The Battle is Real

Even when led by the still small voice of our perfect God, real life messes are unavoidable; we are imperfect people living in an imperfect world.

Doors in ministry are currently opening around every turn for Lisa, Maria, and I.  When the Holy Spirit is moving in our lives, we expect adversity since the spiritual battle is real.  

The oppression of spiritual battle recently came over the three of us in a big way.  I saw the initial attack instantly, yet the confusion did not make sense to me at first, so I had to wait and watch through the eyes of my heart until it became clear.  In order to divide and conquer, Satan uses the tactic to prey on individual weaknesses. This can be devastating for relationships, but because of the work the Lord had already begun in my heart, I was able to see in the spirit to be able to pull out my big guns for battle.

Right away, I verbally prepared Lisa and Maria for what I was perceiving in the spirit. I thought by us being aware of the attack we could stop it, but Satan continued taking cheap shots at each of us. He was trying to divide our relationships to destroy the unity that Jesus was building through us together.  

Multiple people working together infilled with Jesus’ power for kingdom purposes are Satan’s prime target.  When battles like these are happening, each person in the relationship is “thinking” something different, depending on their own perspectives and beliefs which come from their own past experiences.  Miscommunication is how relationships are divided and since there is no such thing as perfect communication, Satan uses this tactic all the time.

I had to get a grasp on what was happening.  The environment felt so oppressive, confusing and unsettled.  I felt sick to my stomach over the spiritual mayhem and I knew I was not able to respond in a way that was powerful.  I personally had to step away from the group until I knew I was infilled with power and could withstand the negative forces that were coming against me.  

The lies that I was battling from this attack were:  

  • I was unheard.  
  • I was no longer needed in the group.
  • My role in ministry was not important.  
  • I am a teacher/discipler so I don’t get to have close friendships.  
  • I have to do ministry alone.  
  • I’ve made a mistake getting too close to Lisa and Maria by giving them my heart.  

 

Because I was believing these lies, following were ways I planned to respond:

  • I was already planning the next retreat in my mind without them.  
  • I was already planning the fundraiser without them.  
  • I was already rerouting in my mind how to move forward in ministry without them.  
  • I even told Lisa and Maria that they were ready to fly and needed to move on.  

 

Following is what Lisa and Maria were believing:  

  • I was abandoning them.  
  • That they had to figure out how to move forward in birthing their ministries on their own.
  • That I didn’t want to share the ministry fundraiser event with them because it was taking money from Dance Again.  
  • That they were going to miss out on retreats.

 

We all three felt as if we were grieving a death yet in the natural, nothing was different.  It’s insane how powerful oppression is! This attack caused mayhem for a few weeks.

 

My husband and I were planning a trip to Hawaii.  Maria texted me thinking we were leaving the following day to wish us safe travels.  I responded to her text and told her we weren’t leaving for another week. This is when Maria picked up her phone and called me.   

 

Maria called with the intent to clear up the misunderstanding over the day I was leaving for my trip.  One thing led to another and we found ourselves in a completely different conversations. Maria began addressing me with my attitude in prison the night before.  She said I appeared checked out.  After she confronted me about this, I explained how I had been feeling lately, that I was no longer needed in our group.  Maria then told me how she had been feeling, like she had to figure this all out alone etc. She shared that she could not shake the distraction from her emotions all day at work and I agreed, I had the same issue all day.  When we began sharing our feelings with one another, the lies we had both been believing were exposed. Then we discussed what the Lord had revealed to each of us earlier that day. I asked Jesus for truth over if I was needed in Hope Ranch.  The Holy Spirit responded to me by saying, “Dance Again is the foundation of Hope Ranch, without a foundation, a building cannot rise.” Maria said that she asked the Lord earlier that day if she had to build Hope Ranch alone, without me. The Holy Spirit said, “Hope Ranch is a cake and Dance Again is the eggs.  A cake cannot rise without the eggs.” When we shared what the Lord said to each of us, the oppression was instantly lifted. We both felt it! It was gone! As if it were never there. Restored in an instant! The power of the Holy Spirit cast off the darkness and it fled in an instant!

Maria and I were overcome with emotion as we both encountered the lifting of oppression together.  Wow! Words cannot define the consuming fire of Jesus’ love for us.

I learned that even though we can talk about a battle and know what is happening, there is no way to win a battle on our own.  We must allow Jesus to fight in the Spirit for us or Satan will have his way in our relationships. We must be infilled with Jesus’s power through revelation in order to have the ability to respond to one another in a way that is contrary to our flesh.  

Jesus is building something beautiful through the three of us working together.  Stick around to see what happens next…

A Time to Shelf It

Even when led by the still small voice of our perfect God, real life messes are unavoidable; we are imperfect people living in an imperfect world.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.  Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

 

Solomon was the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes.  Since he mentioned every season that we walk through in this life, a time to shelf it would have to fall under the category of, a time to be silent.  

 

After dinner one night, Maria and her husband were winding down from a typical work day. Lounging in their family room, Maria kicked her feet up and turned on the television.  She had just settled into a show, when she was distracted by a startling thought. It was as if this thought dropped out of the sky. Maria heard, “You are going to buy that house.”  Stumped by this bizarre message, Maria’s mind began racing with questions.

Who is going to buy a house, me?

What House?   

The house on the property we were on last week with the animals?  

Is that house for sale?  

How much does that house cost?  

Why would I purchase that house?  

How will I purchase that house?  

But I don’t want to move.  

Okay, I’ll move but what about my husband, does he want to move?

 

Maria knew better than to call me with this profound, confusing, revelatory information. The last time the Lord told Maria to purchase something, it was a horse.  She called me and by responding to my missionary thinking, fleet-footed pace, she ended up an owner of a new horse within twenty minutes.

This prompting to buy a house was unexplainable, Maria had too many questions needing answered before she could speak this out loud.  This would take Maria a few weeks to wrap her head around. Weeks passed as this Word from the Lord rested on a shelf in Maria’s mind, waiting for the breath of Life through confirmation.  

 

The thought of a Word from the Lord being shelfed waiting for confirmation to bring it to Life, reminds me of the story called, The Velveteen Rabbit. This story is about a stuffed rabbit and his desire to become real, through the love of his owner.  The rabbit is awed by this idea; however, his chances of achieving this wish are slight. One night, the boy’s nana gives the rabbit to the boy to sleep with, in place of a lost toy.  The rabbit becomes the boy’s favorite toy and…what was once hope, becomes real life.

 

One Relationship Away from a Forever Life Change

Even when led by the still small voice of our perfect God, real life messes are unavoidable; we are imperfect people living in an imperfect world.

Some people hang around the same friends for a lifetime.  But for those of us who live a lifestyle of discipleship, we are meeting new people every day and not just for a minute, some are for seasons, and others are for a lifetime. Regardless of the length of time, we know each person who crosses our path is for a kingdom purpose, so we approach all our relationships like missionaries.  God has a divine purpose in all our relationships because this is what we were created for. We were created for God Himself, and others.

 

After teaching the Fishers of Men Discipleship Training to small groups, there are usually a couple of people who want to continue going through the study.  These generally become the individuals who also begin teaching the study to others. Lisa and Maria started a small group on Wednesday evenings and have built trusting relationships with the ladies in their group.  One evening at their small group, one of the ladies told Maria that she had friend, who had a friend, who was interested in donating a couple of Miniature Horses to someone who would take exceptional care of them. Maria came to her mind because she was aware of Maria’s vision of Hope Ranch.  After class, Maria called me and asked if I would be available to go with her and Lisa to check out the animals. Maria contacted the owner of the Mini’s, and we planned to meet the following week.

 

We arrived the ranch early afternoon.  As we drove up the gravel drive, I noticed the clear blue sky and the warmth of the temperature; it was a beautiful day.  The owner was tending to the animals when he became aware of our arrival by the crackle of the gravel. As the vehicle approached, he stepped out to welcome us.  We then followed his lead into the barn where he introduced us to two Mini’s, a Clydesdale named Buddy, three Emus, and two Dogs. These animals were so friendly!  They surrounded us as children do when parents have guests into their home. The demeaner of the animals struck a chord in me that recalled a picture in my mind of one of my favorite childhood Fairy Tales, Alice in Wonderland.  

 

Instantly, Lisa, Maria, and I became aware of the galvanized environment.  The atmosphere was saturated with the love that all three of us were familiar with and in a moment, we realized that we had just stepped into a bubble of surreal grace.  All it took was a quick glance in making eye contact with one another for us to know we were all in agreement with what we were experiencing. We were stammered, in awe of this surprise party that Jesus had invited us to. My mind began dreaming as we realized something bigger was happening here.  We had not only come to simply meet a couple of Mini’s; in that moment, we all knew Jesus had something more in mind.

 

My mind surpassed the animals and I began wondering about the property as well.  I gazed into the opened fields behind the gated perimeter of the ranch, in wonder of who owned all that land.  In my imagination I was seeing Hope Ranch in full bloom. I could see Maria and her team helping children with disabilities through horse therapy and was mesmerized by the picture in my mind. While enjoying the tranquility of my internal thoughts, I could hear background conversation that Maria was having with the owner, they were discussing Maria taking all the animals.  

 

The owner informed Maria that he was a missionary and needed help with the animals when he was out of the country.  He gave Maria a stipulation, the animals could not be boarded on someone else’s property. He explained that they were more socialized than most and would not do well in such an environment. He offered a tradeoff, Maria could board Sierra on his property if Maria would agree to help his wife feed and care for the animals while he is on his trips.  I could see the wheels start spinning in Mara’s mind by the look on her face. Obviously, a final agreement was not going to be made immediately. Maria and the owner agreed to wait on the Lords leading and to revisit these ideas soon.

 

Lisa, Maria, and I got in the car to leave and we were wide eyed over what just happened.  We were not sure of what was coming next, but we knew it was different than what we had initially thought.  We pulled out of the gravel drive forever changed. Through new relationships, the direction of our lives took a turn.  The grace of Jesus had once again changed us forever.

Tennis Matters

Sanctification is growing in knowing who you are

By knowing who God is

By receiving His love for you

 

In 2016 the Gagliano family had four weddings.  My sister’s two boys and my two daughters were all married. This is one of the most memorable years for our family; filled to the rim with parties, showers, gifts, event planning, rehearsal dinners, buying dresses, laughter, dancing, and celebration.  

 

My sister and I were walking in the park one morning, as we passed a tennis court.  I asked her if she’d be interested in playing tennis after the weddings. I was searching for something to look forward to after the weddings were over since the year was such a high, and afterword, we’d both be empty nesters.  My sister loved the idea of tennis so spring of 2017 we started meeting at the park preparing for the tennis club in the fall.

 

Fall of 2017, we started playing tennis indoors in a women’s league.  My sister picked me up on our first day, we felt like we were on our way to the first day of elementary school.  Other than hitting the ball back and forth, I had never played tennis and now I was going to have to serve, keep score, and know where to stand on the court while playing doubles! We were both nervous and wondering why we chose to put ourselves through something so stressful.  

 

We survived our first day and have now been playing tennis for two years. After the first year, my sister and I signed up to play Inner Club which competes against other clubs. After the first month, I suffered from a knee injury that required surgery.  I withstood a couple months of rehab, then was back on the court, but I returned to Ladies’ Club while my sister continued with Inner Club. I will be back to Inner Club next season but for now, my sister and I only play with one another less competitively with a group of gals who rent a court each week.     

 

Looking back, we can both see our growth…

 

The Lord speaks to me through my tennis game about who I am, who He created me to be.  As I continue to grow in my athleticism with the sport, I am growing as a person by inviting Jesus on the court with me. Each week, I leave the court with a new understanding of life, of Jesus’ love for me, of who I am, and of who others are.  

 

I’m intrigued by what the Lord is teaching me and I’m excited to have a stream to feed, by journaling my thoughts through this blog.  There will be more themes to my blogs but so far, one theme is how the Lord births our purpose through us seeking Him for His heart. And this theme is about how the Lord cares so much about revealing to us who we are, that He even wants to play tennis with us.

 

Stay tuned as I share a day in the life of living a lifestyle infilled with Jesus’ power….

 

When God’s Thoughts Are Not Our Own

Even when led by the still small voice of our perfect God, real life messes are unavoidable; we are imperfect people living in an imperfect world.

A few months prior to our 2017 retreat in Panama City, Lisa landed a job as an Executive Assistant.  Her new position appeared to be a perfect fit for her family and lifestyle since she would be earning more money than she had ever earned in previous jobs.

 

After Lisa’s first week of working in her new position, she and I were together in the city serving a local ministry ‘s community outreach.  After several hours of serving, we arrived the parking lot where we had parked our cars. We were saying our good-byes when Lisa began talking about her new job.  She was saying how blessed she was to have landed such an amazing opportunity and how much she enjoyed her co-workers. She was smiling from ear to ear. In the very next breath, she started crying and was saying how she longed to be connected in the spirit and was concerned that she couldn’t do both.

 

I was listening to what Lisa was saying while at the same time hearing from the Lord because the contrast in Lisa’s demeanor appeared confusing.  Where were the tears coming from, I wondered? I assured Lisa that no matter where she was, Jesus was with her. I encouraged her by saying that her new job could be an opportunity to practice abiding in the presence of Jesus, while learning and getting acclimated to an unfamiliar environment at the same time.  She agreed by nodding as I was speaking, but I could tell that something deeper was going on with her.

 

Through Lisa’s words of uncertainty, the Lord was speaking to me.  He assured me that He was carrying her through this, that she would learn through this experience.  I wasn’t sure what was going on or how this was going to play out, but I was awakened in the spirit by this encounter.  

 

When things appear odd in the natural, it’s an opportunity to stoop in the spirit and pay attention.  As we grow, our eyes are unveiled to more odd things in the natural because as the Lord heals our hearts, He expands our vision in the spirit so that we can wait, watch and understand reality.  The bible refers to this as “Glory to Glory”. As we continue to grow into who God created us to be, more odd things light up in the natural which keeps us connected to the still small voice of the Lord.  The paths we walk in life are determined by choices we make. We can allow Jesus to be the source of our choices when we grow in hearing and seeing through the eyes and ears of our hearts.  This is what Jesus means by commanding that we allow Him to be Lord of our lives.

 

Lisa walked away, we both got in our cars and left.  I had a gut feeling that Lisa was stepping into a season that would ultimately change her life forever.  A choice was about to come knocking at her door. What path would she take? Would she be obedient?

 

Panama City 2017- Part 2

Lisa and I continued our in-depth conversation as the evening slowly progressed to morning.  Lisa was trying to explain her experience to me but wasn’t making sense. She was beating around the bush trying to stay obedient in waiting on the Lord’s timing in sharing the details of the revelation He’d been giving her.  During my confusion in trying to follow, I interrupted her and out of the blue asked if Dan White was going to be funding Hope Ranch. (Dan White is a fictitious name I’m using for privacy purposes). Lisa starred at me as if she had seen a ghost and began stumbling with her words.  She put her hands over her face and was paralyzed by what I had just asked, then she asked if we could move to the screened in porch for more privacy.

We got situated on the porch and I led Lisa to her secret place so that she could clearly hear from the Lord to find out if she was supposed to share the revelation with me.  Immediately, she heard from the Lord that this was the time to share.

Lisa shared that the Lord had been putting the same thing that I spoke out loud to her on her heart, that Dan White was going to be the primary source of funding for Hope Ranch.  We began speaking what was in each other’s mind and completing each other’s sentences. We continued in this posture for a couple of hours. We were wrecked by the power of the Lord in how He was laying out the course that we would be taking in carrying His heart for Hope Ranch.  

Amid tears streaming down my cheeks, simply overcome by Jesus, I spoke out loud without even realizing what I was saying,

“Lisa, this reminds me of a movie I saw about three minority women…”  (I was referring to the movie Hidden Figures, but I couldn’t think of the name).  

What I did say was, minority.  Minority was the prophetic word Lisa gave me a couple days prior that I had shelfed since I had no idea what it meant. This was the grand finale of our one on one time.  We physically couldn’t take anymore, so we thought. It was 2am and by the inactivity inside, it appeared that everyone else had already gone to bed so we decided to try to get some sleep.

When we walked into the condo, I turned to go into my room and found Maria awake in my room talking one on one with another girl.  I called for Lisa to come join me to share what the Lord just did with Maria. After sharing with Maria, following is what we knew:  

  • Dan White was going to be the primary source for funding Hope Ranch.  
  • Dance Again Ministries is the foundation of Hope Ranch.  We will build the culture by training all the volunteers and employees.  
  • The Gathering Place is going to be part of the Ranch and will also be built on the culture of Dance Again.  

We had no idea how, what, when, or where, but we did know why.  And we did know that we three women were in this together. We knew that the Lord was inviting us in His plan and purpose in building His kingdom and through His power, His strength and His wisdom, we said, YES!  

We stayed up another 2 hours and finally hit the hay at 4am.  The next morning, we were not even tired!

 

Panama City 2017

Even when led by the still small voice of our perfect God, real life messes are unavoidable; we are imperfect people living in an imperfect world.

A day in the life with Jesus does not compare to any other way of living.  There is never a dull moment; every day is a surprise party. Its like I stumble around in awe, unaware of the cares of this world that most people are grumbling about because I’m stricken by Jesus’s reckless love again.  How good is our God? No words can define His power, His timing, the way He orchestrates our lives.

Dance Again hosts two annual retreats.  

The spring retreat is a leadership building retreat that unites the leaders through risk taking adventure.  The location of this retreat changes every year.

The fall retreat is led by individuals who have gone through the Fishers of Men Discipleship Training curriculum and who feel impelled to teach the curriculum to others.  We invite 7-8 people on this retreat. We come to teach and learn, receive from Jesus, and bask in His presence.  The fall retreat is always held in the same place, Panama City, FL.

Lisa and Maria were invited to help lead the fall retreat of 2017. We loaded our team into a large Expedition fitting all 7 of us in one vehicle.  This is the best way to travel, we love the car ride, it is always a great start to an incredible experience. The best part about this car ride is that we are in no hurry to get there and we get to take pit stops whenever we want (unlike family trips when dad is driving).  

When we were close to approaching our destination, the Lord put on my heart to invite everyone to seek Him for a word for one another.  The following morning, we mingled into the family room area of the condo, got our coffee and breakfast, and all sat around the large dining table for opening prayer.  The opening prayer led to the sharing of our words for one another. The Holy Spirit fell on each of us as we shared His love. The word Lisa had for me was, minority.  I had no idea what the Lord was speaking to me by this word, so I shelfed it.  We hung out at the dining table in our pajamas for 4 hours, then we packed our lunch and headed to the beach for the lesson, alone time, and exercise.  

One of the girls on our trip is a dancer so after dinner, our evenings were spent learning line dances, playing volleyball in the pool, and hanging out in the hot tub.  We spent our evenings laughing hard (which is a priority for our retreats). One evening while we were winding down, I joined Lisa for one on one conversation. She shared with me how she was reading a book during her alone time and how the Lord was speaking profoundly to her through this book.  I asked her what book she was reading. Lisa did not share the title or the author of the book, but she did share that the book was a biography of an individual’s experience about how he started his company with the Lord as the foundation of His business. A picture of Hope Ranch came to my mind as I listened to Lisa with an inquisitive ear wondering what was going on in the spirit.

To be continued…

 

Birthing Pains

Even when led by the still small voice of our perfect God, real life messes are unavoidable; we are imperfect people living in an imperfect world.

Summer of 2017 was the first time Maria invited 5 of us to her cabin located in Grafton, IL for the weekend.  The picturesque view of the Illinois River runs 100 yards from the front yard of the cabin. The environment of this countryside setting is like an invitation to the human soul for resting in a meditative state of praise and thanksgiving.  But not without a full agenda of outdoor activity and a lot of laughter to boot. We spent the weekend studying the Gospel of John in the morning, then in the afternoon bike riding, hiking, kayaking, shopping, and horseback riding.

On Sunday morning we rode our bikes to a ranch for a 45-minute scheduled trail ride.  I hadn’t been on a horse in years. The sounds of the hooves, and the smell of the stables, brought memories to my mind of how I have always desired to have my own horse.  The gentle gate of the horse I was riding was therapeutic. I felt like I was being rocked to sleep.

The owner’s son was one of our guides.  He was taking up the back of the line which was behind my horse. I started asking him questions about the horse he was on because I could tell he had a special connection to her.  I asked him what her name was, and he said he wasn’t going to give her a name. I knew by his response that he wasn’t going to give her a name because he was trying not to get attached.  His horse was for sale.

Our weekend together at the cabin was filled with memories.  We cried tears of joy and awe as we encountered Jesus together in all that we experienced in both the natural and the Spirit.  We returned to our homes infilled, fulfilled, and satisfied which only the Holy Spirit can do.

On Monday morning, Maria called me while she was on her way to work.  She was crying tears of awe as she told me how the Lord awakened her in the middle of the night telling her that the horse who was for sale is named Sierra.  The name Sierra means, mountains.   The Lord put on Maria’s heart to buy her and said that Sierra is going to move mountains.  I encouraged Maria to hang up the phone with me and call the ranch right away.  I told her that Jesus is not going to change His mind and if that horse sells to someone else, we will spend more time trying to locate the horse, and more money purchasing her after she’s already been sold. Maria hung up the phone with me, called the ranch, then after 10 minutes called me back and said, “I am an owner of a horse.” Maria’s purchase was the birth of Hope Ranch.   

Birthing a ministry is a lot like birthing a baby except the pain is not physical.  The pain lies in the grueling thoughts from denying the flesh, submitting to the Holy Spirit, and walking in faith.  Jesus said that to be His disciple we must lay down our lives, our own ambitions. This surrendering of our selves is followed by the suffering that Jesus promises He will faithfully reward His children for, and make an everlasting covenant with them from.  

While the pain from the suffering of dying to our flesh is constant and real, so is the joy that comes in the morning.  

God is good.

 

“You’re Pregnant”

Even when led by the still small voice of our perfect God, real life messes are unavoidable; we are imperfect people living in an imperfect world.

You can read about the birth of my ministry in the book I wrote titled, Dance Again the Birth of a Ministry. Now that Dance Again Ministries is in full swing and I’m teaching how to live a life-style receiving healing by living infilled with the Power of Jesus’s love. I am privileged to get to watch the Lord birth dreams through others.  

In 2016, Dance Again Ministries started hosting two annual out of town retreats called, Body, Soul, and Spirit Live Whole and Balanced.  These retreats are intended to bless individuals by giving them an opportunity to get away from the fast paced, work centered culture of the American lifestyle.  By spending a week away from everyday pressures, and practicing the presence of God with fellow sisters in Christ, individuals get to experience a kick start in creating new habits of healthy balanced living.  Then they can return home and implement their new habits into their daily lives.

Lisa and Maria had just finished the 15-week, Fishers of Men Discipleship Training and were invited to attend Dance Again Ministries first retreat to Panama City Beach, FL. It was on this retreat, after a week of profound inner healing, that Hope Ranch was first made known to Maria through the revelation of the Holy Spirit.  The dream that she had silently held in her heart for years had been revealed and confirmed. It was as if she was just told by the Dr. that she was pregnant with child.

But what was she supposed to do with this vision that was just dropped in her heart?  Nothing, this is when we wait