Christmas Is Now!

Over this Christmas week, Marvin and I will enjoy this glorious season – family, friends, celebration! (Be back blogging in one week.)

Marvin Debra Christmas

Christmas is now. I don’t always relish tradition or media infused images of how Christmas should be or could be in my life. Life’s changing nature often brings with it a different movement of Christmas for me year by year. Some years are a bit traditional. Other years are more spontaneous or random. That’s life. So I rest in Christmas, now, and enjoy it without any self-imposed expectations.

I found myself saying to Marvin last week, “Christmas just doesn’t feel like Christmas this year.’ Then I had this aha moment of how incredibly ridiculous that sounded. How is Christmas exactly supposed to feel? What defines this glorious season? Christmas is about birth, life, and glory in Christ. Life moves and changes so why don’t I just move with it, finding joy in the moment of this season? That changed everything for me.

Christmas Tree

I choose to view Christmas as now, for that is what it is for me. Christmas moves around me with its own way, its own beauty, and wonder, right where I am, today. I won’t let tradition dictate my course of action, but allow Christmas to be Christmas, wherever I am and whomever I am with at the time. There is no perfect Christmas. There is only the message of its beauty and grace and glory in Christ Jesus. Christmas is now for me.

Peace On Earth Ornament

Images try to form in my head this month dictating the perfect Christmas – media shows me what I need to buy, how I need to look, or what I need to do. Those happy pictures of people shopping in malls loaded down with gifts. Families gathering around Christmas trees, smiling filled with an innocence and sweet perfection. Christmas music playing.  Those invasive templates can make or break you. You can see that it is an illusion. Or, you can fall prey to their schemes and get depressed over your apparent lack – financially, relationally, and spiritually.

Santa Candy Cane

I choose to take control over it all and declare, “Christmas is now”. And in seeing  its beauty now, I can relax and enjoy the season in my way. Whether I lack finances or have plenty. Whether I am surrounded by many people or are alone or with one other person. Whether I can feel anything or not. Whether I even have a tree or not. Christmas is not defined by any of that. Christmas is Christ and no matter how much they try to remove Him from the equation, there is no Christmas without Christ. In that respect, you have it all. I have it all. He is all.

Christmas is now and each year is a vivid reminder of its inherent glory in the awesome reality that a child, a King, a Savior, the Christ lives in me so Christmas is alive in me now and everyday. In Him I find joy and peace amidst the chaos and changing conditions of life. He alone rises above every false expectation or grand illusion about Christmas. Jesus Christ is alive and His life is flowing through me, right now. It is a time to be filled with joy for joy is not based on the external but rooted and grounded in Jesus Christ. I leave you with a prayer from my heart.

Joy To The World

May this Christmas awaken you to the reality of the season, Jesus Christ. His great love for us is so wide, so deep, so grand that our hearts cannot begin to comprehend its depth. How He loves us so! May His love flow as an ocean’s wave into the depth of your circumstances, into the reality of your life right now. Rise up from everything that seeks to entangle you in cynicism or negativity. Rise up in the beauty of joy and the simplicity of His love for you. Look past the ordinary to experience the extraordinary wave of His love for each of us.

Merry Christmas to each of you!

Debra Westbrook

Creative Expression – Gravity

This morning, sitting, just sitting. Nothing going on. No great thoughts. Just the simplicity of the stillness. I entered into that beautiful stillness in Christ and kept hearing this song, Gravity, which I have loved for some time now. Just the feel of the song. Its sound stirs something in my life. Its notes take me to a place where I feel like I am soaring, above that which can cause me regret, above that which can pull me down into a place where I don’t want to be, into anything that tethers or tries to hold me back. This is just some prophetic musings today. So why don’t you listen to the song and then just read some words of encouragement from my heart to yours.

It really is time to leave regret behind, any regret that tethers you to its expectations and requirements, demands or regulations. To regret is to consistently rewrite the script in your life that says you could have done it better or said it better or lived it better. What if you couldn’t? There are always others involved in the equation. What if you did all you could and you find yourself re-living it over and over and over? That is the effects of gravity. It pulls you back to that place of constriction, that place where you look up, knowing you were meant to fly but you are always tethered to something or someone or some place or some situation by the regret of what could have been but wasn’t, what should have been, but never actually got there. Is that you? Is it me?

Perhaps it is the overflow of this song touching my heart this day. These prophetic stirrings in my heart today are for you and me. Jesus Christ in me is bursting my heart wide open to allow this to flow, without any preplanned agenda but just a creative bent, a creative passion to do something different other than the mundane. So, out comes these words of encouragement for you and for me.

In Christ, I am seated in heavenly places, above the pull of gravity and its effects – the chaos of life, the constant disruptions to my forward progression, the effects that small disruptions have on my life day by day, things that just did not pan out. Yet, seated in Christ, opens up the vistas to see beyond what I can see when regret tethers me to its constant demands in my life. So, today I soar. Do you? I hope so.

I have lived in the box of demands for so long – what demands? Those demands that cried out from deep within that I, like you, have tried to silence, but they are still there until I realize that in Christ, I am above the effects of gravity, whether I want to believe it or not. That is why, even to this song, I can soar to its freedom sound in my life. It is a freeing sound in my life.

Who knows where this bit of creativity will take me? After all it is just a simple song that may mean nothing to you. But it stirred prophecy in me today to realize that you may be reading this and be one of those who struggle with regret. So listen over and over and simply breathe in to know that in Christ, you can be seated above it all, right now, right here. I present Jesus Christ to you to reach up, to raise up, to rise up – past it all into Him. He gathers and hides you in the shadow of His wings. That is reality. From that vista I can look down and see things quite differently. So right now I listen to this song again and open my arms and worship to something that was probably not intended as a worship song……..but it is for me. I love you Jesus.

Breathing and Receiving – Part 11 – Living In A Hut

Image“My ways are perfect and My timing is perfect. There is nothing wasted in a life in Me. I take it all and form it for My good, flowing through you. You are at the point of acceptance today as you stand here. You are at the point of putting all to rest – all the questions about your past, why you went through what you went through, the unfairness, and the lack of justice. Put to rest all accusations even aimed at me thinking that I do not know you or what is best for you life? That is why you are here, my daughter. I choose the time. I choose the place.”

As God spoke to her that day, His words were alive, forming a bridge in the spiritual realm right before her. Words from the Father fashioned a way in which she would cross over into a new place in her life. The bridge in front of her was a way of truth that would set her free. This was a defining moment in her life, a moment she would look back on many times.

Life is built on defining moments – moments when we are transformed and changed. In choosing to go to the Palace, the woman never even realized that she would encounter such a life-changing experience. She stood there. She breathed in. She breathed out. With each breath, life flowed through her. With each breath, peace, weaved its way through her being. This was real. She was alive again.

The woman stood that day, looking into the face of joy, Jesus Christ. There was something about that face, something incredibly awesome about His presence that strips a person down to the basics. Worries dissipate. Concerns fall apart. Discouragement lifts in the pretense of joy in the face of Christ In those moments, there were no questions. There was no need to ask anything. The fullness of Christ was her all and all.

She felt no fear, no regret, and no discouragement. There was only this moment. Now. In that moment, she knew that everything in her life was in Christ. He never left her. In all the years where her frustration fueled a life built on lies, today was the day where truth was dismantling these lies. It was supernatural. It was sudden. It was real.

ImageOver the course of the next few days, she would experience truth in the person of Christ.  Truth would invade her life where lies has once reigned. But as for that moment in which she found herself, she stood and breathed and rested in the simplicity of peace. Opening her eyes, she looked around her. She heard the sound of worship music filling the atmosphere. It was all so surreal to her after what she had just encountered.

What to do now? She asked herself.

There was a sense within her that perhaps it was time for her to leave. Even though the gathering had not even officially started, she had received all that God had intended for her at that moment. It seemed a bit incredulous to her that leaving would be an option for her, yet it was. She was sure of it. And God was sure of it. The rest of the transformation in her life at this time would occur in the presence of God right in the midst of the mundane hut. It would in the place of her greatest sorrow that her greatest joy would come and transform her from within.

ImageSlowly walking out of the building, she could not moved amidst the crowds of people walking into the gathering. Moving against the flow seemed to be the way life always moved her. She was going out. They were going in. She weaved her way through the crowds until she was outside in the Grand Court. She breathed again and God’s peace was tangible and real. She walked away from the Palace; occasionally look back at it over her shoulder. There was nothing else to do but keep walking back to the mundane hut.  She kept wondering what God had for her there. She was soon to find out. 

In The Secret Place – Part 10 – Living In A Hut

psalm-91cover2Swept into the secret place of the Most High God right there in the Palace, there was a silence that was infused with the weight of God’s presence around her and flowing through her. A sense of oneness with Christ overwhelmed her. The person of Christ was there, so close that she could barely breathe because the intensity of His love was so strong and so real that there was nothing to say and no questions to ask. You are. He is.

That is the place the woman found herself that day, right in the midst of the Palace – in the secret place, where time seemed to stand still. In the midst of all that was going on around her, she was only aware of being so close to Him.  In this moment, questions that had been asked by her for so many years now seemed so nebulous and vague in the face of Christ. Here, no questions were needed. Every question was answered in the face of perfect love. Her past, her present, and her future were complete in Christ. As she stood there in worship, a deep revelation of knowing consumed her displacing the need to know or the need to ask. The simplicity of Christ brought her into a place that day where He was enough.

It seemed to her that all of the “I am” statements that flowed from her that day fell at His feet as dead and without life. Those words flowing from her had been fabricated and formed from her pain and sorrow. Here, now, in His presence was fullness of joy. It was in this very atmosphere that He began to speak to her.

The Word was alive and His Words to her were truth. His words swirled around her and within her that day. They had substance and form. Words of Spirit.  Words of life. Words of love. She could not do anything but stand in His presence and allow these words to penetrate her heart.

Truth 3“My daughter, for every statement that you make to justify or rationalize your life, I have created a greater reality in the Words of life that I speak, that I AM. I am truth that is real and living. I am truth. I am life. Only believe. Only trust Me.

You have lived a life of illusion. Illusion created your reality when hope was displaced by hurt. In that hurt lies began to form the foundation of your existence and in that place, you have lived for a long time. Yet in that place, I have continued to call you forth and love you despite your opposition to somehow prove to me that you were unlovable and not worthy of my attention.

This opposition brought you to a place of desolation, a wilderness so barren that your life only reflected the reality of your heart. The mundane life that you live in your hut was your choice and your reality. Yes, it was your choice by simply not believing me and trusting me with your life, a life I created and formed for my pleasure.

Life is lived in union with Me. You lost that revelation and wandered in separation within your mind. Your words created your reality and you lived in that reality, thinking that I had left you, disqualified you or forgotten you. I have done none of these. Nothing can separate you from me. I am always for you and in you.

Life is not an illusion. It is filled with joy, pain, hope, suffering, love, and hurt. In all of this, I change not. There were times that you slowly succumbed to the reality of the desolation of your emotions to believe that you were trapped and over and over you cried out to me thinking I had forgotten you. Your cry of pain took precedence over Truth and this cry shouted louder than My voice so I watched as you walked through all of this, thinking that it would destroy you but it did not. I never leave or forsake you.

images-6My ways are perfect and my timing is perfect. There is nothing wasted in a life in Me. I take it all and form it for My good, flowing through you. You are at the point of acceptance today as you stand here. You are at the point of putting all to rest – all the questions about your past, why you went through what you went through, the unfairness, and the lack of justice. Put to rest all accusations even aimed at me thinking that I do not know you or what is best for you life?

That is why you are here, my daughter. I choose the time. I choose the place.”

One Question – Part 9 – Living in a Hut

Image“My daughter, why are you here?”

God asked this question to the woman to open her heart to the reality of His love for her. Each time the question was asked, though, the sound reverberated within her very being, causing pain. It was as if she was imploding from within as walls of opposition came falling down all around her until it appeared there would be nothing left for her to hide behind. 

The woman began to think of other questions that were asked to expose hearts. God called to Adam asking, “Where are you?” Then to Peter, “Do you love me?” And to Paul, “Why do you persecute me?” To Hagar, “What do you fear?” To Jeremiah, “What do you see?”

The woman stood in one place, facing one question. And then she asked herself some questions.

Image“How do I answer this? What does He want? Doesn’t He already know? Doesn’t He see?”

God knew the secret places in the woman’s heart where she was hiding in fear. His question had purpose. The simplicity of the question held few words but each word pierced deeper and deeper with truth, light, and life.

She suddenly stopped asking her questions and began to repeat His question to her over and over.

“Why are you here?”

“Why are you here?”

“Why are you here?”

 Suddenly a powerful pain hit her heart and her heart resounded with this question again.

“Why am I here? Why……..am…….I……..here?”

From the depths of her heart, a torrent of words betrayed an inner reality that she had avoided looking at for some time now. She could not stop the flow of words coming forth from within her.

 “I am lonely. Tired. Weary. Hurting. Scared. Disappointed. Discouraged. Angry”

Her “I am” statements defined her, formed her, and flowed from her honestly this day. Her honesty with a God that unconditional loved her would set her free. This reality was better expressed through her than repressed within her.  As the Lord listened to her, His heart was moved with compassion yet at the same time being unmoved by her answers. He again cut to the heart with that one question.

“My Daughter, why are you here?”

ImageGod is relentless in asking questions for the pure intent of opening up a heart so wide so that, His love can pour into it like a vast ocean, filling her up with Himself.

The woman could only be silent after the outpouring of her “I am” statements. She was shaky, a bit dazed, and out of balance. It was as if she was so overwhelmed by her own answers that the answers themselves surprised her. Each word described the pain in her heart.

Suddenly she felt so weak. She saw herself in a vision looking in the mirror at a person whom she did not even know anymore. Her own wholeness seemed to be marred by the cracks she saw in the mirror that distorted her own image. This was her reality. She ran from this reality for so long that in her life, this reality was accepted as truth, when in fact it was a lie. A greater reality was about to be revealed to her in Christ.

She began to quietly answer His question. This time, it was as if she had lost her breath and could only breathe out her innermost feelings.

“Lord, I am – lonely, so lonely. My days go on forever and it seems that I am invisible. No one actually sees me or knows that I am here, right here, right now, unless they see me as they want to see me. I can be in a room and still be lonely.

Lord, I am – tired, so tired. I have been pushing and straining for so long in life, just to avoid having to look at my reality that I am tired. Tired of life, Lord.

I am – weary.  I never feel at rest Lord, or at peace. I always sense that I am missing something, losing something.

I am – hurting.  Lord. I am wondering if this is all there is to life. I am wondering if you have forgotten me. There are days when I barely know you are there Lord. Days, hours where the silence in my own life is as if I am standing in a barren desert.

ImageLord, I am scared. I am frightened. I am fearful. Why is that Lord?

 I am disappointed. So disappointed that it seems that life is passing me by and my dreams are fading, my hope is fading and I live in a void, in a mundane hut.

I am so very discouraged when I see people moving around me and ahead of me at lightening speed as if life was tailored to meet their success and favor with more success and more favor. How can I keep up? How can I even come close?

I am angry. I am so angry with you Lord. Why? Why is this happening after all I have been through in life? Why? I am sooooo angry. Why do you let this happen over and over and over?”

At the end of it all, when there was nothing left inside of her, she simply breathed.  What then took place was very powerful. She felt as if she was there but not there and placed into a void of inner silence, a deep abiding place right there in the midst of the Palace where it was only her and God.  It was as if she was at the very center of God’s heart. This place was silent, except for the consistent beating of peace and love. There was no avoiding God in this place. It was as if it was just her and God. No one else. Yet she could not move. She could barely breathe.