A Vision of Vultures

vultures-circlingI had a strange dream the other night, which was more like a vision.  Looking out over my backyard, high above the tree line, was a circle of vultures against a bright, blue sky.  We see them occasionally here, and it usually means that something out there in the woods is dead.  I awoke and the Lord spoke to me ever so clearly.  In this vision, the dark vultures represented dark spirits, or the demonic host.  Daily they watch and circle, hovering over the unsaved souls of the earth, lost and dying in their sins.  They watch and wait, ready to devour each unbelieving and unsuspecting soul.  As soon as that poor lost one breathes his last earthly breath, they will dive in and grab hold, tormenting and picking him apart for all of eternity.

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  
(John 3:18)  

This vision and the revelation of its meaning was a vivid reminder of how urgently we must share the Good News of the life-saving Gospel of Jesus Christ!  It matters not who the person is, where they come from, or what they may have done.  We should pray and intercede for their salvation as urgently as we would pull them from a burning building!  Our hearts should ache for the lost, and our prayers should be that all will hear and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.  
(Revelation 20:15)

… to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the
power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an
inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me. 

(Acts 26:18)

The image is dark and frightening, and we should be frightened for anyone who does not know Christ as his/her Lord and Savior.  But as long as there is breath, there is hope!  Pray for your lost loved ones, and rebuke the power and influence of the enemy over their lives in Jesus’ Name!  May the Holy Spirit draw them to Himself, to be forgiven, and to live with Him in paradise forever and ever!  

For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.  
(Romans 10:13)

 

Daddy’s Glimpse of Heaven

heavenI’ve been seeing a lot of Facebook posts lately stating that seeing someone you love take their last breath is horrible, and an image you will never forget.  I disagree with the horrible part, as long as that person knows Jesus!  I was with both my grandfather and my mother as they each discarded their earthly bodies and entered into the presence of the Lord.  (2 Cor. 5:8)  Yes, I miss them!  Yes, it’s hard not being able to talk to them again.  But I am thankful that I was with them during those last few moments.  I did not get a chance to say good-bye to my Daddy, who passed away two weeks after I graduated from high school.  I SO wanted to have that chance to say a few more things to him… mostly how much I loved and appreciated him.  But I know where he is, and I know where my grandfather and my mother are!

You see, a few months before my Daddy died for real, he had one of those “near death” experiences as they call them.  Oh, he actually died alright, and he got a brief glimpse of heaven, speaking with Jesus Himself!  He had to come back for a short time, but he really didn’t want to.  Hearing his story gave me peace and comfort when he DID move on to his heavenly home that I otherwise would not have had.  It also gave me a greater peace when I lost my mother years later, and many other saved loved ones since.

So now I feel led to share my Daddy’s story – one of hope and strength and comfort and love, and NO FEAR!  I am writing it now, and pray it will comfort a multitude who have also lost loved ones.  Pray that I get it finished and printed quickly, for the need is great.

Shall I Whisper?

anxiety-and-depressionAnxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.  (Proverbs 21:25)

Though they seem like polar opposites, anxiety & depression often go hand-in-hand, and the Bible confirms that.  Did you know that anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications are some of the most often-prescribed drugs in America?  Did you know that anxiety and depression are the leading causes of drug abuse and subsequent addictions?  Did you know that there are many wonderful natural alternatives for treating both anxiety and depression?

We know that Jesus gives us His peace that passes understanding; and fills our hearts with joy unspeakable!  His Word is a lamp to our feet an a light to our paths.  (Psalm 119:105)  Our bodies were made for movement, and exercise is a natural anti-depressant.  Getting out in the sunshine is also a natural mood-lifter, as it supplies Vitamin D, which combats depression.  There are many things we can do to ease our anxiety as well:  deep breathing exercises, walking, and listening to soft music.

However, there is a new phenomenon out now that many doctors are recommending for calming anxiety, called “ASMR”.  That officially stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, which http://www.dictionary.com describes as:  “a calming, pleasurable feeling often accompanied by a tingling sensation.  This tingle is said to originate in a person’s head and spread to the spine (and sometimes the limbs) in response to stimulation.  The stimuli that trigger ASMR vary from person to person.  Some of the most common ones include whispers, white noise, having a person’s complete attention (as in having one’s hair cut by a hairdresser), as well as brushing, chewing, tapping, scratching, whispering and crinkling.”

There are a lot of strange and interesting ASMR videos out on YouTube, and many of them have reportedly helped thousands with insomnia.  Yes, I said thousands.  One particular young lady has over two million subscribers to her channel entitled “ASMR Darling”.

I have actually experienced these ASMR sensations before many times, but had no idea there was a name for it.  I certainly had no idea that people were making YouTube video’s to offer the same effect. Soft sounds such as the ticking of a clock, a gentle whisper or touch, or the sound of soft footsteps have been “triggers” for me.  Everyone loves pampering, and when someone brushes or plays with my hair…. well, you get it.  Having dealt with anxiety and insomnia myself, I checked out some of the ASMR videos, and am intrigued.

Admittedly, a few of them seem a bit strange, as I acclimate to watching a video of someone whispering to me.  Many of them mimic touching you (the camera) with gentle touches to the face, or hair.  For some, the sound of hair being brushed just does it for them.  Unfortunately, there are a few that seemed a bit too far out there, and the occasional one was a bit too “sensual” in nature for my taste.

I was thrilled to find some channels categorized as “Christian ASMR”.  Is this a real thing?  Is it safe for a Christian to expose themselves to?  Here we find soft whispering of actual scriptures being read.  Positive, calming affirmations from the Word of God truly does heal, and brings a peace and calm like nothing else.  My wheels began to turn.

I already do the occasional preaching/inspirational video.  I have a group on Facebook dedicated to natural health remedies, and counsel countless individuals struggling with anxiety and depression.  Should I make my own Christian ASMR videos?  Would you watch?

Stay tuned!

Raise Your Gaze!

robin beachI admit it:  I get homesick sometimes.  Some days this beach-girl misses the salt and sand so much I can hardly stand it.  I found myself longing for the past recently, and wondering, “What am I doing here?”

Over the last few days we’ve been doing some serious grading in our yard which has created quite the mess!  It has rained nearly every day since the new year, and the red clay of the upstate has turned to sludge-mud (which we could not even stand up in)… and it is EVERYWHERE!  Our clothes are stained, our boots are covered, and our white dog has turned orange.  Our patio, garage, and half of our towels are covered as well.  We have been digging holes and planting new trees and bushes, and I reflected back on our well-manicured lawn at our old house in Conway, replete with dozens of vibrant knock-out roses, white fence, and swimming pool in the back yard.  I mused that even the sandy dirt that our dog tracked in there was much easier to clean than this blessed red sludge!

backyard 4

This morning I stood at my kitchen window sipping my morning coffee, looking out over the back yard and the mess that had been created.  The sun was shining brightly upon the slow-drying square that Ed finally got leveled out yesterday.  Weather permitting, there will soon be a concrete pad poured over that mud pit, and a new pool erected that a precious neighbor is gifting us.  Eventually, we will pressure-wash all the mud off of the patio that we just recently laid down ourselves.  Yes, we do all these projects ourselves on our limited budget.  I raised my gaze up toward the back of the yard and there it was:  The remaining cross beam in the old, dilapidated house in the woods behind our property, standing tall and strong, overlooking our domain.

backyard 3

backyard 2

I smiled as I was instantly reminded that our Lord brought us to this place, and He is still with us.  He put us in this marvelous home just two days after selling our home in Conway.  We could not have asked for a nicer house on a safer street with any more privacy than where we are, moving into a city we knew absolutely nothing about!  Ed’s job is going better than ever, and I am slowly getting more part-time hours which helps, but still allows me time to write and hopefully return to fulltime preaching eventually.  He allowed the rain which softened the yard for our necessary digging, and has now brought out the sun and gentle breezes so we may dry out (and recover) from our tedious (and messy) labors.  He truly is in complete control of this thing, and I need not worry nor fret, nor long for the “days of old”.  He did not lead us this far to desert us; He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us.

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you
have.  For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
(Hebrews  13:5)

So let me encourage you today that no matter how discouraged you may be; no matter how dreary things may look; no matter how dirty and stained your life may seem right now…  RAISE YOUR GAZE!  Lift up your eyes and know that God has this, and He has you!  He watches over you day and night, and truly is in complete control.  Surrender every aspect of your life to Him, and breathe easy.  Stop looking down at your situation, your problems, and your mess.  Don’t focus on the muck beneath your feet, but raise your gaze, and release your praise!  The God of this universe who created the sand and the mud, and the luscious green grass, the rain and the sun, the beaches, the mountains and the tall trees of the forests, has you, dear child, in the palm of His hand.  You are an intricate part of His amazing plan for the ages.

I will lift up my eyes to the hills – from whence comes my help?  My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.  He will not allow your
foot to be moved;  He who keeps you will not slumber.
(Psalm 121:1-3)

 

 

Am I There Yet?

journey-week-2-blog-picRalph Waldo Emerson penned the famous declaration, “Life is a journey, not a destination.”  Stephen Tyler of Aerosmith brought the phrase to a new generation when he recorded it in a hit song back in the 90’s.  Today, this sentiment still rings true for me, as it should for you!

My Facebook Memories reminded me that “on this day” seven years ago, I began a new job at Novant Health in Winston-Salem as an Insurance Specialist.  This fulltime gig came with great pay and benefits, and I was set!  The secure position within this large corporation enabled me to purchase a new car; something I had not been able to do for some time.  I made friends quickly as I learned a new side of the industry.  Within weeks I was clearing my accounts and getting nods from my supervisor.  I was able to tithe generously to the small church I was pastoring, and life was good.  I started squirreling away money into the company’s 401(k), and I determined that this would be my spot until retirement.  This would actually work out well for me!

My new friend and trainer who sat next to me began to tell me how she used to work for one of the insurance companies that we at the hospital had to contact on a regular basis. Imagine my surprise when I learned that this same insurance company (Tricare) had a large office located in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina!  What a dream that would be, to work for that insurance company and live at my most favorite place in the whole world!  But I was set, and that was only a dream.

About six months later I visited my long-time friend down at Myrtle Beach and attended her church that Sunday morning.  I was introduced to several of her church friends, including a sweet lady who worked in the Human Resources Department of the Tricare office!  Was that a coincidence, or a divine appointment?  We exchanged emails and kept in touch for a few months.  And then I got the call:  “We’re hiring!”

I applied online, and scored an interview that November.  I was hired in December, and in January I returned to my beloved Myrtle Beach.  I was now taking calls from Novant Health and other facilities, having been trained on the flip side of the industry.  If not for my friend and co-worker at Novant, I would not have even known about Tricare’s office there.  Had I not gone to church with my beach-bestie, I would not have met the friend in their Human Resources office.  I had a fulltime job and was living in Myrtle Beach.  I was set!

I quickly settled in at church and as a minister, offered to coordinate a new Singles’ ministry there.  Later that summer, August 11, 2013 to be exact, the pastor had me stand up as he introduced me to the congregation, inviting any “unmarried” men and women to talk with me after the service.  Imagine my surprise when a tall, dark and handsome man approached me, asking, “Are you Robin?”  I wanted to respond with, “Are you SINGLE?” but I kept my composure.  That is the day I met the man I would fall in love with, and marry a year later.  We bought a house and a boat, and we were set!

We enjoyed beach life for five years, and then the Lord opened a door through my husband’s work for us to relocate again, out to Lake Hartwell.  We sold our home in just 24 hours, and bought our new house at the lake two days later.  It was a whirlwind move, but we will soon celebrate our second year here in the upstate of South Carolina!  Are we set and settled?  Only the good Lord knows.  But I have learned that each new thing, each new job, each new address, is a divine appointment and glorious stop on this journey we call “life”.  Each new opportunity is not a dead-end, but rather an unforeseen portal into the next great adventure!  I have also learned that while I love each and every place I have lived, this world is not my home.  I’m just traveling through, and making the most of every mile along this incredible journey!

So be encouraged!  That job, that house, that neighbor, that contact, that random stranger on the street…might just be a hidden stepping stone toward something unimaginable!

 

 

 

 

My Heaven on Earth

murrells inletI haven’t shared many beach pictures lately because we no longer live on the coast. But master photographer Dan Thompkins (Southern Living Photography) captured this amazing shot of my most favorite place on earth: Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. It’s considered the “Seafood Capital of South Carolina”, and home to the famous “Marshwalk” and the best seafood restaurants around. It’s the launching place of deep-sea fishing excursions, jet-ski rentals, and more.

But for me it has long been my prayer garden. The sunrise over this magical place is brilliant, but so is the moonlight dancing on the water at 2:00 a.m. It’s the place where my mother lived with my step-dad Cliff during some of the happiest days of her life. It’s where Cliff took my young nephews to spotlight alligators. It’s where I bonded with my step-sister, Ronna.  I spent hours upon hours walking these shores with my mother, and also alone with God. It’s where I got baptized in the Holy Ghost. It’s where I met AND married the great love of my life, Edward Leitch.  It’s where Ed and I came face-to-face with a giant sea turtle swimming alongside our boat. It’s where I sat in a boldly-painted rocking chair, listening to steel-drum music while watching the goats and peacocks frolic on the island across the way.

Yes, to some it’s just a grassy body of water opening up to the mighty Atlantic ocean. To me, it’s a piece of heaven on earth. God willing, we’ll be camping there soon.

Resting at Rock Bottom

rock bottomWe are all too familiar with the term “Rock Bottom”.  It conjures up images of rocky terrain in the valleys winding through desolate deserts. We may visualize the fallen person as sitting on the rocky floor of a deep, dark well, having lost all hope of rescue.   Nobody ever desires to hit “rock bottom”, as it is perceived to be the worst place a person could ever land.  And yet many of us have found ourselves right there.

We all go through various trials and tribulations along life’s journey.  But rock bottom happens when everything seems to fall apart at once.  Think of poor Job in the Old Testament.  That godly man hit rock bottom with a loud thud!  He lost his children, his wealth and livelihood, and then his health.  Even his wife told him that he should just curse God and die!  (Job 2:9)

Rock bottom happens when we lose our jobs; when our spouse cheats on us or leaves us; when a child dies; when we lose our homes; when we lose our health.  My husband and I both experienced rock bottom moments years before we met.  But we both can shout and testify that those rock bottom moments were the moments we had to depend on the Lord 100%.  We each renewed our faith and emerged healed, filled and delivered!  Divorce and foreclosure, the deaths of parents and a child, and simultaneous job losses found each of us (at respective points in our lives) lying face down on that cold, hard surface of circumstances.  That lonely desolate place where all hope seemed lost is where the Savior Himself reached down and held us, promising to never leave us nor forsake us.  (Hebrews 13:5)  Although it seemed that everyone had left us, Jesus was right there… even at rock bottom.

I Googled images of “rock bottom” and retrieved a plethora of desert photos, mountains and valleys, and even a few cave openings.  Yet in almost every picture captured, no matter the surrounding terrain, at the very bottom there was water:  a stream, a river, or a lake.  The Lord immediately spoke to me saying, “I AM the river in the desert.  I AM the Living Water.  If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me.”  (Is. 43:19-20, John 4:10, John 7:37)  “I AM your rest and refreshing.  Lean on Me, and be healed and filled with my Spirit.  My joy shall be your strength.  I AM your hope of Glory.”  (Mark 6:31, Acts 3:19, Psalm 147:3, Neh. 8:10, Col. 1:27)

My friend, if you have found yourself at rock bottom, it makes no difference what chain of events may have dropped you there.  I know your fall was great, and painful.  I know it seems lonely and desolate where you lay.  But this is not your end.  You shall live and not die.  This is your time to reflect, to seek, and to heal.  Cast all of your cares upon Him, for He cares for you!  (1 Peter 5:7)  May you be refreshed and strengthened in Christ Jesus.  Your rock bottom is not a desolate grave, but rather a launching pad.  Get up and look up, for your redemption is nigh!  Cling closely to the Lord Jesus, and He will raise you up – healed, filled and delivered!  Rise up and walk again!