She is Free

Present In His Presence

I'm not going to lie, I think about bacon cheeseburgers mid-worship from time to time. Sometimes I'll even ponder food for so long that I easily dream-drift through each course I desire, ending with the best coconut cream pie ever from Prime Meats (always after my burger and fries, of course!). As I break out of my prophetic food dream, I usually look down to make sure my phone's on silent (because no one wants to be that guy), only to be alarmed at the 10 text messages that came in while I was focusing on connecting with the Father's heart. So, of course I have to check to see if any of them are urgent, and before I know it, worship has ended and I have been present for a sum total of five seconds flat. Do better, Andi. Do better. 

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And what about when I'm actually out at the meal after church on Sunday, eating my desired bacon cheeseburger, fries and coconut cream pie across the table from my husband, three sons and daughter? Well, of course, I MUST check Instagram to see what's happening in the lives of everyone who I know, generally know, or want to know. Meanwhile, I have five people whom I love, sitting around a table ripe for good conversation and knock knock jokes, while I'm on my phone. Present to my phone. Present to my burger and coconut cream pie, but not present to the opportunity of human connection that's sitting right in front of me.

We are living in a time where our minds are being rewired for overstimulation.

It's like we have every tab in our mind open all the time and are pinging left, right, back and center all day every day. To simply sit and have a meaningful conversation is becoming a lost art if we're not intentional about seeking after it.

Even when we find ourselves in the "waiting rooms of life", we're usually itching to have our name called instead of seeing the opportunities to converse and connect with everyone else in the waiting room. We want next, next, next, next, and we keep missing now, now, now, now... we're not present in the present.

Now let's bring it back to the presence of God. How are you doing being present in His presence? No condemnation here - It's a daily practice to ask myself this same question. How are you at intentionally becoming aware of what you already have - His presence - because you have ALL of The Father, Son and Holy Spirit?

It's hard to be present with others if we don't know how to be present with God.  

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Slowing down, resting in Him, reading His word daily (even if only five minutes until the kids start crawling all over us!), turning on worship to change the atmosphere, making ourselves aware of HIs unending presence... it changes things. Being present in our pain and not dismissing it, that is where the eternal love of God touches our lives, and heals our hearts. It's the power of His presence that changes us and being present in His presence, well... there's nothing like it. 

C.S. Lewis said, "For the present is the point at which time touches eternity." 

Jesus came down to earth, eternity touched time, and now our present lives can be changed because of it. We can learn a lot from Jesus and how present He always was. He was present with His Father and often escaped the crowds and chaos to do so, and He was present with others - with the "one". The only time He wasn't present was when He was ignoring someone's lack of faith.

In Matthew 9:18-25, Jesus is present to Jairus in the midst of the crowd after a rough night in the storm with His disciples and delivering the demoniac. I'd be napping, but Jesus chooses to be present to Jairus when He hears that his daughter is ill. On the way to heal Jairus' daughter, Jesus is present to the woman with the issue of blood in the midst of the pressing crowds. He turns and sees her, heals her, and calls her "daughter". Then He continues on with Jairus, removes those with a lack of faith from the room, raises his daughter from the dead and even takes care of her physical needs, making sure that she gets a meal in her belly. 

The truth is, Jesus is present with you, right here, right now. Our distractions can dissuade us from being present, causing us to miss moments of connection and transformation.

He is present in the mundane and present in the pain. HE is present in it all.

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Today as I dropped my youngest son off at his kindergarten class, a mother and daughter in front of us were twirling and dancing on their way to the classroom. Sammy was observing and smiling while giggling to himself. Not seconds after that grin came across his face was he, too, twirling with exuberance. My heart swelled within me. I didn't record the moment on my phone or share it on an Insta Story. I was just there, present, proud, and full of joy watching him be an awesome kid - my awesome kid.

Our Father in heaven thinks you're a pretty awesome kid too. He's present with you and wants to journey with you. Intentionally becoming aware of His never-ending presence in our lives will bring freedom from captivity, shake our rickety foundations to be rebuilt by the Master Builder, bring healing to our brokenness but also joy in the seemingly unremarkable moments, and an awakened desire to spread the love that He so freely gives us. 

Can we simply be present with Him today? He has so much to tell us through His word and the whisper of the Holy Spirit. Let's choose together to stop missing the moments and instead, be right in the middle of each one - the ordered, the messy, the electric, the magnetic, even the monotonous - silencing ourselves to hear His whisper through them all.

When I am still, compulsion (The busyness that Hilary of Tours called "a blasphemous anxiety to do God's work for him") gives way to compunction (being pricked or punctured). That is, God can break through the many layers with which I protect myself, so that I can hear his Word and be poised to listen...
In perpetual motion I can mistake the flow of my adrenaline for the moving of the Holy Spirit; I can live in the illusion that I am ultimately in control of my destiny and my daily affiars...
French philospher and mathematician Blaise Pascal observed that most of our human problems come because we don't know how to sit still in our room for an hour." 
- Leighton Ford

Change Your Narrative

A friend of ours decided to celebrate their 40th birthday in Greece this summer, and when invited to come along, we jumped on that bandwagon like a teenage girl (or middle-aged mom) purchasing Bieber tickets. 

When we showed up at the airport, Paul and I got a free upgrade (not even sad!) and happily settled into our seats. While the other passengers boarded the plane, I tested out all the buttons on my remote to see just how flat my bed would go and gladly accepted all the drinks the flight attendants brought by, because it'd be rude not to!

Mid-sip of that second refreshment, a quarter of the way into my first movie, cozily tucked under my comforter with my footrest up, the lady next to us (who we'll call Negative Narrative Nancy) starts yapping about everything she could find wrong about being in business class. I mean - were we even on the same plane??

After sitting on the tarmac for about 30 minutes, the first delay notification came in, but I couldn't have cared less! I was lying down, watching a movie, and eating snacks under a comforter that I wasn't sharing with my four children. We sat on the tarmac for a good hour and a half, just 3 minutes shy from being deplaned and put on another aircraft. Luckily that didn't happen, but during the delay, Negative Narrative Nancy used business class as her stage with absolutely no need for a microphone. 

She started talking loudly. "Ugh! (deep loud breath, sigh, eye roll) The pilot needs to update us- he's not telling us what's going on! Hey lady (flight attendant), what's REALLY going on? Why are we delayed? What aren't you guys telling us? I need a Xanax."

The couple in front of Negative Narrative Nancy had their six-month-old baby, and anytime it cooed or made a peep, the woman would breathe deeply, roll her condescending brown eyes and ask if she could have a different seat in business class "AWAY from that baby". After the poor couple were bouncing their sweet baby (seriously, it was such a quiet baby - just ask me, I have four!) to keep Negative Narrative Nancy appeased, to the point of their quads and biceps giving out from muscle fatigue, good ol' Nancy turns and addresses all of business class saying,  "I can't think of anything worse!"

What?!? Lady with no children, come over here and let me sit you down. Nothing worse than a baby in business class? Negative Nancy - paaalease! I can think of a lot of worse things like... This plane going down. Snakes on the plane. My movies not working on the plane (come on, you know you're with me!) and worst of all, YOU never taking that Xanax you speak of and and continuing to talk for the rest of our time together on this airplane!

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We were in business class people! Business class! And her negative narrative was destroying the atmosphere. The funniest part of this story was that we found out later that a group of turtles mating on the runway caused our delay! Literally, turtles on the runway, which got me thinking...

Have you ever been running a meeting where someone is giving "feedback" but their tone is far from constructive and instead, full of negativity, just posing more problems with no solutions in sight? Maybe the problem is as minor as a turtle on the runway, but the meeting you were so smoothly running is now in a proper nosedive due to a negative narrative taking over. Maybe you started out solving a problem in your own personal life that feels like a minor hurdle, but then the negative nosedive in narrative you find in your own words or thoughts actually becomes the problem instead of the initial situation you faced? It's possible that you naturally operate in faith and optimism, but you're surrounded with "friends" and family who tend towards the negative, calling themselves "realists" and you've unconsciously joined the same club, not sure of who you are anymore. Maybe the pain you've walked through has consumed you, and instead of facing it and walking through it with the Healer, it's become your identity, your constant narrative.

I have found myself being Negative Narrative Nancy in the business class of life more times than I'd like to admit, destroying the atmosphere of my home, workplace and even within myself. I have come into agreement with lies, circumstance, stress and negativity, letting it dictate what I see, feel, think and in turn, what I do. 

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Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. - Proverbs 4:23 NIV

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. - Proverbs 4:23 NLT

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. - Luke 6:45 NKJV

Everything I do and speak comes out of the abundance of what going on within my heart, which then determines the course of my life.

So let me ask you, on what narrative is your heart meditating? Because whatever it is, it will become your reality!

Our narrative starts in our thought life as a conscious or unconscious meditation, which, sinking down, becomes the meditation of our heart and, ultimately, our words and actions shaping our world.

I've had to be intentional to live aware of the negative or positive narratives playing out in my life. Sometimes I'm overreacting to turtles on the runway, and other times, I'm facing legitimate pain, trouble, trial, and problems in need of solutions. She Is Free: Learning The Truth About The Lies That Hold You Captive is an honest glimpse into my heart while on the journey of changing my negative narrative - a journey which I'm still on today and want to share with you. It’s messy, it’s real, but most of all, it’s wrapped in the Love of a Savior that has set me free in deeper ways than I ever imagined and continues to do so on a daily basis.

It's imperative that we take authority over our negative narrative, because it changes the course of our story here on earth, and this spills out into the lives of others. There are people out there that need your story. People on the other side of your wrestle for freedom that will thank you for bringing the Good News of what Jesus has done in you and for you, because He can and will do it for them too. 

Will you join me on the freedom journey?

My NEW book She Is Free is now available for pre-order. Plus you will receive amazing FREE bonuses if you pre-order by October 3!

I Used To Think I Was Stupid...

I just wrote a book, people! No ghost writer, no transcribing of sermons... I - WROTE - A - BOOK. All by myself. This girl who used to think she was stupid and inept with nothing to say. This girl who unfairly compared herself to her salutatorian sister and valedictorian brother. This girl who was born and raised in Spokane, Washington on the wrong side of the tracks, in a blue collar, working class family who went through seasons of life living on food stamps... I - WROTE - A - BOOK. This girl who got asked if she wanted to sign the "dumb rock" in high school, who was then petrified (no pun intended) to ask any further questions in case I looked like a fool... I WROTE A FREAKING BOOK! Take that, "dumb rock!"

Now before this becomes a prideful rant, let me take the "I" out of the equation and replace it with "we"...

This girl who has been abused, cornered, terrified, controlled, broken, ashamed, fearful, confronted, lied to, betrayed, cast aside, over-looked and unqualified... by the literal grace of God, with His love, tender nudge and whisper, truth and direction, through obedience, a multitude of tears while on my knees and a million and one little "yeses" - I wrote a book, no WE (Holy Spirit and I) wrote a book together.

Yesterday, I received the final proof to go through one last time for any final edits before it goes off to be printed. It's surreal. I keep looking at it as it sits here next to me on the couch with the morning sun shining down on it, like a new born baby fresh out of the womb. I keep thinking, "I actually did that. This college drop-out did that."

1 Corinthians 1:27 says, He uses the foolish things to confound the wise, and this fool, who may not be wise by human standards, or of noble birth, partnered with God and wrote something that I believe will bring His freedom and life to many. 

Truth be told, I'm a little tired, okay - a LOT tired - because my husband, 4 kids and the church that I'm leading didn't press pause while I sat and wrote my heart out. But in this bleary, puffy-eyed, tired state is an overjoyed momma (albeit in need of a caffeine drip).  

A momma who no longer believes she is stupid.

I'm overjoyed at what the time, tears, energy, early mornings, late nights, writing trips, encouragement from friends and family has produced - a little piece of the inheritance that I'm leaving to my children's children sits on the couch next to me in the morning sun and I feel the glorious weight of it all. I'm overwhelmed by the kindness of our God to love us and partner with us, in spite of us. It's profound. He sees us, the fullness of who He created us to be right in the middle of our mess, our brokenness, insecurity, lack of qualification, and takes us by the hand (if we'll let Him) and leads us down roads of destiny. 

This book, She is Free, is a little piece of my journey from brokenness to wholeness, and at its core is Jesus. The One who rescues me, loves me deeply in all of my flaws, has delivered me multiple times, held me when I hurt more than I knew was humanly possible and simply never gives up on me - ever.

"26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” - 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 NIV

So, in the first week of October when my book is released, I hope you'll invest in (or gift) a piece of freedom that will cause you to search your heart and go on a journey of discovery with the One who will never leave you or let you go.

Love, Andi

P.S. Here is a direct link to pre-order my book at Barnes and Noble!!!