge for a while, I clambered down and came around a curve in the trail to the sound of tin roofing clanging in the wind.  It was the mine.   There were timbers strewn about and some wooden structures still intact.  The mine shaft was visible, but fenced in with enough iron to survive Armageddon.  It hadn’t been a huge operation, but some poor soul had expected to make a whole lot more money there than they did.  I wandered around and stuck my nose into as much as I could get into and then I sat down and pondered.

Then I realized why now.

My attraction to abandoned buildings is layered.  And weird.  I know.  Here I am in the middle of God’s wild creation and I want to sit by a pile of tin and rotting wood.  Part of it is the mystery of the story.  What happened?  Can I reverse engineer it?  What kinds of cool things can I find?  What kind of emotions will it awaken in me?  A huge part of it is the effect it has on time.   The contrast of the story that was frozen in time against the story that marches ruthlessly onward causes me to feel the flow of time almost palpably.  It takes me into a spiritual space that I don’t go to anywhere else.

As I was sitting there, I realized that as I was revisiting a place I had been to in the past, reminiscing about the process of life since then, I was at the same time making new memories, living life in the present, as the person I am now, on the same land that I was on then.  My exploring that old mine was something new, even though it was in the context of savoring the old.  God brought me there now because He knew what it would do to my connection to time.  He knew what happens to me when I am around abandoned stuff like that.  He made me weird.

He brought me to the mine because it would tie the two seasons together.  There, in that place where I feel time so powerfully, I could reach into the past and unite it with the present and the future.  On the Mercy land that marked the beginning of it all, I could ask Him to take all these individual stories and make them one story moving into the future.   He cared enough about the process that He kept that mine a secret from me for over a decade, until just the moment when He brought me back to the same land to step into the flow of time, to tie together the past and the future and to launch me into yet another new season of life.

I am still in awe and moved to tears by His planning, His care in protecting the process, and the masterfully elegant way in which He fulfilled it.  He is the God of our individuality and He is the God who executes with finesse.

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To See or Not to See

There were many nights where I would run in a panic upstairs to sleep on the couch in the living room.  I had another nightmare or was startled awake by audible voices.  I was known by my family for being very sensitive and imaginative.  It didn’t take much to scare me.  And those nights running up the two flights of stairs to the living room were especially scary because I was sure something was following me.

Neither my parents nor I knew what to do with my experiences.  We didn’t know anything about defilement on land or how to deal with critters or any of the many things that we now understand about the spiritual realm.  So, I opted for an alternative solution, which was to turn off the sensitivity as much as I could.

Things did settle down for me quite a bit, though it took many more years before we did enough spiritual work to put an end to the nightmares.  But I did an excellent job (unfortunately) of disconnecting the nighttime experiences from the rest of my life.  I willingly embraced the idea that I didn’t really have that kind of discernment and so I didn’t see or hear things.

Yet, as I continued to grow in my spiritual journey, I felt more and more the sense that something wasn’t right.  The desire to see the spiritual realm started to grow.  My spirit knew I was made for it, and all my attempts to shut it down couldn’t completely silence the voice.  I carried that longing and sense of “I am supposed to be able to do this” for a couple of years until recently when I listened to the teaching by Arthur Burk called Developing Discernment.

The teaching gives a framework for different kinds of discernment and throughout the presentation Arthur validates those who operate in any of the five areas.  What stood out to me the most were the practical tools he shared for developing discernment in your everyday life.  It was at this point that I realized that now was the time to redeem and unpack this part of my design.

So, I went for it … with some amount of trepidation!  But one of the things that has been special in my relationship with God in this process is the building of trust.  I began with an act of my will to acknowledge that His design was good, and now I am beginning to believe it with my heart.

The tools work.  Over the last few months, my discernment has sharpened considerably.  I have been practicing discernment in a variety of ways and I am seeing and sensing things again.  I am building confidence that the gift does exist and it is not something to be afraid of.  One really fun point is that God is unpacking a particular niche of discernment that parallels a major part of my design.  And there is more peace in my spirit because I am not fighting a part of who God made me to be.

And frankly, I don’t know exactly where this road will lead!  I am the kind of person who has one foot in this world and the other across the threshold in another world.  I have a feeling that I am only scratching the surface so far.  But I am ON the journey now instead of refusing to take that bend in the road, and I know that God knows His business.

I wanted to share this story for anyone else who has had a negative experience with the gift of discernment.  For me, it has been a process of first accepting the good of what God has made and then actively pursuing the development.   The material presented in the album on discernment was a huge boost forward.  Arthur helped me see the value to the Kingdom and gave me a path to walk on to unpack it.

If you have not listened to the album before, I highly recommend it.  You can find it on the Sapphire Leadership Group website as a CD album or audio download.

Be free to be you!

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A God I Don’t Understand

Each of us has different areas of God’s nature that we connect with deeply.  Whether it is from our experiential walk or some pre-programming in our spirits, we resonate to that facet of Who He is.  The other day I had a conversation with a friend where I saw one of those areas clearly.

The topic of conversation was grief and suffering in our lives.  My friend made a comment about how can people survive in a world without God.  I agreed that it was a nightmarish proposition, but for me, it went beyond the comfort, hope, and strength He brings to our lives.  I simply can’t imagine, or perhaps, don’t want to imagine, a world where I am the biggest mind that exists.

I don’t understand God and I know I never will.  And somehow,  that is a huge source of joy and stability.  It is not intimidating to me, it is liberating.  The universe is far too complex and mysterious for my mind to grasp.  Why on earth would I want to grasp the God who made it?  That seems absolutely backwards and upside down; a cosmic proposition that is precarious to the max.

Still more horrifying is an incomprehensible universe with no God at all.  It feels like it would be the worst prison any spirit has ever known.  How many things about life must you deny and ignore?  How small must you shrink your mind?  Trapped inside of a world that has turned in on itself until you can only see your own reflection.  There is no freedom to revel in the awe of unexplainable and mysterious things.  They are dangerous.  They beg an explanation and explanations threaten to let the light shine on the prison walls.  What grieves me so deeply is that many people who have embraced this world view are deceived into thinking they are free.

I worship the God that is too big for me to understand.  It is one of the things I love the most about Him.  It is comforting to know He is in control, but even more so, to know that He is bigger than everything I can see.  That means I have the freedom to expand as big as I possibly can go in pondering the mysteries and I will never, ever, ever, find the end.

My friend and I began by discussing the grief and suffering in life.  And it is, indeed, pain and fear that usually cause us to reduce God or reject Him entirely.  But at the end of the day, would it not be better to accept that we are too small to understand than to have an understandable God, or worse yet, no God, in a world that doesn’t make sense?

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Be Nice to My Baby!

Anyone who has submitted a creative work for critique can understand the emotional tug of war.  You have this precious creation you’ve poured yourself into.  Probably has some expressions of you that people don’t normally see.  Vulnerable.  It is your own creative flair.  A very personal thing.  And then comes the time when you hand your precious Mini-You over to someone to tell you what they like … or dislike about it.

You do it on purpose, believe it or not!  You know you’ve gotten too deep into it and a fresh perspective could inspire you to something great.  You need to hear how an idea lands on other ears, what you missed, where the holes are and which word you used 300 times too many.  You know you want to hear that stuff.  Sort of.

But how fickle we creative types are!  If someone comes back with TOO good of a report, we are immediately suspicious.  We look at them out of the corner of our eyes, not really believing that they liked it that much.  Surely there must be something wrong.  Did you actually READ it?

Thankfully, there are longsuffering friends and family, and heck, even strangers who are willing to put up with the bipolar nature of the creative mind, ignore our funny looks or groans of agony and tell us exactly what works and what doesn’t.  The Lord bless and prosper their tribe.

I am grateful to say that I have access to some members of this editorial tribe (otherwise known as people who are willing to share their opinion) and have embarked on the critiquing process for my book.  So far I have received some good input – particularly one idea that I had not even considered.  Right now it is in the hands of the next round of critiquers, one of whom has some professional editing experience.  That was a God thing!  I did not know it originally and God set it all up.  I am so grateful.  So far nobody has said that my book is “nice”.  That is encouraging.

What is also exciting about this stage in the process is that it means the manuscript is complete … well, loosely speaking.  I suspect there will be some more additions and subtractions before it goes to press.  But it is a big milestone to be this far in the process.

There is one person of the editorial tribe who will see the book next who has already told me what they will be looking for.  That could be the Week of Chocolate.  Lots and lots and lots of chocolate.

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Things to Give

There are those moments in life when something you know in your head sinks down into your heart and lands with a “whump!” that reverberates throughout your whole being.  What you knew to be true, or what you repeated to yourself over and over again is suddenly something you can feel.  Many times these transitions sneak up on you, quiet, like the still small voice of God.  That’s how it was for me the other day.

My framework for life has been to respond to needs and desires.  So, you tell me what it is you need from me, and I will do my best to achieve it.  In more recent years I have come to see that there are design pieces wired in there and I do try to function in those areas.  But even so, I wait for a request.  The impetus comes from outside of me.  In my head I know that God made me with a specific set of gifts and I am to live according to that design, not to need.  That was all fine and good, but in my emotional view of life, it all still hinged on people outside of me.

Well, the pot has been boiling lately, thanks to a recent album release from Sapphire.  The teaching is called “Office of Personhood” and it is a gem.  This teaching addresses the issue of emotionally embracing that you are a Person, not just an entity that accomplishes things.  In Arthur’s words, a commodity.  Like a bar of soap.  Or a garden hose.

So, I have all these ideas stewing in my cooker, and something bubbled to the surface that I didn’t quite expect.  I went to the car wash the other day and stopped to vacuum all of Philip’s mess out of my back seat.  In the slot next to me was a Dad and his young daughter working on their SUV.  I caught the eye of the daughter a couple of times and smiled at her.  I started wondering what her life might be like, if she had good parents, what kinds of ideas were forming in her mind, and that sort of thing.  Then something strange began to happen.  I started thinking about what I could give her.  What do I have as an adult Christian woman?  What questions burning in her mind could I answer?  How could I give her a role model of what womanhood could be like?  What kind of fragrance could she pick up being around me?

WHOA, NELLY.

What on earth?  Nobody had asked me for anything.  She certainly wasn’t!  Now, maybe her spirit was.  I can’t deny the possibility.  But not a single word passed between us and she was more shy about my smiling at her than anything.  And here I was, all eager to give her gifts she hadn’t even dreamed of wanting.

Then came that little voice, slipping a crazy new thought into my head.  It was deceptively simple.  “I have things to give.”

Wait.  I have things to give.  Ok.  This is going deep, way deeper than it should for a sentence that seems to bear little difference to the concept I already had.  If I didn’t have something to give, then no-one would want anything, right?

Oh, but the difference is monumental.  Not only was a shift from head to heart, it was a massive emotional paradigm shift.  The impetus was no longer someone else.  It was me.  Intrinsically, in my essence, at my core, in all of my life’s experiences, I HAVE THINGS TO GIVE.

In the past, I waited for a request.  But it was even worse than that.  It also meant that I was continually trying to synchronize to the outside world of needs and wants.  Not that I tried to satisfy everything that came my way, but let me tell you, it is tiring to look outside first instead of inside first.  And it is awfully hard to maintain a stable sense of legitimacy in that context.  Like trying to tap dance in an earthquake.

It doesn’t matter if anyone needs what I have to give.  It doesn’t matter if they know about it or even want it.  It is wonderful to pair up need with design, but the status of the need doesn’t determine the status of the design.  That was the huge shift for me.  If I was stranded on a slab of volcanic rock in the middle of the ocean without even a shrub to sing to, I would still have things to give.

I know the shift is something that God has been building behind my back.   The teaching on personhood got the circuits crackling with more thoughts of freedom to enjoy being who God made me to be.  Now I can enjoy giving what He made me to give, in any size context He arranges.

At the end of the day, this has let off a geyser of joy in my spirit.  There is still lots to learn and develop in terms of the “how to”, but fundamentally, I now feel the truth of living out of design.  I think there is something of the joy of God that we can partake of here.  He gave massively out of His own essence to create a universe.  Nobody needed it.  There was nobody there TO need it!  He did it because He had things to give and it was His nature to give them.

So, I share this for all of you who are on this journey too.  Is your framework like mine was?  If you look at the “why” behind living out your design, is it because of what is in you or because of what people need?  Do you know this in your head or your heart too?  Do you have joy because you know you have something to give?

May you be blessed on the road of discovery and truth.  You, too, have things to give!

 

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