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little yellow dress.

Boxes. Four sides, square, nice and neat. We often put ourselves in one, put other people in one, or they put us in them. And I think it's safe to say a lot of us put God in one. We put Him neatly in place and every so often we take the lid off and invite Him to do something radical in our life because we've maybe gotten to a place where that's all we have left. I say all that, because this blog is likely going to require you to take the lid off your box. Give God the room to move in your heart on this one, because I believe there is a message for everyone in this. And besides, we've probably already taken the lid off at this point in our journey, maybe even a wall or two, so I figure what's one more?!

Ten years ago, when I began having dreams and visions, God started showing me a theme of sorts that occurred every 4-5 months, consistently. They never shared the same scene, but always had one thing in common - a little girl wearing a yellow sundress. Once she was skipping through a field. Once she was peeking at me through the bushes. One time, she was dancing in a warehouse and another time she was wearing a cute yellow beret that matched her dress as she stood on a mountain. There were times I watched in my dreams as she was struggling and in distress. Then there were times when she was laughing and free. One dream, I remember she couldn't hear or see and needed guidance. I have loved watching her over the years, in both visions and dreams and as strange as it may seem, she has became a familiar person to me. She never changed in size or age and always wore the same little yellow sundress. Sometimes accessories or other items were added to her wardrobe, but the color of her dress stayed a consistent beautiful, bright yellow.

I didn't know what to do with those dreams and visions. They never came with an interpretation for me, which I found interesting because God will eventually give me the meaning behind most of what I'm seeing in my dreams and visions. That wasn't the case for anything that involved this little girl. So I just enjoyed each scene and then moved on, not really questioning, but also not really knowing or understanding.

Then began the dreams with babies and baby bottles. Now those were interesting! Especially when they were followed by the question posed by God on my heart - Are you ready? Ready?! For what?!? At that time, because I was new in understanding how God can use dreams, I went to where my first, natural thought took me. We're having a baby?!? Imagine if you will, my eyes really huge at this point, slightly freaking out. No, not really ready to have another baby, thanks anyway God. Maybe you have the wrong person? Pretty sure Garth isn't even close to ready! But this should be fun - to tell him I think God is telling us it's time for another baby. Three kids, nearing 40, this should go over well. The initial shock was slightly entertaining when I shared it with Garth and I think maybe he grew three shades paler. But in true form, my sweet husband rose to the call and said he was up for whatever God had for us.

You would think at this point I'd give God the green light. Like He needs it from me. But nope, I said no thanks and moved on. And still the dreams came. Persistently. It's funny how dreams can eventually start to affect action...and even though I was giving God a resounding no, I found myself at the store buying pregnancy tests more often than I'd like to admit. I was pretty sure God was asking us to expand our little family. Slowly, I was coming around to the idea. And then I had another dream with the little girl in the yellow dress, but there was a new twist...I heard, while watching her twirl and spin, the name Sophia Grace. Things just went to a whole other level...a baby, specifically a girl, and now a name?!? I wasn't really sure what to do with that one.

Begin new conversation with Garth: "So I think we're supposed to have another baby. A girl. And I think her name is supposed to be Sophia Grace." I'm not so sure there were words that actually came out of Garth's mouth. Maybe he mumbled something along the lines of - no more girls. End of conversation. We moved on. And now that I reflect back, I think maybe that's when I stopped seeing the little girl in the yellow sundress. Not because of Garth, but because I had given up on understanding what God was trying to tell me and wasn't really willing to find out. Everything baby related came to a more dreams, visions or nudging from the Lord.

Fast forward to about a year ago, when I was with my cousin and a few others praying in a room together. During that time, my cousin shared with me a vision God had just given her, of me. The picture she described was of a beautiful yellow ball gown - and I was the one wearing it. I had a crown and a scepter and the Lord was telling me to take my seat in authority. I wasn't sure what all that necessarily meant, but I did know when she said the words, "yellow ball gown", I tuned everyone else out and I went into my own thoughts, beginning a conversation with God. I had never told her about the little yellow dress in my dreams. God, are the two somehow connected? No answer, so I wrote it in my journal and moved on, as tended to be my pattern.

This all brings me to a time just recently, when just like that, the Lord brought the last 10 years together in one amazing picture and all in the span of 24 hours. A few of us had gone to Bethel for a conference for the week, and it was on the last night there that God began to unfold everything for me. Earlier in the day they had asked us to pray about what name God would give us if He were to give us a new name for this season in our life. That name was to be the new name we were going to be "knighted" with. A totally new, and if I'm being honest, strange idea to me. But if there is one thing I've learned in my journey with God, it's to be willing to do whatever He is asking of me. This was one of those moments I knew He was asking me to pay attention and to take really seriously. The kind of serious where I knew He wanted me to lean in and pay attention to every single thing He was showing and whispering to me. As I was standing off to the side worshipping and praying about a name - I heard deep within my heart, the Lord say "Sophia Grace" and knew that was the name He was giving me. At that moment, completely out of the blue, a woman came up to me, put her hand on my stomach and said "you're birthing". Big eyes again, and I'll be honest, the lid on my box completely blew up at that moment. It was a really strange moment to this little conservatively-raised girl. But I also knew it was incredibly significant. Because I knew at that specific time in my life the Lord was showing me that He was "birthing" Sophia Grace.

The next morning, in my small group of girls - we were asked to give our "new" names and why. Here is what the Lord broke down for me... Sophia means wisdom and Grace means the divine influence on the heart and it's reflection in the life - the work of the Holy Spirit. And here is what the Lord said to me..."Hold my hand and dream with me, I'll walk with you, hand in hand on this journey I've called you to. I will impart wisdom that is necessary for the things to be done. And the ability to oversee the big picture." As I shared all this with the girls, one of them laid it out even more clearly for me. For 10 years, God was birthing something in me (little girl in the yellow dress) and waited patiently for me to be ready to give birth to that new thing (the continuous baby bottles and "are you ready" questions). Along the way, He would check in and ask if I'm ready and I wasn't, so He kept waiting patiently. The night the woman told me I was birthing, the same night I accepted the name Sophia Grace, was my act of telling the Lord I was ready. I realized all those years, I had been watching myself grow, not in size, but in wisdom and direction. And what was birthed was not an immature baby, but a mature "queen", wearing a yellow ball gown - and the Lord was calling me into a new anointing, a new authority. It was really a cool moment for me. Life changing, actually. Because I realized that God is calling me into something He has specifically for me. After our group time, we went to the main session and were knighted with our new names and I truly believe that it was in that moment that I stepped into my new anointing, whatever that may look like and as strange as it may seem. After it was over, I sat down in my seat and looked at my phone where I had a text from from a friend that said: "Word for you: Leaving the old and crossing into a new anointing." What?!? That was crazy! She had no clue about anything that was going on! For me, that moment was just one more whisper from God, confirming what He was trying to tell me.

Just to check in with you - how's your box doing? All sides gone? I know mine are...and I'm actually really excited about it. I believe it gives God the room to do what He intended to do before we carefully created those neat and tidy walls around ourselves, around God. And it allows Him to begin showing us what we would look like outside the box - God outside the box, us outside the box. And so the story continues...

I realized I had to go through all those maturing stages, growing and being stripped of anything and everything to get to a point of readiness for what the Lord is calling me to. I'm not saying I'm there - I definitely have a long way to go. But what I am saying, is that I know I've gone through what I've gone through to get me where I'm at. For me, because we travel to different cities a couple times each year, I've gone through different training grounds in each place - the Lord has worked out in me new things in each city, and for that I am so grateful. It's been such an important part of God molding and maturing me. In Santa Fe, I learned to walk by faith, not sight. In Flint, I learned about the reality of darkness and the battle that is raging around me. In Indiana, I learned about my identity in Christ, in Texas I learned how to navigate in my gifting, and in Wisconsin, I learned I'm ready for more of what God is calling me into, even if I have no idea what that looks like.

So my question to you is this... if God were to give you a new name for this season, what would it be? Who does He see you as? What do you believe He has in store for you that might be just around the corner? Is there something you know He is calling you to, but you're hesitant because it seems strange or uncertain? Do you trust Him to take you down a path that leads to your calling?

I think about what it could look like if we all were to step into what God is calling us to. Unafraid of looking weird. Unafraid of the uncertainty. Okay with giving up our preconceived notion of who we are and walking into the notion of who God created each and every one of us to be. Putting on our "clothing of royalty" and taking our seat of authority. I have a very strong feeling our world would look a whole lot different.

Just this morning I listened to the commencement message that recently deceased Nabeel Qureshi (author of Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity), gave at Biola University last fall. It was a message that I believe God put in front of me just before releasing this blog, to affirm me. To negate my hesitation to release it. Nabeel's message was simple and summed up what I believe God has been showing me...God has placed us in this world for a specific purpose. The things we have gone through have "shaped and crafted (us) to be world changers. To go out and make this world a place where Heaven invades earth."

So for me, I'm going to try really hard not to worry about looking weird. Instead, I'm taking all my life lessons, grabbing my fancy yellow ballgown and crown and I'm stepping into what God is asking me to step into. To go be the world changer He is asking me to be. I really have no idea what that looks like, but I sure do want to be a part of making this world a place where "Heaven invades earth." And I'm going to do it all in a fancy yellow dress.

"You yourselves, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ...But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." - 1 Peter 2:5, 9

"For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them." - Ephesians 2:10

"For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable." -Romans 11:29

"I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints" -Ephesians 1:18


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