March 27, 2017

Picking Up More Than Just the "Pen"

I've always been artistic.  
Always.  
From my earliest recollection I was doodling, studying, creating.

In high school, I was introduced to painting.  I took to it like a duck to water.  It was natural to me.  
Easy.  
Relaxing.  
Enjoyable.  
I took more classes in college, as well as other art classes.  
I also taught art (mainly stained glass) classes to help pay rent and for college courses.
I loved it.  
It was definitely a hobby (haha! ... ner' to become any sort of occupation)... but I loved it.

During my marriage, much of myself was lost... a little more with each passing year.  
But not only that, I was isolated -- so much so, those who knew me before, weren't given to even see me in the daily.  
And, if they did, they might not have recognized who this woman was, me, in front of them.

By the time the Lord woke me up to the abuse I had been enduring (and excusing), I was but a shadow of what I once was.  

Expressions of my being, which had been long gone, surprisingly began to rear their heads.  

In the past, I would see pictures in my head to paint, and would muse that I wished there was enough time.  I was too busy - and, truly, it seemed like EVERYBODY needed a piece of me.  I would say there was no money - no space... and, therefore, no real reason for it.  
My abuser was the brilliant, artistic leader -- not me -- so, I willingly bowed out and said "goodbye" to the favorite expressions of my heart....  

I would say, besides painting, I love gardening and fixing up my homes.  
I love gardens.  
I love flowers.  
I love all the things that go with the above... the smells, the work, the sounds, sharing with others.

As we moved around throughout our marriage, with each home, I lost a little more and a little more interest in gardening, creating, and personalizing my homes.  
The loss of desire to personalize the inside of the home was the last bit of me to go.  
After all, I could justify the living spaces as for the "good of the whole."

But the gardens lay dormant - overgrown with grass and weeds.  
And artistic displays of my being became less and less.  

And I missed it.  I missed being me.  I didn't know how to even address or describe what was going on inside me.  But one word comes to mind - death.

While this was happening -- toward the beginning of the end - I could feel something was greatly missing.  
So I leaned deeply into God.  
I learned to pray.  
And pray I did.

It was through this prayer that I attribute my awakening.  
Though, the final "wake-up!" was not on my end (but rather violent physical abuse at the hands of the abuser).  
I began to see that the person the Lord created me to be had been lost.  
But not lost in a way like "I need find myself".  
I KNEW who I was, and it mourned me that so much had been given for what? - to the point of myself not existing anymore - to what gain?  To WHOSE gain? (nothing and nobody's)

Anyway, long story short, The Lord woke me up to the abuse in my marriage.  
The betrayal and the lies.  
This wasn't a slow unfolding.  
No. 
It was like a 2x4 to the back of my head.

WAKE UP!!

The Lord gave me a choice... to choose complacency, stay and serve man... OR to stand, take up my mat and follow HIM.  
As I wrote about in "Pick Up Your Mat and WALK" and in other posts, you know I chose to follow the Lord.

This set off a massive chain reaction.  One that could only be compared - in my head - to an atomic bomb... or a RAGING wildfire... regardless, it destroyed EVERYTHING I had come to identify as my "world."  

Complete Destruction.

And then then Lord gave me a picture in my head.  And a promise.

I had been given pictures in my mind in the past, and still reflect on them.  But this time, all the excuses were gone -- gone in the destruction.

I tried to say there was no space - there was no equipment - there was no time - there was no SKILL.

But the arguments, along with the phony reality and glass house I had been led to believe was mine ... they were suddenly GONE!!

I saw that, in actuality, there WAS time.  An hour here and a half hour there.  A Saturday and maybe a few late nights... the time, indeed, DID exist.

There was plenty of space as I rearranged and cleared out the clutter!

And then the equipment came just as miraculously as the time and space.  It was if the Lord was rebuilding me.  Even equipping me -- to grow back to what HE had created me to be -- what HE had put in me.  
Easel... gorgeous - check!  
Canvases ... check!  
Brushes and Paints ... check... check!!

So, I set it up -- and guess what?!

I STARED AT AN EMPTY CANVAS FOR WEEKS.  

Yup ... I was scared.  
Scared to fail.  
What would happen if what I saw in my head -- if I couldn't translate that on canvas??  

Everything had been stripped -- and, yes the Lord was/is rebuilding me -- but, there WAS the day that saw I stood with only ONE friend, my children, and the Lord God Himself.  

ALL ELSE HAD BEEN TAKEN.... DESTROYED.
And, while that should be more than enough for anybody -- I was still scared.

I have received countless threats because I am speaking as to the Truth of my life.  The gossip and lies some days are just too much.  The pure wickedness that comes at me from the most (formerly) trusted of people is enough to paralyze anybody.  And the meanness... inconceivable!

And I'll say it again -- INCONCEIVABLE!! (read that again in your best "Princess Bride" voice 😀)

But the day came I KNEW it was time.  

(That's a reoccurring phrase in my life these days -- "It's time"... but that's for another day)



So, I began mixing colors.  
I picked up my brush...
And I started.

There's a LOT I have to still learn.  Even this time, I found myself reacquainting with brushes, techniques and all that stuff.

Regardless, I started!... It had been nearly 20 YEARS since I had sat in front of a canvas with a brush in hand... and a vague knowledge of what belonged on that blank canvas... But I began.

All I knew about this first painting was that the background was a completely decimated forest.  EVERYTHING was to be destroyed -- burned (by fire or blast, dunno).  
Everything.

Dark.

The picture was to be ... Dark.

The skies were to be gray and stormy.

And there was to be rain... lots of rain.

However, there was to be, in the center, one tree... seemingly dead and burned up.  

As this rain fell on the scorched earth, it began to wash off the trees around it ... only to further display the complete destruction of all that had been living. 

But there was to stand the one tree.

As the rain hits the branches, the soot and dirt from the flames begin to wash off.  The injuries and hurts begin to heal.  The formerly dead branches begin to com back to life... little by little.

That was it.  That was all I knew would be on the canvas.  But, as I began to paint, the Lord began to teach and tell me more about what HE had shown me.

The fire was what happened to me.  
There was death before the fire... and, frankly the fire had been burning for a VERY long time.  

But, somehow, some way, there was one tree... with DEEP roots.  
A stubborn little bugger.  While the bark burned, the inner heart of this tree kept (though slowly) beating.

The rain was from God Himself.  
Life-giving.  
Cleansing.  
Healing.  
The presence and touch of God... His Spirit.

And, while nothing else was able to survive the disaster that ravaged -- this little tree actually began to come to life.

It sprouts.

And, one day, it will bloom again. 
Oh, there's more to this picture... and my kids tell me I should do a series.

But the truth is, this tree is me.

I didn't know that when I started painting.  But I do now.

I pray you set your roots DEEP into the Lord.  I pray that so desperately for you.  You see, even if you have not withstood the furnace -- the blaze -- or the blast yet, one day you will.  And the only thing that will sustain you are those roots ... The ones deeply wrapped up in and sunk deeply into the very character and Truth of God.

I pray this would be your story, too.
... the tree that would one day bloom again
... the tree that the Lord Himself sustained.



.... And now... as Spring is here ... the GARDEN awaits!  😊



💚💚  Some Bible verses as you reflect on this painting.  💚💚

Colossians 2:6,7
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.


No one can be established through wickedness,
but the righteous cannot be uprooted.

For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.  If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.  If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. 
       Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.


February 11, 2017

The Refining Walk of True Friendship

This is actually a difficult subject for me to write on.  
Honestly, I wrote this out previously, but my account was accessed - without permission - and it was erased.  
So, here I go again!

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  I've had many good - and many GREAT - friends over the years.  
But, as I have gone through the trial and fight of/for my life, there is one friend (besides Jesus) who stood out above the others.

I, in NO WAY, wish to hurt or dismiss my other friends.  I could not have made it this far without you -- and I would not be able to move forward without you as well.  I love you all so much.  So, please don't mistake this post for a slight on our friendship -- rather, let it be an encouragement for that person in your life who you stand in the flames with!

I have never had a best friend ... that has been able to stick around for long. 

In Elementary school, I had a posse of friends... a core group of three whom I would do everything with... then, I moved out of the state just before starting Jr. high. 

In Jr. High and High School, the Lord blessed me with many friends - and a best friend, Dina.  She was literally a God-send.  And then, the Lord moved her away ... and our lives took differing paths (though we have kept in touch over the years!). 

Through college, I had many good friends - roommates and ministry partners.  We would graduate and move on, as we found spouses and followed careers. 

I have sisters whom I love and care for and a mother.  But even then, we live in separate towns - if not separate states.  
The distance does truly limit.

Once out of college, I asked the Lord to give me a friend... through the different seasons of my life, the Lord DID provided friends.  Single friends, married friends, work friends, mom friends, church friends, school friends and neighborhood friends.  But still, I asked the Lord for ONE close friend whom I could really trust.  It's not that the friends the Lord sent were not seen as friends - I just am very reserved and the deep parts of my heart are not entrusted to many.

I was told that my spouse was my best friend.... and that was that.  I tried to believe it - and tried to create it.  But, when push came to shove, he did both and I rolled over.  It was not a healthy relationship - and not a healthy friendship.  It was one of fear and control .... one dying to uphold vows and the other living to break them.

I knew this ... and it hurt.  

My prayers continued. 

 "Lord, I can make it if you give me just ONE friend"... this had been my lifelong prayer.

I had read over and over in the Bible about friendship the Lord had set out before the world was even created.... friends like David and Jonathan, Paul and Timothy... friends whom the Lord had created in such a unique giftedness to minister for Him.  I longed for that sort of friendship... 

This friendship started out ... slowly.  HAHA!  My neighbor's sister and young son moved in with them... helping them out and working for the family business.  Funny enough they are identical twins - though they argue they are NOT - it took a good year (or more) for me to realize it was two different women.

We first met as my preschool daughter would sneak out of our yard/house and into theirs to play with her infant son.  I would catch her carrying the baby around the yards.  

Then we began to talk as we would supervise the kids playing in the street and yards.  

And we became friends.

As time went on, she and her son would join us at church.  She even prayed to receive Christ with my husband and myself.  (That was pretty amazing)  She and I began meeting weekly to pray for our spouses and families.  We began studying books of the Bible together... and, as she would study, she would have SO many questions -- she kept me on my toes ... and in the Word!

My world was pretty well scripted for me - as were my relationships.  
There was a "type" of person I was to be ... and a "type" of person I was to befriend.  

This was successfully enforced by my spouse and the community around us.

She did not fit that mold;  she was a single mother, working full time, living in community with her family, a newer Jesus Christ Follower, didn't care much to dress or act the "church" role, and carried a beautiful testimony of Jesus Christ's great work and love in her life.

She became my greatest cheerleader, encourager, challenger and exhorter... she became my friend.

At this point, she was a GOOD friend... even FANTASTIC.  But I had other friends -- and they never stuck around for long... for whatever reason.  So I was hesitant to put any "best friend" label on her.

Then my life began to go a bit sideways.  She was aware of the storm inside me... the wrestling with God -- to serve Him or man... and would pray with me a lot.  She would meet me out by the mailboxes to cry with me and pray with me.

I was wrestling with God ... yet she stood firm.  Praying for me and my marriage - and encouraging me in obedience to Christ.

As the storm inside me grew -- it seemed to spread outside of me.  I now see that the storm on the outside had always been there.... it was just that I excused it.  I folded to it.  I denied it's existence.  
I covered the lies  ⟹ I had chosen to serve man... kneel to social pressures and bow to fear.

Yet there she was.  Praying for me and encouraging me.

Neither of us could have ever seen what would come next.  I know I didn't

I was now compelled by Christ to serve Him... and Him alone.  
Not just in word -- not even just in deed -- but in heart... in spirit.  

I truly did believe that my spouse would support me.  
And, support was what was falsely given to me at first.  
A head pat - verbal accolades ..... coupled with soon to be discovered stabs in the back and fierce social and verbal pressure to succumb.

I was told not to speak to ANYBODY about my need to obey the Lord. (see post: Little Did I Know ) But I did speak to my friend ... after all, it was the reason I came down with shingles.  😥  I stayed silent to everybody else out of respect to my spouse.  However, little did I know that the "silent" edict ONLY applied to me.  My spouse ... as I was silent ... began a heartbreaking and very confusing smear campaign against me and my best friend -- whom he would thank and give words of appreciation to her face --- and turn around only to declared his growing hatred for her.

I didn't even realize this was happening until the rot he created was so prevalent.  I tried to confront the main female gossip ... and even my spouse.  To no avail... malicious lies... they were just too juicy for the bored church moms and many family members to pass up.  
No need to check or listen to the truth -- the story was just... too... UNBELIEVABLE. 
Even my own parents fell for the lies in spite of my pleas and warnings ...

When everything had unraveled... the church had turned me out and denied it all, my husband had violently attacked me - yet he stood on stage every weekend to help lead "worship,"  the "friends" my spouse had groomed were actively cultivating and nurturing him and his lies... 
I remember vividly walking toward that furnace... knowing that I only had a distant sister urgently being reminded to pray for me ... and one... ONE ... friend - my neighbor, my best friend.  

And I entered that fiery furnace.  One friend... But the Lord was/is with us.

She has endured persecutions of ALL kinds.  

Why?  What is the crime?  

Being my friend.  That is the crime.

I know church lingo .. and I understand some of you may be thinking 
...Oh, Hope, persecution? ... you mean like people making fun of her?

No... Well, yes ... but that's not it.

What she has endured because of her love and friendship to me -- is far beyond what ANYBODY would ever endure on my behalf... not even my husband.  
"Husbands, love your wife just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her? ... that was never his goal.  Control... possess.  

My spouse now saw my friend ... as the entire reason for me walking into that furnace.  

I had never stood vigilantly compelled to obey the Lord in anything like I had in the build-up of this furnace.  My spouse had been so out of touch with me - my heart - over the span of our marriage, he never even noticed me change... grow... So he could not imagine WHY the change?  
It HAD to be this friend --- the one he did not choose, let alone approve of.

My friend had shared a small portion of her testimony at our church.  
(I will be writing more on this soon- and even, at the end of this series, some of her testimony).  
But my spouse saw his window... and used the testimony to anchor his lies.

The church turned on her.  Friends she had made, denied her and scorned her.  My family threw vile and horrifically graphic insults at her.  She was physically attacked at work - hit from behind and cut... and has since then been repeatedly threatened.  They all bought the lies.   
And they all adopted the anger and evil.

At the beginning .... all but my fervently praying sister from afar  ... and my best friend beside me ... were left.  

A TRUE friend.

Tested by fire.

Willing to sacrifice her own reputation, acceptance and even life ... to help me... to be my friend.

I have a best friend.

The best friend I have prayed for since I was little.

She happens to live next door... and we plan on always living close to each other.

I would have never survived this fire with out her... I was never made to stand in the furnace alone. 
 I was made to move forward in a team.

She has taught me what a TRUE friend is.  ... She has shown me what Scripture speaks of:

"A man of too many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."  Proverbs 18:24
"A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity."  Proverbs 17:7
"Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another."   Proverbs 27:17
"Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13
"Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself. Saul took him that day and did not let him return to his father's house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself."  1Samuel 18:1-3
"Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up."  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
"Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor."  1Corinthians 10:24  😊

I pray that you all may experience a friendship... that would test true and pure in whatever "7-times hotter" furnace the Lord would have you walk into.  
It doesn't take the pain of the losses and the betrayals away ... but the Lord knows how to heal the brokenhearted... and friends are key to that.

So, the timing of this seems pretty perfect ... with Valentines Day this week.  
This is not a romantic love or some torrid twist of friendship... it is pure and true.

Thank you for being my Best Friend - a True Friend.
Thank you for not just standing in the furnace with me -- but even before and as you saw it coming - thank you for walking into it with me.

I would never have survived without my Best Friend.
Thank you, Lord for knowing this... 
And Thank You for her.


Intro to the Next Series!

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In my last post, I wrote about one moment in my life - actually a very defining moment - I stood up for a deep conviction the Lord had placed in my spirit (way deeper than in my heart ... I don't know how to even explain that one).  
I referenced Daniel 3.


When I was writing, I realized something amazing.  Yet another deeper meaning to the story

the Lord gave me in regards to my life ... the men were not alone.  There are plenty of instances where men and women of God were persecuted and even put to death .... alone.  But this is not one of them.  In the story of Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego  ... they had each other.


I realized that, though the furnace I'm in has refined friendships, I didn't enter this furnace alone.  The Lord gave me a best friend.  

One who was there from the very beginning -- believing me, and standing beside me at GREAT cost to herself. 


 I am excited to write about that friendship - a true gift from the Lord!!



Over the next several weeks, I will be writing a series of posts.  This is a series that the Lord has asked me to write on.... true friendships... and the slander - and consequences of the specific slander we have/are enduring - of the Lord's glorious testimony in our lives, specifically my friend's.



I understand many may be angry - angry that I spoke up about the church's abuse.  I know I will be accused of bitterness and anger --- all of which is untrue.  

I will likely (again) be threatened and and ostracized ... par for the course anymore.  


But this is important for everybody.  



True friendships - correctly handling Truth - stewarding the Lord's testimonies ...



 I know that, though many will not want to hear, their ears will be closed -- SOME will hear ... so this is for YOU! ♡



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February 08, 2017

Little Did I Know...

Have you ever had that moment where an answer the Lord had given you actually had a much deeper - and truer meaning than you could have ever imagined?

I have.  I was thinking about it today, and felt strongly I should share.  

Not for much else than to simply document the richness - and mercy  - of the Lord.  
His Words stood for me then, but also, unbeknownst to me, were a sobering prophesy of what was to come.  

I had NO idea.

But I do see it now.

If you were to ask me a year ago... I had a tough marriage.  But not "bad."  
And certainly not terrible. 

I was blind.  
I was blind to what I had become and I was blind to how I had been conditioned.  

Not all change is good.

I see now the clear signs and symptoms that had fully manifested 
in my being... clear ... crystal ... of all sorts of abuse - psychological, spiritual, mental to say the least.

I had been stripped of my opinion. 
 Sure!  I could "share" - in the privacy of our home ... so not to embarrass, show disrespect, or dishonor my spouse.

I had been stripped of my being.  
I had been put on a shelf - like a possession ... given attention and care when the dust got too sickeningly thick, or guests were expected to arrive.  
I was there to be shown.  
Owned.  
It was not a partnership - and far from a friendship.

I was stripped of the things that made me -- me.  
Others, who are familiar with domestic abuse, and who may have been given the chance to see a before/after ... would have noticed right away.  

My love and desire for art and gardens -  my passion for the outdoors and the Lord's beautiful creation - had all but disappeared.  
I lived for the return ... for the scraps of moments given to me by the person who had self-titled as my "best friend."  
No longer did I pursue those things the Lord had planted deeply in my spirit.  
No longer did I even desire them.  
I was lost.

Despite all that was taken - rather, given - I still loved deeply.
I counted the cost worth it - because I loved so much.

 I was told this was exactly where I was always created to be.  This was my purpose.  
...interesting.

But, like the good Christian girl (and wife) I am, I adapted.  
I folded, and accepted this martyr role as my purpose... as the greatest walk of love.

However, the day came that I did have a vastly differing opinion... conviction ... than my spouse.

Surely, other days of the like had come and went ... 
and I slunk back onto my shelf... waiting ... waiting ... 
hoping that serving and pouring myself out in hopes that a glance - a smile - or maybe, better yet, a crumb of affection(!) would be tossed my way.  
It rarely came.  But I still lived for it.

But this was different.  Why?  I have wondered the same, trust me!

There are a few things I can spot - and one giant one.

To begin with, the Lord had begun several years earlier to wake up my inner spirit.  He had renewed my heart for prayer -- and showed me His movement in that manner.  He would wake me in the middle of the night - I would read His word and pray... pray for myself, my husband, and the family.

The little light that had been reduced to a flicker of a candle's flame began to grown ... BURN.

The Lord would ask me to be obedient in little things ... leading prayer groups, befriending neighbors, helping other moms, participation in our church with the after-service prayer, and speaking openly - unashamedly - about my walk and love for Jesus.  
With each tiny step in obedience, the light grew brighter.... my faith grew ... and my love for Jesus burned.

So, the day came that I had a differing conviction.  
I say "conviction,"  because for me it was.  For the other parties, I believe there was no conviction - rather, opinion.

I sought the Lord ... WHY?  WHY would I feel a differing call than my spouse?  
Surely, the Lord would NEVER call spouses to different ministries! (FALSE)  
At least that's what I had been told since I was a very young girl... partners ... teammates... best friends ... that is what spouses were to be.

Yet, here I was.  At an impasse.  

And then the final stone -- or, rather, the FIRST stone ... the CORNERSTONE -- came into clear view.

The Lord was asking me to obey Him.  

I didn't want to... it would be hard... I argued... I wrestled.  

My spouse would get mad ... ohhhhh... I don't like the anger... my spouse being mad meant I was a bad wife... right?  

Besides that, our social circle - his best friends 
(wait... wasn't *I* supposed to be the best friend?) 
...would frown deeply upon my absence.  

It would look bad.  

And that was it, wasn't it?!  
... what would it "look"like? 

-- was I, somehow, responsible for his emotions and lack of self control?

(See, at that time -- I DID feel like those things mattered... like I could influence, or should try to hit some sort of phantom socially acceptable line of appropriateness.)

Truth is - it doesn't matter what obedience to the Lord looks like --- it's not for man -- it's for GOD.  
Moreover, I cannot control -- ever -- anybody's reaction, thoughts or choices -- ever --.... that's simply a mirage.

However the day came I was told if I could show in the Bible WHY I must hold to the conviction I was standing firm with ... the family would join up with me.

Hopeful, I immediately began fasting and praying.  There were many Bible sections I could use - but the Lord told me to stop... be still ... and wait.

I did... I waited.   I prayed.

Then it happened..... like a downloading into my head.  I ran to my car and madly began to scribble down all my thoughts.

The Lord decided to use a story from the 3rd chapter in the book of Daniel -- Shadrack, Mechack and Abednigo.   
Incidentally, this was one of my spouse's favorite stories.  

I fought a little... I knew there would be anger over this particular scripture text.

But I wrote it all down.

And I couldn't believe what I read. 
 I had never seen this section of scripture in this light... It was perfect --- perfectly describing WHY the decision I had made must be upheld by me.  
The Lord used that Bible story to connect my obedience to those three men.... and my spouses' behavior to the king's.

I was scared - there will be great rage over this ...  or maybe not!  
Maybe it will be received and embraced.  
Surely, the perfectness of what the Lord had me write would be seen and appreciated.

I stood before my spouse and explained how it all came about.  
Then I read (I had to read it ... I was shaking too badly) what I had written down.

It boiled down to one thing .... Obeying the Lord.  
Obedience.

Shadrack, Mechack and Abednigo were thrown in a furnace because they would not bow to an idol  -- and more specifically to the king.   
They chose obedience ... understanding the cost... being thrown into a furnace... to die.

It was this that I saw I was walking toward.  At the time, I saw it as a social metaphor for this one decision.  
But now, I see the intricate similarities span so much more.

You see, the king was SO angry, he instructed for the furnace to be heated up SEVEN times hotter than normal.

He questioned them - gave them a chance to bow to him... 

They defied him and told him, “Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if he doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)

The king was FURIOUS.

The fire was SO hot, the guards taking the men to their fate -- met theirs.  
The heat alone killed them. 
Yet, the men of God continued on.  

The kept walking toward the fire ... into the furnace ... despite the fact that the guards were dropping like flies.  
They were obedient.  
They trusted and knew that their Lord God was with them.   
And, obedience was more important than sacrifice - even their lives. 

Then it happened ... as the three friends should have been incinerated, the king looked into the fire and instead saw FOUR figures.

The men were not alone.  
The Lord had given them each other as friends .... and then stood among them

Ultimately, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were taken out once the fire died down -- they weren't burned -- and didn't even smell like smoke.  
The king issued an edict that read: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.”  Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon. (Daniel 3:29-30)

The analogy the Lord gave me ended at the fire... and I now see why.  
Here I am in the furnace... and I DO smell a little of the smoke - and feel a bit singed by the fire.  
I certainly have not been promoted.... HAHA!  

But my future is still being written....

I now see the lesson in this for me.  
The courage to walk toward the fire in obedience to God -- even as you see death all around you. 

Courage.

Faith.

Obedience.

I had hoped this word would shed light on my thoughts and convictions to my spouse.  

I was wrong.

It incensed him.  I was called a liar and manipulator.  I was neither -- and AM neither.

But I stood.  

Was I to choose to serve God.... or was I to choose to bow to man?

I chose God.






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And... know what?  The Lord didn't send me alone into the furnace, either!
He gave me a friend...

I will write on true friendship soon... 

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