My Funny Friends

SelfieTechnically, I’m only half-bald!

Nina came over yesterday, and we kissed cheeks, Italian style.  I said, “You smell good!”  Nina shook off the compliment, saying, “No, I’m all sweaty!”  So I said, “OK, then you sweat flowers!”

Later, when I told Nina about something I was doing to secretly bless someone, she said, “You stink of God!”  So I responded, “And you sweat flowers!  What’s the difference?”

Felicity came over, and we gave her birthday cards.  She has been fasting, and I’ve never seen her looking more happy, peaceful, and energetic all at the same time.  Plus, her clothes are loosening up on her as a result.  The benefits of fasting are shining through Felicity’s body, soul, and spirit.

Nina and I said goodbye to Felicity and went to get our hair cut by mutual friend, Sybil.  Over the previous year, every time I went to get my hair cut, I had told Sybil, “Shorter!  Shorter!”  I guess she was used to people telling her “not so short!” so it had taken some time for her to understand that I really meant it when I said that I want my hair cut really short.  Last time I went to Sybil for a haircut was at the end of August, and she did it.  She finally cut it really short.  So this time I told her that I want it cut really short like the last time.  When Nina saw how short Sybil was cutting my hair, she said, “Girl, you’re being balded!”  And every time the subject of my new haircut came up, she reiterated about how bald I am.

Sybil laughed and told me, “Don’t worry about it, fratella.”  Sybil made up that word fratella.  The Italian word for brother is fratello, and for sister is sorella, so Sybil put them together (frate + ella) to make a new word: fratella.  Being a writer, I love that sort of thing!  Making up words is part of how languages flow and change.  The really good ones stick.  However, I don’t think fratella is ever going to be embraced.

Then Bethany came over.  Bethany jokes about being a missionary/evangelist thinly disguised as an English teacher.  She had moved in with a family for the purpose of teaching their 10 year old daughter English.  This family lives in darkness, both literal and spiritual.  They have a light fixture in the kitchen that broke some years ago, and has never been fixed or replaced.  So now their kitchen is terribly dark, and Bethany hates cooking there.  The dishwasher is broken who-knows-how-many years ago, and they have done nothing to fix it.  The father does all the washing up.  The one and only well-lit room in the entire apartment is Bethany’s room, which has a glaring florescent fixture that must be positively blinding after the darkness of the rest of the house.

Then one day, the family asked Bethany about her faith.  She told them about Jesus who came from Heaven to live with us as a human, and died for our sins so that we could be in Heaven with Him forever.  They digested this information in silence, and later sent her an SMS, informing her that she was fired because their lifestyles were “incompatible.”

Italy isn’t an easy place to be a foreigner, but instead of being worried about all this, Bethany said that she’s looking forward to the next adventure.  She knows that God has called her to Italy, so she is secure, being right where He has placed her.  Her assignment in that house is done, so it’s time to move on to the next Holy Assignment.  Our lives are so different from those of unbelievers, who worry about losing their job, who have no security from one day to the next.  Bethany knows that if you lose your job because of the Gospel, then God will give you an even better job.  If you have been faithful to share your faith, God will be faithful to take care of you and your family.

So now, as I am getting ready to go to Israel, I feel very grateful for the place where God has put me, and the people He has put in my life.  I love my funny, sweet friends!

How strangely appropriate that I’m posting about how sweet and funny my friends are on the Ides of March.  God has a great sense of irony and humor!  And of course, God is good!

Watch, Wait, and Try not to Explode!


A Personal Journey

Every time that I’ve had the opportunity to go to Israel, I prayed about it, and God told me, “No, not yet.”  That answer gave me hope because He wasn’t saying I could never go.  Implicit in His answer, there was the promise that when I do go, it is really going to be special and amazing.  So I knew that if I just watched and waited, my time would come (much like the Rapture! 🙂 ).

In December when I met Angus and Pamela (at the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Conference—talk about trying not to explode!), they told me that they lead tour groups to Israel every spring, and they invited me to come along.  I desperately wanted to say yes, but instead I said that I would have to pray about it.  When I did, instead of “No, not yet,” God said “Wait.”  So I waited, afraid that this was just another “No, not yet” reworded.  But about six weeks later, I felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit to go look at the website they had given me, Christian Tours To Israel.  But when I did, I saw that the tour was full.

However, I didn’t give up.  Instead I went on Facebook and sent Pamela a message, just asking that if a place opens up to let me know.  Sometimes it can take a week for people to respond to Facebook messages, but Pamela immediately responded, saying that they had a place for one woman.  I knew then that my time had come.

So I signed on for the tour, made my own flight arrangements from Italy (since the rest of them were flying from the US), and then came the hard part: trying not to explode from excitement.

Now it’s only a few days away, and the excitement is harder than ever to control.  Have you ever seen a dog that has a treat put right in front of it, and is told to “leave it”?  (Follow that link for a cute video example.)  Many times the dog looks away, occasionally checking to make sure that the treat is still there.  Well, I’m the dog and Israel is the treat.  I’m so excited about it that I’m afraid to think about it too much.  So like the dog, I look away, by busying myself with things here in Milan.  But I can’t resist thinking about it all the time.  What does God have for me there?  Honestly, I don’t know.  But I know that it will be amazing.  God is good!

Your Pants are on Fire!

They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.

When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!” 

Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” 

“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area. 

A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. 

Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region. 

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.  Mark 5:1-20

I love this passage.  The formerly demon-possessed man became the very first missionary!  Jesus gave him his own personal Great Commission.  He didn’t go to seminary or take any kind of training.  He got delivered and sent, just like that.

The Gerasene man also gives us hope.  He had been not just tormented, not just oppressed, but completely and totally demon possessed, and yet, God sent him out as a missionary.  It takes away every excuse for not answering a missionary call.

I was thinking about the Gerasene man today and it occurred to me to wonder how many soldiers were in a Roman Legion.  It turns out that there was somewhere between 4000-6000 men in a Roman Legion.  Notice that Mark says that there were about 2000 pigs.  Not that the number of pigs has to match the number of demons exactly, but one of the devil’s tactics is to scare people by making himself seem more powerful (or more numerous) than he actually is.

I’ve had Christians ask me, “Do you think the devil can read my thoughts?” with obvious terror in their eyes.  Absolutely not!  I told them.  But he’s been watching people since the beginning of time, so he can make a pretty good guess about your thoughts, based on his vast experience and your facial expression.  But don’t let that scare you.

The devil wants us (especially Christians) to be so paralyzed by fear that we never fight any spiritual battles.  But know this: the only way that the devil can possibly win is if we don’t fight.  And the only offensive weapon we have, according to Ephesians 6, is the Sword of the Spirit: God’s Word.  We don’t have to fight in the same way the world fights.  We just need to stand on the Word of God.  That’s what Jesus did when He was in the wilderness being tempted by the devil.

So how many demons were in the Gerasene man?  I don’t know.  But it wouldn’t surprise me if the devil didn’t fudge the number.  They do it in Washington all the time!  (Oops!  Did I really write that?)  But God is still good!

What do You Want From God?


That is a question Felicity asked me yesterday evening when she dropped by for a visit.  I didn’t have to take long at all on that one.  Here’s what I want:

  • I want all the gifts manifested in my life, family, and ministry (healings, raising the dead, creative miracles, all of it)
  • I want signs and wonders to follow me (and other believers, too!)
  • I want the world to see that we are truly different because our God is the one true God
  • I want for miracles in the lives of believers to be “business as usual”
  • I want the supernatural to be as normal for us as breathing

In other words, I don’t want much, I just want it all!  I want everything we’ve been promised in the Bible.  And what’s more, I expect all that.  Don’t hear arrogance in what I’m asking or in my expectation.  What sounds like arrogance is actually confidence.  I am standing on God’s Word, which is a very secure place to stand.

So why don’t we already have these things, given that it is all promised to us in God’s Word.  Well, I have a theory: it’s like how Jesus wasn’t able to do miracles in His hometown.  Did Jesus have the faith to do miracles?  Absolutely!  But practically no one there shared His faith.  I think that we are so infected by the negativity, pessimism, and unbelief of those around us (even by other Christians!), that healings and miracles have become a rarity among us.  So that even if we have the faith, ourselves, most of the people we live amongst do not.

What we need to do is to start infecting those around us with the opposite: positivity, optimism, and faith.  In these things, I want to be a one-woman plague, a “Faithoid Mary,” a “Blessoid Mary.”  And I want to set off others to be just as infectious in their neighborhoods.  We should be so contagious that when the devil sees us coming, he runs for his life.

So here’s my action plan: Felicity said that she is fasting.  I’m going to fast, too.  I’ve been invited to lunch tomorrow, so mine will be just for today and again on Friday (my usual fast day).  And in fasting and prayer, I will ask God for, well, everything!  The Bible says, “You do not have because you do not ask God,” (James 4:2b).  So I’m praying, fasting, asking, and I will receive!  God is good!

What do you want?

Vision and Extradimensional Prayer

This morning as I prayed (specifically during my prayers for Europe and for her missionaries and pastors), I had a vision:

I was kneeling at the side of my bed, and behind me I saw in my spirit a very bright ball of light about a yard in diameter, and at a distance of about 20 yards.  The light suddenly sped toward me and then suddenly I was riding it (in the same kneeling posture) like on a motorcycle, only it was much faster.  And it went zipping here and there.

It was thrilling!  But what did it mean?  As I continued praying, I remembered the advice I had recently heard: that we are to pray more and more in tongues in these last days.  Why?  Because that’s the only way to guarantee that we are praying the will of God: when the Holy Spirit is doing the praying for us.  The world is becoming so infected with the enemy’s deception that there are times when he’s able to deceive us, too.  So praying in tongues becomes more important for us now than ever before.

Now, for me the only problem is that my prayer language is very limited.  It started as a single three word phrase that was expanded to five brief phrases, repeated again and again.  Of course, all this is a matter of faith, and I shouldn’t try to analyze it with my human understanding.  But analyze is exactly what my mind did and continued to do.  For me there was the problem of Matthew 6:7-8:

When you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Instead of the word babbling, the King James Version says “vain repetitions.”  So this was a problem for me because a few words or even phrases repeated and repeated, especially in a language I don’t know, felt like babbling and vain repetition.  So today I just asked the Lord why and what value do these few phrases have when repeated and repeated.

His answer stunned me: He said that as Heaven is extradimensional (that is, existing outside of and beyond our three dimensions plus time), so the language of Heaven is extradimensional.  Thus, the cherubim eternally repeating, “Holy! Holy! Holy!” is not the repetition it seems to be to our ears.  Instead what we are hearing as repetition is actually an extradimensional echo of Heavenly language.

Immediately I remembered a recent vision that I had of the Temple in Heaven.  (I did not physically go to Heaven, but instead, Heaven’s veil was opened for me to take a peek at the Temple.)  What I saw almost defies description, but I’m going to attempt to explain it as best I can from my limited three-dimensional perspective.  For those who do not have an understanding of extradimensionality, follow this link to see visual representations of what one step up in dimensions would look like: (especially instructive is the diagram halfway down the page that shows a cube from different angles in three dimensions and a four-dimensional cube (or hypercube) from the same angle).

What I saw was the Temple as represented in drawings in the back of many Bibles: the Outer Court, the Inner Court, and the Holy Place.  But instead of being set on the ground, where you enter by walking in, it was sort of like concentric cubes (cubes within cubes), the Outer Court cube, the Inner Court cube (completely inside the Outer Court cube), and the Holy Place cube (completely inside the Inner Court cube).  And I went through the court cubes from above at an angle.  It felt strange and familiar at the same time, sort of like how dreams feel.

So today’s lesson is to pray in tongues.  It’s more important now than ever before.  And don’t be bothered if it seems repetitive, that is just Heaven’s echo effect.  God is good!

Pocket Dialed Bible Verse

Get Back on that Horse!

pocket dialed

God is calling!

On New Year’s Day I wrote a post titled Unposting in which I made a public apology for having inadvertently hurt someone I love.  The offense was in something I had written in my blog, which is also published on my Facebook page.  At that time I took a voluntary hiatus from both blogging and facebooking.

Soon after that, we met to talk, and I apologized in person.  We cried together, and the relationship was restored—perhaps better than ever before.  Slowly I began posting again, but to be honest, it has been really hard to get back in the swing of writing again.  Part of the reason is that I know I need to write about this painful episode.  In my writing I take Hemingway’s advice to write hard and fast about the things that hurt (and everything else, for that matter), so I’ve been somewhat blocked because of avoidance.  Plus, there’s a sort of rhythm you develop when you write daily that, once interrupted (and especially for this long) is really hard to get back.

Then yesterday I checked my phone upon returning home.  You know how sometimes the phone in your pocket inadvertently dials one of your contacts.  Well, instead of pocket dialing a person, my phone had opened my Bible app while in my pocket.  I figured that maybe God was calling me, so I looked at the passage it was opened to: Deuteronomy 27, in which Moses built an altar on Mount Ebal and was about to pronounce the curses that would come if the Israelites did not follow God’s command when they crossed over the Jordan River into the Promised Land.  The verse that stuck out for me was verse two:

When you have crossed the Jordan into the land the Lord your God is giving you, set up some large stones and coat them with plaster.

They were to set up large stones in plaster as a memorial of God’s Law.  Immediately I understood that what God was telling me is that I need to get back into writing because with my writing I am setting up a memorial, not of God’s Law, but of God’s Love in our New Covenant with Him.

I had hurt and been hurt through my writing, but writing is also a holy task for me.  So I need to get back on the horse that had bucked me off (pardon my Texan analogy, but I can’t deny my roots!), and write again.  God is good!

writing cafeHere’s the cashier’s post at my new favorite writing cafe.

Exchanging Surprises

After returning from Biella, I chatted on Facebook with my dear friend, Angelica. Suki and I visited Angelica at her home last year after Tony Anthony’s visit to nearby Modena (which I wrote about in last year’s post Encouragement from Above). From that visit was born a very deep and dear friendship. Angelica is one of those people who God has put into my life to encourage me, so visiting her was one of my priorities upon returning to Italy.
Angelica is Albanian by birth, so I wanted to tell her the exciting news about going to Tirana to pray for Albania with Operation Capitals of Europe, about Bogdan (her countryman) going with us, and especially about taking Albanian worship to the Feast of Tabernacles in Poland in October (all of which I wrote about in my last post Surprises).
Here’s our Facebook chat, after we set up a day & time for me to visit:
Angelica: can you stay here till sunday afternoon ?
only, if you can
Me: No, I can only stay for the day.
Angelica: ah ok
Me: But we can plan for a longer visit sometime
Angelica: would be great !
Me: I have something exciting to tell you!
Angelica: wow ! I can’t wait.
Me: But I want to tell you in person.
Angelica: good
Me: See you tomorrow!
Angelica: I have something good for you too…
you will like it a lot
Me: We will both have to wait
Angelica: hehehe yeah
I was so excited about telling Angelica my news that her surprise for me was almost completely eclipsed. I must admit, this is also what I do with any surprise. I am like a little kid when it comes to surprises and gifts, I get very excited and can’t think about anything else (if you notice, I’m also that way about the coming Rapture!). So what I do to enable myself to function is that I deliberately make myself forget that there is a surprise coming. This time it was so effective that I literally had forgotten all about it until after the lovely meal Angelica had prepared for me. First, I told her my surprise, about going to Albania and taking Albanian worship to the Feast of Tabernacles in October. Then she told me her surprise for me: she has talked to her pastor about having me speak at the Women’s Retreat in June. The pastor countered with an invitation that I speak briefly this coming Wednesday at the Women’s Tea.
This is a fabulous opportunity to encourage a local body of believers. I have never been invited to speak to any church or church group in Italy (or anywhere in Europe) before, not even my own home church in Milan. Of course, I said that I would do it.
After I returned home, Angelica wrote to me that her pastor said she had already gotten a speaker for the Women’s Retreat. The disappointment that she felt was obvious. However, a lot can happen between now and June. I have already prayed that if God wants me to speak at the retreat that He will open the door for me. I feel peace about it. After all, it’s out of my hands now. If God wants me to speak there, then nobody can stop me. Still, I am invited to speak on Wednesday evening at the Women’s Tea. So I have been praying for the guidance of the Holy Spirit about what to speak about. I have an idea what He wants me to talk about, but I always leave room for the Holy Spirit to flow and say whatever He will through me.
It’s possible that the pastor doesn’t really have someone else, and is just putting Angelica off to take the pressure off until she’s heard me speak. But whatever the case may be, I feel at peace about it because I have put the whole matter into God’s hands. I just want to be His instrument to bring healing, hope, and encouragement to these women, whether it’s only on Wednesday or also in June. God is good!


I have just gotten back home to Italy almost two weeks ago. After a four month absence, I had several things that had to be taken care of immediately. Once those things were taken care of, I could do my favorite thing: visiting the people who are important to me. These are dear friends who pray for me daily. I do the same when I’m in the US, but sometimes I have to be content with a phone call, mailing a card, or sending e-mail because of the vast distances involved—I have praying friends in the US on both coasts and from north to south, so going to visit is not always an option.
My first visit was to my favorite church in the whole world: the church of Biella. Biella is a small city north of Turin, and this church has the friendliest people of any church anywhere. They actually argue over whose turn it is to host me. The pastor is a good friend of many years, and his preaching is so full of the Holy Spirit anointing that nobody could ever complain that going to church is boring.
Last year the church bought a bar. What they call a bar in Italy is as much a coffee shop and sandwich joint as it is a bar, and more than that, it functions as a meeting place where often you can also enjoy live music. So when friends decide to get together for a coffee, they will go to their local bar. The church’s bar is far more than a typical Italian bar because in addition to indoor and outdoor coffee shop space, it has two big rooms with tables for eating (with a foosball table for the kids in the room farthest back), a good-sized courtyard and beyond that, a large gravel bocce court.
When I told Felicity about going to Biella (she and the core of Biella’s worship group came with me in September to bring Italian worship to the Feast of Tabernacles in Kalisz, Poland), she wanted to come, too. I admit, I told Felicity, hoping that she would come with me. I travel alone most of the time, and I’m fine traveling alone. But having the company of a dear friend is so much better. So Felicity brought her guitar, and it turns out that God had an assignment for us at the church’s bar.
But first there was a divine appointment on the train. The train to Biella can go either to Novara and change or to Santhia and change. Either way takes about the same amount of time. I usually go by way of Santhia because it costs something like twenty cents less, and I used to be a coupon-clipping housewife, so twenty cents saved is something I appreciate. When I bought the train tickets, I had on my walking glasses and not my reading glasses, so I didn’t notice that the tickets said via Novara. The conductor pointed it out as he checked our tickets just past Novara, so we were already committed to going by way of Santhia. If I had noticed, I would have made sure that we changed trains in Novara, but I hadn’t. But that turned out to be not so much because of the wrong glasses as it was a divine appointment on the train from Santhia to Biella. I had seen a woman get on the train and ask in Italian if it was the train to Biella. She sat by herself near where Felicity and I sat. We were speaking English, and as an American, her ears perked up. When she heard Felicity say something about music, she couldn’t keep to herself anymore. It turns out that she is a singer/songwriter and she’s touring, playing in bars all around Italy. We spoke to her about our faith and she was so touched that she gave Felicity a couple of CD’s.
We arrived in Biella around lunch time, but everyone who usually picks me up from the train station was busy, so Pastor Fabio sent Silvestro to pick us up. I had never met Silvestro before, and he had only enough time to take us from the train station to the church’s bar, then he had to go because his son was getting married in a couple of days. It wasn’t until I talked to Giuseppe (the bass player and leader of the worship team) that I put it all together: Giuseppe told me that his daughter is getting married in a couple of days . . . to Marco, who I then realized must be Silvestro’s son.
Anyway, Silvestro dropped us off at the bar and went to finish the wedding preparations. Pastor Fabio had told me that he wouldn’t be able to come pick us up from the bar until around 4 that afternoon. So Felicity and I enjoyed a nice piadina (sandwich wrap) in the sunny courtyard. Just as we were finishing lunch a man came into the bar who was very clearly drunk. He ordered a beer and sat near us, scrutinizing us because he had never seen us before. When he heard us speaking English with each other, he began interrupting. I don’t normally mind someone interrupting a conversation like that—in fact, it’s often a divine appointment, as with the woman on the train. But his interruptions became increasingly disruptive and we even noticed a hostile undertone to them.
Felicity looked at me and said, “I think we need to do some spiritual battle.” So she pulled out her guitar and started to sing praise songs. I immediately felt like I should be dancing, but aware of how weird my holy dancing looks, I hesitated. But then I got up and danced, and I felt the flow of the Holy Spirit as I danced and Felicity played. I sang along with her, sometimes in counterpoint, sometimes in harmony. The drunk tried several times to stop our worship, but seeing that we were not going to stop, he gave up. He went inside and came back out with another beverage: water! He made a few feeble efforts at stopping the worship, but his heart wasn’t in it.
Please understand something: the decision to do spiritual battle was not against the man.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

We recognized the spiritual forces at work in his drunken combativeness. As we worshiped, he settled down—an outward sign of the enemy retreat. At that, Felicity began singing in Italian so that the man could understand that we were singing about Jesus. Because silencing the enemy was not the entire point, sharing the love of Jesus was! But we couldn’t do that until we had the enemy silenced.
Giuseppe told me that he is taking the whole Biella worship team to Poland in October for this year’s Feast of Tabernacles. He didn’t invite me, and I didn’t expect him to. I felt like I was the midwife who helped this baby be born, but now that it was walking, the baby didn’t need me anymore.
Upon our return to Milan, Felicity told me that I should tell Bogdan about my upcoming trip to Albania. Bogdan is Albanian and he is very committed to praying for his country. She also said that he would probably be interested in going to the Feast of Tabernacles as Albanian worship. So she set up a meeting with Bogdan for the next day, and I told him first about going to Tirana to pray for the capital, and then I told him about Tabernacles, and how there was no Albanian worship there. He was very excited about both prospects, checked his calendar, and found that both time periods were open. So it looks like I will be midwife now to Albanian worship at the Feast of Tabernacles. God is good!