These thoughts came during my time of prayer and meditation in the Philippines. I thought I would share them with you as a way to help you understand a bit more about what God is working in me as my life goes enters into this new phase of life. During this season I feel like God would have me reorient my life towards recognizing the beauty in the world.
Beauty is one of the distilled essences of love. Where love abounds the aroma of beauty is present. Where love is confronted by hatred beauty is suppressed, but because love can never be eradicated, beauty will always be sensed, even if only in the smallest way.
In the end, judgment is God’s radical work to restore beauty when all other methods fail. JE LILLIE
It’s been a busy week! Brenda booked three more shows fo “My Hiding Place”. This means she will be here in The U.Ss. through the beginning of July at least.
Reviews have been so exciting and have affirmed that God is really anointing this project.
Here are some things people are saying;
“I WAS SHOCKED TODAY…stunned…wowed! I cried…I almost sobbed! I had Missionary Brenda J. Lillie in today for our Sunday morning service to do her dramatic performance of “My Hiding Place: Recollections from Corrie Ten Boom”. It was AMAZING.”- Pastor Dan Peloquin
“You nailed it! An amazing story told by an amazing storyteller!” – Wendy Brouliette
“Such a wonderful roller coaster of emotion; delivered by a truly talented woman. Bravo!”- Michael Murphy
“Beautiful ministry performance of The Hiding Place by Brenda J. Lillie. This power packed rendition of the story of Corrie Ten Boom is wonderful for any size church due to the conscious, minimalistic approach to props and technology. We could have been her toughest critics being well acquainted with the Ten Boom story from my own missionary service in Holland and my wife being Dutch (and her grandmother knowing Corrie from Haarlem). However, my wife and I were greatly touched by the legacy of the Ten Boom Family accurately portrayed through this 2-part dramatization. Bravo!!!”- Pastor Eric Capelli
“My Hiding Place” is the compelling true story of Corrie ten Boom. Written, produced, designed, and portrayed by the talented Brenda J. Lillie, Missionary to the Netherlands. This powerful, passionate, and inspiring production is more than an outstanding play – it is an experience! It’s a story of love and forgiveness. God is truly present in this amazing performance! A must see! – Pastor Robin Di Prima Koroskenyi
If you would like to book her for a show she is opening tours.
While Brenda has been ministering in this show, Jesus has been rewriting my schedule. Ministry has become much about prayer and caregiving for me. I have been meeting with people all week, praying with people all week, meeting practical and emotional needs all week. In between have been great swaths of prayer lasting 2 hours or more at a whack. It has been amazing!
God has also been allowing me to figure in several hours of writing a day. While I miss the office and the constant contact with leadership I feel like these adjustments have opened up avenues of ministry I have not explored for years. It has been so good.
Two days before Brenda and I left for The Philippines, Cornerstone Church (the church where Amanda and I serve) began 21 days of 24/7 prayer. While I could not be with the congregation during much of this season of prayer, I did spend a good deal of time in the presence of the Lord. I sat for many hours WONDERING about the new direction my life is taking and the new direction the church is taking. Here are some of the things which came to mind in my WONDERING:
“In order for me to discover the things which are going to be really important to me on this new path, I must reduce my life in its complexity. I must embrace the things which are truly important to my nature and do those things. Further I must begin to encourage others to learn what is important to their natures and do those things. ” Pondered 1-20-20
As I think about this I realize it flows out of something I have discovered about myself. I entered the ministry out of a great desire to connect with God and to help others do the same. I am now and have always been a contemplative. Prayer, worship, meditation and study are sort of my jam. I also realize the place of contemplation is where my greatest power resides to make a change in the world.
This season is a gift from God allowing these strengths of mine to have more room to grow. This season is also balancing/ limiting the activities which distract me from the contemplation which is mine by nature.
Finally as I embrace my thing it gets me out of the way so other people can do their thing. Then if they will simplify their lives they will be able to embrace whatever their jam is like I am now embracing mine!
My motto for this year is SHIFT YOUR FOCUS TO WONDER. In sharing that with my artist’s group back in January one of our artists wondered what God meant by wonder… that is, was I supposed to shift my focus towards looking at awe-inspiring things? Or was I supposed to shift my focus to ponder things more?
Now that I am in my third month of “SHIFTING”, I think God meant a little of both. On January 13th my sister and I embarked on a 10 day journey to The Philippines to attend my son’s marriage to Kristine Bernadette Causing Barrameda.
Those 10 days filled me with awe for sure.
I was awestruck by the fact that I was being privileged to witness such a sacred moment in the life of someone I had actually helped bring into the world.
I could not be prouder of the man he has become. I could not be more honored that a family a world away has entrusted us with the care of their beautiful daughter. I am awestruck that God has chosen to add another godly young woman full of talent and power to our family.
During that time I was often struck dumb by the overwhelming beauty of my daughter-in-law’s homeland. And I was floored by the total otherness of this place called The Philippines. Kristine said in the wedding video that she and Joe were from different worlds and she was completely truthful when she said it.
But during those 10 days in the developing nation that is The Philippines I was more than awestruck. I was left to ponder what God was and is DEVELOPING in me. Honestly, to my way of thinking what is transpiring inside of me is as foreign to my knowing as The Philippines was to my experience.
I am daily aware of the fact that my current spiritual reality is new ground for me. I have no memory of this place and precious little context to explain it.
I have often said to my boss that what God is going to do in our church may leave us looking somewhat unchurchy. If that is so for our congregation, it means that as individuals we are going to experience things that take us out of our understandings of who and what we have been. That is certainly something that might require some wondering.
I am mindful that historically, most powerful moves of God leave the people involved scratching their heads. As those moves DEVELOP people are left to fall back on the only thing that doesn’t change in the midst of life-altering change. That would be the Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Well I am wondering at what God is doing in my life this year and I am wondering what to do about it. In all the wondering I am securing myself to God who is showing me through prayer, through the solid ground of His Word, the Bible and through the fellowship of believers. In that security I am DEVELOPING into the new thing that God wants me to be, in order to do the new thing that He expects from me as a part of Cornerstone Church.
Now what has God shown me in the midst of all this wondering……
Our fellowship has a very structured method for our member missionaries to raise funds. When Brenda came home last April she jumped right into using that method and following the rules to the “T”. While not great rule lovers we Lillies tend to be pretty stringent rule followers in most things.
Sadly the rules which are set up and which work for many of our member missionaries do not work well for all and they didn’t work at all for Brenda. She was actually losing money and driving herself nuts (literally) in the process.
Come October she was emotionally and spiritually exhausted and everyone who knew her understood that she could not go on with the process as it stood. Brenda’s leadership gave her three months sabbatical. Brenda used that time to pray and recuperate.
During that time God gave her an idea for a new play called “My Hiding Place.” The play is about a real life Christian heroine of the twentieth century, Corrie TenBoom. Brenda got permission from the TenBoom museum to write and perform the piece and began setting up shows for her return to ministry.
The show has made all the difference. It has activated Brenda’s creative bent and hitched it to the fundraising need. Bookings have begun to come in and the show is a roaring success. I have seen it three times now and each time I am moved to tears. Further the anointing is on this thing. 14 people have received Christ since the beginning of the year and Brenda has prayed with a host of people who profess Christianity but continue to walk in bitterness and unforgiveness.
Here is Brenda’s booking schedule. She is currently looking at breaking out of New England she is currently working on a tour of some Southern States and Pennsylvania. Anyone interested?
So I haven’t posted here in a while. The skinny is that I have been keeping myself busy with distractions. Well, at least they are distractions now. You know how it is. Yesterday’s priorities can easily become today’s distractions.
A few months ago God told me He was going to be shifting my focus and that I would be entering a new season of life. In December He clarified that a bit with these words which have become my words for the year :“Shift focus to wonder.”
I guess I didn’t anticipate how hard it was going to be to shift my focus and to begin to concentrate on the new priorities God has given me. I also didn’t realize how much I have allowed other people to make decisions about what the important things in my life are. God warned me that people wouldn’t understand.
When Mom’s health took a turn, I understood that as the gateway to the changes. Everyone has been so supportive. It has been arranged that I should work more from home. Things have been put in place to make all that possible. Everything should be going so smoothly but I can’t seem to adjust to this new rhythm I am called to. The problem is me you see. I am finding it hard to say “No” to the things I used to say “Yes” to. I am having trouble giving up my freedom to use my time however I want to.
I was chatting with my boss the other day and telling him how I would love to join a certain committee in town, but that I really need to be careful of my commitments now. It made me kind of sad and yet at the same time felt like destiny was being unleashed.
I understand this is an exercise in crucifixion, a dying of a part of me that has to die. Yet I miss this free part of myself everyday and so I keep resurrecting it.
I know I must decrease so that He might increase. I must surrender my plans so that His plans might be accomplished, but honestly I really loved my plans. And here’s the other thing. People don’t understand. They have gotten used to me following a certain pathway and being a certain way and pursuing life a certain way. I have revealed to them intrinsically over years…even decades that I consider my ministry to be a certain way and they don’t yet know that the ministry plan has changed. The world around me can do nothing else but encourage me to keep going after the same old plan. They don’t fully see that God has made a change and that a new plan exists for me…for the church.
My sister asked me the other day how she could help me make this adjustment and I honestly don’t know. I have to get the new rhythm myself before I can play it for others. I think my time with my Son and Daughter-in-law in the Philippines really began to clarify for me the size of the change which was upon me. I understand now it is going to take me a little while to figure it all out. I think I am becoming better every day with understanding and implementing the changes.
Here are two things I know:
My changes are just a part of a much larger change God is bringing to our church.
Watch out world! Once I figure out this new rhythm I feel like a new level of effectiveness and achievement is going to kick in quickly, not just for me but for all the people God is moving me out of the way to release into their proper places.
I awoke again this morning at 2 A.M. and finally rolled out of bed at 3. The dogs yawned sleepily as I rousted them from bed. Mercedes snorted at me with disdain as I put her in her crate so I could get ready for the day. Her white fur stuck out at indignant angles and she glared at me with the one eye which was not blocked by her wiry hair.
I filled the food bowl, got dressed and shuffled downstairs to finish getting the dogs’ breakfast and mine made. As I spooned the wet food into the dog dish and popped it into the microwave to warm (my dogs like a warm breakfast) I found myself wondering if I was ever going to get over jet lag.
It’s a week today and my days and nights are still reversed. I kind of thought I had it licked the other day when I stayed up until 1 A.M. to pray and then slept until 6:30 A.M. That is until noon rolled around and my body once again spontaneously shut down. It doesn’t really matter where I am when that happens. I just fall alseep!
That all said, this has been really good for me concerning this season of prayer we are having at the church. I have been able to go in at 11 at night and pray through until 1 A.M. without a problem. This morning I am in the church by 4 A.M. catching up on some writing until 5 and then I will pray until 7. No worries folks I imagine I will be taking a nap by 1 this afternoon anyway. Maybe this is my new normal.
Amanda picked us up at Boston Logan Airport at 9:30 A.M. yesterday. Because of the time change we arrived in Boston at the same time we left South Korea! Can you say jet lag?
Actually it hasn’t been that bad. We got home at noon and visited with Melanie, James, Daniella and Mom for a bit. Once the Franklin family headed home to Lynn, Brenda and I took naps for a few hours. Once I was up I pushed myself to stay up until about 11 P.M.
This morning I began getting back into routine. I was up for prayer at 4 A.M.. I walked the dogs and then went to the store for mom’s papers, scratch tickets and morning cigarettes. Then Amanda and I headed off to the church for staff/ board prayer.
Cornerstone is in a 21 day season of fasting and prayer. The church is open to those who sign up for prayer 24 hours a day. So I prayed for an hour and then had meetings until about 10:30.
Then it was home for some lunch and a nap before walking the dogs again. I did a little house work and then sat down to catch up on some writing. Which of course brings me here.
As I prayed this morning the Lord really impressed upon me, through the writings of other congregants in our congregational prayer journal, that the winter season of our church is over and we are heading into a Spring time season.
The Scripture the Lord gave me to meditate on as He impressed the idea of Spring on me was 2 Samuel 11:1
“In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.”
The word of the Lord to me was that Spring time is a season of spiritual warfare. In this Spring that is upon us we will have to fight as the armies of Israel did. If we do we will possess the land. Conversely, if we make David’s mistake and do not join the fight then we will be taken.