Dry Bones

On March 19th I wrote some details of a very odd dream in my phone. I was in a helicopter and down below I could see a very vibrantly green field and the top canopy of trees as I passed overhead. It reminded me a bit of what I saw when I had the dream about bees only this time I wasn’t in the field below but passing over it and seeing it all from the top. I remember being in a group of people but we were quickly separated into small groups of 3 once we landed.

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We were supposed to investigate old houses or something in the town we landed in and I remember going into the house of an old woman.  There was a woman and a man about my age in my group and we ended up in the old woman’s attic or maybe even a room on the second floor. We all split up across the room to see what we could find. The young man soon found a trap door in the wooden floor and pulled out a quilt. I was in the middle of opening a drawer (I think it might have been a desk drawer) and I didn’t look at what was inside yet because I had stopped to look back at the quilt he found. When I looked back in my drawer I couldn’t tell what was inside yet so I picked it up. When I looked down it was the length of my hand but it just looked dark and flaky and I still didn’t know what I had picked up. The young man behind me said loudly “It’s a baby!” and I realized I was holding some kind of old fetus (Fabulous). When I looked back down at my right hand it didn’t look like a fetus which was what I expected to see now more clearly. This time it was thin and tall almost like a scaled down adult skeleton. Then I woke up.

I remember going through the morning after my dream really unsettled. Who dreams about holding an old decaying fetus in their hand? Why didn’t I find a quilt? I couldn’t figure out why I was dreaming about this or if it meant anything. This morning I decided to see if I could find anything in the Bible about my dream.

Apparently there are quite a few references to trees in the Bible but the one that seemed relevant was in Genesis 2:9 “And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight”. This seemed fitting because I love the way trees look. I actually remember back in High School I used to like to sit in my car in this cemetery because it had the best tree canopies. The green colors, the way the branches and leaves created a fort under the sunlight. It was one of my happy places. And in the Bible God appears to be a fan of trees as well. He made various kinds of trees and they were all “pleasant to the sight”. He didn’t just make one he made tons of kinds and made sure they were all beautiful and unique. So in the beginning of my dream I am flying over the tree tops and my perspective in not ground level like in my Bees dream but aerial/from the top down.

The next thing that seems important is that I end up in a small group. A group of three in fact. There are a few things I can think of automatically that occur in threes in the Bible i.e. the Trinity, the cord of three strands, and Jesus was in the grave three days. I don’t know however why there is one man and another woman with me and if that matters.

The only thing I could really Biblically make of the dehydrated little body was the part in Ezekiel 37:5-6 “God, the Master, told the dry bones, ‘Watch this: I’m bringing the breath of life to you and you’ll come to life. I’ll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you. You’ll come alive and you’ll realize that I am God!'” Which could make sense since the young man in my group seemed to immediately see what I couldn’t by exclaiming “it’s a Baby!”

What’s interesting is I didn’t know what it was before. It was decaying, kind of locust-y, and kind of disappointing in a way when compared to a quilt–something normal you could find in an attic.

So what could it mean?

I think there’s a definite connection now between my dream about Bees and this Baby dream. First because they seem to be taking place in the same location. I am in a place that is very vibrantly green and pleasing to the eye. In the first dream I am on the ground and now in this dream I am soaring over the landscape and seeing my surroundings from an elevated point of view.

I liked the description on Wikipedia of Canopy Trees for a few reasons: 1. Canopy trees are able to photosynthesize rapidly due to abundant light 2. The canopy layer provides protection from strong winds and storms 3. Forest canopies are home to unique flora and fauna not found in other layers of forests. Many rain forest animals have evolved to live solely in the canopy, and never touch the ground. 4. The canopy is the highest of seven layers.

With that in mind it seems like I am both literally and figuratively above what is happening below. I am no longer where the bees sting. When I was on the ground previously bees swarmed and people ran. In this dream I am high above the canopies and removed. Perhaps this is supposed to signify a change in perspective or moving on to the next step.

Once I am exploring the house the young man finds a quilt. Typically quilts are historical in nature, tie together years of family history, and are passed down from generation to generation. In a way it’s a unified piece tied together by lots of little pieces. But I wasn’t the one to find it. This other guy did. Perhaps this represents my belief at times that people’s lives are falling into place. The sum of all their pieces are neatly tied together and it’s a completed product. People are getting engaged, people are getting promotions or a breakthrough in their careers, etc etc. Whereas what I find is nothing like that. Seemingly to me it is decayed and shapeless. However to the other guy in the room what I hold is fragile and just beginning in it’s infancy.

If it’s any consolation to dream-me, I seem to be doing better than the other young woman who finds nothing. Is she another person for comparison to show me I am making progress? Or is she me? Is she who I was in the other dream? Is it like the Bible story where someone does nothing with the talent they are given but the others at least find something in the proverbial attic? I’m not sure.

I feel certain that if God is trying to tell me something I can expect a third dream. Biblically if something happens three times it points to greater fulfillment yet to unfold. I’m not going to list all of those examples out here, but there is tons of information online especially about the significance of three’s for those who are interested. Maybe my last dream dealt with my past i.e. being stung, running away, being attacked, and this dream is dealing with my present i.e. traveling above those attacks, searching for something, not seeing something in it’s completed state–being in a transition. It’s exciting to think my next dream could have to do with my future and provide clarity.

Jesus you see the order of my life all at once. You know my past, my present, and where I have yet to go. Nothing is impossible for you and I thank you for what you might be showing me while I sleep. Continue to show me what I do not yet understand or if there is anything I have interpreted this morning that isn’t from you. I look forward in expectancy to all you are doing.

Renew Your Mind

This morning I had a truly disgusting dream. So vile that I will not relay what happened in it to you (sorry,not sorry). It was the kind of dream where you wake up sick to your stomach because it is not something you desired to dream about, or would ever do in real life but some how seeing it or experiencing it in your dream totally filled you with poison. It causes you to question why that would be in your mind at all or what is wrong with you to even be thinking that?

Since I’m prone during this time in my life to bouts of anxiety and racing thoughts, I had to consciously make a decision during my commute to work today that I did not have to take anything in that dream seriously, or feel any negative feelings about it. It was a dream. It was not a subconscious desire (sorry Freud), it was not a flashback to something in my past, it was something that was planted in my mind to disturb me and I have a choice in whether I will water that seed all day by mentally rehashing it over and over, or I can sever it by the root before it has time to grow.

First I read the daily verse from my YouVersion Bible app. In John 1:9-13 it says “The Life-Light” was the real thing: Every person entering Life he bring into Light…and yet the world didn’t even notice. But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, he made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves. These are the God-begotten, not blood-begotten, not flesh-begotten, not sex-begotten.” And it was a comfort to me. What was planted in my mind to torment me and to make me question myself can be brought into the Light, the one that will show me my true self as a child of God.

And out of no where Jesus gave me an example that I would understand. He not only reminded me to renew my mind as it says in Romans 12:2 but he made me think about what the word renew and in life when do I understand what renew means. And then I thought..it’s like a subscription. You can choose to continue receiving something or you can cancel it if you change your mind. And I smiled because I knew what he meant.

I struggle with my thought life. What I mean is that it’s not always easy for me to stop thinking about something once I have my mind set on it. So when negative thoughts or beliefs swarm it is very hard for me not to spiral and believe them, not to bring them to the forefront of my mind easily, and to often struggle in turning them off. I’m actually starting to think that is part of my current struggle with anxiety even though this is a pattern I’ve had for most of my life and the first time I’ve ever had this much anxiety. Although this is obviously not my strong point, it’s easy to forget that you have a choice in it, and if what you bought into, what you subscribed to isn’t working for you anymore, you can feel free to cancel it.

Even more than that it reminded me that there are many things beyond dreams that we subscribe to. Things that can fester when we are off guard and “asleep” walking through life and instead of bringing them into His Light through continual prayer and recitation of His Word, we accept what we have been shown in the darkness. The very word subscribe means “arrange to receive something regularly”. In not bringing these lies to the Light we are in essence, continuing our subscription, and making arrangements to receive something often that will tear us down instead of build us up. And when you think about that it’s actually kind of frightening.

The very nature of the Enemy is to “steal, kill, and destroy”. So why wouldn’t he warp our thought life to believe something about ourselves that is not true? For example, if God created me to be very imaginative, perceptive, emotive, then it isn’t necessarily out of left field that the Enemy would use those gifts against me. Oh so you’re imaginative? How about I twist that creativity into nightmares of the worst possible things that could happen in your life? Oh so you are perceptive to those around you and take notice of what people do and see? How about I made you question that person’s motives and by extension your own behavior or actions? Oh so you are emotive and have strong feelings about the things you are passionate about? How about I try to trip you up by placing situations in your life that are heartbreaking and will cause you to hate the emotions that you have? 

And what about for you? Are there qualities or talents you have that you aren’t realizing have been warped? What God may have meant for good you now see as something wrong? What if the blessings God has given us have been corrupted and we haven’t noticed? I think about people I know with addiction issues. What if God meant for them to be obsessive about His Kingdom, His People, or the unique plan He has for their lives. But instead the enemy warps that and belittles it to being obsessive about the next high, or the next thrill. Instead of being reckless in their calling, they are reckless with their health. Isn’t that ironic? What God thought would be a great idea, a wonderful relentless drive for good, can be derailed. This person can start to hate their “addictive personality”, they can start to hate the person they are, however that is not their true nature. Their true nature is one of passion, is one of reckless abandon, focused intention, and unbridled energy. If only they knew those qualities are amazing and life-giving instead of life-threatening. Or what about the people who don’t have anxiety or addiction issues but just struggle to see their talents or attributes purely. I would challenge you to think about the types of wounds you have in your your heart or in your mind about yourself because if it is something you have struggled with your whole life–is is probably something the enemy sees as a threat.

My prayer is that we learn what we bring to the table. We learn who we are and what we were created for–and that is His Glory. Any thing that makes up who we are was created with the sole intention of great beauty and something to take pride in because we were made in His image. I pray that we learn to unsubscribe to any of the junk mail we receive in our minds and our hearts and sign up daily for the relentless reminder of our identity as children of God.

 

 

 

A song in winter

With Winter still hanging on for a last fight, it’s hard to believe Spring is really “official” this Thursday. I was thinking about the faint song of the birds in the distance despite the weather forecast of flurries and despite the horrible chill in the air. When I think of winter I think of hibernation. Heated blankets, candles burning, DVDs, pajamas, that is the only way I feel I can cope with this season. And yet the birds outside my window seem to be jabbering away. The birds see something I don’t.

I think in a lot of ways it’s hard to sing a song of praise for a season that hasn’t arrived yet. And yet like a bird I feel like there are days where my soul might be winterized but the spirit within me is still singing knowing what is to come.

I was thinking about this when I was singing a new song from Hillsong (not yet on CD) which most people are referring to as “Heaven and Earth”:

“By his stripes we are healed

By his death we can live

In Jesus’ name

In Jesus’ name 

All oppression will cease

Every captive released

In Jesus’ name in Jesus’ name”

I love that song and it reminds me that even though all around us it dark and cloudy and cold winter, that freedom from the cold is around the corner. And in our own personal lives glory is coming.

We all know the story of Job and it’s amazing that although he had every right to feel sorry for himself or to doubt God he refused:

20 Job got to his feet, ripped his robe, shaved his head, then fell to the ground and worshiped:

21 Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
    naked I’ll return to the womb of the earth.
God gives, God takes.
    God’s name be ever blessed.

22 Not once through all this did Job sin; not once did he blame God.

So I will sing that song knowing all chains will be broken because of the power of Jesus’ name. I will sing because I might still be in my Winter but I know my Spring is coming. And I will continue to sing that song long after my season has passed because I know there are people who are still hibernating.

Isaiah 58:8

English Standard Version (ESV)

8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
    the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.

Remember who you are

I’ve been thinking since my last blog post about what I should write about next which is obviously normal when you have a blog. However I haven’t felt lead to write about anything I was thinking of and so unless I felt like  God wanted to talk about a particular topic with me I didn’t want to post it. It’s important in this writing endeavor to not just write what I want to write but to make sure it is what God wants to say to me and have me share. So that’s sometimes why there seem to be a bunch of posts, then a lull, because keeping true to that is the nature of this blog.

For the past week on and off I have just been feeling emotional. I’ve been thinking a lot about how much I’m not enjoying being single but it’s not really the relationship aspect of it so much as it is this feeling that I’ve struggle with for most of my life of feeling like, why don’t I measure up? If I was so ______ (fill in the blank with positive reinforcements) then why am I single? Why doesn’t this person give me a try? Why is my family suffering financially and we cannot get ahead? Why are things so bad at home and there is no opportunity to move out and live in a healthier environment? Things like that. Which by and large I have worked through over time but this was like a visitation from the past with regards to the relationship aspect and I was surprised that it was back and still affecting me in any capacity.

When I was at church these thoughts started swirling around in my head again since this message pertained to the “landscape of your heart”. What does the territory look like? Is it occupied by negative growth, have you let the enemy trespass on property that belongs to God? Are you failing to dream the kinds of things God has planted in your heart because you still have not seen them grow?

And of course this resonated with me because of where my mind has receded back to. I knew this was from God and just reminding me that He has not forgotten me or my prayers or my situation. He is ever present and He is ever faithful.

Once the message was over I was feeling pretty great. But that soon faded after having a conversation with someone out of the blue where they said something harsh that I was a. not in a good state to hear b. would not have enjoyed hearing on any day honestly. And the thoughts and feelings came back again. I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t taking it 100% to heart. But it bothered me that someone in church would say something so deliberately hurtful to me. Especially someone who is aware of my past and how it is still something I struggle with to feel like I am worthy of great things. That there isn’t anything deficient in me preventing me from getting things that are appealing. And even more than that it bothered me that I believed it to a certain extent because it had to do with me not being “enough”. For setting my hopes on something too out of reach.

On the bus ride into the office today I know Jesus spoke to me. Do you ever think about what the world around you has said or does say and think, wow, that almost sounds Christian? I feel like the past few months have exploded with these kinds of incidents. I plan on using some examples of that throughout some of my posts because I think it’s interesting and coming up in music, tv shows, and other forms of media too often not to take note of. Anyway, this morning I laughed when I was thinking about how my heart was sad just the other day based on what had transpired and in 100% clear James Earl Jones fashion I heard the phrase “Remember who you are”. For those of you who haven’t seen every Disney movie from the 1990s, this is the context of the 1994 movie “The Lion King”:

Mufasa: Simba, you have forgotten me.

Simba: No. How could I?

Mufasa: You have forgotten who you are, and so forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become. You must take your place in the Circle of Life.

Simba: How can I go back? I’m not who I used to be.

Mufasa: Remember who you are. You are my son, and the one true King. Remember who you are.

And it reminded me how easy and clear and simply God can speak to us. I knew 100% what he meant and it made me laugh because it was perfect. Granted Simba wasn’t a sometimes insecure 20-something year old woman but he knew what it was like to be lovingly scolded by his father. It was like God himself was saying “Jessica, have you forgotten me? Have you forgotten who you are? Look inside yourself. You are more than what you have become. You are more than what people say about you. You are more than your circumstances. You are more than the poor treatment you have gotten in life. You are more than your past. You are more than your present. You must take your place.”

To me the circle could be His presence. There is no beginning or end to it. The circle could be like in Isaiah 40:22 where “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth” in full power and authority. Or it could just simply be resting in who you are as a child of God.

Mufasa goes on to remind Simba that he has authority on Earth. Even though the King is no longer here, Simba needs to remember who his Father says he is.

I think we’re all guilty of forgetting who we are in the midst of adversity. It’s especially hard when you feel like you are being as patient as possible for that relationship, or new job, or solid group of friends, or a provision, or an answer to prayer, or a healing, or whatever it might be.

Even Romans 8:15-16 says we ” have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but have received a spirit of adoption as sons and daughters by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.” I love that. The Holy Spirit himself is in agreement with the spirit within us that yes, we are indeed children of God.

I found this great blog post online by Angela Sansone (http://blog.1019ministries.com/princess-of-the-most-high-king/):

I wrote Princess of the Most High King  in October of 2006.

She was His princess from before the foundations of time (Ephesians 1:4). Yet as a little girl, words said and actions taken by others towards her quickly made her forget what He had written on her heart. Instead she received lies as her crown and loathing as her gown.

Yet the King persisted every morning as she would awake. He would gently brush the hair from out of her face and tenderly whisper, “Arise, My Love, My beauty, and come along with Me. Let Me hear your voice; let Me see your face, for your voice is sweet and your face is lovely” (Song of Songs 2:13-14). Sometimes she faintly heard Him speak while other times the loathing won and the words she heard were none.

Yet the King was mightier than the loathing and anything else that tried to destroy His princesses’ identities. One of His favorite ways of breaking through was by giving them roses. Sometimes He gave actual roses through family or friends. Other times the roses figuratively came through a worship song or Bible verse or the gentle touch of a stranger. And many a day, they came in the most unexpected ways. Ahhh, the one thing loathing hates is roses. For roses replace the lies with a princess’ crown if only for a short time.

Never satisfied until His princesses are completely free, the King persists. He brings them together with other believers who can love, and pray, and speak truth on those especially lie-filled days. Little by little, He frees His princesses from the lies they believe and little by little they see the loathing decrease. Most times the journey is long and many days the loathing clings so tenaciously that hope fades that it will ever be any other way.

In their anguish, His princesses often blindly choose the things that only make the loathing increase: speaking in hurtful, angry ways, hating the way they look and who they are, feeding their ego or stomach instead of their soul, using things that harm to make the hurt go away only for it to return with great ferocity and when it wears off they are once again left with their poor choices and the loathing that clings like a leach.

And even as she makes these choices that hurt and harm, the King with tear-filled eyes gently pulls His princess onto His lap and says, “My precious daughter, you are loved by Me. I am with you and I am mighty to save. I will take great delight in you, I will quiet you with My love, I will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17Isaiah 30:18).

As she cries, He holds her close to his chest and says, “My darling, take My hand and trust My heart.I long to be gracious to you; I rise to show you compassion. My precious princess, accept every gift I long to lavish on you and stop receiving the lies as your crown and the loathing as your gown.Our journey is not complete until you are completely free to dance in My light and love with ecstasy.

The battle is not yours but Mine. Take up your position, stand firm and see the deliverance I will bring (2 Chronicles 20:12-17). My lovely one, never settle for less than all that I have for you. I will bestow on you a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of loathing and despair (Isaiah 61:1-3).

My precious daughter, I promise in that day you will say, “Surely this is My King, I trusted in Him and He saved me” (Isaiah 25:9). Believe it even when you can’t see it. Embrace it even when your feelings scream it isn’t true.

My beautiful bride, adorned in the crown of My love and the gown of My grace, dance the freedom dance with Me. You are and always will be loved by Me, Your victorious Savior and King” (Isaiah 54:562:5).

We are extravagantly loved by the King, may that be the reason we sing!

Father, as sons and especially as daughters, it is hard to always see ourselves in our truest form which is first and foremost as Your children and Your beloved creation. Give me strength right now today and everyday as well as the confidence to truly see who I am in Your eyes so I may help turn the heads of the discouraged and lost to the perfect acceptance and love that only You alone can give.