rest

this might be one of the hardest seasons yet.

i am writing this from a gazebo, with a very anxious puppy under my legs and an empty coffee cup.

but there is a sweet breeze. and i’m surrounded by stunning trees. and i’m reminded of the sweetness and provision of our God.

it has been really hard to rest. even in this invitation to rest, i find myself wanting to make a schedule of things to do, books to read, bible studies to complete, journals to write. but then i actually find myself watching netflix and scared that my new dog is going to bark all day if i leave the house.

last semester, when i was in the middle of school, i remember praying for my next job. i remember saying

“I am so tired of always looking and scavenging for jobs, God, it would be really nice if this next job found me.”

i might have even prayed that a few times. and i remember thinking, “okay, yeah. a job is not going to find me. i’m not that cool or even known” and i kept striving and grasping to apply and find a job in meantime.

well here i am. a week and half post-grad, with no job. instead, i have a sincere and direct invitation from the Lord to rest. and even as i am typing these words, under the gazebo at the park i am asking myself, “but is that really what He said? am i sure I heard Him right? maybe i’m just misinterpreting this whole thing” stupid satan. go-away. i must ask myself these questions about three times a day, minimum. but i know the truth. i know HIs voice, and i know what He said.

one of the many days where i was asking and striving and applying for RANDO jobs, i came to Him exhausted and a little teary telling Him how tired i was, and how i just wanted a job. and He said,

do you remember what you prayed last semester?”

and i knew what He meant. so i said “yes, but i can’t wait on a job to find me. and they aren’t going to find me. thats ridiculous. i need to find one now.” and He said,

“do you remember the first part of that prayer?”

and i said, “yeah, i’m so tired of looking!!!! like i am right now!!!” and He said,

“so I wanted to give you the rest you’ve been looking for.”

so true to who He is. He sees past the request i am making, and into the one i am really making. and that was a request to stop striving. to rest.

and that is what He is giving me. but it’s not as sweet and nice as it sounds. it is really hard to rest. to stop and slow down. but it also doesn’t mean vegging out. and doing nothing. so i am learning to find the balance. spend time asking Him what He wants me to do, and how i can rest more.

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grace

if i had to sum up this whole year into one word, it would be

grace.

before this year, i would have defined grace more as a quality someone has when they were elegant and the opposite of clumsy. which i would say is still true. but i did not really see grace from a spiritual perspective. i think in church i learned more about the word “mercy” than “grace.” not a bad thing, i just wasn’t familiar with the word. but this year, i learned.

today, i would define grace as “ a space being made for you, without you doing any of the work.” kind of weird. but let me explain. in my head, i see grace like this:

me, standing at the edge of a forest, a dense, thick, dark forest, that i can’t see through. but i know i have to walk through. and then, i imagine grace to be a soft, sweet buffer, that comes in, and makes a path for me through the forest. not a straight line path, but a path that grows as i walk. never getting too far ahead of me. but sweet, and gentle.

maybe that is a really weird description. and maybe it only makes sense in my head. but it makes so much sense.

when i think about this past year of school, all i see is grace. i see how Jesus went before me, right before me, and cleared a path for me. He made a space for me. and i see how i didn’t do any of the path-clearing work. i was just obedient. and responded. i stopped when the forest was thick, and waited on Grace to make the way. and He did everytime.

i once read a book that said to think of grace as a person, and that person is Jesus. and i really liked that explanation. it made a lot of sense to me. Jesus came and made a way for us back to Heaven. He came and made a space for us, without us doing any of the saving work. by grace, we have been saved (Ephesians 2:8-9). by Jesus.

i experienced this grace time and time again through school work, co-workers and clients. they made a space for me, when i didn’t do the work to earn it or deserve it. they gave it anyway. grace is humbling. and inspires you to want to pass it on.

i have learned to apply the grace i learned to my own life. this grace mandates that you give yourself space. to miss the mark sometimes. to be late every now and then. to wear the same outfit twice in one month. to not know the answer. to give the wrong answer.

this grace has changed everything. it has been the sweetest balm to the wound of striving and achieving. it has given perspective and purpose and identity. it is life giving. and life saving.

dreams

i

L O V E

dreams.

i love talking to people about the dreams of their heart, the dreams they have seen come true, and the ones they are still holding out for, and even the ones that have been long buried and are waiting to be excavated for fresh vision and life.

and i love having my own dreams. i love dreaming big with God, because you can’t out dream Him (Ephesians 3:20-21). and ya know what is so cool? the dreams that we have, were originally His. He is just letting us borrow them while we were here. it has been His dream all along to start the businesses we want to start, to reach and heal the people we want to serve, to take that extravagent vacation. He dreams about giving us all these things. but ya know what is even cooler?

we are His dream come true.

He dreamed of us, and now we’re here. and He takes so much delight in that.

but anyway, back to talking about dreams. it is one of my favorite things to do. i think when we take time and ask ourselves about our dreams, we can find the direction our heart truly points. we find what ignites our spirits. we find the God-given purpose and calling that we have been looking for. inside of us. all along. how loved are we that He trusts us with it?

during this current season, i am bombarded with options of “what comes next.” it might as well be the golden corral of job options. so i wanted to remind myself of some of my dreams and be encouraged by the God who will see them to the end.

  1. to serve the Lord in all that i do
  2. to be a wife
  3. to be a mom
  4. to always have a home that is welcoming, safe and warm
  5. to see women walk in freedom
  6. to build and contribute to a solid community of sisters
  7. to be a good sister
  8. to have a massive garden
  9. to have a healing retreat center for ministry workers
  10. to listen well
  11. to write a book
  12. to speak at a conference
  13. to help heal the church
  14. to make resources to help people heal

i’m sure i could come up with so many more, but i think they all lead back to these core dreams. i know that the list will get longer and grow as i grow. but you can’t have your dream job, without naming your dream first.

identity

i would say that this last year/ten months i have learned a lot about identifying.

identifying mental illnesses, coping skills, theories, techniques, friends, foes, words, feelings, thoughts, prayers, spirits. the list goes on and one. but i would say the most important thing i have learned to identify is myself. cheesy, i know. but true.

this year, i have had to learn about myself to learn how to be a good clinician. i have had to learn my own beliefs, values, thoughts, triggers, strengths & weaknesses. and all of those things feel external. even though they exist within me, they feel like something i can quantify and count. but this year and this process pushed me to go further. it pushed me to integrate those external qualities and find a place for them inside myself. to identify myself with those things as a part of who i am, not a hat i can take on and off.

if you ask me what my strengths are, 10/10 i would say “hard-working” first. i have always identified myself as hard-working. what a good quality to have. i have always worked so hard at everything put in front of me. it is one of the things i am most proud of about myself.

but hard working isn’t a real thing.

i mean it is. it is a great quality to have. and work towards. see-there is that word again, work. but hard-working doesn’t translate. because when you’re hard working, you get all the work. from everywhere. from peers, from family, from friends, from supervisors, but mostly, from yourself. there is never a break. because you’re always hustling. always running to the next thing. if there isn’t something happening right now in front of you, then you have to find something to throw yourself into. because that’s who you are. you are hard-working.

and that is how i measured my value. by my output. by how much work i could take in and how much i could produce. notorious for working more than one job at a time. working more than 60-80 hours in a week. taking 18 hours of course work and being involved in 10 organizations. as soon as one thing ended, i had the next thing lined up. because that’s how you produce and show your worth, what you bring to the table.

when i told my counselor this she said “it’s almost like you’re running from yourself. from the truth of who you are.”

which is a very counselor thing to say, and seems like it would be #3 on the list of generic responses to tell your clients. right below #2 “Mmmm, that makes a lot of sense”  and #1 “You’re safe here. ”  but i let it go in one ear and out the other. because i definitely have some bad habits, but work wasn’t one of them. work is what made me worthy. it gave me identity and purpose.

but graduate school really turned that idea on it’s head. because there is no way, let me repeat, no way you can finish this program on your own. you just can’t do it. you have to have support, and supernatural help. seriously. as the program got harder, i realized i actually could not do this work, and was going to need some help. so i leaned in. and He helped me. there were so many nights at 3am, crying because i knew i couldn’t finish the 12 page paper due at 8am, because i was only on page 5. but leaning into Him, i surprisingly found 7 more pages to write. and presentations that i had no idea how to even put together, but after a few days, they were done. and sessions and conversations that i didn’t know how to respond to or how to start, that happened. there was trauma that i couldn’t imagine, and grace to hold that space. it was incredible to watch Him work through me, because i really had nothing to give.

at first, i thought He was doing all of this because i was a hard worker, and had committed and obeyed and now He would do these favors for me. but as i got to know Him more, and see the magnitude of what He was doing-the healing He was bringing, and the knockout papers He was writing-i began to understand it differently.

He was helping me based on my identity. but not the one i thought i had. not because i was a hard worker. but because,

i was His daughter.

what dad doesn’t want to help his daughter with her homework? what dad doesn’t what to go out of his way to make sure his girl isn’t alone? what dad doesn’t want to be able to stay up late with her as she works on her latest project and presentation?

and how sweet is that. His help wasn’t something i earned. there was nothing i could do to earn His help. it wasn’t contingent on getting an A or the highest participation rate. it was freely given. all i had to do was ask. literally ask, and rest. and watch my Dad ace the work. every time.

it was a sweet lesson to let Him replace my identity, as a hard worker, with His as His daughter.

now, in this new season, He has called me to rest. to not work in the traditional sense. but to spend time with Him. remembering. reconnecting. healing. processing. it is really hard because my tendency is to want to work. to jump into a job. i cannot tell you how many times i have been tempted to look for a small part time job here. even while i wait. but i hear Him say over and over,

“will you not take the rest I have provided for you?”

He is asking me to really seal in this new identity thing. He is asking me learn more about myself and about Him, without the false identity of a hard-worker. breaking levels of pride and thoughts of “what will other’s think or see?” it is not easy. it is actually a daily struggle to keep my eyes on Him. but His grace is sufficient. and His peace is sweeter than honey. and His presence makes us whole. 

free cupcake

last night was very sweet. last night was a good reminder.

when i first moved to Waco, one of the very first things i did was attend the Grace House fundraiser event. i was brand new to Waco and to Grace House. i was literally a “nobody” i walked around talking to actually no one, and awkwardly helped people sign up to volunteer at Grace House. but it was such a sweet night. and it was encouraging and hopeful, because i got a glimpse into what i would be doing for the next year. and i felt God’s fatihfulness in that room, because He had made the impossible happen. He had pioneered a way for me to be in the room. it was a great start to my time in Waco & Grace House.

last night was the Grace House fundraiser, again. and i went and volunteered again. but it was a totally different experience. i knew so many people there. i knew what was going on. i knew Grace House. but mostly, i knew my girls. and it was so good to see them. so fancy and dressed up! and it was a sweet night just getting to celebrate all the hard work we had done together.

particularly, hearing two of my clients share their testimony. wow. i get teary even thinking about it. to have been in the trenches with them. and cried with them. watched them cry and process and work so hard to overcome and reach health. and to hear the fears and doubts. and to hear the promises God was giving them. and watch the healing and restoration happen in front of my eyes. and celebrate with them when they had a good day, and used their voice and set boundaries. and then to see them last night.

watching God’s faithfulness unfold in front of my very eyes. to watch them walk in the promises God gave them. to see them share their stories of hope and breakthrough and healing. it was more than my little heart could handle.

and to hear the small voice, of “you were a part of this” to know that i was able to be a part of that journey. and to walk with them to freedom and health. more than i can express. it was just so sweet. His faithfulness is so moving.

and it was a good reminder that He will be faithful again. He hasn’t stopped. i haven’t used up all His faithfulness. He has more favor to pour out. i just have to receive it. my heart was overwhelmed by His goodness last night. and what He let me be a part of. and also, the sweet free cupcake from magnolia that He gave me. that was a pretty sweet thing, too!

reminder

last night i read through old blog posts. it was so good. its is crazy how easily we forget what we go through sometimes. it is fun to read posts written when i didn’t know what the answer was yet, or how the story was going to unfold next. but it was also good to be reminded i have had seasons that are similar to now, and they worked out. God moved in them. and orchestrated far more than i knew to ask for. particularly when i look back at the austin internship situation.

i literally did the opposite of what i was supposed to do. i trusted what God was telling me, and moved in the opposite direction of what was supposed to happen. and He provided. it was a hard season. but it was a good season. and i has everything i needed. new stories were written and new paths were made that year. but mostly. it was a good reminder of how it felt to be there. the uncertainty. how actually nothing made sense. how sad i felt. how forgotten i felt. but how God was moving me through it, and i was listening and obedient.

this season feels similar. everything He is asking from me feels counter-cultural. or even against intuition. it feels wrong. and everyone’s responses seem to really drive that point home. the wide eyes, the “hmmm-okay” look. the uncertainty in their face. and you would think that this would give me more confidence that i am doing the right thing, because “the world does not agree.” you would think this would remind me of the time with the austin internship and how i had to do the opposite.

but it hasn’t.

it has made me more nervous. and anxious. and graspy. and made me feel more insecure and less confident about what i am doing. it has pushed me to a place of striving.

so to read those blogs. those feelings. those questions. those doubts. was really helpful. it was such a good reminder that God is working. and this is just His M.O. for now. He often calls us to do the last thing we ever thought we would be doing, in the most unforeseen way. but the best part is, it is exactly what we needed.

i needed to be reminded that He is good. that He has made a way before. that this isn’t His first time. that He isn’t nervous about me not having a job. He’s actually the one person who looks back at me with steady eyes, a sweet grin and pulls me in when i tell him what i am doing. it is such a good reminder that He knows what He is doing, even when i don’t.

the lessons of the msw

i learned so much in these last ten months as i have pursued my Master of Social Work. i am so overwhelmed by the Father’s faithfulness, provision, grace and favor over these last few months. i have been impressed by my own learning and ability to utilize new skills and help people reach freedom. but i wanted to share some of the lessons i learned:

  1. how to be an integrated person-one of my biggest lessons this year was how to integrate who i am in my values, beliefs, interests and joys into who i am as a professional. learning that what makes me special as a friend, makes me a wildly special clinician.
  2. i don’t have live from a place of scarcity– i had to learn that I don’t have to grasp and fight for survival, Jesus died for me to have life, and life abundantly (John 10:10). i am not at risk of being forgotten or left behind.
  3. there is no striving in His love– i could never do anything to earn His love. its freely given.
  4. excellence is the boldness & willingness to do hard things- excellence is hard, but it isn’t perfectionism. excellence means to honor my commitment, and give my all to a project, but to know when to give myself grace for my own abilities and limitations.
  5. i am freaking strong– the more i learn about what resilience is, the more i realize my own. the more i move outside of myself, and move from competition to appreciation, i am able to honor the strength i have been given and used.
  6. everything has a spirit– but really. there is a spirit for everything, and it is my job to cultivate or rebuke those spirits.
  7. how to identify things– i have learned language and concepts for what things really are. what sadness is, what joy is, what connection is, what disconnection is, what returning means.
  8. breaking cycles of shame changes lives– i have been honored to walk with women as they identify shame in their lives and break the cycles & chains of shame in their families. i have heard stories of freedom and life. and i myself have learned how to identify shame, and put it in its place.
  9. rest is powerful, if it is done right– i thought i knew what self-care was. LOL. what it is not is vegging out and watching netflix & staying in bed all day without talking to another soul. it is not jam-packing as many friend visits into a weekend. its about checking in with my own heart, and seeing what is missing and what i need to do to rest, and take care of that need. which might mean staying in my pjs, but it also might meaning having a FaceTime call with a sweet dear friend. it might mean listening to worship music, or buying a blank canvas and painting with big strokes.
  10. He just wants to be close– That’s it. that’s what He wants. to be close to us. he is not scared by our wounds or our unbelief, He moves in closer. He pursues. He is enough. there is delight in who He is. His presence makes us whole. He loves to draw near and speak. its His favorite thing to do.

wind: update

i turned 23.

i graduated from graduate school.

i got a puppy.

i am unemployed.

its been an eventful few weeks. but i wanted to give an update about the wind.

my birthday was in the beginning of may, the day after i finished my big, final presentation for my degree. (how sweet is Jesus to wrap up a season on the last day of 22). and for my birthday/graduation gift, i just wanted to have some time to rest & relax. i asked for this gift before i really knew about this idea for God to call me into more rest. but regardless. i asked if i could go to a hotel at the beach town close to home, with my mama, lay by the pool & get some pampering to unwind from all the hard work. so we did. and He did.

and He did.

it was definitely one of those experiences where you didn’t realize how stressed, tired, overworked, high-strung, sleep-deprived and anxious you have been, until you take a second to stop. and boy, was i was exhausted. so tired. it was a sweet change to not have to check my email for edits, or my grades & feedback comments for adjustments. it was sweet to spend time with my mama, who is full of wisdom and grace. but mostly, it was sweet to reconnect with the Father. i didn’t think we were that disconnected, until i got to reconnect with Him during those few days.

one of the days there, we went and layed out by the pool. on a thursday. in the middle of the morning. like 10am. it was even kind of cold. very windy and cool so early in the day. hardly anyone else was out there, and we just layed out soaking up the sun. close to the shore. and i put my headphones in and played the latest Bethel album, Starlight. i am convinced one of my spiritual gifts is to be able to hear worship songs as Jesus singing over or to me. so i was laying there, soaking in the Son. and being reminded of His love, His relentlessness. remembering what it felt like to be connected to Him. literally letting myself notice and feel what it felt like to let go of stress and tension. but after a while, i was getting pretty cold. how weird. i was laying there, trying to get a tan in May, in Texas, but i was cold. so i decided to check the temperature, and i said to myself “gosh, it is so windy today.” and as soon as i thought it, i heard him say,

“see, when you rest, you will always catch my wind.” 

and completely caught me off guard. i had forgotten about the need to rest, and even the need to catch the wind. truly, when i was delighting in the sun, and the Son, and who He says i am, and who He is, i was able to find a real rest. and in that rest, i found Him. and His wind.

the wind was 23 mph.

just Him showing off. that He doesn’t miss a thing. and the wind kept blowing, and washing over me. and i could feel things in my heart shifting. i could feel the significance of His wind, his heart-shifting wind, changing my circumstances, and my vision and perspective. but mostly, healing my heart. and bringing me into deeper rest. and man, what love exists in the rest. its actually disarming.

this experience at the beach was powerful, and moving. those moments where you feel so seen & known by God mark your heart. and it has. it was a solid invitation to move into more rest. i felt a shift in my heart over those few days.

on my way to this mini vacation, i was stressing out about the next steps, job searching, bills, loans, licensure-all that was coming down the pipe at me pretty quickly. as i was rattling these things off to Him, as if He had forgotten that they were coming, i remember Him saying

“won’t you take this rest I am trying to provide for you?”

and I remember thinking, “hmm, okay, thanks, that’s sweet. but i really don’t have time for that Jesus.”

but He is sweet and patient and still pursues when we are weary and don’t catch on the first, or fiftith time. since those few days at the beach, i have been very tempted and challenged to reach, and strive for what’s “next.” and i have definitely caved some days. but i am trying to lean into this season of rest He is providing. i am trying to remember His sweet voice, and the deposit of faith, that i found in the rest.