A Story About Learning To Shine From Within

Recently our daughter, Jocilyn, came to me about a dream she had received that night while pondering ways to teach young children how to have a ‘good’ or ‘pretty’ heart. By using the terminology, ‘good’ or ‘pretty,’ Jocilyn was trying to describe a virtuous heart from a young child’s perspective. Her intent was a desire to teach them the importance of focusing on what’s on the inside of a person, rather than what’s on the outside. She vividly remembered the dream being about a house that had learned how to shine from the inside out. We sat together writing the details of the story as accurately as she could remember them from her dream. We then proceeded with a pursuit of child-appealing, colorful graphics that would best enhance and illustrate the sketch of the story. Thus, the story of The Little Ugly House was born.

In the process, I was reminded of a vision Jocilyn had six years earlier, following a move to our current home. In her vision, Jocilyn had seen me sitting at the computer as an angel approached. The words, “STOP STRIVING,” appeared on the computer screen. The angel instructed me to make coffee, and then to “go away for awhile” and give money to kids. When I returned, I discovered that our home had burned down. Everyone gathered around to comfort me, while at the same time they tried to get me to look up, because the Lord had already provided a brand new house right beside the burnt one. The new house had a fire burning on the inside that remained lit. I knew the fire within the house represented the glory fire of the Lord.

After drafting the book, the Lord led me to Romans 12:1-2 in The Message Bible. “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your every day, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

Six years ago this very month, we went forward for an altar call where we agreed to lay down everything we knew, loved, and held dearly (our family ministry, our family music, our church family and friends, our home, and community, etc.) in exchange for God’s very best – willing to take a faith risk in order to not miss out on anything the Lord had planned for us as a family or for us as individuals within our family. The Lord quickened to me through these verses that during the past six years of a very bizarre, and oftentimes difficult journey for our family, He has been at work bringing about His best in us, as we have been in the fire of maturation. The Little Ugly House is our story. The God of the Universe, in the midst of the multitude of everything going on in the world, took the time to give our 16 year old daughter a dream connected to a vision He had given her in 2005, in response to the altar call, our obedience, and all of the changes that ensued as a result. He then wove a simple childlike story into a revelation of how much He has loved our family through this journey. In the simple pages of a children’s book, He disclosed the details of all He had been at work doing in the recesses of our hearts to make us more like Jesus.

The Little Ugly House contains foundational truths that will empower a healthy love of self, a love for others, and a love for God. Salvation, the nature of Father God, and the Spirit empowered life in Christ are also taught in a way that even the youngest of children can grasp. The story encourages an understanding of being part of a much bigger plan in the Kingdom of God, and trusting our Heavenly Father’s good plans and purposes for each of us.

The Little Ugly House is about understanding our uniqueness and beauty in the eyes of our Heavenly Father. He created us to be an expression of His nature – His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The transforming beauty of Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, works within us and empowers us to shine with Heaven’s glory for His good Kingdom purposes here on the Earth, as it is in Heaven.

[Note: In addition to the dream and the book confirming a conclusion to the season we have been in, my husband and I attended the February Lutheran Renewal  Conference in the Twin Cities with Graham Cooke. While at the conference, my husband opened the notebook he had brought with to take notes, and proceeded to write down the date: 2/4-5/11 Graham Cooke. He decided to look back to the beginning of the notebook and see when he had started this particular notebook: 2/5/05 Graham Cooke (the very weekend, the very altar call, the very conference, and the very speaker that six years ago to the date, the Lord had used to confirm His leading in the very move that prompted Jocilyn’s original vision). Coincidence? Not. In the words of Graham Cooke, our Lord is ‘brilliant!’]