In Memory of Ardara

Ardare 2017For My Beloved Granddaughter, Ardara

Seventeen years ago today, September 23, 2001, two weeks after 911, a beautiful child was born in the neighborhood of Ein Karem, Jerusalem, Israel. She was born in the home of a Jewish believer, a doula, whose name was Pam. Pam and her family had made aliyah to Jerusalem believing that God was calling her to deliver babies in Jerusalem in the last days. Ardara Gail Chinnock was her first delivery. Pam’s house in Ein Karem was next door to what is believed to be the birthplace of John the Baptist.

Another woman from the U.S., Marge, had come to Jerusalem at that time because she believed God had called her to come to Jerusalem to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. She was a Gentile, some 80 years old, and her husband had died only months before. She prayed a special prayer of anointing over this beautiful newborn girl.EK_0162

Ardara Gail Chinnock was born between the Fall Feasts of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, to her parents Dane and Tasha Chinnock, who were living in Jerusalem and serving with a Christian ministry there.

I was home in Arizona, having purchased my plane tickets nine months earlier to be in Jerusalem for her birth, July 23, 2001. Then the horror of 911 hit the U.S. and travel to the Middle East, alone, seemed out of the question. My Mother had also purchased tickets when I had, longing to travel to Israel, but the Lord seemed to require that she not go at that time. I was not so led. So two weeks after 911, with my husband’s blessing, I boarded the plane to Tel Aviv. I was one of only three other Gentiles on the plane, the rest were Jewish families traveling to Israel for the Fall Feasts. The three other women were going because they felt God was calling them to travel to Jerusalem to walk the streets and pray for Jerusalem. That flight was a surreal, unforgettable experience.EK_0166

Arriving in Tel Aviv, I saw my son Dane, anxiously searching the faces for mine in the crowd, and our uniting after a year was filled with great joy. We drove straight to Jerusalem and straight to the home of Pam, and to the quiet and peaceful little room where my daughter-in-law, Tasha, lay with my new granddaughter by her side. Everything about that moment is etched into my memory—peace, joy, awe.EK_0146

For the next three weeks I was privileged to travel to all of the places familiar to all who have been on a tour to Israel, with the exception that there were no tourists there. All of the traditional holy sites were devoid of tourists, allowing us to visit and linger wherever we wanted without lines or tourists. At the Garden Tomb we stayed inside for a long time, contemplating all that this meant, and I was able to sit just outside and pray for a while. Traveling to the Galilee (of course Ardara went along on all of our journey’s), was quite an adventure, again, wherever we went we had it almost all to ourselves—the Kfar Naum (Capernaum), the ancient synagogue where Jesus taught, the place where it was believed the Sermon on the Mount was preached and so many other memorable places. No tour buses were lined up, no throngs of tourists standing in long lines. At the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, Dane and I were alone with the exception of a few Jewish Ethiopian teenagers. We were able to leisurely walk and contemplate while we shed tears.
It was all surreal, being such a short time after the horror of 911 in my own country, and being in the Middle East where a new Intifada had begun with suicide bombers blowing up buses and businesses on the streets of Jerusalem, yet I have never experienced a time of such safety, protection and peace.

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I write all of this today in honor of my beloved granddaughter, Ardara, on what would be her 17th birthday. I allow the tears to freely fall today while at the same time, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that six months ago, she saw the face of Jesus and her real life began as He gathered up this precious lamb and enfolded her in His eternal embrace and unfailing love. She is Home. She is really Home and I ache with unimaginable sorrow here, but I know she is safe. Her life will be remembered here, but she only knows perfect peace. I will see her again, more perfectly alive than ever.

I know where she is because she gave her life to Jesus Christ in the middle of the night as a child after having a dream that Jesus was asking her to make sure she was all right. She woke her mom, Tasha, to ask if she was all right and Tasha discerned that it meant she was to lead her to Jesus as her Savior. I will never forget a few days later, here, at one of her sleepovers, as she looked intently into my eyes and told me that Jesus had woken her and she had come to know Him. It was real.

This is her story. Though life became difficult over the next years, this is her real story. I felt it should be told because there is hope. There. Is. Hope. In Christ alone, there is hope.

If you do not know Him, Ardara would tell you right now, face-to-face, that Jesus Christ is real. He is living. She is with Him. And she would shout from the mountaintops to all her friends and family “It is real! He is real!! He is alive! And I am with Him and you can also be alive with Him if you place your faith in Him alone and invite Him into your life.”

I will see you again my beloved baby girl. I miss you awful, my sorrow is nearly inconsolable, but I will see you soon.

I will always love and cherish my memories of you,

Your Grammie.

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I also saw the LordA CHANCE TO DIE

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I also saw the Lord. . .” (Isaiah 1:1)

Every year at the end of the year, I ask the Lord to share His heart with mine so that my prayers, my desires, and my passions align with His. Just before Christmas, 2017, I was in my daily Bible reading coming to Isaiah chapter 6, a longtime favorite of mine. I stopped at the first verse. It spoke to me of the many “Uzziah’s” in our lives—”kings” that die.

There are many deaths that we in our lifetime, will experience.

There is the death of a relationship, the death of trust, the death of a dream, the death of a loved one, the death of an unhealthy attachment, the death of reputation, of self-image. Each death that is permitted into our life by the Lord, must inevitably include, if we allow it, “… I also saw the Lord…”

In the year that _______ died, I also saw the Lord.

With each experience of the tearing away of something or someone dear to us, a piece of us also dies, but even with that death—the death of little pieces of self—the purpose is to see the Lord. To see Him enthroned in the temple, high and lifted up, His robe filling the temple, multitudes of angels surrounding Him crying out Kadosh! Kadosh! Kadosh! (Holy! Holy! Holy!)

Each of these experiences of death inevitably leaves us wounded—scarred—yet never alone.

Never alone.

It is to move closer to the vision of the Lord, high and lifted up—high above the emotional attachments that we hold so dear in this temporal place. It is to say with Paul,

“Yet indeed I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8).

Every Godly person who has passed through these many deaths throughout the ages has left behind this same testimony—I also saw the Lord. Like a sweet aroma upon the altar of incense that burns continually before the throne of God, they leave behind some mysterious and precious jewel of wisdom which travels down to us through each age, each season.

Amy Carmichael writes of this as she suffered the loss of everything in her life, including her health. She writes:

“One day, in this woman’s hearing, something was said to a younger helper which almost drew from her a flashing, angry remark. But at that moment, a word was spoken to her inwardly: ‘See in this, a chance to die.”

And though spoken inwardly, it was far more clearly heard than many a word addressed to the outward ear.

See in this’—this provoking, this rebuke that should not have been—‘a chance to die.’ To self, and the pride that comes from defending self.

‘See in anything’—anything that rouses you to claim your “rights,’ or even to consider them at all—“a chance to die” . . . .

Welcome anything that calls you to your only true position: “I have been crucified with Christ…” (Galations 2:20).

A crucified life cannot be self-assertive. It cannot protect itself. It cannot be startled into resentful words. The cup that is full of sweet water cannot spill bitter-tasting drops, however sharply it is knocked.” (Hazard, David. You Are My Hiding Place. 1991. Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, MN)

Offense in our culture today reigns supreme—everyone is offended, everyone is a victim. We are all so prickly. As someone said to me recently, if Jesus is not offended by something, then neither should I be.

My prayer for this New Year is, in a culture that is now defined by Offense, I will be transformed in my soul to see in all of it, a chance to die. I have a ways to go—as evidenced by the many ways I can be offended and resort to a flashing response before I see in it a chance to die. But this year, I am inviting Jesus to be my first response, as my “self” moves behind Him, and my life becomes what He tells me is “hidden with Christ in God…”

“…for you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).

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This morning my heart is heavy. It is heavy over the terrible fires destroying homes and businesses. It is heavy over the massacre in Las Vegas and over the fact that with all of our technology and supposed high tech forensics, no one can explain how or why this thing happened. It is heavy over the terrible hurricanes and destruction that is ongoing. It is heavy over the fact that in our rapid information world, some of these terrible things remain on the media watch list for only a few days and then they are forgotten. What is happening now in Houston? What is happening in the places where the eye of the hurricane actually came ashore in Texas, or Florida? Does anyone know? What is happening in Barbuda or the other Caribbean countries? Puerto Rico has a virulent feminist mayor who is exploiting the tragedy by lambasting our President every chance she gets and she gets the headlines, but what about the truth—the stories that don’t get reported? The real tragedy in so much of this is that with a media that only reports news that it decides we need to have, we are left with a loss of truth. When we have a media that has lost its moorings to the point that they no longer report news, rather they make the news they wish to report.

And now we have the media hoopla over the repulsive and vile behavior of another “Hurricane Harvey.” This hurricane is a Hollywood mogul who has been molesting and even raping women for decades. Where are the feminists with the pink hats now? A famous Hollywood actress who growled out “I am a nasty woman” during the women’s march was one of those who was sexually exploited by this man and she never spoke out. Dozens of Hollywood stars were attacked by this vile and disgusting man as he undressed in front of them, demanded they perform sex acts against their will in order to further their careers—they never spoke out. They all spoke out during the election campaign and the women’s march, about those who were of a different political persuasion, but now their true hypocrisy is exposed.

Feminism is a sham; it is a hypocrisy and women have been lured into it by other women—women who are exploiting them just as surely and as seriously as the men whom they bow to, whom they perform sex acts with in order to further their career. Is this Hollywood mogul the only predator in Hollywood? Has this not been going on as long as there has been a Hollywood? Why has it been allowed to continue? Why haven’t these women who scream out their feminist ideology ever screamed out against this? Why? Because they allowed themselves to be debased and degraded in order to move up in their careers. It is a two way street. It has required a form of consent—not consent to the acts, but to the silence. Hollywood actresses publicly called this man, Harvey Weinstein, a “god”. He was praised from the platform of the Oscar stage. He was photographed again and again with these actresses draped on him, while in private he was performing shameful and degrading acts with them, on them, and in front of them—against their will. Feminism is a sham and I pray—I really mean that—I pray for the women who have been taken in by it. I pray for the women who have been taken in by the lies that they been spoon fed, not just by men, but by other women.

I am personally glad that this man has been exposed for who he really is; it is about time. But underneath the glitter and glam of the Hollywood machine, there is an underbelly of such slime and darkness—darkness that they have been feeding to the public—darkness that is now showing up and being exposed. I only hope it all gets exposed, that it is not allowed to go under cover again. I only hope that these actresses who have been victimized by this man will see the truth, that the veil over their eyes will be removed long enough to really see the darkness behind it all. And the public, those of us who have been pouring our money into this machine for decades, will stand up as well and just simply say—“No. I cannot use my hard earned money to pay for this debauchery. I cannot pour my money into the gods of this evil machine.” How much of my money has supported this man? How much of yours? We have been complicit in this darkness for too long.

And finally, may I speak about the one and only place where women are truly highly regarded, truly given the respect and love that they are seeking?

I have a God who elevates women. While many of the stories found in the Bible contain lurid accounts of what the hearts of mankind can do to each other, there is Jesus Christ—standing magnificent and beautiful—reaching out His arms to those women who have been trashed and abused. There He is calling on the men who caught the woman in adultery—ready to stone her, “He who has no sin cast the first stone.” And no one did. Because this Man, Jesus, silently shamed them into seeing their own hypocrisy. And He forgave her. There He is hanging on that cross as the women who had been delivered and set free from shame and guilt, who had followed Him along with the men for three years, were the last ones at the grave and the first ones at the empty tomb, and He names them all by name. He knew them by name! He commends Mary of Bethany and writes beautifully and lovingly of her act of sacrifice. And all of this happened in a culture where men had no respect or regard for women. He stood above all of the filth and the hypocrisy and the lies and proclaimed truth. “I AM the way, the truth and the Life.”

I see Jesus Christ, today, reaching out His loving arms to women trapped in cultures where they are treated as dung, and He is setting them free—not just from the culture, but from the shame and the guilt that has been imposed on them.

I see Jesus Christ in 1989, when He met me in my worst sin, my worst self-degradation, and simply said, “Follow Me.” And I did, and I laid down my own nets—the nets of feminism and rights and deep involvement in the phony glitter of the world system and I followed Him. I had been seeking this kind of love and had never found it—not in men, not in career, not in relationships of any kind, and there it was—In Jesus Christ. And I have never returned to that place where I had been held captive.

Put this God—Jesus Christ—side by side with Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood god—and take a good long look. Look at that picture and decide which one you really want to worship. Decide which one you are going to follow. And then by all means—follow Him; allow Him to transform every part of who you are into His image. Follow and find a peace, a love, a freedom that you cannot even imagine until you experience it. No man can take it from you. No man or woman can throw you under the bus again because Jesus stands up for you. Jesus alone can say to you, “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” And you will walk away free—no longer having to fight for your rights, no longer slavishly devoted to this fallen world system, no longer suffering the angst of who is in the White House or who is treating you fairly. Free indeed. That is what He offers. And it is free—it will not cost you having to watch a man perform filthy acts in front of you so that you can get ahead. It will not cost you your self-respect—you will finally, for the first time in your life, understand what it is to be loved and respected, even if no man or woman will ever respect or love you again. It is that kind of love. Trust me, I know what I am talking about.

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God Is Still Moving!

thWhile we here in this country are torn apart by politics and demanding our “rights,” God is up to something huge in other countries, where having “rights” is not even a consideration. Getting through the day and surviving until tomorrow is the foremost concern in many parts of the world. Most of us here in our prosperous nation can’t even relate to the experiences of others in third world nations.

I became so weary of the battle in the political realms this past year and now with the ongoing battles, women’s marches, and divisions that I had to simply turn off the media and the social media so that I could give my mind and my soul a rest from the cacophony, fear, panic, and general hysteria I see all around me.

Jesus promises a peace that passes understanding to those who fix their mind, will, and emotions on Him. He promises a peace that passes understanding to those who refuse to be anxious about anything, but instead bring all of their needs to Him and truly trust Him to take those needs. I’m not sure if anyone reading this feels as worn down and weary of the turmoil in our nation right now as I am, but there are times that I wish I could run away to some deserted island and learn how to really live in peace again.

Here’s the thing—a mystery with a wonderful promise: Jesus Christ is my island. Some who don’t believe might say to me, “Well, this God thing is just a crutch!” No, it is a stretcher, and I’m flat laid out on it. He is my peace. He is my island. He is my sustainer.

One of the things I have consistently done through the years is to find any materials I can that tell of the lives of other Christians who have undergone much more suffering than I can even imagine, and to hear their stories of peace and victory that Jesus Christ brings in the midst of their suffering. I gain strength from the testimonies of those who have suffered much, and who have learned through that suffering that Jesus Christ is enough—He is all they need.

There is a ministry called the Jesus Film Project® which distributes the JESUS® Film to every nation in the world in their own language. It is an amazing ministry and many miraculous stories continue to be told.

With all of the bad news and negative events we are bombarded with in our nation right now, I’d like to begin a little series of just the retelling of some of the stories from these kinds of ministries. Here is one:

Najaf lives in Southern Iraq, in a “holy city,” similar to Mecca. Najaf is from a fanatical family and his own wife teaches Sharia law. He began watching Christian satellite programs and became deeply conflicted. He began seeking and praying, “God help me, God help me! Where can I find the truth?”

The same day he prayed, he went to his office, where he worked at a used car dealership. It was a windy day. As Najaf unlocked the office door, he spotted a piece of paper flying about. It was tattered and dirty. He picked it up. The paper said, “Are you still looking for me? Are you searching for me? I am the one who died on the cross for you.” It was signed, Jesus Christ. He was further amazed to find that the paper was from a calendar page that was 17 years old. It had been blowing around since!

Convinced that God was answering his prayer, he visited a friend who showed him a DVD of “JESUS®.” Najaf was so happy and believed. A staff leader who works with Najaf now reports: “Najaf isn’t selling used cars anymore. He’s in full-time ministry working with refugees from Iraq and Syria, giving out humanitarian aid, and helping to show them “JESUS®.”

God is still moving, changing lives, bringing His “peace that passes understanding” to the deep needs of hurting people. Would you be one of those?

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I’ve been off Facebook for a couple of weeks. I needed to take a break from the political rhetoric that has turned to fear, rage and hate. This past two weeks without the constant flow of negative reporting I have been noticeably more at peace. I still read the news, but not the Facebook narrative. When I first went on social media it was largely a place where friends kept in touch with friends, some of whom we hadn’t seen for years, and it was a great place to see family and friends’ pictures and hear news of them. It was all so innocent.

That has all changed and now it has become a forum for expressing opinions about politics and political sides, using as our source the mainstream news media, which no longer reports “news.” Rather it is a venue designed to whip up the emotions of the masses over stories that present sound bites and talking heads voicing only their opinions of the news. During the election it became clear that the national media was fomenting much of the fear, panic, and hysterical rage. There are numerous places where one can go to gather information on their own, read full texts of documents rather than hear a sound bite and come to a logical, non-emotion-driven conclusion about either side. This is what folks once did, before cable news and online news sites.

Anyone who has taken a basic Sociology course in college knows how the “herd mentality” works and for everyone on both sides of this political firestorm, we are all caught up in a media-driven herd mentality. I was getting caught up in it on Facebook and found myself becoming angry and at times scared at the reports and opinions I read. This fear-driven media has pitted us against each other and this division is what is going to ultimately do the most damage. Most everyone has already formed an opinion about the current situation in our country. Reading your opinion on Facebook is likely not going to change my opinion, and mine is not likely going to change yours, yet we continue to lob out opinion bombs, some with deep hatred and laced with profanity against people we once cared about. It is a war zone of opinions—nothing more than opinions. The media is controlling the narrative. However, if we are truly free-thinkers at all, maybe it is time to put the media back where they belong: as reporters of news, instead of creators of news.

There is a sort of upside to all of this however. All of this back and forth rhetoric is proof that we are still a democracy, where we are free to choose who we elect and who we vote for. We are still a nation where either side can protest, and state their side in print, books, blogs, and debates. All of this is evidence that even though the sides have become decidedly combative toward each other and more profane, it is still our choice—it is our freedom in action. Go to North Korea and try to protest. Go to China and try to protest. Go to Russia and try to protest; not cold war Russia—21st Century Russia—where a female singing group was arrested for anti-government song lyrics. Go to Saudi Arabia or any Middle East country and try to protest, try to bare your breasts demanding your rights. Seriously, I challenge anyone who thinks we have lost our freedom or who believes that we don’t have enough “rights” in this country, please, use your built-in common sense, take a deep breath and think for yourself. We must stop allowing ourselves to be manipulated by others opinions and using Facebook as our news source.

I was considering leaving facebook, but I have so many wonderful friends and family—people who encourage and love and pray for each other. I became a widow in 2008 and found groups of widows who support each other and bring much needed comfort. I see posts of friends who find themselves in need and others rushing to offer help and encouragement. I have friends on both sides of the political spectrum. We know what the other believes, but we have never allowed those things to divide us. However more and more I see that if one person believes differently than the other, they are hated for it. Face-to-face, we would never demean or humiliate each other over our differences the way some feel free to do now on social media. Facebook has created a place for cowards to express their anger and hatred for others in the most demeaning and profane way in comments. Most of these would never dream of speaking this way face to face with that person. Please, do not allow the opinions and media-driven fear and sound-bites turn us all into animals, I beg you. Please let us return to a civilized society.

As for me, I will continue to rely on the only One who knows the beginning from the end—God Himself. He recorded it all—the beginning from the end—and it is all happening just as it was recorded thousands of years ago—to the last detail. I’m not afraid of the future—no matter who is in office. He brings peace to my soul and my soul is desperately in need of peace in this culture. He does not hate either side of a political party, He died for everyone and He calls everyone to believe in Him—in His Name and to finally have peace in their souls and true freedom. I am thinking this is something we are all needing at this time.

 “Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light’” (Matthew 11:28-30).

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