standing Brave, it’s what she does

Singing in the midst of life’s engulfing fires, fighting back the treacherous storms of her heart & dancing through the unforgiving pain of failing strength… there she stands. She is brave. Braver than most. Fierce as lions. It’s just what she does. Simply because that is who her Creator made her to be. A mighty warrior, a celebrated princess & a light in the darkness of fear.

Who do you know that matches this description? I have been blessed to have so many strong women in my life. Some are family, some are friends & others I have scarcely met for moments. All of them encourage & inspire me with their talent for finding their moment. That moment of grace where Father steps into your situation & just takes over your response to it. When you face that which is meant to destroy you, without giving in or falling back. The day you finally stand tall, despite the attacks & the traps of the enemy. Bravery. It’s not the absence of fear or even the presence of courage or strength. It comes from something truer, deeper. A place of forgiveness & grace. A place of knowing, of been there/done that. It comes out of surviving & choosing to thrive. This, this is the difference that sets apart the lucky ones that made it out somehow from the BRAVE ONES that chose to never give up or give in or give out.. ever again.

I’d be writing for hours if I sat her listing all the people (guys too) I know that are the picture of bravery tonight. Instead I will tell you about the three I am praying for as I go to bed. Please, if you pray to our Father in Heaven, mention these dear ones to Him. He will know them, so I will leave out their names.

  1. A dear sister who has stood BRAVE in the Valley Fire that continues to rage here in CA. Her family evacuated from the area only moments before their home was completely destroyed. They have only the clothes on their backs with them. Every “thing” they ever owned is gone… She & her husband pastor a church, which was also overcome by the flames. The cement steps & metal railing are all that remains… Yet she is working tirelessly to put aside her own needs, in order to tirelessly care for those around her who are also facing the pain of loss & starting over. So very brave. Because she has spent time with her Father, she walks confident in KNOWING who holds her tomorrows & who restores all “things” in His time. He gives her beauty for the ashes she surrenders to Him. Beyond what she could ever even ask or imagine. She just KNOWS. The confidence of knowing makes her brave when everything around her is in ashes. There is a peace that she knows, beyond all human understanding. The soft voice of the Spirit, telling her He is never letting go of her. Surely she must BRAVE the winds that throw the flames, as she hears only the voice of peace that guides her ‘home’. A place she knows not where. But she casts aside all doubt, in exchange for bravery born out of past experience. He will DO what He said He will do.
  2. A friend who IS my sister. (If you don’t have one, I’m praying you will soon!) This week she BRAVELY walks into new things, a new job, which brings a new lifestyle of sorts. It stretches her. It strengthens her. It launches her out of her comfort zone fast & furiously. Yet she embraces the challenge & confronts her old thinking in order to make room for newly improved approaches. She takes time to evaluate the why & where of questions like ‘How did I get here?’ & ‘Where should I be going next?’. Instead of running from the change & newly found accountability, she took on even more by telling me about it all. Knowing full well that I will also ask her ‘So how’s that going?’ in the days & weeks to come. All this while raising her children in the fear of the Lord, & serving her husband & her mother in every way. She exemplifies a life of prayer & trust. Brave is the one that walks WITH the Lord, following His lead even into the high waters where her feet cannot stand. She has an understanding that others have not reached. One that comes only from being carried through the storm(s) once (or twice) before. The fear of the unknown is not a stranger to her, nor is it a crippling distraction. Rather, it is simply a reminder to refocus on the One who leads the way, remembering that His way is straight & narrow, & there will always be grace enough to travel it. And she REMINDS HERSELF that she will never walk alone. She is BRAVE, because He is WITH her always. She is His & He is hers.
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  4. My daughter. From the moment we first saw her face we knew, this one is BRAVER than most. Tiny, frail & weak. Yet full of such power & fight. She will not back down or give up on herself or her love. She survives. At all cost. Her world has been capsized more times than I care to count. Her heart has learned to fight love to protect her, & now it’s learning to let love in… to heal her. What whirlwinds have tossed them about, She & her heart. Often they have been bruised & battered by the very ones they thought would treat their wounds. But her Creator has placed a love in her, deeply knitted into her soul, that no evil or pain could remove. Buried in the rubble of breaking trusts & stolen dreams, that love is emerging & reaching for the light. Every day she finds new strength. She is tiny, but so very fierce in wanting only to love & be loved. She has felt the Father’s touch. I see it in her eyes. I saw it before I met her & it shines brighter each day. Surviving is her gift, it birthed in her a BRAVE SPIRIT that will not quit. What horrors & sorrows she has felt, we may never know. But the love that spills out of her we recognize. The Author of her soul has written her new song. She sings for me sometimes, a song of forgiveness, a song of renewal. She sings to Him too, praises & anthems of His glory & goodness. She bravely lifts her head & walks on broken legs, into the safety of His presence. Each day we see her overcome new obstacles that once stood between us, she is not waiting for ‘someday’, she walks on. One foot after the other, with a band of brothers following close behind. Her steps are not always sure, but she will not sit still while there are stairs to climb. Up & out of the sadness, she climbs higher than she could ever dream. Far beyond what her strength allows, she swims to the depths of grief in order to bring it all to the surface. The Spirit that dwells in her deepest parts is guiding her to wholeness & healing through His mercy & grace. Not every broken part of her can be casted like her legs, but she is LEARNING that she WILL BE MADE WHOLE one day. From the top of her head to the bottom of her feet. Ten she will dance in the freedom that come from understanding how He brought her out of bondage & pain, & into the freedom of His love!

Think of the ones that inspire you friends. Tell them. Encourage them. Then go out & find that strength to face some things that are meant to destroy you. Walk in the knowledge of He who made you. Tell the mountains to move & the giants to fall. Be strong & courageous, in the face of your fears friends… BE BRAVE…

-JK

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finding Courage to {be transformed} {pray}

“… so your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you…”

A woman stands lost in a crowd, unseen & afraid. No one can hear her pounding heart, they don’t know her pain. Walking through the masses, she finds herself searching for something she’s never known. Busy people rushing past, in their fancy suits & 5 inch heals… do they even notice as she begins to cry, right there in the intersection? Clutching her bundle of boxes, she’s racing to gather more… later she will soak them to add to the weight before claiming the reward. Just as she sits to rest her failing & aching hips, a young man interrupts her thoughts of hopelessness… “M’goi PauPau!” {Please/Excuse Me Grandmother!} He’s handing her a rice box with a bowl of hot soup. He explains she should rest & eat it now while it’s hot. Tells her that Jesus loves her & He’s looking out for her. She offers a feeble smile of thanks, “Dou Jei! Dou Jei!” {Thank You! Thank You!} The old woman’s eyes lit up for a moment & the young man spots the slightest glimmer in them. Was that hope? Was it thanks? Maybe even a hint of love? She is grateful, just like every week. He says goodbye & he prays as he walks on to find the next lost & lonely soul, in need of a warm meal & a bright light of hope.
Last week, Tryston & I saw a van with a ‘vanity license plate’ – it read “IMPACTHK” – It really got us thinking! We sometimes wonder if the things we do make any impact here in Hong Kong at all… Our Tuesday nights are for the homeless & street folks. We see the same people every week, give them dinner, ask how they’ve been, tell them we love them & so does Jesus, etc. But they are always there the next day, nothing changes… Or does it? Do our efforts mean nothing? Is it really our job to cause any changes? Are the unseen blessings still a blessing? If a tree falls in the forest & no one hears it, DOES it make a sound after all??

The Lord reveals himself in new & mysterious ways all the time friends. Tonight I found His words new & fresh once again. He has promised that HE will build the house. The house of David & the House of the Lord Jesus His Son… We have a job & we do our job, but then God himself comes in & blesses it, bringing the increase & the power & salvation through Jesus! He alone builds it! … OK, so this is a reminder of what I already knew. So what’s the revelation then? That although we have done & continue to do the work faithfully & joyfully… & although we have never ceased to pray… we can, we SHOULD… find COURAGE to pray! When one prays with courage it is a POWERFUL & CONFIDENT kind of prayer! Not a defeated, tired or withering prayer. Not a “if it’s not Your will” kind of prayer. NO! No more!

We are called to be COURAGEOUS PRAYER WARRIORS!!! So as for me & my house, we will STAND & PRAY WITH NEW FOUND COURAGE & BOLDNESS before the throne of God Almighty who sits waiting for our petition & praise! When we renew our mind, we will be transformed, then we’ll know that He is Lord. KNOWING that, we’ll find peace! Then, we’ll have courage to PRAY!  May we get up every time we fall… may we encourage ourselves in the Lord & never take our eyes off of the One who is building with & for us! May we be brave in finding courage to be transformed & pray!

 “And now, Lord God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, so that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, ‘The Lord Almighty is God over Israel!’ And the house of your servant David will be established in your sight.Lord Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, ‘I will build a house for you.’ So your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, Sovereign Lord, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.” ~2 Samuel 7:25-29

“And now, Lord, let the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house be established forever. Do as you promised, so that it will be established and that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, ‘The Lord Almighty, the God over Israel, is Israel’s God!’ And the house of your servant David will be established before you.You, my God, have revealed to your servant that you will build a house for him. So your servant has found courage to pray to you. You, Lord, are God! You have promised these good things to your servant.” ~1 Chronicles 17:23-26

-JK