On a regular basis I like to shake things up. No. It’s better said that I have to shake it up. If things get too static for too long I get a little crazy. Ask my mom. And my husband. Well, and my co-workers. My restlessness has prompted many a furniture rearrangement, get out of dodge adventures, and half-baked ministry projects. What I love about this process is the daring, new experiments that are launched. Full disclosure, some of them crash and burn. Some of them fly high for a season. Some of them resemble oak trees that just continue to grow deep in roots and broad in reach.
Another truth to disclose, I never know what result they will be until they have left my hand. The artist’s plight, I guess. But the Lord reminded me about a verse the other day. “The good tree produces good fruit.” (Matthew 7:17) I read this again and let out a deep, long sigh. Ah. There it is. Pressure is off.
It doesn’t say that every single branch will produce a perfect blossom that will produce a perfect fruit. Rather it says the good tree will produce good fruit. Overall, in an ongoing way, the natural behavior of a good and healthy tree is it sprouts, blossoms and yields fruit from different branches at different times. It is the tree’s lifetime destiny. And the outcome of the fruit is not necessarily the point either. Some of that fruit falls to the ground and rots. Some feeds squirrels and us. Some fruit is replanted in far away places as the birds carry it away. But the tree, the good tree, firmly planted, just keeps producing fruit.
Before you ask… in God, we are good trees. One thing I have learned the hard way is God is Less interested in my 100% perfect outcomes and More interested in my 100% surrender. My “yes!” answer to Him really, really matters. It really impacts His heart. Your “yes” has the same affect. So today, just give Him a fresh “yes” and let Him pour His good, good love through you.
Here are a couple of the outpourings He and I have been playing with. Feel free to partake of new fruit!
It was the best of seasons and the worst of seasons. Sounds dramatic I know, but it really does ring true. This is the season of thanksgiving. There is just so much to be thankful for. Big and small. My friend Joanna Simeone has been asking for answered prayers and miracles and we just keep sending in testimony after testimony. It’s Beautiful.
And, it feels like all hell is breaking loose. Hmmmm. Just as I write those words, breaking loose, the Spirit reminds me of the passage I have been returning to this week. “No weapon formed against you will prevail,” from Isaiah 54. What if the more we give thanks in all circumstances, the more hell is losing its grip on us? The more hell is breaking loose from our lives?
I told my friend I am in the perfect storm, every area being shaken up, pressed down, crushed. And yet, the song of Lord keeps bringing me peace.
• He brought me an actual song, “Another in the Fire.” It is a war cry anthem for sure. “I can see the Light in the darkness, and the darkness bows to Him.”
• He gave me a vision in the shower of the word Confidence. Like a teacher diagramming a sentence the Lord re-wrote the word like this:
Con (meaning with, or together) + Fide (faith) + Ence (noun turned to action or result)
Confidence means With Faith.
He has said over and over again He Himself is our confidence. We can “with Faith” Him in the moment by moment.
• And then there is the tension of the not yet, the holding your breath, the punched in the gut I can’t breath moments where we must decide our path. This is what He continues to breath into my spirit: I am worth it. I am with you.
I told my friend Kate I am convinced that all of life, and I mean ALL of life, is God’s invitation to us to have More of Him.
So today I bless you, and myself, to have full Confidence (With Faith) in Him and to rest, breathe, believe He will be good and God to you in every circumstance. And to know that He is worth it. He is with us.
Oh Yes! This shell is what sparked the conversation. See that little shell inside? That’s me and you. Hidden within His Broken Body. Amen.
Empower women. That is the mantra. But when you kill one woman to empower another, that’s not true healthcare. I call that entitlement at best and delusional at worst. It is a distorted elitism of “I deserve to live and you don’t.” Listen, this isn’t my first rodeo around abortion rights. It used to be “it’s not a fetus.” Scientific evidence shut that down decades ago. Yet instead of awakening our feminine hearts, we have devolved into madness. Today the notion of “my right” to healthcare and happiness and control means that I can kill my own child even past birth.
In what universe do we separate abortion from any other hate crime? We cry out for racial, gender, and religious freedom. We harangue every sign of offensive action or speech toward perceived targeted groups. Yet we turn a deaf ear and deadly weapon on the unborn. We destroy the most unprotected among us and celebrate their deaths as women’s advancement. Animals have more advocates and compassion.
I am not offended by abortion. I am outraged. And yes, I am post-abortive. And yes, I KNOW what it means to trapped by an unwanted pregnancy. And yes, I support women in crisis pregnancies.
And I also know that murder never solved any problem anywhere.
I want to lovingly, boldly lay down this gauntlet for my on-the-fencer abortion rights friends. These are the women and men who are “personally against abortion but believe women should have healthcare.” You have been misled if you think the argument is about safe clinics. It’s never been about that. It never will be.
It’s about the life and death of a human being and who has the “right” to live.
I know Jesus died for us all. I know He loves us all even in this painful controversy we find ourselves in. And, I know this to be His truth. Jesus spent His whole beautiful Being bringing people to Life. Not ending it. He plants life. He resurrects life. He defends life.
As women, as men, we must raise up our voices, votes and prayers. Almost 30 years ago it was said, “if today we can kill our kids in the womb, one day we will be able to kill them outside the womb.” We are chillingly closer to that statement every day.
God have mercy on us. Please, LORD, resurrect our maternal instinct to protect the young.
Photo by Katherine Brown.
(One of my most favorite pieces of all time. Oh that He would heal us all.)
the Master will appear. It’s an old proverb that rings true every time. What we see as devastation, I am convinced the Lord sees as a teaching opportunity. The question is, are we willing to learn, to be taught, to change according to the revelation given.
As we continue to reflect on the goodness of the Lord in and through the 18 days, and the 10 years of freedom that followed, we see His hand of mercy and impeccable timing. We began the marital separation with simple instructions: work on your own junk. I worked on my own heart. Chuck worked on his. The counselor (God bless his brave soul) told us to not think about the fate of the marriage until we had stabilized our own hearts. Selah.
Author and pastor, Danny Silk challenged the way we humans emotionally blow up our relationships with mates, kids, family and then immediately try to fix the problem and get back to normal. Silk said it is impossible to get “back to normal” when there is blood all over the walls from the last explosion. Instead he advised, just work on cleaning up the mess. Take the time needed to restore some measure of connection and THEN work on what caused the blow up in the first place.
In our situation, 18 years of dysfunction and mess, carelessness and resentment, and now so broken that we are separated, the outcome of the marriage was not the most important thing. Tending to our own hearts before the Lord was the most pressing.
And I couldn’t shake the suffocating panic.
If you know me, you know that I am a go-getter, risk-taker, charge the hill. But now I had been punched in the gut. I literally woke up in the middle of the night with dry heaves. I was so scared. Everything of importance in my life seemed to be teetering on the brink of an abyss, ready to fall at any moment.
What would happen to my house, my notion of family, the girls’ schooling, my own ministry, the relationships I had? In my conversations, either awake or dreaming, I would roll questions over and over, “how can I be safe now?” “What do I need to do to be safe?” “I don’t know how to go forward and feel safe.”
I cried out to the Lord, whose voice I knew very well, but this was unchartered territory.
” I am safe,” He kept whispering.
“I know you are but I’m don’t FEEL safe. I don’t know what Chuck is going to do. I don’t know what is going to happen,” I said dismissing His truth.
“You are with me, I am safe,” He said.
This went on for three days and nights until his message came through loud and clear.
Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.
The Master had spoken. And as the student, I had to learn this lesson. I had to digest this word and let it go down into the innermost parts of my soul. It had to change me. And believe me, I was desperately ready for change. Are you there yet? Look at this verse broken down.
Fear of man:
Fear of others’ opinions, fear of looking good or stupid, fear of my team, my friends, my family’s approval or disapproval, fear of the church’s reactions, fear of bodily or emotional harm, fear of financial or social ruin
A deadly bear claw hidden along the paths of life that once clamped there is no escape except by mutilation of caught limb or death
(How many of lose our lives over fear of other’s reactions)
Trust in the Lord:
Surrendering body, soul, and spirit to the One greater than me, leaning on, depending on, staking my whole life on His care
Held in the loving, protecting arms of the God, the Savior, the Lover who would never look away, never leave, never NOT defend me.
I am, was and would always be safe in His arms. End of story.
No matter the outcomes, the marriage, the children, the finances, the social implications, I was safe in Him. The rest of the 18 Days were radically changed by this revelation. I had a Truth greater than my feelings.
Ten years later, I see this deposit radically altered my future.
The Master is teaching us all the time. Are we ready to learn?
The graphic somewhere seen on social media. Smile.
(janaspicka.com for previous blogs on the 18 Days)
One of the biggest lessons Chuck and I learned through our journey is to work on the right issue. I spent so much time trying to control Chuck and protect myself that I missed the deeper wound. Chuck spent so much time trying to look good and protect his quick fix, he missed the greater need.
Porn, like any form of coping, is not the issue. It is a symptom, but it’s not the cause. I often say it is the flower but it is not the root. We spend a lot of time treating symptoms: porn, food, anger, drugs, alcohol, shopping, social media, gaming, etc.
Yet all of these (and there are more) are attempts to manage a deeper pain and wounding. There is no sobriety or breakthrough without healing the root issue. Pain has to be processed. It can’t be ignored, or buried, it just comes back up until it is dug up.
I would never claim to be a certified counselor for marriage, addiction or otherwise. My story of God and His counsel and presence is my only certification. I can’t heal your marriage, husband or heart. But I know the One who can.
Thank you for your kind comments to my recent blog. God is worthy to be praised. It was my Ebenezer, to declare that He met us in devastation 10 years ago and worked a miracle. I want to always remember His wonder-working power yesterday, today and forever.
And. I know that wasn’t the story for many of you. Some of you are still in miserable marriages with addicts. Some of you bear the scars of divorce.
I. Get. It.
I would like to offer a hard won perspective: All this living is an invitation to experience God’s presence in the middle of it.
Human frailty right next to Divine Hope.
My whole marriage journey taught me this. The lies and betrayal and brokenness, over time, became less about me and Chuck and more about me and Jesus. He was with me. He was changing me. He was fighting for me. And guess what? He was doing the same for Chuck.
One deeply profound truth that John Dee taught me was, “Ask for truth to be revealed.” Sounds almost too simple. I would stand in my house and worship and ask God to reveal all things hidden, for truth to be revealed in my heart and Chuck’s. God loves to answer that prayer but brace yourself for the fallout. He loves to break off every chain only to reveal every beautiful thing He has put inside of us.
I am now “fully persuaded” that God is good and He is good to me and for me. I know life and its excruciating pain is changed by His presence. I don’t blame Him for heartache, I go to Him with my heartache. Do you?
I don’t love and trust Him because of my outcome, I love and trust Him because of His presence and comfort in the middle of it. The Passion Translation has the beautiful expression, God’s wrap-around-presence. He is With Us.
If the child goes astray, the loved one dies, the betrayal continues, the bankruptcy is final, we look for Him until we find Him.
God has an answer for everything we live through. Heck, He is the answer. Amen.
Wow. God. All I can say is Wow, God. Today marks the 10 anniversary of the worst season of our marriage. We humbly call it The 18 Days. It was a period of time when our marriage and futures hung in the balance as we separated because of Chuck’s porn addiction.
After years of troubled marriage and years of recovery work, try agains, I’m sorrys, and empty promises, we set this consequence should he again choose his drug of choice instead of his family.
During the tension of separation we both tried answering impossible questions:
Do we stay together? Should we stay together? How would we stay together? Heartache and hatred abounded in our home. One thing was certain, only God could save us.
In 2000, the Lord told me He would deliver Chuck from addiction.
In 2009, all the wheels had fallen off our marriage.
In 2019, we are thanking God for His unfailing love, mercy and power.
There are stories that need to be released around this miracle. Today, I just want to thank God for keeping His promises. Roman 4:21 commends Abraham for “being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.”
During this season, and many other seasons of promise waiting, God has brought me to verses 20 and 21.
‘Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.’
What was Abraham’s job? What was God’s job?
Abraham’s job was to not waiver, be strengthened, give glory and be persuaded of God’s power while he was STILL waiting.
God’s job? Be God. Full of wonder-working power to keep His word. Every time.
There are many testimonies of what God did during the 18 days. Dreams, visions, supernatural provision, Spirit led counsel, divine healing, and more. Why?
Because God had the power to do as He promised.
Today, I just want to raise a Hallelujah. Our God reigns.
The Giving seasons are upon us. First we’ll focus on the Giving of Thanks. Then we focus on Giving Tuesday. And then there is the great push, pressure, panic of Christmas Giving. I wanted to share what God is brewing in my heart about His kind of giving.
Giving of Thanks. Sunday at New Wine Church we just released God Stories. My heart was so full after spending time bragging on our strong, healing, loving Father. Be sure to spend some time with someone you love and count your blessings. I mean it. Make a list and say them out loud. So good for your soul.
Giving Tuesday. I have an abundance of ministry emails and letters flowing into my inboxes. My own letter is going out shortly. There must be a better way to navigate all the needs. Here is one thing to try. For every “asking” letter we receive, or social media fundraiser we read, let’s stop and pray for that ministry. Each group really does need the fullness of Holy Spirit to do what they are doing.
Christmas Giving. Maybe, just maybe, the Grinch had it right. “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store.”
I have been pondering what it means to… slow…down… a… bit… and let the Spirit teach us about how to be generous.
One of my favorite passages on giving comes from 2 Corinthians. The whole chapter is amazing. But for now let’s look at verse 7.
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7
This word fraught with freedom. We get to choose. Decide. Determine. We get to decide: who is important to us, what issue is moving us, who is feeding our soul and spirit, who is in need? Obviously God cares THAT we give, but He also cares HOW we give.
Not Reluctant or Under Compulsion
“You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” NLT
God loves a person who gives cheerfully. Let that sink in.
Are we more concerned about how we look? Do we feel guilt or pressure to give? Or, are we motivated by love for the One who loves us, and loves that we give willingly, happily, trustingly, even cheerfully?
We love it when our kids share happily and cheerfully. I think God loves it when His kids do too.
Here is the beautiful equation about generosity. We give because God gives. We give because we trust God to refill our cups. We give because it pulls us out of unhealthy Me-syndromes. We give because we know that God does miracles with our two fish and five loaves. We practice “hilarious generosity” because it reveals that we are overflowing with the same hilarious abundance that God has.
What do we give?
Money. Sure it’s a real thing. Giving can be a real thermometer for how well we are trusting God financially. No shame here. Just a reality check. It all comes from Him. And He never runs out. So do we feel the freedom to share our money because we know God will replenish? Just sayin’.
There are other resources that God asks us to share as well.
• Our God stories. They are like seeds that reproduce once they are shared.
• Our food, clothes, possessions can be shared. Do we really NEED all that stuff?
• Our wisdom and skills. Others may need what we carry but we have to be willing to share and to sacrifice the time, effort and comfort to give to others.
• Hope. Peace. Grace. Love. More than cheesy Christian-ese these are tangible resources that we store up and give away to others.
I keep hearing in my spirit, “Am I willing to be hilarious generous all these things?”
Everyone is tapped out during the holidays. So it makes me question if we’re tapping into the overflow of Heaven and giving out of His abundance.
“Yes, God is more than ready to overwhelm you with every form of grace, so that you will have more than enough of everything—every moment and in every way. He will make you overflow with abundance in every good thing you do. “
Listen. I get the squeeze. I am just really confronted with “God loves a cheerful giver.” So what if we give a little less out of obligation and pressure but we give a whole lot more with honesty and hilarity?
Here is more of this passage out of the Passion Translation. Enjoy it. And ask the Spirit how you are doing with generosity. May all your Giving Seasons be full of cheer and overflow.
6 Here’s my point. A stingy sower will reap a meager harvest, but the one who sows from a generous spirit will reap an abundant harvest. 7 Let giving flow from your heart, not from a sense of religious duty. Let it spring up freely from the joy of giving—all because God loves hilarious generosity!8 Yes, God is more than ready to overwhelm you with every form of grace, so that you will have more than enough of everything—every moment and in every way. He will make you overflow with abundance in every good thing you do. 9 Just as the Scriptures say about the one who trusts in him:
Because he has sown extravagantly and given to the poor,
his kindness and generous deeds will never be forgotten.
10 This generous God who supplies abundant seed for the farmer, which becomes bread for our meals,is even more extravagant toward you. First he supplies every need, plus more. Then he multiplies the seed as you sow it, so that the harvest of your generosity will grow. 11 You will be abundantly enriched in every way as you give generously on every occasion, for when we take your gifts to those in need, it causes many to give thanks to God.
(Quote from Dr Seuss book The Grinch)
I read a post on Instagram that “sounded” right. So vigilant, so spot on for the gaping wound that is the collective woman’s heart. Yes, we have been scarred and marred. Yes, we have been abused and raped. Yes, we have been groped, gagged and threatened into silence.
But a Martin Luther King quote won’t fix it.
It only holds up a mirror.
The #Metoo won’t fix it.
It only breaks the mirror into a million pieces.
One court nomination (or possible witch hunt) won’t fix it.
Somehow we have lost sight of facts. Are we now seeking a wholesale revenge on half of the population? Are we pushing a movement in the name of progress? Is that movement actually healing anyone?
There is this not-so-subtle narrative that offers women (and men) two options. Either stand with Us, the belittled, broken-hearted, raging, victimized women, or stand with Them, the hate-filled, power-hungry, horny bastards who started all this.
I need more options.
I had a conversation with a young woman who said that we need to seize this time of exposure to stand up to a long historical injustice. Read that sentence again. Please.
Here is where I get stuck. Men should respect women. Period. Women should respect men. Period.
Every ethic group should respect every ethnic group. Period.
Why? Because every single human deserves honor and dignity. Period.
Every person is accountable for his/her actions. Yet, we are using a He Said, She Said conversation, done in a public forum, and trying to lay it over the whole of creation. As if a certain outcome in this situation is somehow going to make men behave better, or women heal faster?
Gender revenge doesn’t bring healing. Talk to any woman who has been sexually wounded. Her healing didn’t come by way of her wounder.
Politics doesn’t heal hearts. It reveals hearts.
Men are not the problem. Women are not the problem.
Sin is the problem.
And One Man did take the hit for the whole of creation. I think that’s what bugs me about the Feminine voices talking about their gaping wounds.
We are ALL wounded. Or were. And my song now is not that I was abused, or molested or groped which I was. My song now is that I know a Healer.
Not only is my Feminine heart healed through Jesus, now I have the power to pray and Speak Up for the other Feminine and Masculine hearts that need to know there actually is a better way.
Jesus really did take the fall for all of the out of whack men. And he really did open the way for women to be truly restored and elevated.
There is still a battle raging for equality and honor.
And we have the answer. The real one. Let’s use it.
photo credit Moody Media