intimacy

i have written about this in pieces in other places, but i needed to put it in one place.

you always hear people talking about avoiding intimacy and the problems with intimacy. and i have heard it, alot. but i never thought that i dealt with any of that, because i wasn’t dating anyone or married. so that excludes me. LOL. that is actually the definition of an intimacy problem.

but as i have been spending this time preparing for what it would mean and be to be married, i came to the place where i realized that i was going to need to look at intimacy. and figure out how to relate that to God.

so as i looked at God, and intimacy, i could see a pretty clear connection between Jesus and intimacy. He became human. walked the earth. is in the Eucharist. wants to be my friend. got it. not great at it, but at least i can understand it. even though i was still keeping Him at arms distance.

the Holy Spirit, yeah i get that one. we spend most of our time together. i totally understand how He wants to be near and close.

the Father. nope. i never saw the Father wanting to be close. i always saw Him sitting back on His throne, overseeing it all. as if He gave Jesus and the Holy Spirit as a consolation for not wanting to be close with us Himself. (again i say LOL)

so in this last year, i have been spending time with the Father heart of God. and learning about His original design and desire to be close, to be intimate with us. which takes us back to the garden. the way He has always hoped and planned for us to live, with no space in between. looking back and meditating on the way His heart must have broke when He saw the choice they made. and how He instantly set in motion a plan to restore us.

it is all about intimacy!!!!!!

He sent Jesus to bring us home. not even to bring us to a new place, but to bring us home. the place we were always supposed to be. He couldn’t stay away from us. He did every single thing He could to stay as near to us as possible. as near as we would let Him.

in every season, in every trial, in every prayer, i am learning to look for His closeness. His presence. that He paid the highest price to give us. the intertwined, connected dependency He invites me into. where i can’t find where i end and where He begins.

it is crazy how there is so much resistance to intimacy. how scary it can feel. what if people see me. all of me. and that could change everything.

well let me tell you, it does change everything. and it is the best change ever. because news flash, He already did see everything. He has seen it all. and in our worst, most shameful, disgusting, darkest choices and moments, He said

I choose her

and He paid the ticket to have us. He put His money where His mouth was. and it is in those most hurtful places that He wants to move in closer, and heal the wounds.

intimacy with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is literally life changing. there is nothing like it. and nothing can compare.

 

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the garden

i am actually really surprised that i have not written about this yet. i guess i wanted to keep it a secret. stupid satan. he is always trying to trick us into isolating. anyway. the garden. oh the garden. lets start from the beginning..not that beginning…the beginning of my garden story.

in 2015, in the Catholic Charities food pantry, i was working to stock the pantry and i heard God say “i want you to start a recovery home for young girls” and i said okay!

and then i went to summer camp, and during the Gospel one day, we talked about Mary Magdalene, and how she thought resurrected Jesus was the gardener when she saw Him. and He said,

“I want you to call it The Garden”

and i knew exactly what He meant. so okay, i’ll call it the garden. so after that, i took an interest and liking to things having to do with gardens, because one day i would own one. but i never really told many people about it. i think i felt if i told people, they would steal my idea. classic satan tried to scare me out of talking about my dream by making me fear competition. so this was like my secret promise from the Lord.

and then at the beginning of the year, Kari Jobe released her new album and it was called The Garden. and she talked about the gardens that are talked about in the Bible. and it was a wonderful album. and i love Kari Jobe. and i felt this cool connection to her because we both had these projects about the garden. it also really prompted me to dig back into the scriptures about gardens in the Bible. and i started learning more about the intimacy of God. i was learning about the Father’s original desire for intimacy with us. the Father’s gentle and sweet heart. i was loving it!

so i shared the album with all my friends, and told everyone about it. and everyone loved it. and started talking about the garden. and the garden of eden. and all the sudden, i was not happy about it.

i felt jealous. and protective. and territorial. that was my garden! that was my special place. they needed to stay out of it. and even worse, what if they wanted to call their place the garden now that i had introduced them to this. and just like that, fear, competition, jealousy, pride and inadequacy invaded my garden. i was not happy about it at all. i was standing next to Jesus in my garden, but thinking He was just the gardener. and then He spoke up.

and He reminded me that just because other people liked the garden didn’t take away from my garden with Him. it also didn’t make it any less powerful. and if anything, this was what was so exciting about the garden to me, inviting other people into it. and i did that. that was the whole point!

inviting people into the Father’s original design for intimacy and communion and great love. but what i had originally intended for other people, He used to heal my heart. He met me in the garden, and stayed with me as i figured it all out. His garden is such a place of security, a place were striving is not allowed. a place were mercy flows and streams of living water run throughout. it was always His plan to have us in the Garden.

history

bethel music is doing a conference/worship school for the next two weeks, so i bought a free trial to listen to the worship and keynotes. and it is beautiful. Jesus is so impressive and i am amazed at how He has the power to make us feel like the only one in the room.

it has been a sweet and beautiful morning singing to Him and declaring His promises over my soul and my one bedroom apartment.

during worship, i couldn’t help but laugh at the power and presence these walls hold, and will hold til the end of time. i am excited for the person that lives here after me, because i know God will be here with them. there will be a residue of my prayers and His faithfulness forever in these walls.

anyway, in between the worship and keynote this morning, a few people gave prophetic words for people in the audience. and the very first one brought me to tears. the lady said: “God wants you to know, He sees what you have chosen and He has not forgotten the dreams of your heart. In fact, He sees them very clearly, He sees a plan for them. They will happen. But you can’t skip the in between. Even if you feel like you are in the wilderness. This is the closest. This is the friendship of Jesus.”

tears.

such a sweet encouragement and reminder of who He is and what He is doing. but the part that actually stood out to me the most, was when she said “this is the friendship of Jesus.” that made so much sense to me. yes, yes, yes. this is what Jesus has wanted the whole time. friendship.

and this is what we are doing in this season, we are writing our history. we are building a strong foundation for what He has yet to do. this is where you build a rich history with God. a story that testimony is built on. a story that is shared down the road, after it seems like it might not even be relevant or helpful to others. it is here that we grow in authority. here where we get our footing and challenge the things that threaten to take us down. it is here where we learn about our value and worth and significance and the power of holding on to hope and leaning in for a miracle. it is here where we are called to the altar to surrender all that we have left. even when it feels like it will leave us destitute.

as i look back on the past 2.5 months, i see the Father heart of God breaking off fear, scarcity, anxiety, worldliness, loneliness, jealousy, complacency, and disbelief.

when i watch worship leaders, or christian speakers or pastors talk about their own lives, or lessons they have learned or their relationship with God, i am amazed by their friendship with God, their intimacy with the Trinity, and their authority over darkness. i admire these things and dream of the day i get to carry the same. but as i have been watching more and more of these, i am being taught that these things didnt happen over night. these were things taught in hard and dry seasons. lonely and dark nights. these were battles fought and lost. and tears cried from deep places.

when you ask for a ministry or a platform or a window to share from, you have to get there first. it doesnt show up overnight. and i’m learning to be grateful that it doesnt.

i know in my heart God has called me into the family business of setting people free and bring healing and resurrection life to dry and weary bones. i know He has created my heart to contend for it. but i know He has to train me and teach me to be able to carry that. and that comes from walking through it. it comes from writing and leaning into a rich and deep history with God. one that is sturdy and can weather many hits. because they will fly as He walks me deeper into the calling He has for me.

His promises are good. His ways are kind. His heart can be trusted. He is worthy of our lives.

 

what rest feels like

rest. rest. rest.

it feels like that is all i have been hearing, talking, thinking, and praying about for the past few weeks. and it seems as soon as it gets a tad bit easier, it suddenly gets much harder. it has definitely been a daily thing. back and forth, literally wrestling with doubts about what i think, believe, hear, feel and see. or the lack thereof. which has been so hard. there are multiple times a week-heck, multiple times a day- i ask myself if i really heard God, or maybe i heard Him wrong. or maybe i just missed the mark all together. it feels:

  • foreign
  • forgotten
  • misplaced
  • lazy
  • unpredictable
  • stranded
  • scary
  • wrong
  • overlooked
  • left-behind
  • unstable

but what i know it is, is:

  • healing
  • restoring
  • recharging
  • stretching
  • teaching
  • faith-building
  • a gift
  • sweet provision
  • a break

it is so hard to remind myself of what i am really in, and not let my feelings narrate the end of this season. sometimes it feels like i have used all the favor of God up, and there will be none left for the next season. but i know that is not true. i have to keep my eyes on Jesus, and stay in His presence to be reminded of where i am really standing. even when it feels the opposite of okay.

 

rest: lessons

so i am in this season of rest. and it has been so hard. i am so over it. but i needed to talk about the lessons i am learning. yesterday, i asked the Father what He wanted me to learn from this and He said:

how good I am 

which feels backwards and hard because right now, things don’t feel good. but i’ve been challenged to change my perspective and look at the good things and the provision that is right in front of me. so here is some of the good. the lessons.

  1. the importance of rest
  2. what rest actually means for me in this season
  3. that i am more tired that i realized
  4. that God knows what we actually need
  5. His provision is exactly what i need
  6. He holds nothing back
  7. He isn’t keeping anything from me
  8. He has a place for me
  9. He is preparing a place for me
  10. everything is in a divine order
  11. if i rest & receive, i can get things i didn’t even ask for
  12. He isn’t surprised by my unemployment
  13. He planned for this, too
  14. there is nothing i shall want

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.

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!

part eight: preparing

this summer i really struggled with the desire to be married. although i know i don’t want to be married right this moment, by heart is longing to be in relationship with someone and love them completely. this summer, a dear friend spoke a truth that has continued to echo in my life. as i was sharing this tough season of waiting, she responded:

“i think you are moving from a season of waiting, to a season of preparation”

#truth. and all of heaven said AAMMEENN. but really. it was almost like from that moment, God said game on. let’s prepare. and that is what i have been doing. and this is a very interesting concept. preparing. i am not making a vision board, or a secret Pinterest wedding board, or a venue binder. i am preparing my hear for the sacrament of marriage. i am preparing my heart to be a wife. it might not be as fun as it sounds.

this season of preparation is painful. it is stretching. the Father is teaching me about love, service, dying to self, faithfulness and above all, Himself. He is pointing out areas of debris that need to be cleaned up before anyone else moves in. He is watering the desire to be married, and is reassuring me that He is working. He keeps showing me snippets of goodness and how much He knows my heart and knows what I need/want. even more than I know.

i am learning how to love God fully. without fear. without reservation. without hesitation. i am learning how to stand up for what i believe in & pursue health. i am learning how to be a wife from the Author of marriage.

sometimes i catch myself thinking “well, i won’t feel this way when i am married” or “one day i’ll get to be happy, when i am married.” FLAG ON THE PLAY. the Father has been pointing out how much of an idol i make marriage. how much i look to that for fulfillment-AND I AM NOT EVEN MARRIED. oops. i think of marriage as the destination. not a gift.

i had this realization the other day. if the goal of marriage is to bring God glory, lead my spouse to holiness and love as Christ loves the church, well then I am in luck. because none of those things have to wait ’til marriage. i can bring God glory, lead others to holiness and love as Christ loves the church single, dating, engaged, married, widowed or other. my vocation does not have to wait for “the day” it becomes active. it is already active and i get to live it today.

this season is not easy. it is definitely a time of calling out. ouch. but His promises are worth it. He is teaching me how to be more like Him. what more could i ask for.

the Father

so if you ask me who i am the closest to in the trinity, the answer is the Holy Spirit. actually, other people can answer that question for me. and of course i love Jesus. so much. i think of Him as being so romantic and loving and healing and sweet and comforting. and then there is God, the Father. and He is great. i have never doubted Him. i always knew He loved me, but He seemed more distant. more involved in the day to day running the world, answering prayers part of being God than my day to day intimacy.

oh intimacy. what a scary word. in-to-me-see. fun play on words, right? but so scary. for me at least. what does it even mean to be fully seen and fully known? and how scary is it to think that someone would see all of me and still want to be around me?

answer: terrifying.

i think of Jesus as being more intimate. and maybe i am more comfortable with that. the Eucharist is a pretty easy explanation of intimacy-something i can see, touch and consume. Jesus was also human, so i can relate to Him on that level, too. the Holy Spirit isn’t so much of a stretch with intimacy, because i think of Him as a spirit-no end and no beginning, fluid. plus, He is with me ALL the time and we are constantly talking, so I think of Him as being pretty close. but then there is God, again. and intimacy with Him seems far off, scary and maybe even dangerous. like if God really saw me and knew me, maybe He wouldn’t let me have Jesus & the Holy Spirit anymore. maybe He would pull the troops. plus, does God even want to know me? He seems pretty busy creating life & curing diseases.

& ya know, i don’t think God loved that i thought like that. the past few weeks, He has been pretty clear in getting my attention and turning the spotlight back on Him. it’s been funny, I feel like Jesus has been bowing out a lot, like “this one is between you guys” i have been learning so much about the Father.

  • that being one of them, that He is a FATHER. and He loves His children and wants to know them.
  • His heart is to provide for them and give them good things.
  • His nature is compassion & kindness.
  • He is so selfless, He lets me be friends with the other Godheads more when I need it.
  • It was always His plan to save us & bring us back to Him through Jesus.
  • When Jesus was on Earth, He only did what He saw the Father doing.
    • AKA THE FATHER IS AS INTIMATE, HEALING, CARING, LOVING, ROMANTIC, SWEET AND COMFORTING AS I THINK OF JESUS BEING.
  • The Father is so tender & gentle.
  • He wants a personal relationship as much as Jesus & the Holy Spirit do!
  • His love is SO deep for us.
  • He treasures us.
  • He holds back nothing that will heal us, not even His own Son.
  • He is jealous for us.
  • He is active in our lives and desires an active relationship with us.
  • He is not something to be shelved until we get in deep trouble and need to call in the “big guns,” He desires to be just as involved in the little things from day to day.
  • He never tires of hearing our praise.
  • He never tires of forgiving us.
  • He never tires of hearing our stories.
  • He is chopping at the bit to heal us.
  • He cries with us.
  • He laughs with us (and i’m convinced sometimes at us).
  • He is good.
  • He is warm.
  • He is so detailed orientated.
  • He hangs on our every word.
  • He delights in the process.
  • He delights in us.

I am still learning about Him. He is constantly revealing more to me & it is so freakin’ fun! I am so thankful for the Father’s heart.

Father, thank you for your relentless pursuit of your beloved. thank you for revealing your heart to me, Father. as i learn more about you & your heart, teach me how to be like you. i desire to know you more.