For my introduction to this new chapter, I thought it would be fun to get your creative juices flowing by giving you a puzzle to solve. Its actually a visual challenge that reveals and supports the title of this story.
I was thinking about all the times we go to the dentist or doctor’s office and even though we are punctual and arrive right on time, there always seems to be a time of waiting. Throughout the busy waiting room, upon the tables and racks there are a sundry of magazines to help keep your mind occupied as you wait. These pictorial periodicals also serve as a diversion, ( if you are at all like me,) from feelings of anxiety that usually accompany us as we visit these two kinds of daunting , intimidating and ghastly medical edifices. (OK, maybe not totally ghastly, but definitely unpleasant to the senses.) In People magazine, I always look for their amusing brainteaser to see if I can guess all the answers before my time is up. Placed before you are two , (almost identical photographs, side by side.) The catch is to find within the second picture, all the new minor details that they have added or taken away from the first photo. (To find out if you have correctly guessed them all, you can turn the page upside down to see all the answers.) Not so on a computer.
This puzzle is a little different. In observing the 15 photographs below, see if you can come up with the common-denominator between them all and the message they send.
OK, I will give you a small hint. The answer to this puzzle is found in either the photo alone, or the photo and what is next to it.
Did you come to a conclusion yet? If not, you can scroll over the photographs and find more clues!
Or, you can read the answer below!
Each one of the inventions within these photographs are things that have been created, that add wonderful benefits to our lives, yet each inspired and prolific product can not operate by or within itself. It is dependent upon something besides itself to be utilized , thus bringing forth the fulfillment and purpose it was designed for. This answered puzzle brings great enlightenment to this next chapter, number 42 .
“I am the vine; you are the branches. The one abiding in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit. For apart from Me you are able to do nothing.” ~ John 15:5
When we first say “yes” to Jesus, our entire world changes. Before Jesus makes Himself alive to us and dwells within us, there is a knowing that deep within our souls and spirits, a void exists. Its as if we cognize and discern that we were meant to be filled with something, but are not sure exactly what that ‘something’ is. It is all a mystery until that divine moment in time when Jesus enters into our hearts and we are brimming over with an extraordinaire, lulling sensation of KNOWING, once and for all, we are finally HOME, SAFE and FULLY SECURE , with a peace that we have never known, flowing throughout our entire being.
It all makes perfect sense as the Lord is our creator, giving us the gift of life as He forms us within our mothers womb, preparing us (and our parents ) for our grand entry into this world, (surely, one of His many incalculable miracles.) Our spiritual life, (the one that is timeless, never ending and for all eternity,) transpires when we call upon the name of Jesus as our LORD and REDEEMER.) Of course God already knew we would choose Jesus, when He chose us before the foundations of the world to be His. At this amazing time within our lives, we are no longer a vacant, devoid vessel, that is frail, gossamer and easily broken as we’ve been totally dependent upon our own goodness, works and abilities, but instead, we begin blooming, becoming a glorious house, an anointed carrier and holy vessel of Jesus, one that is overflowing with His glory , honor, strength and empowerment.
When I think about God our Father and the fact that HE is timeless, with no beginning and no end, I have to say it is at the top of my list of totally boundless and abysmal truths in Gods word. The second one on my checklist is within my next paragraph, about JESUS. (And we know that Jesus and God are one!) In knowing that even if I tried to comprehend and understand these truths all day long, I would not get any further in my quest to conceive or decipher them, but instead, just end up with an Excedrin headache , where my brain feels as if it has completely gone into overdrive. (BUT, I KNOW they are true.)
In the beginning, (before all time) was the Word (JESUS CHRIST), and the WORD was with God, and the word was God Himself. (Isa. 9:6) He was PRESENT ORIGINALLY with GOD. All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him was not even one thing made that came into being. IN HIM was LIFE, and the LIFE was the LIGHT OF MEN. (John 1:1-4
(He,) God and Jesus, knew us before we were created by Him within our mothers womb. Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.”you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”
ALL I CAN SAY IS WOW!
We all have a resplendent, inspiring story to share about the time and place we came to Jesus and were ‘saved.’ I still believe that one of the most spectacular and riveting moments in time we can ever see or experience with loved ones, is the day they come to the Lord…(and to be honest with you, its still an awesome experience even if you don’t know the person, but you are there and are able to witness them as they come to Jesus.)
I can visualize the Lord looking upon all of His kids…as He views us, I believe He sees us as precious gems. Each of us, an eminently distinct size and shape with colors that we have yet to discover or name here upon earth. We shine in His eyes as He looks at how each of us has become the perfect stone that He has desired. He knows our every story, every trial, our midnight hours, specific wounds , glorious triumphs and how we have all , by the power of Jesus, been transformed into the glorious vessels He had in mind for us to be all along. It is liberating to know that our father in heaven sees us through Jesus Christ ~ the grace of God and not with all of the unclean, undone areas within our lives that create feelings of being less than, unrighteous and undeserving of Him. He sees us pure as He sees Jesus in us, who is our righteousness, life source, and the only good within us . He desires to change and fill us to be used on this earth to bring Glory to Himself. We were chosen before the foundations of the world and we are phenomenally blessed to belong to Him.
During this next season in our lives, our spirits were filled to overflowing with the Lord’s presence and peace. It came as no surprise when He shared with us the next prodigious endeavor He had in mind for us. (It was a little different than what I had imagined, but I knew we were ready.) Even though the Lords desire was for the two of us, I would be spending more of my time in fulfilling the commission as Kit had a business to run. But in the beginning, we spent many a hour unitedly starting our quest from the Lord and it truly was one of the most precious and intimate times that Kit and I have ever experienced together in the spirit.
I had believed for quite some time that the Lord had spoken to me on several occasions throughout the years, through both His Rhema and written words, that as we walked through this journey with Him, “His wondrous works in our lives would be published.” I, of course being ‘myself,’ with a mind that often jumps to conclusions of ‘what I think God means,’ presupposed that He was telling me that one day I would write a book. (Thus I was thinking that this undertaking would be a long way off as writing and publishing a book usually occurs over an extended, outstretched period of time.) So, I was a little taken aback when He spoke to me that His desire was for me to create a website with Kits help and begin sharing all that He had done within our journey thus far, as well as many more chapters of all He had yet to do. It would not be a paperback or hard cover book, but an E-book… (I never would have guessed that in a million years.) Was I a little nervous? Apprehensive? Excited? YES to all three! But I knew deep down that I was READY as I knew it would not be me writing this story, but the Lord within me… Each page would be filled with His thoughts and the abundance of His awesome and miraculous works, as it really was all His story to tell...I was just the vessel He was choosing to use.
Coming up with the title for our story was easy as I had been praying and thinking about it for years while I was writing and journaling about our sojourn on any piece of paper I could find at the time as well as on our laptop. I had placed all my typed “rough drafts” from the computer within a sundry of notebooks since day one, when God gave us the vision and called us to one day have a retreat home for His kids.
I felt “Journey to My Fathers heart” was a profoundly perfect title as I knew this journey had an ambiguous finale. One aspect of it was the reality of actually having the retreat home one day , decorating and preparing it as He has told us to , (thats one of the “acts of obedience” I can hardly wait for,) and serving as the hosts for all those He would bring. We knew that in obeying His call, we would be signing on for an enthralling, riveting and timely , heavenly expedition. It would be a home of His choice , given to us by His hand, along with His bounty to provide for each of His guests to be able to stay and be ministered to free of charge. In being the hosts , we know that our lives are going to incredibly change, and though it will all be new to us, ( a life so different from how we have lived thus far,) Kit and I have a peace as well as a knowing that we will be fulfilled, enriched, blessed and one-hundred percent ready as that is just how God is. His timing and preparation for every call He gives His children is perfect. The second facet of what this title means to Kit and I, which I cherish now more than I ever have, is that this pilgrimage with God, over all the many years of walking in faith and obedience to His every word, has graced us , and will continue to bestow upon our lives a precious and cherished gift of intimacy with the heart of our Father in heaven. We did not possess the love and closeness with the Lord that we do today, when we first began this sojourn. Our knowledge of the Fathers heart has become advantageously more intense, deeper as well as felicitously authentic. It is truly a gift Kit and I prize as individuals as well as husband and wife.
Both parts of this journey, imbue entirely different bestowals at the finish line , with much of Gods reward already being given along the way. Someone Kit and I respect and regard highly told me one day; “Susan, you and Kit are already doing what God has called you to do…no, you don’t have the promised home yet, but I see the ministry God has called you to, already pouring out of the both of you.” Another person in our Delaware family shared with us one evening during a gathering; “Your journey will not end when your promise of the home arrives and you’re actually hosting Gods home by the water. You will then take flight on yet another new journey with the Lord. Your growth and intimacy with Jesus will only flourish and prosper as the two of you are hosting the home and fulfilling His promise with your dependency upon Him becoming eminently stronger and your faith in Him much deeper. You will be blessed with even more knowledge of His Fathers heart of love, grace and mercy for His children. ” It is times like these that Kit and I are continuously filled with such an overflow of gratitude for the friends God has given us in life and how He brings them ‘at just the right time’ to bring encouragement, hope and edification. We have tucked their words away within our hearts as they embolden and inspire our spirits as we run this race.
So, the title was hands-down very simple, but beginning the story, brought me a bit of conundrum. After praying (and I’m “talkin” FERVENTLY praying) I felt the Lord say; ” Start at the beginning and trust Me to take you through every step, from beginning to end. Your job is to seek Me, be available, and allow my Spirit to guide you each time you begin to write.” His words to my spirit brought a hushed peace within and all of the feelings of being overwhelmed began to vanish . I, within myself, could not write our story , (really His story,) capturing all of Gods miraculous works over all the numerous years. There were so many seasons to share about…our times of miraculous triumphs, many a prophetic word, ( some warnings, others filled with encouragement,) dreams, visions, a few “midnight hours”, road blocks, dying to things we truly believed God had said to us, times of His silence and times of His presence being so intense, it was if He was actually there, standing next to us in person! But God knew every second of our pilgrimage, every single detail! He would show me, remind me and guide my every thought! Again, He calmed me by placing my trust back in Him and not in myself… (Reminding me of what this very chapter is about.) Jesus is the vine, we are the branches… We are the heart, Jesus is our heartbeat, He is our source of life, we can do nothing outside of Him, but in Him (and totally because of Him,) we will bear majestic fruit, divine success and His glory will be magnificently revealed. Another passage that I love and rely upon often is Psalm 127;1 “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” I have learned , (OK, I am still learning,) to never embark on a task of any kind without KNOWING it is truly from the Lord…The consequences are not heartening, gratifying or rewarding, but instead, as my husband Kit would say “a big, OOPS!” or in the enthralling language of the Spanish, “No Muy Bien.”
In preparation of knowing that this was going to be my new job for awhile, I got out all my boxes of journals, my notebooks of writings and placed them before the Lord, asking Him to point out the things He desired me to share in our story. As you can guess, it was a very busy year… I had friends and family saying ; “I never hear from you anymore like I use to,” or “You never have time like you use to talk for hours on the phone.” I smile as I look back at it now, because it really was a radical change within my life. I was so caught up in research, rough drafts, as well as an abundance of prayer. (And of course, continuously writing like crazy.) I lost all consciousness of time, not realizing that 6 or 7 hours had flown by and it was time to cook dinner, but I was having the time of my life with Jesus, doing one of the very things He created me to do. Reading Gods Rhema words to us, reminiscing over all the adventures the Lord had taken us through, all the answered prayers and having the time to freely write, with no guilt as it was His heart for me and what He desired me to be doing with my time. It was a time of bliss. I realized that unless someone is a writer themselves, it is hard for them to imagine the hours behind even one chapter. (I know Graham didn’t have a clue and not to hurt his feelings, but he was not in agreement that I was suppose to be at my desk all day long… We had many a battle, with a winning score held by me but only by a point or two.) ( I eventually reached a peaceful balance with this new job , learning how to manage my time with the new changes, and enjoyed those long talks with friends and family (and Grantham.) Once again, my world was blessed with a harmonious counterpoise.
As I was sharing earlier, Kit and I were tremendously blessed in working together on our exciting assignment from the Lord. It turned into a “date day” every Sunday from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. Our meeting place? Kits study with a junoesque, panoramic view of our Brobdingnagian, (as you can tell, I just love that word.) backyard, nestled next to the undomesticated woods and quaint meadow flourishing with hundreds of climbing ivy vines and a sundry of wildflowers in bright yellow, baby blues and rich shades of plum. Once we got started, ( in our cozy , relaxed weekend attire,) we made sure the ringer was turned off, agreed not to answer the door, lit a few candles, chose one of our favorite comedy DVD’s to put on for background noise and lastly, I brought out a freshly baked sour cream cinnamon coffee cake to accompany Kits delicious , steaming hot lattes. Grantham, already finished with his morning walk , his breakfast and a few treats in his tummy, was totally chilling out, while we began our hours of creating! We each had our individual jobs to do during the week before sitting down together. Kit, the “Sage Web-Master” that he is, built the site for “Journey” as well as completed the programing codes for us to begin forming the appearance of each page. We both chose the ideal font as well as the cover page, that fit our hearts desire to a “T” to display our “headline” for our pilgrimage and adventures with the Lord. Everything was primed for the body of our story to be placed within it’s designed showcase. My job had been to write the introduction and first chapter and choose all the photos I wanted to be implemented within the body of our Internet novella. Kits pursuit was to mellifluously bring it altogether. My favorite part was working together with all of the pictures I had meticulously chosen for the website. (So very close to our hearts!) Kit would study each photograph, fastidiously discerning the precise shade of each color to frame our photographs in, and then place the complete and accomplished “Kodak moment” within just the right spot. We were having so much fun…the 4 hours flew by so quickly. I would always urge kit to let us keep going but he kept me grounded (with all my excitement,) to stick to our plan, (4 hours of work,) inveigling me with a medley of enticing invitations to go and see a matinée, take Graham to the River-walk and get a coffee or lastly, give our minds a repose, stay in and kick-back and rent a movie, get some Brie cheese and a fresh sourdough baguette. How could I resist! . God already knew this would be a very special and anointed time of Kit and I working together and I pause at times when I am writing now and smile, thinking about all of the august and magnificent moments we shared together putting Journey part one up , as I miss those days so much . As you already know, I am writing on Journey part two now as Kit taught me how to build and operate my own website so I am going solo with the Lord as I write and create each chapter…But Kit is still my Guinea pig , as I grab him every chance I can to get his ingenious opinions on the photos he likes best, if I am using the right phrases and if my title is the right one for what I am trying to convey!
God continued to bless us with a season that was graced with an abundance of peace and His unmerited favor. Besides beginning Journey, Vito asked Kit and I if we would like to host His bible study in our home. We were very touched, honored and of course said yes! Besides Vito’s exuberant love for Jesus, I think a delicious home cooked meal came in a close second ! Vito would arrive between 4:30 and 5:00 PM, at least 2 hours before the study began at 7:00 PM. OK, FIRST THINGS FIRST! Before Vito could come in and settle down to even talk to Kit or I, he would have to spend at least 15 minutes with Grantham. In being aware of the “language of a dogs tail,” I knew Graham was feeling an unrestrained extreme joy as his tail was oscillating in triple mode. He was running circles around Vito, vigorously bouncing up and down like an inflated, gigantic kaleidoscopic beach ball. (I would say ‘tennis ball’ but Graham was big, (Herculean big,) weighing in at 150 pounds.) Then came all the kisses… (In which some people do not appreciate, but not so with Vito, he loved them.) Kisses have two major meanings to our Grantham. One of them being his way of expressing his hearts boundless love and devotion, the other , his desire to be the center of their attention, ( and I mean exclusive and undivided attention.) We knew the finale had arrived when Graham calmed down a bit, laid on his back, paws and belly up, (his way of inviting Vito to give him one of his favorite things in all the world, ‘A TUMMY RUB!’ Needless to say, the two of them shared a very unique and special bond , so much so that we had to stop saying Vito’s name in our home the days he was not coming over, or else Grahammy would be looking for him all day long! (All of us who are dog lovers, know exactly what kind of day that would be for non canines in the home.) Finally, Vito and Kit enjoyed an hour or so of ” guys time” in Kits study.” (The man cave.) Kit would get his espresso machine out and make a few lattes, (Vito’s favorite being hazelnut!) The two of them would take a moment to exhale, relax, share about their day , pray together or sometimes I could hear them researching on the Internet together. It gave me time to finish up dinner and get ready for all the others arriving for bible study. (Plus I loved the fact that Kit and Vito were so close and enjoying such a much needed time of fellowship.)
I had more fun thinking up what special menus to create for the three of us each Wednesday evening. I really believe the Lord was giving us a “mini taste ” of what it will be like when Kit and I have our prayer retreat home. I love how every time Vito sat down to dinner, he would say, “Here I am again, just suffering for Jesus.” He brought so much love and warmth to our home and Kit and I felt so special to have him all to ourselves for that relished hour. Some of Vito’s favorite dinners were my moms recipe for home made spaghetti, Steak Chimichangas, Chicken Alfredo, Beef Stroganoff and buffalo chicken salad. (Not to mention the sweet indulgence*s of carrot cake, Neighbors chocolate cake or home made cookies for dessert.) I am getting so hungry just writing about these scrumptious dishes.
Vito’s teachings on the grace of God took me back to our days in Kits home state of Arizona, where we lived for 9 years… Now, I had told the Lord once, (after visiting Kits family there, and totally not being a cactus and rock kind of girl,) that I would NEVER live in AZ. So BIG LESSON HERE! ” Never say never to God.” 9 whole long years! BUT, God blessed us with one of the most wonderful spirit filled” churches in Mesa Arizona, with the senior pastor being Gary Kinnaman , now a renowned author and speaker, as well as serving as a pastor at large, mentoring and networking church, government and market place leaders to serve the Phoenix area. Before Kit and I left this church after many years, the attendance at Word of Grace was up to 4,500 on a weekly basis. (Which says a lot about how many people were searching to hear and understand GODS GRACE.) While pastoring the church, Gary’s motto was “JESUS PLUS NOTHING!” I believe it still is! His teachings are the only thing I can even begin to compare to Vito’s in depth bible studies on the grace of God through Jesus Christ. I truly believe that one can never understand or learn enough about Gods grace as our minds have been so conditioned since birth, that we naturally think the opposite of the way Gods grace operates. As I look back in hindsight over those 9 years in the desert country, (even though at first, I was not a ‘happy camper,’ ) there really are so many beautiful areas within this desert state. Scottsdale, Sedonna, The Grand Canyon and the Lord was so gracious to me, (as Kit, unlike myself, loved the desert,) to always provide a home for us that had beautiful, green grass and an abundance of trees. But the best part about living there was attending Word of Grace as the church became our family. Gary’s teachings, wonderful sense of humor, felicitous holiday fete’s he blessed us with as well as the many spectacular guest speakers he brought in to bless us with, created a desire in the entire congregation to never to miss a single week. One of my favorite events was Steven Fry and his dance team that graced our church with their performance of “Thy Kingdom Come.” Their anointed, incredibly talented, and deeply touching artistic presentation was truly coequal to a Broadway performance, leaving us all on our feet, delivering a standing ovation as well as an abundance of praise to God. I am so glad Arizona was a place the Lord had us lay down some roots for awhile and ever grateful for all the many life long friends He bestowed upon our lives.
I thought we had a pretty good handle in our understanding of Gods grace , but after meeting Vito and sitting under his ministry for years as well as living with he and Lillian for 13 months, (watching this man live , mirroring all of the truths he taught, in everything he did daily,) we both knew there was so much more to learn. Kit and I were not only awashed in the mystery of Gods grace through Jesus, we were saturated, submerged and afloat! Vito’s teachings were so abstruse, profound and extremely difficult to grasp with any part of the natural mind. Sometimes he would spend weeks on just one passage. There were times, jokingly, (well for the most part kidding, ) I would ask someone to please hit me in the head so I could wrap my brain around what he was teaching. (All of the others attending the study had been coming to Vito’s teachings for many years and am sure knew exactly how I felt. ) They would smile and chuckle and at the same time, try to encourage me, but I was seriously struggling and utterly frustrated, as I wanted so badly to grasp and get a hold of these life changing truths as I knew they would bring me into a place of greater intimacy with the Lord. The breakthrough in being able to receive it all could not come fast enough, but I knew it had to be revealed by the Lord to my spirit as it was not like attending a college class where in taking notes and listening, the natural mind is sufficient enough to comprehend the teaching. These deep teachings from Gods word were from His spirit to our spirits. (As 1 Corinthians 2:10 tells us.) Kit and I grew in ‘giant strides’ as our faith monumentally changed under Vito’s anointing. His unconditional love and friendship to us blessed our lives beyond expression. (And yes, I finally “got it”, but I am more convinced than ever that GRACE is an aspect of God that we will continue to learn and truly grasp the rest of our lives.)
After each study, while enjoying endless cups of coffee, and a yummy sweet indulgence, we all had more fun together, thoroughly enjoying our social time , excitingly fellowshipping with one another, sharing the sundry of both good and “perhaps not so good” events of our week. It did not happen often, but I have to tell you , (and in a way it made me feel better as I did not feel so alone in my struggles,) that there were a few times over the years , perhaps a handful, that other peoples cages got a “little rattled” in their inability to decipher and grasp Vito’s teachings. But I liken our group to a gathering of people similar to the last few contestants standing in the American Idol Reality show as they at times were exhausted and burnt out. It was so moving to hear their judges inspire them, pushing them forward to fulfill their goals, saying; “YOUR IN IT TO WIN IT.” Ours, an entirely different marathon to win and accomplish. We fervently desired to capture Gods life changing truths, to be triumphant in running the race to fathom and behold Gods grace that He has called us to and Vito was the gift God gave us in this season, endowed by the Lord with such a special, unique ministry. Sure, we all had our moments of wanting to give our minds a vacation, but had to be reminded, as I wrote earlier, the truth will be REVEALED to our spirits from GOD’S SPIRIT. The Lord is the one who truly causes us to HEAR His truth. It is just so hard to wait, isn’t it? Vito would always simile, (he had twinkling eyes like my father,) love us with the love of Jesus and was anomalously patient with each of us, offering to stay as late as anyone wanted to help us in our desire to indisputably KNOW GODS TRUTH. As I looked around the room, I got “warm fuzzies” inside as I was overwhelmed with gratitude to the Lord for giving Kit and I such a loving, caring and incredibly amazing family. We were filled with such a deep joy and fulfillment in the ability to “give back’ to all of those who had taken us in as family, supporting our calling and had become such intimate friends. Wednesday nights had become one of our favorite evenings of the week, and I believe it was the same for everyone as many an evening, some of our friends did not leave until after 11:00 PM. (We all hated for the night to end.)
In closing, I pray you will be blessed with a few of Kits and my favorite passages on the grace of God, Jesus Christ, as well as a song by Steven Curtis Chaplin.
Ephesians 2, 4-10 ~
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
2nd Corinthians 9: 8 ~
And God is able to MAKE ALL GRACE abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things may have an abundance for every good work.
Romans 3:24 ~ Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
***This song and video is a perfect example of the message of this chapter… A great inspiration as well as reminder of JUST HOW MUCH we need JESUS! ENJOY!
We are the dancers, HE IS THE LORD OF THE DANCE.
***PHOTOGRAPHS; In scrolling your computer mouse upon any of the photos or graphics, it will reveal to you where the picture originated from.