Stormy beginnings

calm-before-storm-1We celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary in 2014.  Married life began in a storm, and what a storm.  It was a one in 20 year weather event, apparently.  It had gone on for a week and shown no signs of abating.

The month of February is full on summer in NZ and we thought the weather would be good for our wedding.  Wrong!

I think it was because we had a big  evangelistic crusade in New Zealand at the time, and it had gone to Wellington, our capital which was only two hours away.  The campaign, Impact World Tour was brilliant because all the churches of different denominations came together and worked as one to reach people for the Lord.  We were all involved in different ways.

The devil didn’t like it and tried to rain out all the venues.  It was a spiritual battle.  The only problem was our wedding was being affected by the weather too.  I should have thought about it more when we chose the date.

Everyone asked us what plan B was for the weather.  There was no plan B.  My fiancee decided to go ahead with having the ceremony in the garden.  It had a strange calm about it, even though the wind blew through the trees around this place named Homestead Garden.

There is a scripture in Isaiah 25:4 that describes God as being a refuge in the storm. 

Homestead Garden b&w

Homestead garden

When we got married we invited God to the wedding, which went off without a hitch in an island of calm, with radiant sunshine.  Our guests  got sunburnt.  All the other outdoor weddings that day got rained out and blown out.  People were amazed that the storm didn’t touch us.  I’ve never known such favour.

As we were saying our vows, two Monarch butterflies fluttered their way across the lawn in front of us.  It was a beautiful sign to be given.  The butterfly has turned up at different places in the story.

You’ll see the butterfly emerge in Chapter 5 of my book ‘The Kingdom, Here Be Dragons, Here Be Dreams.’.  It flutters into the story again in Chapter 8, ‘Shelter in the Storm.’  This time, it’s not alone.

Here are a few photos of our wedding in the storm.

Windy wedding 2 Our wedding at Homestead Garden 3 resized Windy wedding 1

 

 

Almond Grove

Have you ever had a dream come true?  I found myself in a place I had seen in a dream – a particularly auspicious dream.  Years before I’d dreamed of staying at a lodge of sorts, which lead to an Almond grove.  According to my dream dictionary, to dream of Almond trees meant I could look forward with certainty to a happy marriage.

About four years later I met the man I was going to marry, and one weekend in the winter we stayed at a lodge of sorts with a group of people from his college course. 

I learned that our hosts had planted some Almond trees on the lodge grounds and I recognised I was in the place I’d dreamed if.  The trees weren’t as spectacular as the grove in my dream, but the surrounding land at Otaki Gorge was every bit as beautiful.  Otaki Gorge was the location in New Zealand which represented The Shire woods in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies.

Otaki in Maori means the place of a staff stuck in the ground.

Otaki river

Otaki forks

To have the dream fulfilled was an awesome experience.

There is a proverb that says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12.

In the Kingdom dreams do come true, if you seek the Kingdom first.  There is a promise in the Bible; “Seek your happiness in God, and He will grant you your heart’s desire.”  Psalm 37:4

It’s true.  If you read my story, you’ll see how good God was to me, and I am no more deserving than anyone else.

The ring, and the unnamed servant

doves-eyesIn a way the courtship I wrote about in my story The Kingdom reminds me of the Bible story in Genesis 24 of Isaac and Rebecca.  Isaac’s bride had to come from his father’s country.  The father sent an unnamed servant to go and get her. 

The unnamed servant met Rebecca at a well.  He watched her closely.  When she fulfilled the signs the servant looked for, he gave her a ring and two bracelets.   Rebecca went on a journey with the servant to find Isaac, and she first clapped eyes on Isaac when he had gone out into the Prayer in desertdesert in the evening to meditate.  The servant announced to her who Isaac was, and Rebecca veiled herself.  The servant told Isaac all he had done.  Rebecca became the wife of Isaac, and he loved her.

I could have written those scenes in the Kingdom with that in mind, but I had no way of knowing about “Isaac” when I wrote about the desert and the wells.  I just went where God led.

The unnamed servant was sent with gifts and jewellery to fetch the bride.  He put the ring on the bride.  The unnamed servant is a type for the Holy Spirit.

My rings both have interesting stories behind them.  God supplied the wedding ring out of thin air, and it came first.  Then after I met “Isaac”, a beautiful and very valuable engagement ring came from “Isaac’s” Grandmother in Florida, over 8,000 miles away.

Hosea 2-19

In the story I write called “The Kingdom”, the King told me “Isaac” was going to be my husband.  The story about the gold wedding ring that just appeared one day out of nowhere is in my book.

When I met “Isaac”, he told me his mother’s maiden name was “Isaacson”.  By then I knew he was the husband, but it was still an amazing confirmation.

As soon as “Isaac” knew I was the one, he wanted to get a ring on my finger right away.

The only trouble was he’d just started a business and had no money.  When I pointed out the obvious, he just believed God would help him out with the ring.  And God did.  His mother told him she had a ring just waiting for him.  It was a huge rock!  It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever been given.

Hearts and Flamingos

A lot of people have trouble with dating and courtship.  Even Solomon, the wisest King in the Bible, said it’s a thing he did not understand.

There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand:
The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maiden.”  Proverbs 30:19

Its interesting that Solomon should include an eagle, serpent, and ship in his observation about courtship.  What do they all have in common , besides being familiar sights to him?  Let’s see.  Flying. Sliding. Sailing. Courting.  I guess its all about the moves.

flamingo-heart_2277679k

A flock of Caribbean flamingos in Yucatan, Mexico, form the shape of a heart while feeding on a lake.

Pink Flamingos have the moves when it comes to courting.   God sends us signs, and I found this picture of a heart on The Telegraph website.  What might He want to tell us about the Flamingo?

They do a really cute dance.  I like the way they’ve been designed to bust out the moves.  How is it they know what to do, and we don’t?

Here is a link for a short movie clip about the Flamingos in Celestun, Mexico.  The people there know to protect the Flamingos – because it’s part of their heritage.  I wish we had the wisdom to teach our children about courtship and protect the marriage covenant in our own societies.

What kind of moves do men and women make when it comes to courting these days?  Courting is out of fashion isn’t it?  I knew it as ‘dating’ and my daughter calls it ‘hooking up’.  What is courting?  What are the rules, etiquette, and social mores?  I know its not what we see portrayed on TV and the films.  It’s not even close.  If children don’t see it from Mum and Dad, how are flamingosthey supposed to learn?  The media is the wrong place to learn about courtship.  When it comes to the world, eveything goes.  Now my children are trying to find their way through the same maze, and it’s grown even worse now that there’s all sorts of immoral stuff being passed into law.

What’s God’s pattern for courtship and marriage?  Right from the start, He designed marriage to be between one man and one woman.  The Old Testament kings and patriachs had plural wives, but this would have been a result of sin – not His perfect design.

God inspired Solomon to write that a threefold cord is not quickly broken.  Ecclesiastes 4:12.  He, being the third strand.  It makes all the difference.  God designed marriage so a man and woman could become one, and from that union, produce a family.  He also uses marriage to strengthen families where the father or mother is missing.  Listen, God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.  Psalm 68:6.

Chapter 69 The Courtship tells the story about the courtship that began with the man God found for me.  I’d been a rebellious one living in a sun scorched land, before I came to trust the Lord and accept His pattern for marriage.  My husband had been a lonely guy, waiting for the wife the Lord had promised.  I am so glad that God chose him for me.  It’s better to dance to God’s tune.

I found a couple of good links about courtship here:

17 Tips For Effective Courtship

http://dareadaramoye.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/17-tips-for-effective-courtship/

“God really does write the best love stories.”

http://kindredgrace.com/real-life-isnt-always-like-the-courtship-books/

Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match …

matchmakerMy second marriage is a bit different because we had God acting as the match maker.  It is a match made by God in Heaven, but lived out here on Earth.

How did He get us there?  God led me through the story I write.

Over seven years He told me things along the way about the man he had chosen for me.

In the story, I referred to the man as “the Chosen”, and when I met him, “Prince Mentor”.  The Lord has asked me to put the story online.

When I did meet “the chosen”, it wasn’t love at first sight.  There was no romance.  I presumed that because I had been told about his nationality, and the fact that our paths would cross in a circle, that he would know about me.   Not so.  He presumed the Lord had some other woman for him, and kept telling me about her.  It was a mind game for me.  I got really obstinate and decided not to reveal anything the Lord had told me about him.

To complicate matters, I had a friend named “Ishmael” who loved me and gave me words of affirmation.  He spoke my love language!  He was only a friend because he was from a different culture, and a moslem.

It was never going to happen and I’d told him to go back to his wife, but we remained friends.  Ishmael bolstered my self esteem.  I basked in the warmth of his approval, feeling wanted and desired.  It was completely different with “Isaac”, the chosen guy.  I felt unwanted because of his actions.

I ended up talking to them both until the Lord made me put a stop on Ishmael.   The Lord said I needed to tell Isaac that he was the man God had chosen for me.  I said no to God, repeating what Isaac had said – “he didn’t want any uncomfortable moments.”  Nor did I.

In fact I said a bit more than ‘no’ to the Lord.  Then the King in my story turned into a lion and basically made me tell him the story.

I was afraid he might trample my pearls into the mud.  It had happened to me once before, when it hadn’t been about a match made by the Lord.  That time I’d been trying to build some boundaries, without knowing how.  The Lord assured me that this man was not a pig.  He told me the parable about the merchant who sought after pearls, and found one of great price.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”  Matthew 13:-45-46

So with white knuckles I obeyed the Lord and sent the story to the man.

What happened next?  You’ll have to read my book.

Iron sharpens iron

proverbs_27_17_postcardThe devil used a relationship with a narcissist to try and destroy me, but it didn’t succeed.  It is true that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  I knew life could only get better after him, and God gave me an awesome promise;

“He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of his people.”  Psalm 113:8

God was true to His promise, but when the Princess met the Prince, sparks flew.  There is a saying in the Bible ” As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”  Perhaps that’s why there were sparks.

People you need

 

Our relationship was different from the start because God brought us together.  We didn’t like each other to begin with, but God encouraged our friendship, and it grew from there.

Chapter 60 Iron Sharpens Iron tells the story

 

Seven circles

ChuppahEven though the Church was born in Jerusalem, it is separated from Israel – to our loss.  In these troubled and interesting times Messianic Jews (Jews who have accepted Jesus as their Messiah) are bringing back a cultural context to the Bible that was lost to the Church for over a millennia.

For instance, one night the couple who led my home-group decided to present the teaching of a Messianic Jew on the meaning and symbolism of a Jewish wedding ceremony.  This was for general application, to show parallels between a Jewish wedding and the Church’s relationship to Christ, outlined here:
http://www.gotquestions.org/Jewish-wedding-traditions.html

The teaching had ties to Jeremiah 31:21, where I had been given a word from Jeremiah about going full circle.  For me it was a Rhema word, that is a word for personal application.  It filled in a lot of blanks for me, as well as confirming the rhema word.

The confirmation on this occasion really amused me, because it was so Jewish. Even though Jesus belongs to us all, it reminded me that He is a Jew.  Jesus talked about the Bridegroom in some of His parables.

Chuppah 1In Jewish wedding tradition, the bride may circle the groom 3 or 7 times under the Chuppah.  This is generally an Ashkenazi practice.  The Ashkenazi Jew comes from Europe.

The Chuppah is a canopy under which a Jewish couple stand during their wedding ceremony.  It consists of a cloth or sheet stretched or supported over four poles.  A traditional chuppah recommends that there be open sky exactly above the chuppah.  So the Ashkenazi custom is to have the Chuppah ceremony outside under the stars, as a sign of the blessing given by God to the patriarch Abraham, that his children shall be “as the stars of the heavens” (Genesis 15:5).

Why does the bride circle the groom?

I love this explanation;

The bride, by circling the groom, expresses her awesome power over him.

The seven circuits are reminiscent of the biblical story of Joshua leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. They came to Jericho, a city known as the key to the land – if they could conquer it, the land would be theirs. But Jericho was protected by a big wall. There seemed to be no way in.

Similarly, every man has a wall built around his heart. Men are taught to hide their feelings, to create an impression of impenetrability, to make it seem that they have it all figured out. Men create elaborate defenses to hide any sign of weakness or vulnerability, and fiercely guard their deepest secret – that inside they are sensitive and meek, simple and soft.

But a wise woman can pierce this defensive wall. If she surrounds her husband with the protective aura of her love, if she envelops him with affection, and if she makes him feel that he is the anchor, the center, the focal point of her life, then he can feel safe and comfortable. When that happens, the walls protecting his heart come tumbling down. Then she has conquered him – all of him.

Source: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/586014/jewish/A-Mans-Deepest-Secret.htm

In the next chapter of The Kingdom I had met the man the Lord had promised me, after going around him in a big circle.  This was the third time our paths had crossed.  The trouble was, he didn’t exactly welcome me into his life.  There was a big wall around his heart.  I found him cold and stand-offish, and didn’t know if I liked him all that much.  It wasn’t an auspicious start for us.

Full Circle

Full circleThe Kingdom story has chronicled my wanderings through a hidden world , where I received guidance from a King, whose name is Jesus – the one who calls Himself “The Way, The Truth, and the Life”.   At the beginning of the journey I felt lost and was afraid that this was all wishful thinking.  I wanted to believe so badly that He was guiding me. 

At the beginning of my story I wanted to know where in the world I was supposed to be.  Neil Diamond’s song “I am I said” resonated with me.  I felt lost between two shores, and kept thinking about making my way back to the place where I had been happy.  The song lamented “And I am lost, and I can’t even say why.”

The Lord told me to setup signs and mark the road because He was going to show me where I was supposed to be.  He said it would involve going full circle, it would involve a man, and from that He would create a new thing.  The story is recorded here in this chapter; The Kingdom – Signs.

“Set up road signs;
put up guideposts.
Take note of the highway,
the road that you take.
Return, O Virgin Israel,
return to the town you left.
How long will you wander,
faithless daughter?
The LORD will create a new thing on earth—
a woman will encircle a man.”  Jeremiah 31:21-22

It was hard for me to believe, and I wasn’t an easy person to lead.  It was true when the Lord said “How long will you wander, faithless daughter?”  But He kept me to the road from the signs and guideposts I observed and marked in the story, in obedience to His instructions.

If you have stuck with me this far, thank you so much.  I am honoured to have your company.   Now we are getting to the incredible part.  Seven years later I went full circle, and another character comes into the story.

The scene is “in the town I left”.

The circle started five years before at a place I called “the Tower”, recorded here:  Chapter 16 The Place of the Tower.

The circle ends here: Chapter 54 Full circle.

Trouble

Trouble.  This world guarantees it.
Job, a just man who was severely tested, wrote
Man is born for trouble, as surely as sparks fly upwards.”  Job 5:7

Trouble can be caused by bad people.  The book of Proverbs from the Bible, says;

Do not set foot on the path of the wicked
or walk in the way of evildoers.
 Avoid it, do not travel on it;
turn from it and go on your way.
 For they cannot rest until they do evil;
they are robbed of sleep till they make someone stumble.
 They eat the bread of wickedness
and drink the wine of violence.  Proverbs 4:14

Taylor Swift - Trouble

Trouble, the funny version

Taylor Swift sings about it here in her song “Trouble”.   Here’s a 25 sec clip, which my daughter showed to me.  It’s the funny version.

I have warned about bad people in a post called
“Here be Dragons”.

But what if we can’t avoid them, like at work?  Jesus understands trouble.  He was born for it.

He promised “In the world you will have trouble. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”  Sometimes He’ll take us through it – to test us, or teach us.  And sometimes He’ll take us around it.

My advice; fear God more than man.  By fear I mean “have concern for”.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.

Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.
Fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him lack nothing.  Psalm 34:4-8

This is true, I sought the Lord, and He answered me.  He led me through a bad place, promising it would be a door of hope.  The story is told in my book where I travelled through the Valley of Achor.  Achor means trouble.  Its a place that people on pilgrimage had to go through to get to Zion.  You don’t have to travel it alone.

Hosea 2-14

The second wish

demotivational-poster-47199
Once upon a time there was a Princess, who had made two wishes without consulting her Father, the King. 

Her life in tatters after leaving the narcissist, the Princess made of the King her first request;

Please bring me a man who is the exact opposite of Silver-tongue, the narcissist.

The King decided to grant her request because she needed to learn.  She should have asked for wisdom.

The next man, a double minded man, was the complete opposite but just as perverse.

The foolish princess still hadn’t learned and asked the King to bring her someone else.

It was another soulish prayer; “Please bring me someone who sees me for who I really am, and desires me.

“Be careful of what you ask,” the King replied, wanted the Princess to see herself through His eyes.

Granting the Princess her wish, he summoned Ishmael, a foreigner from a far off land, a man of a different kingdom and faith.

It was a test.  Would she stand for the King, or fall for Ishmael?

Ishmael loved and desired the Princess, and he did restore her self esteem.  But Ishmael could never be hers.

“Why did you bring me Ishmael?”  the Princess exclaimed, knowing this was not the King’s will.

“You asked for him”  the King replied.

She should have sought the will of the King.

This was not a fairy tale.

The story of the first and second wish are in my book.


Here is wisdom, when we ask God for something, we need to ask according to His will.

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 1 John 5:14

Ask according to God's will