Fan of the Holy Spirit?

I’m honored to participate in our pastor’s current sermon series, “#1 Fan?” as a guest writer. Here is the second installment:


My toes were on the edge of the pit and it was very deep and dark down there but I couldn’t stop gazing intently into it. I wondered if it would really be so bad to dip my toe in, just for a second, knowing I’d then instantly run in the opposite direction. Because surely I couldn’t fall in. I knew better and I went to church hourly and I did Beth Moore Bible studies for Pete’s sake. So I stood on the edge and just stared and stared and stared down into it.

One Sunday, as the pull from the pit was magnetic, I simultaneously wanted and didn’t want to go to church. I felt introverted and isolated yet desperate and needy and decided I couldn’t go to my church for fear they would smell the scent of the pit all over me. Instead a friend and I went to visit another church where I felt safer and after a few dizzying deep breaths I walked in and found a place to sit not too close to the front and not too close to the back.

During worship and the teaching I was desperate to hear a word from God that would make it all better, but nothing happened. The worship was amazing and the teaching was incredible but I was missing the pull of God that would be stronger than the pull of the pit. I gathered my purse and started to leave when suddenly a man with gentle eyes and kind words stopped me and said,

“The minute you came through the door, the Holy Spirit told me to pray for you. Would you mind if my wife and I prayed over you?”

I nodded mutely for fear if I opened my mouth I’d fall apart and ooze all over the pews and he and his wife placed loving hands on my shoulders and prayed and how did they know everything they knew? Each word spoke directly to my wiggling toes and the pull of the pit. They said how much the Lord loves me and nothing could ever change that and how the devil is trying so hard to distract and tempt because he knows what’s coming right around the corner for me. And then he, the man, prayed the most unforgettable thing — God was putting barricades on the path I was currently on. He was shutting them down and closing them up and that He was creating a completely new path even that very day.

My eyes were blurry and my nose was runny and I had to wipe my eyes and nose on my sleeve because I didn’t have a tissue, and it was as if Jesus Himself was wrapping his arms all over me in a giant bear hug. He and his wife closed the prayer, I told them thank you so much and I somehow found my way outside to the car. I didn’t even know their names.

Soon my toes were well over the edge of the pit and they were wiggling furiously and I just really thought I’d be strong enough to pull myself back but whoops, there I went down, down, down into the bottomless abyss. I didn’t know about the power of the pit. I didn’t know it was a black hole with no end that left you with a physical feeling of warring between flesh and spirit. I didn’t know the speed with which the pit can suck you in. I just didn’t know.

With each passing day I spent in the darkness, however, I clung to the words the gentle and kind man prayed that Sunday. The words given to him by the Holy Spirit — those were words I clung to. With the hope from those words I soon got a foothold and then I had a handhold and soon I had climbed out only by the grace of God. I was beaten and dirty and my fingers were bloody and my nails were broken, but I made it out and I was still alive.

As soon as I came up for air and saw the sun again and took a deep breath of fresh air, everything changed. My career ended and I started working at church and I met Greg and he started working at church and we fell in love and we began ministry together. And then I discovered that same Sunday the man and his wife prayed for me — that exact day — that was the day the Holy Spirit had also gotten a hold of Greg and Greg had gotten on his face and accepted Jesus.

I’ve never forgotten the kind words that gentle man prayed that Sunday.

God did exactly what God said He’d do. My life was taken and shaken and flipped upside down and placed on an entirely new path. The past was gone and shut and barricaded and has not peeked its face at me, not even once.

Years later, after much redemption and heapings of mercy and grace, I met a woman that my spirit fell in love with the instant she opened her mouth. I boldly asked her if she would mentor me and she agreed and we spent the next year meeting in her home where she would mentor and pray and edify and encourage me. And I’d admire her home, for she was a decorator, and I’d pour over every little trinket and tchotchke, for there were many. Once she invited me to her mountain home for a prayer retreat weekend. As we arrived she gave us a tour and I poured over every little knick-knack there too. When we got to a downstairs guest room, my eyes were glued to a black and white photograph in an ornate silver frame on a hall table.

“Ann, who is this?” I asked as my eyes stayed fixated on the picture.

“Why darlin’,” (for that’s exactly the way she talked) “that’s my daughter and her husband, my son-in-law! Aren’t they precious?!”

The kind words washed over me as I once again looked into his gentle eyes. It was them. I never saw it in all the times I was at her house before. It was them. The couple who had prayed for me years earlier at a church I just decided to go to at a time I was contemplating the pit. It was them. The couple who listened to the Holy Spirit and obeyed and prayed for a very confused and conflicted girl. It was them. I wept.

The power of the Holy Spirit isn’t in the emotions and the hyper-spirituality. The power of the Holy Spirit is in the obedience and the confidence and the boldness of listening to Him and then acting on it. He’s all about action and equipping and encouraging and edifying and enabling us to act in Jesus’ name.

And He’s all about completion. Only God could have brought me as a visitor to a church and met me there and sent the Holy Spirit to comfort me through the actions of a couple who would turn out to be my mentor’s daughter and son-in-law. Only God could have given the Holy Spirit such profound and life-changing and hope-giving words to me on the exact same day my future husband turned over His life to Jesus. Only God can do that.

The whole picture remains unclear and unfinished if the Holy Spirit piece isn’t in place. But when we include Him and allow Him to fulfill the role given to Him by God, it is complete and our eyes are fixated on it because it’s suddenly all so clear.

Thanksday #60

Did you know…

  • It’s really easy to leave a comment on any of my posts? Just click the speech bubble next to the title and voila! (How do I get that French accent-thingy over the “a” to show up??)
  • I’ve woken up at 6 am for FOUR DAYS IN A ROW?
  • I woke up this morning (6 am) and saw myself in the mirror and freaked out a tiny bit? (Forgot to take off my make up last night. Bad, bad idea.)
  • That it was so cold yesterday, I had to wear winter socks and boots so my feet wouldn’t freeze?
  • Happy Endings wasn’t on last night and I miss the Friends-on-steroids-meets-Gilmore-Girls-fast-and-witty-banter and am feeling a little discombobulated?
  • I’m still debating whether or not I’m going to read The Hunger Games?
  • Saturday Night Live’s parody of Andy Cohen and Watch What Happens Live this week had me in tears? In. Tears.
  • I’m now totally addicted to Shahs of Sunset? Because I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — BravoTV could make a show about people shucking corn and I’d tune in mesmerized week after week after week. (Don’t judge me!)
  • That TV has obviously been a big part of my week?
  • I haven’t had a manicure in three weeks? Or a pedicure in eight months?

I spewed out all this randomocity for a reason: I think it’s important we establish upfront where my mind is at this week, and if you guessed “all over the place” then you’d take home the BRAND NEW CAR that’s some gawd-awful color you’d never really pick in real life. (Teal, I’m talking to you).

This was one of those weeks where my routine was thrown off and oh my heavens when did I become the old bitty who cannot handle her routine being thrown off? It was all good stuff — great stuff even — but it left me a little frantic. Which left me playing catch up. Which left me with no time to write like I’ve planned to do since Sunday. And whether or not what I write is actually anything — I gotta have my writing time. Even if it’s to try to tie together randomocity and make it seem like this one big, clever and creative post was supposed to be this way.

‘Cuz it is, you know.

(Is it obvious I’m drinking coffee as I write, and that the caffeine hasn’t quite kicked in yet?)

Thankfuls for this week!

1. Easter Weekend. What a fantastic and glorious weekend! From Good Friday to Easter Sunday…it was beautiful, meaningful and simply gorgeous. Here’s a mini photo-dump of Easter Sunday – and yes, Virginia…that is seersucker! (We are in the South, y’all.)

Isn’t my family just the cutest??

2. Cheat Days. So I’m doing this plan (I won’t say diet…I won’t say diet…) where you eat really well six days a week and then on the seventh day you can cheat and be totally gluttonous. (That’s in Genesis somewhere, you can look it up.) And if there’s anything I can stick with best, it’s a plan that lets me make myself sick with food once a week. Jaana now looks forward to that day, because she knows it means doughnuts for breakfast and pizza for dinner. (Although she has no idea why, because I never, ever talk about my weight or diets or anything like that in front of her.) I am seeing some results…I have to say…and I’ve been really good with this for a month now. The problem is this: I’ve always (is there a stronger word for ‘always’? Because that would totally apply.) had a sluggish metabolism. Even at 18 years old. Add on top of that a lifetime of yo-yo’ing and two kids. What do you have? A metabolism that has rolled over, died and has birdies twirling and chirping around its head. So while I am seeing results, they aren’t the ones I was hoping to see, especially after a month. However, it could possibly be due to pints of ice cream and pans of brownies once a week. But I just don’t know.

3. Mature, Seasoned Ladies. At our Women’s Retreat last month, during our small group time, I shared something that I’ve been struggling with. One of the very godly, mature (and might I add, hilarious) ladies later found me and said, “We need to get together soon.” And this week we finally did. She took me to lunch and asked more information about what I had shared. And then told me all about her struggles with the exact same issue. And I have to say, it was so incredibly encouraging! She didn’t have any words of wisdom, or any formula to fix it…but said, “I just wanted you to know I’ve been there. And if you need an empathetic ear, I’m here. Anytime.” And that, my friends, is living out Titus 2. I am so incredibly thankful that she reached out to me and made us getting together happen. I so, so needed that.

4. Gym Time. I mentioned last week how our neighborhood clubhouse is once again open, so this week Paxton and I hit it up and I got in a treadmill workout while he played in the kids room. He can only handle about 30 minutes of me not being with him…but it’s 30 minutes I didn’t have on a treadmill before. Feels good to be getting back into it. In fact, going to sign up for a 5k soon so that I can get back on this running bandwagon. I miss it.

5. Date Morning. Greg and I haven’t had our Thursday date morning for two weeks — one due to Spring Break, and the other due to Mama having to Easter shop. But we’re back on today and I can’t wait! Need some alone time with my man. At a restaurant. Where they serve my food and refill my coffee for me.

6. Talent Show. So, my girl is going to be in the school Talent Show tomorrow night and is singing “Party in the USA” with a classmate. They sound just precious when I hear them practice, and are all sorts of excited and nervous about it. Just for kicks, Jaana busted out with a British interpretation of it the other night that sounded like a spoken word performance, and I simply died. It was hysterical. So I put it on Facebook, naturally. Well, she found out I did that and now I’m in the dog house. So I can’t post the video here of my Spice Girl. But I love her talent and perseverance to get out there and try something totally new even though she’s nervous. I could care less how she does tomorrow night, and I’ve told her that (although she’ll be great). I’m just so proud of her for doing it.

7.  Second Grade Theology. Out of the blue the other day, Jaana started asking me about Jesus and the other two men who were being crucified next to Him. And if they went to heaven. And it opened up this 20-minute discussion on why the thief was being crucified, and why he was going to heaven, and how your actions…good or bad…have absolutely no bearing on your eternity. How your belief in Jesus Christ is it. Jaana asked some brilliant questions, and I was trying my darndest to not over-explain anything, because I wanted it to make sense to her eight year-old mind. It was a really beautiful conversation and I loved just watching her mull over and contemplate all these things related to Easter weekend.

I love each stage of life that my kids are in…but I especially love where we are with Jaana right now because of these things. We can talk and share on a whole new level. We even spent time talking this week about how she wants to be President, and how she’d really need to make sure she spent time reading the Bible and praying if she were President, so that God could help her make the right decisions. God has given her some unique wisdom and insight, and watching that flourish is just breathtaking.

(And as an aside, for the Talent Show, I tried to get the girls to change the words to the song and call it “Prayin’ in the USA” and talk about a “Jesus song was on…” but all I got was crickets and a blank stare.) (Can’t win ’em all.)

8. Habanero BBQ Almonds. Because eating raw almonds is like licking sawdust.

9. Cleaning Out Closets. I finally took time to clean out and organize my closet this week. Out went the clothes I haven’t worn in a year, or ones that I’m just waiting to eventually fit back into. Life’s too short to live with taunting and ugly reminders of what’s not happening. So now, I can wear about 85% of the stuff in my closet at any given time…instead of only about 50%. And that, my friends, is what I like to call progress.

10. Shoes. I got two great pairs of shoes this week on sale and spent $30 for both of them. What’s better than a shoe bargain? Cheat days. And that’s about it.

Your turn! Let me know what you’re thankful for this week and share the love. Leave a comment below or link up with Candra. It’ll be like having your own show on Bravo, except a lot more normal.